Updated: Oct 7, 2019
While the Moselle River offers unique perspective and beauty, no visit to this area of Germany should miss the section of Rhine River from Mainz to Koblenz. There are castles continuously along most of this stretch. The Upper Middle Rhine Valley is an UNESCO World Heritage Site recognized for is unique beauty and historical significance.
I covered the Moselle River in Part 1 of a previous post and Part 2 will highlight must-see experiences along the Rhine River.
The Rhine originates in Switzerland at Lake Toma, about 580 km (360 miles) from Koblenz, Germany. The stretch of the Rhine from Mainz, Germany to Koblenz is definitely worth experiencing and seeing and doing all there is along this this historic transportation route. The Rhine has been a central route of trading and transportation for thousands of years. Today there are over 40 castles and fortresses lining this section of the Rhine. Many of the castles and fortresses originally where to provide protection along the busy trade route, as well as a captive way to collect tax/tariff revenues from those transporting goods up and down the river.
This area of the Rhine has numerous ferry ports all along the river, which makes it easy for visitors access a passing ferry for a 2-3 hours river cruise and enjoy the beautiful scenery of the Rhine. If you catch a ferry boat upstream, say at Rüdesheim or Bingen you can take a ferry that is traveling downstream (towards Koblenz) and the journey is shorter in time, but still very relaxing. You can always do a round trip cruise, however, it is also easy to take the ferry to Boppard or Koblenz, then get off and take the train back to Bingen or Rüdesheim.
The ferry boats are quite nice and have passenger seats inside as well as seating and standing areas outside on the deck. If the sun is out and temperature good the outside is a great choice. On cooler days the comfort of the inside seating will be appreciated.
As you travel up or down the Rhine you will notice large signs on the river's edge that are numbered. The one above says "545", which means that location is 545 km (339 miles) downstream from the Rhine Falls in Switzerland where the Rhine becomes navigable by ship. Additionally, as you pass small towns along the way the name of the town is often painted on the river bank. The city of Boppard is shown above.
On the trip I took with my wife we took the train from Bacharach to Bingen, got on the ferry heading down stream, got off at Boppard and took the train back to Bacharach. While getting train tickets we had the assistance of someone who was on a cycling trip from The Netherlands and she made sure we were able to purchase our tickets and that we were going in the right direction.
The legend of Loreley Rock is that ship captains were often lured toward the echoing call of a beautiful maiden that sat high atop the rocky point, resulting in the boats crashing into pieces on Loreley Rock. Today a statue of this maiden sits at the base of the rock at the river's shore.
The Rhine River is a favorite of mine and over the years I have had the opportunity to visit on three occasions. Once with my 92 year old grandfather and Mom and Dad. Once with my wife and once with the "three Jeff's" from work.
Marksburg Castle, in the little town of Braubach is the only mountain castle on the Rhine between Koblenz and Mainz to have not been destroyed at some point in its history, although it was badly damaged due to fighting towards the end of WWII. Today the castle is open daily for tours and visitors.
The Rhine has many unique and historic villages that are definitely worth exploring on foot once you are off the ferry.
Boppard is a fun little town just south of Koblenz. There is a nice town center with great views of the two-steeple church and vineyards on the towering hills.
This is a great hotel and location in Boppard. A balcony room is very nice for watching the busy river traffic pass by and the promenade below.
Bacharach is a very intriguing little town along the Rhine. Above is the Kranenturm (Crane Tower) that is now a hotel. Stahleck Castle sits above high up on the hill. My wife and I stayed at the Kranenturm on a recommendation from Rick Steves. While most of the time a recommendation from Rick Steves is spot on for our style of travel, this hotel was a let down. A little musty and the hourly train thundering past our room window was bit unsettling. However, the history and uniqueness of this place is quite the draw.
We arrived in Bacharach in the evening as the sun was setting and I found myself navigating the car down these very narrow streets in search of our hotel. It was amazing, even though I was concerned I would encounter oncoming traffic that would require me to back up in the dark. After finding the host, we discovered the parking was just outside the ancient wall on the main road which winds along the Rhine.
In cities and towns across Germany and other parts of Europe you may come across brass markers on walk ways in front of homes. These markers are known as Stolperstein, or "stumbling stones," and indicate were the named individuals where forcibly removed from their home by the Nazis and deported. The stones are a memorial to the millions of victims of the Nazi regime.
Scenery of the Rhine
Pfalzgrafenstein is uniquely built in the middle of the Rhine River. Originally used to collect customs dues from passing ships. Tours of the fortress are available to the public. The fortress is accessed via a ferry that leaves from the village of Kaub. A visit to this unique location is definitely worth the effort.
Medieval towers watch over the churches and beauty along this stretch of the Rhine
Auf Wiedersehen from the Rhine
Boppard: Belleveu Rheinhotel, Garni Hotel "Ohm Patt", Landgasthof Eiserner Ritter, Mittelrhein Pension
Bacharach: Hotel Altkolnischer Hof, Kranenturm Hotel (you've been warned about the train), Hostel Burg Stahleck, Rhein-Hotel & Stübers
Koblenz: City Partner Top Hotel Kraemer, Hotel Brenner, Ibis Hotel Koblenz City
Boppard: Restaurant Severus-Stube, Fondel's Muhle
Bacharach: Alte Haus (reservations recommended), Bacharacher Hof, Stübers Restaurant, Restaurant Zeus
Must See Places:
Boppard: Sesselbahn (tram to Rhine observation point), Mittelrhein Klettersteig (adventurous/strenuous hike with a great view of the Rhine)
Bacharach: Stahleck Castle, including Halburndturm, Kühlbergturm & Sonnenturm Towers
Koblenz: Deutsches Eck (Koblenz), Seilbahn Koblenz - Talstation, Ehrenbreitstein Fortress, Schloss Stolzenfels, Basilica of St Castor
Others Along the Rhine:
Benedictine Abbey of St Hildegard (Rüdesheim), Niederwald Monument (Rüdesheim)
Rheinfels Castle (St Goar), Loreley Rock (St Goarshausen)
Blüchermuseum (Kaub), Pfalzgrafenstein (Kaub)
Burg Reichenstein Castle (Trechtingshausen)
Wineries and Vineyards:
Vinothek des Weinguts Bastian (Bacharach), Weingut Toni Jost (Bacharach), Weingut Ratzenberger (Bacharach)
Weingut Matthias Müller (Spay), Weingut Weingart (Spay), Weingut Didinger (Osterspai)
There is so much to see and do in this area, I would recommend making the most of your time in this stretch of the Rhine. You will enjoy a variety of experiences at every turn and at every village stop along the way. Truly a magical place.
Refer to the Travel Map for more to see and experience in this area of Germany.