The trip up the river Rhein by boat is an unmissable 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 the hear 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.
St Goar is on the main line from Mainz to Koblenz, but unfortunately the only trains coming out this far are the slug like Regional Bahns. That means a trip to Mainz takes over an hour, although the less distant Koblenz is only 30 minutes away. The station is a sight in itself, though. A typically rural station made out of local stone and built into the side of the river bank. Be careful to have small change for the ticket machine if you haven't got a ticket, because this far out the damn thing doesn't get filled very often. The German guy who asked me for help was lucky my German has advanced enough that I can understand when someone is asking for change for a fiver!
Whether driving, cycling or walking, you can cross the Rhein at St. Goar over to St. Goarhausen (or vice versa). On either side, follow the signs to the ferry and pull up in line until the ferry allows you to board. You will be directed where to line up on the ferry. Once the boat starts to cross, someone will come to your car and ask you to pay the fee based on what kind (if any) of vehicle and number of people.
The crossing only takes a few minutes. You can get out of your vehicle and go to the side of the ferry to take photos if you want.
This is one of the main reasons you came to this area right? To ride the Rhein! Or was it to drink the wine?
The dock to board the ship can't be missed. Just make sure you look for the Koeln-Dusseldorfer sign. (KD) There are some private cruise lines, and you wouldn't want to pay extra!
The boat moves along slowly, chugging along castle by castle by castle. There is running commentary, but if you are on the top deck, you won't hear it. Bring along your own little guidebook. You can pick up one in town before boarding. There is a snack cafe on board, with outrageous prices, as only those desperate for a drink/snack will pay. If you're a snacker, you'd be better off bringing along your own.
It took about 3 hours (10.20 to 1.15) for us to go from St. Goar to Ruedesheim. After wining, dining, and visiting Ruedesheim, we opted for a much quicker ride home. We took the train from Rudesheim to St. Goarhausen and ferried across the Rhein to St. Goar.
Take "Castle-Express" (a miniature train) to go to the Rheinefels castle. Its an easy way. The "train" goes from Marktplatz - end of the main street and near the Rhine riverside - to Rheinfels Castle Carpark
There are miles and miles of bicycle paths along the Rhein. A large number of serious bicycling enthusiasts passed through St. Goar each day. What if you are not a serial cyclist, but would enjoy a little mosey by the Rhein? You can hire a bike for the day! Well, not in St. Goar, but in either neighboring Bacharach or Oberwesel, either of which you can reach in a few minutes train ride.
bicycle hire in Oberwesel:
phone: 0 67 44/3 36
bicycle hire in Bacharach:
phone: 0 67 43/91 94 03
If you want to get from one side of the Rhein to the other, you can get across by taking a car ferry. Just walk on board the pedestrian entrance. A one way fare when we were there, was 1 euro 30 cents. The ticket clerk will approach you as you get on board. To see the hours of operation,which vary with the season, visit the website I've listed below.
To see a more complete list of ferries, visit:
The train station to catch the trains that will take you riding up and down the Rhein (this side) is located on Oberstrasse. The quiet Oberstrasse is one street over (away from river) from busy Heerstrasse. The station is small and holds no personal staff. Tickets can be bought on the train platform from a vending machine.
If you want to go to a town on the other side of the Rhein, first you will neet to take the ferryboat over to St. Goarhausen and go to that town's train station.
There's a ferry (for people and cars) between St Goar and St Goarshausen. Considering that there are no bridges in this area that allow you to cross the Rhein river (the next ones are in Koblenz or in Mainz/Wiesbaden), this is really helpfull! There are always discussions about building bridges there in the Rhein valley, but as this region is UNESCO world heritage this is not so easy.
The ferry drives between 6:00 and 21:00 (in summer until 23:00), on Sundays and holidays it starts only at 8:00. During this time of the year, the ferry goes every 20 minutes, maybe it's more often during peak times.
We paid 4 Euro for one car and two persons, pedestrians will have to pay 1,30 Euro for a single-trip. You pay on the ferry.
Please check their homepage for the current schedule and prices.
There are many ways to get to St. Goar first and the most convenient is by car, just because you have your own schedule, can move at your own pace, and stop anyway you want to take another picture for VT. The other way is by train. I’d do it moving from village to village along the valley, but if you’re going to cover a long distance then it may cost a lot of money, since German trains are not cheap. The third way is by boat, the most romantic and probably interesting, but I haven’t experience it, yet. I was in St. Goar in late October, not many tourists where visiting and therefore there was no parking problem. But I can imagine that on a hot summer weekend parking a car can become a nightmare.
Burg Express train is ridiculously touristy and almost unattractive, but there is one advantage, if you don’t fell like walking up the hill to see the castle Rheinfels this is your best way to get there fast, dry (in case it’s raining, as always), cheap, and have some views on the way up hill. This amusing train awaits you just a few meters from the tourist info office and right by the Zun Golded Lowen hotel and restaurant, on the main street of St. Goar. It doesn’t operate frequently during the winter days, but in the summer it runs at least every 30 minutes.
Did you think it would be boring to be a captain on a ferry crossing a short river stretch 4 times every hour in each direction? Think again. Pilots on long distance airplanes have their most exciting moments when they start and land. These guys start and land 8 times every hour!
From a spectators view, the ferry crossing is like a ballet performance, a" pas de deux"; Father Rhine grips a firm hold of his partner the ferry Lorelei and tries to force her to go downstream. But she has her own, strong will, and wants to go across his strong current. All the time while 300 ships a day pass by on their way up or down the river, people play along on jetskis or speedboats. Thus it is sometimes a "pas de trois or quatre". When she safely gets to the other side, the ferry throws in her thruster and turns 180 degrees on the spot, to let the cars out in their right direction.
I could have sat for hours at my viewpoint in the castle, watching this artistic performance. Not two crossings are alike. Beeing a passenger was a delight, too, seeing both St. Goar, St. Goarshausen and the castles from different perspectives. And the price was only 1,3 Euros :-) The ferry runs every 15 minutes, tickets are bought on board
All of Germany is an eldorado for us train freaks. Just take a look at the .pdf maps of long distance and short distance routes!
In Sankt Goar you can admire them on both sides of the river. But the only one that stops there is the local train between Koblenz and Mainz, once every hour in each direction. This is the one I took, the price from Bingen Haubtbahnhof was EURO 4.60 one way (summer 2006). Thanks to antistar's tip I had small change ready for the vendor machine :-) What is new, I guess, is that it is also possible to pay the ticket with credit card. It wasn't easy for a foreigner to understand how the machine worked. A young women / fellow passanger was waiting patiently behind me, I thought she was waiting for me to finish. Only later did I realize she was waiting to see whether I needed help! :-)
In St Goarshausen, only a short ferry trip across the Rhein, both the local and the regional trains between Koblenz and Wiesbaden / Frankfurt have regular stops. And from there, and Mainz, you can get connections to the rest of the great german railway network, and to the rest of Europe :-)
There is no train from Frankfurt-Hahn to Sankt Goar. I found out that there is a shuttle bus to Bingen, though, from where I could take a local train. There are only three buses daily, and I was a little to late for the 15:40 departure. The next one was at 20:15. * Hm, long wait, what do I do now? * I decided to go to the bus terminal to check out other possibilities. It was not easy to find, kind of hidden behind a parking house: Turn right when you go out from the terminal building and walk straight ahead until you see the bus terminal on the right hand side.
Reading the signposts on the bus stops I managed to find out that Simmern is on the way to Bingen. So I waited for the first bus to Simmern, and asked the driver whether I could get another bus from there to Bingen. And guess what: The same bus went on to Bingen after a short stop! It just changed line number. It took a little longer and cost a little more. But I got a cheap sightseeing and something to do rather than sit at the airport. And I DID get earlier to Sankt Goar than I would, had I waited for the direct bus.
Cost: Via Simmern: EUR 10.50, directly: 8.90.
Note 1: I have in my possesion two printed schedules which show different departure times, and neither of them is consistent with the schedule on the web page. This tells me the schedules change often, and that it is wise to check the webpage immediately before departure.
Note 2: It is best to get off the bus at the main railway station, Bingen Hauptbahnhof, and not in town: When the bus gets down into the valley, it turns left into a dead end road and stops right in front of the train station.
No, not the poet, scientist etc.. The paddlewheel steamer Goethe! You can travel with her from Köln or Mainz to St. Goar, or go for a sightseeing on the Rhein.
The ship has quite a history: Built in 1913 in Werft Gebrüder Sachsenberg in Köln-Deutz as a combined cargo and passanger ship, rebuilt 1925 to a doubledecker, sunk by allied bombs in 1945, rebuilt from scratch but with the old engine in 1952, taken out of service in 1989, rebuilt again in 1995 / 1996 and put back into service on Goethe's 247th birthday 28 August 1996.
Dampfer Goethe frequents St. Goar twice daily from april to october, as one of Köln-Düsseldorfer's tourist ships on the Rhine. I got most fascinated by the paddlewheels and the engine, which can be admired through (plexi)glass windows :-) There is a wall with old pictures and a short summary of the ship's history, and a ship model.
On the linked page you can find the technical and service related specifications.
Price for the sightseeing trip St. Goar - Rüdesheim and back: EUR 17.30 / 1.50 extra to go with the steamer. It is absolutely worth it!