Germany is the land of castles with no mistake but not all castles are created equal. Living in Frankfurt affords me the convenience of popping in on my favorite fairy tale castle for the day like this one in Cochem. After talking to some locals, they told me I had to head a few towns down to a much more picturesque and quaint castle at Burg Eltz. Locals always know best and I was not disappointed.
This is without a doubt one of the most idyllic castles in Europe. It’s nestled deep into the woods atop a 75m high rock surrounded by nothing but forest. When you think of beautiful, mysterious, romantic castles, this has to be near the top of the list. We came here after spending the morning and afternoon in the equally as beautiful town of Cochem along the Mosel river. In fact, every village along the Mosel just screams cute with their churches, traditional houses, vineyards, castles on the top of a hill, and the surrounding greenery. The Rhineland Pfalz part of Germany is just simply fantastic.
HISTORY OF BURG ELTZ
This medieval castle was built in the 12th century and has been owned by the same family for over 850 years. The castle was named after the stream Eltzbach, which in old German Els/Else is the name for Black Alder a tree that is found along the river.
Eltz is one of only three castles on the left bank of the Rhine River that hasn’t been destroyed over the centuries. Construction started in 1157 and building lasted 500 years, with ongoing maintenance to keep the castle up. There are over 100 rooms in the castle for family members, staff, and guests.
Nowadays, the descendants of the original owners still own this castle today. The owner does not live there full time but rather in Frankfurt. What they do with it outside of tourist hours is beyond me but I’m sure it would make for epic get togethers and events.
Getting to Burg Eltz
There’s not many castles like the Burg Eltz being located in the middle of the forest away from society. There are a variety of ways to access it”
The easiest way is certainly to drive to the Burg Eltz. Just input the address into Google Maps and you’ll be there without much fuss. Once you arrive at the parking lot, you will need to pay a €2 fee to park. From the parking lot, it is a short 600m walk to the base of the castle. This is by far the quickest and easiest way to get to the Burg Eltz.
The train is the perfect method for those looking to day trip it from Cologne, Koblenz, Frankfurt etc. or for those that just don’t have cars. The train does not stop at the castle (it is in the middle of the woods after all) but rather to a nearby train station where you’ll then have to take a bus. In the summer months, the Burgen bus shuttle will take you from the Treis-Karden train station on the Moselle to the castle.
The bus only runs 4x a day so make sure you align your times properly otherwise you will be waiting for a long time. This shuttle is free of charge for those with train tickets.
Hiking to the Burg Eltz
Hiking the Burg Eltz is the perfect way to spend an afternoon in Germany. There are many ways to get to the castle depending on your starting point and many of the routes offer amazing views of the nearby forests and vineyards.
The award-winning dream hike “Eltz Castle Panorama” (12.6 km, 5 hours)
One of the most beautiful hikes in the Rhineland-Palatinate takes you around Eltz Castle, through the Eltzbach Valley, the Eltz Forest and the southern rises of the Maifeld.
“Up the Romantic Eltz Stream” (2.5 km, approx. 35 minutes)
This trail starts at the Ringelsteiner Mühle in Moselkern and in a light to medium ascent follows the Eltzbach through the nature reserve Eltz Forest to Eltz Castle. This is ultimately the one we did because it was the quickest route from the Moselkern train station.
“From Müdener Berg to Eltz Castle” (1.7 km, approx. 35 minutes)
This beautiful and sporty route is only for seasoned hikers. It is very steep in parts, but offers a unique view of the two castles Eltz and Pyrmont.
“From Karden to Eltz Castle” (7 km, 2 hours)
This challenging route is for seasoned hikers only. It takes you to Eltz Castle from Karden through vineyards, meadows and forests, offering spectacular views of the Moselle, the Hunsrück and Maifeld.
“From Pyrmont Castle to Eltz Castle” (9.5 km, 2.5 hours)
This hike between the two castles Pyrmont and Eltz reveals all the beauty of the Eltz Valley. Tipp: On weekends and public holidays there is a shuttle bus between these two neighbouring castles.
Hiking the Burg Eltz From Moselkern
As we were complete amateurs with our planning, we wanted to take the train + bus but did not research beforehand and took the train to Moselkern instead of Treis-Karden. We quickly realized no bus was coming, and there were no taxis around so we had to go by foot. It was already 4pm by this point and the prospect of hiking 75 minutes after having already drank so much Reisling in Cochem was unappealing. To make matters worse, there was a little wine festival happening in the town of Moselkern where we would have happily continued drinking our Reisling.
Castle or reisling was what it came down to. Oh Germany, how you make life so difficult for your visitors. In the end, we sucked it up and started walking.
The hike from the train station takes about 70 to 80 minutes in total. It is quite an easy hike as most of it is flat. It’s certainly not the most scenic hike Germany has to offer but it is a great way to get to the castle if you are like us forgetting to do any sort of planning.
What To Do When You Get There
After our unexpected 80 minute hike, we reached the castle and immediately went to the cafe in the castle for some refreshments., aka water and more wine. Not every day that you can drink wine inside a castle.
You can’t always guarantee when the next English-speaking tour will be taking place. It appears that they only take place if there is enough interest for them, we were lucky that even though we arrived late, there were enough people wanting an English Tour.
The tour was informative and took us through some lovely parts of the inside of the castle (unfortunately, no photos are allowed). The castle remains in it’s natural state as it avoided destruction over the centuries through various mechanisms. The tour is a bit short but is well worth the €8. We spent the rest of the time drinking more wine and walking around the castle grounds. By 6:00pm, most people had left the castle and we went outside to take some photos of the castle!
When to visit the Burg Eltz castle
The castle is open year round with visiting hours from 9:30am to 5:30pm. It can be visited year round and there’s no bad time to come. Each season will provide a different picture and I fully plan to revisit in the fall with the changing leaves as well as the winter for the prospect of seeing this castle covered in snow!
How to take the best photos of the castle
I’m perhaps one of the few bloggers that do not care about Instagram but I know how things go nowadays and many travelers need to take the best shots for the Gram. So if you’re looking to take that majestic, back to the camera shot with nobody in the photo like you own the castle, then simply do these things.
Visit in the morning before they open, or after they close
During the day time, hordes of tour buses come and go so this place will be packed. As soon as the castle closes, the crowds thin out quickly. The secret is the road leaving up to the castle is open 24/7 and the pathway into the castle is accessible at all times. This is where you’ll take the best pictures anyway with the castle in the background.
The sun rises well before 9:30am and sets well after 5:30 in the summer months so you’ll have plenty of time to take some fantastic photos. I left around 6:30pm and the only people left were others looking to do photo shoots. I’m talking people that brought change of clothes and a photographer to get their modern day princess in their castle shot. Oh Instagram…
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