The wide river winds through the Rhine Valley’s steep hills. On every hilltop lies a medieval castle and on every slope is a wine field. Normally, this area is packed with tour buses and cruise ships. Normally!
Find out what to see, what to drink, what hotel I recommend and the pros and cons of travelling to the Rhine Valley during corona.
Rhine Valley through a wine glass
THE RHINE GORGE
UPPER MIDDLE RHINE
The history of the Rhine valley reflects the history of Western Europe. The 65 km long part of the river is unique from a cultural, geological and industrial viewpoint. The importance as a trade route, the abundance of castles, historic towns and vineyards and the dramatic landscape. All this making it s a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
And also what makes it so beautiful.
But it’s not all wine and fish. Large container ships plow through the valley and looooong trains sets with container packed with goods constantly run along the river like black snakes. And the narrow roads are a bit annoying if you want to get as quickly form a to B.
Celts, Romans, Franks and a free imperial city. Boppard has long history and remains of the Romans can still be seen here. But more importantly: Yes, it was probably the invading Romans that brought the wine to the area. 2 times in history, it marked the border of the Roman empire. A few sights is still there.
The small city is cozy, but also a little bit boring. Although, in fairness, it’s probably more lively without corona and more visitors. Don’t stay here too many nights, when visiting the Rhine Valley.
RENT A BIKE
Stopping along the Rhine and in the small cities along the river is much easier on bike. The entire route along the Rhine Gorge from Koblenz to Bingen is only 65 km. Google says, it will take you 3,5 hours. So driving should only be for longer trips.
SIGHTS AROUND THE RHINE VALLEY
Castles are abundant, but Burg Eltz is quite spectacular. Well,a t least, that’s what it looks like from the outside. Since, there is no online ticketing, and we came in the German summer holiday, the line was 1 hour in 30 degrees. But I later heard from other travellers, that there was no line by late August.
RHINE WHITE WINE
JAKOBSBERG HOTEL & RESORT
A nice place to stay is the old priory Jakobsberg, which is now Klostergut Jakobsberg Hotel & Resort. If you play golf: it’s perfect. I don’t, but this was only one out of 2 places with a pool, and I can’t get my son to go on holiday unless there’s a pool. The other place was Bellevue Rheinhotel – which we later had lunch at – and I’m really glad we chose this relaxed spot retreat.
But on the plus side, the hotel is an old priory built in 1180 by emperor Barbarossa. Perfect for cultural travellers. Besides the gym and spa, the key selling point here is the terrace overlooking the Rhine below. Sit here, while drinking fresh white wine grown on the fields below. From here, you can also see bees making the honey on your local cheese.
TRAVEL TIPS TO RHINE VALLEY
- Fewer tourists meaning more room for you. But it also mean more closed restaurants and bars – even if they are allowed to stay open, since there are not enough customers.
- Fewer tourists also mean fewer visitors to sights. But as we experienced in Burg Eltz, corona restrictions means fewer entries and so we couldn’t get in.
- Less traffic from buses, but more from German staycation’ers.
- You can find good deals on hotels
- The rules are different in each German state, so road tripping long distances requires more planning
- Most tourists attractions and service industries are really happy to see you
- Driving in Germany is not all 130 km/h. Expect traffic jams and road construction and an average of 80 km/h.
- Unless, you know absolutely for sure your kids will like, don’t bring kids. It’s all seniors and quiet reading with a glass of wine in your hand. And evening wear for dinner.
- I don’t recommend staying in one place, since getting there and back took much more time than planned. Instead a from A-to-B trip by car or bike would allow you to see more of this spectacular area. For instance, start in Bingen and work your way up to Koblenz.