Travel Review of Sankt Goar, Germany: 2 Nights on the Rhine

27 Sep

I knew that our main purpose in Germany was see as many castles as we could. A bit of research and asking around on travel forums told me that the Rhine Valley was the place to be for exploring various castles. After staying for a couple of nights in Castle Hotel Auf Schoenburg in Oberwesel, we headed up the Rhine just a little ways to stay in cheaper accommodation in Sankt Goar for the rest of our Rhine stay.

St. Goar was recommended to me by someone on a travel forum, and I can’t sing its praises enough! It’s a relatively small town, but much more lively than Oberwesel. There are tons of restaurants and cafes which are tourist-friendly, and it has its own KD river cruise stop (that is, easy access to other towns on the Rhine). There’s also a castle there–Burg Rheinfels–which was so amazing I’ll be dedicating a different post to it.

Day One

We arrived in Sankt Goar by train, but we had a bit of a mishap first. We got on the wrong train from Oberwesel, which was some sort of “express” train that took us straight to Boppard–oops! Word of advice, take the silver trains between Oberwesel and St. Goar, not the red one. Anyway, because of that–and because we left Schoenburg a lot later than initially planned–we decided to stick around St. Goar for the day rather than try to get to Marksburg, which is up the Rhine even further. That meant for Day 2 we were going to have to make a decision–go to Marksburg, or go south to the three castles we were planning on seeing that day anyway.

364But for Day 1, we decided to first  go up to Burg Rheinfels–which again, I’ll be covering in a different post. I will say that the castle is within walking distance of the town. It’s a bit of a walk uphill, but nothing a moderately fit person can’t handle! There are signs and a pathway leading all the way up to it, making for easy access.

When we came back down from the castle, we ducked into a few different stores. There’s a shop on the main stretch that had some cute dolls I wish I could have brought home for my nieces (they were just a bit large to want to carry around for the rest of our trip!). There are also souvenir shops, a tourist information centre, and at least one very handy bank with an ATM that we saw stuffed in among all the restaurants and cafes.

For dinner we headed in to Hotel Restaurant am Markt on the corner the square more or less opposite the KD dock. My husband and I are a bit restaurant-shy, to be honest–we kept feeling bad that we didn’t speak the language and we are terrible about having to flag someone down to get the bill! But this restaurant was very tourist-friendly (as most restaurants are, to be honest). Our waiter spoke very good English and the menu had English translations as well.

I had the most amazing steak that was covered in garlic butter–um, YUM–with a side of fries, and my husband had pork schnitzel with mushrooms. He also had a beer which he really liked, and he isn’t usually a beer guy. We considered going back again the next night but decided against it only because we figured we should be trying new things. But the food was great, matched by excellent service and a fun atmosphere filled with laughing customers. We sat inside, but there was an option to sit outside where you’d have a view of the Rhine.

After that, we headed back to our hotel.

ACCOMMODATION: HOTEL RHEINFELS

Hotel Rheinfels sits just across the road from the Rhine and the KD river cruise stop. It’s about a two minute walk from the train station and has a restaurant practically right outside its front door, so it’s very conveniently located. We paid 74 Euro per night which was a steal compared to a lot of places, and it’s really great value for money.

Our room was at the top floor. We didn’t pay extra for a Rhine-view room as it wasn’t that important to us–you could walk out the door and have a view of the Rhine! The room was big, clean, and cozy, and the hotel itself was very quiet. My one complaint about the actual room is that the bed was a bit uncomfortable and the free wifi was a bit spotty as we were on the top floor.

Breakfast was included in the price and was one of the better spreads we encountered on our trip. Lots of choices between different breads, meats, cheeses, spreads, yoghurt, fruit, juices. Tea and coffee was also on offer. There was something there for everyone, and we left satisfied.

Our biggest issue was the stress of checking out, which I will say is partially our fault! I had times confused for our train the morning we checked out–I thought we left at 9, but we actually left at 7:20 a.m. I checked this the night before we left, but by the time we went down for dinner, there was no one at reception. My Booking.com receipt said that reception would open again at 7 a.m. As it was only a 2 minute walk to the very small train station, we weren’t too worried.

We headed down at about 6:45. No one showed up until about 7:15, and that was only after we’d gotten someone’s attention (after spending some time banging on doors). Needless to say, we were freaking out a little bit! Again, if we had let them know that we would be checking out early I’m sure it would have been fine, so I do lay the blame on ourselves partially. Just be warned, if you stay here and leave early, make sure to inform them beforehand. (We DID end up making our train–just!)

Day Two

360On our second day, we didn’t spend much time in St. Goar. In the morning we headed out to the KD dock and purchased tickets to Marksburg. While Marksburg is only one castle and we’d be missing out on the other three I mentioned earlier, I’d heard some really great things about it and didn’t want to miss out. Marksburg is located in Braubach, another small town on the Rhine and a stop on the KD line.

The KD cruise is a bit expensive compared to how much it would cost for a train — it was something like 25 Euro each for a 1.5 hour ride there and back — but we thought it was worth it for the experience. The boat was equipped with a restaurant, bar, and weirdly a Subway, so there were plenty of options for refreshments on the way. It was so much fun to sit up top and look at the towns along the river. There are SO many options for places to stay in the area, and it seemed like each town had its own quirks.

Getting tickets for the KD cruise was easy, and the lady at the desk was super helpful. I’d forgotten where exactly Marksburg was, but when I told her that’s where we wanted to go she said, “Ah, Braubach!” and gave us our tickets. In addition, a boat that wasn’t going to Braubach showed up before ours. We were in a shop across the road at the time and so missed the announcement, but dashed over thinking it was us and she remembered where we were going and told us not to get on–thank goodness!

I’ll cover Marksburg in a different post as well, but let’s just say for now that it lived up to expectation. The great thing was that the KD cruise lined up exactly with us being able to get up to Marksburg (again, another walk–a bit more strenuous than the Rheinfels trek, but by no means impossible) and the start of the English tour. We only had to wait five minutes for the tour, which was great. This was probably a fluke, but hey, worth a mention.381

We sailed back to St. Goar later that day and decided to eat at a restaurant just down the way from our hotel. There was tons of outdoor seating, and I’m afraid I don’t remember the name of the place, but it’s hard to miss! I had more or less the same thing as the night before–a steak with garlic and fries–and my husband can’t remember what he had, but both were pretty good. We did think that the restaurant the night before was better and had better service, but it was nice to eat outside almost right on the Rhine.

Sankt Goar was an excellent choice for our stop on the Rhine, and I’m glad I listened to the recommendation. There are plenty of other towns to explore too, of course, but if you’re looking for a place to stay, I highly suggest St. Goar!

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