Travel

The Ultimate Visitors Guide to Bacharach on the Rhine

Bacharach is a charming 900 year old town situated a long the most scenic stretch of the Rhine River. Despite its small size, Bacharach has lots of things to see and do. From strolling it’s beautiful streets, lined with half-timbered houses, to hiking the well preserved city wall trail, to dinning in it’s delightful restaurants, there is something for everyone. So, come and spend a day in one of the prettiest towns along the Rhine.

Bacharach lies on the banks of the Rhine in an area called the UNESCO Upper Middle Rhine Valley. This part of the Rhine, which stretches 65 kilometers from Bingen to Koblenz is dotted with riverfront towns, cascading vineyards, and mighty castles. Over 40 castles line the hills along the 65 km stretch of the river, more than any other place in the world! Visiting this area is a must, whether you enjoy it from a boat, car, bicycle or on foot, you won’t be disappointed.

Only 1 hour from Frankfurt, or 2 hours from Cologne, make Bacharach the perfect day trip destination.

Must do List for Bacharach

Stroll though the Streets

Bacharach is quite small, strolling through the cobble stone streets is a perfect way to see this medieval town. As you walk down Oberstraße , one of the main streets in town, keep an eye out for the beautiful Old Cologne Hall and the Altes Haus. The Old Cologne Hall was built by the Cologne Archdiocese Monastery and was where they based their jurisdiction.

The Altes Haus (Old House) is the oldest building in town and now a lovely restaurant, serving traditional regional fair. Its foundation dates back to 1368, but the structure you see today was built in 1586. The Altes Haus is one of the most iconic half-timbered houses along the Rhine!

In the center of the town, you will find the beautiful protestant church, St. Peter’s Kirche. It was built in the early 13th century and is considered one of the greatest architectural examples of the Late Rhenish Romanesque period. The 17 meter tall, red and white tower can be seen throughout the town., towering above the rooftops.

From the Church follow the stone steps up the hill to the Wernerkapelle (Werner Chapel).

The beautiful sandstone Wernerkapelle was built in 1287. In 1689 Burg Stahleck was attacked and bombed mercilessly from the French. The falling debis from the explosions at the castle, pounded the church causing the roof of the chapel to collapse.  The surviving gothic clover-leaf-shaped designs on the walls of the chapel are absolutely gorgeous.

Continue past the chapel, up the many, many stairs to reach the castle and its amazing view of the Rhine Gorge.

Visit Burg Stahleck

Castle Stahleck was built by the archbishops of Cologne in the 12th century. Its job was to protect the town and collected tolls from trade ships which passed by along the Rhine. 

During its eventful history, the castle was attacked numerous times. In 1689 it was so badly destroyed by the attacking French troops, it was never rebuilt. In 1909, the Rhenish Association for Monument Conservation and Landscape Protection acquired the castle and in 1925 opened it a Jugendherberge (youth hostel). Almost 100 years later, the castle is still operating as a youth hostel. Along with the typical bunk beds the hostel as has private rooms fit for a family.

From the courtyard which is open to the public, guests can admire the breathtaking views of the river and surrounding valley. Whilst you are there stop at the cafe, for well deserved break.

Taste the Wine

The Rhine Valley is famous for its white wines, such as Riesling, which make Bacharach a great place to have a glass. If you are in the mood for something a little more refreshing, try a Weiswein Schorle, which is half riesling half bubbly water.

Walk along the Old City Fortifications

If you are up for a longer hike follow the Stadtmauer Rundweg which is a beautiful, intermediate trail that follows the Old City Wall.  The hike is only 2.31 km, but with its steep and rocky sections plan on it taking about 45 mins.

Construction of the Bacharacher City Wall began in 1344. At its completion (~1400), the city wall had 16 watch towers and a wall height of 5-6 meters. Many parts of the wall and 8 of the original watch towers are still standing today, making the Bacharacher fortification one of the best preserved city walls in the Rhineland.

If you aren’t up for the long Stadtmauer Rundweg hike, make sure you at least make it to the Postenturm (Post Tower). It offers incredible views of the Rhine and town.

The tower is open to the public and is an easy uphill walk through the vineyard.

Take a River Cruise

One of the best ways to appreciate the Romantic Rhine Region is to take a relaxing sightseeing cruise. Sit back, order a drink or snack and enjoy the unforgettable views of countless castles, colorful towns and beautiful vineyards.

There are a few different cruises to choose from, I recommend the Bacharach – Rundfahrten KD cruise. The ship starts from Bacharach and stops at four other picturesque towns along the Rhine: Lorch, Assmannshausen, Bingen and Rüdesheim.

The ship leaves Bacharach at 11am, 13:30, 14:00 and 15:00 (Summer 2021). You are able to hop on and off at each of these towns. The last ship to leave Rüdesheim, returning to Bacharach is at 16:15. Here a link to the Updated KD Time Table to help you plan your day. Buy tickets at the dock or online.

How to get to Bacharach 

By Car

Bacharach is about 75 km away from the Frankfurt airport.

Travel times: Frankfurt (55 min), Bonn (1 hr 15 min), Cologne (1 hr 25 min)

By Train

The West Rhine Railway is one of the most beautiful and famous railway lines in Germany. It runs from Cologne to Koblenz via Bonn and from Koblenz to Mainz. Koblenz to Bingen is the most famous section. The trains runs directly along the banks of the river along the UNESCO World Heritage section of the Rhine Valley.

There are direct trains from Koblenz (1 hr), Mainz (32 mins-1hr, depending on the train). From Frankfurt-am-Main with a change over in Mainz (90 min) and Bonn (1hr 40mins).

You can check for more detailed options on the Omio website or mobile app.

Travel Planning Resources

Planning a trip? These are some of my favourite travel planning and booking resources!

  • Tourist Information: located at Oberstrasse 10
  • Hotels.com: The best place to book hotels and hostels
  • Tripadvisor: One of my favorites for booking day tours and tickets!
  • Germany travel books: – My favorite are the DK Eyewitness travel guides
  • Omio: Find time tables and buy tickets all from your phone. Available in English as a website or App
  • Rentalcars.com: Free cancellations on most bookings, world’s biggest car rental booking service, with over 60,000 locations worldwide

Disclaimer: This article does include some affiliated links. This means I receive a very small commission on sales that are placed through these links.  

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