My son and I are flying into Frankfurt on June 25 and heading directly to the Rhine Valley. I am considering staying in either St. Goar or Bacharach. I would like to take a cruise on the Rhine and see the castles Rheinfels and Marksburg. I am very confused about train travel and river travel. Any recommendations.
River travel: Travel south to north to go with the river flow - faster that way. It's generally not great for hopping on and off, as there are few boats. A morning cruise is better if it's hot! Schedule - pay attention to dates: http://www.k-d.de/english/kd-scheduled-cruises/kd-rhine-timetable/ Trains: They run on both sides of the river all day, at least hourly in each direction, as a rule, though you may find a bus connection or two at the DB itinerary page. For your trip, assuming a 1-night or 2-night stay: Day 1: Stay in either town, see Rheinfels that afternoon, see both towns - they're separated by a 10-min. train ride. Day 2: Take the train south to Bingen and cruise north. Stay on for 3 hours if you want to go to Braubach for Marksburg by boat. Return to your base town by train via Koblenz and make a stop in Boppard if you want. OR, stay on the boat only until Boppard - about 2.5 hours, nice town to visit - then go to Braubach by train via Koblenz and return the same way to your base town. A K-D cruise is free with use of a railpass day. If paying, it gets discounted if you show a train ticket. A Rheinland-Pfalz daypass is 25€ for 2 - good after 9 am on weekdays to all the towns mentioned on regional trains. http://www.vrminfo.de/en/tickets-and-fares/ticket-offers/rheinland-pfalz-ticket/ English tours of Marksburg are traditionally at 12 and 4 pm.
@ Russ; I happen to agree with you re: Koblenz. In my case, the reason I picked up the K-D Line there is b/c I had been in Berlin immediately before that. On that trip, I traveled only by train. So, from Berlin, took an over-night train west (it went to Dusseldorf, if I recall, from where I connected regionally to Koblenz & took an inexpensive taxi from the Koblenz train station to the boat). I had somewhat limited time and was trying to get a lot in (began in Berlin, did a loop around the country, ending in Munich); so picking up the K-D line in Koblenz just worked for my situation. But, Terry, Russ is correct; Koblenz does not necessarily make the most strategic location from which to begin the Rhine boat trip. If I recall correctly, I think I had taken info from Rick's suggestions, and then combined them with my itinerary needs. Good points, Russ. Cheers.
Terry, I suggest getting Rick's Germany guidebook; he clearly lays out how to travel the Rhine, where to pick the boat up; boat vs. train, etc. Using Rick's suggestions, I traveled the Rhine on the K-D line. I picked it up in Koblenz (didn't spend any time in Koblenz, just basically went there to pick the boat up). They make it really easy/convenient; you can get off wherever you'd like and get back on later. I got off in St Goar, wandered around that pretty town, went up to Rhinefells Castle; terrific, old ruins of where castle once stood, and GREAT views of the Rhine below. I then got off in Bacharach, where I spent the night. There is not a heck of a lot to see/do in Bacarach per se....but that's kind of what I liked about it! It's small and pretty and 1 night there, with some wandering around in the afternoon and after dinner, made for a very pleasant stay. I think staying in St Goar vs Bacarach just comes down to personal preference/taste; fact is, you can't go wrong with either. In Bacarach, I stayed at this place, and liked it:
http://www.kranenturm.com/ It's a typical "Rick-Pick!" - small, homey, clean, family owned and run, good value, good bfast in the AM, etc. It IS on the train tracks, but the windows are double-paned, and I don't recall that bothering me at all. Met many other independent, like-minded travelers (ALL with their Rick guidebooks!), which also added to the experience.
"Terry, I suggest getting Rick's Germany guidebook; he clearly lays out how to travel the Rhine, where to pick the boat up; boat vs. train, etc... I picked it up in Koblenz (didn't spend any time in Koblenz, just basically went there to pick the boat up). They make it really easy/convenient; you can get off wherever you'd like and get back on later." It would take me at least 30 minutes to get from the Koblenz station to the K-D docks in Koblenz on foot. If it's Rick's advice to make this 2+ km trek across Koblenz, to cruise south from Koblenz along a largely industrial riverfront near there, to bypass Braubach, home of the best castle on the Rhine - Marksburg - and to travel to Bacharach, a trip of 4.5 boat hours total, then I think you should probably ignore it, Terry. The trip takes only 3 boat hours in the other direction - from Bacharach to Koblenz. But you don't have to travel even that long for a good boat ride. St. Goar is a nice stop - or a nice place to overnight. Staying in St. Goar allows you to go to Rheinfels when it's convenient - just walk uphill from town whenever you're ready. Bacharach is great too - it has more attractive buildings than St. Goar, but St. Goar's setting, w/ 3 castles visible from town, is more impressive.
We found short Rhine cruises very convenient from (or to) Wiesbaden. You go through interesting stretches of the Rhine. And then very easy to catch the train back. We also found St goarshausen as a convenient alternate to St Goar- just across the river by a little ferry, so both are available to you