Travel through the Rhine Valley

Categories: Family and Kids, Sightseeing, Cultural and History

Bacharach (adjacent to Rhine River)
Bacharach (adjacent to Rhine River)

[ source: Flickr]

Any trip to Germany warrants travel along the Rhine Valley or Middle Rhine (German Mittelrhein), the most famous section of the Rhine, running between the cities of Bonn (Bonn vacation rentals | Bonn travel guide) and Mainz (Mainz vacation rentals | Mainz travel guide) in Germany and spanning the states of North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate. The section from Koblenz (Koblenz vacation rentals | Koblenz travel guide) to Bingen (Bingen vacation rentals | Bingen travel guide), known as the Rhine Gorge, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the entire valley is often called The Romantic Rhine.

The Rhine Valley, where the Rhine carves its way through steep hills topped with countless castles and ruins, is one of the most famous and most heavily touristed parts of Germany. Traveling along this part of the Rhine Valley is very easy — cruises, castles and winery tours by day, sampling the wine at night — and it's no surprise that the visiting demographic is slanted heavily towards retirees looking for an easy break.


Notable points along the Rhine Valley to travel, in order from north to south:

When to Go

The peak season is definitely summer, when the hillsides are green and the cruise boats busy. In September, many inns and restaurants already start closing down for the winter, and almost all cruises end by November, starting up again in April.

Getting Around

The Rheinland-Pfalz-Ticket lets groups of up to five people travel freely for a day (9 AM onwards on weekdays, all days weekends, up to 3 AM of the following day) by train, bus and local transport within the state of Rhineland-Palatinate for € 26, or € 18 for a single person. In addition to the core stretch along the Rhine (Remagen-Oberwesel inclusive) and the train line along the Mosel, the ticket also covers a few handy train stretches outside state boundaries, notably Rolandseck-Bonn and Koblenz-Wiesbaden-Mainz.

By train

There are not one but two train lines running along this section of the Rhine. The scenic Linke Rheinstrecke (Left Rhine Line) runs along the left (west) bank of the river from Cologne (Cologne vacation rentals | Cologne travel guide) to Mainz, while the Rechte Rheinstrecke (Right Rhine Line) runs along the right (east) bank of the river from Cologne to Wiesbaden (Wiesbaden vacation rentals | Wiesbaden travel guide). The Linke side, generally considered the more scenic of the two, is more heavily trafficked and has InterCity services, while the Rechte side is mostly dedicated to cargo and is limited to regional passenger trains running less than once per hour. Interchanging between the two is possible at Koblenz; the city is on the left, but many trains running on the Rechte start or terminate in there.

Beware that, if you're buying individual tickets, train zones get confusing and pricy fast. While the core of the Rhine Valley is in Rhineland-Pfalz's VRM tariff zone, the Rheingau stretch east of Lorch is also in Frankfurt's RMV zone, while going north of Remagen (Remagen vacation rentals | Remagen travel guide) passes into Cologne's VRS area.

By boat

The Köln-Düsseldorfer Rheinschiffahrt, better known as KD, runs cruises and scheduled services up and down the river between Cologne and Mainz. The summer season (May-Sept) sees up to 8 services daily on the busiest parts of the river, but services are cut considerably in the shoulder seasons of April and October and slow down to a trickle in the winter. Traveling end to end takes over 11 hours (€ 49 one way), so most travellers opt for much smaller segments: St. Goar to Bingen, for example, passes by the famous rock of Loreley, takes about 90 minutes and costs € 15.30.

While KD has the most extensive network and schedules, there is quite a bit of competition. For example, Bingen-Rudesheimer operates scheduled services on the south half between Rüdesheim and St. Goar.

[ source: Wikitravel ]

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Location, Map, and Driving Directions

Location: Rüdesheim am Rhein, Germany

[ view larger map ]

Additional travel info

The most common starting points for a tour of the Rhine Valley are Cologne, just north of Bonn, and Frankfurt, just east of Rüdesheim. Frankfurt is actually on the Main, not the Rhine itself, so the Rhine towns of Mainz and Wiesbaden also make popular starting points.

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