The trip up the river Rhein by boat is an unmissible experience, and one that draws in tourists from miles around. It seems particularly popular with German, British and Japanese tourists, and the landscape around the River Gorge between Bingen and Koblenz is very typical of the Germany that British people think of when theyhear the word. It is an amazing trip, and one that will have your shutter clicking endlessly as you skip from one side of the boat to the other. There are so many sights to see on such a short stretch that you really get your money's worth. The villages are all tightly packed together, there are castles on every bend of the river, and plenty more besides. In addition the rolling vales and precarious cliffs are a wonder in themselves.
If you want to take a look at some of the things you can see between Bingen and St Goar, there are some travelogues here:
Villages of the Rhein Gorge
Sights of the Rhein Gorge
Make sure to remember that the river runs downstream from Mainz to Koblenz, therefore the boats travel much faster in this direction than the other. That means that if you have a short amount of time and want to see as much as possible then take the route downstream. If you want to dawdle and get your money's worth (both trips cost the same) then you'll want to get the upstream boat to soak up the beautiful countryside.
Thank you again to our VT member @abalada for having told me about the Rheinland-Pfalz Ticket, one of the German Ländertickets (regional tickets), which is a fantastic option to explore the whole state of Rheinland-Pfalz. It is available for any day of the week and is valid one day:
Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 a.m. (of next day) and
Saturday & Sunday from midnight to midnight.
As a single ticket it is 21 €. It seems that group tickets are no longer available but tickets for 2, 3, 4, 5 persons at 24, 27, 30 and 33 Euro respectively, status Dec 2010. This ticket is valid not only in the state of Rheinland-Pfalz but also in the western neighbour state of Saarland. The ticket allows to take along your bicycle without additional fee.
It covers only regional trains, and not IC, ICE or EC trains!! But this does not matter because the regional train connections are excellent. Booking this ticket via internet is an additional 3,50 € fee (because it will be sent to your home adress). Buying the ticket at a Deutsche Bahn counter costs an additional 2 € fee. But the ticket machines are eay to operate and present at any train station within the region. They have menus for several European languages and accept credit cards, local bank cards (Cirrus) and cash. So there is no real need to buy this ticket in advance.
In addition, the ticket includes discounts for the ferry St. Goar-St. Goarshausen (to Loreley) and on all KD-line boats (20%). Fort he KD discount it is not necessary that the train ticket is issued on the same day; it only has to prove that the train was used as transport medium to the town where you board the boat.
The local train, TransRegio, is very efficient and quick. I have no photo though, but they are easily detectable by the lettering on the white and yellow cars.
© Ingrid D., December 2010.
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I am sure that this ferry is the busiest on Rhein River, at least when it comes to passengers and cars. It connects both river sides between Bingen and Rüdesheim. The ferry runs every 20 minutes on each side between 5:45 and 21:45 every day. The price list is rather complicated but covers every possible “transported item” (haha, no idea how to describe this otherwise).
Passenger only, no car:
2 Euro per adult for the one way trip, 2,50 Euro for a return trip,
1 Euro per kid for the one way trip, 1,70 Euro for a return trip.
Car and passenger(s):
Car (of normal size and 4 seats) 3,50 Euro,
Per car passenger 1 Euro, per kid car passenger 0,50 Euro,
Cyclist 2 Euro,
Motorbike 2,50 Euro, motorbike plus side car 2,80 Euro.
© Ingrid D., December 2010.
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Bingen is a perfect base to explore the Rhein Valley and ist castles. Two lines operate out of Bingen, but KD Line is the best option for those who want to travel further north than St. Goar (and Loreley rock). But there are several things to consider before you decide which trip you want to do:
1. Decide on the time frame you have for your trip:
If you have time enough and like to be on boats, then you might consider buying a return ticket for your trip. KD’s return tickets are only slightly more than their one-way-tickets. A one way ticket for the distance between Bingen and Boppard is 19,90 € for example while the return ticket for this journey is 21,20 € only (prices of summer schedule 2010). But while the downstream journey takes only 2 hours 20 minutes, the upstream one is 4 hours – a result of Rhein river’s strong current. I did this round trip once and yes it is fascinating, because you can see the castles again but then from a different perspective. But it is only suitable if you have enough time and if you do not plan to visit one or more of the villages along the journey.
2. Decide on the section you want to visit by boat:
Bingen ist the entry point for UNESCO Rhein Valley. In my opinion, the minimum section one should travel by boat is up to St. Goar. It covers a lot of castles and it ist he most scenic part oft he valley. North of St. Goar, the valley is widening up and a little bit of this spectacular feeling is gone. Most oft he times I get off at Boppard, but that are trips where I take my foreign colleagues with me and that’s usually a day trip from where I live.
In any case: plan well if you get off the boat on the right or left side of the river. This depends on where you have your car, where you have your base or how you will continue your journey. For example: you come by car, park in Bingen, board in Bingen, then you should get off the boat on the same river side as Bingen is located: the left side. You also can get off on the right side, but this means that you need to take a ferry back to your “right” or correct side. It might involve a bit of walking back to your car. If you come by train and have your base east of your point of entry on the boat, it does not matter where you get off the boat, because both train lines “back” will stop at either Mainz or Wiesbaden where you can change trains to wherever you are based at. You have to consider though if there is a ferry across the river from where you leave the boat, in case you enter and exit on different sides oft he river.
3. Decide if you want to interrupt your journey (and get back on the boat later):
It is easy to hop off the boat and hop on another KD boat later. You only have to tell the boat staff where you want to get off to make sure that the boat will stop there. The staff might mark your ticket so that you can get on the next boat. You only have to carefully check when the next boat lands to make sure that you won’t miss it. Get off – get on is easy for all the villages on the left and right river bank in case you only want to stroll through the village.
4. Decide on the sightseeing after you got off from the boat:
This is quite easy as well because all of the villages you can get off the boat are very much charming. I personally prefer Boppard because it has a very lovely riverside, it is one of the rare villages at Rhein where the houses are located directly at the river and not behind road or train tracks. Bacherach is another option as well as St. Goar is. St. Goarshausen is maybe not that ideal because it is not much to see there.
5. Combine KD boat tour and train rides:
In case you continue your journey by train, either to go back to your car or your next destination) make sure you know how far it is to the train station and when the train leaves. Trains back to direction Bingen (left side river bank) are every hour and to Rüdesheim (right side river bank) twice per hour, so plan carefully and make sure you set an alarm and don’t forget the time during your sightseeing or lunch. I forgot this during my recent trip and when we were on our way to the train station after sightseeing St. Goar…. We saw our train leaving, haha. So we had to wait another hour and were making a lot of bad silly jokes about that lousy tour guide :-)
Trains on the left side back to Bingen:
Boppard: at xx:08 every hour, arrives in Bingen (Rhein) at xx:54,
St. Goar: at xx:20 every hour, arrives in Bingen (Rhein) at xx:54,
Oberwesel: at xx:27 every hour, arrives in Bingen (Rhein) at xx:54,
Bacharach: at xx:30 every hour, arrives in Bingen (Rhein) at xx:54;
Trains on the right side back to Rüdesheim:
Braubach: at xx:08 and xx:23, arrives in Rüdesheim at xx:54 or xx:09,
Kamp Bornhofen: at xx:19 and xx:34, arrives in Rüdesheim at xx:54 or xx:09,
St. Goarshausen: at xx:30 and xx:54, arrives in Rüdesheim at xx:54 or xx:09,
Kaub: at xx:23 and xx:40, arrives in Rüdesheim at xx:54 or xx:09.
I am forever grateful to our VT member @abalada for having told me the tricks when it comes to buying tickets. First of all, in case you are a group of 10 and more, you get a discount of 10% on KD boats (inform them by phone before you get on the boat). Second: if you are travelling by train, get the Rheinland-Pfalz Ticket and you save as much as 20% on KD boats!!! Thanks again @abalada for this very very helpful tip :-)
(more about this ticket in a separate transport tip).
© Ingrid D., December 2010.
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I turned up at Bingen hoping to catch the 9:30am KD line ferry from Bingen to St Goar - unfortunately it was all booked out and the next one wasn't until 10:30am!
I walked along the pier and found another boat company that also left at 9:30am but was faster and cheaper! They also allowed hop-ons and hop-offs (I recommend a stop off at Bacharach).
When you are on vacation in Bingen, a daycruise on the river Rhine is a MUST ! Plenty of ships of all sizes offer such tours, mostly they will first go to Ruedesheim and then downstream to the Loreley.
Such a cruise offers a lot of views, that you will never get, while driving the road along the river in your own car or by train. A cruise-ship will have the right speed in order to be able to enjoy all castles and sights at both banks of the river. Make sure you buy one of the many maps of the river Rhine, that list all of the names and details of the castles passing by
About 4 km south of Bingen - at Ingelheim - you may cross the river Rhine / Rhein in order to get to Oestich-Winkel by quite a large car-ferry, that might make sense, when you want to escape the trafic-jams of Bingen and Ruedesheim.
This ferry is for small cars only, because at the side of Oestrich-Winkel you have to go under the train-bridge and so this ferry takes cars only untill a hight of 2,20 meters !!
Rheinfaehre Oestrich-Winkel is leaving Ingelheim:
Mon-Fri from 06.15a.m. Sat. 07.15 & Sun 08.15a.m.
last sailing is at 09.15p.m.
In Oestrich-Winkel all ferries start and end
15 minutes before these times,
so the 1st ride is 06.00a.m. etc....
There is a ferry for cars and pedestrians from Bingen to Ruedesheim, as the next bridge over the Rhine is in Mainz ( 50km upstream) or in Koblenz ( more than 100 km downstream)
This ferry runs almost all day , and we did not have to wait a long time before it strated to go across the river.
It is a hard job for the captain of such a ferry to find out the right moment for the crossing, as there are plenty of small and big ships going up and down the Rhine - almost like on a highway...
On my link below you may see the time-table of the ferries between Bingen and Ruedesheim !
Okay, so Bingen is a pretty small town. It doesn't have the public bus availablity that other larger German towns do. You can walk anywhere, though, but bring comfortable shoes because Bingen is kind of bumpy and there's lots of hills. I wouldn't really suggest biking here, either, as I tried it and nearly got run over. Plus, with all the ups and downs it's really not worth it. There's a train station to take you to other towns that's also super convenient.
Bingen is the main hub for trains from Mainz, and for those passing through on their way to Koblenz and beyond. There are slow regional trains that take about 30 minutes, and faster IC/ICE trains that take about 15 minutes, but cost a little more. I took the fast one by mistake, and nobody checked. One thing to note is that Bingen has two stations: Bingen (Stadt) and Bingen (Hbf). You want the Hbf one if you want to walk around the centre or take a ship down the Rhein. My train stopped at the Stadt station, but wouldn't open the doors causing me to panic and think I was going to get locked in all the way to Koblenz, but it was just a joke and they let me out at the next stop.
There is a good website on the bus connections to and from Bingen.
For train connections choose
There are 2 cities named Bingen in Germany, choose the Bingen am Rhein.
From Bingen you can have the best cruise on the famous historical heritage on the river Rhein.
The "Bingen-Rüdesheimer-Fahrgastschiffahrt" is very comfortable. You will go by modern boats up to Koblenz, if you like. From Bingen on, there is the most beautiul part of the whole river Rhein. Lot`s of tourist have seen the famous castles, the tremendous nature and find some interesting informations about the history of this area.
A cruise from Bringen to the famous Loreley Felsen (name of the town is St. Goar)
Euro 13,50 per person return ticket
During the summertine they tour 3 times a day from Bingen to St. Goar
9.30 h, 11.15 h, 14.15 h
From Goar back to Bingen
10.55 h, 14.00 h, 16.00
You can have a stay at St. Goárshausen for a tour to the Castle Burg St. Goar and take the next boat back to Bingen. Or you can have a midday break at one of the tourist restaurants (I would prefer the Castle)
For exact daily informations check the webside or give them a quick call. You can buy tickets in advance.
In summertimes there are a lot of people taking the boat up to St. Goar. But if you are early enough and quick in boarding, you will get a place at the deck. Choose on at the back, the view is more fantastic.
Don`t forget your camera, you will have unique impressions! Buy a plan of the river Rhein castles before you enter the boat, its cheaper than on the boat and really worth it.
Have a great time!