Question about Rick Steve's Advice on Rhine Valley

Rick Steve's Germany book on the Rhine says: "Ideally if you have two nights to spend here, sleep in Bacharach, cruise the best hour of the river (from Bacharach to St. Goar) and tour Rheinfels Castle." I have two questions: 1.) What does he mean by "best hour"? But more importantly...
2.) ...Why would one spend an evening in Bacharach if one is just going to cruise to St. Goar and spend the whole day there as well. I'm confused by this. Could someone please clarify why I should or should not stay in Bacharach? It sounds like I should just stay in St. Goar.

Posted by Ms. Jo
Frankfurt, Germany
4767 posts

Personally, I think you miss much of the Rhine by only cruising from Bacharach to St. Goar. If you are there, cruise more and see more. If you cruise for about 2 hours, you can see around 40 castles. The stretch from Rüdesheim to Boppard would be my recommendation. You have just spent all this money and time to get here, why would you only want to see a fraction of the Rhine? St. Goar is nice, but it doesn't meet my criteria for the best town on the Rhine. I think Ober Wesel is prettier and less touristy than St. Goar, and Bacharach has many more half-timbered buildings and has a lovelier atmosphere. More winding lanes to stroll around. Again, personal taste. St. Goar has the best castle, Burg Rhinefels, but I wouldn't want to stay here overnight that much.

Posted by Tom
Hüttenfeld, Hessen, Germany
9131 posts

Don't overthink this and don't take everything Mr. Steves says to the letter. I think by "best hour" he means what he finds the most scenic one hour stretch of a Rhine cruise. Others may disagree. I would say the most of the Rhine from Wiesbaden to Bonn is very scenic, particularly the nearly 180 degree bend just downstream of Boppard, but that's just one more person's opinion. Bacharach appears to be his favorite town... once again, that's a matter of opinion. Perhaps he suggests this plan of action because it allows you to see two towns more thoroughly. PS- I like St. Goar well enough, but I couldn't imagine spending more than a few hours there. It isn't that large.

Posted by Russ
Paradise
1759 posts

Rick likes Bacharach best - pretty simple. Alan, you are thinking of the boat as transport. With your plan, you arrive in Bacharach by train, trudge with your luggage to the KD dock, keep it with you on board, get off in St. Goar, then trudge to your hotel with it. Rick is suggesting that the cruise is a pleasure outing; you trudge just once with luggage from Bacharach's station to your hotel, then saunter luggage-free to the dock, onto the cruise boat, around St. Goar, then return by train to Bacharach (no big, 10 minute train ride.) You can do it either way, of course. As pointed out above by others, Bacharach has some very attractive half-timbered buildings. Oberwesel is half way between Bacharach and St. Goar - its old town wall (walkable) and towers are quite nice, and like Bacharach, a castle towers on the cliffside just above town (both are now accommodations.) Both have numerous wineries and are great spots to stay a couple of nights. St. Goar is another 5 minutes north of Oberwesel and is not as adorable but still cute and has several advantages over the others. It has the finest view (IMO)of the river of any town - 3 castles are visible from the docks in the middle of town. There's a ferry that runs all day across the river and back so you can use trains to visit Marksburg Castle (guided tour) and towns on the opposite side more easily. Rheinfels Castle (self-guided tour) is right in town. If you have 2 nights, you can do a lot more than Rick suggests. The cruise from Bacharach to St. Goar is only 13 km of river and takes only 40 minutes. Wherever you stay (you can't really go wrong) check in first, then take the train south to Bingen and start your cruise to St Goar there (this cruise is 27 km, 1:25, lots of sights.)

Posted by Russ
Paradise
1759 posts

(cont.) MARKSBURG is terrific. Rüdesheim is touristy but fun to visit. The chairlift ride in R'heim and the one in Boppard are nice as well.

Posted by Tina
Lakeland, FL, USA
29 posts

I will be staying in St. Goar next September. I know that Rick Steves recommends Bacharach and everyone has their personal preference. My dad, his wife, my husband and I found a great hotel in St. Goar with a family suite (2 bedrooms, living room, bathroom and balcony facing the Rhine) at a great rate. We've decided to take the train from St. Goar to Bingen. We will then board a KD boat to go downstream to Boppard and then take a train back to St. Goar. You will find everyone has different likes and that's what's so great about this site. With so many opinions, you just need to research everything and decide what you feel is best for you and your travel party. Happy Travels!

Posted by Tom
Milwaukee, WI, USA
47 posts

In my backpacking youth hosteling days, Bacharach was known for the hostel in the castle above the town; one of the few Rhine castles you could actually sleep in. When we were ready to leave, we took the train to Koblenz, boarded the Rhine cruise there and took it all the way to Mainz where you could make great train connections. This is the Rhine cruise I recommend; you will see every town the others are talking about plus some other interesting sites. Maybe Rick stayed at the hostel himself and that is why he recommends this town; the views from the castle ramparts are spectacular especially in the fall.

Posted by Lee
Lakewood, Colorado
11276 posts

I think Rick has a thing about the Kranenturm, so that is why he recommends Bacharach. But Kranenturm is too close to the train tracks for me; I would prefer Im Malerwinkel, but when I was looking, I found more places I thought were nice in St Goar. Either place would do. Exploring Rheinfels took about half a day for me. However, do the Rhein cruise from Bacharach down river (with the current) to St Goar. That way takes 40 min. From St Goar up the river to Bacharach takes 70 minutes, almost twice as long, but you don't see anything more. I think that is the most intesting stretch (best hour). You get to see the Pfalzgrafenstein, the mid-river toll castle, up close as well as the shoals under the Lorelei. I think you can see the rest of the castles well enough from the train or the shore. I didn't find the boat cruise interesting enough to spend more than an hour on it. If you stay in St Goar, you can take the train to Bacharach and get a 20% discount on the boat back by showing your train ticket. If you stay in Boppard, you can see most of the castles between Boppard and St Goar on the way up to Bacharach on the train and back on the train from St Goar and still get the discount.

Posted by Brad
Gainesville, VA
7211 posts

Burg Stahleck, the hostel in Bacharach, is one of the best run hostels I've ever visited (plus it has an outstanding view of the Rhine). The downside is it's always full (mostly with German groups). If you want to stay there, make reservations. Rick's advice of best hour is built around people who have limited time. The KD cruise between Bacharach and St. Goar can be done in about an hour (depending on whether you travel upstream or down and how strong the current is) and gives you a good sample of castles, plus the Lorelei (a curve in the river once infamous for shipping).

Posted by Ron
southwest, Missouri, U.S.A.
1361 posts

Hello Alan. I think : Rick Steves was thinking : if you ride in a K-D ship on the Rhine river from Bacharach to St. Goar, only, Bacharach would be a practical choice of a place for overnight accomodation. A traveler could sleep at Bacharach the night before the Rhine River trip, or a traveler could drop off the baggage at Bacharach before riding in a ship from Bacahrach to St. Goar, and ride in a train from St. Goar to Bacahrach. For me, having my bag with me on the ship was desirable, because I used my bag as my foot stool (ottoman) when I was sitting on a chair on the top deck of the ship. I, personally, agree with all that Lee said on this topic, in this discussion thread. I chose to have overnight accomodation at St. Goar, because I chose to be at a low cost and decent hotel at St. Goar. I did not want to try to sleep in the hotel that is very near the railroad at Bacharach. A traveler could sleep at St. Goar, or at Bacharach, and choose the distance that he wants to travel, in a ship, on the Rhine River. He could ride in a train (from St. Goar or Bacharach) to the town at which he decides to begin the ship ride, be it Bingen or Bacharach. And he could get off of the ship at any town (St. Goar, or Boppard, ...) and ride in a train to the town where he will sleep that night (St. Goar, or Bacahrach, ...).

Posted by Russ
Paradise
1759 posts

I'm like Lee - keep the cruise short, generally - but I think 40 minutes (Bacharach - St. Goar) is a little too short. The scenery from Bingen to Bacharach is nice too; a Bingen - Bacharach - St. Goar cruise takes 1.5 hours, about right IMO. Tom writes, "When we were ready to leave, we took the train to Koblenz, boarded the Rhine cruise there and took it all the way to Mainz... This is the Rhine cruise I recommend." Tom doesn't mention that his upstream trip will take 8.5 hours - or that if you were really eager to see the entire stretch between Koblenz and Mainz, you could see the exact same scenery in 5.5 hours by starting in Mainz instead. Lee's suggestion to cruise with the current (from south to north) is clearly sound advice for the cruise segment Tom suggests. But I think there are very few people who will find a Mainz-Koblenz cruise worth even 5.5 hours. The scenery between Mainz and Bingen tends toward "dull and uninspiring." And immediately south of Koblenz, there's a lot of industry that you probably don't want to pay for. The stretch between Bingen and St. Goar (1.5 hours), or maybe as far north as Boppard (2.3 hours), makes for very scenic cruising, however.

Posted by Herb
Langley, BC, Canada
39 posts

I stayed in the castle (Burg Stahleck) in Bacharach last October. Quite a hike from the ferry landing (or train station) up the stairs to the castle. Lots of families and children staying there. Room in the tower (Turm Zimmer) was small and my son and I shared it with a young student from Japan. Rates start at Euro 20.50 per night - that includes a good breakfast buffet. You need reservation well in advance - a lot of tourists were turned away who didn't had advance reservation. Grat views of the Rhein river from the castle and you get to meet people from around the world. http://www.jugendherberge.de/en/hostels/search/portrait/jh.jsp?IDJH=390

Posted by David
Florence, AL, USA
1972 posts

I've stayed Bacharach a couple of times over the years. It's a small quaint town (300 yards long) with good B&B's and decent restaurants. They're famous for their somewhat sweet, white wines. The train line running thru the middle of town can awake you at night, especially if you're staying at Kranenturm with Kurt and Fatima. There are nice park areas alongside the Rhine. For me, it's a good one night stop when traveling up the Rhine River before dropping south into Bavaria. It's also easy to get there from Cologne and Koblenz via train. Frankfurt Airport is handy at just over an hour to the south. Whenever you're looking for info on this region, see:
http://www.bensbauernhof.com/accommodationsrhinemosel.html

Posted by Ms. Jo
Frankfurt, Germany
4767 posts

Pretty sure that Bacharach is more than 300 yards long. That would be less than 300 meters. Considering the city covers 23,65 km² and has over 2000 residents, 300 meters just cannot be correct. Simply walking from the train station into the middle of the town is a couple hundred meters. Where did you pull this information from David? It looks like a copy and paste from someone elses post found somewhere on line. The Rhine is known for its' Riesling, which isn't a sweet wine at all. After checking several wine forums about the the Rhine and Bacharach, not once are sweet wines from Bacharach mentioned. It is mostly Riesling, most popular being half-dry. The airport is 1.5 hours away.

Posted by Roy
Auburn, AL
805 posts

I read David's description as referring to the main street, not the whole town. Three hundred yards is roughly 300 meters, or three football fields. Bacharach's main street may be a little more than that, but not a lot. There are different sweetness levels for Riesling, but the sweet Liebfraumilch used to be very popular, and you can still find it in the stores at home. Memory tends to shorten times as well as distances, but that is a big deal only if someone waits until the last minute to catch a flight; not a good idea at all.

Posted by Les
Divide, Colorado, USA
78 posts

We stayed at Malerwinkel in Bacharach for four nights. We had a car and spent two days visiting several of the villages, Boppard, St. Goar, etc. and visiting two of the castles you can tour. Then our last day we did the K-D boat from Bacharach to Koblenz and back. It took all day but was relaxing and gave us another look at all the castles along the way. We called it our "poor man's river cruise". I think staying in Bacharach makes sense as a base and can wholeheartedly recommend Malerwinkel. The rooms were good and breakfast great. Plus it's built into the old town wall and you can easily walk into town for dinner.

Posted by Les
Divide, Colorado, USA
78 posts

We stayed at Malerwinkel in Bacharach for four nights. We had a car and spent two days visiting several of the villages, Boppard, St. Goar, etc. and visiting two of the castles you can tour. Then our last day we did the K-D boat from Bacharach to Koblenz and back. It took all day but was relaxing and gave us another look at all the castles along the way. We called it our "poor man's river cruise". I think staying in Bacharach makes sense as a base and can wholeheartedly recommend Malerwinkel. The rooms were good and breakfast great. Plus it's built into the old town wall and you can easily walk into town for dinner.