Rhine Valley, Christmas markets, First week in December

I will be staying four days in the Rhine Valley area, then heading off by train to Prague for another four days, starting December 1st. I am wanting to see some of the Christmas markets, and the holiday season, but also want to see as much as I can of the area, if weather permits. I have chosen a hotel in prague (thanks to reviews here!) but have not decided on the place to stay in the Rhine Valley. I was there in the summer of 2009, and took the cruise down the Rhine from Boppard to Bacharach. However, I only had one day there, and only got to see Bacharach in any detail (other than from the cruise). I was thinking about making Boppard my home base, and then take trains or whatever is available (heard that the river cruises don't run regularly in winter - is that correct?). I want to spend some time at the Bonn Christmas market, and possibly see a castle or two, and be able to walk through the small towns along the river. Other than that, I have not planned more. I figured that I would just play it by ear, and see what the season has to offer in each place I can reasonably go. (Including places I can go by train - like places in the Mosel, like Trier?) Any suggestions for a hotel or a base town? Does Boppard make sense for that? Anybody know which towns have the Christmas markets that are better than others? Suggestion? With four days, I will have time to go places, but really am trying to decide on a place to stay the nights.... Thanks in advance, Bob

Posted by Tom
Lewiston, NY
10502 posts

I have never left my car to thoroughly explore Boppard, but from driving by, it seems like a good base town. Merely eyeballing it from the car, it would appear to have the second most extensive collection of ruins in the Mittelrhein, behind only Oberwesel. As I wrote in your previous post, the towns along the Mittelrhein are not large enough to support month-long Christmas markets. It will be more a matter of which towns' a markets will coincide with your visit, rather than which is the best. And to be honest... most of the smaller town markets are about the same anyway. The boat line most popular with people on this website (KD) does not operate in the cooler months of the year, but they are not the only passenger boat service on the river. I don't have any other information, other than to add that while driving along the Mittelrhein yesterday on a cold, rainy day, there were still plenty of touring boats to be seen. Just not KD.

Posted by Laura
Drexel Hill, PA, USA
136 posts

Burg Eltz is closed in the wintertime ... you won't be able to tour the interior.

Posted by Russ
2217 posts

A few years ago, I spent 3 days visiting Christmas markets on the Rhine and Mosel with my daughter. We didn't make it to Bonn. But since that and a castle sound like a must-do for you, I'll include it in my suggestions. Markets: The Mainz and Rüdesheim markets were both great. We saw Trier's as well, but it was smallish and probably not worth the long trip up the Mosel. Koblenz' market was kitschy. Koblenz is a train hub for the area, as Ralph says, and you could reach both Bonn in the north and Mainz in the south from there by train, but you'd need to stay somewhere near the station to make best advantage of its situation, and that's a mighty dull area to stay in. Koblenz itself isn't generally all that interesting either. If you wish to stay in one place, I think Boppard is an excellent choice. It's the largest of the Rhine villages - not much to do at night in winter, but then you probably want to use the evenings to experience the Christmas markets and return a little before bedtime. From Boppard: Bonn, Cochem and Mainz are both just over 1 hr. away by local train. Bacharach is about 25 min. south, St. Goar (Rheinfels Castle, Sa and Su, only about 10 min. Feasible daytrips from Boppard: 1. Boppard-Mainz-Rüdesheim-(ferry)-Bingen-Boppard 2. Boppard-Bacharach-Oberwesel-St. Goar (Rheinfels Castle, Sa/Su)- St. Goarshausen (use St. Goar ferry)-Boppard 3. Boppard-Bonn-Linz-gorgeous town w/market)-Boppard 4. Boppard-Braubach (Marksburg Castle)-Cochem-Boppard Markets: Mainz, Bonn, Rüdesheim & Cochem open daily Bacharach: 12/8,9 Linz: Sa & Su every week St. Goarshausen: 12/8 (after 3 pm)& 12/9 (after 1 pm)
Braubach: 12/1&2 (after 2 pm) Message me if you want train help.

Posted by Gary Mc
Salt Lake City
819 posts

We liked the middle Rhine but I have drive through it in the winter and it is very quiet. We day tripped to Boppard. Nice, small town but I wonder how enjoyable the long winter evenings would be. It gets dark very early in the winter in Germany, especially with inclement weather. The nice thing about Christmas Markets is that they give you sights to see and things to do during those long evenings. We visited Mainz and it would be my recommendation, but it is not that handy to Bonn. I have not visited the Christmas Market there but town is pretty lively. We liked the cathedral and St. Stephan's (sp?) church with the Chagall windows. It is handy by train to Bacharach, St. Goar, etc. along the middle Rhine.

Posted by Robert
Tarentum, PA, USA
45 posts

Thanks all! Tom, thanks for all the help in both message threads.... Now to just find a hotel... Ralph, I was thinking about Burg Eltz, so maybe that will play into it. Thanks. Russ, Thanks for all the great info. Especially the Christmas Market dates. I know that it will be a hit or miss for those villages that only have them for a few days. Also, I figured that Trier was probably too far out, but wasn't sure. I will look at train schedules to see what might be possible along the Mosel. Gary, I will look into Mainz. I am not so worried about the weather, as Pittsburgh has similar weather (I think) and if I was not going on vacation, I would be putting up with it anyway, and not enjoying the sites that the Christmas season in Germany provides. I have decided to use train transportation primarily for that reason, as I do not really want to risk driving in bad weather on vacation. I am leaning toward at least most of the nights in Boppard, and finding a hotel or B&B close to the train station. I am not opposed to spending another night elsewhere and so I will be looking into all the advice. Thanks! Bob

Posted by Tom
Lewiston, NY
10502 posts

"I am leaning toward at least most of the nights in Boppard, and finding a hotel or B&B close to the train station." Don't let that limit your choice. Except for perhaps Bingen and Koblenz, all of the Mittelrhein towns are small, and there aren't too many places that would be outside of walking distance to the train stations. I'm not sure why Koblenz gets so little love on this website. True, it's more of a small city than a town, it isn't the most immediately attractive settlement on the Rhine and the main shopping street is... well, ugly. But there are some beautiful neighborhoods, and the historic district around the Deutsches Eck seems to have escaped the bombs of WWII. Given a choice, I would personally pick one of the smaller towns up river for lodging, but I wouldn't ignore Koblenz either.