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Hike or drive to Burg Eltz?

My wife and I are staying in Mainz for few days in late July and are planning to spend a day exploring Moselle Valley. We are planning to have a car but are not 100% committed to it. From other threads, I saw that there are two options to make it to Burg Eltz – hike from Moselkern or arrive by taxi/car.

Which option would one recommend? Is the hike worth it scenery wise? Is it difficult? My wife and I are in late 30s/early 40s. We occasionally do light hiking on weekends, but not anything overly strenuous.

Thanks you!

Posted by
20461 posts

Well, my wife and I did it and we were 55 and 60 at the time and really had no difficulty, although the last portion was a a bit tiring. As far as scenery, there is none. Know where the saying "You can't see the forest from the trees" comes from? If we had a car, we would not have hiked. If weather was rain, it would have been impossible.

Posted by
1229 posts

Well, I (late 40's) and my then 13yo daughter hiked from the train station 2 years ago and we loved it! If by scenery you mean vistas, then no, there are none. But the forest is beautiful, and then you finally emerge looking up at the castle and put your feet in the stream (we did). Lovely

Posted by
6798 posts

"...planning to spend a day exploring Moselle Valley."

That seems unlikely on a day trip from Mainz. Just driving on the fastest route to the castle and back, with a couple hours at the castle and a short lunch stop on the way, will cost you roughly 6 hours - and will reveal next to nothing of the Mosel Valley.

From a Mainz base, you might instead explore the southern part of the Upper Middle Rhine Valley; Rheinstein, and/or Reichenstein, and/or Pfalzgrafenstein castles are open to visitors and huddled fairly close together between St. Goar and Bingen (the most scenic part of the Rhine Gorge.) You could also check out the very attractive old-world towns of Oberwesel and Bacharach, and for dramatic scenery take the car - or the chairlift ride in Assmannshausen - to the top of the cliffs. There are also castle-cruises that drop you off here and there in this area.

Posted by
13 posts

Russ,

Thank you for your suggestions. We recognize that our plan is time-consuming and inefficient but we have structured our whole Germany trip around having the chance to see the Rhine and Moselle Valley, as that is the only reason we are staying in Mainz in the first place (of course we wanted to say somewhere closer but we could not find any places with AC).

Our plan is one day to take a cruise from Bingen to St. Goar and then check out Bacharach and Oberwesel on the way back. The plan for the second day is to see the Burg Eltz castle and Cochem. Burg Eltz is only an 1 and 15 minutes from Mainz according to GPS. We are analogizing this to exploring Loire Valley in France, where we stayed in Tours and had to drive a similar amount to see Chambord and other castles. We would love to get suggestions on how we can improve or make our plans more efficient, but we don't want to give up on Moselle Valley altogether.

Posted by
3903 posts

I enjoy trains, and I enjoy hiking. So, the train was a no brainer for me, despite having a car when I spent a week on the Rhine. I enjoyed the walk through Moselkern and the quite easy hike to the castle (at least to this 46-year-old). We passed a group of Spanish senior citizens doing the hike without difficulty. The landscape for the hike is a pleasant forest with a small river. As noted above, it's pretty cool to be walking along and look up to see the castle appear amidst the trees.

Posted by
32268 posts

Zack,

You can easily travel by train and then use the shuttle bus from several towns to Burg Eltz. This website shows the options - https://www.burg-eltz.de/en/planning-your-trip-to-eltz-castle/arriving-by-arriving-by/arriving-by-public-transport.html .

I'm a bit "older" so there's no way I was hiking to the castle so I used a Taxi from Moselkern. It wasn't the cheapest option but was the easiest at the time. The driver didn't speak any English but a helpful person at a shop in Moselkern as able to translate for me, and it all worked out.

When you arrive at the carpark above the castle, you can walk or take the van shuttle down the hill to the castle. As I recall it costs about €2 each way. It's a very steep hill so the van is the best option.

Posted by
355 posts

The hike was one of my favourite memories of our trip to the Rhine last summer. It's not difficult and the scenery is beautiful. In fact, I enjoyed the hike up to the castle more than the castle itself!

Posted by
6798 posts

"The plan for the second day is to see the Burg Eltz castle and Cochem."

Zack - there's no problem visiting Burg Eltz on a day trip from Mainz and making a stop in Cochem. That's a lot more doable than "exploring" the Mosel Valley by car, which I apparently took more literally than you meant it - and which requires far more miles and hours than a quick glance at the map might suggest.

Viamichelin shows the drive to Eltz a little longer than your source does, but either way the car should be a time-saving asset. The walk from Moselkern is not difficult - I was pushing 50 when we went there with my 75-year-old in-laws, and they handled it fine and enjoyed it. It's a nice approach as long as it's not hot and humid, or rainy. But we had an apartment in Cochem; that walk from Moselkern + the additional train travel time required from a Mainz base will chew away at your day.

"Our plan is one day to take a cruise from Bingen to St. Goar and then check out Bacharach and Oberwesel on the way back."

For a scenic walk, this day looks more promising to me! You might want to do all or part of the Rhine Castle Trail between St. Goar and Oberwesel - very dramatic views from the trail there. This shot of the Loreley cliffs was taken just a bit south of St. Goar from the "Maria Ruh" lookout. This one takes in the town of Oberwesel (background) and the river gorge from the Günderodehaus, a little detour off the same trail where you can get refreshments.

In Oberwesel, the town wall walk involves less elevation gain and is also very rewarding.

Lots of people have done the walk from Moselkern that's outlined in Rick's book. For some reason - probably because Rick hasn't investigated them or emphasized them in his travel materials - I have not "bumped into" people on this forum who have experience with these walks on the Rhine.

Posted by
355 posts

"Our plan is one day to take a cruise from Bingen to St. Goar and then check out Bacharach and Oberwesel on the way back"

We were based out of Bacharach for three days last summer and I feel confident saying that there isn't much there to check out. I would spend that time in Rudesheim instead if I were you.

Posted by
6798 posts

Rüdesheim is the liveliest Rhine town with many tour bus visitors and an abundance of shops and restaurants - and more sightseeing attractions than Bacharach.

Bacharach is probably better for those who are looking for a quieter time and a good walk around a well-preserved old-world town. You can take in some fine old half-timbered buildings and the remains of the old town wall, visit some impressive churches, visit a winery - that sort of thing.

Town map with walking trails (orange S is the town wall trail.) Click on to enlarge.
https://www.bacharach.de/stadtinformationen/stadtplan/

(The green triangles with numbers are sightseeing highlights.)

Rick Steves' book might have a list of these highlights - here's a list with description in German from the local TI office website which you can run through a translator if you wish:

https://www.bacharach.de/stadtinformationen/stadtrundgang/

Posted by
19170 posts

If you don't want to hike or take a car, on Sat and Sun mornings in July, bus 330 runs from Hatzenport Bhf to Burg Eltz at 9:21 and 11:21. The trip takes 17 minutes. There are regional trains leaving Koblenz at 8:25 and 10:52 and arriving at Hatzenport Bhf 29 minutes before the bus departs. There are also buses coming back to Hatzenport in the afternoon.

Posted by
13 posts

Thank you everyone for your suggestions! We will try to hike unless its too hot or raining. And thank you for the Rhine Valley suggestions as well.