The Rhineland generally refers to the area around the Rhine River in Germany. The area is full of vineyards, well-preserved medieval towns and hundreds of castles on the hilltops. There are many ways to explore the Rhineland, whether you want to hike, bike, or cruise along the river. There's even a rail system linking the many villages in the area. Regardless of how you choose to explore, there's much to see in this beautiful region.

    The beautiful Rhine River has served as one of Europe’s most important waterways for centuries, flowing through Switzerland, France, Germany, and the Netherlands. Some cities on the Rhine date back to Roman times, so you can learn about the long history of the area as you enjoy the quaint villages and natural scenery. We've picked out some of the best things to do in the Rhineland to help you start to explore this huge and fascinating region.


    See 2 major rivers connect in Koblenz

    2 rivers + 1 fortress = an amazing visit

    The city of Koblenz sits at the junction of the Rhine and Mosel rivers. It’s the perfect jumping-off point for your time in the Rhineland. In fact, Koblenz marks the northernmost point of the Rhine Gorge, which has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site because of its natural beauty and abundance of historic towns.

    One of the most famous spots in Koblenz is the Deutsches Eck (German Corner), a bow-shaped strip of land which marks the intersection of the 2 major rivers. From the Deutsches Eck, you’ll have a great view of the Ehrenbreitstein fortress above the city. This 11th-century structure is the second-largest preserved fortress in Europe. The best way to visit Ehrenbreitstein Fortress is to take a cable car, which will give you a spectacular view over the city, the rivers, and the surrounding countryside.

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    Take a river cruise through the Rhine Gorge

    The best way to explore the UNESCO site

    The Rhine Gorge is a 65-km stretch of the river blessed with a host of hilltop castles, charming riverside towns, lush valleys, wine villages, and forests. The entire region is designated a UNESCO World Heritage site.

    The best way to experience the Rhine Gorge is by taking a river cruise. There are different options available, from half-day cruises to multi-day adventures. From the water, you’ll see hundreds of castles and riverfront towns. Nearly every village along the river has a dock, and most cruises will include time to explore a couple of towns and castles. Cruises depart from Frankfurt, Cologne, and most major cities in the Rhineland.

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    photo by Pengannel (CC BY 2.0) modified


    Castle-hopping on the Rheinburgenweg Trail

    A hike through history

    The Rheinburgenweg Trail refers to a network of hiking trails between Bingen and Remagen in the Rhine Valley. The trails meander past vineyards, beautiful castles, and viewpoints above the river.

    The trail section between Oberwesel and St. Goar is the most popular. This hike is 9 km long and includes some steep parts that you can navigate with the help of steel cables. The midpoint of the hike brings you past the Lorelei Rock, and at the end of the hike, you can explore the huge castle of Burg Rheinfels in St. Goar.

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    photo by Bernd Krämer (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified


    The Lorelei viewpoint over the Rhine

    Legendary cliff with a panoramic view

    The Lorelei Cliff (also referred to as Loreley Rock) towers almost 200 metres above the Rhine River. From the top, you have a bird’s-eye view of the bend in the river where the Rhine reaches its narrowest point.

    The imposing rock has inspired many legends, but the most famous one tells of the mermaid Lorelei who would sit on the rock, gazing at the passing ships. Legend has it that the sailors would get distracted by her beauty, leading to multiple shipwrecks in the area.

    Location: Auf der Loreley 7, 56348 Bornich, Germany

    Phone: +49 (0)6771 599093

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    photo by Dirk Schmidt (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified


    Wander in the picture-perfect town of Bacharach

    The pinnacle of Rhineland charm

    Bacharach is often cited as the most romantic town in the Rhineland area. It's a small place full of historic buildings, flanked by vineyard-covered slopes on one side and the Rhine on the other side. The town features medieval ruins, cobblestone streets, and an old fortification wall.

    A famous spot in Bacharach is the Altes Haus, a half-timbered 14th-century mansion that looks like it inspired a fairy tale or 2. The impressive ruins of the Wernerkapelle form the oldest structure in town. And be sure to do the hike up to the 12th-century Burg Stahleck. It's located in the cliffs above the town and offers a great viewpoint over the Rhine Valley.

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    Choose from 160 varieties of wine in Bernkastel-Kues

    You may want to spread it out over a few days...

    Bernkastel-Kues is yet another charming village along the Mosel river and well-known hot spot for wine. The old town of Bernkastel-Kues is full of 17th-century half-timbered houses and the Renaissance Town Hall built in 1608. As with many other towns in the Rhineland area, you can see imposing castle ruins in the hills above the city.

    The town is home to the Mosel Wine Museum, which includes interactive exhibits informing visitors about the history of winemaking. There's also an aroma wheel to help test your ability to detect different flavour notes in the wines. Impressively, the museum boasts a collection of over 160 different wines. For a fee, visitors can taste as many wines as they want. The town hosts a wine festival complete with a parade and fireworks every September, as well as special ‘Open Wine Cellar Days’ where the local winemakers present wine to the public.

    Location: Mosel Wine Museum, Cusanusstraße 2, 54470 Bernkastel-Kues, Germany

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    photo by Tomas er (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified


    Explore Roman ruins in Trier

    The oldest city in Germany, painstakingly preserved

    Trier holds the title as the oldest city in Germany. The first official settlements here can be traced from before Roman times. The Porta Nigra Roman gate stands guard at the city entrance and dates back to AD180. It’s one of the best-preserved examples of ancient architecture found anywhere in the world.

    Not only do you get a serious dose of history with the medieval town centre and extensive Roman ruins, but you can also taste delicious wine in Trier, due to its location in the middle of the important wine region of the Mosel valley.

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    See the Cathedral of St. Peter in Worms

    The Cathedral on the Hill

    The city of Worms is located on the upper part of the Rhine, just south of Frankfurt. Worms is over 700 years old, making it one of Germany’s oldest cities. Along with other Rhineland cities like Cologne and Trier, it served as an important city during the period of the Roman Empire.

    The highlight of Worms is the Cathedral of St. Peter, which sits atop a hillside overlooking the city. Though the city has been in the crosshairs of battles throughout the ages, the Cathedral of St. Peter was restored to its original 12th-century design. It features twin 40-metre-high domes and 4 round towers. The ornate cathedral is one of the best examples of High Romanesque architecture.

    Location: Domplatz, 67547 Worms, Germany

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    photo by Ato 01 (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified


    Relax in the spa town of Wiesbaden

    Enjoy the natural healing waters

    The town of Wiesbaden is famous for its thermal springs and beautiful surroundings. After all, Wiesbaden translates to ‘Meadow Baths.’ Throughout the area of Wiesbaden, there are 15 thermal springs which have an average temperature of 66°C.

    The town has been a favourite relaxation spot for centuries. Pay a visit to the Fountain Colonnade as well as the large Kurhaus. There's even an entire district in Wiesbaden dedicated to thermal baths and saunas called the Aukammtal spa district.

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    photo by Carole Raddato (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified


    Experience Carnival in Cologne

    A once in a lifetime experience

    The Carnival celebrations in Cologne are among the largest in Germany. For the 5 days before Lent, the entire city dresses up in colourful costumes and takes to the streets for parades, parties, and traditional music festivals.

    Carnival takes place around February or March of each year, depending on when Easter falls. It’s one of those bucket-list items. After you’re done partaking in the merriment, you can even start a Rhine river cruise from Cologne to explore the rest of the Rhineland.

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    photo by Radomir Cernoch (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

    Monica Horak | Contributing Writer

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