Recommendations around the Rheinsteig
March 22, 2022 9:28 AM   Subscribe

We're thinking about a trip to walk the Rheinsteig. Give us your recommendations!

We loved biking around the Loire, and we've been walking a lot lately so our thoughts have turned to another "adventure-lite" sort of trip, this time on foot. So we come to you, again, to look for recommendations along our route - the Rheinsteig.

I have spent quite a bit of time in Germany (wife has not), but I haven't really been anywhere between Bonn and Wiesbaden. I'd like to hear any personal experiences with the route and what would be some good places to check out along the way:

-We're planning probably 5 days on the trail, ideally through hiking but if there's something out of the way that we really should see we don't mind taking the train and splitting the time.
-Right now we're thinking we'd start in Wiesbaden and head north (as far as five days will get us).
-We enjoy food, wineries, castles, and quirky things (e.g. - I may force a detour out to the Loreley-bob if it's worth it).
-We're going to try to carry all of our stuff with us, but might want to drop a duffel bag at a hotel or train station while we're on the trail and pick it up when we're done.

So, any recommendations? Is this a good part of the trail for what we want? Are we absolutely going to miss something unmissable if we don't go to a different area? What say you?
posted by backseatpilot to Travel & Transportation around Germany (4 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I've hiked the Rheinsteig from beginning to end (Wiesbaden to Bonn) over the past 15 years or so - I've lived in the area for much of the time and was able to do most of it on weekends. The first part from Wiesbaden to Schlangenbad is a bit boring (compared to the rest), so you might want to skip that and start in Schlangenbad, which can be reached via bus.

Starting there we were able to make it all the way to St. Goarshausen in four days of walking. We carried everything in our backpacks and spent three nights in different small hotels along the way. This part includes the most spectacular segment between Kaub and St. Goarshausen, which is called the "Königsetappe" for a reason and includes the famous Loreley. Depending on how many kilometres you want to hike in a day (and how much elevation gain you can manage) you could hike all the way to Kestert in five days. The Upper Middle Rhine Valley from Bingen (across the river from Rüdesheim) to Koblenz is an UNESCO World Heritage site, and it includes the most beautiful section of the Rheinsteig.

Along the way you will pass several castles and castle ruins, as well as Kloster Eberbach (the monastery where part of "The Name of the Rose" was filmed) and Abtei St. Hildegard (the abbey of St. Hildegard of Bingen).

If you would like to do some sightseeing while hiking, I would recommend that you split the Rheinsteig from Schlangenbad to St. Goarshausen into five legs and spend some time exploring the monastery and the abbey mentioned above plus Schloss Vollrads and the first Riesling winery Schloss Johannisberg. You are also going to pass the Niederwalddenkmal. From here it is possible to take the funicular down into Rüdesheim - many foreign tourists seem to want to visit Drosselgasse there, but in my humble opinion it is a tourist trap, so feel free to skip that. You really aren't missing much.

There are lots of places to stay along the way in all price ranges, and lovely restaurants with good food and great wine from the region. We have eaten at Weingut Michael Gietz several times and liked it a lot. They have a great outdoor seating area on the upper floor if the weather is nice.

By the way, if you prefer to hike on the other side of the river (or want to switch sides along the way), the Rheinburgenweg runs along and above the left bank of the Rhine and also passes lots of castles, ruins and picturesque villages. It probably is a bit lesser-known and might be less crowded in the summer.

Feel free to send me MeFi Mail if you have any further questions. The four days on the Rheinsteig are probably my favorite multiple-day hike ever. :-)
posted by amf at 10:37 AM on March 22 [3 favorites]

I started in Bonn using a day pack for each stage and the train to return to the same hotel for two or three nights at a time.

I hiked south for seven days and never once felt cheated for sightseeing simply by walking the trail. It cuts through wineries and castle grounds and regularly has spectacular views of the valley.

One heads up: "Steig" is German for "steep trail". I don't know about the South end, but in the North it definitely lives up to that. You may find yourself with less spare energy than you are thinking.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 2:44 PM on March 22 [1 favorite]

You can see the distances and elevation graph on this page. It's in German, but easy to use even if you don't speak the language. The numbers 1 through 21 refer to the "official" sections. The map is interactive - mouse over the sections, and the corresponding part of the elevation graph is highlighted. Or you can move the double arrows along the lower bar to zoom into a certain part of the map/elevation graph.
This will give you an idea on how many kilometres and how many metres of elevation gain you might want to tackle each day.
posted by amf at 6:28 AM on March 23

I found this page (overview and individual stages) useful for planning as well.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 10:14 AM on March 23

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