Stage 3 Castle to Castle Hotel Germany Hiking Guide, as part of a walking holiday or a day hike.
Oberwesel to Niederheimbach on Romantic Rhine
Hike and stay at the best castle hotels in Germany? Could this be the perfect romantic weekend for the Outdoor lover in your life?
It is a challenging 12.5 mile day hike skirting both the Left and Right Banks of the Rhine River with views, views, and more views of castles, vineyards, and impossibly cute German wine villages.
A shorter variant of 5 miles is also possible with public transit.
Romantics, Nature and fantasy lovers rarely find an experience merging Nature and Culture.
It’s all museums and lines or it’s wild forests and eating freeze dried food and nuts.
For fans of The Princess Bride, Merlin folklore and other epic journeys rejoice! I’ve personally routed and walked (in January even) a glorious 1-5 day route my inner 10 year old always dreamed of.
Germany has linked abundant historic castles and castle hotels nestled upon hilltops overlooking the mighty Rhine River with 2 extensive and well-marked hiking trails.
Located in the Upper Middle Rhine Valley, these trails delight walkers on holiday in this UNESCO world heritage site.
And, the best part? These castle stays are so abundant you can walk on a vineyard strewn hiking path with a backpack between them each night.
Some lucky dorks even have their weddings at these castles (I’m jealous-you are too.)
Oberwesel to Niederheimbach Section With the Best Castle Hotels in Germany
This post links to products and services we love, which we may make a small commission from, at no extra cost to you. This is how I can continue to make Sustainable Outdoor Travel Guides!! – Morgan
This is Stage 3 of 5 in the Castle to Castle Hotel Germany Hiking Guide, Romantic Rhine, to be used as a day hike.
Your adventure could be a day hike or expanded into a 5 day hike staying at a castle or historic hotel each night.
To make a really cool weekend trip, stay at the Burg Hotel auf Schönburg in Oberwesel. The next morning, hike 12.5 miles to Burg Reichenstein in Trechtingshausen (final stretch by train from end of trail).
We use the easy and abundant trains and ferries to criss cross the Rhine to get the absolute best views of the castles.
Each hike includes detailed GPS guidance (without any special apps) so it’s simple and not frustrating to find your way, get local food recommendations, and history highlights.
While not incredibly steep, the well marked paths wind up and down the famous vineyards and into enchanting forests.
Route variants can shorten your journey if you want to stay a night in one of the gorgeous castle hotels and spend more time soaking up the wine and history themed vibe of the stunning Rhine Gorge.
How This German Trail Guide is Organized
Trail Map Stage 3: Castle to Castle Hotel Hiking Guide: Romantic Rhine, Oberwesel to Niederheimbach
How to get to the Upper Middle Rhine Valley UNESCO Site & Area Guide
Beyond the Best Hikes in Germany: Dolomites in Summer or Cliffs of Portugal
Trail Map Best Castle Hotels in Germany - Oberwesel to Neiderheimbach Hike - 12.5 Miles or 3.2 km
German Camino de Santiago Hike Series
This hike is for you if you want to explore both banks of the mighty Rhine littered with medieval castles and unique, steep vineyards and maybe do an overnight stay in a castle hotel.
You can also book a private Rhine Private Wine Tour with a guide to taste wine in a “Schloss” (Palace) and gain insight into the romantic villages.
Stage 3: Castle to Castle Hotel Hiking Guide: Romantic Rhine, Oberwesel to Niederheimbach
How to use this map: Use your computer mouse or fingers to zoom in and out. Click on the icons to get more information. Click the arrow on the top left corner for the written index. Click the star next to the title of the map to add this map to your google maps account. To view the saved map on your smartphone or PC, open google maps, click the menu button, and go to “your places”/ “maps.”
How to Get to the Upper Middle Rhine Valley Hikes & Area Guide
German word of the Day: Burg : an ancient or medieval fortress or walled town. Not to be confused with Berg, a mountain. We’ll be going to many a “burg” today.
This is part 5 of my ongoing German Camino de Santiago Blog series, an exploration of outdoor culture and accessible Nature experiences empowered by the enchanting Camino de Santiago pilgrimage path that spans most of Europe.
Access the trail from the train station at Oberwesel just .2 km from the train station. On a weekday you’ll hear kids playing at the local elementary school a few buildings away from the Rhein Burgenweg trailhead. Simply turn left after the large church.
This region is about 45 minutes from Frankfurt international airport by car.
The best way to access the hike is by train. This region is served by the MittelRheinBahn Train.
If using a car, simply park in Niederheimbach (the end of the hike) and use the train to get to Oberwesel and hike back.
Download the DB Bahn app and you’ll find the best timetables. The train runs typically 1-2 times per hour. You can purchase tickets on app or at the local kiosk at every train station. There are toilets onboard. If you get caught not paying for a ticket there is a 60 euro fine.
If you’re making this an overnight at the castle, park in the lot at the castle you’ve chosen to stay and take the train to Oberwesel and then start your hike and your car will be waiting for you at the end.
I chose Burg Reichenstein as my destination because it’s completely gorgeous and I parked on the side of the access road. 🚴🏻♀️ If bikes are your thing and you want to explore the Rhine by bike this unguided adventure book will help you explore by bike.
Who is This Guide NOT for and What are the Alternatives?
This guide is not for strollers. There are aided sections with wire ropes, however the shorter hike would be great for backpacking your kid with a comfortable Osprey Baby Carrying Pack.
An alternate hike more stroller friendly would be the Steinwenden Sculpture Path near Ramstein, Germany. It’s got hand carved statues every 1 km or so and is very stroller friendly.
If mysticism is your thing and you want to see some Pagan springs near Landstuhl, Germany check out this Pagan Hike.
Full Trail Guide
Stage 3: Castle to Castle Hotel Hiking Guide: Romantic Rhine, Oberwesel to Niederheimbach
German Camino de Santiago Series
Free Google Maps Guide: Just follow the blue dot to never lose your Way.
Komoot App with GPS Tracking: You get one free zone with this app.
Trail Guide: Oberwesel to Niederheimbach
Location: Upper Middle Rhine Valley - UNESCO World Heritage Site. 45 min from Frankfurt, Germany, 1 Hour from KMC Military Area
Type of Hike: Point to Point, Using ferry & train (to get to awesome castle hotels and views from both sides of the Rhine)
Distance: 12.5 miles, 20 km
Elevation: 2,250 ft up, 2,275 ft down
Duration: Approx. 6-7 hours
Start/end point: Niederheimbach
Camino de Santiago: Yes - Long Stretches on Camino
Something Good to Eat: I love Insider in Lorch. It doesn’t get any more local.
Shorter Route Variant
For a 5 mile version, after taking the ferry to Kaub you’re finished walking. Here you can use the train to get to Lorch directly. Enjoy your time in historic Kaub. From Lorch you’ll use the ferry to Neiderheimbach and back to your car, or to a castle hotel.
Stay in a Castle Hotel Germany
Check out the links here from Booking - I always use them for my multi-day hikes because they are trustworthy and helpful to keep organized.
Beginning of Trail: Oberwesel Castle Stay
🏰 Burghotel Auf Schönburg Oberwesel offers gorgeous views atop a steep hill overlooking the wine village and has an awesome restaurant. Immerse in the medieval experience.
End of Trail Castle Stay
Best Castle Stay
💖 Burg-Reichenstein stuns guests with it’s gorgeous views, comfortable rooms and delicious restaurant. From the Niederheimbach ferry, walk to the train station and take the train upriver to Trechtingshausen. From there it’s just a 10 minute walk to this castle complex overlooking the Rhine.
Closest to Trail
Hotel Weinberg-Schlößchen in Niederheimbach is less a castle than a fancy villa, but it’s only 1.8km walk from the ferry at the end of the trail, or 25 minutes.
In Cutest Village
Bacharach Youth Hostel Castle A romantic castle atop the Super cute village of Bacharach that is also a youth hostel, booked directly on their site. From the ferry, walk to the train station in Niederheimbach and take the train downriver to Bacharach. It is a 0.5 km walk, or 10 minutes uphill.
Rheinstein Castle (Romantik-Schloß Burg Rheinstein) An upscale castle hotel in Trechtingshausen, book directly on their site. From Niederheimbach ferry walk to the train station, take the train upriver to Trechtingshausen and walk 30 minutes along the bike path uprive. The castle is directly on the main road. This does add 2.5 km walking, boo.
💲Going budget and have an SUV? It’s completely legal to sleep in your car (but only one night in each place) in Germany in a parking lot with a comfy SUV air mattress.
Tips for Hiking Stage 3: Rhine River Castle Hike
So why all of the river crossings?
I admit, this was very challenging for me to plan. Why not just do the trails as prescribed and stay on one side?
First, I want to live out my Princess Bride dream (Dear husband, hope you are reading this blog…) and frolick in the forests and stay in dreamy castles at the same time.
Second, after hiking and researching the 4th stage of the Castle to Castle Hotel hike, I stopped into a dive bar in the town of Lorch for a glass of the famous Riesling and learned my original plan was less than ideal.
The bar mascot is a large Yorkie that my dog Ruby got along with well and I had a nice chat with some of the local residents.
They didn’t think I was crazy for hiking in January, so of course, they were American and British expatriates that had settled in this charming, off the beaten path wine town over 30 years ago. Most people hang out in Rüdesheim, but it’s played out IMO.
The American was a Vietnam veteran who then transferred to Germany and decided to stay, setting up in Lorch and becoming one of the hunting masters (Jägermeister) nearby. Clearly he’d hiked around the area extensively and he filled my backpack with local hiking guides, maps and points of interest.
Right Bank vs Left Bank of Rhine River
The bar fellas might have been biased, but they all stated that the “Right Bank” of the Rhine between Lorch and Kaub was the prettiest, most scenic part of either the Rheinsteig or Rhineburgenweg. Plus, it was sunnier than the left bank.
So change of plans! Thanks to my German-speaking daughter, I found a direct and efficient way to both have a castle hotel at the beginning and end of the day AND include a gorgeous, gorgeous hike from Lorch to Kaub. Thanks Fellas!
The ferry system and train system are impeccable and timely making it a unique experience to be able to efficiently cross the Rhine and get to walk and this wondrous gorge from both sides in the same hike.
Also, the views from the ferry offer close ups of the Berg Pfalzgrafenstein Toll Castle (yes a castle that is also a toll station) and a break for the legs.
You’ll start on the Left Bank and hike upriver on the Rheinburgenweg (Rhine Castle Trail) and at a well marked exit, you’ll head down a slightly mudslide damaged path to the river.
Here there is an “Auto Fähre” or ferry to cross the river. It’s 2 euros to walk on and it takes you across to the town of Kaub. Now you’ll hop onto the Rheinsteig (Rhine path) just on the other side of the railroad tracks and head uphill out of town to catch this trail all the way to Lorch.
Once in Lorch, you’ll head to the Auto Fähre (ferry) in Lorch and cross the Rhine again to Niederheimbach.
If you are only doing a day hike, hopefully you’ve parked your car here or catch your train to where you need to go. Of course, you can park anywhere and train back to your car if parking is a problem.
If doing a multi-day hike, depending on the castle hotel you’ve chosen, you’ll either walk, train, or train and walk to your castle hotel.
Best Time to Do the Hike
Valentines Day (mid-February) to Thanksgiving (Late November)
If planning this as a winter (or late fall, early Spring) hike, carefully consider your daylight hours. There were many, many signs of wild hogs.
At dusk they love to charge your dogs and your shins. If you have to be out there after dark, use this Clark Griswold Christmas Style Headlamp, it’s got 900 lumens and might scare away the wild hogs, maybe.
The other consideration to take seriously are floods and mudslides. 2021 exposed climate related catastrophes like no other, and Germany was not spared. These gorges are steep, hence their allure.
If the weather report has 4-5 days of rain in a row after a month of not having much rain at all, ditch your plans, it’s not worth it. The dried up landscape won’t absorb the water and trees will be at risk of falling branches on the trails and your head, and the mud will make you miserable.
On the bright side, the warming weather means there’s rarely snow on the ground and January hikes are relatively pleasant. I wore a fleece and trail running shoes in January. It’s possible to do as a winter hike (I did!) but some hotels will be closed for vacation.
Parking will fill up, especially in summer so get there early.
If doing a multi day hike, let the castle hotel know you are undertaking a multi day hike and ask if you can leave your car there for the duration.
🥾💪These Black Diamond walking sticks will help you walk faster, but aren’t really needed for balance, only fitness if you want to get your heart pumping.
You’d want to have rubber tips due to some pavement at times. Find quality poles that won’t break the first time you use them, on amazon.
Don’t be like me and get eye pre-cancer, protect your eyes from the damage inflicted by the sun with legit sunglasses.
Bring your own water as buying water in Germany is crazy expensive both at restaurants and at convenience stores.
Beyond the Best Hikes in Germany: Dolomites in Summer & Cliffs of Portugal
If you’re looking for some breathtaking mountain adventures with WWI history, check out the Alta Via 1 Hike in the Dolomites. Hike and scramble over the path of the Alpini soldiers and explore the bunkers, via ferratas and outdoor museums at Cinque Torri.
It’s a 2-3 hour drive from Venice or a 7-8 hour drive from Ramstein Air Base. Here’s a detailed packing list of everything you would need to complete a 5 day hut to hut hiking trip.
The southwest coast of Portugal could have been turned into condos and golf courses, but the government decided to set up eco-tourism instead! Thank you!
The Fishermen's Trail is over 75 miles long situated directly on the beach or cliffs overlooking the Atlantic ocean, white storks' breeding grounds and a heck of a lot of cute whitewashed villages.
Best Hikes in Europe
Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoy the Romantic Rhine and it’s endless romantic castles and castle hotels.
For a look into hiking with art exhibits, check out the Skulpture Paths that go from Russia to Spain through St. Wendel Germany.
Please share your stories of your awesome outdoor adventures over on our facebook group European Adventure Travel Planning.
Recommended Books and Guidebooks for Exploring Hut to Hut Hiking and Day Hikes in Germany and in Europe
💥Classic Rick Steves Guidebook - This brand is so awesome, get some cool ideas.
🏔Looking for an amazing Hut to Hut Hike of a Lifetime? Try the Italian Dolomites! Alta Via 1 Cicerone Guidebook
🚴🏻♀️ If bikes are your thing and you want to explore the Rhine by bike this unguided adventure book will help you explore by bike.
with 💖, Crave the Planet
▶️ P.S. If you like Crave the Planet you can help me do more by becoming one of my monthly supporters. When I get to $500/month in support, I’ll launch a $500 scholarship in the name of the patron who has donated the most by the time the goal is reached.
Author profile: Morgan Fielder is a passionate hiker and writer, physical therapist, and European Cornhole Commissioner. She is living near Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany and featured giving science-based hiking tips and advice.
When not out exploring the mountains or sea, she’s writing articles and gear reviews to empower Outdoor Journeys that include family and good food. She is actively involved in the community and advocating for connection and sustainability with her community projects at Cornhole Europa and Sustainable Investors Group.