The Upper-Middle Rhine Valley, Germany
The Rhine Valley is one of Germany's most scenic areas, alongside the beautiful Black Forest. The most beautiful section of the Rhine Valley is the Upper-Middle Rhine Valley, between Koblenz and Bingen. This section of the Rhine valley is often called the Rhine Gorge or the Romantic Rhine Valley, and is known as one of Europe’s most picturesque landscapes, and it’s not hard to see why!
In the Upper-Middle Rhine Valley, the Rhine river cuts through the mountains in a meandering fashion, creating a winding valley of villages with Gothic style houses, surrounded by fields of vineyards and fairytale castles perched on the hillside with views across the valley. If it sounds like something from a storybook, it's because it does sometimes feel that way! It really is a very pretty area that you have to see for yourself.
There are so many ways you can explore this area, by boat - either on a day trip or a river cruise, on foot or bike - using the paths alongside the river and the surrounding hiking trails, or with your own car - whichever way you explore the Rhine Valley, you’re guaranteed to get stunning views!
Views across the Rhine River and Rhine Valley, Germany
We had our own car, which gave us the flexibility to combine several spots into the 4 days we were there, creating our own driving and walking tour of the area. I’ve split this guide into the main towns along the Upper-Middle Rhine Valley route, between Koblenz and Bingen, and covered some of the main attractions close to each town. If you’ve got a couple of days, as we did, this is the best way to see the area as you can take a town a day and explore the area surrounding it.
It’s worth noting that even if you don’t have a couple of days here, everything is really close together, so can easily be explored in less time if you pick just a few sights to see, especially if you have your own car.
4 scenic places to visit in the Romantic Rhine Valley, Germany
We chose to base ourselves in Koblenz, in the North of the Upper-Middle Rhine Valley, and from here you can easily explore the area by car. Koblenz is one of Germany’s oldest cities and is most well known for the Deutsches Eck (The German Corner), which is the point at which the Rhine river and the Mosel river meet. Standing on the corner, you get great views over both rivers, and also of the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress, perched on the hillside 118 metres above the point at which the rivers merge.
You can take a cable cable across the river to the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress for views across Koblenz and the Rhine river and valley. The fortress is Europe’s second largest preserved fortress and it is now used as a museum detailing Germany’s history.
The Ehrenbreitstein Fortress, seen from Deutches Eck in Koblenz, Germany
Just set back from the river is Koblenz’s Aldstadt (old town). Narrow, cobbled streets, pretty courtyards and cute cafes make up the old town, perfect for a wander through.
On the other side of the old town, with views across the Rhine river is the Electoral Palace, which was the last residential Palace built in Germany before the French Revolution. The Palace now is used for private events, but you can access the terrace and gardens from the riverside.
A short drive out of Koblenz, and perched on the hillside overlooking the Rhine Valley is the Stolzenfels castle. Originally on this site was a 13th century fort, but it was destroyed in battle and in the 19th century the castle was rebuilt from the original ruins to make Stolzenfels castle what it is today. The castle can be visited and it’s just a short walk to the castle from the car park below.
Courtyard in Koblenz's old town, in Germany's Upper-Middle Rhine Valley
On the other side of the Rhine river and tucked right under the hillside is Braubach.
It is a very small town, and much quieter than Koblenz, so you’ll only need a couple of hours here, but if you have a bit of extra time, it’s worth it.
Start with a stroll through the town itself, admiring the cute half timber houses and the Phillipsburg Palace. The Palace was built in 1568 as a home for a landgrave who felt that the Marksburg Castle, which sits above the Palace on the hillside, was too ‘uncomfortable’. The Palace now houses the archives and there's also a restaurant in the courtyard here.
The timber houses of Braubach in the Upper-Middle Rhine Valley, Germany
After a stroll through town, follow the signs leading up the hillside to Marksburg Castle. It’s a short, steep climb but the views across the town of Braubach and the Rhine Valley and river are worth it (there is also a car park if you prefer to drive). In the castle grounds, there’s a cafe and picnic area, or you can pay to visit the castle, which is now a museum.
Before you leave Braubach, take a moment to have a stroll along the riverside promenade, or just sit and watch the world go by.
Marksburg castle, Braubach, on the Rhine river, Germany
Surrounded by rolling hills of vineyards, Boppard is the picture perfect traditional German town.
Within the town there are several historical landmarks, including the ruins of a castle and the old town walls and gates, which have been incorporated into newer buildings. Start your visit by the church in the market square, here there are several shops and cafes. From the square, spend a bit of time wandering the side streets, admiring the timber-framed buildings and Gothic architecture.
After exploring the town, take a stroll along the promenade, where cafes and restaurants line the riverside. It’s the perfect place to enjoy a drink or lunch with a view of the Rhine river and valley.
The Rhine river Promenade in Boppard, Germany
The Fünfseenblick observation tower is just outside of the town. The 27.4 meter observation tower, sat on the top of the hill offers breathtaking views across the Rhine Valley. There is also a restaurant here so you can enjoy lunch with a view!
Slightly away from the town you can take the Boppard chairlift, with unobstructed views over the valley - not for the faint-hearted!
If you want a faster experience, there is also the summer toboggan run and adventure park, just South of Boppard.
The church in Boppard's market square in the Upper-Middle Rhine Valley
In the South of the Upper-Middle Rhine Valley, is Bingen, a small pretty town with impressive architecture. The Klopp Castle in the centre of the town was destroyed several times throughout the centuries, before being restored in 1897. Unfortunately it was damaged again in WWII but further restored into what you can see today. You can climb the tower for views over the town.
Another notable building is the St Martin’s Basilica, which was built on the foundations of an old roman temple. This building was badly damaged in several wars, but was lovingly restored and today visitors can see it in it’s glory once again.
The Drusus Bridge is Germany’s oldest stone bridge and houses a small chapel, which, if you borrow the key from the tourist information centre, you can visit!
The Mouse Tower - once a former signal tower and now a famous landmark, sits on a tiny island in the middle of the Rhine river. You can't visit the tower, but can see it from the banks of the river.
Away from the sightseeing, Bingen is right in the heart of the Rhine Valley vineyards - something this region is famous for - so you're spoiled for choice with wine-tasting experiences!
Views across the Rhine river and Upper-Middle Rhine Valley
The Upper-Middle Rhine Valley is one of the most Romantic and Scenic drives in Germany. The landscape is a mix of rolling hills, vineyards and of course, the Rhine river winding through the mountainside. You could spend hours wandering the pretty little towns in the Rhine Valley and visiting the enchanting castles. If hiking is more your thing, check out 6 great hiking trails in the Rhine Valley. However you choose to explore the Rhine Valley, I hope you have a great trip!
How to spend one day in the Rhine Valley
Want to visit the Rhine Valley, but only have one day? We were lucky enough to be able to spend a few days exploring the Upper-Middle Rhine Valley, but if you only have one day, don't worry, you can still get a taste of the Rhine Valley.
If you only have one day to spend in the Rhine Valley, I would recommend taking a leisurely drive, with a couple of quick stop-offs in the towns along the way. You can drive close to the Rhine river most of the way through the Rhine Valley and it’s a great driving route, especially for the passenger! If you don't have your own car, the train line also runs parallel to the Rhine river, or take a river cruise - there are several companies operating day or half day trips if you're short on time too.
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