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Best Town on the Rhine for 1 night?

What is the best town on the Rhine to spend a night at and do some sight seeing? Preferably a town that has easy access to Burg Eltz. We were contemplating Bacharach!

Posted by
16056 posts

See the other thread. Russ suggests Boppard. Never been to either, but the fact that it is in the VRM network makes it cheaper and quicker to get to Burg Eltz.

Posted by
17979 posts

Oberwesel and St. Goar are also in the VRM network (the border of the Verkehrsverbund is between Bacharach and Oberwesel), but Boppard (pr Bop' art) is closer to Burg Eltz.

Bacharach is in the RNN (Rhein-Nahe-Nahverkehrsverbund), in a tariff zone "shared" with Frankfurt's RMV (Rhein-Main-Verkehrsverbund), which is why you have to go to RMV.de in order to purchase a ticket online from the airport to Bacharach.

If you are only spending one night and going to Burg Eltz, you might want to consider staying on the Mosel, in Moselkern or Treis-Karden.

Posted by
19 posts

@lee Funny but sill us we never considered staying the night in Moselkern. Is it a pretty city or is there one close (Treis Karden) that makes a better base? We were hoping to stay a night in Trier travel to Burg Eltz and then spend the next night in Bacharach but that might be too much traveling for us.

Posted by
4890 posts

Anita, I loved Lee's encyclopedic reply. But you didn't say whether you meant "car" or "public transit", which is crucial. Even with a car, I think Trier is too far to visit Burg Eltz and drive far onward in the same day. I can tell you that we stopped at Burg Eltz on the day we drove from Andernach (... not a town that answers your question! ... ), and drove a short distance on to our three-night stay in the luxury (and expensive) Romantikhotel Richtershof in Mülheim. We did a daytrip by car to Trier from there. At a lower budget, I'd consider two good Mosel hotel stops to be Traben-Trarbach and slightly higher upscale, Bernkastel-Kues. But if you are willing to settle for one small winery and a train station, there are lots of cheaper towns on the Mosel.

I do note that your OP said "on the Rhine". I just agree that if your real objective is Trier (a slighly overrated destination, for the distance involved), as another post said, the Mosel should be considered. Big digression: While the medieval Rhine castle-zone is scenic and important, I think it's too bad that more Rick Steves readers seem to visit Trier and apparently skip Cologne.

BTW, there is a big base of discussions here about whether to walk to Burg Eltz through the forest from the Moselkern train station. I have no comment, not having done it. I do think there are better castles than Burg Eltz, especially from a "medieval atmosphere" point of view.

Posted by
17979 posts

Moselkern is a very small village at the base of the walk up to Burg Eltz. There are a couple of places to stay there. See their website. Select Hotel or Pension. Some websites will be in English (you are going to be in Germany).

Treis-Karden is actually two villages (Tries and Karden) across the Mosel from each other. The station is in Karden. If you stay in T-K on a weekday, you will have to go by train to Moselkern and hike to Burg Eltz, but on weekends, there are buses from Tries (2 stops) and from Karden (2 stops) to Burg Eltz. In Treis, I would recommend staying here.

Posted by
19 posts

@tim my Fiancé and I are rethinking Trier and considering a smaller town on the Mosel that makes access to Burg Eltz easy. Cochem, Koblenz or Moselkern are options. We would ideally like to stay in a quaint little town that will prove interesting for the evening we spend there. Not knowing much about moselkern we wonder how interesting of a city it is. We are solely using public transportation.

What castles do you recommend? Burg Eltz was the only one we planned on touring.

@lee thanks for the recommendation and clarification.

We read the Burg Eltz website but found the directions confusing. The travel logistics are a bit daunting.
Any explanation would be great!

We are coming in from Paris, here's what we are thinking:

  • Depart Paris in Afternoon and arrive at some little Mosel Town by 5pm. Spend evening at that town. If it's MoselK Erin would we have time to visit Burg Eltz the same day?

  • Next day travel early morning to Burg Eltz, Travel to boppard and catch the cruise to Bacharach. Enjoy the town.

  • Depart to Rothenburg ob de tauter in the morning.

Posted by
5153 posts

There's nothing to do at night in Moselkern except watch the river go by - a nice place for that if that's all you want.

If you're staying on the Mosel... Cochem is the most attractive and also liveliest of the small towns between Trier and Koblenz and in the evenings will have the most going on. Its old town zone is full of half timbered buildings, cobblestoned streets, narrow alleyways, and old town walls and towers. There are numerous dining and lodging options. It has excellent train connections and is only about 15 minutes from Moselkern for the walk to Burg Eltz. It is much smaller than the city of Trier and you should not expect a city experience there. But for a Mosel village, it's your best bet for "interesting."

Walt to Burg Eltz (courtesy of Bavaria Ben)

If you'll be on the Rhine... I'd recommend Boppard for proximity to the Mosel destinations and for the same characteristics it shares to some degree with Cochem. But as nice as Boppard is, Cochem is still more compelling.

Posted by
5153 posts

"Next day travel early morning to Burg Eltz, Travel to boppard and catch the cruise to Bacharach. Enjoy the town."

It sounds wrong, but it's generally better to take the train to Bacharach first, drop your bags at your hotel, and THEN take a cruise north to Boppard (1.5 hours) before ending your travel day in Bacharach.

If you travel as you have planned, you will have to lug your bags not only from the Bacharach dock to your hotel, but from the Boppard station to the boat dock prior to the cruise. Also, you'll have to spend not 1.5 but 2.5 hours on the boat to Bacharach (it's a strong current you'll be fighting in that direction.) You'll have to have to deal with your luggage on the boat, and you will see nothing more in that extra hour.

If you follow my suggestion, when your boat docks in Boppard, it's a slight uphill walk to the station (but without bags) then about 20-25 minutes to Bacharach by train. But I would suggest an additional stop prior to Bacharach in attractive Oberwesel (walk atop the old town wall from tower to tower, nice views) or St. Goar (Rheinfels castle, self-guided tour, great view from up there of the valley and 2 castles across the river as well.)

Posted by
19 posts

Thanks Russ! How is Koblenz for our first base. Cochem is very tempting and looks gorgeous but given that thee are no lockers in Moselkern. We were thinking about leaving our luggage at the b&b in Koblenz. Training to Koblenz picking up our bags and training to Bacharach and then following your suggestions.

Would a cruise from Bacharach to St. Goar suffice or should we take the extra time and go to Boppard?

Also Mainz, would we be able to see some sights in 2 hours?

Posted by
5153 posts

"Thanks Russ! How is Koblenz for our first base. Cochem is very tempting and looks gorgeous but given that thee are no lockers in Moselkern. We were thinking about leaving our luggage at the b&b in Koblenz. Training to Koblenz picking up our bags and training to Bacharach and then following your suggestions."

Koblenz is a mostly modern place with no old-world charm to speak of - quite far from the quaint village you are looking for (especially near the train station.) And for Burg Eltz, Koblenz is more inconvenient than Cochem might be, since you'll have to travel the 30-minute M'kern-Koblenz segment three times by train and make an extra trip to your B&B. Stay in Cochem. When you go to visit Burg Eltz the next morning, drop your bags at the taxi office right at Cochem station. Take the 15-min. train ride to Moselkern. After Eltz, take the 15-min. train ride back to Cochem, fetch bags, then get on a train to Koblenz and move on to Bacharach.

Taxi office luggage storage

Here's a sample weekday schedule.
Drop bags at taxi office
Lv Cochem 8:26
Ar Moselkern 8:42
Walk to Eltz and tour, walk back
Lv M'kern 12:11
Ar Cochem 12:28, fetch bags
Lv Cochem 12:58
Ar Bacharach 14:30, drop bags at B&B
Lv Bacharach on 15:15 or 17:15 cruise boat
Ar Boppard 16:50 or 18:50 (or St. Goar 15:55 or 17:55)

The 17:15 boat option is a safety valve in case you don't make it back to Moselkern by 12:11 after your Burg Eltz visit.

"Would a cruise from Bacharach to St. Goar suffice or should we take the extra time and go to Boppard?"
That segment is nice but do you only want 40 minutes on the boat? You'll skip a lot of nice scenery that way.

"Also Mainz, would we be able to see some sights in 2 hours?"
I think so. Priorities might be the Market Square (Marktplatz) area around the Dom, the Dom itself, and the old town on and near Augustinerstrasse, including the Augustinerkirche (Church of St. Augustine.)

Posted by
12040 posts

"Koblenz is a mostly modern place with no old-world charm to speak of - quite far from the quaint village you are looking for (especially near the train station.)" This is one of those statements from Mr. Steves that always gets perpetuated as an article of faith despite quite a bit of evidence to the contrary. Yes, there is one main shopping street near the Hauptbahnhof that calling it "ugly" would be charitable. But further towards the confluence of the Rhine and Mosel, Koblenz is very attractive. It has some delightful parks, several old churches, a very nice pedestrian-only shopping district with plenty of good restaurants, a Schloss, an interesting Festung, and some beautiful residential neighborhoods. The highlight of the Rhine, it isn't, but it shouldn't be so immediately dismissed either. There's quite a bit of Old World charm (mostly, late 19th century), but if you just use it as a rail junction, you'll miss it.

Posted by
4890 posts

Anita, it is an article of faith on this board that Burg Eltz is a must-see. Although the recent website rebuild makes it harder, there is a lot of material to search for past comments, a tiny fraction of which echo mine. From the outside, Burg Eltz is absolutely spectacular (except for the times people are devastated to find repair scaffolding visible ... ). But most of the inside is too much like visiting an occupied castle like the royal family in the UK. It's filled with historic and lovely Decorative Arts, but not very medieval. Over on the Rhine, there are much bare-er but medieval-looking castles, some of which are visitable. We naively gave Burg Eltz priority, so I can't name them, but several have been recommended here in the last twelve months. One advantage to you is that (unless seeing the Mosel is important on its own) a Rhine castle would save you precious time in a dead-run, Rick Steves itinerary by public transit.
Although we drove, I would not recomend visting Burg Eltz with luggage in tow. But I am certain that vast numbers of backpackers do so.
I agree that Koblenz is an attractive city that actually has nightlife. (not to mention Deutsches Eck, a cablecar (check if it's still running, please, museums and churches, and a zillion train connections-plus a sighting of the Mosel river, and in season, boat departures for the Mosel.) But I think (trying to read affect from text) you really want a sleepy German village that does have five restaurants to choose from. That's not Koblenz.
Assuming you are working from Rick's book, please read it more closely. I also overlooked (I mean, in the book) that the Rhine runs, powerfully, northwards. Luckily, people here alerted me in time. And the Northbound boats do not go so fast that you don't get a good view of things! You don't have time to ride upstream.

Posted by
19 posts

Oh wow, thanks for taking the time to reply in so much detail! A few more questions:

What ticket should we buy for the day? I know the KD or K-D works, what are the other cruises we could take?

Russ thanks so much the itinerary that's super!

Posted by
5153 posts

"Koblenz is a mostly modern place with no old-world charm to speak of - quite far from the quaint village you are looking for (especially near the train station.)" This is one of those statements from Mr. Steves that always gets perpetuated as an article of faith ..."

I am not the sort to pass on Rick Steves gossip. I penned that sentence - and take full credit for the idea as well. I have wandered Koblenz's streets on numerous occasions with my own two legs because it looked like it might be a great place. If it's a great place, then it's a great place in the same way that dozens and dozens of other German cities that were mostly bombed to dust are great places - in other words, it's a very average place in Germany, nothing terribly special, except perhaps the Festung (which is actually outside town in Ehrenbreitstein.) A couple of nice parks, a couple of old churches and mostly post-war concrete with a handful - a really disproportionately small handful - of blocks that are sort of interesting don't add up to much. It's just not the sort of place that anyone pumps up as a great destination, and if Rick dismisses it from his book, he is quite right to do so.

Anita has asked for a "quaint village" to use as a rail junction where she could spend the night. Koblenz, with a population of 100,000, is neither a village, nor quaint. It is indeed a fine rail junction if you stay in the completely uncharming vicinity of the rail station. If you stay in the semi-quaint old town area, you are a LONG way from the rail station.

Posted by
19 posts

Thanks everyone! I think we are set on Cochem - it's got the character that we are looking for and is well connected on the transport front. Thank you for all the advice!

Posted by
122 posts

Staying in an 800 year old castle in Bacharach:
Here's our experience staying at Burg Stahleck. We walked the thousand steps incl luggage to the Burg (just about did me in) and registered. What a busy place for a DJH (German Youth Hostel). A very popular place - you need to book in advance. A lot of travellers without reservations were turned away. We ended up in a Turmzimmer (tower room). Small, 3 bed room with its own bathroom. My son and I thought we had the room to ourselves - but at 9 pm a Japaneses student showed up. His first day in Germany. We showed him how to set up his bedding. He spoke very little English - but we laughed a lot. Dinner was buffet style with a good variety. Same with breakfast (incl in our E 24.00/ night). From the terrace you'll have an incredible view of the Rhein river. It's easy to meet travellers from all over the world. After breakfast, we exchanged small gifts with our Japanese student and made our way to the KD line ferry dock for our trip to Koblenz. Great memories staying in a 800 year old castle - but no Hilton. Membership card in HI (Hostelling International) and reservation a must.