It’s very likely that you already know of the River Rhine – Europe’s second longest river. This great river flows from the Swiss Alps through Liechtenstein, Austria, Germany, France and the Netherlands until it reaches the North Sea. However, you may not know about the Upper Middle Rhine Valley. This beautiful part of Germany, close to Koblenz, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The best German wines come from the Rhine Valley
The Rhine Valley, with its gentle rolling hills, is well-known for wines like Riesling, Müller-Thurgau and Pinot Noir, to name but a few. The region’s fertile soil and south-facing mountains provide the ideal conditions for making wine. That’s why you’ll find plenty of winemakers dotted along the River Rhine where you’ll get plenty of opportunities to sample their wines at wine tasting events. You’ll also come across plenty of places to stay in the area so that you can really immerse yourself into the heart of Germany’s wine culture.
Discover the amazing outdoor activities
The region is also perfect if you’re into walking. Here, you’ll find the impressive 320km Rheinsteig walking trail with its stunning views across the valley. The trail connects Koblenz, Bonn and Wiesbaden – all beautiful cities waiting to be discovered. This well signposted path meanders through vineyards, forests and picturesque towns.
Another walking trail worth discovering is the 200km RheinBurgenWeg– literally meaning ‘the castle trail’. It winds its way through unspoilt landscape with its Medieval Castles from the Roland Arch (Rolandsbogen, close to Remagen, as far as the Mouse Tower (Mäuseturm) near Bingen. En route, you’ll see the typical slate mountains, beautiful valleys (e.g. Ahr Valley) and vineyards. The trail then leads you through Germany’s most romantic area up to Bingen, where I can recommend a lovely wine bar (WeinZeit), located right on the river.
Last but not least, I’d like to recommend the Rotweinwanderweg (the red wine walking trail) in the Ahr Valley. It’s a popular 35km walking path through local vineyards starting in Bad Bodendorf, through Bad Neuenahr/Ahrweiler as far as Altenahr. The romantic Ahr Valley is particularly picturesque and depending on time of year you go, you’ll probably see many of the winemakers at work in their vineyards. Do bear in mind that the main trails can get quite busy during harvest time, so and it’s better to use some of the quieter routes (e.g. Teufelsloch to Schrock Mountain or Steinerberg Mountain).
Cycling in the Upper Middle Rhine Valley
If you’re into cycling or mountain biking, why not check out the River Rhine’s cycling route EuroVelo 15 (EV15), which is 1,233km long. I’ve cycled parts of it along the River Rhine around St. Goar, Oberwesel, Bingen, Lorch, Boppard and really enjoyed the stunning scenery and of course the occasional stops at the many wine bars along the way! In my view, the best time to visit this stunning area is between May and October when the weather is just perfect to enjoy the great outdoors.
Castles, castles and more castles
The unique geographical location of the Rhine Valley is also very famous for its amazing, historical castles and fortresses. You can either discover them on the RheinBurgenWeg(Rhine Castle Path) or by boat. The KD boat company runs boats every day during the summer and you can even take your bike on the boat in case you decide to cycle a section of the Rhine Cycle Path. I actually went on a boat trip between Boppard and St Goarshausenon a beautiful day in August 2017. It was so lovely that I couldn’t stop taking pictures of all the castles we passed!
Festivals and events throughout the year
The annual Rhine in Flames (Rhein in Flammen) is well worth seeing. This popular event includes a spectacular firework display and a boat parade along the River Rhine. You can either watch it from the embankment (for free) or you can book tickets at one of the hotels for the most amazing views. If you’d rather be in the thick of it, why not book a ticket on one of the boats? There are five Rhine in Flames events in total, all held in various locations in the region between May and September.
If you’re into your wine and would like to discover what Germany has to offer, you should consider going along to some of the wine festivals in the Rhine Valley. Almost every town, with their idyllic half-timbered houses, will organise a wine festival in September or October and there’ll usually be something going on for the whole family to enjoy.