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Castles of the Rhine

  • 7 Night Route

    Price: from £1245

From Bacharach to Koblenz

Back to Routes
Bacharach

Bacharach

St Goar

St Goar

A tea break with a view

A tea break with a view

Vines clothe the south-facing slopes

Vines clothe the south-facing slopes

The mini castle of Pfalzgrafenstein

The mini castle of Pfalzgrafenstein

Pause for views towards the Loreley

Pause for views towards the Loreley

Journey's end at Ehrenbreitstein

Journey's end at Ehrenbreitstein

  • 7 Night Route

    Price: from £1245
Price: from £1245
Nights: 7
Grade:
Walk: 3-5¼ hr/day

Travellers Blog

Castles in the air

Monday 14th February | Posted by On Foot Staff

Castles in the air view article

I love the idea of the 'journey being the destination'. This was the trip of a lifetime. Everything about it was perfect. I never wanted it to end!

Amy Neiman, Monterey, USA - July 2023

The organisation by On Foot was 2nd to none: the documentation provided was extensive and covered all aspects of the walk. For the walk itself there were large scale maps, a superb step-by-step guide as well as GPS mapping. For each accommodation along the route there were suggestions for eating out. Timetables for both ferries and trains were also provided. As this was a ‘solo walk’ all of this information gave me great confidence, as well as making sure that I didn’t ‘miss out’ on anything. I have walked ‘with’ a few companies over the years but none have provided such guidance. Superb! Would I recommend it? In a heartbeat. Thanks, On Foot Holidays.

A Phillips, Prenton, UK - June 2023

We have been on 3 other On Foot Holiday trips and they all have been fantastic. You get good value for the price of the trip. And being able to see a part of Europe on foot, up close, and enjoy the paths and towns in a leisurely way is a joy.

Cathy Bergeron, Vermont, USA - May 2023

We loved the holiday, out of season it felt like a hidden gem. Wines were amazing and we weren't aware of them before we went.

Andy and Vicky Lack, London, UK - April 2023

The walks were brilliant. Getting the big climbs out of the way first thing was ideal. The footpaths were all really well signed. The views were gobsmackingly good.

Peter Creek, Embsay, UK - September 2022

The combination of notes, GPS and excellent and detailed maps made this walk trouble free and offered absolute peace of mind in that we always knew exactly where we were walking at any one time.

Paul John, Nottingham, UK - September 2022

The Castles of the Rhine was our third walking holiday with On Foot Holidays and was the best so far, helped by the warm sunny weather which meant jumpers remained in the suitcases the whole week.

Michael and Margaret Stubbs, Godalming, UK - June 2022

Unbelievably well organized and so thrilling to explore this world heritage site - the sparkling Rhine river, steep vineyards, flat areas on top with well-sited gazebos, challenging downhills past more castles and lush forests - friendly people and hikers to meet on the trail - On Foot, as usual, planned each and every step for us to perfection.

Hiking is hard but knowing you will be at an exquisite hotel or inn with a fresh, delicious dinner or breakfast in each place... Could not have been more perfect!

Anon - April 2022

More independent feedback
Self-guided walking holiday in the Rhine Gorge - On Foot Holidays

At a glance

7 nights (6 walking days). Why not add an extra night in Koblenz at the end? See 'Prices' tab for what's included.

How much walking?

Full days: 11-20km per day, 3-5¼ hrs
Using shortening options: 7-14km per day, 2-4½ hrs (using buses/trains/boats to reduce walking)

Max. Grade:

The Romantic Rhine in style

The spectacular Rhine Gorge is justifiably famous, not only as a vital waterway but as inspiration to painters, poets and composers for centuries. The steep-sided valley is clothed with vineyards and forests, with a fairytale castle around every corner. Some of these fortresses are now the meagre ruins of a medieval stronghold, while others are grandiose 19th century concoctions in a gothic style.

Walk through historic riverside villages, then climb up high for panoramic views of the valley and the distant barges and ferries bustling to and fro below, and of course visit and stay in the castles.

This is a holiday designed for comfort, with some very special castle hotels, the opportunity for fine dining accompanied by the local Riesling wines, and walk-shortening options if you happen to over-indulge a little!

This route is similar to our original Rhine Valley holiday (still available here), but with slightly shorter days and more castle stays!

Walked by On Foot staff: Simon and Debbie

TRAVEL ADVICE: To find the latest travel advice from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office for UK citizens travelling to Germany, click here. Citizens of other nations will also find it useful, but should always check their appropriate local agency.

Route Highlights

  • The romantic Rhine Gorge
  • Stay in stylish castle hotels
  • Bacharach, the Loreley and St Goar
  • Riesling and beer gardens
  • Grand arrival into Koblenz via Fortress Ehrenbreitstein and the Seilbahn ride

This route features the following characteristics and interests: Drive to route, History, Wine

Things you should know

For those spending just one night in Koblenz, we recommend, instead of the final day’s walk, using the public transport system to reach the town early to explore it to the full.

We Recommend

An extra night in Koblenz at the end for a stroll around the town, or perhaps a leisurely boat trip down the scenic Moselle.

Eating and drinking

There are some excellent chefs en route – notably Andreas in Bacharach, and at the hotels in Oberwesel and Braubach.

How much Walking?

Full days: 11-20km per day, 3-5¼ hrs
Using shortening options: 7-14km per day, 2-4½ hrs (using buses/trains/boats to reduce walking)

Excellent,well-marked and well-surfaced paths and good signage.  Tough but short climbs away from the river (typically 100m – 150m ascent).  Highest point on route: 470m.

Medium-hard: Average cumulative uphill stretches (CUSs) 581m (450m-830m) per day.

Easy-medium: CUSs 305m (150m-600m) per day using shortening options (available each day).

Acrophobia/vertigo warnings: None.

Important note: Times given for each day are walking times for an “average” walker and exclude stops.  “CUSs” stands for “Cumulative Uphill Stretches” and measures the aggregated ascents in each day, expressed in metres of climb.  See “Walk Grading” for more information.

When to go?

The best months to walk: May, June, July, September, October

Other possible months: April, August, November

Please note that Saturday start days are not possible.

This is a route that can be walked from April through to the beginning of November, though accommodation can be difficult to secure during ‘Rhein in Flammen’ weekends, particularly those in September, and the public holiday at the start of October.  The heat of the summer is kept at bay on many days by woodland, though if you do walk in high summer take lots of protection against the sun, else will you ripen as the grapes. Best time to walk – May (except for Ascension), June and late September/early October – for spring flowers and fragrant vineyards later in the autumn.

Start Dates

Recommended
Possible
Unavailable

Weather Chart

 

Temperature and rainfall chart for Oberwesel

Itinerary

About the Route

Day 1 - Arrive in Bacharach

Arrive in good time to look around this quintessential Rhineside town.

Day 2 - Stahleck circuit

Climb out of Bacharach and into the hills for a two-castle excursion – one to visit at the start, the other, ruined, to admire from far and near – returning to Bacharach via a steep descent through vineyards. (Medium: 4½ hrs (allow 6 hrs), 14 kms (9 miles), CUSs 425m)

Day 3 - Bacharach to Oberwesel

Head straight out and up through the vineyards, for an open day on the west side of the river before arriving at the spectacular setting of your first castle stay with its towers and defensive buildings. (Medium: 3 hrs walking (allow 4 hrs), 11 km (7 miles), CUSs 280m)

Day 4 - Oberwesel to St. Goar

Today walk to St Goar past TV’s Günderodehaus, through fields opposite the Loreley for the best views of the fabled rock. (Easy-medium: 3½ hrs walking (allow 4¾ hrs, 11 km (7 miles), CUSs 350m). 

Option: if you arrive early enough, you could take the ferry over to St Goarshausen and a bus up to the Loreley to view the visitor centre itself.  Walk back on the descending Rheinsteig path (45 mins walking plus time for visiting, bus and ferry)

Option

Alternative - train to St Goar and cross to St Goarshausen on the other side for a leisurely sightseeing day. Make use of the KD ferry for an outing to Bad Salzig.

Day 5 - St. Goar to Kamp-Bornhofen

Cross over to St. Goarshausen and, continuing your route northwards along the Rheinsteig, climb quickly up the valley side again and stay there amongst the fields and open skies, dipping down into woodland at Burg Maus before rising again to arrive finally at a castle at teatime, Burg Liebenstein. (Hard: 5 hrs walking (allow 6¾ hrs), 18 km (11½ miles), CUSs 830m).

Easier alternative – this tough day can be shortened by 3 hours by taking the train (Easy: 3 hrs walking (allow 4 hrs), 8 km (5 miles), CUSs 250m)

Day 6 - Kamp-Bornhofen to Braubach

A varied day, starting with a climb up to the neck of the huge Rhine meander beloved of so many landscape photographers. Then branch off across the fields through woods, past huts, over streams, all the while taking in some fabulous views, before a final stiff ascent to the Marksburg and an easy descent to your comfortable hotel and restaurant for the night. (Medium: 5¼ hrs walking (allow 7 hrs), 17½ km (11 miles), CUSs 600m)

Day 7 - Braubach to Koblenz

This optional walk is a slight labour of love: the most exciting part (an ascent up Ruppertsklamm gorge with hand-hold-cables, but very safe!) is sandwiched between some track walking which may pall, although it gives an opportunity to eat up the kilometres rapidly. However, it does complete the castle-to-castle route, and suddenly emerging at Fortress Ehrenbreitstein above Koblenz gives fabulous views onto the Deutsches Eck, the confluence of the Rhine and the Moselle.  (Medium: 5 hrs walking (allow 6¾ hrs), 19½ km (12 miles), CUSs 700m)

Alternatively, take a train to Koblenz (from Braubach station) and enjoy a full day’s sightseeing there.

Departure day

Return home – or why not stay a further night and make the most of the museums, gardens and restaurants that the Rhine, with its amazing transport network, offers?

Travel Information

ARRIVING BY TRAIN

Nearest railway station

Start: Bacharach
Finish: Koblenz

Sample journey by rail:

Via Frankfurt: via a change (usually in Mainz) ~1½ hr.

Koblenz direct to Frankfurt:  ~2 hrs.

We suggest thetrainline.com for times, ticket booking and other information.

ARRIVING BY CAR

Best is to drive to Koblenz, leave your car in the car park adjacent to our hotel there (pre-book, supplement payable locally) and take a train back to your first night.

ARRIVING BY AIR

Two airports serve the route – Frankfurt International (best, ~1½ hrs by train to start and from finish – and best for intercontinental arrivals) and Cologne Bonn. Frankfurt-Hahn is not recommended as it is nowhere near Frankfurt.

Land by: Frankfurt International 17:00, Cologne Bonn 15:00 for public transport connections to first hotel.

Return flight earliest: 12:00 (14:00 on Sunday) both airports for connections from Koblenz.

Flight information can change rapidly and not all flights run daily. Please do check directly with the airlines’ websites or Skyscanner (see below) before finalising any booking with us. Do not book your flights until we have confirmed that we have provisionally reserved accommodation for you.

For up-to-date schedules and flights from all airports check Skyscanner.

See “Getting to the start of the walk” below for transfer information.

 

Getting to the start of the walk

The first hotel is normally in Bacharach, and the last in Koblenz. Transfer times and methods are suggested train arrivals and for the two nearest airports below.

Transfers from train stations:

Outward:  7 minutes walk to first hotel
Return: 5-7 minutes walk to Koblenz station

FRANKFURT INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT:

Outward: By train with 1 change, ~1½ hr
Return: By train (direct), ~1¼ hrs

COLOGNE-BONN INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT:

Outward: By train with 1-2 changes, 2-3 hrs
Return: By train (0-1 changes), ~1½ hrs

Full transfer advice, including timetables, is provided in your Walkers’ Pack.  Contact us if you would like additional pre-booking information.

Where You'll Stay

A fine range of castles and excellent hotels to stay in, often with upgrade room options. Please note that twin rooms are often ‘Austrian twins’ – that is, separate mattresses and bedding on the same bed frame, but that Burg Schoenburg in Oberwesel has no twin rooms.

Bacharach – Rhein Hotel (B&B)

Night 1 & 2

Bacharach – Rhein Hotel (B&B)

Family run hotel looking onto the Rhine. Upgrade for larger rooms and even opt for the room with private sauna!

Oberwesel – Burg Schönburg (B&B)

Night 3

Oberwesel – Burg Schönburg (B&B)

High above the Rhine is rambling Burg Schönburg with a range of individual rooms decorated with period furniture.

St Goar – Schloss Rheinfels (B&B)

Night 4

St Goar – Schloss Rheinfels (B&B)

Imposing castle above St Goar with classy accommodation and restaurant with fine river views. German twin beds (large single base with two mattresses).

Kamp-Bornhofen – Burghotel Liebenstein (dinner, B&B)

Night 5

Kamp-Bornhofen – Burghotel Liebenstein (dinner, B&B)

Small medieval castle perched high above Rhine, now a small hotel complete with oak panelling, wrought iron sconces and fabulous river views which win out over the sometimes questionable culinary experience (dinner obligatory).

Braubach – Zum Weissen Schwanen (B&B)

Night 6

Braubach – Zum Weissen Schwanen (B&B)

Fine old inn, formerly a water mill but beautifully refurbished, with excellent restaurant.

Koblenz – Hotel Brenner (B&B)

Night 7

Koblenz – Hotel Brenner (B&B)

Comfortable and friendly hotel with good sized rooms and spa, close to the old town.

Prices

Price: from £1245 for 7 nights

Total 7 nights in double/twin room, all breakfasts, 1 evening meal, 1 picnic, luggage transfers between all hotels on walking route; full Walkers Pack with route directions, maps, transfer and background information; local telephone support.

All prices are per person unless otherwise indicated, and are based on a standard booking in May. Prices may vary seasonally and a fixed price will be given to you before you commit.

Single Room Supplement (SRS): From £510
Lone Traveller Additional Supplement (LTAS): From £265
Large Party Saving (LPS): Groups of more than 2 people (on an identical itinerary, on the same booking and booked at the same time) –  discount of at least £40 per person
Maximum party size: 12 (assuming room sharing)

 

Add Ons

Extra nights in any hotel: Contact On Foot Holidays
Sending Walkers Packs to addresses outside the UK:  £20-£60 (per pack, location dependent)

Travellers Blog

Castles in the air

Monday 14th February | Posted by On Foot Staff

Castles in the air view article
Reserve your dates Add to shortlist
Beatrix Greiff

Our local team

Beatrix Greiff

Beatrix lives on the route and has a portfolio career encompassing jewellery making and being a PA. She is bilingual in German and French and fluent in English.

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