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Rhine & Mosel Valley

My family (husband and 2 kids ages 11 and 12) will be spending 2 days in Rhine valley. We will be staying in Bacharach. I plan to spend 1 day exploring Rhine and 1 day in Mosel valley. Must see castles we want to cover are Rheinfels castle in St.Goar and Burg Eltz in Mosel valley but would like to get few others in and/or explore small towns along the way. Need help planning itinerary for each day. 1) where to start 2) what to see 3) how to get there (boat vs train). Feeling overwhelmed. Please help!

Thank you in advance!

PSP

Posted by
685 posts

We did a cruise on the Moselle a few years ago. One stop was Cochem and a tour of the Reichsburg Castle. Amazing views of the valley and river from there. Lovely little town I wished we'd had a chance to stay in longer. Bernkastel was smaller but just as nice. From there we toured Trier which has a lot of roman ruins.

On the Rhine we enjoyed Boppard and Rudesheim.

Posted by
795 posts

Two days is quite a short time for those areas. However, you can cruise the Rhine one day. Train down to Bingen and cruise up to Boppard. Train back to Bacharach.

Without a car, the Eltz Castle is not an easy trip by train. It has to be timed with a bus connection and if your train is late, the bus is gone. (My bad experience). It also only runs on Saturday and Sunday and Public Holidays.

You can train from Bacharach to Cochem and enjoy Cochem and perhaps another town along the way.

Posted by
5160 posts

"...will be spending 2 days in Rhine valley... Need help planning itinerary for each day."

You are arriving on Day 1 from somewhere else - so Day 1 sightseeing will be less than a full day, right?

In order to get that help, you will need to provide...

…the dates of your stay

…the hour on Day 1 when you will be ready for sightseeing (after arriving in Bacharach, walking or taxiing to your hotel, and depositing your bags there.)

Castle and transport schedules can differ by the season and from day to day - which is why this information matters.

Posted by
9 posts

Russ—

We will be arriving in Bacharach on the evening of Friday, April 3 and leaving Bacharach on Monday morning of April 6 so we will have 2 full days (Saturday and Sunday) for Rhine and Mosel valley. Thank you again for your time and recommendations!

PSP

Posted by
1544 posts

I highly recommend Marksburg castle on the Rhine. https://www.marksburg.de/en/visitor-information/ They have one or two English tours a day depending on season (1 p.m. and 4 p.m., in "summer"), but you can join any language tour and get a handout in English. I used the RS book guide as a supplement. Castle is easy to get to - you would take train from Bacharach to St. Goar, ferry to St. Goarhausen, a couple of blocks walk and then take the train to Braubach. Multi modal transport should entertain the kids. Nice walk from Braubach train station through town and up the hill to castle (wear out your kiddos!) It would be relatively easy to do Rheinfels and Marksburg on same day - you have to go through St. Goar either way.

Posted by
5160 posts

There is no train to Eltz (which is not really in the Mosel Valley btw) - and no public transportation at all to Burg Eltz in April since the "Castle Bus" runs only from May 1. So unless you plan on 1.5 - 2 hours on the train to Moselkern plus two hours of walking from there to Eltz and back - or on adding a supplemental taxi ride to your train trip - or a car rental - then you probably should drop the train-to-Eltz idea in favor of Marksburg Castle per CL's suggestion. (Even when buses are running to Eltz, the schedules are inconvenient - and getting there and back will take most of your day.)

"Rhine day"
Marksburg is much more accessible by train alone and closer to Bacharach - and all in all a much better medieval castle experience and more historically significant. You could in fact fit in both Rheinfels and Marksburg castle on one day fairly easily, and possibly visit another Rhine town as well - OR, do a Rhine cruise + train to Marksburg + another Rhine town.

"Mosel day"
Your best one-stop visit is probably Cochem. Cochem is not a short trip from Bacharach but it's the closest major destination on the Mosel after Koblenz. The train trip to Cochem could be done after a morning Rhine cruise - or after a morning visit to Rheinfels Castle.

I'm not informed about how you might get a taxi to Eltz or what it might cost. I can only say Marksburg is the better option on multiple grounds - and I can help with the itinerary details if the Rhine and Mosel days outlined above sound like a reasonable alternative to you.

It's not clear to me whether you want to do a Rhine cruise or not. The boats are a bit expensive compared to the very cheap train options - you are paying for the cruise experience, not for transportation (the boats would be a really slow way to get around from place to place; that's what trains and ferry crossings are for.)

Posted by
2595 posts

I thought the walk from the Moselkern train station to Burg Eltz was quite easy. The first 30 minutes or so is through the town (it's nice to walk through a small German town) and then the final 45-60 minutes is through a wooded area with a very mild incline. Once the castle is reached, there are quite a few steps to walk up to the entrance, but it's certainly manageable. For a family with 2 kids ages 11 and 12, I think that would be the more adventurous way to go.

Keep in mind this "Insider Tip" from the Burg Eltz website:

Insider Tip: Visit Eltz Castle before 11 a.m. or after 3 p.m. to avoid
possible queues.

Posted by
5160 posts

Dave: I think you are correct that this is a nice walk and generally doable.

That said... though weather and trail problems MIGHT be avoidable in April, there's no guarantee (nor any guarantee that the kids are up for longer walks.) But beyond that, the unavoidable problem with this family's walk to Eltz and back is one of time, and fitting the castle visit in with the larger plan for the area. From a Bacharach base, the OP has 4 hours of train travel time altogether wrapped up in Bacharach > Moselkern > Bacharach. Add 2-3 hours round-trip walking time for the castle trek. Leaving Bacharach as early as 8:05, they cannot possibly make it to the castle before 11 am. Add lunch time somewhere. "Perfect timing" for arrival at Eltz Castle for tickets and the 1-hr. tour, and for catching a train at Moselkern station after the walk back down would be advantageous, but they will likely have some "wait time" in both spots, so add time for that too.

I've walked to Eltz on separate occasions, both times starting out by train from Cochem, which is only a few minutes from Moselkern by direct train. It worked fine - I had a relaxed time with some afternoon time left over after the castle tour for other things. When you did this walk, were you based in Bacharach, as the OP plans to do? If so, you probably found it tricky to fit in anything else. And so will this family. From Bacharach, the OP hopes to have a Rhine visit and a Mosel visit (exploring towns on the way) as well as a Rheinfels Castle AND Eltz Castle in 2 days' time. I just don't see how it all fits. Something needs to go.

Rick promotes Burg Eltz as his "favorite castle in all of Europe" in his article, "Slowing Down in Germany’s Mosel Valley. I suspect his praise for Eltz is the reason that so many forum posters feel compelled to take the tour there. And it really is a nice castle to visit. However, Rick's own 21-day tour of Europe, which offers a 2-night stay in Bacharach, does not include Burg Eltz - probably because it's just too problematic. Note also Rick's title, a clear clue to readers that the Mosel Valley is tricky on blitz-tour visit.

Posted by
2595 posts

Russ--

All good points. Missed the Bacharach start. I did it from Patersberg (above St Goarshausen, where I caught the train) -- had time for a couple of hours in Cochem and a nice dinner in Winningen.