The Rhine River (or Rhein for those of you like me who can’t shake the German spelling) is the second-longest river in Europe with a length of 1,230km. This beautiful stretch of water begins in the Swiss Alps, following along the Swiss-Liechtenstein, Swiss-Austrian, Swiss-German, and Franco-German borders, then flows through the German Rhineland and eventually into the North Sea via the Netherlands. As it passes through Germany, it runs along the charming town of Rüdesheim. Here you can truly experience the beauty of the area in just one day! It’s close proximity to Frankfurt also makes it the perfect day trip or pitstop on a longer Germany trip. Even if you only have a few hours, the Rüdesheim Ring Ticket Tour is a must-do experience while exploring the Rhine River.
What is the Rüdesheim Ring Ticket Tour?
This tour allows you to sightsee and explore along the Rhine north of Rüdesheim as well as the adorable quarter of Assmanshausen. You’ll start the tour with a cable car ride up to the Niederwald. Afterwards, you’ll enjoy beautiful views as you follow hiking trails which run parallel to the Rhine until you reach the Jagdschloss Niederwald Hotel. From here you’ll descend down the chair lift to Assmanshausen where the last leg of your journey awaits. Hop on a cruise ship back to Rüdesheim to complete your tour. You’ll enjoy amazing views of the Rhine from above as well as from the water!
I’d suggest giving yourself at least 4 hours for the Rüdesheim Ring Ticket tour to ensure that you get to enjoy all the stops without feeling rushed. Also, be sure to note the operating times for the cable car, chair lift and cruise so as to not end up without a way back to Rüdesheim! All of this information along with pricing can be found here. Ready to dive into the details? Let’s go!
Taking the Cable Car from Rüdesheim
You’ll start your tour from the Seilbahn cable car station in the heart of town, located on Oberstraße. If you’re not sure where to go, take Christophelstraße in the opposite direction of the Rhine River and you’ll end up right in front of the ticket station! You’ll also pass my favourite winery so be sure to note that for later… or stop for a glass along the way.
There are a few different tickets options, but you want the Ring Ticket for the whole package. Be sure to keep your ticket handy as you’ll need it for later!
The Seilbahn was built in 1954, replacing an old rack railway like the Zugspite Railway you’ll find in Bavaria. Come 2004, Rüdesheim celebrated the cable car’s 50th anniversary along with its 30 millionth guest! A year later the cabins were upgraded to allow for more space and comfort as you enjoy the ride up. Be sure to take in the views as you ascend – the trip goes by faster than you’d like!
Views from the Niederwald
As you exit the cable car you’ll come to your first stop on the Rüdesheim Ring Ticket tour – the Niederwald. This whole area has recently been redone to now include a café where you can enjoy a bite to eat. Be sure to visit the Niederwaldtempel, a monopteros built by Karl Maximilian Graf von Ostein. While it was originally built in 1788, it was destroyed in World War II and has since been rebuilt. Not to be all girly, but it honestly looks like something out of a perfect wedding scene – especially with the Middle Rhine Valley as the backdrop! I’m not the only one who thinks its beautiful though as the famous Goethe told his wife Christiane about this view in one of his letters to her.
Just down the walkway, you’ll find the Niederwalddenkmal. The Niederwald monument is one of the most important German monuments of the 19th century. Commissioned by Kaiser Wilhelm I, sculpted by Johannes Schilling and designed by the architect Karl Weißbach, it took 6 years to build. The monument’s design contains a number of historical allusions and symbolism in reference to the union of Germany. Known as Germania, the oak wreath adorning her head represents victory while the imperial eagle embossed on her breastplate symbolizes strength and courage. Even tiny details like how she is looking east in the direction of the Rheingau and presenting the imperial crown to the German Nation stands for honour and resurrection. Beneath her on the base of the statue, you’ll find the coat of arms for the 25 states that were united under the German Empire at the time. You can read more about that on Wikipedia.
FUN FACT: There are now 16 states in Germany and the one Rüdesheim resides in is called Hesse.
What Kaiser Wilhelm I, Johannes Schilling and Karl Weißbach didn’t know when they built the Niederwalddenkmal is how relevant her symbolism would still be to this day. With the reunification of Germany in 1990, what she stands for is just as important and a reminder to the German people of their united strength.
If you’d like to know more about the statue and its design, there are information signs near the edge of the viewpoint. Unfortunately they’re all in German so you’ll either need Google Translate or your personal übersetzer… also known as a translator. Thanks Robin! 😉If you’re not lucky enough to have a personal translator like I did, download the German language pack while you’re connected to wifi and the camera translation feature will work offline!
Exploring the Niederwald Landscape Park
The Niederwalddenkmal sits in the heart of the Niederwald Landscape Park (Landschaftspark Niederwald in German). Continue to the right of the statue and you’ll be walking along the RingTicket-Weg, a leisurely hiking route which will take you along many of the highlights within the park. While the park existed in the 18th Century, it’s changed a lot since then!
INSIDER TIP: Want to explore more of the trails? You can always tackle the Osteinscher Weg which is a looped trail created by that Ostein guy I mentioned earlier. If you’re looking for something a little more challenging, you can ditch the cablecar and tackle part of the 320km long Rheinsteig trail. Lastly, you can take the cablecar and then follow the Wanderweg trail through vineyards to the town of Assmanshausen.
The RingTicket-Weg can be done in about an hour, but I say give yourself at least 2 to truly explore the area. There are signs posted to outline the trail but it can be fairly easy to get turned around as there are plenty of twists and turns. If you see signs for the Eremitage, you’re on the right path! Before that though, you’ll see turn-offs for the Binger Blick and Hunsrück Blick which offer great views of the Rheingau.
Just down the road is the Eremitage, one of the first structures built within the Niederwald Landscape Park as construction began in 1773. While it originally had a chapel, kitchen and living room, you now only see the ruins that remain. Back in the day, a wooden cross adorned the front of the building as well as a skull on the chapel’s altar. These were placed to serve as a reminder of how ephemeral life is and to encourage visitors to reflect upon themselves and their choices.
Hop back on the trail and keep your eyes peeled for the Nahe Blick lookout. This was probably my favourite stop along the route. Why? Hands down it’s the gorgeous view this lookout offers of Bingen am Rhein and the River Nahe. Feast your eyes on the beauty of the landscape along with the Drusus Bridge, the Mouse Tower (Mäuseturm in German) and the ruins of my favourite castle, Burg Ehrenfels. While it’s unsure if this lookout was originally included in Ostein’s original plans, it is now a part of the park that’s not to be missed!
It’ll be hard to tear yourself away from the views, but next on the docket is the Rossel. Where a Lustgewölbe used to stand (that literally translates to lust vault… what that means? I really have no idea!) now stands the Rossel since 1774. Surviving both World Wars, this neo-Gothic tower is one of the oldest buildings of its kind in the area. With the elegant backdrop of the Rhine Valley, Ostein wanted this view to take visitors by surprise with the steep drop at the edge of the structure reminding them of their own mortality. It may seem a little dark but as a gal with vertigo, I get this pretty much every time I look over a cliff edge. That didn’t stop me from enjoying the views though! Nor did it stop Robin from acting like a goofball.
Just around the corner is the Rittersaal or Knights’ Hall. Back in 1792, Ostein had a cliff house built here influenced by the designs of François Ignace Mangin, the French architect who designed the Monaise Castle in Trier and the Electoral Palace in Koblenz. This house was tiny as you can determine from the outline of the foundation which is all that remains today. From here you can see the Binger Loch, the bend in the Rhine River which made navigation hazardous back in the day. After repeatedly blasting the riverbed from 1690-1974, the width was increased to the 120m it is today, making it easier for trade ships to navigate.
You’ll be coming up to the last leg of the RingTicket-Weg but not without passing a magical little spot. To the left of the trail, you’ll find a little hut-like structure. While Robin and I immediately went in to investigate, the correct way to experience it to resist the urge to explore it and continue down the trail until you find a stone archway. Squeeze through the dark, winding 60m passage and you’ll end up in the middle of the hut. This journey to the light-filled space was meant to symbolize knowledge or insight. I personally didn’t feel this but it was still a fun little tunnel to explore. Maybe it was because we went through it backwards? Maybe it was because the magician that used to call the hut home is no longer there? I think it would definitely be more magical if a magician was waiting at the end!
Continue along the path until you reach Niederwald Hunting Lodge (Jagdschloss Neiderwald in German) at the edge of the park. What used to be the feudal estate of Ehrenfels Castle became an estate of the state of Hesse. Disaster struck in 1925 as the main building was destroyed by a fire but was rebuilt 4 years later according to the old plans. Afterwards, It became a holiday destination for families until World War II when it turned into a military hospital. When the mid-1960s came along, it was converted into the modern hotel it is today! Featuring a pool, spa and beautiful views, it’s a dreamy getaway for couples and families alike! It also signals the end of the trail and the start of the Rüdesheim Ring Ticket Tour’s next segment.
Assmannshausen, Home to Rüdesheim’s Red Wine
Take the chair lift from the Niederwald and enjoy the picturesque views as you descend into the red wine quarter of Rüdesheim, Assmannshausen. You’ll be blown away with the sweeping vertical vineyards as they line the hills cradling the Rhine. Luckily this chair lift is a bit slower than the Seilbahn cablecar so you can truly enjoy the views!
SOMETHING TO NOTE: The operating times for the Assmanshausen chair lift differ from that of Rüdesheim’s Seilbahn so be sure to look up the times otherwise you’ll have to trek it down the hill!
Located in the northwestern tip of Hesse, this is the largest area for Pinot Noir. Its slatey soil ensures a beautiful crop of grapes to make the exquisite Assmannshäuser Spätburgunder, one of the best red wines in Germany. The tradition of red wine in this area dates back to 1108 when the community was founded. Stay for an hour and enjoy a glass or plan a trip to visit – Assmanshausen isn’t only home to Pinot Noir! The area also boasts a thermal hot spring, spa, elegant guesthouses and more. It’s seriously an adorable spot and I cannot wait to return. I’ll definitely be planning a night or two so I can truly explore the area next time I visit!
Take some time to wander before embarking on the final leg of the Rüdesheim Ring Ticket tour – a cruise along the Rhine!
Rhine River Cruise to Rüdesheim
Head to Bridge 3 (signs for Brücke 3) to catch your ride back to Rüdesheim. This sightseeing cruise takes about an hour as you take your time enjoying the beautiful German countryside from the water. Enjoy the anecdotes over the loudspeakers as you see the Mäuseturm, Ehrenfels Castle and more from another angle. Looking for unobstructed views? Make a beeline for the front of the boat or head for the back. Unfortunately you won’t have first dibs on the seating as Assmanshausen is a stop along the Rhine River day cruises but chances are you’ll find a nice spot on the outer decks. Inside the boat, there is a concession in case you’re hungry along with bathrooms if you need them. You’ll make one stop in Bingen to let passengers disembark if this is their final destination before it continues on to Rüdesheim, completing the Ring Ticket Tour!
SOMETHING TO NOTE: If you’re staying in Bingen, you can do this tour from there no problem! All you’ll need to do is take the Bingen Rüdesheimer ferry across the river to start the tour. A one-way ticket will cost €2.50 for adults and €1.25 for children under 12. You can find the full schedule and ferry costs here.
Other Things to Do in Rüdesheim
With that, your Ring Tour has come to an end! This area of Germany is honestly so picturesque that just a few hours of exploring really isn’t enough. If your wanderlust isn’t satisfied, I highly suggest spending some time in both Rüdesheim and Bingen. If you’ve rented a car, take a drive up towards Koblenz along either side of the River and do some Rhine castle hunting. There are plenty of them waiting to be explored!
On the other hand, if that was enough excitement for you, feel free to take it easy. Enjoy a leisurely stroll along the picturesque streets of Rüdesheim. There are plenty of amazing restaurants so sit down to enjoy a great meal and a glass of wine… or a Rudesheimer coffee if you dare! For additional information, be sure to visit the tourist information centre in the heart of town.
Robin and I enjoyed this tour complimentary thanks to the wonderful people at the Rüdesheim Tourism Office. Despite this, all opinions and suggestions written here are entirely my own! Also, this post contains affiliate