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Mosel Valley and Middle Rhine - worth seeing in the rain (April)?

I will be traveling in Germany in early April. I am well aware that it could rain while I am there, and where I live, we are used to rainy days. But some locations aren't very appealing in the rain. In Berlin or Dresden, at least you can go to museums.

What about the towns of the Mosel Valley and the Middle Rhine? After reading Rick's Germany book, I'd be interested in exploring a few of the towns, taking a Mosel cruise, and hiking up to Burg Eltz, among other things. But I can't imagine a muddy hike would be much fun. And taking pictures would be a primary reason to visit these areas.

Am I wrong? Should I avoid these areas if the weather forecast is for rain? Or does the area still merit a visit even in bad weather? I can probably be flexible in my plans and simply avoid the Mosel and the Rhine at the last minute and add time to other cities. Does this make sense?

Posted by
5565 posts

April is one of the drier months in this region. Of the months April - August, Frankfurt Airport, not far from the Middle Rhine at all, averages the least rain in April (2.3") and the most in June and August (2.9") May and July see more rain as well.

If it's too muddy for a walk through the woods, most towns offer paved options out of the valley to the cliffs above. In St. Goar, a sidewalk takes you up to Rheinfels Castle. There are roads that head up to Schönburg castle from Oberwesel too. Or in Boppard, take the chairlift ride up to the Vierseenblick lookout and start shooting away.

I keep a mini-umbrella with me throughout Germany no matter the month.

Posted by
2717 posts

Hi Andrew,

It can rain any time of year. Just before our 9/09 trip, the weather forecast was for rain pretty much everyday of our trip. It rained the day we arrived in Munich, and then a partial day during the rest of our 10 night trip. While in Innsbruck in 4/05, we had a pretty nice, mostly sunny day. We drove to the nearby Stubaital and it was snowing. Back to Innsbruck and a pretty nice day. You never know.

My opinion, some places actually have more "atmosphere" in less than ideal weather. We visited Burg Eltz (we drove there and walked down the paved path) on a foggy, misty morning. My opinion is that the conditions just added to the whole "medieval atmosphere" of the castle. Here you'll find ways to get to Burg Eltz:

http://burg-eltz.de/en/opening-hours-fees-.html

Paul

Posted by
18310 posts

I was on the Rhein in April and had planned to go to Burg Eltz, but it was raining quite hard that day, so I stayed in Boppard and explored the ruins of the former Roman walls there.

On Saturdays and Sundays, there are 4 buses/day that run each way between Treis-Karden and a stop in Wiershem, near Burg Eltz. The bus starts with 2 stops in Treis, 2 stops in Karden, a stop in Moselkern, and a stop at Hatzenport Bhf before going to Wierschem. However, the buses start running on the first weekend in May, too late for you.

On the other hand, the Marksburg (above Braubach, on the Rhein) is the other castle in the area that was never destroyed. There is a dirt path direct from town and a paved road that goes up the back of the hill. A trolley meets the K-D boats at the dock in town and ferries people up the hill to the castle. www.marksburg.de/english/frame_nj.htm > Approach.

Posted by
4933 posts

Thanks everyone for your feedback!

Tentative plan is to base in Bacharach for two nights though the arrival and departure days will be tight. I'm planning to arrive from Freiburg (about a 4hr train ride) and spend that first afternoon around Bacharach and maybe St. Goar and the second over to the Mosel, to Cochem by train and then up to Burg Eltz, weather permitting, supposedly a 1.5 hr hike each way to/from Moselkern. Then leave early morning after the 2nd night for Nuremberg. I know there are plenty of things to see in the area - but if the weather is predicted to be awful I might just add the days at the last minute to Berlin and Dresden and go to Nuremberg two days early.

Posted by
1878 posts

I really would not let fear of bad weather alter your plans, unless perhaps an online check of rainfall averages says it will be a total disaster. We did fine in May 2006 in that region, in fact on our entire Germany-Austria trip it did not rain much on us at all. We have traveled successfully in the countryside in Ireland and England in April-May as well. Actually in 15 Europe trips we always travel April-May or September-October, and have never had messed up by rain. Definitely mix it between smaller towns and cities, to hedge your bets. The chances that it's going to be pouring rain all day, for days on end when you happen to be in the Rhine-Mosel area, are pretty small. Maybe invest in some waterproof hiking shoes, I did before we returned to England last year. We had dry weather in Dartmoor, and also in the Cotswolds, as it turned out but it was an extra bit of assurance that a little water would not spoil our modest hiking plans.

Posted by
12895 posts

@ Andrew ...If you're in the Middle Rhine area and are interested in seeing someting historical (not from a guide book) a la Dresden and Berlin, esp on a rainy day, when you don't want feel defeated by the weather, go and see the museum in Kaub am Rhein.

Posted by
5565 posts

"...and then up to Burg Eltz, weather permitting, supposedly a 1.5 hr hike each way to/from Moselkern."

IME it takes only about 50-55 minutes to walk each way. It's around 2 km of flat-land walking to the Ringelsteiner Mühle - maybe 1.25 miles, which most people can cover easily in 25 minutes - and maybe another 30 minutes after that to the castle. See this description of the walk, courtesy of Bavaria Ben:

Walk to Burg Eltz

Posted by
4933 posts

As a follow-up: I have two days to spend in this region in early April, and I'm squeezing a visit in between Freiburg before and Nuremberg (or somewhere else near) after. I'm taking trains and there will be long train days the arrival day and departure day - I'm aware of that.

I think Burg Eltz is probably the highest priority on my list of things to see/do in the Mosel Valley. I'd also like to start out in the morning to see it. So, I'm thinking I'd spend the first night in Cochem, head out to the castle from there the next morning (maybe leave bags in Moselkern at Hotel Moselkern as Rick Steves suggests this is possible), and then spend a second night say in Mainz (easy train to Nuremberg next day).

I'd also like to stop in Bacharach. Ideally, that would be the first day - leave bag in Bacharach for a few hours, explore the town, maybe St. Goar too, then get into Cochem (about 2 hours by train) for the first night. Unfortunately, this first day will be a Sunday, and the TI in Bacharach (which would normally let you drop a bag) is not open on Sunday until after Easter. Any idea where else I might drop a bag for a few hours on a Sunday in Bacharach?

Otherwise, any better ideas for a tight itinerary for these two nights instead of what I have proposed?

Posted by
16809 posts

You are still pinning all your hopes that the day you schedule for Burg Eltz will be nice. It could be nice and the trail muddy if there was wet weather the previous day. I like to travel with a slightly more flexible schedule in case of bad weather. Now instead of hunting down a place to store your bags in Moselkern, why don't you stay 2 nights in Cochem and take the train there and back. It is only 16 minutes on the train, and they run every hour. You would have the second day as a back up. You can leave Cochem as late as 17:58 and be in Nuremberg by 22:26. The hotel you are checking out of will hold your bags for the afternoon.