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  • Typical Mainz street signs
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    Best time for a visit in Palatinate

    by Trekki Updated Aug 5, 2013

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    Favorite thing: Rheinland Pfalz and especially Palatinate is beautiful all year round. However, this is no secret to the many fans of this part of Germany, so it can get quite crowded in summer and autumn. But nevertheless, autumn and spring are the most beautiful seasons in my opinion. Spring, as due to the mild climate, the region is exploding with tree blossoms (almond trees, apples) and spring flowers. And autumn… oh well, this is a feast for the eyes and soul, colourful leaves and very delicious autumn meals during the wine festivals.

    One tip: if you plan to come for a visit in summer, you might consider to book a room in one of the smaller villages. Chances are good that these are not completely overbooked like it would be the case for Neustadt, Bad Dürkheim, Wachenheim or Weisenheim (the ones along the Weinstraße). And most probably the room rates are a bit more decent. Public transport is very good, so even without a car you can get around with busses and local trains. And: taking in this magnificent atmosphere is definitely easier in the smaller villages.

    Winter is also a nice time to visit, even if during the last years there wasn’t much snow (except the 2008/2009 winter). The region is prepared for winter guests and offers all kind of wellness activities in the many spas. Add to this some of the most charming German Christmas Markets, as the one in Deidesheim for example, you will definitely not get bored in winter.

    © Ingrid D., October 2008 (So please do not copy my text or photos without my permission.), update April 2009: photo exchange, text revamp.

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    Steep vineyards,guarantee for excellent wine

    by Trekki Updated Aug 5, 2013

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    Favorite thing: During boat trips along Rheinland-Pfalz’ rivers it becomes obvious how steep some vinyards are. The steepest of all is said to be the Calmont at Moselle river (near Moselle loop) with 68 degrees. But also along Rhein river you’ll see many very steep ones and I always wonder how much of a hard effort harvesting the grapes is for the vintners. They can’t use machines, so everything must be picked by hand. These vinyards are almost always facing south, so they get the most out of sun on sunny days.
    My photos are of vineyards between Lorch and Loreley along Rhein river, so not of the famous one at Moselle. But they should give some ideas as of how steep they can get.

    © Ingrid D., October 2008 (So please do not copy my text or photos without my permission.), update April 2009: photo exchange, text revamp.

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    Don't miss the wine festivals

    by Trekki Updated Aug 5, 2013

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    Favorite thing: I am not sure if this might better belong to the local customs or restaurant section - well, now I add it here.

    By now, you all might have guessed that Palatinaters are very much into celebrating their wine, the world and the dishes. This means that every month a festival is taking place along the Weinstraße.
    You can check the Pfalz' website for details about wine festivals:
    Wine festivals in Palatinate.
    Unfortunately in German only. The other website is gone :-(

    Fondest memory: Anything with "Wein" is a wine festival (often also called Weinkerwe = wine fun fair), but there is more. They have celebrations of May (Maifest) and spring (Frühlingsfest), or asparagus (Spargelfest). Bauernmarkt stands for farmers market.

    The most famous of all is certainly the so-called Wurstmarkt in Bad Dürkheim, literally translated into sausage market. But it is a wine festival, for sure.
    This is the link to Bad Dürkheim's Wurstmarkt (or Worschtmarkt, as locals would say):
    Bad Dürkheim, Wurstmarkt.
    I almost fell from my chair from laughing when I opened this site, as - typical Palatinate - not even the "go" button is indicated in German (where it should be Suche or something similar), but in Palatine language - hopp stands for "go", it derives from allez hopp, or let's go - one of the many words which have their origin in the French history of this part of the world.

    Allez hopp - go to one of the wine festivals !! You will be thrilled!!

    Oh, and for Richie and Doreen: there is a slight possibility that also beer is served here. But better go for wine, you will like it :-)

    © Ingrid D., February 2008 (So please do not copy my text or photos without my permission.), last update March 2011: website exchange.

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    Pfalz or Palatinate – the name’s origin

    by Trekki Updated Aug 5, 2013

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    Favorite thing: Often I get questions of what the name Palatinate stands for. It derives from the Latin word palatiam (palace), in German Pfalz, that’s how castles were called which had been built as temporarily seats of power or residences for the emperors of Holy Roman Empire. These days, the emperors didn’t live in palaces permanently but had to travel around within their empire, from kingdom to kingdom. These castles or Pfalzen (1 Pfalz, more than 1 = Pfalzen, haha, I think…) usually consisted of one or more appropriate manors, big enough to host the king and his staff, and a church or chapel. Depending on size and historical relevance of the respective kingdom, some Pfalzen expanded to quite big residences. Wikipedia has a list of Pfalzen, but only in the German version. Well, but the names/cities are easily to recognize.

    Among these Pfalzen, Kur-Pfalz even had a higher importance, as elections have been held here during Holy Roman Empire age. In this case, Kur has nothing to do with cure (as in health care), but derives from the ancient German word for election: kur or kure, which meant elections.
    The Kurpfalz is still exisiting today – it is a region belonging to the states of Rheinland-Pfalz and Baden-Württemberg, along Rhine river. It stretches out from as far as Bensheim in the north to Bruchsal in the south and from Pfälzer Wald (Palatinate Forest) in the west to Neckar river in the east. A nice website shows all interesting villages and cities of Kurpfalz, unfortunately in German only. It also has a map for trip planning.

    Fondest memory: Now to make things even more complicated, a lot of “things” around Kurpfalz have adopted the name Pfalz or use it as a suffix or prefix. It stands for the Pfalz Wine – of course, wine is Palatinate’s life giving liquid since more than 2000 years (yes, two thousand), it still stands for the often remaining and renovated castles.
    Liselotte von der Pfalz was a famous countess of 17th century, who was married to a brother of France’s Sun King Louis XIV, and the early death of her brother lead to horrible devastations of Palatinate villages during the War of the Great Alliance, when Louis XIV decided to ignore the marriage contract. Among many villages, Heidelbern and Speyer were destroyed these days.
    And last but not least, some of you might have heard of the famous Pfalz bei Kaup (full name is Burg Pfalzgrafenstein) in Rhine river – this is also one of these castles where the emperors were staying from time to time.
    FYI: if you search Pfalz here in VT, only this Pfalz bei Kaup will appear.

    © Ingrid D., November 2007 (So please do not copy my text or photos without my permission.), last update March 2011: Kurpfalz map exchanged.

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    Rheinland-Pfalz – regions and diversity

    by Trekki Updated Aug 5, 2013

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    Favorite thing: The incredible diversity, Rheinland-Pfalz offers to the visitors lies in its 9 regions, each one is very much characerised through its landscape or better through the rivers which have shaped the landscape. Rhein river, the most prominent one, is responsible for the very much fertile lowlands in Palatinate, which, in addition to the wine, makes it something like the vegetable supermarket for the region. The other rivers, Nahe, Moselle and Ahr (left or western side) and Lahn (right or eastern side) have formed fertile valleys which are also very famous for their wine. Add to this the mountains and forests of Eifel, Hunsrück, Westerwald, parts of Taunus and Pfälzerwald and you have the perfect combination of scenic landscape and farmland for gorgeous travel and delicious food. In addition to this all, Rheinland-Pfalz has the highest density of castles and fortresses, around 400 to be precise. And for the lovers of UNESCO sites, you can visit 4 (Speyer, Trier, Rhein valley and Limes), which makes Rheinland-Pfalz together with Nordrhein-Westfalen (Northrhine-Westphalia) and Thüringen (Thuringa) the states with the highest amount of UNESCO sites.

    The regions are:
    Pfalz (Palatinate):
    Palatinate’s lowlands have a very mild almost mediterrean climate which results in this enormous variety of farm products. In March, almond tree blossom in a pink festival, in summer, you can pick figs from the trees or buy locally grown kiwis at the markets. Palatinate is full with old historical wine villages and at every corner, local delicious dishes are served. And wine of course.
    Palatinate Forest occupies the western part of this region and is a paradise for hikers and lovers of old fortresses.

    Rheinhessen (Rhine-Hesse):
    This region does not have huge forests, but is more hilly. It is full of fascinating big cities like Worms, Mainz and Alzey and also famous for wine and delicious food. And with Bingen it is the starting point for boat trips into the Romantic Rhein river part.

    Romantischer Rhein (Romantic Rhine):
    What can I say about the famous romantic Rhein valley that hasn’t been said already during the last 200 years? It is the part of the river under UNESCO protection, maybe one of the most visited parts in Germany. And it has a very high density of old castles on the surrounding hills.

    Nahe:
    This is the part along Nahe river, a tributary of Rhein river and also famous for its excellent fruity wines. It is also here where Idar-Oberstein can be visited, the town famous for its gemstones and Bad Kreuznach, a little town with very picturesque bridge houses. This town, together with Bad Münster am Stein and Bad Sobernheim make it also a popular wellness region in Rheinland-Pfalz (remember, the prefix “Bad” for towns stands for spa).

    Eifel:
    Eifel is our „volcano“ region. No, don’t worry, vulcanos won’t erupt, they are overgrown with forests by now, but the vulcanic history is still very much present. Near Dahn for example are 3 perfectly round maars and sometimes carbon dioxide still emerges to the surface (see Andernach geyser in the to-do section). Many mineral water springs are here, Gerolstein for example, which you might recognise on the labels of water bottles. For the lovers of Formula 1 racing, Nürburgring is here as well.

    Moselle:
    It is said that Moselle river is one of the most beautiful one in terms of riverbed course and surrounding landscape. If you look at the map, it is indeed a very winding one which is quite steep at times. Some of the steepest vineyards are here (60° gradient). And many villages and towns are very old, already Romans have settled here, like in Trier. It is the region of many beautiful castles like Burg Eltz and has some of the cutest wine villages like Bernkastel-Kues. Navigating the river is possible, many options are offered.

    Ahr:
    I think, Ahr region is one of the hidden secrets in Rheinland-Pfalz. It is a tiny region around river Ahr, south of Bonn. And similar as Nahe, Mosel and Rhein, the Ahr valley is famous for its wine. But here you find more red than white wine. Due to the proximity to the southern Eifel, it also has a lot of thermal springs for all kind of wellness activities.

    Hunsrück:
    Similar like Palatinate’s forest, Hunsrück is a paradise for hikers. Maybe you’ve heard of the famous Schinderhannes, a bandit who was ransacking in Hunsrück in 18th century. Then you have roughly an idea of how much of a rather wild and forestry area this is, perfect places for hiding : -). Many mills still stand here and very dreamily villages invite for a visit.

    Westerwald:
    This is the only Rheinland-Pfalz region which is located north of Rhein river. It is also famous for hiking and has a long tradition in fantastic ceramics. Here in VT, our Victor likes this region very much, so make sure you read what he wrote about Westerwald and especially Hachenburg, one of these lovely and very typical half-timbered houses village in this region.

    An excellent website for more detailed information via a clickable map is the following: Romantic Germany by Rheinland-Pfalz tourist board (click on the map and the interactive one will open).

    Or, have a look at another excellent website by Frankfurt-Hahn Airport responsibles, with loads of information, videos and downloadable material: Travel guide Rheinland Pfalz (Rhineland Palatinate). Especially interesting is their video section, just below bullet point no 3: short videos about all nine regions in this most beautiful state of Germany :-)

    © Ingrid D., October 2008 (So please do not copy my text or photos without my permission.), update March 2011: website exchange.

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    Pumpjacks? Oilfields? Texas? No, Palatinate!

    by Trekki Updated Mar 6, 2011

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    Favorite thing: In Palatinate’s south near Landau, or near Nußdorf to be precise, you will see something you would rather believe to see in Texas or other typical oil output countries: pumpjacks, slowly making their typical nod. Well, there is an oil field near Landau with around 30 exploration pumps in operation at 110 tons per day. It is not much compared to the big oil countries, however. The pumps are operated by BASF’s Wintershall.

    Fondest memory: Landau Oil Operation

    Location of the pumpjacks near Nußdorf on Google Maps

    © Ingrid D., January 2009, update March 2011: link to Google Map added.

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    Excellent website with short movies

    by Trekki Updated Mar 6, 2011

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    Favorite thing: Rather than blowing up my tip with unnecessary text, I let the videos speak for themselves :-)

    This website has an amazing amout of short videos about almost every aspect of Palatinate:
    Pfalz Bewegt (= Palatinate moves). The movies are available in English (and well spoken English!). Although the navigation tabs are not yet translated. Here is the meaning:
    Pfalz = Palatinate,
    Rhein-Pfalz: Rhein river Palatinate,
    Wein-Pfalz wine Palatinate,
    Wald-Pfalz: forest Palatinate,
    Berg-Pfalz: hilly Palatinate.

    Amazing!!!

    © Ingrid D., March 2011.

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  • Kathrin_E's Profile Photo

    Wine Tasting: Some General Hints

    by Kathrin_E Updated Jun 22, 2008

    Favorite thing: Tasting the wines is an obvious wish if someone visits a wine region. The ways of handling wine tastings differ widely from winery to winery, and sometimes it is not easy to find a suitable place. Here are some general hints:

    Some wineries have shops, type "open cellar door", where you can taste and buy wine. The tasting is usually free but they will want/wish/expect you to buy something.
    If they offer a tasting for a small fee it's okay to leave without buying.

    Wine shops that offer wine tastings can be found in all the wine towns and (larger) villages, usually along the main street.

    If in doubt, contact the local tourist office and ask for recommendations and addresses.

    The size and prettyness of the wine tasting room or cellar does not necessarily indicate good quality. The large places that also take bus groups usually aren't the best, to put it carefully.

    Restaurants in wine places serve local wines and know the stuff they serve. A great way to taste wines with a fine dinner. Ask for wine tasting arrangements - some do things like "taste 5 wines for xx €".
    Some winery owners also run a restaurant or hotel where they serve their own wines.

    The upscale, high class wineries are often like locked fortresses. Here an appointment is essential, if you get one at all.

    Experts: If you plan to visit a particular winery, contact them first and make an appointment with the winemaker.

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    Schengen Visas

    by MikeAtSea Written Nov 8, 2006

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    Favorite thing: I still remember the old days when one needed a visa for every single European country. That is of course if you have a nationality that is not really favoured in Europe for free entry and travel.
    Today it is a lot easier, okay not getting the visa since some Consulates and Embassies require personal interviews, however once you have the Schengen Visa one can freely enter and travel between the following countries: Iceland, Denmark, Sweden, Finnland, Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium, Luxemburg, France, Spain, Portugal, Austria, Greece and Italy.
    If you for instance travel to Germany and then wish to visit Switzerland make sure you have a multiple entry visa, since some countries are not part of the Schengen agreement yet. This includes Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland and all EU countries of the former Eastern block. Some of the newer European Union countries from the “East” may enter this agreement in the near future.

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    Rhineland-Palatinate Card

    by MikeAtSea Written Oct 16, 2006

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    Favorite thing: This all-inclusive card gives free admission to more than 90 attractions and places of interest in Rhineland-Palatinate. When you buy a card, you also receive a free copy of the attractive and clearly laid-out Marco Polo travel guide to Rhineland-Palatinate, which lists all the attractions and the tourist regions of the state.
    Besides the ever-popular Holiday Park in Hassloch, you can also visit the famous Nürburgring with its huge multimedia, interactive exhibition ("Erlebniswelt Nürburgring"), Sea Life Speyer, the Kurpfalz wildlife park in Wachenheim, a variety of castles and palaces and a wide range of museums. The card also entitles you to €10 off the price of a riverboat cruise on the Rhine and Moselle with any one of six cruise operators, including the KD line.
    There are three different cards for different lengths of stay. For just €46, visitors can visit any of the listed attractions and leisure facilities on any three days within a ten day period. The six-day card for €68 is valid for the whole season and also includes the SWR CultureCard, which gives discounted admission to lots of different events. The two-day card costs €29 but does not include free admission to the Holiday Park, and can only be used for a limited number of river cruises.

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    the Eifel Region

    by pepples46 Updated Sep 2, 2006

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    Favorite thing: where my roots are..this part of Germany, has seen many comings and goings. the Celts before the Romans.....the Prussians and the Hesse..then Napoleon had his eye on this part..when he was gone, the Prussians where back, then the French again....and 1946, accidently:-) I was born too....and then Rheinland-Pfalz was proclaimed as one of the 11 States in Germany, the Saarland was still under French military Goverment

    Fondest memory: I grew up in this beautiful area around the Laacher See...Lake Maria Laach....Agriculture and Wine region,people are very hearty and strongly believe in a good day's work and the rewards will come. Friends and Neighbour's seen as treasure, not be taken for granted.when a hand was needed, there was always someone willing to give one.
    not far from Koblenz, just 30km, through a very charming contryside..read on at my Maria Laach page

    Maria Laach

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    The Bridge at Remagen

    by hquittner Written Jul 4, 2006

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    Favorite thing: The Remagen Bridge was a railroad bridge built in 1916-18 due to insights the German military developed anout sustaining Worl War I and future military supply needs. In its massive support towers it included demolition chambers which the French fulled with cen=ment after that war.The town and bridge were bombed heavily during the Allied invasion in Normandy but this was discontinued after January 1945 because of the difficulty in hitting it (and the rapid repairs of damage) plus the devasting loss of planes plus the bad flying weather. Rapid Alled advances in the are led to the capture of the bridge intact and the crossing of the Rhine on March7, 1945, before the Germans on the ground could destroy it. Immediate shelling by the Germans occurred (including some of the first guided missiles and giant howitzers.The minor damages were repaired but the vibrations of the near misses and the heavy traffic vibrations took its toll .Traffic was diverted to 3 pontoon bridges that had been built, on March12. The bridge collapsed suddenly while under repair on March 17, killing 28 engineers at work on it.(Ultimately the Rhine was crossed at 23 sites over the next month). The story of the bridge and other related information(such as the inadequacy of the the internment camps for the unexpected number of local military captures and the lack of support for the civilian population) are developed in the museum as an eloquent essay on the other horrors of war. Literature is for sale.

    Fondest memory: Out the windows of the museum are splendid views of the Rhine and its traffic. They are in stark contrast to the contents of the museum.

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    Gonsenheim forest and Mainz-Finthen

    by elgin99 Written May 23, 2006

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    Favorite thing: Off the beaten path or general? No eaysy decide. But for me it was at last important and general experience. When you come to Mainz then should you visit that part of town.
    The Gonsenheimwald (Gonsenheim forest) lies in the quarter of Mainz Finthen. Why he is not called Finthen forest, nobody probably knows. It is fantastic therein. Many old and large trees, numerous wild flowers and flowering wild cherries.

    On the walk you arrive later the seven lakes, a romantic place, and still later orchards. Cherries, plums, apples, berrybushes and asparagus fields so far the eye looking. Despite an culture landscape as cultivation area it is evenly a delightful natural landscape. All this belonges to the Rhine country and constitutes the special charm.

    There are many of such cultivated areas at Rhine, and all have such an attraction.

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    Open heart and lot of time

    by elgin99 Written May 23, 2006

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    Favorite thing: A single activity? That is impossible in Rhine region. All of this would give you a fondest memory.
    But what I want say is that: take lot of time and an open heart when you will travel to Rhine river region. Want not only visit somewhat, please, want visit the whole area. Then it will get an unique memory.

    Fondest memory: Why is it so beautiful at Rhine....? One knows if one were there. But you can not give an answer with few words. It is the sum of everything. The river, the vineyards, the castles, ruins and palaces, the churches, people, the mild climate, the colors, flowers, trees and naturally the good meal and the fantastic wine.
    Everything together touch your heart. So much that you would like to come again and again here... and will come.
    And that means not only Rhine-Palatinate, it means also the region of Rheingau in Hesse.

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    Castles

    by pepples46 Written Nov 4, 2005

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    Favorite thing: along the River Rhein and Mosel you find Castles in Abundance. take a rail trip along the rivers or selfdrive on good roads.
    when you are in Koblenz already, take a daytrip down the Mosel Valley and visit Burg Eltz

    Fondest memory: Burg Eltz is my favorite and when you have a look at their webpage, you might agree. looks like Neuschwanstein, King Ludwigs great Castle in Bavaria.
    course everything is in the eye of the beholder.
    Burg Eltz is much older, building started in the 9-10th century, was never destroyed and always in von Eltz Family hands.
    have a look at the webpage and tell me what you think

    BURG ELTZ

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