Castles of the Rhine – 5 nights
From Lorch to KoblenzBack to Routes
St Goarshausen from the Lorelei
The Boppard bend
Mist over the Rhine
The Posthaus in Bacharach
Vineyards on the slopes of the Rhine
Rhens Town Hall
Vineyards in Autumn
A tea break with a view
Amazing scenery. Challenging but achievable walks. Great wildlife. Good information with options if required.
Robin Felton, Shrewsbury, UK - September 2019
It was truly one of the best vacations we've ever taken! Having the great notes, the local guide to reach out to if we needed help, the maps, was such a comfort to us since this was a completely new experience for us.
We are an older couple not in the best of shape. We were able to tailor our walk to meet our capabilities. The hotel owners were all very nice and helpful too. It was FANTASTIC!!!!
Charles Ulrich, US Virgin Islands - June 2019
Beautiful vistas and nice tough walks for each of the days.
Nice to disconnect and just walk the area. Pretty much exactly what we were looking for. Thank you.
James Smadbeck, Rochester, USA - April 2019
For many reasons this was an excellent hiking trip.
We have been on 16 other guided or self guided trips around the world, and this was among the best, especially considering the cost. The scenery was unforgettable.
Bill Whiting, Rockport, USA - October 2018
The routes were perfect - we wouldn't change a thing.
It's such a luxury following someone else's carefully-planned route. The length of walks was just right, as was the variety. It was absolutely wonderful to be able to travel with our dogs too, and they loved the walks. Germany is very dog-friendly, we wouldn't hesitate to bring them again. We have decided that the first week of June should be reserved for an On Foot adventure every year from now!
Stephanie Rampton, London, UK - June 2017
Spectacular scenery, great walks and interesting, sometimes quirky accommodations, all varied. We especially liked staying in a real castle in Kamp-Bornhofen at Burghotel Liebenstein.
The route maps were spot on and helpful hints on dining options rounded out a superbly well-planned trip. We will continue to use you in the future, since self-guided walks are the way to experience a destination in a local and authentic way. Well done.
Kevin Abell, Maryland, USA - June 2017
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
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
At a glance
5 nights (4 walking days) - missing the second St Goar night (but still offering the opportunity to walk from Oberwesel and see the Loreley from the opposite bank) and historic Koblenz - finish in Rhens. See 'Prices' tab for what's included.
How much walking?
Full days: 18-21km per day, 5-6¾ hrs walking
Using shortening options: 7-12km per day, 2-3½ hrs (using buses/trains/boats to reduce walking)
Castles and the Romantic Rhine
The Rhine Gorge is unique. Its 20 castles, perched high above the river, some visitable, bear witness to a crucial role in the history of Europe, and to its iconic “Romantic” status for painters, poets and composers.
It is busy and exciting too – the barges negotiating sharp bends and the toy trains (for that is how they look from the footpaths high above), and the river towns and villages – many very old and still wholly or partially fortified – make a pleasant variation from the rural walking. It is also a wine route – every village is proud of its own Riesling vineyards and you will have the chance to sample their produce when you sup after a walking day.
Walked by On Foot staff: Simon and Debbie
REVIEWS: For independent walker reviews submitted to the Association of Independent Tour Operators visit Aito.com.
ARTICLES: Read an article about On Foot’s Castles of the Rhine holiday from The Guardian newspaper here.
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.
COVID-19 SAFETY PRECAUTIONS: Please read our summary of current regulations.
- The spectacular Rhine Gorge
- 20 castles high above the river
- Bacharach, the Loreley, St Goar and Roman Boppard
- Riesling and beer gardens
This route features the following characteristics and interests: Drive to route, History, Wine
Eating and drinking
There are some excellent chefs en route – notably Edgar and Willi at Kaub, and Werner at Rhens. Werner specializes in “Wildgerichte” from his own hunt – so venison and wild boar in particular. He recommends a local red wine – Dornfelder from Weingut Kronen-Hof – but a richer Riesling will also work well with “Wild”.
How much Walking?
Using shortening options: 7-12km per day, 2-3½ hrs (using buses/trains/boats to reduce walking)
Excellent,well-marked and well-surfaced paths and good signage. Tough climbs away from the river but short (typically 100m – 150m ascent). Highest point on route: 470m.
Medium-hard: Average cumulative uphill stretches (CUSs)580m (450m-830m) per day.
Easy-medium: CUSs 270m (200m-350m) per day using shortening options (available each day)
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
This is a route that can be walked from April through to the beginning of November, though accommodation can be difficult to secure during certain festival weeks in September. 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.
Temperature and rainfall chart for Oberwesel
Day 1 - Arrive in Lorch
Arrive at your first accommodation in Lorch, and explore the town for your first German beer or glass of Riesling before finding somewhere congenial to eat.
Day 2 - Lorch to Kaub
After a short ferry ride over the Rhine, head up through the vineyards, for an open day on the west side of the river. Today’s highlight is the riverside town of Bacharach, one of the most beautiful, and with a splendid beer garden for a late lunch. Beware though of the climb back out through the watchtower – the steepest 100m ascent on the route, but with the best views too. Cross the Rhine at the end of the day to little Kaub, and Edgar and Willi Kirdoff’s bustling restaurant-with-rooms. (Medium-hard: 5 hrs, 17 km, CUSs 620m). Shorter alternative – walk to Bacharach then take the boat to Kaub (Easy-medium: 2¾ hrs, 12 km, CUSs 350m)
Day 3 - Kaub/Oberwesel to St. Goar
Recross to Oberwesel and 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, 10km, CUSs 280m). Extend the walk past massive Burg Rheinfels, a ruin that does not bely its complex military history and on to pretty Hirzenach via some wonderful and surprising vistas high above the river (Medium-hard: 6¾ hrs, 21km, CUSs 480m Oberwesel-Hirzenach).
Day 4 - St Goar to Kamp-Bornhofen
After a short walk to riverside Filsen, cross the river to Roman Boppard, the largest of the gorge towns, for an early lunch and a ramble round the old streets and Roman fort, before climbing away from the river (you can use the chair lift instead!) and over the top via 4-Seen-Blick (the Rhine seems like four separate lakes from this point) and down to pretty Rhens, and your overnight stay in an old inn, complete with beer terrace, smiling waitresses and excellent kitchen (your host Werner is the chef). (Medium: 6½ hrs, 19km, CUSs 450m). Alternative – walk as far as Filsen/Boppard for a leisurely lunch, then train to Rhens. (Easy: 2 hrs, 7km, CUS 200m)
Day 5 - Kamp-Bornhofen to Rhens
For an easy day, take the train to Oberwesel and walk back to St Goar past TV’s Günderodehaus, through fields opposite the Loreley for the best views of the fabled rock. (Easy-medium: 3½ hrs, 10km, CUSs 280m). Extend the walk past massive Burg Rheinfels, a ruin that does not bely its complex military history and on to pretty Hirzenach via some wonderful and surprising vistas high above the river (Medium-hard: 6¾ hrs, 21km, CUSs 480m Oberwesel-Hirzenach).
Return home – or why not stay a further night and make the most of the museums, castles (Fortress Ehrenbreitstein in Koblenz is now accessible by cable car across the Rhine), gardens and restaurants that the Rhine, with its amazing transport network, offers?
ARRIVING BY AIR
Two airports serve the route – Frankfurt International (best – around 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 18:00, Cologne Bonn 16:00 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.
ARRIVING BY TRAIN
Nearest railway station:
Start: Lorch (or Kaub for shorter option)
Sample journey by rail:
Via Frankfurt: Direct to Lorch ~1½ hr.
Koblenz or Rhens 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. An alternative is to drive to Rhens (leave your car on street, train back to the start of the route).
Getting to the start of the walk
The first hotel is normally in Lorch (Kaub for shorter versions), and the last in Koblenz (Rhens for shorter versions). Transfer times and methods are suggested for the two nearest airports below. For train arrival transfers see below.
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
Transfers from train stations:
Outward: Local taxi or 10-20 minutes walk to first hotel
Return: 5-7 minutes walk to Koblenz or Rhens stations
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
The accommodation across the route is very friendly and often aimed at walkers. Do consider an upgrade room at our captive castle in St Goar and/or a room with a view at Burg Liebenstein just outside of Kamp-Bornhofen. Please note that twin rooms are often ‘Austrian twins’ – that is, separate mattresses and bedding on the same bed frame.
Night 4 (Upgrade)
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).
Lorch – Hotel im Schulhaus (B&B)
Former Bauhaus-style school, completely renovated and opened as a hotel ten years ago. Very welcoming to walkers.Website
Lorch – Burghotel Lorch (B&B)
A traditional hotel overlooking the river, with a warm welcome.Website
Kaub – Hotel Deutsches Haus (B&B)
A friendly village restaurant with basic rooms above. Near railway.Website
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).Website
Kamp-Bornhofen – Hotel Becker (B&B)
Charming, well-furnished hotel with good restaurant and wine-tasting opportunities.Website
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).Website
Total 5 nights in double/twin room, all breakfasts, 2 picnics, 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 £160
Lone Traveller Additional Supplement (LTAS): From £160
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 £25 per person
Maximum party size: 16
Upgrade room at Schloss Rheinfels in St Goar and/or upgrade to Burg Liebenstein in Kamp-Bornhofen (includes evening meal): Varies with season and room type – contact On Foot.
Extra nights in any hotel: Contact On Foot Holidays
Sending Walkers Packs to addresses outside the UK: £10-£40 (per pack, location dependent)
Our local team
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.