Following Rheinburgenweg along the Rhine
Rheinburgenweg is a picturesque walking route 200 km long following the river Rhein from Bad Breisig to Bingen. It’s a relaxing walk for those enjoying castles, nature, and quiet evenings in small German towns. We’ve talked to Anya, who together with her husband walked half of the way from Koblenz to Bingen, and asked her to share their experiences.
Why did you decide to walk this route specifically?
Well, this pandemic year has limited possible travel destinations to those within Europe and preferably close to home. First, we were viewing different options for a bike trip and checked out routes with bike lanes. But when we saw this route we decided it would be more interesting to do it on foot and take more time. We’re not big hikers and enjoy more relaxed walks, with sightseeing. This route suited us perfectly!
So where does the route go?
The full route is from Bad Breisig to Bingen but we only did half of it from Koblenz to Bingen. There are a bunch of routes along Rhein, and we picked the one that is closest to the river because it has the most castles on the way and the least hills. Also, it’s the most “civilized”, passing through a lot of towns. It was convenient for us as we didn’t want to carry any camping equipment or food. We flew to Cologne and spent the night in Bonn – we wanted to see this city too. Then we took a train to Koblenz where we started walking. At the end of the route, we took the train again from Bingen to Frankfurt. We spent a week on the route.
How difficult is the route? Is it suitable for a beginner walker?
I’d say yes. We are not experienced walkers, and we managed perfectly well, although we got a bit tired on the second day. But later we found a comfortable tempo and enjoyed walking a lot! On average we were doing about 15 km per day and altitude gains could be about 500 meters total.
How did you plan the route and found your way during the day?
Oh, the route is very well marked, you can never get lost! It is marked with a red letter R topped with a castle, on a white or yellow background. White means you’re on the route itself, and yellow shows paths that lead towards the route so you can find it from your transport or hotel. There are traditional legs to the route, so you can just follow the ready descriptions here. The legs are very logically planned, and although it’s possible to walk more in a day than suggested, it’s nice to relax in the towns in the afternoon, enjoying the food and sightseeing.
What was your accommodation strategy along the route?
We lived in hotels along the route, and as we didn’t want any pressure, we usually booked just one night in advance. Bigger towns have no lack of accommodation, smaller ones are a bit tricky and you may end up paying more than you expected. But in general, prices for a room for two were about 60 euros, breakfast included.
And what about food, what’s good on the way?
As I mentioned, we had breakfasts in the hotels, then took some snacks for the day, and our next meal would be at the end of the day’s leg. The food scene in the towns on the way usually looks like the following: one kebab/pizza place, a couple of German cuisine restaurants, a bakery, and that’s it! Surprisingly, the locals queue at the kebab/pizza places only. As for us, we enjoyed the bakeries most – there are plenty of apple pies, seasonal pies with plums, and our favorite – Käse kuchen – a sweet pie with cheese. The portions are so big that they were fit enough for us as dinner. Alsatian Flammkuchen is also quite popular in the region.
So what were three things that you’ve enjoyed most on the way?
Well, I definitely enjoyed all the castles! We haven’t visited all of them, as some were out of the way, but what we’ve visited was impressive! A lot of them house hotels or restaurants, so one can explore them for free. Of course, if there is a museum, you have to pay a fee. One of the castles we particularly liked was Stahleck Castle. It also stood apart as it was home for a kids’ summer camp besides being a museum too. Rheinfels Castle is also very interesting. It’s fully touristic, old and huge, although not much more than the ruins remain. You can find the complete list of castles here.
I also really liked drinking Rhein wine! You pass a vineyard during the day and in the evening you can try the local wine from it. The region is famous for its Rieslings, so we mostly tried those. In the restaurants you can find Weinschorle – wine with bubbled mineral water – it’s a great drink for hot weather!
In general, the best thing about this route is that it’s very meditative and relaxing – you feel a connection with nature and with history. You’re reminded of the long tourist history of the region for example when passing different viewpoints – some are named after famous Germans, like Heine. There are almost no tourists on the way – only locals walking the dogs. A lot of boats are on the river which is also fun to watch.
Photo credit: Anya Silnova