Imagine yourself in a land so incredible that it feels as if you were dropped right into the pages of a fairy-tale. A place where the landscape is so breathtakingly beautiful that it has inspired artists and poets for years. A land that was once the center of the medieval Holy Roman Empire, and one of the most important trading areas for Europe.
Believe it or not, a place like this truly does exist, and you can witness it for yourself when you visit the beautiful Rhine River in Germany.
The most captivating portion of the Rhine is known as the Romantic Rhine Valley and can be found in the Upper Middle portion of the river. Encompassing 40 miles of river from Rudesheim to Koblenz, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is dotted with castles, hillside vineyards, steep cliffs, fairy-tale towns, and half-timbered villages.
During our first visit to the Rhine Valley, my husband and I were amazed at the vast concentration of castles in the area. While cruising this portion of the Rhine River, we felt dizzy from moving our head back and forth so often trying to catch a glimpse of all of the castles!
There are so many amazing castles to visit along Germany’s Rhine River that you can devote an entire trip just to exploring them. Exploring this area allows you to not only see the incredible castles on the Rhine, but also dive into the history, culture, and, of course, the incredible Riesling wine that the region is famous for.
These amazing castles are accessible by car, train, and some by river cruise. Touring the castles of the Rhine is one of the best things to do and see in Germany!
While many of the castles are privately owned, others have been repurposed into museums and hotels, allowing visitors to enjoy them still today. With that in mind, let’s dive into the castle along the Rhine River!
1. Klopp Castle, Bingen Am Rhein
Klopp Castle sits atop the hillside overlooking the city of Bingen am Rhein and has a unique and interesting history.
Castles have stood on this site for centuries, being destroyed and rebuilt since Roman times. Like many of the castles of the Rhine, Klopp Castle was used by the Archbishop of Mainz to collect tolls on the river during its heyday. This is also the castle where the Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV was held prisoner by his son.
Much of the castle you see today dates back to 1853, as the prior castles were destroyed in various wars. Currently owned by the city of Bingen am Rhein, Klopp Castle is now the town’s city hall and museum.
Visitors can enjoy climbing the castle tower and courtyard on their visit. The tower is open April–October from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m.
2. Rheinstein Castle, Trechtingshausen
Located on a rocky cliffside in the beautiful Loreley Valley, Rheinstein Castle hovers 270 feet above the Rhine River.
Rheinstein Castle is one of the castles along the Rhine that allows you to stay the night. The castle has two stylish apartments, one of which is in the castle’s tower! Guests of the castle hotel also get to enjoy breakfast on the terrace overlooking the beautiful river.
In addition to the hotel, Rheinstein is also a public museum. From the gorgeous stained glass windows to the incredible antique furniture, you immediately see the love and care that has been devoted to Rheinstein Castle.
Visitors are welcome to explore the castle on their own, following the signs that are placed throughout. During your visit, don’t miss the authentic catapult and the canon on site!
Please note that the castle is only accessible by a footpath that is not wheelchair accessible.
Pro Tip: Rheinstein Castle is from the end of December until the middle of March, so plan your trip around this so you don’t miss this gorgeous castle!
3. Reichenstein Castle, Trechtingshausen
Visitors to Germany’s Rhine River will find Reichenstein Castle located high above the Rhine on a rocky outcropping. Like many of the castles in the Rhine Valley, Reichenstein was left in decay until the era of Rhine Romanticism.
The Rhine Romanticism period brought numerous artists, poets, and discerning people into the region. This brought about a rejuvenation period for many of the castles of the Rhine, including Reichenstein.
Tracing the origins of the castle, you discover that the castle dates back to the 1100s. The beautiful castle that you see today is a residential-style neo-Gothic castle that was first opened to the public in 1936.
Reichenstein Castle offers 24 rooms for visitors to enjoy, or you can visit for the day to tour the castle and museum. The castle also hosts numerous events throughout the year including Easter at the Castle.
Please note that Reichenstein Castle requires visitors to maneuver uneven surfaces and is not wheelchair accessible.
Pro Tip: Don’t miss afternoon tea at the onsite restaurant, Puricelli. Be sure you make prior reservations if you want to participate in the tea ceremony.
4. Sooneck Castle, Niederheimbach
When viewing Sooneck Castle from the Rhine River, it looks as if the rocks of the hillside naturally formed the beautiful castle. Located high on a ridge above the Rhine River, and encompassed in rose vines, Sooneck Castle is the definition of a fairy-tale castle!
Like most castles on Germany’s Rhine River, Sooneck Castle is open seasonally. Sooneck chooses to open from the end of March until the first of November.
Sooneck Castle was originally built in the 11th century, but like other castles on the Rhine, it was destroyed numerous times. The castle’s great hall, turrets, and keep (which you can still visit today) date back to 1349. The rest of the castle was built in 1842, when it was restored by a Prussian royal family.
Touring Sooneck Castle does require walking, standing, and maneuvering some stairs.
Pro Tip: When visiting the Knight Hall, notice the picture of the Prussian soldier. Move around the room and watch how the soldier’s eyes follow you!
5. Stahleck Castle, Bacharach
Stahleck Castle is a 12th-century fortified castle located on the hillside overlooking the charming Rhine Valley city of Bacharach.
Boasting an interesting history of being destroyed and rebuilt, Stahleck Castle is thriving today as a popular youth hostel. The castle has 178 beds and proudly hosts families and youth groups in the Rhine Valley.
While the interior of the castle is for guests only, the castle courtyard is public and well worth a visit. Enjoy a coffee or ice cream on the terrace as you soak in the incredible views of the Romantic Rhine.
Due to the medieval terrain of the castle, the grounds are not wheelchair accessible and do require guests to be able to walk on uneven ground.
6. Gutenfels Castle, Kaub
Built in 1222, Gutenfels Castle sits overlooking the town of Kaub and is therefore often referred to as Kaub Castle.
The historic castle and castle walls have been carefully preserved so that hotel guests can still enjoy them today. A stay at Gutenfels Castle gives guests access to the castle’s common rooms including their beautifully furnished library.
Gutenfels also offers a variety of public events throughout the year. Be sure to check their website for the most up-to-date information.
Pro Tip: This hotel fills up quickly and is only open to the public by appointment or during special events, so book your stay in advance if you want to enjoy Gutenfels Castle.
7. Schönburg Castle, Oberwesel
Standing high atop the hillside, Schönburg Castle is another one of the amazing castles to visit along Germany’s Rhine River.
Schönburg Castle successfully defended itself until 1689, when it was overpowered by the troops of Louis XIV. After sitting in disrepair until 1885, it was restored to the splendid castle that you can visit today.
Like several other castles on the Rhine, Schonburg is a castle hotel that welcomes guests seasonally throughout the year.
If you choose not to stay at the castle, you can still visit the castle’s Tower Museum. This museum teaches you all about the history of the castle and gives you an opportunity to take in the breathtaking view of the Rhine Valley below.
In addition to the Tower Museum, visitors to Schonburg Castle can also enjoy lunch at the Cafe Bistro.
As this is a medieval castle, there is uneven terrain and stairs to ascend and descend during your visit.
8. Marksburg Castle, Braubach
Marksburg Castle is a rare castle on the Rhine River, as it is the only medieval castle on the Middle Rhine that was never destroyed.
Located in the UNESCO World Heritage region of the Romantic Rhine, the 13th–15th century Marksburg Castle stands tall on the hillside above the town of Braubach. When viewing the castle from the river, the towering white fortress instantly commands your attention.
A tour of the castle takes visitors first through a series of gates before entering the incredible castle grounds. Once inside, you are introduced to what life was like during medieval times. The tour showcases the wine cellar, battery, herb garden, castle kitchen, chapel, and more.
Since Marksburg Castle is in its original medieval state, there are no elevators on the property. Visiting the castle does require an uphill climb and the ability to navigate stairs and uneven terrain. The castle is not accessible by wheelchair.
A visit to Marksburg Castle should definitely be on your list of castles to visit on the Rhine River.
9. Lahneck Castle, Lahnstein
Lahneck Castle is strategically located where the River Lahn joins the Rhine River. Built in 1244, Lahneck Castle held an important position as it served to help secure the silver mines in the area.
The castle is an eclectic mix of medieval, neo-Gothic, and 19th-century architecture as it has been remodeled and added on throughout its history.
Visitors can enjoy a 40-minute guided tour of the castle, which is open from July 1 through November 1. A tour of Lahneck Castle teaches visitors the history of the castle as it walks you through several rooms of the castle, including the chapel and great hall.