We're headed to the Frankfurt area with two small children. We would like to hit every mode of transportation, while getting in some culture. The kids are always fascinated with a touch (but not too much) of a good thing. So, here's what we have planned for ONE DAY. Drive to Bingen, park in the KD parking lot. Take the KD boat to Braubach (about 3 hours?- we'll eat one meal aboard ship). In Braubach, take the Marksburg Express shuttle up the hill to the castle tour. Afterward, return to the train station in Braubach via the Marksburg Express. Take the commuter train (is there an ICE train that runs this route?) from Braubach to Rudesheim. If I read the map correctly, that train station is within steps from the Ferry, which we could take across the river back to Bingen to get our car. What's wrong with this plan? While we are flexible, it's good to have things nailed down when travelling with kids, I think. Thanks much!
It's not a bad plan but young kids are typically less willing to walk around later in the day; since Ruedesheim will involve a lot of that, I'd reverse your activities and hit R'heim before the cruise and Marksburg.
There isn't much charm to an on-board meal with K-D. My memories are of snack bars and lots of alcohol. I'd have lunch in Rüdesheim.
Are you overnighting in Frankfurt? I'd suggest overnighting in a castle instead. Bacharach and Diez each have very nice en-suite family accommodations at their castle-hostels; reasonable rates include breakfast. Kids would get a thrill out of that.
Diez is actually on the Lahn river to the east of the Rhine; here's a photo of the castle-hostel:
is there an ICE train that runs this route?
No. At least not that stops in Braubach. The Bahn schedule shows only regional trains stopping in Braubach. A few ICs run up the other side of the river from Koblenz to Bingen, but the right bank seems to be exclusively regional trains (and freight).
Russ - great advice. Ok, I found the site for the Castle Youth Hostels. Those are awesome. Has anyone ever stayed in the one at Bacharach? http://www.diejugendherbergen.de/die-jugendherbergen-auf-einen-blick/bacharach/portrait
It is situated directly on the river, and according to the KD website, there is a boat dock in Bacharach and we could ride downstream to Braubach. Ok, now how do we get a train back up river to Bacharach and on the correct side of the river!!?? The train will be more expedient and will offer the kids another mode of transportation fun. If there is anyway to catch an ICE train, I think my little guy would love the speed train. Thanks for the help guys! This is terrific.
On the stretch along the left bank of the Rhein between Koblenz and Mainz, leaving Koblenz between 9 AM and about 6 PM, I see only two ICEs. Neither stops between Koblenz and Mainz. There are quite a few almost-as-fast IC (Intercity) and EC (Eurocity) trains during that time, but they too do not stop between Koblenz and Mainz.
[The Bacharach castle hostel] is situated directly on the river.
Not really. The castle is on a hill high above the town, and it is a bit of a hike on foot. I have never seen a taxi in Bacharach, so I assume walking is the only choice.
As for the train from Braubach to Bacharach, the train down river from Braubach crosses over a bridge into Koblenz and goes to the Hbf there. You could then catch another train up the river to Bacharach. Alternatively, you could catch a train up river from Braubach to St. Goarshausen, cross over the river to St. Goar on the ferry there, and continue by train from St. Goar to Bacharach.
By the way, the castle ruins (Rheinfels) in St. Goar would be interesting for your guys to see.
I stayed at the Bacharach hostel decades ago; as I recall, an uphill climb of hundreds of steps is involved. If booking there, check first with the management to see what the alternatives might be if you think the kids can't make it. I was at the Diez hostel a couple of years ago; it's a fairly easy walk from the station, only a few steps up from the center of town. It's got a really nice little cafe too.
If you are landing in Frankfurt, you can take the ICE to almost anywhere. Are you staying your whole trip along the Rhein or are you going some place else? There is an ICE going to Köln from Frankfurt, that gets you there in 55 min. You could then make your way to all your little towns along the Rhein. Though taking the slow train from Frankfurt to Köln is very scenic and a whole lot cheaper than the ICE. Riding any of the S-bahns in the cities, such as Frankfurt or Mainz is also exciting for kids. I don't know how old your children are, but the trams or strassenbahns can also be fun. Riding the ferry across the Rhein is interesting too. Not so sure about the 3 hours on the boat. I dont mind it, but it might be a long time for the kids. The food on the boats is pricey in comparison to the quality. It would not be on my wanna-do lists.
In case you are interested, there is a Roman fort reconstruction near Bad Homburg, which is north of Frankfurt. It is called the Saalburg. This would be really cool for the kids.
I've stayed at the Burg Stahleck. It's great - well run, clean and quiet. Our room was called the Rhineview room. Be sure to get reservations, it's always full. It's a little hike up the hill but not out of walking distance to the train or boat.
You should also plan on the Rheinfels ruins while you're in the area. Our kids loved it.
I've also stayed at the St. Goar hostel. It's more of a basic hostel - nothing special.
Don't spend time looking for a faster train to stop in any of these towns. If they stopped at all the little towns, they would no longer be fast. The commuter train works well and there are specials for after rush hour that are incredibly cheap for family travel (Schoennes Wochende or Beautiful Weekend and Laender or Regional passes).
The Schönes-Wochenende-Ticket costs €37 and is valid for unlimited travel for up to 5 people in 2nd class in all regional trains in Germany for an entire day on a Sat, Sun, or holiday.
For the area in which you are traveling, the €27 Rheinland-Pfalz-Ticket (a Länder ticket) is valid for the same kind of travel (2nd cl. regional) throughout the state (Land) of Rheinland-Pfalz. Rheinland-Pfalz covers almost the entire area between the Rhein River and France, except the area around Bonn. The RL-P-Ticket is valid all day on Sat, Sun, and holidays and after 9 AM on weekdays.
In addition, the local transit district (VRM, Verkehrverbund Rhein-Mosel) where you will be has Gruppentageskarten, which are all day passes for that transit district. The VRN covers everything on the Rhein from Oberwesel (just down river from Bacharach) almost to Bonn and the Mosel from Koblenz past Cochem. The maximum price for a Gruppentageskarte covering the entire VRM is €20; passes covering less distance are less.