Since first reading about Bacharach in our trusty Rick Steve’s travel guide, Marty and I knew that we had to visit this charming little town on the Rhine River. I mean, Bacharach seemed like the perfect place for us to hub out of as we explored the castles and vineyards of the beautiful Rhine River, and boy were we right! We fell in love with Bacharach!
Bacharach lies along the UNESCO World Heritage portion of the Rhine River that stretches from Bingen and Rudesheim north to the city of Koblenz. From its beginnings, Bacharach was a major hub of the wine trade industry, and so instantly had my attention. It has been said that kings from around the region would only drink Bacharach wine. All of this trade coupled with the fact that Bacharach also collected customs duties made it a very wealthy town.
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Arriving in Bacharach
After leaving Munich, Marty and I boarded a train and headed for the gorgeous Rhine River town of Bacharach. As we walked from the train station into the town, I felt as though I were transported back to the 11th century. Walking down the cobblestone streets lined with half timbered houses made my heart skip a beat. Looking up, you can see Stahleck Castle on the hill looming over the town as if still protecting it. I closed my eyes and imagined this area before technology, before cars, before life transported us to this place of non-stop entertainment and information overload.
Looking up at the endless vineyards dotting the hillside, I imagined a more relaxed and simple pace of life. A pace where it’s acceptable to sit for hours drinking wine while watching the world go by on the Rhine River. A pace that I could easily become accustomed if I could just convince my brain to escape the fast-paced world for a little while!
When to Visit Bacharach
We recommend visiting Bacharach in the summer. Summer months (June-September) are an ideal time to be in the Rhine Valley. The boat tours are running and the temperatures are pleasant. August is the wettest month, so avoid August if you don’t like the rain.
How Long to Stay in Bacharach
Depending on what you want to get out of your visit will determine how long to stay. Marty and I planned 2 nights in Bacharach, but wish that we had planned 3 because we really wanted to tour more of the castles and explore more of the small towns along the Rhine. With 2 nights you can explore the town of Bacharach, cruise the best part of the Rhine (from Bacharach to St. Goar), and take a train to some of the small cities to tour a castle or two. With more time, you could include a trip to the Mosel River Valley as well.
Where to Stay in Bacharach
You won’t find any big name hotels in this charming town. What you will find are reasonably priced bed and breakfasts and charming individually owned accommodations. For this trip, we paid about 60 euros a night (the absolute cheapest on this trip to Europe) for a room at the bed and breakfast, Bistro Rene. Bistro Rene had three rooms, ours was the smallest, but we had a private bathroom and a balcony that was overlooked by the castle! Our hosts were knowledgeable, nice and made a mean coffee. You can’t beat that!
Getting to Bacharach and Around the Rhine
By train: Bacharach is easily accessible by train. It is a gorgeous 50-minute train ride on the non-stop express train connecting Koblenz and Mainz. There are hourly regional trains that hit every town along the Rhine (Bacharach-St. Goar in both directions). The small stations are not staffed, so you will purchase your ticket at the machines. We found the Rheinland-Pfalz-Ticket to be the best bet for us. On the Rheinland-Pfalz-Ticket, 1 person was 24 euros, and an additional person was 5 euros, much cheaper than purchasing separate tickets.
By boat: While some people choose to do the whole Rhine River by boat, we opted just to do the “romantic” portion of the Rhine from St. Goar to Bacharach. We bought our tickets for the Koln-Dusseldorfer (K-D) Line right at the dock in Bacharach and hopped on to enjoy our cruise. Get your Rhine River Cruise Pass today!
By bike: We saw so many bikers during our time in Bacharach. There is a 35-mile bike path that runs between Koblenz and Bingen, and the six-mile portion between Bacharach to Bingen is flat, smooth and scenic. While walking in Bacharach, we noticed several bike rental places including Hotel Hillen. It seems that most people bike one way and take the cruise or train back the opposite direction.
As I stated above, Bacharach is like stepping into an 11th-century village. Sure, they have modern amenities like wi-fi, cell service, and cars, but this little village has managed to retain its quaint charm. We had a great time just exploring this picturesque town, including the castle, churches, the old town wall and towers, the vineyards, and doing an AMAZING wine tasting.
Seeing the half-timbered houses on the quiet cobblestone streets is a great introduction to Bacharach. The town is easily accessible by foot, so just stroll around, and get acquainted. The town church is located just off of the square. Though not as impressive as most of the churches we have visited in Europe, it was still worth a visit. Inside you will find brightly painted walls and Gothic arches. Be sure and notice the blue-and-white plaque hanging just outside the entrance warning that this building should not be targeted during times of war.
Just down from the church, you will find the Posthof, symbolized by the golden horn hanging overhead. In the old days, the postman would blow this horn and traffic would stop as the mail sped through the town. As you enter, notice the beautiful door. History buffs will appreciate seeing a historical piece, a fascist eagle from 1936 over the door.
Stahleck Castle and Wernerkapelle Ruins
Steep steps alongside the church lead up to the town castle. Feeling ambitious and ready to burn off some of the German food we had been eating, Marty and I laced up our tennis shoes and started the climb up to Stahleck Castle. On the way up to the castle, you will pass the Wernerkapelle Ruins. What’s left of this enormous chapel is hauntingly beautiful.
After taking a break to view the ruins, we continued up the steep steps toward the castle. I have to admit that I had to stop several times to catch my breath. I think all those pretzels were catching up with me. The treck was definitely worth it though. We had so much fun exploring the castle grounds. Since it’s a hostel, we just acted like we owned the place and walked around. Be sure and grab a glass of wine and sit on the terrace to enjoy the beautiful views-you earned it on that hike!
The Old Town Wall and Towers
You can walk along the old town wall in several places in Bacharach. We enjoyed walking the section of the wall down by the river. To find this section, walk toward town from Riverfront park, with the Catholic church on your left, cross under the train tracks and head right up the stairs onto the town wall. At the top of the stairs, we turned left to see the old well that is located about 30-yards on the left-hand side. Continue along the wall to view the crane tower. This is where they would lower their amazing wine onto ships to be sent down to the river. After the crane tower, you will come to the Markt Tower. The Markt Tower was once one of the town’s original 14th-century gates.
We also enjoyed hiking through the vineyards up to the Tall Tower. To get to the Tall Tower, go up Rosenstrasse just past the well, and follow the tiny slate stepped lane up into the vineyards.
Wine Tasting in Bacharach
Since Bacharach is famous for their wine, you really should treat yourself to a tasting. A weinstube, or wine room, is a great place to do just that. We chose to do our tasting at Weingut Karl Heidrich. This cute little winery had a nice outdoor dining area right on the main street in town. They offered three different types of tasting flights to choose from, dry, sweet or combination for about 15 euros for six wines. The pours were big and the wines were delicious. Marty and I chose to pair our wine with a meat and cheese plate that was amazing! We wound up sitting for hours drinking wine, laughing and munching on food. A welcomed slow pace for us!
Eating in Bacharach
We found food in Bacharach to be very reasonably priced and overall really good. The Altes Haus, the oldest building in town, serves up traditional German food in a historic atmosphere. The Posthof restaurant and cafe in the Posthof courtyard has a nice outdoor seating area with a direct view of the chapel ruins above you. For lunch, we grabbed a cheap pizza from Bacharacher Pizza and Kebap House. We walked up to the old carousel that overlooks the river to eat, but they were closed, let us know how it is if you have ever eaten there.
For dessert, make sure you visit Eis Cafe Italia on the main street and try some Riesling-flavored gelato! Or, be like Marty and hunt down the perfect apple strudel!
You cannot ask for a better German town to relax in and explore. It was so easy to allow ourselves to acclimate to the slower pace of life and to just enjoy being together and enjoy being on vacation. After exploring Bacharach, we venture out into the Rhine and Mosel Valleys to tour an awesome castle and cruise the river. Read all about our Rhine River Cruise! Bacharach is a true gem and a town that we will definitely return to.
Be sure and check out our other post, 25 Photos to Inspire You to Visit Bacharach, Germany.
Have you been to Bacharach? Please comment below and tell us your favorite memory or what you look forward to doing in Bacharach.
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