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Rheinsteig Hiking Trail: The Ultimate Guide

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One of the most rewarding hikes in Germany, the Rheinsteig trail is a 320-kilometre-long route that stretches from Bonn to Wiesbaden. Most of it is elevated, running alongside the beautiful River Rhine. The landscape is rich and diverse, featuring luscious woodlands, sloping vineyards and the ever-meandering river.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Walking through rustic villages, picturesque vineyards and beautiful castles
  • A comprehensive signposting system, making the trail easy to navigate
  • Dynamic landscape with valleys and slopes that never gets dull

LOWLIGHT

  • May not be enticing for thrill-seeking mountaineers who prefer more remote hikes 
Map of the Rheinsteig hiking trail
An overview map of the Rheinsteig hiking trail

RHEINSTEIG TRAIL HIKE FACTS

Trek difficulty:

Easy to moderate. Hikers should have a basic level of fitness, as the trail entails climbing up and down Rhine’s hillsides and valleys. 

Trek duration: 18 - 21 days depending on your pace 
Best seasons: July – August or early September when temperatures are moderate and weather is dry
Remoteness: Since this is one of the most popular hiking trails in Germany, expect to see other hikers during your visit. Rheinsteig runs through several towns and a number of villages, so you will never stray too far from civilization
Maximum altitude: 365 m at Lykershausen municipality in Rhein-Lahn district. 
Total distance covered: The total length of the trail is 320km.
Accommodation: Lodgings of various sorts are dotted in towns along the trail, from budget-friendly hostels to charming wine estates
Start / end locations: You can start your hike either in Bonn or Wiesbaden, depending on whether you want to follow the trail north to south or vice versa
Permits required: None 
Rheinsteig hiking trail passes through forests in Germany
A path through a forest on the Rheinsteig hiking trail.

RHEINSTEIG TRAIL: DAY TO DAY ITINERARY

Day 1: Biebrich Castle to Schlangenbad, 16.7 km

The trail starts at the Biebrich Palace. It continues northwards to Sommerberg Castle and into the Erlenbach Valley. The trek ends in Schlangenbad.

Day 2: Schlangenbad to Kiedrich, 9.6 km

The trail goes through the forest and into the Großer Buchwaldgraben valley, then ascends towards Rauen Valley. It follows the road towards Eltville, then continues uphill until reaching Weinberg der Ehe vineyard in Kiedrich.

 Day 3: Kiedrich to Johannisberg Castle, 14.3 km

The trail begins in central Kiedrich towards Eberbach Abbey. The trek ascends for a bit, then goes down into Sparngrund nature reserve and Leimersbach Valley, before ascending to Susberg. It continues to Ansbach Valley and ends at the Johannisberg Castle.

Day 4: Johannisberg Castle to Rüdesheim, 14.6 km

The trail strays into the woods until reaching Marienthal Abbey. The trek ascends to Hähnchen, then Nothgottes Abbey. It follows River Blaubach until reaching Eibing vineyard district. It finishes in Rüdesheim.

Day 5: Rüdesheim to Lorch, 20.4 km

The path goes towards the World Heritage Valley. This is followed by a steep ascent to the top of the Eckersteinkopf. The path continues until reaching the church in Lorch.

Day 6: Lorch to Kaub, 13.8 km

The trail goes uphill to Nollig Castle. It continues to the Chapel of St. Clement and the Retzbach Valley. It descends into Niederthal Valley, then goes up the Paul-Claus path. The trek goes past Volkenbach Valley to Gutenfels Castle, then back into Kaub.

Day 7: Kaub to St. Goarshausen, 22 km

The path goes up to Dörscheid, into the woods, past Alte Burg Castle, and across the Bornichbach River to Felsenkanzel and Spitznack viewing points. It continues to the Lorelei rock, then St. Goarshausen.

Day 8: St. Goarshausen to Kestert, 12.4 km

The path goes uphill, then descends into Maus Castle and Wellmich, turning into nature trail to the Sachsenhäuser Feld plateau and the Ehren Valley. Hike continues past Pulsbach gorge and ends in Kestert.

Day 9: Kestert to Kamp Bornhofen, 12.1 km

The trail goes up the viewing point at Hindenburghöhe. It continues to Lorelei Castle Route in Bornhofen valley. Once at the Kamphauser Feld, the Kamper Hang hill trail merges with Rheinsteig trail until reaching Kamp Bornhofen.

Day 10: Kamp Bornhofen to Braubach, 16.7 km

A short climb from Osterspai leads back to the Rheinsteig trail. It leads into Wasenbach Valley, then across the River Dinkelhold and out of the valley to Lusthäuschen. The final stop is the Marksburg Castle.

Day 11: Braubach to Lahnstein, 8.3 km

The trail begins at the train station of Braubach and into the Schlierbach Valley and the Ernst Wagner Park. Trail continues to the Ruppertsklamm gorge and into Lahn Valley.

Day 12: Lahnstein – Koblenz – Ehrenbreitstein, 12.8 km

Across step rocks, the trail goes back towards Rhine Valley, then Lichterkopf hill. Walk continues through Bienhornbach Valley until reaching Koblenz-Pfaffendorf, then Koblenz-Ehrenbreitstein.

Day 13: Koblenz-Ehrenbreitstein – Vallendar, 8.9 km

Rheinsteig trail leads down to Urbar, then right onto the Mallendar path until reaching Wambach Valley. The path continues along the River Wambach all the way to Vallendar.

Day 14: Vallendar – Sayn, 12.4 km

Trail follows the River Meerbach, reaching the Schnatzen mill, followed by a steep slope into the Großbach Valley. The path turns right towards the Wenigerbach Valley, the Roman tower on the Pulverberg and the Sayn Palace.

Day 15: Sayn – Rengsdorf, 15.4 km

Path goes through the woods to the Friedrichsberg mountain, through a nature trail. It then descends to the Schnepfenteich lake before a climb to Wingertsberg. Finally, a pine forest road leads to Rengsdorf.

Day 16: Rengsdorf – Leutesdorf, 18.5 km

The path descends into Völkerwiesenbach Valley, across ancient Roman ditches and up until Schauinsland viewing point. It goes into Laubach Valley, then ascends to Monrepos Castle and the Kehlbach Valley. The trail ends in Leutesdorf.

Day 17: Leutesdorf – Bad Hönningen, 16.2 km

The trek ascends away from Rhine and into the forest, through an orchard trail, then downhill into in Mühlbach Valley. It ascends to the ruins of Hammerstein Castle. The trail ends in Bad Hönningen.

Day 18: Bad Hönningen – Linz, 13.8 km

The trek goes past Arenfels and Ariendorf Castle before descending into Leubsdorf. From there, the train ascends to the foot Giersberg mountain until reaching outer Linz. The path ends at Linz market square.

Day 19: Linz – Bad Honnef, 17.9 km

 The trail leads into Breitbach Valley, followed by a climb to the Auge Gottes shrine. The path continues through the forest into the Mucherwiesen Valley, merging with the Rheinhöhenweg trail and leading into Bad Honnef.

Day 20: Bad Honnef – Königswinter, 14 km

The trek goes across Mucherwiesen Valley, the Ohbach Valley and the Poßbach Valley. The trail then goes up the Drachenfels, then descends into Nachtigallen Valley before reaching Königswinter train station.

Day 21: Bad Königswinter – Bonn, 21.3 km

The trail goes past the Drachenburg Castle, continues up to Geisberg, then down again into Mirbesbach Valley. It ascends to Petersberg, then slopes into Mühlen Valley and onto the outskirts of Oberkasse. The last climb is to the Foveaux pavilion, then down the river and into the centre of Bonn. 

Not looking to hike to Rhine Valley? Check out this Day Tour to Rhine Valley that can show you the best of the Valley in 8 hours. 

Rheinsteig trail offers the best German landscape
A wooden rest bench on the Rheinsteig trail
Rheinsteig hiking trails passes through many villages in Germany
View from a rest point in St. Goarshausen on a sunny afternoon
Rheinsteig hiking trail passes through Koblenz village in Germany
The Basilica of St. Castor is the oldest castle in Koblenz
Rheinsteig involves 9,969 m of descent
Hiking the Rheinsteig involves 9,940 m of ascent and 9,969 m of descent

GOOD TO KNOW

Due to its length and ease of access, Rheinsteig track can be easily broken apart into sections. If you don’t feel like doing the entire trek, you can always hike some of its shorter stretches. We recommend hiking the stretch from day 12 to day 19 (from Koblenz to Bad Honnef) if you want to see splendid views and castles that Germany is famous for. 

Alternatively, if you’ve already hiked Rheinsteig and would love to do something similar, look into Rennsteig, a ridge walk that will take you through the Thuringian Forest. If you want a moderately difficult hiking trail then the Eifelsteig trail might be perfect for you. 

HOW TO GET TO THE TRAILHEAD

Wiesbaden can be reached by car or train. From the Wiesbaden-Biebrich train station, follow the path leading to Rheinsteig trail until you reach the Biebrich Castle. From Bonn, the trail starts at the market square in the town centre.

Wiesbaden is close to Frankfurt and Bonn is near to Cologne — these are two of the best cities in Germany that you have to visit. Check out this combination tour that can combine a visit to Frankfurt and Rhine Valley in 9 hours. 

WHAT TO BRING AND WEAR

  • Comfortable hiking boots are a must.
  • Always keep a water bottle by your side.
  • Pack sunscreen if you’re hiking Rheinsteig during summer months.
  • Be extra cautious on rainy days, as the rock slopes can get slippery.
Rheinsteig hiking trails passes through various landscapes in Germany
If don't find enough time to complete the entire trail, then you can even choose to hike certain sections of the Rheinsteig trail

Looking to spend your holidays in Germany in 2018? Take a look at this list of 12 great vacation packages in Germany that we think is worth your money. If you are visiting Germany for the first time then we would recommend visiting these 10 best cities in Germany where you can find some of the top tourist attractions in Germany.

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