Do you fancy a scenic stomp along some of the best-preserved medieval walls in Germany? If so, visit Oberwesel in the heart of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Upper Middle Rhine Valley.
With its spectacular riverside setting, half-timbered buildings, castle and wineries, this is the Rhine Valley’s greatest hits wrapped up in one picturesque package. But what are the best things to do in Oberwesel, Germany?
Whether you are spending a day in Oberwesel 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 visit in Oberwesel, how to get there and where to stay.
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Where is Oberwesel in Germany?
Oberwesel is located on the west bank of the Rhine River in Germany, between Koblenz in the north and Mainz in the south. It is approximately 78 miles south of Cologne and 53 miles west of Frankfurt.
At the last count, it was home to around 2,800 souls.
A Short History of Oberwesel, Germany
Oberwesel is thought to have started life as the Celtic town of Vosavia (Volsolvia) in 400 BC, becoming a military station under the Romans.
Over the subsequent centuries, it passed hands many times and was a stronghold of the Reformed Church in the 16th Century. Its monasteries and churches, including the stunning Liebfrauenkirche, reflect its religious history.
Wine production has been central to the town’s economy for centuries. It was pivotal in raising cash to begin work on Oberwesel’s famous walls and towers in 1220. These were built in three phases up until the mid-14th Century.
The Nine Years’ War in 1689 was not kind to the town. French troops all but destroyed Oberwesel and much of what we see today was rebuilt after then.
Best Things to Do in Oberwesel (+ Map)
These things to see in Oberwesel are not placed in order of importance. Instead, they trace a logical route from the train station, along the walls to St. Martin’s Church, ending at Liebfrauenkirche.
- Town walls & defensive towers
- St. Martin’s Church
- Schönburg Castle
- Wine tasting
If it’s helpful, here’s a map with these recommended places to visit in Oberwesel. For an interactive map, click here or on the image itself.
You can hit these highlights in as little as two hours. But If you have more time to spare, I have included a few bonus places to visit that are easy side trips from Oberwesel along the Rhine Valley (I recommend travelling to at least one of these by boat).
- Rheinfels Castle
GOOD TO KNOW
Make the town’s tourist information office your first stop. Its helpful staff will give you a map with suggested walking routes and brief information about Oberwesel’s key attractions.
It is on Marktplatz, a ten-minute walk from the train station.
1. Check out the giant wine glass in Marktplatz
Let’s start in the centre of town, Markplatz.
For centuries, this has been Oberwesel’s beating heart and today it is home to tourist-friendly cafes and bars. If you are in any doubt about its USP, take a look at the oversized wine glass monument proclaiming Oberwesel as a winegrowers’ town.
2. Bone up on local history at the Stadtmuseum Oberwesel
Although I didn’t have time to visit, Stadtmuseum is said to be the best museum dedicated to the history and customs of the Rhine Valley. Artefacts housed in the four storeys of a former winery trace the history of Oberwesel from the Romans to the 19th Century Romantic Rhine movement.
3. March along the town walls
Of all the things to do in Oberwesel, walking its town walls is unmissable. The free map from the Tourist Information Office clearly marks the walls and the sections that are open to pedestrians.
You can start your walk at multiple points along the walls’ three-kilometre length. If you are coming from Marktplatz or the Stadtmuseum the easiest access point is the set of steps on Rheinstrasse. From here, turn left to walk along the wall downstream.
Following the path to Niederberger Torturm (where you will jump down to visit St. Martin’s Church) and beyond will take you past the sixteen towers that once protected Oberwesel. There are also fine views across the Rhine.
4. Visit St. Martin’s Church
Known locally as the “white church”, St. Martin’s is one of the two major churches in Oberwesel. It was built in the 14th Century from local slate.
It’s no accident that the tower looks vastly different from the church building. This predates St. Martin’s and was part of the town’s defences before it was incorporated into the newly-built church. The ensemble is one of the most impressive examples of Gothic ecclesiastical defensive architecture in the region.
Step inside St. Martin’s Church to take a look at its 16th Century murals and a mid-15th Century Madonna.
5. Take in the view of Schönburg Castle
If you continue walking along the walls after visiting St. Martin’s Church you will be treated to a fine view of Schönburg Castle (Schloss Schöenberg), one of Oberswesel’s key landmarks.
A castle has protected Oberwesel since the 10th Century but the original structure was destroyed by the French in 1689 in the Nine Years’ War. It was another 200 years before it was rebuilt.
Today, Schönburg Castle houses an excellent hotel and restaurant.
6. Rest in Oberwesel Stadtmauergarten
Oberwesel’s Stadtmauergarten (Town Wall Gardens) is a peaceful spot to rest for a while. These gorgeous gardens were funded by a local lad made good, who established a private foundation in his hometown on his retirement.
7. Discover Oberwesel’s most unusual neighbourhood at Klostergarten
If you are looking for another oasis of tranquillity, make tracks towards the garden of Oberwesel’s former Minorite monastery. Franciscan monks lived in this monastery from 1242 for almost 600 years, when secularisation lead to its dissolution.
When it was later partially destroyed by fire, the poor took refuge here and built their homes inside the ruins. And so, an unusual residential neighbourhood was born, one which continues to this day.
8. Marvel at the gold altar in Liebfrauenkirche
Liebfrauenkirche, or Church of Our Lady, is the jewel in Oberwesel’s ecclesiastical crown and one of its must-see attractions. Consecrated in 1331, this is one of the most important Gothic churches in the Rhine Valley.
If there is one church that you must visit in the Rhineland, this is it. It has an astonishingly beautiful gold altar, one of the oldest Gothic shrine altars in Germany, as well as medieval frescos.
Liebfrauenkirche is open to visitors in the afternoon. Check current opening hours here.
9. Wine tasting in Oberwesel
It would be almost rude not to sample the local nectar when visiting Oberwesel.
Discover your favourite Riesling at Weingut Lanius-Knab at Mainzer Strasse 38. This winery is open for tastings in the summer months and the owners also offer tours and wine tastings with food.
As this winery is close to the train station, this could be your end to your day in Oberwesel.
Places to Visit Near Oberwesel, Germany
10. Rheinfels Castle (Burg Rheinfels)
13th Century Rheinfels Castle is one of the best-preserved castles on the Rhine. Once the mightiest of the castles on the river, Burg Rheinfels ruled the Rhine for more than 500 years.
Unlike many other castles, visiting Burg Rheinfels is easy if you don’t have a car. Just 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
You’ll be hard-pressed to beat the beauty of Bacharach.
As well as a host of perfectly-preserved half-timbered buildings, Bacharach has an attractive riverside park and two historic churches: the Gothic St. Peter’s Church and the ruins of the iconic Wernerkapelle. Climb the Tall Tower for Romantic Rhine views you’ll never forget.
You can visit Bacharach by train or boat from Oberwesel.
READ THIS NEXT: 16 Unmissable Things to Do in Bacharach, Germany & Beyond
Cradling the Rhine and surrounded by rolling vineyards and forests, this tranquil small town has a rich history, well-preserved medieval houses and Gothic churches. Beautiful Boppard has a flower-bedecked riverfront promenade and the finest preserved Roman fortification in Germany.
For an unforgettable Rhine River view – and an equally memorable journey! – take the Sesselbahn chair-lift to Vierseenblick, also known as the Four Lakes View.
Again, Oberwesel is connected with Boppard by train or boat.
READ THIS NEXT: 12 Best Things to Do in Boppard, Germany
The Best Time to Visit Oberwesel
With the best chance of warm temperatures and longer days, visit Oberwesel between June and August. 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 Oberwesel in spring or autumn (fall).
Between March and May, temperatures are mild and spring flowers are blossoming. The climate is also forgiving from September to November and the landscape is ablaze with fall foliage
How to Get to Oberwesel
By train: Oberwesel is easily accessible by rail and its train station is ten minutes on 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: Oberwesel 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 Oberwesel in one hour.
By car: Take the B9 road which cradles the curves of the river between Koblenz and Bingen.
Once you have reached Oberwesel, it is easy to see its sights on foot.
Where to Stay in Oberwesel, Germany
Although I chose to use Boppard as my base for exploring the Rhine valley, Oberwesel was on my shortlist.
Here are a few places that I had my beady eye on. As Oberwesel isn’t overflowing with places to stay, especially in the centre of town, book early.
By far the swankiest place to stay in town with the history, romance and Rhine views that come with staying in a former castle. A cheaper small double room is available for solo travellers.
>>> CLICK HERE FOR PHOTOS & TO CHECK PRICES
This 3-star, family-run hotel is located on Markplatz. Some of the rooms come with a river view.
>>> CLICK HERE FOR PHOTOS & TO CHECK PRICES
Is Oberwesel Worth Visiting?
Oberwesel is a worthy addition to your Rhine Valley itinerary.
In addition to its stunning Rhine River setting and Schönburg Castle, it has the best preserved defensive medieval walls in this region of Germany. Like other Rhine Valley towns, it has a long and proud wine-growing tradition offering lots of opportunities for wine tasting.
Finally, Oberwesel offers easy access to leisurely riverboat trips along the Rhine. This makes it an excellent base from which to explore the Rhine Valley.
READ THIS NEXT: How to Explore Germany’s Romantic Rhine Valley: Itinerary & Planning Tips