According to the EC directive on bathing waters, there are about 900 recreational and bathing waters in the entire Rhine watershed. Lake Constance and the Dutch border with the Ijsselmeer are areas of supra-regional importance. The Middle Rhine is a preferred site for national and international tourism.
Local recreation areas are above all characterized by river bank paths, preserved floodplains, flooded gravel pits and old Rhine branches. In many places along the Rhine and its tributaries water sports are possible. However, sluices, weirs and fixed sills in the regulated part of the Rhine as well as groynes and strong currents of the freely flowing Rhine require boatmen to have a solid knowledge of locations. Passengers on board of one of the many excursion boats are more relaxed.
In many places, even in conurbation areas, the Rhine is today used as open-air swimming pool – at the risk of the individual bather and in spite of the fact that, in many places, bathing is forbidden because of strong currents and boat traffic. Hiking trails and cycle ways along the Rhine, sand beaches in conurbation areas and meetings of inline skaters on paved dikes again make large parts of the population conscious of the Rhine. More and more often, diving, sailing, rowing and fishing belong to the activities in and on the Rhine.
Many examples prove that peaceful co-existence of the from the point of view of nature protection indispensable improvement of the Rhine ecosystem, its biocoenosis and animal and plant species and varied leisure uses of the Rhine and its environment is possible.