We are planning on spending a week on the Rhine to visit castles for our daughter's HS graduation present. When lookingon the Bahn website, it appears that there aren't any trains travelling on the east side of the river. Mode of transportation is listed as VIA. I haven't been able to find out what VIA is. Anybody have experience with travel on that side of the river? I would really like not to rent a car.
VIAS GmbH is a private rail company running Regional Bahn (RB) trains in that area. VIA is a "milk run" train, stopping at every station. On the other bank, Mittelrhein Bahn, runs the RB trains as MRB. Here is the track plane of VIA in the Rheingau.
Thanks Lee. I had considered sending you a private message, as you are very knowledgable about the rail service. I was also wondering about your comment a few years ago about staying in St Goar versus Oberwesel (certainly not in Bacharach for rail benefits). I am considering the Romerkrug in Oberwesel but want decent prices and availablity of decent fares, so I would easily consider St Goar. I believe the ferry is in st goar to cross the river. Thanks again!!
I have traveled many times up and down both sides of the Rhine in the past couple of years. Both of these train companies are very good, with brand new trains, making a huge improvement over the old ones that were running up until last Dec. The train leaving Frankfurt running up the right side of the Rhine, runs every hour, and the trains coming down on the left side of the Rhine from Koblenz, towards Mainz leave every hour too. Personally, I find Ober-Wesel to have a bit more charm than St. Goar, though both are lovely towns. Why not look at photos of both towns online and see which one you like better?
Thanks Jo. I have looked at most of the towns up and down and thoought that Oberwesel had the best of all worlds from what I can see. Nice to get input from people with experience. Looks like you are close by! I was an exchange student in Kempten (Allgau) in Bayern 40 years ago but never got up to the Rhein. My daughter wants to visit as many castles as possible so she is very excited. Thanks again for your input!
Well, Oberwesel is the last town in the VRM (Verkehrsverbund Rhein Mosel) which includes the Rhein to Remagen and up the Mosel to Bullay, so you could easily use a Tageskarte for all day unlimited travel in that area. So is St. Goar. If you want to compare accommodations, the best ions are on www.oberwesel.de and www.st-goar.de. You might also look at Boppard (www.boppard.de). Boppard's accommodations are mostly pricey riverfront hotels, but there are some small, reasonable hotels a few blocks back. I stayed in a Privatzimmer for €25/nt, single room w/ bath and breakfast, but it helps to speak German. Römerkrug, as a 3 star hotel should have at least one person on staff who speaks English. I think St. Goar has a good choice of nice, fairly inexpensive hotels right in the center of town, not far from the Bahnhof, but look at the websites.
Thanks Lee. I still speak passable German so I will look into those options. We definitely don't want to stay in the touristy places. I appreciate all of your input.
Personally, I find Oberwesel the most interesting town on the middle Rhine to visit (love exploring the walls and towers) and for one of the larger towns, it's fairly untouristy. The downside of that for staying there, however, is that there seems to be far fewer restaurants than you would expect for a town of it's size. It could make a good base, but I'm not sure I would want to spend a week there.
@Mike, "(certainly not in Bacharach for rail benefits)" Could you clarify "rail benefits" in Bacharach? I was there last year, and had no difficulty at all with rail travel from Bacharach. For a smaller town, it had a good selection of restaurants and lodgings. Cheers!
I had read that, in terms of group tickets, it was better to be north of Bacharach. The train schedule looks fine but my understanding is that one can't get cheaper minigruppen tickets when starting there. I may have misunderstood but that was my understanding. Did I misunderstand ?
Staying in Oberwesel and north allows you to use the VRM mini-group ticket in both 1- (20€) and 3-day (40€) versions. http://www.vrminfo.de/en/tickets-and-fares/ticket-offers/network-tickets/ But if you want to stay in Bacharach, the one-day Rheinland-Pfalz ticket (which covers a LOT more territory, 24€) will work just fine for you and doesn't cost much more. If you really want that 3-day VRM pass you can also elect to buy a ticket from Bacharach for 2.10 to Oberwesel and then buy the 40€ pass there. But it would cost 2 people 8.40 Euros/day round trip every day between Bacharach and Oberwesel in order use that VRM pass, which is a bit of trouble - but still cheaper than 3 Rheinland-Pfalz tickets at 24 Euros. Still, I would go with 3 R-P tickets, for sure if you intend to travel south of Bacharach at all - Bingen, Rüdesheim, Mainz, even Mannheim and Karlsruhe far to the south are covered, as is Trier. None of these places can be reached on the VRM passes, which stop you at Bullay on the Mosel. See map for R-P ticket: http://www.vrminfo.de/en/tickets-and-fares/ticket-offers/rheinland-pfalz-ticket/
Russ, thank you very much. Great info. We won't be wandering too far but now I am prepared for the various options. Thanks again.
If you daughter wants to see castles why not consider staying in one... (Bacharach) Its a bit of a hike up there but the two times I have stayed there the rooms were great and the view is stunning.
I have looked into it, especially since we will be there on her 18th birthday as well. So far, all booked for when we will be there. I am finding that this is already a bit late for many hotels and gasthouses and especially for the castles. We opted for just spending days visiting and then heading to town to hang with as many locals as we can find. Although, probably more tourists like us than locals at that time of year. I am excited to hone my rusty german skills and enjoy the beautiful Rhine area!
Just because Stahleck was rebuilt from a castle ruin using the same rocks doesn't make it a castle. It's a hostel made to look like a castle. Save the walk and stay in town. I would suggest im Malerwinkel. It's in a beautiful setting, far enough from the train track to be quiet, and not a hike up the hill.
"We definitely don't want to stay in the touristy places. I appreciate all of your input." I'm not sure WHEN you'll be there, but Boppard, St. Goar, Oberwesel, and Bacharach all have their fair share of tourism. Bacharach is overpopulated by American tourists - probably because Rick has made such a big deal about it - and the accommodations he recommends almost ensure that you'll be surrounded by a lot of English, something to consider if you want to listen to spoken German at the breakfast table. St. Goar and Boppard have a better mix of visitors, a lot of Brits and Dutch. Oberwesel likely has greatest portion of German tourists. The "VIA train" side of the river - the east bank - is calmer when it comes to tourists. But the tourism in this area isn't oppressive or overwhelming, I'd say, like it is in Rothenburg and Füssen.
All the towns are nice, easy to get to no matter which you stay in, and worth a visit. I'm quite fond of St. Goar, which has a nice trail up to the clifftops and enjoys the best scenery in the gorge, IMO, with 3 castles visible, including Rheinfels - spent 3 days there this March, and 3 in Boppard as well. You might want to check the apartment options in St. Goar and the other towns. I stayed at the small Geissler apartment in the middle of town - very handy, less than 30 Euros/night, but maybe a little tight for the two of you. Previously I've rented one of W Huppertz' 4 apartments, the "Rheinblick", with 2 bedrooms and a view of the Rhine and Katz Castle. Great place. St. Goar has a nice page of apartments, including Huppertz': http://www.loreley-apartments.de/die_4_wohnungen_en.php http://www.st-goar.de/586-1-fewos.html Be cautious not to book too far outside the center if traveling by train. You ARE going to Marksburg, aren't you? www.marksburg.de
Thanks Russ and Lee. Love the inside scoop. Marksburg is absolutely on the list along with Eltz and Lahneck. Have you been to Auf Schoenburg? Looks lik a nice visit online. Was also looking at Liebenstein and a falcon and eagle performance at Maus. Any experieince with them? Was also thinking about Sterrenberg. My daughter's interest is very strong. She is a prolific writer and gets inspiration from visiting historic sites. Again, it is very generous of you to provide your time and insight! Thanks!
Mike: Liebenstein and Auf Schönburg are accessible to hotel guests only, though you can survey their exteriors. Auf S'burg is fabulous, but more a place for couples, and inconveniently located high on the cliffs, built there, apparently, to deter train users :) . The Burg Maus falconry shut down a while back. But you can still walk or better yet bike there from St. Goarshausen to look around from outside if you have a lot of extra time. Reichsburg Castle in Cochem, near Burg Eltz, has an excellent falconry show 4 times a day, Tu-Su during the tourist season; the majestic castle can also be toured, but it's not as cool as Eltz and Marksburg inside. http://www.burg-cochem.de/ "She is a prolific writer and gets inspiration from visiting historic sites." Pay a visit to the WW II "Peace Museum" in Remagen, which documents the taking of the Luddendorf Bridge by American troops - lots of displays in English: www.bruecke-remagen.de
Russ, thanks for the updates! Sitting down this weekend to look at all the options. Big help. We will be in cochem during our day to Eltz so we will definitely hit that one as well.
There is a hostel-castle in Koblenz that is similar to Stahleck. I haven't stayed there and can't say if it's booked like Stahleck is - it might be worth checking into (I wouldn't want to spend much time in Koblenz, however, it's okay but other places are nicer). Stahleck has a great view and is clean, quiet, and very well run - even if it's not a "real" castle. Few real castles survived Napoleans armies so virtually all of what you see are reconstructions to a great extent. Rheinfels castle ruins also has a hotel adjacent to it. I thought Lee often touted a hotel adjacent to a Rhine castle, (did he mention it here?) I don't think it's Rheinfels though. Have fun.