The German state of Rhineland-Palatinate is one of the best parts of the country to visit if you want to explore romantic castles and drink wine!
Bordering Belgium, Luxembourg and France, Rhineland-Palatinate is well known as a wine-growing region, with many gorgeous (and famous!) castles scattered throughout.
In this list of beautiful places to visit in Rhineland-Palatinate, we’ll be sharing some of our favorite destinations in this stunning German state, including the best examples of its natural and cultural heritage.
We hope you enjoy our recommendations, and be sure to let us know in the comments if there are any Rhineland-Palatinate must-sees you would add to our list!
1. Eltz Castle (Burg Eltz)
Burg Eltz is easily one of the most famous Rhineland-Palatinate tourist attractions and a quintessential romantic fairytale castle, with parts dating as far back as the 9th century.
Originally a a Ganerbenburg castle (meaning it was jointly owned by multiple families), today it is still owned by one of these original three families, the Counts of Eltz-Kempenich. They continue to live in part of the castle, while the other two-thirds are open to the public between April and November.
While there was once a village surrounding Burg Eltz, today it seems to just appear in the middle of the forest. There are eight towers rising 35 metres above the ground while the interior provides visitors the sight of suits of armour, weapons, artefacts and furnishings that have been there for eight centuries.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION FOR VISITING: Eltz Castle is open to the public from 9.30am until 5.30pm (last admission at 5pm) from the 1st April to the 1st of November. Tickets cost €12 for adults. There is a shuttle bus from the parking area (walking back up the hill is quite steep) which costs €2 each way. You will also need to pay €2 for parking. There are also two restaurants on-site if you want to eat while you’re there.
If you’re looking to experience a wine-tasting holiday in Germany then the town of Bernkastel-Kues is one of the best places to visit in Rhineland-Palatinate!
Not only is Bernkastel-Kues a great spot to base yourself for experiencing the Moselle Valley wine region, but the town itself is filled with charming old architecture and the Altstadt (Old Town) is one of the best-preserved in the country. Make sure you check out the 17th-century timber-framed buildings, particularly the “Pointed House” and the Renaissance Town Hall.
This area is perfect for a lazy holiday of exploring historic buildings, wine-tasting and relaxing… all the better if you can squeeze in a cruise down the Moselle River.
PS: If you want to learn a bit about the oldest wine-producing region in Germany, head to the Mosel Wein Museum (Moselle Wine Museum) for interesting exhibits on the 2,000-year-old industry.
Situated on the banks of the Moselle River, the medieval town of Cochem is one of the most beautiful places in Rhineland-Palatinate.
Lying on both sides of the Moselle River, Cochem is renowned for the colourful medieval buildings lining the river banks and the impressive Reichsburg Cochem which towers above the town surrounded by vineyards. The castle interiors are well worth a visit, but if you want photos of Cochem and the castle from above, then head to the Pinnerkreuz lookout point via the Cochem Sesselbahn (chairlift).
Other attractions in Cochem include the Senfmühle which is the oldest mustard mill in the world. Nowadays visitors can tour the mill, taste some different varieties and buy the best ones. Cochem is particularly enchanting around Christmas when the Old Town is decorated and a small market takes place.
Cochem is also an ideal base for cruising on the Moselle River, tasting Moselle Valley wines and enjoying delicious German cuisine!
4. Hunsrück-Hochwald National Park
The Hunsrück-Hochwald National Park is a nature reserve located within both Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland, although the section within Rhineland-Palatinate is the largest.
Even though it’s Germany’s newest national park, there is plenty to discover, including idyllic lakes, rocky ridges, beech forests and misty moors. Hunsrück-Hochwald National Park is also ideal for spotting native wildlife such as black storks, wolves and wildcats. In fact, it’s home to the greatest number of wildcats in Europe.
As well as wildlife-spotting, there are many activities for visitors to take part in, from hiking and skiing to marvelling at Celtic ruins or discovering the German Gemstone Route. Anywhere you choose to go you’re bound to be rewarded with spectacular views.
Koblenz is one of the oldest and most beautiful cities in Germany, located where the Moselle River converges with the Rhine River.
Since the city straddles the banks of both rivers, it has been an important centre of both trade and defence for over 2,000 years. The old castle of Ehrenbreitstein and Fort Konstantin are just two of the remaining fortifications for visitors to explore. Ehrenbreitstein can be reached by a cable car which also provides stunning views of the city.
The most famous place in Koblenz is the Deutsches Eck, or German Corner, the headland (pictured below) which juts out into the waters where the Moselle and Rhine meet. Behind the flags is a 37-meter-tall statue of Emperor Wilhelm I, who’s been looking out over the spectacular view since 1897.
Koblenz’s Old Town is a lovely area for a wander, while the Neoclassical Electoral Palace and Gardens of the Empress Augusta are also both gorgeous. And for those looking to explore a little further, a ferry ride past the Electoral Palace will also take visitors to nearby Stolzenfels Castle, another fascinating location worth exploring.
One of the most popular Rhineland-Palatinate places to visit is the gorgeous city of Mainz, located on the Rhine River.
Mainz is the capital of Rhineland-Palatinate, as well as the largest city in the state, so it offers many attractions for visitors to enjoy. It’s located a little further down the Rhine River from Koblenz and situated on the left bank, opposite where the Main joins the Rhine.
The Old Town features beautiful half-timbered houses, medieval market squares and the Marktbrunnen – a Renaissance fountain with red columns.
Other must-sees include the Mainz Cathedral, which is over 1,000 years old and built from beautiful red sandstone, as well as the Gutenberg Museum (pictured below), which is one of the oldest museums of printing in the world.
For travelers who are interested in Roman history, the German city of Trier is one of the best places to visit in Rhineland-Palatinate.
The city was first founded by the Celts in the 4th century BC and then conquered by the Romans in the 1st century BC. Many preserved Roman structures remain to this day, including the Roman Trier Amphitheatre, the 2nd-century Roman bridge across the Moselle River, the Roman city gate (pictured below) and the Aula Palatina basilica.
Even Trier’s Catholic Cathedral dates back to Roman times and is said to contain the Holy Tunic robe which Jesus was wearing when he died. Other important churches in Trier include the Gothic Church of Our Lady, St Matthias’ Abbey (a monastery still in use today) and the Baroque Saint Paulinus’ Church.
For those not so interested in architecture, Trier is also home to a whimsical toy museum and the Karl Marx House, a museum in the house where the father of Marxism was born.
The ancient German city of Bacharach is filled with impressive structures which make it one of the most fascinating places to see in Rhineland-Palatinate.
Iconic views of Bacharach (like the one below) can be enjoyed by climbing the Postenturm historic watch tower which offers sweeping views over the town, Rhine River, Saint Peter’s Church and the ruins of the Gothic Wernerkapelle.
The Wernerkapelle was a chapel that was planned to be expanded into a cathedral, but the expansion was never completed. Now the clover-leaf-shaped structure made out of reddish sandstone is a protected monument and one of the most iconic sights of Bacharach.
Bacharach is also watched over by Burg Stahleck, a 12th-century castle that now houses a youth hostel, so you can stay overnight in it if you want!
Another one of Germany’s oldest cities, first established by the Romans on the banks of the Rhine River, is Speyer.
Speyer means spires in English, which is fitting as it’s a city with quite a number of buildings featuring impressive spires rising into the sky. One of the most recognisable is the tower of Speyer’s Memorial Church (pictured below), an impressive neo-Gothic construct that reaches a height of 100 metres. It’s also home to beautiful stained-glass windows inside.
The Imperial Cathedral is also one of the most renowned buildings in the city, constructed of red sandstone and dating back to the year 1030. It’s the largest Romanesque building in the whole of Germany and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Inside the crypt are the tombs of four emperors, three empresses, and four German kings.
Other things to see in Speyer include the Old City Gate with its beautiful clock tower, the red Old City Hall and the Historical Museum of the Palatinate to learn about the history of the region.
Boppard is an adorable wine-growing town that’s located within the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Rhine Gorge, one of the most stunning Rhineland-Palatinate attractions.
While it was once a Roman Fort, today Boppard is a quaint, traditional German town surrounded by stunning natural views, vineyards and castles. It’s a great base for exploring other parts of the area, with cruises up the Rhine River to Mainz or Bacharach, with views of lush vineyards and rugged mountains all the way.
You don’t need to leave to enjoy though, as Boppard is home to an astonishing number of cultural monuments including many beautiful churches, remains of the Roman town walls, timber-framed houses dating from the 17th century and much much more!
11. Geierlay Hängeseilbrücke
One of the most unusual things to see in Rhineland-Palatinate is the massive suspension bridge called Geierlay Hängeseilbrücke in German.
This is not an attraction for those with a fear of heights though, as this impressive suspension bridge hangs around 100 metres from the ground and spans a total length of 360 meters – making it one of the longest pedestrian suspension bridges in all of Europe!
If you can walk across without fear then it’s well worth a visit, as it connects two legs of the 410-kilometre-long Saar-Hunsrück-Steig hiking trail. It can also be visited just to enjoy the views over the forest or via shorter walks. The bridge is located in between the villages of Mörsdorf and Sosberg.
Did we miss any of your favorite places to visit in Rhineland-Palatinate?
Let us know in the comments so we can add more to our list!