Rheinstein Castle Image of Rheinstein Castle Rhine Valley Germany

Rheinstein Castle: Everything you Need to Know Before you go

About the Author: David Angel is a British photographer, writer and historian with 30+years experience exploring Europe. His work regularly appears in global media including the BBC, Condé Nast Traveler, and The Guardian.

Rheinstein Castle is one of the closest things you’ll ever see to a perfect romantic German Castle.

Imposing setting on a cliff. Extraordinary setting with breathtaking views over the River Rhine.  Steep forested hillsides. Exquisite gardens. It’s got the lot. You could call Rheinstein Castle the prototype romantic Castle on the Rhine.

Most of them were restored in the 19th century, and Rheinstein was the first, getting a total rebuild and revamp from its wealthy owner, Prince Friedrich Wilhelm of Prussia. He created not only the first, but possibly the finest of the restored Rhine Valley castles, with one of the most striking interiors of all 40 Castles.

I believe Rheinstein is one of the best three Castles on the Rhine to visit, and in this article, I explain why and what there is to see.

I also show you how to get there, with a tip to save some time along the way. Enjoy.

Why Visit Rheinstein Castle

Image of steps leading to Rheinstein Castle Germany
Steps leading to Rheinstein Castle

Rheinstein Castle is in some ways the original romantic Rhine Castle, as it was the first in the region to be rebuilt and restored in the 1820s.

It’s one of the most picturesque Rhine river castles, occupying a high rocky spur with superb views up and down the river.

Image of a room in Rheinstein Castle #Rhineland Germany
One of the sumptuous rooms in Rheinstein Castle

Rheinstein has one of the most beautiful interiors of the Castles along the River Rhine, with a wealth of wonderful decoration throughout.

The Castle is close to a complete package spanning the ages, with medieval weaponry including a catapult and also superb Gardens and terraces overlooking the river.

Rheinstein Castle is managed by the Hecher family, who have owned it since 1975, and we spoke with one of them in the ticket office. We really liked the homespun, welcoming family feel of the Castle

Rheinstein Castle History

Image of Rheinstein Castle Rhine Valley Germany
The classic view of Rheinstein Castle
Image of knight's armour and hunting trophies in Rheinstein Castle
Medieval knight’s armour and the obligatory antlers

Rheinstein Castle, like most Rhine castles, was a toll castle, built to extract toll payments from passing trade traffic making its way along the river. The original Castle was constructed in the 13th century, and for much of its working life it is believed to have been a fiefdom of the Archbishops of Mainz.

The ruined Castle was acquired by Friedrich Wilhelm of Prussia in 1823, and he set about rebuilding it, helping inspire the Romantic Rhine ideal.

In 1824, German poet Heinrich Heine published his poem Die Lorelei about a mythical mermaid who lured ships to their doom from the Loreley rock downstream near St Goarshausen, raising the profile of the romantic Rhine in popular culture.

Friedrich Wilhelm (his name is sometimes anglicized to Frederick William) spent much of his time at Rheinstein Castle, and some very prominent guests stayed there, including Britain’s Queen Victoria.

Rheinstein remained in the Hohenzollern family until 1975, when it was bought by the present owners, the Hecher family.

What To See At Rheinstein Castle

Image of the knights hall in Rheinstein Castle Trechtingshausen Germany
The Knights Hall in Rheinstein Castle

Rheinstein is one of the most photogenic Rhineland castles, and looks wonderful from the river or the viewpoint just to the south of the castle (where the lead shot for this article was made).

A footpath near the entrance takes you around the side of the Castle to this vantage point.

The restored Castle has numerous medieval features, including a functioning portcullis (a metal gate that can be pulled up and down).

Image of the dining room in Rheinstein Castle Rhineland Germany
The dining hall at Rheinstein Castle
Image of a caryatid in the fireplace at Rheinstein Castle
A caryatid in the dining hall fireplace

Rheinstein also has some beautiful gardens, including one near the ticket office and entrance, and another on the south side of the Castle through which you walk to enter the Castle building.

The Burgundy Garden is named after a vine from the region of France from which the vine was taken.

You enter via the Knights Hall, which has some impressive armour, some as old as the 15th century. Some of the walls are filled with deer antlers, hunting trophies from centuries gone by.

Image of stained glass window in Rheinstein Castle Germany
A stained glass window at Rheinstein
Image of one of the bedrooms at Rheinstein Castle
One of the bedrooms at Rheinstein

The self-guided tour takes you around the living quarters of the Castle, and some of the best rooms to look out for are the dining hall, with its ornate fireplace and caryatids, and the music room.

Image of the interior of Rheinstein Castle chapel
The interior of Rheinstein Castle Chapel

Rheinstein has one of the most beautiful Rhine Castle interiors, with decoration including several stained glass windows,  some of which date back as far as the 14th century, and some wonderful frescoes on walls and ceilings.

There is also a fine Gothic Revival chapel in the grounds of the Castle, below which there is a vault containing tombs of members of the Prussian royal family.

Where Is Rheinstein Castle

Image of the Chapel at Rheinstein Castle Rhineland Germany
The Gothic Revival Chapel at Rheinstein Castle

Rheinstein Castle is 1.5 km (1 mile) south of the village of Trechtingshausen, which is in the Upper Middle Rhine Valley World Heritage Site.

It’s on the left bank – or west side – of the river, and is 60 km south of Koblenz and 8km from Bingen, the two gateways to the Rhine Gorge area.

How To Get To Rheinstein Castle

Image of a footpath sign pointing towards Rheinstein Castle
The footpath to Rheinstein Castle

There are three ways to reach Rheinstein Castle – by train then on foot, by car or by boat.

If you’re travelling by train, alight at Trechtingshausen.  The regular RB 26 service between Cologne and Mainz stops there – check the Deutsche Bahn website for exact times.

Burg Rheinstein is a 30-minute walk from Trechtingshausen railway station. You could do as we did and visit both Rheinstein and Reichenstein Castle on the same day.

In this case we suggest walking down to Rheinstein first before doubling back to Reichenstein.

Image of Rheinstein Castle Trechtingshausen Germany
An exterior view of Burg Rheinstein

From Trechtingshausen station, you need to avoid the main road (which runs to Reichenstein) as the footpath ends at Reichenstein and continues the other side of the railway track and level crossing.

This crossing can sometimes be closed for a long time – in our case, 30 minutes.

You need to continue along the smaller road that runs parallel to the main road, bypassing the level crossing. The signposted footpath takes you to the riverside, past a lovely church and eventually to the main road and the zig-zag path to Rheinstein Castle.

Image of Rheinstein Castle Trechtingshausen Germany
Rheinstein Castle
Image of stonework above a doorway at Rheinstein Castle
Intricate stonework above a doorway at Rheinstein

When you head back to Reichenstein, you will have to wait for the level crossing to open in order to reach the Castle.

If you’re travelling by car, the Rheinstein Castle car park is on the main B9 road.

Some Rhine cruises from Rüdesheim also dock at the jetties just to the north of Rheinstein Castle.

Things To See Near Rheinstein Castle

Image of an interior room in Reichenstein Castle Germany
Reichenstein Castle

There are two other Rhine Valley castles within a short distance of Rheinstein Castle and Trechtingshausen. You may well pass one of them, Burg Reichenstein, on your way to Rheinstein – it is also to the south of the village.

The other, Sooneck Castle, is located between Trechtingshausen and the next village downstream, Niederheimbach. It was also built during the Middle Ages, destroyed by the forces of Louis XIV in 1689, and rebuilt in the 19th century.

Image of Bacharach village and River Rhine Germany
Stunning Bacharach
Image of the Altes Haus restaurant and winery in Bacharach Germany
The Altes Haus winery in Bacharach

Rüdesheim, possibly the most famous of the Rhine river towns, is 6 km away on the opposite side of the river. You can either reach it by boat from Rheinstein or take the train to Bingen and the ferry over the river from there.

Rheinstein Castle is at the upper (southern) end of the Rhine Gorge, so most of the Rhine river sights are downstream, to the north. 

Bacharach is one of the most beautiful villages in Europe, full of gorgeous half-timbered houses, wineries and restaurants, with a fine set of towers and walls from the Middle Ages.  

Image of Schloss Pfalzgrafenstein Castle Kaub Rhine Germany
Schloss Pfalzgrafenstein, the famous castle in the river Rhine

There are several Rhine Gorge castles in the next section of the Valley, including the photogenic Pfalzgrafenstein Castle on an island in the river near the village of Kaub, and Burg Gutenfels, one of the best castle hotels on the Rhine, on a hill above.

Image of Rheinfels Castle And Hotel St Goar Germany
Rheinfels Castle and Hotel at dusk

Beyond the fine town of Oberwesel, you pass the famous Loreley rock and two of the best Rhine castles, Burg Katz and Rheinfels Castle, the later above the intriguing village of St Goar.

We also recommend the northern end of this section of the rhine Valley, including the beautiful little town of  Braubach, which sits below Marksburg Castle, the most formidable of the castles on the Rhine.

Rheinstein Castle – Final Words

Image of child looking out of window at Rheinstein Castle Germany
Our Little Fellow enjoying the view over the Rhine from Rheinstein

We visited numerous Rhine river castles during our two week stay in the area, and have to conclude that Rheinstein Castle is one of the top three Rhine Castles to visit.

Having tramped up many a hill to reach them, we suggest that Marksburg Castle in Braubach is a Rhine Valley must see as it’s a fully intact medieval fortress. Rheinfels Castle, above St Goar, is one of the most interesting to explore as there are so many places to wander among the extensive ruins, something my son and I greatly enjoyed.

And Rheinfels Castle is the pick of the restored river Rhine Castles, its superb interiors, lovely gardens and glorious views making it a wonderful place to spend a couple of hours or so.   

Explore more of our articles on Germany here:

Image of David Angel found of Delve into Europe Travel Blog / Website

David Angel is a British photographer, writer and historian. He is a European travel expert with over 30 years’ experience exploring Europe. He has a degree in History from Manchester University, and his work is regularly featured in global media including the BBC, Condé Nast Traveler, The Guardian, The Times, and The Sunday Times.  David is fluent in French and Welsh, and can also converse in Italian, German, Portuguese, Spanish, Czech and Polish.