Romantic Rhine Valley

Between Rüdesheim and Koblenz, the Rhine cuts deeply through the Rhenish slate mountains, meandering between hillside castles and steep fields of wine-producing grapes. This is Germany’s landscape at its most dramatic – forested hillsides alternate with craggy cliffs and near-vertical terraced vineyards. Idyllic villages appear around each bend, their half-timbered houses and Gothic church steeples seemingly plucked from the world of fairy tales.

Medieval castles perch high above the river. Most were built by a mafia of local robber barons – knights, princes and even bishops – who extorted tolls from merchant ships by blocking their passage with iron chains. Time and French troops under Louis XIV laid waste to many of the castles, but several were restored in the 19th century, when Prussian kings, German poets and British painters discovered the area’s beauty. In 2002, Unesco designated these 65 km of riverscape, known as the Oberes Mittelrheintal, as a World Heritage Site.

Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Romantic Rhine Valley.