At 320m long, the Rhine Hiking Trail (Rheinsteig) is one of Germany’s best-known long-distance hiking trails. Beginning in Hessen’s elegant capital, Wiesbaden, and finishing in the former capital of West Germany, Bonn, in the neighbouring state of North Rhine-Westphalia, the trail is well maintained and has very clear signposting.
From Wiesbaden, the Rhein Hiking Trail leads hikers directly into the vineyards of the world-famous Rheingau wine region. From Eberbach and St Hildegard Abbeys to Vollrads Castle and the imposing Niederwald monument, there are myriad impressive historic highlights along this part of the trail. As you follow the River Rhine, ascending and descending the Rheingau’s rolling, castle-topped hills, you’ll also find plenty of wineries and wine taverns to stop off at for refreshments, and wine villages in which to spend the night.
The Rhein Hiking Trail crosses from Hessen into North Rhine-Westphalia after approximately 80km, at which point the route becomes much more challenging in the mountainous region that lies between there and its destination. However, thanks to excellent public transport links along the entire trail, day-long hikes are also possible – it’s easy to return to your starting point by bus, train or even boat along the River Rhine. To complete the entire route by foot, you’ll need approximately three weeks.