We spent a perfect three-day weekend on the Rhine River visiting the towns of Boppard and Bacharach, including viewing the many castles along the Rhine on a short half-day cruise between these two towns, and I wanted to share the plan with you in case you have the opportunity to visit this region, too. We arrived in Frankfurt on a Friday morning and traveled to Heidelberg on Sunday afternoon, staying two nights in Boppard. Boppard is a little over an hour from Frankfurt airport via direct train and about 90 minutes by car from Frankfurt airport. Traveling to or from Heidelberg is about two hours either via train or car. I have put together a two-night itinerary for visiting the region using Boppard as a base, but at the end of this post I have suggested an option for visiting the area if you can only spend one night.
3-Day, 2-Night Itinerary:
Day 1 – Frankfurt or Heidelberg to Boppard, Germany
Travel to Boppard
Ideally, try to travel via train or drive from Frankfurt or Heidelberg to Boppard in the morning, so you can have lunch in Boppard and still have time to explore the town in the afternoon. To access the train schedule in English and to book train tickets, check the official website here:
Boppard – Overview
Boppard is known for its medieval history, vineyards, churches, and beautiful promenade along the Rhine. It is situated in the heart of the Rhine where the river makes a loop through the heart of the UNESCO World Heritage region of the Upper Middle Rhine Valley. Learn more about the region here at the official UNESCO website here: http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1066
Arriving in Boppard
If you arrive in Boppard via train, many of the hotels are within a ten-minute walk of the train station along the Rhine. The train station is point A on the overview map of stops on my self-guided Boppard walking tour route.
Recommended hotel – Bellevue Rheinhotel, Boppard
We stayed at the Bellevue Rheinhotel located directly on the Rhine (Point B on the Overview Map). Double rooms with a Rhine view start at about 100 Euro per night in low season. To walk to the hotel from the train station, walk on Heerstraße toward the Rhine River and turn left onto Bahnhofstrasse. Turn right onto Rheinallee at the river. The hotel will be on your right.
We paid extra to have a balcony room with a view over the Rhine. (Note – I do not receive commission from the hotel or any of the other businesses recommended in this post.)
Boppard Am Rhein
Phone: +49 6742 1020
Lunch in Boppard
Le Bristol in the Bellevue Rheinhotel – We enjoyed the lunch and the view of the Rhine from the hotel’s Le Bristol restaurant. Options include sea bass, salmon and steak choices and, of course, wines of the region. If your room is not ready when you check in, this might be an especially good choice so you can then, hopefully, get your bags to your room after lunch. Check out their menu on the “Gastronomy” tab of the hotel’s website.
Le Jardin Café outside of the Bellevue Rheinhotel – Between April and October, another Bellevue Rheinhotel option is Le Jardin outdoor café on the terrace overlooking the Rhine. The café offers light meals and snacks just outside the main entrance of the hotel.
After lunch, walk and/or take the little Rheinexpress tourist train on a 30-minute round-trip journey around Boppard for an overview of the city. We took the train for the overview, and then we walked to see the sights in more detail.
Rheinexpress Tourist Train – If you are visiting between April and October, you will most likely see the Rheinexpress just to the right of Le Jardin Café as you face the river. It operates from 9:30 am to 6:00 pm daily and stops regularly at Rheinallee. Purchase your 5 Euro tickets on board the train. The train holds 56 people, and it stops at the Romanesque-Gothic St. Severus Church at the market square, the Roman excavations dating to the 4th century, the Chairlift station, and here at Rheinallee. The train also takes you through the south gate of Boppard’s medieval town wall, the Binger Gate.
Self-Guided Walking Tour of Boppard
I put together a little self-guided walking tour of Boppard with maps. If you have the time, you may want to take this little tour and/or stop to visit some of the sights. You can also access the maps in an interactive format on the website www.walkli.com. Just search on Boppard on that site to reach the maps I have created. The numbers for each of the sights correspond to the letters on the walkli maps. If you have already arrived at the train station (A) and walked to the Bellevue Rheinhotel (B), you are now ready to walk to your right to the Boppard Museum, formerly the Prince Elector’s Castle (where you can also catch the little Rheinexpress tourist train).
Boppard Walking Tour – Stop 3(C) – Boppard Museum – Former Prince Elector’s Castle
The Archbishop of Trier built the castle as a stronghold after he conquered the town in 1327. The tower that you see here belonged to the original building, but the four wings and the yard date from the 1600’s. Inside, the Boppard museum highlights local history. The Roman fort of Boppard was partly used in the Middle Ages for the city fortification, and a piece of wall with towers is close to the castle. Many of the finds that have been recovered and excavated from the fort can be found in the museum. It is open daily, except Mondays, April through October from 10 am until 12 pm and from 2 pm until 5 pm. To enter the museum, walk along Rhineallee with the river on your left and turn right at Burgplasse. Take the first right to stay on Burgplasse. The museum entrance will be on your right.
Boppard Walking Tour – Stop 4(D) – Bronze Statue of Woman Giving Candy to a Child
Keep walking on Burgplasse as it becomes Untere Marktstrasse and stop when you reach the intersection with Kronengasse. Look for the corner with the bronze statue of a woman handing candy to a child in front of a former candy shop. Sometimes people put a candy in her hand.
Boppard Walking Tour – Stop 5(E) – St. Severus Church in Market Square
Turn left on Kronengasse, and you will see the Romanesque church of St. Severus with its two towers on your left in the Market Square. The church was built in the 12th through 13th centuries over Roman baths. The baptismal font dates to the sixth century. (The Tourist Information office is located in the square here.)
Boppard Walking Tour – Stop 6(F) – Roman ruins
To visit a bit more of the market area before reaching the Roman ruins, walk through the Market Square, passing the Tourist Information Office on your right. Walk on Marketplasse to Burgstrasse and turn right. Take a right on Oberstrasse and walk several blocks until you reach Kirchgasse. Turn left on Kirchgasse and walk one block. Boppard’s Roman ruins will be on your left. These are the oldest preserved Roman fort walls north of the Alps, dating back to 360 AD.
Boppard Walking Tour – Stop 7(G) – Shopping Along the Cobbled Streets of Boppard
Walk back down Kirchgasse, and turn left on Oberstrasse. Here you might enjoy a stop at the ice cream shop on the left or the bakery on the right. Turn right at the bakery to walk back toward the river on Kuhgasse. Turn right on Eltzerhofstrasse toward St. Severus Church. The ancient shopping area at the intersection of Kronengasse and Eltzerhofstrasse has nice specialty shops lining its cobbled streets.
Dinner in Boppard
Ristorante Pizze Schnuggel Elsje restaurant is located at the intersection of Kronengasse and Eltzerhofstrasse (Map Stop G). It is a good, reasonably priced option for lunch or dinner. It is open daily from 12 pm – 2:30 and from 5 pm – 10:30 pm, except Monday. I love their antique sign, too.
Check their website here for current hours and information:
Severus Stube is Tripadvisor’s top-rated restaurant in Boppard. From Map Stop G, continue on Eltzerhofstrasse as becomes Untere Marktstrasse at the intersection with Kronengasse with St. Severus on your right, and it will be on your right before you reach the Museum of Boppard. It serves traditional German food and the renowned local wines of Boppard and the middle-Rhine region. The restaurant is open for dinner daily beginning at 5 pm and for lunch on Saturday and Sunday. If you are planning to eat here during a busy time of year, stop in earlier during the day to make a reservation or use the “Kontakt” form on the website. For pictures of the restaurant and the food selection and for the contact form, access the German-only, website below:
Le Bristol and Le Jardin Café at the Bellevue Rheinhotel are open nightly for dinner, as well. To return to the Bellevue Rheinhotel, from Map Stop G, follow Kronengasse back to the Rhine and turn left on Rheinallee.
Day 2 – Boppard to Bacharach – Rhine Cruise, Bacharach, Return to Boppard
Have breakfast and get ready to enjoy a Rhine cruise and some time in the town of Bacharach before returning to Boppard this evening. At the Bellevue Rheinhotel, the plentiful breakfast buffet is served at Le Bristol from 7:30 am on weekends and from 7:00 am on weekdays.
Rhine Cruise from KD Cruise Dock – Overview Map Stop H
The KD Boat Dock is located directly in front of the Bellevue Rheinhotel. Here, you can hop on a KD cruise boat and visit towns along the Rhine. Cruises from Boppard to Bacharach pass many of the most impressive castles in and along the Rhine before the recommended stop at Bacharach and returning via cruise or train from Bacharach.
Daily morning cruises depart in the direction of Mainz at 9:00 am and 11:00 am and arrive in Bacharach 2 ½ hours later. There are refreshments available on-board, so if you take the early cruise, it is possible to grab something to eat on board if you want to sleep a little later and still try to be on the 9:00 am (or 9:30 am in Winter*) boat. Be sure to get to the dock about 10 minutes before departure time. Get a seat on the side of the boat facing across the river from Boppard, because most of the castles on the way to Boppard will be on that side of the river. (*Winter Schedule – From 10/23 through 4/13, the KD Winter service is limited. The only morning cruise departs Boppard at 9:30 am, arriving in St. Goar at 10:40 am, and only goes as far as St. Goar via boat. From St. Goar, it is only a short train ride from St. Goar to Bacharach. The cruise back to Boppard from St. Goar to Bacharch returns at 3:40 and arrives in Boppard at 4:40 pm.)
Purchase and print your 32 Euro day pass online in advance from the website of KD’s ticket partner, Travel Toe, at this link:
(Note: Although the ticket indicates that the cruise starts in Koblenz, it is not required for you to board in Koblenz.)
If you would like to begin or end the cruise at other times or stops, check the schedule below for options and times:
Rhine Castles – Boppard to Bacharach:
Soon after you leave Boppard, on the opposite side of the Rhine from Boppard, you will see first the Sterrenberg Castle and then its neighbor, Liebenstein Castle. Legend has it that these castles belonged to enemy brothers, but there is no evidence that this is true. The walls likely served as a shield to improve the defenses of Sterrenberg Castle. It is known that Liebenstein Castle was built in the 13th century. At that time, Sterrenberg Castle had already been constructed. The white plaster on the Sterrenberg Castle tower was added in the 1970’s to restore its medieval look.
As you continue on the Rhine toward Bacharach you will come to the two castles, Maus and then Katz, affectionately known as Cat and Mouse on the same side of the Rhine as the “enemy brother” castles. Across the Rhine, on the Boppard side, is Rheinfels Castle Fortress. It was built in the mid-1200s and is the oldest of the three castles in this area.
As you cruise on the Rhine, first you will see Maus Castle, actually Thurnberg Castle. It was built in the 1300s by the same elector of Trier that built the Boppard Castle, now the town museum.
Next, on the opposite side of the river, you will see the ruins of the Rheinfels Castle Fortress. It is owned by the city of St. Goar and visitors can walk through the ruins, as well as its gigantic vault cellar and the labyrinth of the subterranean mines. Katz castle is next in view on the cruise, across the river from the fortress.
Beyond Katz you will come to the most famous part of the Rhine, the Loreley. This 433-foot high slate cliff is one of the most dangerous places on the Rhine even today, because it is deep and narrow. You may have heard of the ballad of Loreley about a beautiful woman from Bacharach who sits on the rock cliff combing her long golden hair and luring ships into their destruction as they are drawn to the cliffs by her beauty and her “Song of the Loreley”.
Next after the Loreley will be the Schonburg Castle on your right as you head to Bacharach. The original castle was destroyed in 1689 and rebuilt over many years, beginning in 1885. It now accommodates a hotel.
On the opposite side of the river you will soon see Gutenfels Castle overlooking the Pfalzgrafenstein Castle in the middle of the Rhine that served as a Toll Station. Pfalzgrafenstein was built in 1329 by Ludwig the Bavarian and it has stood here ever since.
The next stop after passing Pfalzgrafenstein Castle will be the town of Bacharach. Disembark here and spend some time in this charming medieval town. As you wander through the town, you will see Stahleck Castle high above the town. The castle was originally built in the twelfth century, but it was destroyed by the French in 1689. This twentieth century reconstruction is one of the most popular youth hostels in all of Germany.
Lunch and Wine Tasting in Bacharach – We enjoyed a reasonably priced lunch with a wine tasting flight included at the restaurant, wine bar, and shop Weingut Karl Heidrich near the town center of Bacharach at Oberstrasse 16-18. Opening hours are daily 12 pm until 10 pm, except Tuesday and Wednesday. To get there from the cruise dock, walk toward the little town on Marktstrasse and take the second left at Oberstrasse. The restaurant will be on your left. Here is a picture of the wine flight we enjoyed there, as well as a picture of me sitting in the courtyard part of the restaurant. If you look closely you can see Stahleck Castle in the top left above my head!
Weingut Karl Heidrich website (German only):
After lunch, walk back toward Marktstrasse where you can explore some of the shops and churches of Bacharach.
Then, return to Boppard on the 5:15 pm KD cruise in the direction of Cologne. The 5:15 pm cruise returns to Boppard at 6:50 pm. There is also a 3:15 pm boat, arriving in Boppard 4:50 pm. (Since the Rhine River flows from south to north, it takes about an hour less time to travel from Bacharach to Boppard than from Boppard to Bacharach.) If you decide you would like to stay in Bacharach longer, there are several frequent train connections from Bacharach to Boppard. Tickets are less than 10 Euros. When you return to Boppard, have dinner at one of the dinner options you did not choose last night.
- Special Experience: At several times during the year, KD cruises offer night “fireworks cruises” from Boppard and other stops along the Rhine. For information about Rhine River Lights cruises and special options, check here:
Day 3 – Boppard Chair Lift, Rheinallee Promenade, Travel to Next Stop
After breakfast, take some time to walk along the Rheinallee Promenade. From April 1st through October 31st, continue walking to take the chair lift to the top of the mountain overlooking Boppard to get a great view of the area. Follow the last stops on my Boppard walking tour.
Boppard Walking Tour – Stop 9(I) – Rheinallee Promenade
From the Bellevue Rheinhotel, walk along Rheinallee past the KD Cruise Dock with the river on your right. You will come to a quieter promenade area of Rheinallee (pictured) that is nice to walk along and enjoy the river.
Boppard Walking Tour – Stop 10(J) – Chair Lift
To get to the chair lift from Rheinallee, veer to the left on Kreuzweg, turn right onto Koblenzer Strasse, and then turn left on Mühltal. The Sesselbahn Chair Lift Station will be on your right. Each chair lift holds two people suspended on an open seat secured only with a bar that would not be able to safely secure a very young child. The price is 7.90 Euro round-trip. Hours are 10 am to 6 pm daily, April through September, 10 am – 5:30 pm October 1 – 15, and 10 am – 5:00 pm October 16 – 31.
While you are at the top of the mountain, you may want to have lunch or a snack at Restaurant GedeonsEck on top of the mountain near the top chair lift station before you ride back down the mountain and make your way to Heidelberg or Frankfurt or wherever you will visit next later this afternoon. If the weather is nice you will be able to see the loop of the Rhine, as well as the town of Boppard. Perhaps you will find, as we did, that this is a perfect ending to your trip!
2-Day, 1-Night Itinerary Option:
Use the 3-day, 2-night itinerary as a guide, but make these changes. Arrive via train or car from Heidelberg or Frankfurt in time to take the 11:00 am KD Rhine cruise on your first day, returning via the 5:15 pm cruise from Bacharach. Have dinner in Boppard upon your return at 6:50 pm, and stay overnight in Boppard. On the second day, take the little train or walking tour first thing in the morning. Then, take the round-trip chair lift ride. Have lunch at the top of the mountain or in Boppard if you have time before returning to your hotel to grab your bags and continue your travel to your next stop of Heidelberg or Frankfurt.
If you are visiting Germany, you may want to visit Munich, too! I have a walking tour and podcast about Munich here:
Please let me know if you have any questions or if you would like a pdf of this itinerary. You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more detail about planning a trip to Munich and visiting the castles and surrounding historical sights, check out my just-published book on Amazon, “Munich 2018 Travel Guide with Bavarian Day Trips,” for $8.99 paperback and $5.99 Kindle version:
Paperback version link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1980506876
Kindle/e-book version link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07BB4S4FG
While you are in Germany, consider visiting Neuschwanstein Castle, as well. Check out information for visiting Neuschwanstein here:
Until next time, I hope all your travel days are just perfect!