The Ad said cruises were on sale but after my eyes bugged out of my head at the cost of a River Cruise along the Rhine and I'm looking at options. Has anyone ever done the Rhine Castle Trail by rail? I'm seeing some hiking trips, but that will be a non-starter with my wife. She'll insist on some luxury along the way. Our goal is to eventually end up in the Colmar region.
The train tracks follow the Rhine, so you can definitely see this area easily by train. Or base in one town (I like Boppard, with its many hotels on the river), then just take the train/hike wherever you want. Combine that with a day trip river cruise. From Boppard we took the train to St. Goar, and toured the fortress. Then continued by train to Bacharach and explored for a while. Then took the boat back to Boppard for dinner by the river. Lovely day. Don’t miss Burg Eltz, near Cochem. It takes a bit more planning to get to, but it’s covered in these forums and Rick’s books.
You can get to Colmar by train from Boppard in about 4.5 hours.
Has anyone ever done the Rhine Castle Trail by rail? I'm seeing some
hiking trips, but that will be a non-starter with my wife.
The Rhine Castle trail is a real trail - "trail" is not used figuratively! People hike the trail in great part for the views of the river gorge. The most scenic part IMHO is the area around St. Goar, which is one reason St. Goar makes for a good base town. You don't have to hike up the cliffs for great views... you can take a shuttle bus during high-season from the town center to Rheinfels Castle (castle ruins + museum) and enjoy the scene from there. The "Landgraf" terrace is right next to the Castle in a clifftop hotel - and it's a good place for some slightly decadent lounging around while you grab a bite or a cuppa.
Look into the Hotel Rheinfels and the Rheinhotel St. Goar for a good St. Goar hotel experience and riverfront rooms (some with balconies at the Rheinhotel. Both are right by the cruise boat dock that you see in this photo taken from the Rheinhotel. This is where the cruise boats dock for day cruises. In normal years there are 5+ boats per day in each direction. The best cruise starts to the south in Bingen and takes you north to St. Goar - it's about 1.5 hours and around €20.
Boppard (to the north of St. Goar) also has a cruise dock - you'll be on the boat for about 2.3 hours if you finish your cruise there instead of in St. Goar. By TRAIN, Boppard and St. Goar are only 10 minutes apart. Stay in one and visit the other? Boppard is also a great choice if you want a good variety of hotels and restaurants in addition to riverfront sleeping/dining. And Boppard also gets you to the clifftops without breakina a sweat. The chairlift ride there is superb, the views terrific. Have lunch at Gedeonseck terrace (a short easy walk from the top of the lift.)
Boppard's hotels all offer a free transport card for the area - the VRM Gästeticket - so you can ride the trains around the VRM zone (which is most of the Rhine you'll want to see and some of the Mosel too) for FREE.
Train lines run on both river banks. This map will show you how they are connected. Note that both St. Goar and Boppard have ferry crossings which allow you to use the trains on the opposite river bank. A very fine destination there is Marksburg Castle in the town of Braubach.
Thanks for the detailed responses. I've never looked closely at this area before and will be searching for some Germany guidebooks this weekend at the library.
There is not much mention on the forum regarding places or castles north of Koblenz (I can't add any info either) but the hiking trail itself starts just passed Ramagen. I'm in the minority and prefer the scenery and lazy feel of the Mosel, though I've made a few days trips over to the Rhine and reached it from other destinations.
Adding to the locations mentioned above. I think Rudeshiem is worth a visit: it is touristy, has some nice streets and buildings, St Hildegard Abbey above. Eltville is also an attractive spot, Kloster Eberbach above (now a museum/conference centre/winery/very good restaurant). There is a good little museum and restaurant at Burg Reichenstein, as well as photo opportunities from it. Check out Maria Laach Abbey, away from the river: worth a visit, the trail around the lake not too strenuous and was packed with walkers on the day we went.
The part of the Rhine to cruise is between Boppard and Bingen/Ruedesheim. It takes a few hours. The longer, multi-day cruises are more luxury type cruises and are probably not what you are interested in. You can then use trains or a car ( feet, bike ) to do your other travel.