Middle Rhine region in Germany is famous for its scenic views, small charming towns and castles on the hills overlooking Rhine river. One of the best ways to experience the beauty of Middle Rhine is by taking a boat cruise. In this post I’d like to share a sample itinerary of scenic Middle Rhine cruise between Bingen and Boppard, Germany.
Biggest boat tour operator on Rhine – KD Rhine – runs regular river cruises from Mainz to Cologne (and back). The beautify of KD Rhine cruise is that it’s a hop on/off kind of cruise. The boat docks in several places and so you can hop off the boat to explore some of the towns and castles, and hop back on the next available boat on the same day.
Middle Rhine cruise options and travel times
When we planned our trip to Middle Rhine region we did a lot of research on different Rhine cruises, ticket options, cruise duration, sights and towns along the river.
Of course, you can just take a boat cruise from Mainz and to Cologne and spend whole day on the boat. However, not all parts of Middle Rhine are equally beautiful and if you spend whole day on the boat it can get a bit boring. The better option would be to spend few hours on the cruise, hop off at one or two little towns on the way, and even take a train to travel to starting or ending point of the cruise faster.
Keep in mind duration of the cruise. We chose direction from Mainz to Cologne (and not the other way around) because it meant going down the Rhine and hence faster travel times (a boat goes faster downstream than upstream). It will take you longer if you choose to travel the opposite direction. Just to give you an indication on trip durations:
- A boat from Mainz to Koblenz will take about 6 hours,
- A boat from Koblenz to Mainz will take about 8.5 hours.
Another thing to keep in mind is that even if you decide to go all the way from Mainz to Cologne you will still need to change the boats. Usually boats don’t go all the way and you’ll have to change them somewhere in the middle (e.g. in Koblenz, to get to Cologne).
There is a section of the Rhine river called Rhine Gorge and it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Rhine Gorge lays between Bingen and Koblenz and it has more than 40 castles from the middle ages.
Rhine Gorge section of the river is also known as Romantic Rhine. With its castles on the hills, green valleys, small pretty towns and many wineries along the way – this part of Middle Rhine is just perfect for a romantic boat cruise.
So, after all the research we decided to start our boat trip in Bingen, spend few hours cruising down the river, and get off at Boppard, and then take train to Koblenz. All that in one day.
In fact, that trip was part of our longer trip – from Frankfurt to Cologne. We spent few days in Frankfurt (read our post on Perfect weekend in Frankfurt), took a train to Bingen, cruised down to Boppard, took a train to Koblenz, and finally a train to Cologne (read our post on What to see in Cologne in a day or two). But that trip is worth a dedicated post on its own. Now, back to the Scenic Middle Rhine cruise from Bingen to Boppard!
Check departure times and buy tickets online at KD Rhine website:
We travelled to Bingen from Frankfurt by train. Train from Frankfurt to Bingen takes almost 2 hours. Tickets can be purchased at the station either at ticket machine or a ticket office. We took 09:08am train from Frankfurt Hbf and arrived to Bingen at 11:10am. It’s a 15 min walk from the train station to the KD Rhine Terminal where you will be boarding the boat.
We have boarded the cruise ship at around 11:30am. Have you ticket ready to present when boarding the ship. You can also bring your luggage on board, they can store it for you during the cruise.
Middle Rhine cruise – Bingen to Boppard
Once on board you can relax and enjoy the views. KD Rhine cruise ships usually have two decks – lower desk is covered, and the upper deck is open. Both have bar with snacks and drinks.
As I already mentioned this part of the Rhine valley was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site. During the cruise you can watch all the castles, small towns, green hills and valleys passing by. You can choose to disembark the ship at one of the towns to explore it better or perhaps to visit one of well preserved medieval castles.
Full list of points where you can get off the boat between Mainz and Koblenz:
Wiesbaden, Eltville, Rüdesheim, Bingen, Assmannshausen, Lorch, Bacharach, Kaub, Oberwesel, St. Goar, St. Goarshausen, Bad Salzig, Kamp, Boppard, Braubach, Rhens, Oberlahnstein.
We spent on the cruise 2 hours and left the boat at Boppard at around 2pm. You will recognize Boppard while approaching it by the view of the 13-century church St. Severus with its tall twin towers.
Boppard is a small charming town where you can easily spend a day or at least a few hours. We have chosen it also because it has a chairlift to the top of the town with beautiful views to the Rhine river and Filsen town on the opposite bank of the river.
Disembarking the boat at Boppard you can first take a walk toward green zone along Rheinalle street. Turn right on Michael-Bach-Straße and walk around the town center and to the ruins of Römerkastell (Kastell Bodobrica). Then continue to the Market square. The town center is small and you can explore it by foot within 30 minutes.
Please note, there is no baggage storage area at the Boppard train station. We went there hoping to leave our suitcase but were disappointed not finding anything there.
From the town center, we walked to the chairlift – Sesselbahn. The chairlift takes you to the Vierseenblick viewpoint where you can admire the view to Rhine river where it takes a big loop. The ride takes about 20 minutes one way.
Tickets to the chairlift can be purchased right there at the Sesselbahn station. They can also store your luggage for free while you going up and down the lift!
At the top, after you get off the chairlift you can take a short 5 minutes walk to the panoramic terrace from where the Rhine loop, Boppard and town at the opposite side of the river can be overlooked.
There is also a restaurant up there with big outdoor area (and a playground for children). If not for a meal you can at least stay there for a drink, recharge and simply for enjoying the view a little bit longer before going back down to Boppard.
After the viewpoint we travelled down by the chairlift and then headed to Boppard train station to take the train to Koblenz.
Trains depart from Boppard every hour and it takes only 15 minutes to reach Koblenz Hbf.
If you’re not planning on staying in Koblenz, you can just change trains here and continue to Cologne or Frankfurt on the same day. But if you have few hours to spare in Koblenz have a walk along the Rhine for nice views. Stop over at Koblenz castle. Walk to the Deutsches Eck – a place where Rhine meets Mosellel river.
Take cable car across the Rhine and up to the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress. Even if you don’t have time to visit the fortress itself, from the cable car you will get a great view to the Deutsches Eck.
Read our dedicated post on Koblenz here: Visiting Koblenz – a picturesque city on the Rhine and Moselle rivers
Other options to explore Middle Rhine
There are many different options to explore Germany’s Middle Rhine region.
You can take a day trip from Frankfurt, a guided boat tour or perhaps a package combining boat tour with wine testing. The choice is yours!
We travelled to Middle Rhine region in May and the weather was perfect! Cruising on a boat was a great option for us travelling with kids. A combination of train and boat gave a nice overview of the region and allowed spending some time at the towns along the way.
For more travel ideas in Germany read next – One week road trip itinerary in Bavaria