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advice for Rhine River cruise/train

My family and I are living in Hamburg for a year. We are going to the Rhine River Valley later this week for the Pentecost holidays. Thanks to advice from this forum, we decided to stay in Boppard. We arrive Thursday afternoon by train & depart on Saturday. We do not have a car.

Friday will be the designated day for cruising the Rhine. My questions are about the logistics of boat and train. RS recommends river cruise between Bacharach & St. Goar & visiting Rheinfels Castle in St. Goar. However, St. Goar is 1/2 way between Boppard & Bacharach. So we would need to get off at St. Goar, walk around & see the castle, then get on another boat and go to Bacharach. Then take the train back to Boppard.

Based on this timetable (https://www.k-d.com/en/downloads) we could do the following:

-board 10am boat at Boppard. Arrive at St. Goar at 12:20.
-Eat lunch & visit castle.
-The next boat that stops at St. Goar is 4:10pm. That puts us in Bacharach at 5:20pm. Train options returning to Boppard are at 5:45, 6:15, 6:45, and 7:45 (it takes a bit under 30 minutes). We can either eat dinner there or in Boppard.

Does this schedule make sense?
Should we plan on building in time to wander around Bacharach?

Or are we better off doing the trip in reverse (take train to Bacharach, get the 12pm boat to St. Goar, then get the 3:30 or 5:30pm train back to Boppard)? This option would give us a bit under an hour in Bacharach and either 2 hr 50 min. or 4 hr 50 min. in St. Goar.

Can we re-board the boat with the same ticket (is it hop-on/hop-off)? Or would we have to buy 2 tickets?

Posted by
5450 posts

I trust you have read Russ' extensive past gems of information, perhaps using the search box top center.

Did you notice that the Rhine flows north here? That means the boats are a little faster (but no, not too fast to enjoy the view) northbound. I personally find it inconvenient to use the KD boats as if they were city busses running every 8 minutes!

FWIW, we boarded in Bingen and got off in Boppard. We had a hearty German lunch ON the boat, with beer. No shore time wasted on lunching. But boats might be crowded on a holiday weekend. KD offered a huge variety of tickets, including single journeys and full day passes, so you can buy what you need. Note that there is a discount for showing the KD ticket booth a same-day rail ticket. But you may find a multi-person ticket saves you even more, both for the train and for the boat. Russ is also an expert on regional rail discounts. Presumably you have Bahn Cards by now?

Posted by
9 posts

Yes, we have DB discount cards and our daughter rides for free (under 14). It also occurred to me after writing post that we could take boat all the way to Bacharach and then take train to St. Goar, see castle, take train to Boppard. That might be easiest so we wouldn't have to hop off/on the boat. This would mean leaving Boppard at 11am, arriving in Bacharach at 1:30pm. That way we would have lunch on board the boat.

Posted by
16716 posts

Could you do the castle tour Saturday morning, then get a train back to Hamburg at 13:39 on Saturday, getting to Hamburg Hbf at 19:14? That way, you could do the Rhine cruise on one shot on Friday. I see the 11:00 boat from Boppard is the RMS Goethe, a replica side wheeler. Take it all the way to Bingen, getting there at 15:00. Maybe stop in Bacharach on the way back to Boppard.

When Russ sees this, I am sure he will give you the benefit of his experience.

Posted by
9 posts

We have train tickets to go to Koln on Saturday. We are spending the night there & returning to Hamburg on Sunday. Is there any reason to go all the way to Bingen instead of stopping at Bacharach?

Posted by
9 posts

By the way, when I search for Russ Rhine, it shows 250 results. So I have no idea how to find the posts by Russ.

Posted by
16716 posts

I say go all the way to Bingen because there is still plenty of the Rhine gorge and castles to see beyond Bacharach. Just because Rick stops there doesn't mean you have to.

Posted by
27707 posts

when I search for Russ Rhine, it shows 250 results.

Probably the vast majority of those will include his writing about that part of the world. Filter by last 6 months for his most current version.

Happy reading....

Not everything Rick writes is gospel for every traveller. If your circumstances are different to what he assumes as the common denominator, go with what works best for you and yours....

Posted by
5450 posts

Actually, I believe that the "signature" is not part of a post on this board, from the Search Engine's point of view. So "Russ" (or anyone else) is found when he is replied to by name!

I suggest you search for "Middle Rhine Goar", then click on the Travel Forum filter, and then maybe on "2 years" if there are still a lot of results. Here are two:

https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/germany/1-day-castle-river-trip-from-cologne-area-to-heidelberg

https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/germany/suggestions-for-extra-days-in-the-rhine-river-valley-before-our-tour-begins-in-trier

Posted by
5552 posts

Hi, es_prins. I tend to customize advice to each person's situation - hence the volume of posts on this topic. I'll do that again here.

You will miss half the best river scenery if you cruise only the St. Goar / Bacharach segment. A boat cruising south to north goes with the current and saves time.

So after a leisurely Boppard breakfast...

1) Catch the direct train from Boppard Hbf station to Bingen Rhein Stadt station (9:44 - 10:29)

2) Walk to the KD boat dock to catch the 11:15 boat to St. Goar (arr. 12:40.)

3) Tour Rheinfels Castle at your leisure. Get some lunch.

4) Take the train to Bacharach (9-min. train ride.) Trains leave St. Goar at :56 after the hour. 15:56 - 16:05? 16:56 - 17:05?

5) Stroll the lovely buildings of Bacharach. Have dinner there?

6) Return train to Boppard. Direct trains take about 20 mins. with departures at 17:12, 17:34, 17:50, 18:21, 18:28, 18:50, 19:30, 19:50.

The Rheinland-Pfalz ticket day pass covers the train journeys mentioned and should get you a 20% discount on the KD cruise when you present it at the KD kiosk.

Ticketing note: The R-P ticket simplifies the ticketing; however, with your VRM Guest Ticket in hand (which covers you from Boppard as far as Oberwesel) you COULD buy individual tickets for the journey segments south of Oberwesel instead:

€6.80 each (Oberwesel > Bingen) + 2x€2.70 each (Oberwesel > Bacharach + Bacharach > Oberwesel)

But not knowing the composition of your family, I don't know which option would be cheaper.

Posted by
18293 posts

I made my first trip to the Middle-Rhein in 2004. I stayed in Boppard. One day I went to St Goar to visit the castle there, then decided to go on "down" to Bacharach. I knew the Rhein flowed downstream from Bacharach to St Goar, but I didn't realize the strength of the current. The 8.6 mile boat trip from St Goar to Bacharach, against the current, takes 70 minutes. That's less than 7¼ mph. It was excruciatingly slow. Half way through I just wanted it to be over.

In 2017, I went again to the Middle-Rhein. This time I stayed in St Goar. I took the train in the morning to Bingen and rode the boat back to St Goar. It took 1H25, only 15 minutes longer that from St Goar to Bacharach with a lot more to see. That was much better.

I basically agree with Russ, but I would not take the boat just to Bacharach and then train the rest of the way back to Boppard. If you take the train from Bacharach to St Goar, you will miss seeing the mid-river castle, Pfalzgrafenstein , close up, and you will miss riding the boat on the river, under the Lorelei.

Take the 8:15 RE from Boppard to Bingen Stadt Bhf with a 12 minute, one platform change in Bingen Hbf, arriving at Bingen Stadt at 8:56. Walk quickly to the K-D dock (450m), buy your ticket, and board the 9:15 boat. Take the boat as far as St Goar, with or without a 2 hr stopover in Bacharach, visit Rheinfels castle, then train back to Boppard.

Posted by
2062 posts

We were just in the area, and I really liked scenic Bacharach, but it is small. You could explore the town/town walls/tower, and eat , in under three hours. I do recommend climbing the one tower, above the vineyards, that gives a panoramic view of the area and the Rhine.
I've attached my Trip Report, maybe there's something helpful.
Enjoy your trip !

https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/trip-reports/san-diego-to-munich-just-getting-there-part-1 to 7.

Posted by
5552 posts

I basically agree with Russ, but I would not take the boat just to
Bacharach and then train the rest of the way back to Boppard. If you
take the train from Bacharach to St Goar, you will miss seeing the
mid-river castle, Pfalzgrafenstein , close up, and you will miss
riding the boat on the river, under the Lorelei.

Lee: I suggested the same Bingen > St. Goar cruise you are suggesting (though not at the same morning hour.) The Bacharach > St. Goar train suggestion was the 2nd half of a round-trip journey (St. Goar > Bacharach > St. Goar) that the OP could take AFTER the cruise and after the Rheinfels visit in the event that they still wished to see Bacharach (and maybe have dinner there.) With sunset at around 9:30, they'd still have good views of the gorge on the way back to Boppard.

Posted by
843 posts

We did this and it worked well for us. We also stayed in Boppard.

Train from Boppard to St. Goar. Tour the ruins. Have lunch by the river.

Train to Bacharach. Tour the town.

Boat to Boppard. Make sure you know the boat schedule and which ones stop at Boppard. Dinner by the river.

Posted by
9 posts

Thanks, everyone.

Russ, this sounds like a good plan.
"So after a leisurely Boppard breakfast...
1) Catch the direct train from Boppard Hbf station to Bingen Rhein Stadt station (9:44 - 10:29)
2) Walk to the KD boat dock to catch the 11:15 boat to St. Goar (arr. 12:40.)
3) Tour Rheinfels Castle at your leisure. Get some lunch.
4) Take the train to Bacharach (9-min. train ride.) Trains leave St. Goar at :56 after the hour. 15:56 - 16:05? 16:56 - 17:05?
5) Stroll the lovely buildings of Bacharach. Have dinner there?
6) Return train to Boppard. Direct trains take about 20 mins. with departures at 17:12, 17:34, 17:50, 18:21, 18:28, 18:50, 19:30, 19:50."

I'll discuss with my family about stopping in Bacharach.

My daughter is 13, so she should be able to ride DB trains for free or local trains with a child discount. We can't catch any trains before 9:45am because of said teenager (it's a school holiday so she will want to sleep in).

Posted by
9 posts

Re Rheinland-Pfalz ticket, for 2 adults & a teen (free) it would be 31 Euros. Seems like it would be cheaper to do individual tickets (Boppard > Bingen, St. Goar > Bacharach, Bacharach > Boppard), but then do we lose the 20% discount for the KD boat?

Posted by
16716 posts

Are you staying at a hotel in Boppard? If so, you would be given a free VRM pass for unlimited train and bus travel within the Rhein-Mosel Verkehrsverbund (VRM). So going from Boppard to Oberwesel is free, so you only need train tickets from Oberwesel to Bingen. That would be 13.60 EUR or 2 adults and one child. Then from St Goar to Bacharach you again only have to buy ticket from Oberwesel to Bacharach, 5.40 EUR for 2 adults and 1 child, and the same for the return to Boppard. Total ticket cost would be 20.40 EUR. Use the DB app to buy tickets because many stations may not have ticket machines. I would assume your ticket from Oberwesel to Bingen would get you the 20% discount from K-D. You don't need to get off any trains to buy tickets, just change tickets when you cross the VRM border between Oberwesel and Bacharach.

If you are staying in an apartment in Boppard without the free VRM ticket, then yes, the Rheinland-Pfalz Ticket for 31 EUR would be the way to go.

Posted by
9 posts

@Sam, we are staying at Pension Haus Adams, which I believe qualifies as a hotel (it's not an apartment). When we arrive on Thursday, we can sort out the train ticket options at the bahnhof. Thanks for the tips!

Posted by
16716 posts

I am pretty sure the R-P ticket qualifies for the 20% K-D discount as well if your hotel does not participate in the free RMV pass.

Posted by
5552 posts

In Boppard, ALL lodging options will result in a free VRM Guest Ticket.

If you want a longer cruise, and if you're certain you want some time in Bacharach... Start the day as travel4fun did with the train to St. Goar and Rheinfels, then move on to Bacharach. But then head to Bingen for the cruise after that. Fitting it all in puts you on the only direct cruise between Bingen and Boppard (16:30 - 18:50; add on €20 as the standard supplement for 2 adults for the additional cruise time over the St. Goar trip.) So the schedule would be a little more rigid since you must conclude your ground sightseeing by 15:00 in order to make your boat time in Bingen. The train ticketing is simpler however. Only ONE DB ticket will be required (Oberwesel > Bingen Rhein Stadt, €13.60/ 2 adults + kid.) You will use this ticket for O'wesel - Bacharach, make your stopover there, then move on to Bingen with this same ticket (which is valid for any stopovers you like en route.) I suggest departure times as follows for your Boppard > St. Goar > Bacharach > Bingen train trek:

Boppard 9:44
St. Goar 12:56
Bacharach 15:06 (ar. 15:26 Bingen)