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Traveling Along the Rhine River – What to See and Do In Rhine Valley

Posted on Oct 3, 2011 by in Germany | 0 comments

One of the more interesting tours that you can take in Germany is one along the Rhine River Valley. There are many things to see in the valley and many of them are located in the 36 mile (58 km) long stretch between Bingen and Koblenz. Even though the distance is not a long one, it is still possible to see many of the villages that are scattered throughout this region.

You can choose to see the Rhine River in a variety of ways. Many people choose to drive the distance because they can do so at their own pace. If you are someone who would prefer not to have to do any driving there are also Rhine River cruises which may be more to your liking.

Driving In Rhine Valley

If you do not like the idea of being stuck on a cruise instead of being able to explore, you can drive through the area. Keep in mind, however, that the roads running alongside the river are narrow and winding. They line the roads on both sides of the river. Even though the stretch of valley between St. Goar and Bacharach is short there are many different castles to see in your travels.

When driving, you should know that they are car ferries that will take you to the left and right side of the river depending on the location that you’re on instead of going upriver or downriver. There are small towns and castles on both side of the river if you want to do some exploration.

Using the car ferries saves time because the other alternative of crossing the two sides is the long way through Koblenz to the North or Rudesheim to the south via the bridge crossing there. If you happen to be walking the ferries can also carry you across and it costs less. The following website at http://www.welterbe-mittelrheintal.de/index.php?id=53&L=3 has the schedules and locations for the car ferries in Rhine. Some of these ferry operators also offer boat cruises that you could check out by visiting the individual sites from the link above. The site is in German so if you absolutely need to know the time these ferries are in operation; you need to learn a word or two or just use http://translate.google.com/.

Taking A Rhine River Cruise

Rhine River Cruise, Germany  J9040780 by nzboyinoz, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License  by nzboyinoz

If you do think that a cruise is the way to go, you have several different options to choose from. Even though you are on the river you can still see many of the Rhineland Castles that dot the region. You may not enjoy yourself if you are someone who wants to go into the castles and explore as much as possible so be sure to take a cruise that lets you get off at the various famous stops.

Rhine River Cruises You Should Definitely Check Out

KD Rhine Pass River Cruise From Koblenz to Rudesheim

You get a one day pass to travel on a leisurely cruise from Koblenz to Rudesheim. KD Rhine is one of the oldest companies operating in the Rhine valley. It started in 1827 and has a very modern and large fleet to take passengers through the Rhine River. This is a very long tour which lasts for 11 hours. This tour will take you to Rudensheim and back to Koblenz and you will be able to enjoy all the picturesque scenery of the Rhine Valley. There are food and drinks onboard so you don’t have to worry about bringing your own.

More Information On KD Rhine River Cruise

KD Rhine Pass From Other Locations
A one day travel pass you can use to travel between Cologne and Mainz or between Koblenz and Cochen. Cruise at your own pace and set your own itinerary on where you want to visit. You can get off at a few locations along the Middle Rhine and take your time to visit the castles and towns in the area. This is a great way to go from one town to the other without using the train.

More Information On All The KD Rhine Passes From All Locations

Rhine Valley Cruise From Frankfurt

This is a great option for those staying in Frankfurt and don’t want to arrange their own transport as the tour include traveling from Frankfurt to the Rhine River and back by an air conditioned coach. There is opportunity to sample wines and eat lunch and dinner depending on whether you take the half day cruise or full day cruise. The tour Includes seeing the Lorelei Rock if you take the full day cruise.

More Information On This River Cruise From Frankfurt

Rhine River Dinner Cruise on The MS Stolzenfels

What better way to celebrate a romantic occasion for two than on this dinner cruise. Have an elegant and an unforgettable dinner cruise on board the MS Stolzenfels. The boat has tasteful furnishing and a relaxed atmosphere – all while treating you and your special someone with live entertainment onboard. The cruise includes a three course dinner meal while you enjoy the evening scenery of the Rhine.

More Information On This Dinner Cruise

The Castles And Cities In The Rhine Valley

The valley has so many castles because, in the past, they were used for protection while land owners collected the tolls charged on river traffic. Some have been restored and others have been allowed to crumble into ruins. Many were spruced up in the 19th century according to what was considered a romantic ideal. History buffs will love the fact that it is possible to stay in some of the castles and to explore others.

The land around the valley is hilly. Some hills have castles on them and others have vineyards. Small villages grew up in the protective circles of the various castles and these are great places to just sit back and relax. While there, you may want to watch the river traffic much as villagers have been doing for hundreds of years.

You will find many places to stay in and eat in when travelling through this part of Germany. Some of the best accommodations can be found in Bacharach and St. Goar. Wine lovers will enjoy staying in either one of these towns because of the great wine they can offer to travelers.

A romantic and cozy two to three star hotel restaurant is in Liebenstein castle. This castle is situated on top of the highest peak of the middle Rhine. The location of this place is close to Kamp-Bornhofen. Marksburg and the Lorelei cliff are also nearby. The rooms are actually part of the castle itself and have views of the Rhine valley.

Don’t forget to stop by St Goarshausen, the famous Lorelei Rock is located here. The Lorelei Rock is a rock that is 120 metres tall above the water. This beautiful town is 30km south of Koblenz. The Katz castle is nearby but it’s not open to the public. The Maus Castle is also nearby, it got its name because of Katz castle being nearby. Novelty items not found anywhere in the world like the Steiff animal toys can also be found in St Goar.

From St Goar, you should not miss getting to Fortress Rheinfels. It is the biggest standing castle ruin in West Germany. There are independent vaults and miles and miles of underground tunnels. It was once the biggest castle on the Rhine, but now it is only a fraction of its original size albeit still being huge in its current state. The tunnels are about 600 feet long and can be explored but you have to be careful especially if you’re claustrophobic. You can never fully stand up while in there since it’s a small spaced area. There is a 4 star hotel here which is a part of the castle – they offer a rustic restaurant with a great view of the Rhine River. Spas, swimming pool and every typical amenity you could find at a luxury hotel are available here. Enjoy a comfortable modern stay while being surrounded by medieval surroundings.

IMG_4593 by dfb, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License  by dfb

To get to Fortress Rheinfels, you can take a miniature railway which leaves every 15 minutes near the town church in St Goarshausen. You can also see the world’s largest free hanging cuckoo clock on the return trip from Fortress Rheinfels.

If you are in Boppard, there is a fortress nearby which is called Kurtrierische Burg. The museum here showcases ancient coins and weapons. There is amazing scenery from Boppard to St Goar if you take a boat which lasts about one and a half hour. The boat is slow and steady so any photographer can take in the views and take splendid pictures along this part of the river.

Make sure Marksburg Castle Is on your list of places to visit as well. This castle has never been conquered and hence remains mostly the same today as it has for 700 years.

Other notable castles that you can visit are Castle Schonburg Castle Reichenstein. Both also have hotels that you can stay in. There are a lot more castles you can visit in the Rhine Valley. The following site has more choices for you to pick and choose your destinations in Rhine http://www.rhinecastles.com/

Die Lorelei by a.renate, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License  by a.renate

A place that is this old is bound to have its fair share of legends and one of them is in Lorelei. This is a point where the river narrows and becomes quite treacherous. A legend about mermaids sprang up about this region of the river. Sailors blamed them for any shipwrecks that took place. St. Goar is the town that they stayed in to give thanks once they were past the narrow point.

As you can see, the Rhine River valley is truly a magical place to visit.

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