As the biggest city in the Rhine Valley, the gothic city of Mainz should be at the top of your ‘to-do’ list. Smacked right in the middle of the Rhine region, Mainz is an ideal spot from which to explore the whole valley. But don’t run away too quickly: full of beautiful old cathedrals, this historic city is jam-packed with so much to see and do. Our pick for squeezing the most out of this stunning city? Explore some of its incredible museums and attractions. Mainz has a rich heritage that goes way back to the Roman times. You can find exhibits that reveal the story of this era in the Roman-Germanic Central Museum, as well as the Museum of Ancient Navigation. Be amazed at the full-scale replicas of Roman galleons that you’ll find here.
Reconnect with the nature at the Palatinate Forest
Go right into the greenery of the Rhine Valley and explore the Palatinate Forest. This upland region on the left bank of the Upper Rhine covers an area of 1,770 sq km, and is one of the largest forests in Germany. With its many parklands and trails, the Palatinate Forest is an awesome place to go hiking and cycling. Let your feet take you to see many of the sights of the forest, including the little town of Wachenheim, known for its grape-growing traditions and old world charm. Here you can also check out the Wachtenburg Castle, before making your way to the Kurpfalz-Park to go tobogganing. Reconnect with your spirit of adventure at the Palatinate Forest.
Visit Braubach and Marksburg Castle
The Rhine Valley is littered with quaint towns and amazing castles, but one of our favorite spots would have to be Braubach. In the heart of the UNESCO World Heritage section of the Rhine Valley, this picturesque town is considered one of the prettiest. Stroll down its cobblestoned streets to see the medieval half-timbered buildings so characteristic of the region. Once you’re done exploring the town center, head up the hill to Marksburg Castle. Built in 1117, take some time to climb the chapel tower, pose with old canons and explore the castle grounds.
Learn about Boppard's Roman Legacy
While you probably didn’t expect to learn about the Romans in Germany, the Rhine Valley was actually an important area of the ancient Roman empire. Check out the town of Boppard to see one of the best archaeological finds of the region, as well as learn about why the Romans were here in the first place. The Roman Castrum found in Boppard is a Roman fort that was built in 360 A.D. Thought to be a Roman military camp, this spot is considered one of the best-preserved late-antiquity fortresses in Europe. In its heyday, this once-massive structure covered an area of 12 acres. Be amazed by the nine-meter high walls that still remain.
Drink wine in Moselle Wine Country
Being located right on the Rhine River, surrounded by slopping valleys and its cool climate gives the region some of the best conditions for making wine. It’s only right to spend some time learning and savoring the many offerings of this awesome place. We suggest heading for Moselle Wine Country, spanning across France, Luxembourg and Germany along the Moselle River. Producing mostly white varieties, try the world-famous Riesling at Weingut Dr. Loosen, while drinking in the view of this divine chateau and vineyard. Continue your DIY tour by visiting winemaker J. Koll & Cie.’s barrel room. Wherever you find a drop in Moselle Wine Country, you know it’ll be a good one.
Things to do in Rhine Valley
Rhine in Flames
Fireworks & Culture
Held over five days in August, the Rhine in Flames festival is Europe's biggest river parade. As some 75 ships glide down the river past romantic villages, fortresses and Rhine Valley castles, the river banks are lit up by Bengal torches and a huge fireworks display.
Wine and Bridge Festival, Trittenheim
Wine & Culture
Every year, the local wine growers around the Moselle River region gather to celebrate another year of wine production. Taking place between the two bridges of the town of Trittenheim, this festival features wine tastings, food and other cultural festivities. This festival usually occurs in May.
Rhine Valley Music Festival, Cologne
One of the first festivals to kick off the summer season, the Rhine Valley Music Festival takes place in June in the German city of Cologne. With classical musical performances that span multiple genres from the Renaissance to the modern era, check out one of these nine performances across the city.
‘Mittelrhein-Momente’ culinary events
Food & Wine
Mittelrhein Momente brings together top wine makers and award-winning chefs to create special culinary cruises along the rivers of the Upper Middle Rhine. Jump aboard the catamaran MS RheinEnergie for a five-hour experience that lets you slow down, relax and drink up the views of the valley along with some of its best wines and local produce. Mittelrhein Momente happens year-round – you just have to book in advance.
Middle Rhine Music Festival
The Middle Rhine Music Festival is a celebration of music that happens every August. Its program is packed with performances in both outdoor and indoor venues, spanning different genres from classical music to jazz. Catch a performance in venues across Koblenz and Mainz.
Top 5 Festivals in Rhine Valley
The unique culture and beauty of the Rhine Valley comes to life at one of its many festivals. From cruises to wine shows and many a musical performance, explore the best of the Valley at one of these festivals and events. Here are our top five picks.
The Three-Countries Museum
Located in Lörrach, Germany, visit the the Three-Countries Museum for a detailed overview of the history and politics of the Upper Rhine Valley. Named for its inclusion of German, French and Swiss regions and stories, this interactive museum is best explored though audio tour.
Middle Rhine Museum
Located in the city of Koblenz, the Middle Rhine Museum houses a collection of regional art and historical artefacts of the Rhine Valley. Get a sense of what life was once like in this part of the world through medieval sculptures and paintings, many of which focus the many castles of the region.
You’ll be able to spot the square, stone walls of Castle Maus against its green hilly surroundings from a mile away. This historic castle dates back to 1356 and sits above the quaint village of Wellmich. Take a tour of this castle to understand its architectural significance and hear its famous “cat and mouse” story.
Overlooking the town of Koblenz, the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress is German fortress that played a key role in the political history of the Rhine Valley. Rebuilt on the land that once housed an earlier fortress, which was destroyed by the French in 1801, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is worth the visit.
Museum of the Palatinate
One of the most celebrated cultural-historical museums in all of Germany, the Museum of the Palatinate in Spreyer gives a detailed overview of the history of the region of Palatinate. Going back to the Roman era, this museum is full of interesting archaeological finds, as well as modern paintings and works of art.
Top 5 Museums & Galleries in Rhine Valley
While the Rhine Valley is vast and not as densely populated as German cities, there are still many museums dotted around its countryside. Here are our picks for five museums that’ll give you a good taste of the history and culture of the Rhine Valley.
The German answer to steak tartare, this delicious dish puts all the focus on raw meat. Chopped beef is seasoned with salt and pepper, formed into a circular mound and topped with a raw egg yolk, finely chopped onions, anchovy fillets and capers. Mix up these ingredients directly on your plate and eat up with crusty, brown bread.
Best eaten at Vorstadt 58-60, 55411 Bingen am Rhein, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany
These delicious, golden potato fritters are common in many areas of Germany, with the name Reibekuchen coming from the Rhine Valley. Reibekuchen are often served with apple sauce, pumpernickel bread or sweet treacle. You’ll find these potato scallops sold at street fairs and festivals in the Rhine Valley.
Best eaten at Brandl Bräu, Ostengasse 16, 93047 Regensburg, Germany
Himmel und Erde
With its name translating to “Heaven and Earth,” this dish consists of black pudding, fried onions, and mashed potato and apple sauce. Dating back to the 18th century, Himmel und Erde gets its name from its two main ingredients; apples, growing up on trees, and potatos, which are dug from the ground.
Best eaten at Himmel un Äd, Hauptstraße 293, 51143 Köln, Germany
Rheinischer Döbbekooche (Döppekooche)
Döppekooche/Döbbekooche is a type of potato cake, which was once eaten by the poor of Rhineland. Consisting of grated potatoes, finely minced onions, eggs and spices, this mixture is covered in strips of bacon or sausage pieces to form something of a pie crust. Baked for about two hours, pick up a slice at Reichenstein Castle.
Best eaten at Reichenstein Castle, Burgweg 24, 55413 Trechtingshausen, Germany
If you’re a fan of haggis, you’ll like pfälzer saumagen. Literally meaning “sow’s stomach,” the intestines of a pig are stuffed with potatoes and pork, as well as a whole bunch of other vegetables and spices, including onions, marjoram, nutmeg and white pepper.
Best eaten at Try some at Zwei und Zwanzig restaurant in Geisenheim.
Food in Rhine Valley
With prominent ingredients being potatoes, pork and apples, food in the Rhine Valley is hearty and comforting. Packed with traditional dishes that are usually an acquired taste, be adventurous and try some of the staples of the Rhine Valley. Here are five foods we think you should try.