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Koblenz or ?

My friend and I will be traveling in Germany in December and I was planning on a 4 night stay in Koblenz. We will be visiting Christmas Markets and other sites and I would like to have access to both the Rhine and Mosel regions. That’s why I thought of Koblenz. I’m wondering if another town would work as well but be a bit more charming. I’ve not been there, but from what I read it’s maybe not as nice as some other towns. I welcome any comments and advice. Thanks!

Posted by
10395 posts

I should have included that we will not have a car.

Posted by
33314 posts

I was pleased in April when I spent a day there. I'd driven past and ridden past several times. This time we stopped and really enjoyed the Altstadt - and there is the Deutsche Eck where the Mosel flows into the Rhine. We enjoyed the cable car over to the fortress.

Would it be too cold in winter along the edge of the river and in the stone fortress? Dunno. Good to look at though.... my opinion has changed. We did arrive by car so I can't speak about the area between the station and the Altstadt - didn't see it.

Posted by
6797 posts

Trier and Mainz - if those are the towns/markets you are targeting for day trips by regional train - are indeed roughly equidistant from Koblenz. If you stay in Koblenz's old town zone (near the Deutsches Eck,) you'll need to add some bus transfer time to reach Koblenz station for the trip to Trier or to Mainz - so these journeys will require TWO hours in each direction. A hotel near Koblenz Hbf will cut those round-trips down by half an hour each way - a full hour for the round trip. You can check the travel times at the DB site to verify this. Anyway, it's a significant difference at a time of year when daylight hours are short.

Now, there's nothing WRONG with the Hbf station area... it's just a bit dull, less than ideal if you want atmosphere.

I'm reluctant to make a suggestion without more information. Can you be more specific about which towns you intend to visit? I'd also be curious what days of the week you will be staying. Do you plan to visit Frankfurt? Speyer or Worms (south of Mainz?) Rüdesheim? If you aren't going to visit Trier or Cologne, you might want to take Koblenz off the table as a base-town option. And there might be a need to split up your nights in different towns.

Posted by
7562 posts

I have never been on a Christmas Market trip. But when we were in Koblenz in 2011, we could not find any hotel that we wanted to spend multiple nights in. (We were there for a huge, one-time flower show, so we went to Koblenz by train on more than one day.) I'm not necessarily recommending our base choices (we left the car parked there for Koblenz days) of Andernach and Mulheim. We drove as far as Trier, from Mulheim.

You might also reflect on the fact that there was much principled opposition to building a cablecar in a UNESCO WHS region. The original plan promised to tear it down after the BUGA flower show. Anyway, Koblenz is an attractive one-day visit. I like to have more to do for a multi-day stay, even with daytrips planned. Without a car however, train access makes sense. I question staying in a tiny town, off-season, and buying tickets from a machine at an unattended train station every morning. I wonder if our family-owned hotel (Alte-Kanzlei) in Andernach is open year-round?

I guess I'm saying you should consider Russ' superb Middle Rhine ideas, even when there are no boats to ride. Example:
https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/germany/amsterdam-to-frankfurt-three-nights#bottom

Posted by
10395 posts

Thanks Nigel!

Russ, our itinerary will take us to Bruges (3), Cologne (3), Koblenz or ? (4) and Frankfurt (4), in that order. I was planning 4 nights for Koblenz to give time for day trips, but I’m now concerned that too much along the Mosel will be dead because of the time of year. We will arrive on a Monday and then arrive in Frankfurt on Friday. I wasn’t planning to go to Trier because I’ve been there. Maybe we should focus on the Rhine? We will definitely go to Rüdesheim. I don’t know much about Speyer and Worms. They look interesting. Koblenz is a short train ride from Cologne. Maybe we should spend only one night there (definitely not my favorite thing to do) and the other 3 nights elsewhere. Or 2-3 in Koblenz with a day trip to Rüdesheim and so my friend can see that region? I’ve been there. I’m not sure spending 5-6 nights in Frankfurt, using it as a hub, would make my friend happy. Cities aren’t her thing. On the other hand we won’t have to move around and there are many day trip opportunities? Maybe Mainz or Heidelberg? I know they are cities, but day trips could be made from them and I’ve never been to either. We will do day trips from Frankfurt.

Our definite places are Bruges, Cologne and Frankfurt. I have family in Cologne and that’s not negotiable. I would like to go to Christmas Markets, but that is not the entire focus of the trip. I welcome any suggestions for alternative places to stay.

Posted by
10395 posts

Tim, I took a look at that thread you linked to. I never thought of Boppard as a base. Better than Koblenz? It looks like a train from Koblenz to Rüdesheim is faster than from Boppard.

Decisions, decisions…

Posted by
3992 posts

We’ve stayed for a length of time in Koblenz and I would use it as a base for explore nearby Christmas markets along the Mosel and Rhine. There are a few hotels that are walkable from the train station and others closer to the heart of the Altstadt. What you will want to carefully weigh in whichever cities you choose is where you want to be at early sunset when the Christmas markets really come alive. If you will only visit the Koblenz markets once and your focus is the surrounding towns, I’d probably stay in one of the nicer hotels within a 5 minute walk of the train station.

I think Ms Jo gave a nice report adding Koblenz to her annual thread of Christmas markets last year reporting on a special light show they had for the markets. I’ll try to look it up and come back and link it.

EDIT: From Ms Jo (who’s busy in Spain right now :) https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/trip-reports/koblenz-christmas-market-and-christmas-garden

Posted by
6797 posts

"...our itinerary will take us to Bruges (3), Cologne (3), Koblenz or ? (4) and Frankfurt (4)..."

OOOKAAAY, based on all that... On the morning that you leave Cologne, I'd get off the train in KOBLENZ for

... the Christmas market and a little flex-time strolling and/or...
... a tour of Marksburg Castle (in Braubach, a 10-min. train ride from Koblenz; return to Koblenz after tour.)

(Doing both is possible with a full day there.)

HOW: Stow bags in a Koblenz locker upon arrival, fetch them when you're ready to leave.

WHERE to spend those 3 nights: MAINZ

TRAIN TICKET: could be a saver fare if the price is right. As long as you specify the Koblenz > Mainz leg for regional trains only, your time in Koblenz / at Marksburg will be completely flexible. Regional train segments can be traveled at any hour, even on a saver fare ticket.

I'd allocate roughly 1 day for Mainz and at least a half-day for a day-trip from Mainz to Rüdesheim for the Christmas market there - or perhaps you'll find some other place that tugs harder at your sleeve. We really liked R'heim's Christmas market when we were there years ago. Mainz's market is wonderful too.

Posted by
10395 posts

Thanks Mona, I just watched that last night. You know that when Jo gets home I’ll be talking to her. ;-)

Russ, thanks for your suggestions. It appears you are suggesting seeing Koblenz and possibly Marksburg Castle on the way to Mainz, spending 3 nights there. That still give us one more night. I’d really be interested in going to Hinterzarten in the Black Forest for the Christmas Market there. Jo said it was her favorite last year and one night there would be enough. I definitely have things to consider. Thanks for the suggestions.

Posted by
6797 posts

I’d really be interested in going to Hinterzarten in the Black Forest
for the Christmas Market there. Jo said it was her favorite last year
and one night there would be enough.

Mainz > Hinterzarten > Mainz will require a minimum of 7 hours on the train. It would surprise me if, in Jo's eyes, any single Christmas market would merit that sort of time/cash investment. But I've never been to that one myself... sure, see what she says.

Speyer OTOH is one hour from Mainz by direct RE train. The inexpensive Rheinland-Pfalz Ticket day pass will get you there and back. And unlike Hinterzarten, Speyer is packed with other reasons to pay it a day-long visit. Do have a look:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attractions-g198634-Activities-oa0-Speyer_Rhineland_Palatinate.html

Posted by
7012 posts

I never thought of Boppard as a base. Better than Koblenz? It looks like a train from Koblenz to Rüdesheim is faster than from Boppard.

Andrea, I stayed in Boppard for 3 nights last year and really enjoyed it. I don't know how it would work for your purposes, but it's a busy and cute town right on the water. In fact, the hotel I stayed at - the Bellevue Rheinhotel was just a few steps from the Rhine. There was a lot to see and do with a decent amount of good restaurants, and the train station is a quick walk away.

Posted by
9039 posts

The trip to Hinterzarten from Frankfurt was only 3+ hours, not 7. Hinterzarten was fun because we did torch lit walk through the forest. Not something you get to do in Speyer, though a day trip to Speyer or Worms from Frankfurt is also quite easy and only a bit over an hour.

Staying in a hub if you want to travel to smaller towns makes more sense. Much as I like Mainz, Frankfurt is a far better choice, just like Koblenz is better than staying in Boppard if catching trains to other towns is your plan. Frankfurt has a lot more to see than Mainz does, though a day trip to Mainz should be a must.

I thought Koblenz was quite charming and their Christmas markets were enjoyable, as well as the Christmas Garden which was stunning.

Posted by
6797 posts

Jo - that's 3.5 hours and 1 hour EACH WAY for Hinterzarten and Speyer respectively, thus 7 hours and 2 hours as day trips from a Mainz base.

Mardee - as you know, I'm solidly pro-Boppard. But in December, when most neighboring Rhine towns are shuttered, when no one wants a cruise, when the chairlift would be an arctic adventure if it were open... I think Mainz stands head and shoulders above Boppard... especially in the OP's case... there's much more to do there besides the market, and much of it is indoors. Andrea will already have been to Cologne and isn't doing the Mosel at all, and she's already got 4 nights in Frankfurt, as I understand it. BTW, loved my visit to Duluth with my lake-ship-nerd cousin!

Posted by
7012 posts

Russ, you're absolutely right - my bad, I forgot that Andrea was traveling in December. Thanks!

Posted by
10395 posts

Thanks everyone. I think I’m trying to make this more complicated than I need to. To keep this short 2 week trip simple I think I’ll stick to the original plan. Coming from Cologne we will stay 4 nights in Koblenz and follow up with 4 nights in Frankfurt before flying home. We won’t run out of things to do from these locations.

Thanks again for all of the advice. It’s much appreciated.

Posted by
10395 posts

And…my friend and I decided to skip Koblenz and we are now going to spend the 4 nights in the Alsace. The reservation has been made. I think we will find more to see and do there, and we can still see Rüdesheim and maybe somewhere else on the river on a day trip from Frankfurt. Thanks again for all your help.