The imposing ruins of Burg Rheinfels Castle, once a mighty fortress, sits on the west bank of the Rhine River and offers expansive views of the Rhine River valley below. The 13th century medieval castle was once one of the largest fortifications on the mighty Rhine.
Table of Contents
About Burg Rheinfels castle
Rheinfels Castle’s advantageous location high above the tiny village of Sankt Goar, Germany is ideal. During the Middle Ages the castle served as a defensive fortress and was later used as a military barracks.
Rheinfels castle today is in a ruinous state, but it is still the single best castle ruin on the river and a worthwhile addition to your Germany travel itinerary.
Both self and guided tours allow visitors to access one of the biggest castle complexes in Europe. Visitors also enjoy stunning views of the Rhine River and the surrounding countryside from the castle’s high vantage point.
*Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission. I only recommend products I would use myself and all opinions expressed here are my own.
Rheinfels is the largest castle overlooking the Rhine. In its glory days it was five times its current size. The thick walls of this mighty castle successfully withstood an invasion of 28,000 French troops ( “””28,000-strong French army””” ) Impressive!
visiting Burg Rheinfels Castle
(for the most current and up to date information on opening times and entrance fees see the Rheinfels website)
Visitors to Burg Rheinfels can purchase tickets at the entrance. The admission fee for adults is 6,00 € (2023) Discounts on admission fees available for:
- disabled visitors.
- A family ticket is available for €20 (valid for two adults and up to three children between the ages of 6 – 14 years)
- Groups from 10 persons adults 5,00 €, may need to book in advance,),
If seeing a discount visitors must present a valid ID or proof of eligibility at the entrance.
The castle is open year-round, daily from 9 AM to 6:00 PM. Last admission (prior to closing time) at 5:00 PM. (museum hours 10-5:30) Winter hours may differ. Check the official website for current and up to date information. (Summer hours generally begin around Easter weekend)
In the case of adverse weather conditions, such as ice and snow, the castle may close in order to consider the “ safety of our guests “ Weather closings are decided on a daily basis.
Things to Do at Burg Rheinfels Castle
Touring the Castle Ruin
The medieval ruin is the main attraction. Explore the expansive ruins and get a glimpse into the castle’s historic past.
Things of particular interest in the extensive castle complex:
- 1-Explore the dark recesses of the underground cellars, tunnels, corridors, and mines. Part of the former moat of the main castle buildings is now the large cellar or basement. This cellar is the largest self-supporting vaulted cellar in Europe and can accommodate up to 400 people.
- 2-Savor the views! The clock tower or gate tower affords visitors a wonderful view over the upper middle Rhine Valley.
- 3- Rheinfels was once a residential castle. A connecting path joins the clock tower to the remains of the living quarters. The Darmstadt building living quarters was designed in Tudor style with pointed gables.
- 4- The inner courtyard was the centre of the medieval castle which contained a bakery, pharmacy, garden, brewery, well, and livestock. During peacetime, 300-600 people lived in the castle complex. During a siege, that number could have swelled to 4,500.
- 5-Remnants of the original 13th-century plaster which was painted white can still be found on some walls.
If you are interested in a tour of the castle, guided tours are available for visitors who want to explore the castle with the help of a knowledgeable guide. The various tours are conducted in German and English and last for approximately 1 hour. The cost of the guided tour is included in the admission fee.
Guided tours are offered at the following times:
Sat, Sun, public holidays at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. on weekdays guided tours are by request only
Visitors who prefer to explore part of the castle on their own can opt for a self-guided tour. Large areas of the castle, including one of the largest cantilevered vaults and the museum can also be visited without a guided tour.
The castle provides an informative brochure to help visitors navigate their way around the castle on their own. Brochures available in German, English, and French.
We did a self-guided tour.
Explore the castle museum, located at the far end of the castle from the entrance gate, inside Burg Rheinfels Castle, as you learn about the history of the fortress. The museum features a variety of artifacts, including weapons, armor, and artwork and is included in your entry ticket
There are actually two museums at the castle, in addition to the main museum, there is also a small museum located in the castle’s former chapel that features a collection of religious artifacts and artwork.
Rheinfels Castle is situated on a hill overlooking the Rhine (Rhein) River, providing visitors with a breathtaking view of the river and the surrounding landscape. Be sure to allot for time in your schedule to take in the stunning views! Climb the castle towers and walls for panoramic views. Particularly stunning at sunset!
Climbing the Walls and Towers
If you’re feeling adventurous, climb up the castle’s walls for a unique perspective of the castle and the surrounding area.
Enjoy a leisurely walk along the trail that winds through the castle grounds which affords visitors beautiful views of the castle and the surrounding area. Popular trails in the area include:
Stop at the tourist information center for hiking maps or plan your routes on Komoot.
Getting to Burg Rheinfels Castle
Whether by car, train, or bus, Rheinfels is one of the most easily accessible castles in the area.
- Frankfurt International Airport (FRA) 103 km
- Frankfurt Hahn Airport (HHN) 46 km
- Koblenz 40 km
- Cochem 56 km
Drivers can reach Burg Rheinfels Castle by car via the B9 road that runs parallel to the Rhine River. From the autobahn, take the exit for Boppard and follow the signs for the castle.
Address: Schlossberg 47, 56329 St. Goar, Germany
GPS coordinates: 50.1545827383955, 7.704411999999578
Important note on navigating: When setting up your GPS be sure to use “Sankt Goar” NOT “ St. Goarshausen “ which is located directly across the river from St Goar!
Castle parking is located in the town of St. Goar. The parking lot is located at the foot of Rheinfels castle hill. Fee per hour.
Castle parking GPS coordinates: 50.153343956493984, 7.704796497649962
By Train or bus
Travelers can also reach Burg Rheinfels Castle by train. The nearest train station is the St Goar Station, in the village of St. Goar, which is a short walk from the castle. Trains run regularly from Frankfurt and Koblenz to St. Goar, making it easy to plan a day trip to the castle.
To seamlessly plan your train or bus route use the Rome2Rio website or app.
By Boat, an “ unforgettable experience “
Now maybe it’s because I was young and impressionable, but I still remember the first time I went on a Rhine River Cruise. I was around 8 years old (over 40 years ago!) but the memory still sticks in my mind today! If you are on the fence about taking a cruise on the Rhine, you should go for it! You’ll see some of the other 20 some Rhine River castles!
Short on time or having trouble committing? There are short cruises available. We did a round trip cruise from Bacharach to St. Goar with enough time to explore Burg Rheinfels Castle before catching the boat back to Bacharach. From the boat dock in St. Goar it’s just a short walk (or shuttle) to the castle ruins.
Companies that offer Rhine River Cruises: (we used the KD Line)
As you pass the Lorelei Rock (Loreley Rock) don’t miss the bronze statue that depicts the water-sprite or a siren that is the inspiration for legends, ballads and poems. Legend has it that a maiden, so distraught after her love was unfaithful, drowned herself here. It is said that she avenges herself upon unsuspecting sailors by wrecking boats on the jagged rocks here.
Getting up to the castle
Drivers can navigate directly to the castle parking lot. If you are headed to the castle from St. Goar there are two options to get up to the castle:
option 1: walk
You can either walk straight through town and head to the castle looming up ahead, or you can take this nature trail. It’s about 1/2 mile from the boat dock in St. Goar.
option 2: shuttle
During the summer months Burg-Rheinfels-Shuttle runs from St. Goar to the castle. Schedule: May 1 to October 30, from 10 am to 5 pm (weekends only in May and October. Tickets can be purchased at the tourist office in St. Goar.
Where to eat
There are many good places to eat in St. Goar but if you are looking for a special dining experience look no further than the castle hotel. There are 2 separate restaurants at the castle hotel:
The Burgschänke “Zum Landgraf” at Rheinfels Castle
is the rustic pub dine on their lovely terrace for beautiful views of the World Heritage Rhine River, or indoors in the cozy pub.
CASTLE RESTAURANT ‘ON SCHARFFENECK’
Or reserve a table by the window in their lovely dining room.
Where to stay
Want to stay in a castle???? Now is your chance! There are options right in Sankt Goar, such as Hotel zur Loreley and Rheinhotel St. Goar but why not take the opportunity to stay in a castle? There are several choices right in this area.
Booking.com doesn’t allow me to republish their photos but I strongly encourage you to click on these links and go through the photos of the castle hotels. You are going to want to book at least one night in a castle overlooking the Rhine River!
Hotel Schloss Rheinfels castle hotel
Hotel Schloss Rheinfels is 4-star hotel located in the castle. This romantic hotel offers tasteful accommodation that includes a spa offering a variety of beauty treatments.
They jokingly refer to the onsite fitness room in this superior hotel as the “ torture chamber “
Burghotel auf Schönburg
4-star hotel features old world decor and offers gourmet cuisine, romantic rooms with great views of the medieval town of Oberwesel and the Rhine River Valley. This one is a stunner! Prices: starting at $246 per night guest rating: 9.6 distance from Rheinfels: 10 km
Rheinstein Castle Hotel
Overnight guests at Rheinstein Castle Hotel have after hours access to the castle gardens and enjoy a delicious breakfast served on the terrace with river views. Prices: from €175.00 per night for 2 people. breakfast included. Minimum stay: 2 nights (arrival days: Sun, Wed & Fri.) Distance from Rheinfels: 24 km
book it here on bookin.com!
History of Rheinfels Castle
Rhheinfels construction began in 1245 AD under the direction of Count Diether V. of Katzenelnbogen (one of the Counts of Katzenelnbogen) as a strategic stronghold to control the Rhine River traffic. The castle expanded over time and became the largest fortress in the region.
The castle saw action during both the Thirty Years War and the Palatine War of Succession (also known as the Nine Years War) between France and Germany in the 17th century.
While the castle successfully defended itself against siege during the aforementioned wars, at the end of the 18th century the castle was again besieged by the French Revolutionary Army. After surrendering the castle to French troops the castle was destroyed by the French Revolutionary Army troops in 1797. It was at this time that the castle was heavily damaged rendering it useless. The castle was never rebuilt, and today remains a fortress ruin.
Is Burg Rheinfels Castle worth it?
I’m going to be frank; this was not my favorite castle. It is historic, and expansive but I just didn’t dazzle me like some of the other castles in the area like picture perfect Burg Rheinstein Castle or magical Burg Eltz Castle. The views from Rheinfels are lovely and if you are on a stopover on a Rhine River Cruise it’s worth a look, but I don’t think I’d make any sort of effort to visit the castle again. HOWEVER you shouldn’t miss an opportunity to book a room at the castle hotel overlooking the river!
How big is Rheinfels Castle?
The castle covers an area of around 4 hectares. The history museum located in the castle has a model that shows the castle in its former size.
How much time for Burg Rheinfels Castle?
One hour is generally enough. If you are on a Rhine River cruise, you’ll have plenty of time to make your way to the castle, do a tour, and then make your way back to the boat dock.
What should I bring to Rheinfels castle?
Bring a flashlight so you can explore the dark recesses of the cellars and tunnels!
other important information
Due to the Federal Nature Conservation Act, there are certain times when areas of the castle may be off limits in order to protect the resident bats from disturbances.
how to avoid crowds
We visited on a weekend in September and didn’t find the castle particularly crowded. The general rule of thumb for avoiding the worst crowds at popular tourist attractions are:
- Visit early morning or late in the day (i.e., the first or last tour of the day)
- Weekdays are often less crowded than weekends.
- Travel in the shoulder or off season: Summer months are peak season / high season, spring and fall are considered shoulder seasons, and winter months are off season in Germany (outside of the Christmas market season.)
Nearby Attractions and things to do
The Rhine River Valley
Burg Rheinfels Castle is situated on the banks of the Rhine River, making it an ideal location for exploring the river and its surroundings. The Rhine Valley is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is renowned for its picturesque beauty and rich cultural heritage. The valley riverbanks are dotted with charming storybook villages, terraced vineyards, and littered with dozens of castles. Take a cruise on the Rhine or enjoy some of the other area activities such as fishing, kayaking.
you may be interested in: Must See Rhine River Castles!
Charming St. Goar is located at the base of Burg Rheinfels Castle. Explore the town’s medieval streets and admire its historic architecture. Stop in at one of the many restaurants, cafes, and shops, or just sit and watch the world go by!
Burg Rheinstein Castle
Cute little Rheinstein Castle is immaculate, compact, and almost homey. It was built in 1316, has a drawbridge, portcullis, a courtyard with a lush garden, and 500-year-old grape vines that still produce grapes…and fantastic views of the Rhine! Distance from Rheinfels: 24 km
The well-maintained Rhine cycle path between Koblenz and Bingen is ideal for cycling because there are no inclines. On your journey you’ll enjoy vineyards, rock formations, castles, and of course views of the Rhine River. Stop at the many villages along the way. Check the tourist information office for a cycling route brochure or plan your route on Komoot. (charging station for e-bikes in St. Goar in front of the town hall.)
2 week Germany itinerary PLUS protect your investment!
We visited Rheinfels on an epic 2 week trip to Germany that included stops in Austria and Switzerland. Get access to the free itinerary here! and don’t forget to check out the Ultimate Guide to travel Germany on a budget!
If you are planning a trip to the Rhine or Moselle Rivers do yourself a favor and pick up a Rick Steves Germany travel guide, the most comprehensive guides books on anywhere in Europe!
Protect your investment with “cancel for any reason” trip insurance. Did you know that pandemics, as well as a LONG list of other situations aren’t covered by most trip insurance policies (including those airlines offer when purchasing tickets)? MOST of these scenarios are covered when you purchase a “cancel for any reason” policy! Shop for one at Travel Insurance.com! Find more money saving resources on my “Travel Resources” page!
Want to hear more about my travels around Germany and the rest of our amazing planet? You may be interested in my Germany page and be sure to submit your email address to my subscriber sign up at the end of the page to be the first to know when a new blog publishes!