Everyone should visit Germany’s Upper Middle Rhine Valley at least once in their lifetime. UNESCO World Heritage-listed since 2002, this is fairytale Germany, awash with Gothic church spires, terraced vineyards and turreted castles.
It’s not known as the Romantic Rhine for nothing.
Boppard is not only an excellent base from which to explore other towns and villages in the Rhine Valley, but it is also a destination in its own right. But what are the best things to do in Boppard, Germany?
Whether you are simply spending a day in Boppard or are using it as your home base for adventures along the Rhine River, this is where I can help. Based on my first-hand experience, this Boppard travel guide includes places to visit that you can’t miss, how to get there and where to stay.
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Quick Facts About Boppard
Located on the west bank of the curviest curve of the Rhine River, Boppard is a small town approximately 50 miles south of Cologne and 60 miles west of Frankfurt. It is home to around 15,000 souls.
Although Boppard was the site of an early Celtic settlement, it was first mentioned in historical records in the 4th century AD. The town was one of the most important Roman settlements on the Middle Rhine.
After the triumph of Julius Caesar’s campaigns in Germania, there were Roman troops on the Rhine as early as 50 BC. In the 4th Century AD, they built a fort here, Bodobrica (Baudobriga), from which the present name Boppard is derived.
The town became a royal residence under the Merovingian dynasty, the Frankish dynasty that ruled between 476 – 750 AD. It thrived as an important trading centre during the Middle Ages.
Boppard was heavily damaged during the Thirty Years’ War in the 17th Century but was rebuilt and continued to flourish as a centre of trade and industry. Although Boppard suffered significant pummelling during World War I, much of the historic town centre survived.
Best Things to Do in Boppard
Here are the best things to do in Boppard and beyond. Most of these places to see are in Boppard itself; the final three are other must-see attractions along the Rhine Valley (travel to at least one of these by boat).
- Explore Boppard’s Roman Legacy
- Photograph Boppard’s medieval buildings
- Take in the view from Boppard Town Museum
- Visit the Church of St. Severus
- Relax over coffee in the market square
- Admire the choir stalls at the Carmelite Church
- Amble along Boppard’s Rhinefront promenade
- Go wine-tasting
- Take the Sesselbahn for the best view of the Rhine Valley
- Visit Burg Rheinfels
- Soak up the medieval atmosphere of Bacharach
- Walk the walls of Oberwesel
Make the town’s tourist information office your first stop. The staff are super helpful and will give you tips and information on what to do in Boppard, including a map and a leaflet with a short heritage walk.
It is located in the Market Square.
1. Explore Boppard’s Roman Legacy
Boppard is home to the finest preserved Roman fortification in Germany. Built in the latter half of the 4th Century to protect the settlement from marauding Gauls, the Bodobrica citadel formed a rectangle of around 4.7 hectares and its walls were 10 feet high and 8 feet thick.
Visit Boppard Archaeological park on Angertsraße to get a sense of how impressive this Roman fortress was. Entry is free.
2. Photograph Boppard’s historic buildings
Boppard is a delicious buffet of half-timbered medieval buildings. If time is short, make a beeline for these two historic properties:
Schnuggelelsje (Haus Heimburger)
I love the story behind the name of this, one of the oldest, half-timbered houses in Boppard.
In the early 20th Century, this building was a tiny shop owned by Else Heimburger and stocked with sweets sold for just a few pfennigs. The Boppard children adored her and named her Schnuggelelsje.
Next to the building, which is now home to a restaurant, is a much-photographed bronze sculpture of Schnuggelelsje. You’ll find it at Untere Marktstraße 24.
This former “little tea house” at Untere Marktstraße 10 is Boppard’s oldest half-timbered building. Built in 1519, it now houses a café.
After you have looked at these two historic buildings, take a walk along Bingerstraße where you will find some of Boppard’s finest 17th Century houses.
At one end is the Balz, a small triangular-shaped square. Bingen Gate, of which only the archways at the town side survive, is at its far end.
3. Take in the view from Boppard Town Museum
The Rhine-facing Electoral Castle (Kurfustliche Schlossis) is another must-see sight in Boppard.
Although work started on this building as early as the 13th Century, it wasn’t completed until the end of the 17th Century. Built to collect tolls from passing boats in the Rhine, it has had many incarnations, including a hospital, a prison and a police station.
Today, it is home to the Museum Boppard. This has information about the history of the town and is a shrine of sorts to the furniture maker, Michael Thonet, who was born in Boppard.
Although you can scan a few QR codes for a handful of audio clips in English, all of the display information is in German.
For me, the highlight of the visit was climbing the 80 steps to the Electoral Castle’s tower for magnificent views across Boppard and the Rhine.
You can check opening hours and ticket prices here.
In exchange for the mandatory €1.50 per night tourist tax for staying in Boppard, you get a Boppard Visitor Card. This allows you free entry to Museum Boppard and free public transport provided by the Rhine-Moselle Transport Association (VRM) during your stay.
4. Visit the Church of St. Severus
The twin towers of the 13th Century Church of St. Severus pierce the sky above Boppard’s medieval rooftops. Vibrant stained glass windows illuminate the interior of this Late Romanesque church.
A 13th Century triumphal cross above the main altar depicts Christ crowned as the victor over death. A serene Madonna cradles the Christ child and clutches a lily sceptre.
Other highlights of this minor basilica include arches painted with the legend of St. Severus, a 5th Century baptismal font and early Christian gravestones.
Pick up a free leaflet with map as you enter the church.
5. Relax over coffee in the market square
The Church of St. Severus was built on the site of the Roman military baths in what is today Boppard’s Market Square (Marktplatz).
Just as in Roman times, this is the centre of town. Looking for all the world like a Renaissance palace, the former Town Hall (1885) features ornate windows. Also in the square is the Thonet Fountain (1992), dedicated to Boppard’s favourite son.
6. Admire the choir stalls at the Carmelite Church
Boppard’s Carmelite Church was one of my favourite places to visit, its extravagantly sumptuous interior at odds with its austere and unremarkable architecture.
Step inside this 18th Century Baroque church to take a look at its elaborately carved choir stalls (1460 – 70) and the fresco above the pulpit illustrating the legend of St. Alexius.
7. Stroll along Boppard’s Rhinefront promenade (Rheinallee)
Much of Boppard’s charm is derived from its ravishing Rhinefront location. Rheinallee makes the most of the town’s location.
Lined with hotels, cafes and restaurants, Boppard’s riverfront pedestrian promenade also features grassy parklands and is a riot of pink and red geraniums. It is from here that you catch boats to take you along the Rhine.
8. Go wine-tasting
Covering an area of 75 hectares, the Bopparder Hamm is the largest single vineyard in the Middle Rhine. Reisling is the King of the Vines and aromas such as apple, mint and spices give the Boppard Reisling a distinctive flavour.
The highlight of the wine-making season is the annual Wine Festival which takes place at the end of September or the beginning of October. However, there are opportunities is to taste local wines year-round.
Vineum wine shop in the main market square offers tastings but my favourite place was Weinhaus Heilig Grab. The sheltered garden of this family-run wine tavern is the perfect place to taste Boppard wines.
9. Take the Sesselbahn for the best view of the Rhine Valley
If it’s an iconic Rhine Valley view that you are after, take the Sesselbahn to Vierseenblick, also known as the Four Lakes View. Thanks to the horseshoe bend in the river at Boppard, the Rhine looks like four lakes when viewed from this height.
The easiest way to get to the Four Lakes View is to take the chair lift– the Sesselbahn – from the eastern end of town (just follow the signs on the Rheinallee). From the chairlift’s terminus, it’s a ten-minute walk to Vierseenblick.
But don’t do this if you don’t have a head for heights.
Against my better instincts, I took a ride on the Sesselbahn, swinging high above the steep slope to Vierseenblick. It was one of the longest 20 minutes of my life.
Alternatively, follow one of the walking trails to reach the viewpoint. A steep and rocky trail mostly follows the path of the Sesselbahn. Being part goat will be a huge advantage.
Once you reach the viewpoint, there are a few cafes and walking trails. If you walk for a further five minutes, you will reach a second viewpoint, Gedeonseck.
10. Visit Burg Rheinfels
Rheinfels Castle (Burg Rheinfels), one of the best-preserved castles on the Rhine River, is an easy half-day trip from Boppard. Simply catch a river boat or the local train to St. Goar, from where it is a 15-minute walk.
Once the mightiest of the Rhine River castles, the 13th Century Burg Rheinfels ruled the river for more than 500 years. As ruined castles go, it’s up there with the best of them.
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11. Soak up the medieval atmosphere of Bacharach
For my money, Bacharach is the prettiest village in the Middle Rhine. Again, you can visit Bacharach by train or boat from Boppard.
As well as the perfectly-preserved medieval buildings for which the town is famous, Bacharach has an attractive riverside park and two historic churches: the Gothic St. Peter’s Church and the ruins of the Wernerkapelle. Make sure that you climb the Tall Tower for Romantic Rhine views you’ll never forget.
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12. Walk the walls of Oberwesel
Just four miles from Bacharach, Oberwesel was a Celtic town in 400 BC and then a military station. It’s worth tagging this village onto a visit to Bacharach, purely to march along its medieval wall, the best preserved in the Rhine area.
During your visit to Oberwesel, pop into St Martin’s Church (Martinskirche), known locally as “the white church”, and the Church of Our Lady (Liebfrauenkirche).
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The Best Time to Visit Boppard
With the best chance of warm temperatures and longer days, summer (June to August) is the best time of year to visit Boppard. During the summer months, the Rhine riverboats operate a full schedule.
When I visited in August there was unbroken sunshine and clear skies.
However, summer is also the busiest time of year. To avoid the crowds, visit Boppard between March and May for mild temperatures and spring flowers.
Autumn (September to November) is also a good time to visit Boppard, with mild temperatures and fall foliage in the surrounding countryside.
Although the winter months can be chilly and the Rhine riverboats operate a scaled-down service, Boppard holds a Christmas market. In 2023, this takes place between the 8th and 17th of December.
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How to Get to Boppard
By train: Boppard is easily accessible by rail and its train station is in 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 plane: If you are flying into Germany, the closest major international airport is Frankfurt (FRA) from where a direct train will whisk you to Boppard in I hour and 15 minutes.
By boat: Boppard is one of the towns served by Rhine riverboats operated by Köln-Düsseldorfer (KD).
By car: If you are renting a car, there are public parking places along the Rhine promenade (some of these are subject to charge).
Once you have reached Boppard, it is easy to see its sights on foot.
Where to Stay in Boppard
As there is not an enormous number of centrally–located places to stay in Boppard, book as early as possible.
Mid-range apartment: Über den Dächern Boppards
I used this lovely apartment in the centre of Boppard as my base for exploring the Romantic Rhine Valley. The balcony overlooking the market square was a fabulous bonus.
>>> CLICK HERE TO CHECK PRICES
Splurge: Bellevue Rheinhotel
This landmark Art Nouveau hotel is the swankiest joint in town. Its riverbank location is unbeatable.
>>> CLICK HERE TO CHECK PRICES
Mid-range hotel: Hotel Ohm Patt
This cosy hotel has an affordable single room for solo travellers. It is close to the train station, has a bar and provides a buffet breakfast.
>>> CLICK HERE TO CHECK PRICES
Is Boppard Good for Solo Travellers?
Boppard is a wonderful destination for solo travellers.
Safety is important to female solo travellers and the town is small and safe, with a relaxed and friendly atmosphere.
The town 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.
There are plenty of things to do in Boppard if you are travelling alone. These include outdoor activities, such as hiking and biking, as well as learning more about Boppard’s rich history by visiting its historical sites and cultural attractions.
Is Boppard Worth Visiting?
Tranquil and picturesque Boppard is the Rhine Valley’s pearl in the shell, its treasures hidden in plain sight. Known for its well-preserved medieval architecture and beautiful setting, it has something for everyone.
For history fangirls and fanboys, there are opportunities to learn more about its Roman past. If wine tasting is more of your thing, Boppard is a major centre for wine production, notably the region’s famous Riesling.
Thanks to the spectacular surrounding scenery, a number of first-rate hiking are within reach. But ultimately, Boppard’s main draw is its easy access to leisurely riverboat trips along the Rhine.
Boppard is just big enough to have a bit of a vibe but small enough to retain its charm. It may not be as pretty as Bacharach or Oberwesel, but the town is situated at the most scenic point of the Rhine River and is not dissected by the railway line.