The Romantic Rhine Holiday Region
Loreley, Wine & Castles
Rhine Romanticism is still very much in the air today, as anyone who has visited this world-famous Rhine Valley between Bingen/Rüdesheim and Koblenz will tell you. With its picture-book castles and ruins and its historical towns and sights, this impressive stretch of the Rhine river epitomises some of the loveliest river scenery in the world. Only a short time ago, it was listed as a UNESCO world heritage site. Experience a journey back in time and let the diversity, the beauty and the culinary specialities of this region work their magic on you.
Note by the Executive Editor
Frankfurt-Hahn Airport is 46 km away from the Romantic Rhine region (55 minutes driving time by car to Boppard or Oberwesel). Buses run from the airport to the region's town of Bingen am Rhein and Koblenz.
1.1 Upper Middle Rhine Valley
The 65-km long UNESCO World Heritage ‘Upper Middle Rhine Valley’ between Bingen and Koblenz is famous for tourism magnets like Rüdesheim-Assmannshausen or the Loreley Rock, as well as some 30 fortresses and castles - in mathematical terms, roughly one every two kilometres.
For millions of years, the Rhine has carved its valley through the slate hills. It has produced a fascinatingly bizarre, narrow river landscape. Steep slopes covered with vines and bushes, small strips of land along the banks with their towns and villages and numerous castles high above the river.
The Loreley cliff towers above one of the narrowest parts of the Rhine, which has always been regarded as one of the most dangerous parts of the river for boats and their watermen. A wave of Rhine Romanticism was created by well-known poets in the 18th and 19th centuries that inspired generations. It was the time the fairytale of the Loreley was born and made the Middle Rhine Valley famous in the world. Today, the Loreley ballad is known and popular in places as far away as Japan.
1.2 Upper German-Raetian Border Wall
Together with a carefully designed road network in the hinterland, the Limes served in protecting the Roman provinces from 'Germania libera' or 'Free Germany' from the end of the 1st Century to the middle of the 3rd Century. The 'Upper-Germanic Limes' began on the Rhine north of Koblenz near Rheinbrohl and Bad Hönningen, stretching down over the Rhine Heights southwards toward Main, and extending on as the 'Raetian Limes' further toward Bavaria.
Its remains can still be seen on the landscape today, and near Rheinbrohl, Oberbieber and Bendorf, three Limes towers have been carefully restored and are open for viewing. Interested parties can explore the course of the Limes using either the 'Limes Hiking Path' or the 'Limes Cycling Path' starting from Rheinbrohl. At the Koblenz State Museum ('Landesmuseum') and in Neuwied's 'Stadtmuseum' or City Museum, impressive finds from the Roman past are on display. Knighting and Roman festivals celebrate life 2,000 years ago in an impressive, true-to-life manner, organized by members of clubs dedicated to the area's Roman history.
More than 40 castles and castle ruins tower above the Rhine river between the 'Mäuseturm' ('Mouse Tower') near Bingen and the 'Rolandsbogen' ('Roland's Curve') in Remagen likewise in between the wooded hills of the 'Volcano Park' in the north west of Koblenz. There are not as many castles in an area of that size anywhere else in the world. Castles still in their original condition stand alongside ruins. Noble palaces alternate with romantic reconstructions of the 19th century instructed by Prussian kings.
Today many castles and palaces host hotels, youth hostels, restaurants or museums and are mostly open to the public. They invite you to experience a journey through the rich and outstanding history of the Romantic Rhine: noblemen and robber barons, artisans and merchants and - exciting traditions of historical markets, festival performances and tournaments.
Ehrenbreitstein Fortress in Koblenz was built by the French between 1817 and 1828, once completed the fortress was considered to be impregnable. Sitting majestically on top of a steep crag, the fortress was a popular subject in the 19th centruy for artists like Turner and attracted many followers of the Romantic movement. Today, visitors to the fortress can enjoy a variety of cultural events. Open-air events and special guided tours at Ehrenbreitstein Fortress are a always a very special treat.
Marksburg Castle in Braubach is a text-book example. This is the only clifftop castle never to have been destroyed. The castle is open all year round, but can only be toured when accompanied by a guide. The castle is a great opportunity for children, in particular, to learn all about the life in the Middle Ages.
Pfalzgrafenstein Castle is perched on a reef in the middle of the Rhine river with its ornately shaped roof and oriels. The castle looks like a ship of stone. its fortified walls, towers and courtyard have remained intact and are of the highest standard of craftsmanship. The charming and picturesque island on which this medieval toll castle stand is easily accessible by ferry from Kaub.
Rheinfels Castle in St. Goar is the largest and most splendid castle ruins on the Rhine river. A particularly fine example of a 14th century castle and a 16th-18th century palace/fortress. Today, visitors to the castle can take part in a number of events such as medieval festival, wine forums and many other special occasions.
Stolzenfels Castle near Koblenz still has many of its original furnishings including centuries-old pictures, weapons and furniture as well as neo-Gothic fittings from the middle of the 19th century. In the summer, concerts are held in the romantic setting of the castle courtyard.
The 120+ km Central Rhine Valley's main attractions don't just consist of its fortresses, castles and sightseeing locations; its culinary delights also make any journey of discovery in this region worthwhile.
3.1 Middle Rhine Wine-Growing Region
The Middle Rhine, or 'Mittelrhein' district is one of Germany's smallest winegrowing regions, with only 495 hectares. The Romans brought winegrowing into the Middle Rhine Valley almost 2,000 years ago, but it was only in the 6th Century that residents started to cultivate the grapevine. Since the 12th Century, the wine terraces so typical for this valley have characterised the landscape of the Middle Rhine. The most important vine variety is the Riesling grape, the King of the Grapes occupying some 75% of the growing area.
Today's centres of Middle Rhine winegrowing are Bacharach and Boppard. The natural conditions and steep slate slopes provide for a very high quality of wine, elevating the fine, elegant, medium-rich Middle Rhine Riesling wine to Germany's most important white wine. The exception to the rule in the 'Rieslingtal', or 'Riesling Valley', is Assmannshausen, the 'red wine island', famous for it devilishly good Late Burgundy from the 'Höllenberg', or 'Hell's Mountain'.
Take a wagon tour with the winegrowers or set off on your own to explore numerous wine tour paths, such as the 'Rhein-Wein Wanderpfad' ('Rhine Wine Hiking Path') along the Loreley-Burgenstrasse, or the wine tour route in Boppard's Hamm. Interesting wine museums in many locations on the left and right banks of the Rhine bring the winegrowing history of the Middle Rhine to life. Select wine tasting sessions, open wine cellars and tradition-rich wine festivals - Wine Culture in Rhine Culture!
3.2 Thematic Culinary Events
Gastronomic entrepreneurs have also discovered the benefits of the local wine culture, combining wine and culinary delicacies with a variety of interesting theme events. Worthy of mention here are the 'Mittelrhein Momente' ('Middle Rhine Moments'), making a year-round impression with a vivid mixture of interesting events. An additional series of culinary events is the 'Tafelfreuden Rhein-Westerwald' in the Rhine sector between Bendorf and Unkel, with over 30 events annually between October and May. Every year has an interesting thematic focus with a culinary undercurrent.
Many businesses offer a fine selection of regional dishes, extending from hearty meals to light dishes for between meals. Take some time to dine in several of the local restaurants! A regional 'World Heritage Menu' ('Weltkulturerbemenü'), changing on a monthly basis, has been offered since 2002 by the 'Weltkulturerbewirten' restaurant operators, an association of Middle Rhine restaurateurs. The price for this menu is the same in all participating businesses, and the meals are of course accompanied by premium regional wines coordinated with the dishes.
On five magic summer nights an every-changing kaleidoscope of lights erupts above the Rhine river and shimmering cascades of colour plunge into the romantic Rhine Valley. Nowhere else is there a more impressive interplay of fire, water and light than here in this beautiful and majestic region steeped in history.
At the 'Rhine in Flames' festival, the Rhine is literally in 'flames' and this happens on different spots all along the Rhine from May till September. The magic nights between Rüdesheim am Rhein and Bonn are a fascinating and unforgettable experience. The ships of the 'white fleet' glide along the river in seemingly endless procession. Castles, palaces, ruins and the river banks themselves gleam in the red glow of the Bengal lights and the magnificent spectacle of the fireworks shows will light up the Rhine Valley.
There is plenty of opportunity to experience this mixture of scenery, light and magical fire. All along the Rhine, the towns offer a variety of supporting programs. From the banks of the river the visitor has a splendid view of the glittering stars and shimmering cascades of colour. However, one of the best places to view this wonderful light show is from one of the many ships on the gleaming Rhine.
What started in the early 19th century, when British travellers were the first to visit the Romantic Rhine by steam boat, today remains the most enjoyable way of seeing the picturesque countryside, as castles and medieval towns drift by. Those who have visited the region will have fond memories of the Loreley Cliffs and the impressive river landscape.
A boat trip on one of the 'White Fleet' vessels is probably the most beautiful and impressive way to explore the romantic Rhine. The castles, vineyard terraces and historical villages float gently past your eyes like a painting. Behind every bend lies a new image, a sense of excitement and anticipation that many visitors have not enjoyed like this for a long time. The boats stop off at various landing stages along the way, so that visitors can get a closer look at the treasures of the Rhine Valley on land. If you choose to stay on board, you can sit back and enjoy spectacular views from the deck, while sampling the delicious food and drink on offer.
Exceptional walking trails are found on both sides of the Middle Rhine Valley. The highlight of this walking paradise is without doubt the new Rheinsteig trail, but the Rhine Hill Route and the Rhine Castles Route are also great alternatives if you want to discover the region's extraordinary flora and fauna and abundance of historical attractions. A host of ferry connections mean you can switch banks, and therefore trails, with ease.
In September of 2005, one of Germany's most spectacular hiking routes, the 'Rheinsteig', was opened to the public, running along the Rhine's right bank between Wiesbaden und Bonn. The most outstanding characteristics of this route are its extensive forest areas, an unanticipated peacefully natural idyll in romantic adjacent valleys, massive boulders exuding from the ground and its unusual wealth of landscape variety, boasting unique views of the Rhine Valley. And the majority of the route consists of unspoiled, natural paths, making for a varied and enchanting hiking profile.
Although this is one of Germany's most popular regions, the Rhein-Burgen-Weg (Rhine Castle Route) remains an insider secret. Almost 40 castles can be explored over a period of daily stretches, with the path rising from gentle to steep between forests and open spaces displaying magnificent views of the Rhine.
And of course, the region is perfect for exploring by bicycle. The 'Rheinradweg', a cycling route running from Bingen to Remagen, provides a wealth of fantastic views of the river, the castles and attractive locations. There are additionally numerous opportunities for discovering the Rhine's heights and lower valleys by bike, with sights that make every detour a reward within itself.
The 'Vulkanpark-Radweg' ('Volcanic Park Cycling Path'), running from Andernach on the Rhine to Mayen in the volcano-rich Eastern Eifel district is particularly suited for families. This route, running principally over paved stretches, combines the projects of the 'Vulkanpark', portraying the volcanic and archaeological history of the Eastern Eifel district in an appealing and interesting manner. The attractive region to the west of the Rhine, boasting extinguished volcanoes, expansive forests and tranquil lakes provides a varied natural experience.
It may be hard to believe, but it's true: it's not just on Hawaii, Mount Etna and around Vesuvius that volcanic activity has led to significant geological developments. Huge eruptions also created the volcanoes in Germany's Eifel region, with the most recent taking place at Lake Laach 13,000 years ago. This is Germany's youngest landscape - formed from fire, glowing lava and ashes.
Today, numerous cinder cones, maars, metre-thick walls of tuff and pumice, and cooled lava flows still bear witness to this geological phenomenon. Countless mines, underground tunnels and quarries give an impressive record of how people have lived with and made their living from volcanoes in the Eifel.
The Volcanic Park in the Mayen-Koblenz area informs visitors about the dormant Eifel volcanoes and the relationship between them and man. With its Rauschermühle information centre in Plaidt/Saffig, Meurin Roman mine near Kretz, the Lava Dome in Mendig, the impressive Wingerts mountain face, Eppelsberg volcano and a number of other projects, the Volcanic Park vividly documents volcanic activity in the Eifel, showing how the landscape was formed and how lava, pumice and tuff have been used from Roman times to the present day.
Information trails and circular tours with sophisticated information panels have been created for each project at the Volcanic Park. There are four signposted car routes, signposted cycle trails and marked walking routes and loop trails for visitors to explore.
- Bingen am Rhein
- Down the ages Bingen am Rhein has always been a centre of wine trade and an attractive destination for travellers. Hardly any other town in Germany is predestined to be the secret capital of German wines. Here is where Germany's wine-growing areas of Rheinhessen, Nahe, Rheingau and Middle Rhine Valley meet. Bingen am Rhein is also known as the gateway to the Romantic Rhine and the UNESCO World Heritage of the ‘Upper Middle-Rhine Valley’. ... read more in the Bingen am Rhein Travel Guide
- The town of Boppard lies in the middle of the UNESCO World Heritage area at the upper part of the Middle Rhine not far from the Loreley. The past and the present merge here to picturesque scenes of winegrowing and inn-keeping, fishing and ferrying and those vital traditions live on, in and around the ancient city. The town of Boppard offers you the best of opportunities to get to know the surrounding valley in all its many facetted tradition. ... read more in the Boppard Travel Guide
- Embraced by Father Rhine and Mother Moselle, Koblenz is situated in some of the most beautiful countryside in Germany. With the rocky slopes along the Rhine River, sleepy little spots and panoramic views of castles and stately homes, it has always attracted the romantics. The Rhine and the Moselle rivers are integral to Koblenz. They are a meeting place for young and old, and between their banks, life pulsates on the busy squares and streets. Its abundance of cultural monuments and historic buildings, its cosy lanes and narrow alleyways, the relaxed and happy atmosphere of its squares and river promenades make Koblenz a friendly town where its guests feel right at home. ... read more in the Koblenz Travel Guide
- Loreley-Burgenstrasse (Loreley Castle Route)
- The Loreley-Burgenstrasse (Loreley Castle Route) is the land of the legendary Loreley! A countryside dotted with castles which has remained unchanged for six centuries. Here, where the Rhine River meanders tortuously through the Middle Rhine Valley, the world-famous rocks of the Loreley issue from its waters. The narrowness of the valley, the untameable current and an eerie echo have undoubtedly played their part in the saga of blonde nymphs inhabiting the rocks. It is here, too, that we find the entry to the Loreley Castle Route. This romantic route is a narrow one with some seventeen local communities linking both the Loreley Valley itself and the picture book castles above it. ... read more in the Loreley-Burgenstrasse (Loreley Castle Route) Travel Guide
- Mendig is the land — where many thousands of years ago — fire-belching volcanoes covered everything with incandescent lava. Everyone has heard of the world-famous 900 years-old Benedictine Abbey Maria Laach by Lake Laach (Laacher See), the largest of all the Eifel's crater lakes. A journey to the sights of Mendig is an excursion to excavated volcanoes and mountain sides which reveal the history of the earth. Vault-like subterranean lava rock chambers at a dept of 32 metres and stretching for 3 km below the town of Mendig are unique throughout the world. The subterranean vault-like millstone quarries in the Mendig basalt testify to the heyday of stone-mason's skill in the region. A paradise for everyone interested in geology and the earths history. ... read more in the Mendig Travel Guide
- Oberwesel, the historic town on the Romantic Rhine, is surrounded by an almost completely preserved medieval city wall featuring gates and towers. 16 fortification towers surround the town, wide parts of the city wall and defence towers are accessible for visitors. Oberwesel has preserved its medieval character like hardly any other town in the Middle Rhine Valley. The town is also one of the largest vineyard communities of the Middle Rhine. On the 72 hectares of steep vineyards at the Schönburg Castle, the winegrowers cultivate above all Riesling, Müller-Thurgau and Kerner. The town Oberwesel is the ideal location to explore the magic of the UNESCO World Heritage ‘Upper Middle Rhine Valley’ on foot, by bicycle or by riverboat. ... read more in the Oberwesel Travel Guide
- Rüdesheim am Rhein & Assmannshausen
- Rüdesheim am Rhein and Assmannshausen are amongst the most well known wine towns on the Romantic Rhine. One is aware of the presence of the famous Rheingau wines on almost every corner and it leaves its mark on the towns to this day. Stopping off in a cosy inn or a romantic courtyard is just part of Rüdesheim, most likely ending up in Germanys most well known alleyway for good vibes — the colourful 'Drosselgasse'. And on the red wine trail in Assmannshausen, wine lovers feel as if they are in heaven in the romantic half-timber village. A good destination for easy going days, which pass away with the atmosphere full of music and dance or enjoyable on the many flower covered terraces of the cafés and restaurants on the Rhine River. ... read more in the Rüdesheim am Rhein & Assmannshausen Travel Guide
- St. Goar
- St. Goar is located right opposite the world-renowned Loreley and below the mighty Rheinfels castle. The magic of this stretch of the UNESCO World Heritage ‘Upper Middle Rhine Valley’ will capture you! The town of St. Goar invites you to explore the Middle Rhine Valley on foot, by bicycle or by riverboat. It is a unique cultural landscape worth exploring, shaped by two thousand years of viticulture and picture book castles. Enjoy the excellent regional cuisine. Here you will find top-notch gourmet cuisine as well as traditional, hearty meals. Taste select wines and brandies, products from the vines of the Middle Rhine Valley's sun-loved hillsides. In St. Goar you will experience exceptional shows, such as the ‘Rebenfrühling’ (Culinary Summer Night), open-air performances in castle Rheinfels and on stage, amazing fireworks and many more! ... read more in the St. Goar Travel Guide
- Tal der Loreley (Loreley Valley)
- The Loreley Valley (Tal der Loreley) is considered one of the most beautiful and romantic parts of the Rhine River. The Loreley Valley is the ‘Valley of Castles’, the ‘Valley of Wine’ and the ‘Valley of the Rhine’. 29 castles and castle ruins tower above the 65 kilometres of the river between Bingen and Koblenz. There are not so many castles in an area of that size anywhere else in the world. The terraces on which the world-famous Riesling wine grows have been typical of the Middle Rhine landscape since the 12th century and the two centres of wine-growing are nowadays Bacharach and Boppard. For millions of years, the Rhine has carved its valley through the slate hills. It has produced a fascinating bizarre, narrow river landscape, giving to the visitor unique picturesque and romantic views. This stretch of the Rhine is a ‘UNESCO World Heritage Site’. ... read more in the Tal der Loreley (Loreley Valley) Travel Guide
- Bopparder Römerkastell / Gedeonseck
- The remains of the late-Roman Bodobrica fort are considered some of the best-preserved Roman fortress walls in Germany. The Gedeonseck lookout point, which can be reached by chairlift, offers wonderful views of the great Rhine loop.
- Burg Namedy
- This stunning building is approached via avenues of ancient chestnuts. It is a place where ascetic nuns sought spiritual calm, Bismarck played cards and Apollinaire wrote magical tales. Programme of jazz and classical music.
- Burg Pfalzgrafenstein
- Kaub Castle was built in the middle of the Rhine in the 14th century. Designed to collect shipping tolls, it was never destroyed and authentically reflects the life of medieval toll collectors, even today.
- Burg Rheinfels
- FFor five hundred years, Rheinfels Castle was the biggest, most formidable castle on the Rhine. Today, even the ruins convey a sense of its former monumental proportions. The Rheinfels trail is an opportunity to ‘walk’ in the footsteps of history.
- Burg Sooneck
- Sooneck Castle offers amazing panoramic views and a colourful history – from robber barons' castle to Hohenzollern hunting lodge.
- Hildegard von Bingen Museum
- The Museum am Strom has the most comprehensive exhibition about the life and work of Hildegard of Bingen. Don't miss the gallery of Rhine Romanticism and the Bingen set of medical instruments – the world's most important find relating to Roman medicine.
- Travel from Linz am Rhein railway station to Kalenborn on a historical 1950s rail bus through idyllic wooded hills.
- Linz am Rhein
- Linz, the ‘colourful town on the Rhine’, owes its description to the many colourful half-timbered buildings that characterise the historical old quarter.
- Loreley Rock
- The Loreley, the legendary rock on the Rhine – 113 metres wide, 132 metres high. The highlight at the new visitors' centre on the rocky plateau is the 3D film ‘Upper Middle Rhine Valley UNESCO World Heritage’.
- This impressive fortress sits in majestic splendour on top of a rocky cliff above Braubach. The only hilltop castle on the Middle Rhine to have survived in its original state, it conveys an authentic impression of the Middle Ages.
- Mendig Rock Cellars
- Mendig's historical rock cellars are a unique world phenomenon, used as beer storage for many years. Brewery bar serving ‘volcano beer’.
- Oberwesel Medieval Town Wall
- It is still possible to walk along a large section of berwesel's 3 kilometres medieval town wall. The wall coping and the Steingassen tower – one of 16 still surviving – offer wonderful views of the Rhine and the town.
- Römerbergwerk Meurin
- TThe largest underground Roman tuff mine north of the Alps can be visited in Meurin. A 3D film in the ‘cinema tunnel’ takes visitors into the hazardous and dusty world of tuff mining.
- The upperts gorge offers an Alpine walking experience on the long-distance Rheinsteig trail between the Westerwald and the Taunus. The gorge is only 1.5km long, but the trail rises 235 metres.
- Schloss Bürresheim
- Bürresheim Castle retains all the charms of a medieval castle. Its unspoilt keep dominates the castle ward and its colourful half-timbered buildings.
- Schloss Engers – Villa Musica
- Engers Palace on the Rhine, once a baroque maison de plaisance, is now the academy and cultural centre of the regional Villa Musica foundation.
- Schloss Sayn
- KKaiser Wilhelm I once declared neo-Gothic Sayn Palace ‘truly a fairytale palace’. From the terrace of the palace restaurant there are fabulous views of the park, where a small, magical tropical world awaits – palms, banana trees and babbling waterfalls are home to a colourful mix of exotic butterflies.
- Plaidt is the heart of the Volcanic Park. It is a central point from which to discover the park's twenty or so projects about the relationship between man and volcanoes.
- The Chapel of St. Werner, which lies above the Church of St. Peter in Bacharach, is one of the most accomplished creations of the henish Gothic period. Even as a ruin, it is still remarkably impressive.
- Zoo Neuwied
- Neuwied Zoo has many highlights incl. seals that can be observed underwater, cheetahs fed using a 50 km/hour prey simulator and the largest herd of giant kangaroos outside Australia.
There is always something happening — whether it is art, music, wine festivals or a host of other activities. The Events Finder gives you an overview about what is on, where and when. Here you can search for events and festivals in the region.
Here you have direct access to the online accommodation reservation service of the Tourist Board of Rhineland-Palatinate. No other hotel reservation system on the Internet offers you such a broad and comprehensive list of accommodation in Germany's Rhineland-Palatinate regions. You can list accommodation, search accommodation, contact accommodation establishments and make online reservations.
Buses run from the airport to the region's town of Bingen am Rhein and Koblenz.
Bus routes and timetables:
- Bingen am Rhein - Frankfurt-Hahn Airport (Bus Route Timetable)
- Koblenz - Frankfurt-Hahn Airport (Bus Route Timetable)