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The Romantic Rhine (Rhine Gorge)

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Marksburg Castle, Germany
Marksburg Castle, © Udo Kruse - Fotolia.com

The Upper Middle Rhine extends from Rüdesheim through to Koblenz.  It is also referred to as the Rhine Gorge or the Romantic Rhine and is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  This is the most scenic section of the Rhine and it is famous for its castles ("burg" in German).  It is visited by major international cruise lines and by local day cruises too.

Weather:

The Rhine Gorge is a summer tourist destination.  Average temperatures peak in July and August at 80 F (26 C), while lows are about 55 F (13 C).  By December and January average highs are 40 F (5 C) and average lows are just below freezing.  Precipitation is light throughout the year, but tends to spike in July.  August is the perfect time to visit Rhine Gorge for weather, but spring and fall may be more enjoyable with reduced tourist volumes.

Transportation:

K-D (Koln Dusseldorfer) operates trips on the Rhine Gorge throughout the year.  It's best to take a train to Rüdesheim and then cruise to Koblenz, because the river flow adds many hours to a day trip up river.  For example, it is more than 6.5 hours from Koblenz to Rüdesheim , but just over 4 hours the other way.  The Bingen-Rudesheimer Boat Connection also travels the Rhine Gorge, but only from Rüdesheim to St Goar.  True castle lovers may prefer to drive this section of the Rhine on both sides and castle hop.  Many of the castles are open to public tours and several allow overnight stays.  Make sure to plan your route, as there are no bridges across the Rhine in the Rhine Gorge.

the Goethe steamer, Rhine Valley

the Goethe, steamer

Auto ferries are available for Rhine crossings at the following Rhine kilometer markers :

  • 528 - Bingen to Rüdesheim

  • 539 - Lorch to Niederheimbach

  • 547 - Kaub to Engelsburg

  • 556 - Sankt Goar to Sankt Goarhausen

A passenger only ferry is available at marker 584 between Stolzenfels and Lahnstein and from Kaub to the island fortress of Pfalzgrafenstein.

Pfalzgrafenstein on the Upper Middle Rhine, Germany

Pfalzgrafenstein

Attractions on the Rhine Gorge:

Things to see and do:

The Rhine has kilometer markers all along it indicating the distance north of the unnavigable Rhine Falls.  The castles were built along the gorge as fortifications and as a means of economic control over the river passage.  Most were built in the 1200s and most were damaged by Napoleon's forces in the 1800s.  Here is the list of the castles on the Rhine Gorge listed by their kilometer marker, starting upstream and increasing as you head toward the Atlantic:

Mouse Tower in the Rhine River, Germany

Mouse Tower in the Rhine River, © emer - Fotolia.com

Kilometer Marker:

  • 527 - The town of Rüdesheim.

  • 529 - Der Binger Mauseturm (the Mouse Tower) was a tax collection station in the 1200s.  It's located on an island in the Rhine.

  • 530 - Ehrenfels Castle is in ruins.  It was built in the 1200s for defensive purposes.  Ehrenfelser wine is named after it.

  • 533 - Rheinstein Castle is a family owned structure from the 1200s that is open daily for tours.

  • 534 - Reichenstein Castle is also known as Falkenburg. It was built in the 1200s and is open to the public.  It has a working drawbridge.

Castle Schoenburg, Germany

Castle Schönburg

  • 538 - Sooneck Castle was built in the 1200s and is open to the public.

  • 540 - Heimburg is a castle situated right in the riverside town of Niederheimbach.  It is not open to the public.

  • 543 - Jugendherberge Burg Stahleck Castle at the town of Bacharach is open to the public.

  • 545 - Pfalzgrafenstein Castle is a former toll both on an island in the Rhine.

  • 545 - Gutenfels Castle was open to the public as a hotel until 2006 when it became privately owned.

  • 546 - Castle Hotel Auf Schönburg at Oberwesel welcomes overnight visitors.

Loreley Rock on the Upper Middle Rhine, Germany

Loreley Rock, © Can Stock Photo / rbouwman

  • 554 - The Lorelei (Loreley) is an historically treacherous river bend at the Loreley rock near St. Goarshausen.  Legend has it that Lorelei committed suicide here and her spirit distracts sailors with a sound that leads to shipwrecks.

  • 556 - Katz Castle at St Goarshausen was built in the 1300s and is currently privately owned.

  • 557 - Rheinfels Castle at St Goar was started in 1245 and is the largest castle on the Rhine Gorge.  It is open to the public.   

  • 559 - Maus Castle, on the St Goarshausen side of the Rhine was built in 1356.

  • 567 - Sterrenberg & Liebenstein Castles are also referred to as the Hostel Brothers due to the feud between the two siblings that resulted in the construction of a wall between the castles so the brothers wouldn't see each other.  The Liebenstein Castle has been a family run hotel since 1995.

Boppard, Germany

Boppard

  • 570 - The town of Boppard.

  • 580Marksburg Castle at Braubach was started in the 1100s and is the most popular tourist destination on the Rhine Gorge. 

  • 585 - Lahneck Castle was built in 1226 and is privately owned.  There is currently no public access.  Stolzenfels Castle is across the river from Lahneck Castle.  It was built in the 1200s and is distinctive for its white color and for its church located in front of its fortress walls.  This castle is open to the public and is a popular destination due to its beauty and its proximity to Koblenz.

  • 590 - The city of Koblenz.

Stolzenfels Castle, Germany

Stolzenfels Castle

Hotels in Koblenz

Mercure Hotel Koblenz

Hotel Ibis Koblenz

Hotels in Rüdesheim


View the Upper Middle Rhine Valley map


View Rhine Gorge Pics