The Rheinsteig follows a mainly elevated path along the right (east) bank of the Middle Rhine River in Germany. Its 320 -km (200-mile) route stretches from Wiesbaden (Schloss Biebrich) to Bonn (market place). Although it goes through one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe, as it follows tracks away from the river it provides you with spectacular views of the Rhine and many castles without all the crowds of people. The route a number of times leaves the steep sides of the valley to venture into hills to the east (and north at the southern end of the walk) to provide beautiful walks though natural woodland.
The path was opened on 8 September 2005, and has had a few minor route changes since then. The creation of the Rheinsteig was a joint project of the states of North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate and Hesse to promote tourism in the area. The German hiking institute (Deutsches Wanderinstitut) has awarded the Rheinsteig a premium trail seal (Deutschen Wandersiegel Premiumweg).
The southern end of the trail starts in the relatively wide upper Rhine (Oberrhein) valley but soon moves into the hills of the Taunus. On returning to the Rhine you find yourself in the narrow Middle Rhine (Mittelrhein) gorge a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The trail then runs either on the slopes of the valley or moves away from the river to the flat plateau above. The numerous tributaries (mainly small streams) makes for a very up and down trail. At the northern end of the trail the valley opens up again at the start of the lower Rhine (Niederrhein) valley.
Eat and drink
In the summer there are a few wayside rest places along the path selling drinks and light meals. Places on the Rheinsteig trail are listed below and of course in the towns and villages you go through or pass near by there are some good German restaurants and taverns (Gaststätte).
There are hotel and camping facilities on both sides of the Rhine river. Places on the route are listed below, for others follow the links to the town pages.
Plenty of opportunities to sample and purchase excellent local wines.
Flora and fauna
Along the trail you will go through beach and oak forests. The meadows have a wide range of wild flowers. At the right time of the year you will come across many types of fungi and mushrooms. For wildlife you may see deer, lizards, slow worms, a few snake species for example the Grass snake and the Aesculapian snake (although rare) and many varieties of butterflies, beetles and birds.
The generally mild weather in Germany means this trail is accessible all year round. The colours of fruit tree blossom in the spring and the orange leaves of trees in the autumn are both worth seeing. In the summer be aware that you could be exposed to the strong sun for a large portion of the walk, so do not forget sun protection. Some points of the walk you need to take caution on rainy days, particular on rock exposed slopes.
This is an energetic trail as it is constantly climbing in and out of valleys. Although the lowest point is 60 m (200 ft) and the highest point only 351 m (1,152 ft) above sea level, the total walk has a elevation change of 9,500 m (31,200 ft). Most of the route is on good quality paths or tracks with only the occasional stretch where you are walking over rocks. Good walking shoes are highly recommended and a small pack of provisions and water, but as you generally come into a village or tourist attraction every 10km or so there is no need for any serious hiking supplies.
Studying a map prior to the hike is obviously a good idea, as much to decide and start and end point logistics as checking the route for the day. The route itself is well signposted with the Rheinsteig way-marker (white curve on a blue background giving the idea of the river forming an R). The yellow markers show feeder route on and off the walk from villages and key transport points.
There are a number of guide books on the trail, mainly in German but at least one in English. Also available is a good paper map (ISBN-13: 978-3896373694) which also marks key points of interest as well as parking spots and rescue points.
From the west A61 has good road connection at Bingen, Koblenz and Bonn. There are then a number of ferry crossing points along the B9. The only bridges across the Rhine along the route are at Wiesbaden, Koblenz and Bonn.
From the south A60 take the A643 to Wiesbaden.
There are good rail connections from outside the region to Frankfurt/Wiesbaden and Cologne/Bonn/Koblenz, from where you can get regional trains (SE10: Frankfurt – Wiesbaden – Wiesbaden-Biebrich – Lahnstein – Koblenz Hbf – Neuwied and RB27/RE8: Cologne – Bonn-Beul – Bad Honnef – Neuwied – (Koblenz-Ehrenbreitstein) – Koblenz Hbf) to points along the walk.
There are a number of car (also for foot and bike) ferries across the Rhine. See below in route listings for details of locations.
Although the route does not often come into major transport point there are a number of feeder path to the main Rheinsteig trail, these are signposted by yellow markers.
The B42 follows the river and provide access to the walk at a number of points or tracks and side routes to the main trail.
The right-hand side of the Rhine is served by the Rechte Rheinstrecke train line SE10 [dead link] from Frankfurt, Wiesbaden Hbf and Wiesbaden-Biebrich (the train stop on the north side of the Biebrich park) to Koblenz Hbf and Neuwied.
- Bus line 4 and 14 from Wiesbaden Hbf to Biebrich
- Bus line 171 from Wiesbaden Hbf, Wiesbaden-Schierstein and Eltville to Rüdesheim
- Bus line 172 from Eltville to Kiedrich and Kloster Eberbach
By cruise boats
|See||museums, castles, etc.||View||viewpoints|
|Do||pleasure rides, beaches, sports||Buy||shopping|
|Eat||restaurants, snack outlets||Drink||bars and cafes|
|Sleep||hotels, hostels, campsites||Go||car parking, rail stations, etc.|
|City||towns and villages||Vicinity||near route locations|
|Red||warning or points of concern||Other|
The walk does not need to be done in a single expedition. There are points at convenient distances, between 8 and 12 kilometres, where you can park a car allowing you to use the two car one direction hiking technique. There are also points where trains are available or even one of the Rhine cruise ships.
Route and sights of interest
The first stage of the walk (if you start from the south end) begins on the outskirts of Wiesbaden, gently winding up out of the town through low hills of orchards and farming fields moving away from the Rhine into the woodlands of the Rhein-Taunus nature park.
Wiesbaden-Biebrich to Schlangenbad - 16,5 km
- 1 Wiesbaden-Biebrich Rail Station (Bahnhof). SE10 direction „Neuwied“ and 1,3 km though the park.
- 2 Bus stop Biebrich. Bus 14 „Biebrich Schloss“ or 4 „Rheinufer“ from Wiesbaden city and central station, Bus 9 from Mainz.
- Parking „Am Parkfeld“ or „Rheingaustraße“ Street.
- 3 Biebrich Palace (Schloss Biebrich). Baroque residence built in 1702, was seat of the Duchy of Nassau. The park grounds are free to walk around.
- 4 Schierstein Harbour (Schiersteiner Hafen). The marina is home to a number of yacht and water sports clubs. There are a number of restaurants around the harbour.
- 5 Nürnberger Hof, ☏ .
- 6 Goethestein. Obelisk build in 1932 to commemorate visit by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.
- 7 Aussichtsturm Frauenstein (Viewing tower). Wooden tower that provides a good view of the Rhein-Taunus nature park and Rheingau.
- 8 Frauenstein Castle (Burg Frauenstein). Ruins of medieval watch tower and battlements built on a quartzite outcrop.
- route to trail
- Bus stop. Bus 24 from Wiesbaden city
Schlangenbad to Kiedrich
- 9 Schlangenbad spa town and thermal springs.
- between Rauenthal and Eltville
- 10 parking Rauschtal (Parkplatz im Rauschtal), Wiesweg. parking places at the end of the narrow Rausch valley road
- 11 Waldgaststätte Rausch, Wiesweg 93 (along narrow road to the end of the valley), ☏ . Great Schnitzel
- 12 Scharfenstein Castle (Burg Scharfenstein) (Above Kiedrich). Ruined medieval castle.
Kiedrich to Johannisberg - 14,5 km
- . Bus 172 from train station Eltville to „Kiedrich Sonnenlandstraße“.
- Saint Valentine’s parish church.
The walk now returns towards the Rhine and vineyards of the Rheingau.
- near Kiedrich,
- Bus stop Kiedrich. Bus 172 from train station Eltville.
- 13 Eberbach Abbey (Kloster Eberbach). former Cistercian monastery .
- Parking Eberbach (at entrance to Kloster Eberbach).
- 14 Domäne Steinberg. Walled vineyard of Kloster Eberbach .
- 15 Schloss Vollrads. A manor house and wine estate founded in the 13th century and famous for its Riesling. The inner courtyard is open and free to walk around but not the interior. On weekends and holidays a wine stand is available to sample the produce.
- Access route to trail
- parking Schloss Vollrad (follow narrow road up to and round to the back of Schloss Vollrads).
Johannisberg to Rüdesheim - 13 km
- pass nearby Johannisberg (Geisenheim),
- Marienthal (Geisenheim)
- bus stop Marienthal. Bus 181 from train station Geisenheim, only M-F.
- 18 Marienthal Monastery (Kloster Marienthal). Franciscan Monastery
- parking Marienthal. Parking on the road west of Kloster Marienthal and off road to the east.
- bus stop Eibingen. Bus 187 from train station Rüdesheim to „Windeck“, sometime you must call the bus 90 min before: +49 6124 72 65 913
- 19 Eibingen Abbey of St. Hildegard (Abtei St. Hildegard). Benedictine nunnery founded in 1165 by Hildegard von Bingen.
Upper Middle Rhine Valley
This section is the most up and down taking a path often along the ridge above the Rhine but dropping in and out of valleys all the way. The landscape varies between vineyards and natural woods. There are many points along the route providing scenic views of the middle Rhine valley including all the castles on both sides of the river.
Rüdesheim to Lorch - 20 km
- above Rüdesheim
- bus stop Niederwald Denkmal. Bus 187 from train station Rüdesheim to „Jugendherberge“, sometime you must call the bus 90 min before: +49 1803 101 113
- 20 Niederwaldtempel.
- 21 Niederwalddenkmal (Niederwald memorial).
- Access route to the trail
- Bingen-Rüdesheim Ferry. From Bingen Bridge 5 to just below Rüdesheim City.
- Bingen-Rüdesheim Auto-Ferry. From Bingen Harbour to just below Rüdesheim Bahnhof.
- Rüdesheim Bahnhof (Rail Station) (a couple of kilometre from the trail but can take cable car from the town to the Niederwalddenkmal). SE10
- Rüdesheim Cable car (Seilbahn). Easy way to get from the town centre to the trail above.
- 22 Burgruine Rossel (Ruins of Rossel).
- 23 Zauberhöhle. with the Zauberhütte
- 24 Jagdschloss Niederwald.
- Chairlift Assmannshausen (Sessellift) (Jagdschloss Niederwald – Assmannshausen).
- Bahnhof Assmannshausen (Rail Station).
- 25 Rotweinlaube (Red wine arbor).
- Freistaat Flaschenhals (Free State Bottleneck) – short-lived quasi-state from 1919 until 1923.
- Access route to trail
- Im Bodenthal (easy to miss narrow road that runs under rail line). Entrance to the camping site
- 26 Weinhaus Freistaat Flaschenhals (in the middle of campsite, take side path from the Rheisteig, marked by yellow way marks). German and Israeli dishes
- Suleika Camping. For caravans and tents, hidden away in a side valley of the Rhine.
Lorch to Kaub - 13,5 km
- Access route to trail
- 28 Ruine Nollig. Ruins of 14th century defensive castle. Trail goes passed but no access.
- Access route to trail
- 29 Parking (on side of B42 between Lorchhaussen and Kaub). 200 m south of parking is access across the rail line, passes a couple of house then up now lane that is the border between Hessen and Rheinland-Pfalz onto the main Rheinsteig trail.
- 30 Viewpoint Panoramablick.
- 31 Viewpoint Wirbellay.
- 32 Weinstand Grenzvoigt (before Grenzvogt (Freistaat Flaschenhals - Free State Bottleneck)), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Above Kaub
- 33 Burg Gutenfels. A 13th-century castle.
Kaub to St. Goarshausen - 22 km
- Access route to trail
- 35 Parking, Am Hofstück.
- 36 Lorelei (Loreley). An outcrop of rock above the narrowest part of the Rhine. Legend has it that a feminine water spirit singing causes ship wrecks at this point.
- parking Loreley. Parking available for small fee near the Loreley.
- Berghotel Auf der Loreley, Auf der Loreley 9, ☏ . Hotel and restaurant.
- Camping site Lorilei (Campingplatz Loreley), Loreleyplateau, ☏ .
- above Sankt Goarshausen
- 37 Burg Katz. A 14th-century castle.
St. Goarshausen to Kestert - 12 km
- Route to trail
- above Wellmich
- 39 Burg Maus. A 14th-century castle.
Kestert to Kamp-Bornhofen - 12 km
- above Kestert
- access route to trail
- Kestert train station.
- 40 Parking Bergweg (up narrow road from Kestert to just past where the trail meets the road).
- 41 Mittlestraße (Opposite Johannes der Täufer church). On summer weekend small stop off for drinks and snacks.
- above Kamp-Bornhofen
- 42 Burg Liebenstein. A 13th-century castle with hotel and reastauraunt in the non ruined sections. Free access to grounds as trail passes though.
- 43 Burg Sterrenberg. A 12th-century castle. Trail does not pass through but provides a good view from above.
Kamp-Bornhofen to Braubach - 16,5 km
- access route to trail
- 44 Parking, Unter den Brücken (a few hundred metres from path but difficult to find parking in the village).
- Bahnhof Filsen (Rail Station).
- 45 Parking (a little out of Osterspai direction Braubach, a narrow track accessed via small tunnel under rail track leads to parking in the woods).
Braubach to Niederlahnstein - 8,5
- 46 Marksburg. A 12th-century castle that is well preserved. A must visit.
- Bahnhof Braubach (Rail Station).
- Wyndham Garden Koblenz (was Best Western Lahnstein), Zu den Thermen (Lahnstein auf der Höhe).
- 47 Waldhaus Lahnstein. Restaurant, beer garden and accommodation.
- 48 Lahneck Castle (Burg Lahneck) (do not go near but visible from trail).
Niederlahnstein to Koblenz-Ehrenbreitstein - 13,5 km
- Gaststätte Zum Schleusenhäuschen, Emser Landstr. 20.
- 49 Ruppertsklamm. A short steep climb through a narrow gorge.
- 50 Parking. On the side of the B260 just east of the Rupperstklamm entrance
- 51 Parking (Jahnplatz), Emser Straße.
Lower Middle Rhine Valley
Koblenz-Ehrenbreitstein to Vallendar - 9 km
- Bahnhof Koblenz-Ehrenbreitstein (Rail Station). Only line RE8 from Koblenz Hbf to Bonn-Beul and Cologne.
After the steep climb from the town at river level you have the choice of going around the fortress or through. Going through the fortress provides great views of Koblenz and the Deutsches Eck.
- 52 Festung Ehrenbreitstein (Ehrenbreitstein Fortress). Prussian fortress. €6 to go through the grounds, free after 18:00.
Exiting the fortress from the North is one of the few area you can loose the way markers. The path goes through the west part of the park but exits on the north-east end by the road.
Vallendar to Sayn - 13 km
- 53 Parking Vallendar (between main road and Rhine).
- 54 Wüstenhof (above the town of Vallendar towards Weitersburg), ☏ . Excellent food and drink with a view into the Rhine valley.
- 55 Waldgaststätte Meisenhof, Meisenhofweg 55, ☏ . Good food and friendly service. A welcome break for hikers.
- 56 Roman watchtower. Reconstruction on the Limes.
- 57 Burg Sayn (Sayn castle), ☏ . Ruins of medieval castle.
Sayn to Rengsdorf - 13 km
- 58 Schloss Sayn (Sayn palace), Schlossstraße 100, ☏ . A reconstructed neo-gothic residence with museum of ornamental cast iron and a restaurant. Nice place to stop for coffee and cake.
- Bendorf - (Sayn)
- 59 Zoo Neuwied, Waldstraße 160.
- 60 Parking (zoo), Waldstraße.
- 61 L258 (Haus am Pilz). Difficult road crossing
- 62 Show jumping centre for Rheinland-Pfalz (Reiterverein Neuwied e.V.), Zum Aubachtal 77.
- 63 Hotel - Cafe - Restaurant "Zum Schwanenteich", Zum Aubachtal 99, ☏ . Welcoming beer garden and outside seating Imbiß serving basic food and drinks. The hotel and restaurant does not allow dogs.
- 64 Roman tower. Reconstruction on the Limes.
Rengsdorf to Leutesdorf - 19 km
- 65 Parking on street (Rengsdorf), Gebückstraße 11. There is limited public parking in the town during the week.
Leutesdorf to Bad Hönningen - 16,5 km
Bad Hönningen to Linz - 14 km
Linz to Bad Honnef - 18 km
Bad Honnef to Königswinter - 13,5 km
- Bad Honnef
- 66 Ruine Löwenburg. (455 m) (Siebengebirge)
- 67 Löwenburger Hof, ☏ .
- 68 Burgruine Drachenfels (Ruine Dragon's Rock). (320.6 m) (Siebengebirge)
- 69 Drachenfelsbahn (rack railway train station Drachenfels from Königswinter).
- 70 Schloss Drachenburg (Palace)). 200 m €6.
- → Königswinter
Königswinter to Bonn - 22 km
There are a few points with narrow path and steep drops but the route is basically a safe walk. Just keep an eye out for the odd crazy mountain biker. Places of population are never more than an hours walk away but if you need assistance take note of where you are relative to a rescue point (Rettungspunkt). These are places that are recognised by emergency services as accessible by motor vehicle; they are marked by a white cross on a green background and an individual identification code. There is a very small chance in the region to come across wild boar, in this rare event stay well away from them!
- Rheinhöhenweg Trail
- Rheinburgenweg Trail on the left Rhine side