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

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