For my money, Bacharach is the prettiest town in Germany’s UNESCO-listed Upper Middle Rhine Valley. With its half-timbered buildings, medieval walls and Rhine River setting, it is a fairy-tale scene brought vividly to life.
But what are the best things to do in Bacharach, Germany?
Whether you are spending a day in Bacharach or are using it as your home base for exploring the Rhine Valley, this is where I can help. Based on my first-hand experience, this travel guide includes unmissable places to see in Bacharach, where to stay and where to eat.
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Where is Bacharach in Germany?
Bacharach is located on the west bank of the Rhine River in Germany, at the halfway point between Koblenz in the north and Mainz in the south. It is approximately 80 miles south of Cologne and 50 miles west of Frankfurt.
At the last count, it was home to around 2,000 souls.
A Short History of Bacharach
Bacharach owes much of its fortunes to the vineyards it wears like a shawl.
The word Bacharach means “altar to Bacchus” (the Roman god of wine). It is said that the medieval pope Pius II had the town’s wine shipped to Rome by the cartload.
Bacharach’s long and rich history dates back to the Roman era but it was during the Middle Ages that the town became a major centre of wine production. During the glory days of the 14th and 15th Centuries, Bacharach flourished as a commercial hub and was also an important military stronghold, its castle playing a crucial role in defending the Rhine.
However, the plagues, fires and religious wars of the 17th Century put paid to this. The town was repeatedly sacked and plundered during the Thirty Years’ War and was all but abandoned.
It wasn’t until the 19th Century that Bacharach‘s recovery started, largely thanks to the Romantic Rhine movement.
Best Things to Do in Bacharach
Despite its small size, Bacharach packs a punch attractions-wise.
Here are the best things to do in Bacharach and beyond. Most of these places to see are in Bacharach itself; the final three are awesome side trips to other attractions along the Rhine Valley (travel to at least one of these by boat).
- Old Posthof
- Bacharach’s Protestant Church
- Altes Haus
- Old Mint
- Post Tower
- Wood Market Tower
- Painters’ Corner
- Werner Chapel
- Stahleck Castle
- Bacharach’s medieval walls
- Wine tasting at Weingut Friederich Bastian
- Try Riesling ice-cream
- Bacharach’s riverside park
- Rheinfels Castle
The order in which I have placed them roughly follows a route from the train station or dock.
If you find it helpful, here’s a map of Bacharach which includes the town’s must-see sights. For an interactive map, click here or on the image itself.
1. Take a look at the Old Posthof
Founded in the 11th Century, Bacharach’s Old Posthof was formerly the seat of the Knights Templars. This fine patrician building was used as the town’s post station from the early 18th Century and is where stagecoaches from Cologne to Frankfurt would change horses.
A mark on its wall labelled Rheinhöhe 30/1-4/2 1850 recalls a flood caused by an ice jam downstream at Loreley.
2. Visit Bacharach’s Protestant Church
Work began on the Romanesque-Gothic Church of St. Peter around 1100 but wasn’t completed until the 1300s with the addition of its tower.
Inside, the church is a shadow of its former self prior to the Reformation wars and its garish capitals may not be to everyone’s tastes. There are some faded Medieval frescoes and interesting sculptures, including a naked woman with serpents.
3. Stop by the oldest house in Bacharach
Built in 1389, Altes Haus is the oldest house in Bacharach.
In typical 14th Century style, its first floor is made of stone whilst the upper floors are half-timbered. This is one of the Rhine Valley’s most famous medieval buildings and it has been lauded by many Rhineland poets.
Altes Haus is now a restaurant.
4. See Bacharach’s medieval financial powerhouse
Walk a little further along Oberstrasse and you’ll come to the Old Mint (Münze). Back in the day, every trading town worth its salt needed coinage and Bacharach minted theirs here from 1356.
This historic building is now home to Kurpfälzische Münze, a bar and restaurant.
5. Climb the Post Tower for the best views in town
From the Old Mint, turn left up Rosenstrasse, passing a well and sundial painting in a pretty small square.
If you take a tiny stepped lane on your right, this will lead you to the remains of the medieval wall and the Post Tower (Postenturm), surrounded by vineyards.
Climbing this tower for a classic Romantic Rhine view across the town to the river and terraced vineyards beyond is one of the things to do in Bacharach that you cannot miss.
Entry is free.
6. Stop by the Wood Market Tower
I loved the view of Bacharach through this graceful stone tower. It was here that timber was collected and tied together into massive log booms which were floated downstream to The Netherlands.
7. Visit the prettiest street in Bacharach
Don’t miss Painters’ Corner (Malerwinkel), a charming series of half-timbered houses with lovingly-tended gardens flanking a shallow creek.
This is one of the most photogenic spots in Bacharach. And let’s face it; the competition is stiff.
8. Visit the iconic Werner Chapel (Wernerkapelle)
Although it does have a haunting beauty, I found the Werner Chapel a little underwhelming (not to mention that reaching it involves a short but steep uphill climb). However, as it is the symbol of Bacharach, visiting it felt mandatory.
Once the site of St. Cunibert Chapel, work began on a new church here in 1294. It took 140 years to complete only to be destroyed in 1689 during the Palatine War of Succession with Bacharach.
9. Take in the views from Stahleck Castle
Burg Stahleck must be one of the cheapest ways to spend the night in a castle in Germany.
Formerly a fortress, Stahleck Castle first appears in historical records in 1135. Like most castles along the Rhine river, it was used to protect a station that collected tolls from passing ships.
Today, Burg Stahleck is a youth hostel offering rooms with one, two, four and multiple beds. There is also a café with fabulous views, even if you’re not staying here.
To reach Stahleck Castle, follow the steep path from Wernerkapelle.
10. Walk Bacharach’s medieval walls
Walking along Bacharach’s town walls is hugely rewarding. Although it is steep and rocky in parts, you are treated with some of the best views in town, across its buildings’ slate roofs and over the Rhine.
The path starts near the train station, ascending steps to the left of the building at Oberstrasse 2. Signs for Stadtmauer-Rundweg clearly mark the way and the entire circuit will take you around an hour. But if you are short on time or energy, focus on the pretty section that skirts the river’s edge.
11. Go wine tasting at Weingut Friederich Bastian
Well; it would be rude not to.
One of the best places in Bacharach to discover your favourite Riesling is Weingut Friederich Bastian. This family business has been making wines for more than 300 years from grapes picked in the vineyards of Bacharach and Steeg.
Their bar is open for tastings in the summer months and is located on Oberstrasse 63 in the centre of Bacharach.
12. Try Riesling ice-cream
Trust me; this has to be done. I tried the Riesling wine-flavoured gelato from Eis Café Italia.
13. Visit Bacharach’s riverside park
Before jumping back on your train or boat, take a few minutes to explore Bacharach’s riverside park.
Originally laid out in 1910, its trees were planted to frame the town’s prettiest buildings. The park is home to interesting modern sculpture, including a piece that celebrates three men who shone a light on the area through poetry and prose: Victor Hugo, Clemens Brentano and Heinrich Heine.
Places to Visit Near Bacharach, Germany
14. Rheinfels Castle
Rheinfels Castle (Burg Rheinfels), one of the best-preserved castles on the Rhine River, is also one of the easiest to access if you don’t have a car. Once the mightiest of the Rhine River castles, it ruled the river for more than 500 years.
To get to Rheinfels Castle, catch a river boat or the local train to St. Goar, from where it is a 15-minute walk.
READ THIS NEXT: How to Visit Burg Rheinfels, Germany: King of the Rhine Castles
It’s worth visiting Oberwesel after seeing the sights of Bacharach, purely to march along its medieval wall, the best preserved in the Rhine area.
This lovely village was a Celtic town in 400 BC and then a military station. Its other attractions include St Martin’s Church (Martinskirche), known locally as “the white church”, and the Church of Our Lady (Liebfrauenkirche).
READ THIS NEXT: 12 Wonderful Things to Do in Oberwesel, Germany & Beyond
Hugging the Rhine and surrounded by rolling hills and forests, this tranquil small town is rich in history, with well-preserved half-timbered houses and Gothic churches. It has a flower-bedecked Rhinefront promenade and the finest preserved Roman fortification in Germany.
And if it’s an iconic Rhine River view that you are craving, you can take the Sesselbahn chair-lift to Vierseenblick, also known as the Four Lakes View.
READ THIS NEXT: 12 Best Things to Do in Boppard, Germany
The Best Time to Visit Bacharach
With the best chance of warm temperatures and longer days, summer (June to August) is the best time of year to visit Bacharach. During the summer months, the Rhine riverboats operate a full schedule.
When I visited in early August there was unbroken sunshine and clear skies.
However, summer is also the busiest time of year. To avoid the crowds, visit Bacharach between March and May for mild temperatures and spring flowers.
Autumn (September to November) is also a good time to visit Bacharach, with mild temperatures and fall foliage in the surrounding countryside.
How to Get to Bacharach
By train: Bacharach is easily accessible by rail and its train station is minutes by foot from the town centre. It is on the line that connects Koblenz and Mainz to Cologne, Frankfurt and beyond.
You can check train times and prices here.
By boat: Bacharach is one of the towns served by Rhine riverboats operated by Köln-Düsseldorfer (KD)
By plane: The closest major international airport is Frankfurt (FRA) from where a direct train will take you to Bacharach in under an hour.
By car: Take the B9 road which cradles the curves of the river between Koblenz and Bingen.
Once you have reached Bacharach, it is easy to see its sights on foot. Walking from one end of Oberstrasse to the other will take you no longer than ten minutes.
Where to Stay in Bacharach
Although I chose to use Boppard as my base for exploring the Rhine valley, Bacharach came a very close second. Here are a few places that I had my beady eye on.
Housed in a half-timbered building, this family-run hotel is located on Bacharach’s market square. It offers apartments or a selection of rooms.
>>> CLICK HERE FOR PHOTOS & TO CHECK PRICES
Another centrally-located hotel with modern rooms inside a historic exterior. The gorgeous suite with a whirlpool bath is surprisingly affordable.
>>> CLICK HERE FOR PHOTOS & TO CHECK PRICES
Where to Eat in Boppard
I recommend Gästhaus Jagerstube, where I had a superb mushroom dish washed down with a refreshing beer. It’s very much a non-touristy, no-frills, good-value hangout.
You’ll find it at Blücherstrasse 2
Is Bacharach good for solo travellers?
Bacharach is a wonderful destination for those travelling alone.
Staying safe as a solo traveller is important and the town is small and safe, with a relaxed atmosphere.
Bacharach is well connected, with regular trains and boats to other destinations along the Rhine River, making it easy for solo travellers to explore the surrounding area.
Accommodation is affordable but make sure that you book early, especially in summer.
Is Bacharach Worth Visiting?
Beautiful Bacharach is the best of Germany wrapped up in a picturesque package.
It is famous for its well-preserved medieval architecture and its spectacular setting, sandwiched between the River Rhine and rolling vineyards. If wine tasting is high on your travel agenda, Bacharach is one of the best places to learn about the region’s wine production and culture.
Last but by no means least, Bacharach offers easy access to leisurely riverboat trips along the Rhine. This makes it not only a great destination in its own right but also an excellent base from which to explore the Rhine Valley.