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The Rhine River Valley in Germany
The Rhine River was formed during prehistoric times and stretches over 760 miles from Switzerland to the Netherlands but the very best of the Rhine can be found in Germany!
The famous Rhine River winds lazily through Germany, its banks on both sides of the river dotted with dozens of majestic castles, terraced vineyards, historic cities, medieval towns, and charming storybook villages.
UNESCO: The Upper Middle Rhine Valley, also known as the Rhine Gorge, has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site. This 65 km stretch of the middle Rhine Valley between Bingen/Rüdesheim and Koblenz is often referred to as the most scenic section of the Rhine and is the location for some of the best castles!
about Rhine River Castles
The Upper Valley of the Rhine has over 20 castles. While not the only castles of the Rhine, this article covers 19 of the most famous castles, the simply MUST SEE Castles on the Rhine River!
Many of these castles began their lives as defensive structures designed to withstand heavy attacks. Situated on high hills and cliffs, they have many things common to defensive structures such as thick castle walls, battlements, and towers, heavy grated iron portcullis, drawbridges, moats, and inside, a great hall for gathering.
*Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, for more information see my terms and conditions page.
Top Castles on the Rhine River
These are the must-see castles on the Rhine River:
#1 Klopp Castle (Burg Klopp)
Klopp Castle is a 13th century medieval castle located in the town of Bingen am Rhein. The citizens of Bingen hold this lovely castle so dear that although it has been destroyed many times, they have rebuilt it again and again.
Today, the 19th century Neo-Gothic rebuild is the location of the town administration’s municipality building. Visitors are welcome to explore the castle’s exterior, enjoy the stunning views of the Rhine River and surrounding vineyards, or experience fine dining at Restaurant Burg Klopp. Additionally, the inner courtyard and tower is open to the public between April and October.
#2 Ehrenfels Castle Ruins (Burgruine Ehrenfels)
Ehrenfels Castle is a medieval castle located in the fairytale town of Rüdesheim am Rhein. It was built in the 12th century and was used as a fortress to protect the town and the surrounding area. The castle was destroyed during the Thirty Years’ War in the 17th century and was left in ruins.
Today, the castle offers stunning views of the Rhine River, surrounding vineyards, and the mouse tower down below. Ehrenfels can only be viewed from the outside as it is now home to a pair of breeding falcons.
# 3 Rheinstein Castle (Burg Rheinstein)
14th century Medieval Burg Rheinstein Castle is reminiscent of the perfect little knight’s castle, immaculate, compact, and almost homey. It’s located on a steep slope of the Bingen Forest, overlooking the river below. Its location high on the hill offers Panoramic views.
The Rheinstein Castle complex has a beautiful courtyard with a lush garden and a working portcullis and drawbridge which are typical of medieval castles. Don’t miss the 500-year-old grapevine that still produces grapes!
Get more information: in my Burg Rheinstein Castle guide!
# 4 Reichenstein Castle (Burg Reichenstein)
Medieval Burg Reichenstein Castle, also known as Falkenburg, was built in the 11th century. The castle was destroyed in the 13th century and was left in ruins until the 19th century, when it was restored in neo-Gothic style. Today, the castle offers guided tours, a museum, restaurant, and a hotel. It is also known for its stunning views of the Rhine River and the surrounding vineyards.
# 5 Sooneck Castle (Burg Sooneck)
Sooneck Castle is an 11th century medieval castle located in the town of Niederheimbach. Sooneck was rebuilt by Prussian Princes as a royal hunting lodge in 1834 after being destroyed by French troops in 1689.
Visitors can explore the castle complex, with its distinct Middle Ages feel, on their own. Also of interest: beautiful gardens and terraces with scenic views, and a museum with historic artifacts. Refreshments are available for purchase in the Burglädchen. From their wine cellar they offer a selection of delightful white wines made from grapes that grow just below the castle.
# 6 Stahleck Castle (Burg Stahleck)
This gorgeous 12th century medieval castle overlooks the town of Bacharach. Stahleck Castle will give you a “stepped back in time” experience. Today, the castle serves as a youth hostel. Visitors who do not wish to stay overnight at the castle can explore the castle which is normally open to visitors unless there is a special event scheduled. The outside of the castle, which includes panoramic views of the Rhine River Valley, can be visited at any time.
# 7 (Burg) Pfalzgrafenstein Castle (the Pfalz)
Pfalzgrafenstein Castle is a 14th century medieval castle located on Falkenau island, otherwise known as Pfalz Island, in the middle of the Rhine River.
This fanciful castle, known for its unique location and architecture, looks like something that sprung from a storybook. However, it actually originated as a toll castle for ships passing through the river. Leave it to the Germans to make nearly everything look like a castle! I love it! Pfalzgrafenstein Castle can only be reached from Kaub by passenger ferry.
# 8 Gutenfels Castle (Burg Gutenfels)
Gutenfels Castle is a medieval castle located high above the town of Kaub, overlooking Pfalzgrafenstein Castle below. It was built in the 13th century and once served as a medieval fortress. Today, the restored castle is under private ownership and serves as a hotel and event venue, offering stunning views of the Rhine River and surrounding vineyards. Find out how you can stay overnight in this rustic castle retreat later in this article.
#9 Schönburg Castle (Burg Schönburg)
The first mention of Schönburg Castle, located in the town of Oberwesel, was in the 10th century. The castle once served as a fortress to protect the surrounding area. Today, the castle has been restored and serves as a hotel and event venue, and is also known for its gourmet restaurant, which serves traditional German cuisine and local wines. The tower museum at Schönburg Castle is open to the public. At the top level of the tower is the observation deck that shows a breathtaking view of the Rhine Valley.
Loreley Statue: between Schonburg Castle and Burg Katz is the famous Loreley Statue, a legendary figure from German folklore. The Loreley, was said to be a beautiful siren who lured sailors to their deaths with her song. The statue was erected in 1983. The famous German poet, Heinrich Heine, penned an ode to Loreley…
The loveliest young maiden sits-condensed from Die (The) Lorelei by Heinrich Heine )
So beautifully up there…She combs her golden hair…And while she combs, she sings;
It grips the sailor in the ship…His eyes are only looking up, Not at the rocks below. I believe that in the end the waves Devoured ship and boy…
# 10 Katz Castle (Burg Katz)
Burg Katz Castle is a 14th-century medieval castle located in the town of St. Goarshausen. The castle is privately owned and not open to the public but can be viewed from the distance.
# 11 Rheinfels Castle ruins (Burg Rheinfels)
Burg Rheinfels Castle is a 13th-century medieval hilltop castle fortress located in the town of Sankt Goar. The castle was at one time one of the largest fortifications on the mighty Rhine. The original castle withstood several sieges over its history, but was eventually destroyed by a French troop from the French Revolutionary Army and never again saw its former glory.
Today, the castle has been partially restored and serves as a museum and event venue. Visitors can explore the castle’s interior and museums.
Get more information: in my Burg Rheinfels Castle guide!
# 12 Marksburg Castle
The 13th century Marksburg Castle is located in the town of Braubach. This castle was constructed as a defensive structure and is the only Rhine Castle that has never been destroyed or damaged, remaining intact for over 900 years. It’s a typical medieval masterpiece a wine cellar, herb garden, knight’s hall, chapel, armory, keep, horse stable, smithy, drawbridge, and kitchen.
Today Marksburg is the headquarters of the German Castles Association and is open to visitors who can take a guided tour of the castle.
# 13 Stolzenfels Castle (Schloss Stolzenfels)
Stolzenfels Castle is a 13th century medieval fortress turned palace located near Koblenz. In 1823 the castle was gifted to the Prussian Crown Prince, Frederick William IV who then transformed it into a palace in the Gothic Revival style. Visitors can explore the castle’s interior and learn about its history while enjoying the picturesque setting.
# 14 Lahneck Castle (Burg Lahneck)
Burg Lahneck is a mid-13th century medieval castle located at the confluence of the Rhine and Lahn Rivers, in the town of Lahnstein. The last 12 Templars are said to have sought refuge in the castle, where they perished in a heroic fight to the death. The privately owned castle welcomes visitors. There is also a restaurant on site as well as camping and swimming facilities.
# 15 Schloss Koblenz Electoral Palace (Kurfürstliches Schloss Koblenz)
The Electoral Palace, also known as Kurfürstliches Schloss in German, is a historic palace located in the city of Koblenz. The palace was built in the 18th century and served as the residence of the Electors of Trier.
Today, the Baroque palace houses the regional government offices and is open to the public for tours. Visitors can explore the palace’s interior and learn about its history while enjoying the beautiful gardens and fountains surrounding the building.
# 16 Ehrenbreitstein Fortress (Festung Ehrenbreitstein)
Ehrenbreitstein Fortress is a historic 16th century sprawling fortress located in the city of Koblenz in the Rhineland-Palatinate region of Germany. The fortress is also home to several museums, including the State Museum of Koblenz and the Romanticum, which showcases the history and culture of the Rhine River region.
# 17 Namedy Castle (Schloss Burg Namedy)
Namedy Castle is a 14th century moated Gothic style medieval castle located in the town of Namedy. Today, the privately owned castle has been restored and is owned by the Princes of Hohenzollern. It serves as a museum and event venue, offering stunning views of the Rhine River and surrounding countryside.
The castle is a cultural hub that offers around 30 events that include chamber orchestras, jazz, classical music, theater performances, readings, art, dance projects, and more! You can access their concert schedule on the castle website.
# 18 Arenfels Castle (Schloss Arenfels)
Arenfels Castle is a 13th century medieval castle located in the town of Bad Hönningen. Both the name and facade of this magical castle have a distinct “Disney” vibe. One could reasonably expect to see prince charming walk through the door at any moment. It is known for its unique architecture, which includes 365 windows, 52 doors, and 12 towers. Visitors can enjoy relaxing on the terrace overlooking the Rhine with a glass of locally made wine.
# 19 Drachenburg Castle (Schloss Drachenburg)
Schloss Drachenburg is located on the Drachenfels hill in Königswinter. It was originally built in the late 1800s as a palace style private residence. Today, the castle is owned by the State Foundation of North Rhine-Westphalia and is open to the public for tours.
Of special interest at this castle is their festival of Fantasy, held annually in August. Attendees can expect clownery, acrobatics, juggling, tightrope walking, comedy as well as singing and music.
Take a 1/2 day tour to Drachenburg Castle from Cologne.
Book it here on Get your guide! !
Map of Rhine River Castles
There’s a main road that runs along both the left and right banks of the Rhine River. Use this map to plan your trip!
Rhine River Castle Hotels
Want to stay in a castle???? Now’s your chance! There are several castle hotels on the Rhine River.
Here are some of the best: (prices based on double occupancy)
This beautiful 19th century building was built as a space for artists. Located just 30 minutes from Frankfurt on the banks of the Rhine, it has a more modern luxury vibe. While not an official castle, it looks and feels like one. Prices: starting at $164 per night Guest rating: 8.4
book it here on booking.com!
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 (2 night minimum, arrival days: Sun, Wed & Fri.)
book it here on the Rheinstein website!
Hotel Guests can stay overnight in this 19th century neo-Gothic castle restoration. Be sure to make time to visit the historic museum in the castle for knight’s armor, medieval weapons and all manner of Middle Ages artifacts. Prices: starting at $229 per night, Guest rating: 9.0
book it here on booking.com!
Hostel Burg Stahleck
Be sure to note that this is a hostel, so not for everyone. However, this 12th century castle is a rustic dream with views to die for! If you don’t mind “roughing” it for a night, they offer rooms for 1, 2, 4 or multiple beds. If you want a private shower/toilet, be sure to book a category 4+ room.
Breakfast, half-board, and full-board options available. Prices: starting at $70 per night for the B&B guest rating: 9.0 (google reviews)
book through the Stahleck Castle website!
Burg Gutenfels Hotel
This one is really special folks, step into medieval luxury with stunning panoramic views! This 800-year-old castle has made it onto my travel bucket list, and it deserves a place on yours too! Prices: starting at $265 per night Guest rating: 9.8!
book it now on booking.com!
Burghotel Auf Schönburg
4-star hotel luxury hotel that features old world decor, gourmet cuisine, and 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
book it here on booking.com!
Romantik Hotel Schloss Rheinfels
Hotel Schloss Rheinfels is a 4-star romantic castle hotel offers tasteful accommodation that includes a swimming pool and spa offering a variety of beauty treatments. Prices: starting at $274 per night guest rating: 8.2
book it here on booking.com!
Hotel Castle Liebenstein
This 13th century Gothic castle hotel has a real rustic flare! Prices: starting at $145 per night. Guest rating: 8.0
Book it here on the Liebenstein website!
map of castle hotels on the Rhine River
How to see the Castles on the Rhine
Frankfurt Airport (FRA) is only 60 km from the first castle on this list and is a great starting place to explore the Rhine River Castles.
If you want to see several of the incredible castles along the Rhine, the best way to see them is by car. There are ferries along the river to transport you from one side to the other.
Guided tours (let an insightful local expert show you around!)
If you don’t have a car but want to see the castles along the Rhine then you’re in luck! There are several tour options from companies that employ a local guide to cart you around to different castles.
From Frankfurt: Rhine Valley Day Trip
This is a great option for travelers who are in Frankfurt and don’t have a car or don’t want to drive (includes a chance to take the cable car down into the valley. Duration: 7 hours, English and German leaves from: Frankfurt.
book it here on Get Your Guide!
see the Rhine by boat
A Rhine River Cruise is an unforgettable experience. I still remember my first, over 40 years ago! River traffic on the Rhine is at a constant, embark on a small ship as you tour the UNESCO section of the Rhine with its high concentration of castles and overabundance of adorable villages.
Here are some of the best options:
Cologne-Düsseldorfer KD (Bacharach to Sankt Goar)
You can sail from Bacharach to St. Goar, or in reverse. This cruise stops in Sankt Goar and gives you enough time to explore Burg Rheinfels Castle before catching the boat back to Bacharach. Duration: 2 hours (round-trip) leaves from: either Bacharach or Sankt Goar.
Koblenz: Upper Middle Rhine Valley Castle Boat Cruise
Duration: 2 hours, German and English, Leaves from: Koblenz
- Electoral Palace of Koblenz
book it here on Get Your Guide!
Heidelberg and Rhine Combination Tour from Frankfurt
This one is great for tourists flying into Frankfurt International and who won’t have a car. The Combination City and River tour starts out in Historic Heidelberg. Then participants cruise the Rhine from Kaub to the town of Assmannshausen. Duration: 11.5 hours, English and German, Leaves from: Frankfurt
book it here on Get Your Guide!
Rhine Valley Castles: 1.5-Hour Boat Tour from Rüdesheim
Duration: 1.5 hours, leaves from: Rüdesheim, English and German
book it now on Get Your Guide!
This company also offers:
From Rüdesheim: Christmas Boat Tour on the Rhine
From Rüdesheim: 1.5-Hour Boat Cruise with Wine Tasting
History of Castles on the Rhine River
The Rhine River has been an important trade route since ancient times, The castles were built to protect the river and its trade routes. During the Middle Ages, the Rhine River was a vital transportation route for goods and people. During medieval times, castles were often built on high cliffs or hills, providing a strategic advantage for their owners. In later eras the castles were used as hunting lodges or a summer residence for Germany Royalty.
Visitors can explore the castles and learn about the history of the region, from Roman times to the modern era.