At 1230km (764 miles) long, the Rhine River is second only to the Danube for the title of longest river in Europe. As for the most romantic, in Germany, nothing beats the Rhine, inspiration for many an epic poem or novel. There are many adorable towns and villages nestled in the twists and turns of the River as it makes its way from the Swiss Alps to the North Sea. Here are 8 of our favourites in Germany.
If timber-framed houses and beautiful churches are what you’re after, then Bacharach is the perfect place to while away an afternoon. Keep an eye out for Altes Haus, a half-timber house dating from 1368, the 12th-century Stahlek Castle and St Peter’s Church. Climb the Postenturm to get an Instagram-worthy view of the town and then top up your energy reserves with some coffee and cake at one of the many cafés.
This tiny town (pronounced with a soft ‘ch’) has been going since the Celts were exploring the Moselle a couple thousand years ago. In addition to the dozens of historical buildings nestled on a bend in the Moselle river, Cochem has the distinct advantage of being right in the middle of white wine country. The steep hills right at the river’s edge made excellent terraces, which in turn make Riesling worth the hike to procure.
10 kilometers (6 miles) south of Cochem, next to the village of Beilstein, you’ll find the ruins of Metternich Castle atop Schlossberg vineyard. The village is known as the Sleeping Beauty of the Rhine, so don’t expect anything to happen at faster than 0km speed. The castle terrace is worth having some cake at because it gives you a chance to take in the stunning Mosel loop panorama.
Technically not a village, but definitely worth a visit. Burg Eltz is probably the best-preserved Medieval castle in all of Germany and is therefore the perfect place to indulge all your knight and damsel fantasies. The castle is unusual in that it’s been in the same family for 33 generations and wasn’t destroyed in the war. Take the train from Cochem to Moselkern and walk though the forest for about an hour to get to the castle, or splurge on a taxi.
If you’re at all familiar with Romantic German literature, songs or poetry, you’ll know about Lorelei, a steep slate cliff on whose ramparts many a ship were dashed as they tried to make the near 90 degree bend in the river. Every year Piesport puts on a fireworks display for its Loreleyfest the first weekend in July. Also: wine. The 35 vineyards in the area are collectively known as Piesporter Michelsberg, the best of which is Goldtröpfchen (golden droplets).