Rick Steves

5 Romantic Ways to See Germany's Rhine Region and Rotenberg

The fanciful story of medieval Germany survives in the country's Rhine region today. It's alive in its impressive hilltop castles, cobbled village streets, and romantic river views.

Travel guide Rick Steves gives us an overview of the best places to go and things to do in the area, covering the 36-mile stretch between the towns of Mainz and Koblenz. And what better way to follow in his footsteps than to share that experience with a loved one? Here are some romantic trip ideas from the show.

See all the stops he makes along the Rhine in the video above. Episodes of "Rick Steves' Europe" air Monday through Thursday nights at 7:30 p.m., so be sure to tune in for more of the best of Europe.

1. Cruise the fairy-tale Rhine River

Whether you want to get acquainted with the area or just want to do some castle watching, a cruise along this particular stretch of the Rhine is a great way to start your trip. Various tour boat lines come and go just about every hour, and you can buy hop-on/hop-off tickets from a dock kiosk before boarding. As the boat glides along, you'll enjoy romantic views of medieval castles, cathedrals, and panoramas that have inspired great poets and artists alike.

2. Visit the region's many hilltop castles

Now that you've seen those beautiful castles from a distance, it's time to start exploring them. While there are many to see along the Rhine, Steves guides us through just a couple for this episode, including Rheinfels Castle, located above St. Goar. It was once the biggest and mightiest castle on the Rhine until a French army destroyed it in the late 1700s. Today, Steves says it offers the best hands-on experience of castle ruins on the river.

Another storybook castle worth visiting is Cochem Castle. A 40-minute guided tour shows visitors seven of the castles room.

But Steves' all-time favorite castle on the Rhine -- and in all of Europe for that matter -- is Burg Eltz. Nestled in the hills above the Moselle River, this impressive structure has remained perfectly intact for more than 700 years. Because it has stayed within one noble family over the centuries, the place has maintained its authenticity. Visitors can view the interior, which is furnished just as it was 500 years ago. The place is truly a must-see.

3. Go wine tasting in Bacharach

Like many town along the river, Bacharach has a long history of winemaking. Generations of vintner families, like the Heidrich family featured in the show, are happy to share their selection of wines from their labels. When it comes to varietals, the Rhine region is best known for its Riesling, a type of white wine that originated there.

4. Stay overnight in Beilstein

Looking for a charming spot to unwind after a long day of travels? This adorable village is like something straight out of a classic children's story, and offers travelers an ideal overnight stop. Steves recommends renting a room at Hotel Haus Lipmann. Since 1975, this family-run establishment has given visitors a comfy and affordable way to experience life in a medieval mansion. Enjoy some good German cooking, a glass of wine, and unbeatable views of the Moselle from its riverside terrace.

5. Wander about Rotenberg

Just three hours away from Beilstein, Rotenberg is Germany's best-preserved medieval town. The town offers endless shopping opportunities -- from ornate Christmas decorations to cuckoo clocks and steins.

For a break from shopping, the town's two must-see attractions include the Medieval Crime and Punishment Museum and St. Jakob's Church. Wrap up your time in Rotenberg with a guided medieval tour of the town by the spirited Night Watchman.

Burg Eltz | Photo: linesinthesand/Flickr/Creative Commons License

Get the free PBS App

Full Episodes

Upcoming Airdates


A tumultuous 20th century left Berlin filled with powerful sights - from evocative memorials, to surviving bits of its communist and fascist days, to its glass-domed Reichstag. We enjoy its now-trendy east side, its people-friendly riverfront, and its vibrant social scene. Reunited Berlin - perhaps the fastest changing and most happening city in Europe - is entertaining more visitors than ever.

  • 2020-04-20T02:00:00-07:00

Germany's Hamburg and the Luther Trail

Hamburg, Germany's mighty port city has risen from the ashes of World War II with a gleaming new skyline and a brisk creative energy. From there, Rick visits the great historic sights of Martin Luther and the Reformation (Erfurt, Wittenberg, and Wartburg Castle) before finishing in the capital of Franconia: wine-loving Wurzburg.

  • 2020-04-21T02:00:00-07:00

Germany's Dresden and Leipzig

Saxony, part of the former East Germany, remains a secret to most travelers. Rick visits the two great cities of the region: the capital city of Dresden, with the opulent palaces and art treasures of the Wettin dynasty, and Leipzig, with its Bach heritage, a massive monument to the day Europe beat Napoleon, and museums remembering its communist heritage.

  • 2020-04-22T02:00:00-07:00

Germany's Frankfurt and Nurnberg

Skyscraper-studded Frankfurt - with so much commerce it's nicknamed "Bankfurt" - has a delightful-to-explore old center. Rick also visits Nurnberg, a capital for both the First Reich (the Holy Roman Empire) and the Third. From its towering castle and playful fountains to its Nazi Documentation Center and maze of underground bomb shelters, Nurnberg is a fascinating study in contrasts.

  • 2020-04-23T02:00:00-07:00


Bulgaria, so mysterious to most Americans, has a vivid identity as a crossroads of the Balkans. Rick traces the country's complex history, from ancient Thracian tombs to medieval Orthodox Christian monasteries to Soviet monuments. And he enjoys an intimate taste of contemporary culture: the yellow brick road of Sofia; the gregarious craftspeople of the medieval capital, Veliko Tarnovo; and the thriving pedestrian zones of cosmopolitan Plovdiv.

  • 2020-04-24T02:00:00-07:00


Rick and his team tour Romania's vibrant capital, Bucharest, with its "Little Paris of the East" architecture and lingering reminders of a brutal communist dictator. Then they head into Transylvania, where they visit fortified churches, cobbled merchant towns like Sighisoara, and castles made famous by an imported German king and the real-life Dracula. Finally, they explore Maramures, where everyday life still feels like an open-air folk museum.

  • 2020-04-27T02:00:00-07:00

Assisi and Italian Country Charm

In the Italian countryside, Rick connects with rustic, traditional culture: enjoying an agriturismo (farmhouse inn), seeing how prosciutto and pecorino cheese are made, and hiking down into deep and ancient wine cellars. He ends in Assisi - the hometown of St. Francis - which retains its spiritual aura to this day. Like pilgrims, he explores its stony center before trekking to its awe-inspiring basilica, built on the tomb of the beloved saint.

  • 2020-04-28T02:00:00-07:00

Siena and Tuscany's Wine Country

Siena, once a proud and independent city-state, retains its confidence and unique traditions. Rick enjoys a front-row seat at its wild horse race - the venerable Palio - and marvel at cultural treasures from the days when Siena rivaled Florence for leadership of Tuscany. Then he heads into wine country for a little dolce vita under the Tuscan sun.

  • 2020-04-29T02:00:00-07:00

West England

The quintessence of charming England is the "West Country": quaint Cotswold villages with their fine churches, manor homes, and gastropubs; Wells, England's smallest cathedral town; and the New Age capital of Glastonbury, with its legends of the Holy Grail and King Arthur. He finishes by pondering the dramatic prehistoric stone circles of Stonehenge and Avebury.

  • 2020-04-30T02:00:00-07:00

Southeast England

Arcing along the southeast coast of England, Rick travels from Canterbury (with its famous cathedral) to Dover (stoutly fortified from Roman times to the Battle of Britain). Then he hikes the trails that top the towering chalk cliffs of the South Downs, wander into the beachy resort of Brighton (England's Coney Island), and push on to Portsmouth, whose naval heritage has left it with the best collection of historic sailing ships anywhere.

  • 2020-05-01T02:00:00-07:00

England's Cornwall

The far southwest of England is a world unto itself, with a persistent Cornish culture. He explores a world of flowers springing from towering hedges, a tin-mining heritage going back to biblical times, salty pirates' towns and fishing villages, and the Land's End of England. Then, side-tripping deep into the vast and mysterious Dartmoor National Park, he hikes to forgotten stone circles and chase wild ponies.

  • 2020-05-04T02:00:00-07:00

Burgundy: Profound France

Burgundy is a calm and cultivated corner of France, where nature is as sophisticated as the people. Traditions are strong here. We'll slow down to enjoy the region's edible, drinkable, scenic, and floatable delights. We'll travel on a canal barge, visit a medieval hospice and a modern monastery, build a barrel, appreciate fine Burgundy wine, slurp escargot, and eat very, very well. If you're looking for the quintessential French culture, you'll find it in Burgundy.

  • 2020-05-05T02:00:00-07:00

France's Dordogne

  • 2020-05-06T02:00:00-07:00

Barcelona and Catalunya

The creative spirit of Spain's Catalunya the land of Picasso, Gaudi and Salvador Dali is on a roll. We'll get caught up in the festivity of Barcelona, enjoying the vibrant street scenes, tasty tapas and pedestrian-friendly Gothic Quarter. Then we'll take a scenic side trip to mountaintop Montserrat, and finish with an artist's pilgrimage along the Costa Brava to Salvador Dali country seaside Cadaques to visit his home and nearby Figures to experience his playfully surreal mausoleum/museum.

  • 2020-05-07T02:00:00-07:00

Little Europe: San Marino, Monaco, Vatican City, Liechtenstein, and Andorra

Don't blink as we blitz through Europe's tiniest countries: Vatican City, the world's smallest country, comes with the planet's biggest church. The fairytale princedom of Monaco lures visitors with its fancy casino and glamorous views. Italy's last independent hill town, San Marino still looks formidable, as does the castle-guarded principality of Liechtenstein. And tiny Andorra entertains shoppers and hikers alike, surrounded by the rugged beauty of the Pyrenees.

  • 2020-05-08T02:00:00-07:00