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Germany September 2020 itenerary advice

My wife and I are Flying into Frankfurt Friday Sept 18th, from there our plan is to go to Rhein area...perhaps stay in Bacharach for 3 nights to see the Rhein in Flammen and then on Monday morning head to Munich...actually we are staying in Freising (hotel already booked as we had stayed here before) and then head into Oktoberfest early Tuesday's on my bucket list. Wednesday we are making our way to Zagreb to meet friends.
My wife thinks we should rent a car for Germany portion but I am more inclined to take trains (we rented a car last time we went 2 years ago).

Would Bacharach be the preferred location to stay in the rhein area?
Would the train prove to be very expensive from FRA to Bacharach then to Munich or would a car give us better bang for our buck?
Also has anyone taken the Train from Munich to Zagreb? we are also contemplating this rather than flying.


Posted by
4968 posts

"Would Bacharach be the preferred location to stay in the rhein area?"

Well, the Rhein in Flammen event that weekend will be in St. Goar. With St. Goar accommodations you don't have to transport yourselves from what will be a big event with a large crowd. St. Goar is strategically (and scenically) preferable to Bacharach as well for getting around the Rhine Valley; it has a handy ferry crossing (which Bacharach lacks) and of course Rheinfels Castle (one of the area's main attractions) is right there as well.

Riverfront rooms with nice views of the valley and river can be had in St. Goar (not so in Bacharach, where the town is well back from the river.) I would book as soon as possible. Be aware that some places may not yet be open to reservations as it's still pretty early.

Many of Bacharach's inns are positioned near the tracks (think train noise) so if you book there you may want to look in the Blüchertal area (the north end of town, up a little canyon) or at least peruse the reviews for complaints about noise.) Will you be taking a Rhine cruise? The best cruise is Bingen > St. Goar or Bingen > Boppard. It's more convenient to be staying in one of those towns so that you don't need a train ride to the start point and an additional train back home (like you do if you stay in Bachararch.) I like Bacharach very much. It has the most attractive old-world buildings in the area and a nice atmosphere. But I like it better as a place to visit on a train outing than as a place to stay.

Boppard might be a good alternative to St. Goar. It's the only town in this area of the river that provides guests with a free "Guest Ticket" for outings on the train system (which here, as in most parts of Germany, is very well developed and dependable.) Boppard also has an attractive waterfront - and more hotel and restaurant choices than the other towns. It too has a ferry crossing (though it's less convenient.) I've stayed there several times - great town, with a fantastic chairlift ride where you take a short walk to the lookout at Gedeonseck.

Check the saver fare options for your train trip from St. Goar to Munich. Bought well in advance, fares are VERY inexpensive.

Posted by
64 posts

wow, fantastic information.
Honestly we only chose Bacharach because we weren't certain where to stay, we will now look at St Goar.
Looking now at hotels I do see that their reservations are not yet open for next fall.

We will also look into fare saver for the train to Munich.

Thanks again

Posted by
4968 posts

You may need a few planning tools...

Here is a map for you with the railways, the ferry crossings, and links to the towns from Koblenz south to Bingen:

(Note that Boppard's ferry crossing requires a somewhat lengthy walk from the dock on the opposite side to the train station in Filsen. St. Goar's ferry crossing puts you much closer to the train station on the other side.)

Here's a map of the best cruise segment:

Best Rhine Castle tour: Marksburg, in Braubach:

Braubach Map - take dotted green line to castle (Fußweg zur Marksburg) from town, DB = rail station)

Braubach's old town center:

Posted by
64 posts

This is fantastic, thanks so much for all of your work in providing this information.

Posted by
921 posts

Russ knows much more than I do about this area but I did find Bacharach to be a much prettier village than Sankt Goar, though the latter does have the fabulous ruin of Rheinfels.

If you are hanging around for a few days then take a day cruise as well. Eltville is far but worth it as a day trip, the small old town by the water is nice and Kloster Eberbach (above the town, a fee to enter the former monastery buildings) is reachable by bus I believe - the restaurant serves nice food and is terribly attractive inside.

My wife and I visited Rheinstein Castle this year (hotel with restaurant and museum, some of the old keep open for visitors) and were pleasantly suprised.

Posted by
64 posts

wow, that place is a winner for certain, I have emailed them to ask about rates and availability.
Still uncertain as to where we should stay... Bacharach having more of a German town feel and Sankt Goar being in a better location for Rhein in Flammen.
Which place has best location for beer garden/restaurants, if any. Sankt Goar seems to have very few restaurants, is this the case, compared to Bacharach

Thanks for all the info, greatly appreciated

Posted by
4968 posts

Which place has best location for beer garden/restaurants, if any. Sankt Goar seems to have very few restaurants, is this the case,
compared to Bacharach

Don't know what your source is, but for its size, St. Goar has a good selection of restaurants, including some with a definite "German feel" to them as well as the outdoor seating situations, some with nice views, maybe like what you are looking for.

Zur Loreley
Alla Fontana
Zur Krone
Zum Goldenen Löwen
Am Markt
Landgraf terrace
Bistro-Cafe St. Goar

Bacharach is a somewhat "sleepier" town by comparison. The restaurant count is probably about the same as in St. Goar - but it is definitely slimmer on tables with a view, and probably a little slimmer on outdoor options.

A livelier town that's close by with a great selection of eateries is Boppard. Boppard has a developed waterfront promenade with a slew of nice places. You can be in Boppard in 10 minutes from St. Goar. And in the other direction 10 minutes is Bacharach.

Last summer we left our St. Goar hotel for Boppard one evening and dined on the outdoor terrace of the zur Krone while watching the passing river boats. Nice place.

Posted by
64 posts

Gold Jerry, Gold.
My source is google maps..... tripadvisor ad neither of them gave the quality of information that you have given.
So greatly appreciated

Posted by
64 posts

Rheinhotel is booked for our dates in September...because of Rhein in Flammen, but I did manage to book Rheinfels which is right beside it.

Posted by
613 posts

I'm a confirmed advocate in travel by car, but unless you can take 7-10 days to drive from the Rhine to Munich, take a night train.

Posted by
4968 posts

Rheinhotel St. Goar: Actually, rather than being sold out, I think they haven't opened up reservations yet for that far out.

"...take a night train": This would enhance your on-the-ground sightseeing time, but there are some pretty good afternoon departures for St. Goar - Munich that take only about 5 hours. The 15:26 from St. Goar would give you a good part of the day on the Rhine and still put you in Munich just before 20:30; food service is available if a train-picnic doesn't appeal. Some people enjoy night trains, but IME sleeping on a train is usually pricey and always "iffy" when it comes to a good sleep.

Posted by
5 posts

Great information here, as I am researching the same type of info. My wife and I are actually planning to fly into FRA in Oct. '20 for a 2 week Germany trip and were planning to spend our first few nights in one of these towns. I have 2 additional questions.

  • If spending around 3 nights in either Bacharach, St. Goar, or Boppard, with the intent of "seeing the Rhine", visiting some vineyards and castles (Burg Eltz and/or Reichsburg Cochem), would you recommend renting a car vs. train/public transport? After those first few days we'll be off to Baden-Baden and also not sure about drive/train for that leg too.
  • Are there decent bicycling opportunities under 20 miles in that area. Mostly for seeing the Rhine and countryside? Thanks
Posted by
15574 posts

There are paved bike trails along both the Rhine and the Mosel. Many hotels and small B&B's have bikes you can rent. You can even takes bikes on local trains outside of rush hour. If you stay in Boppard, not only do you have a large number of restaurants and hotels, they give you a Guest Card that is good throughout the VRM transit network for free use of regional trains and buses. That includes along the Rhine south to Oberwesel, north to just short of Bonn, and along to Mosel to Bulay and Traben-Trarbach.

Posted by
4968 posts

"...would you recommend renting a car vs. train/public transport?"

No, not generally speaking, not unless you pick accommodations that would be difficult without a car. An example might be the clifftop-situated Auf Schönburg Castle-Hotel in Oberwesel, or one of the winery-inns tucked away back from the Rhine on one of its tributaries.

Here is the VRM Guest Ticket information that Sam refers to.

You can see the train routes for this part of the Rhine on this map. It also shows the ferry crossings (trains only cross the river in Koblenz.) Note that train users will probably find St. Goar the most convenient base town if they plan to use the east-bank train line that connects Braubach (home of Marksburg Castle, offering the best Rhine castle tour) and Rüdesheim (famous and touristy wine town.) Rheinfels Castle, scenery, central location, waterfront hotels, and cruise logistics also make St. Goar the top choice, IMHO.

Keep your eye on the hotel bookings. Some may not yet be open to reservations. But there will be a lot of demand for rooms that weekend in all the towns. The Rhein in Flammen is in St. Goarshausen, across the river - so St. Goar will surely be popular.

Here's the St. Goar TI office set of listings - not 100% complete but pretty close.

The Guest Ticket for two is inexpensive if you must buy it - but it is also available for free at a few locations in St. Goar, including this apartment / guest house, operated by one of Rick Steves' recommended hosts:

The "booking" engine I often consult says you can't reserve yet; you may want to contact them directly at their homepage above if interested.

Boppard is also a very good choice on the Rhine - and although you don't mention the Mosel specifically, perhaps a preferable base town if you are going to take outings by train to the Mosel towns and castles (that's where Eltz and Reichsburg are located.)

Boppard has more wine spots as well, I'm pretty sure...
List with addresses:

TI Boppard rooms/apartments

Final thoughts on driving...

  • Driving from the airport into unfamiliar surroundings after a red-eye flight across several time zones - in a possible state of jet-lag - is a really bad idea.

  • Driving from place to place on the Rhine will but the vise grips on your wine fun.

  • Baden-Baden: You don't need a car to get there. Here's a map showing Baden-Baden on the major train line into Switzerland.

Also... if you are not into casinos and spa treatments, go somewhere else! There are many nice places in the region that are great to visit and easy to reach by train. One option: ake the train a little further south - to Offenburg - and change there to the Black Forest Railway (like the Rhine, of of Germany's most scenic routes.)

Gengenbach (near Offenburg on that map) is an old walled town and a great travel base.