Brühl interior

Looking for a fortress close to Cologne you possibly can go to as a part of a day journey or a hike? Then excellent news: you’re in luck! There are loads of castles which can be straightforward to succeed in from Cologne – whether or not that’s within the Rheinland, the neighboroughing area of Bergisches Land and even alongside the picturesque Mosel valley.

It’s no exaggeration to say that in Germany, there’s mainly a fortress round each nook.

This listing is in no way exhaustive. Instead, I’ve drained to give attention to one of the best that this nook of Germany has to supply – particularly these that may be reached on a day journey from Cologne, both by automobile or by public transport. And in fact, nearly all of the castles listed under might be visited on a rewarding hike.

‘Castle’ which means in Germany

There’s one thing that feels very quintessentially German about castles; or no less than, whenever you consider Germany, lovely and foreboding fortresses are sometimes one thing that come to thoughts.

But in Germany, a fortress isn’t all the time a fortress. Or to place it one other means: German and English usually differ on what’s a fortress and what isn’t. This means issues can usually get misplaced in translation. I’ll attempt to clarify it right here, however keep in mind: I’m no professional and will very simply be fallacious.

The entrance stairwell at Brühl Castle (or Palace, relying on the interpretation…)

German has three completely different phrases that we’d translate into English as ‘fortress’Burg, Festung and Schloss.

  • The phrase most individuals are most likely most acquainted with is Schloss, which is usually used for castles constructed for rulers or grand households. These weren’t all the time fortified (though some additionally have been) and due to this, some locations in Germany (together with Schloss Benrath in Düsseldorf or Schloss Nordkirchen) are then translated as “castles” in English, regardless of being extra akin to palaces – or maybe a Hall.
  • Burg typically means a fortified fortress {that a} King, Queen, Duke or ruler would have additionally lived in. Confusingly, additionally, you will discover no less than one Schloss Burg – extra under.
  • Festung is a fortress, principally constructed with a army objective – suppose very, very thick defensive partitions. These might be comparatively newer constructions and really hardly ever have the fantastic thing about grandeur that you’d affiliate with a Schloss.

The defensive metropolis partitions, a part of Burg Blankenberg

Luckily, there are nice examples of all three “sorts” inside straightforward attain of Cologne, so you needn’t fear an excessive amount of concerning the definition and as a substitute take pleasure in your go to.

Castles close to Cologne alongside the Rhine

Castles near Cologne: Brühl

The palace grounds at Brühl

Brühl Castle

Just a stone’s throw from the centre of Cologne you’ll discover one of the attention-grabbing ‘castles’ on this listing. (I’m adament that a greater translation could be palace, as it’s formally recorded by UNESCO…) While Bonn functioned because the de-facto capital of West Germany through the Cold War interval, the pastel yellow Schloss Brühl was used to obtain dignitaries and international heads of states.

On a one-hour guided tour, you possibly can discover the palace, together with the unbelievable entrance staircase, which is de facto fairly wonderful (proven above). However, it’s the grounds that make it for me: be sure that to go to on a sunny or dry day and take a leisurely stroll right down to Falkenlust, the previous looking lodge.

Pretty a lot any RB or RE practice heading in the direction of Bonn will cease at Brühl – the practice station is situated conveniently on the palace grounds.

Amazing shot of Schloss Drachenfels by Arno Hoyer by way of Flickr


One of the simplest castles to go to close to Cologne is Drachenfels, situated simply south of Bonn on the appropriate aspect of the river Rhine.

In precise truth, Drachenfels (which means ‘dragon rock’ in German) is the identify of the outstanding hill on which two completely different castles sit: the ruins of Burg Drachenfels on the very prime and the putting, in addition to the grandiose Schloss Drachenburg  (discover the complicated use of a number of German phrases right here…!), which is definitely simply an elaborate villa constructed to appear to be a fortress.

The hill can also be residence to a big viewing platform, which might be reached both by foot or by using the Drachenfels Railway. The spot is a very fashionable selection with hikers and tourists alike on sunny summer season days.

For Drachenfels, take the RE8 practice from Cologne to Königswinter.

Read extra: The finest day hikes from Cologne on public transport

Ehrenbreitstein Fortress, Koblenz

Looming over the beautiful metropolis of Koblenz, Ehrenbreitstein is a good instance of a real Festung. Built by the Prussians within the early nineteenth Century, the fortress occupies a strategic place on the Rhine and was meant to repel future assaults from France.

Today you don’t want the backing of the French military to enter, you possibly can journey by way of cable automobile throughout the river from Koblenz. The fortress is now residence to a museum and a youth hostel, however in my view, the views of Koblenz are its strongest promoting level. A combi-ticket with the cable automobile and entry to the fortress prices €16.90.

The RE5 or RRX from Cologne is the quickest regional practice to Koblenz, however there are additionally Inter-City Express connections.

Rhine river view hiking

The view of the Rhine from the Rheinburgenweg route. Stolzenfels is the white constructing on the appropriate.

Stolzenfels Castle

Another fortress which is definitely visited from Koblenz is Schloss Stolzenfels. It is the closest fortress of the Middle Rhein Valley to Koblenz and rises dramatically from the forested hills above the Rhine, looming over the river. The fortress’s authentic renovation was an necessary second within the so-called Rheinromantik, the Rhine romanticism motion. The fortress was extra lately renovated a number of years in the past and is now a stunning white color, which helps it to face out much more.

On our go to a number of years in the past, we took a bus from central Koblenz to the city under and walked as much as the fortress. Guided excursions have been working each hour in German.

Rheinstein Castle

Rheinstein Castle

Middle Rhine Valley

The part of the Rhine river between Bonn and Bingen is called the Middle Rhine Valley and is characterised by its many vineyards and castles. The part between Koblenz and Bingen is especially dramatic, because the river cuts by way of a slender gorge, leaving towering cliffs on both aspect. 

In addition to Stolzenfels, different stand-out castles embrace Rheinstein Castle, and two castles often known as Katz and Maus (actually cat and mouse). The finest means to soak up this area’s castles is both by way of a Rhine river cruise or as a part of a hike. The Rheinsteig follows the proper aspect of the Rhine, whereas the Rheinburgenweg follows the left aspect.

Castles value visiting in Bergisches Land


Inside the grounds of Burg Castle

Schloss Burg

The very confusingly-named Burg Castle is present in a village on the Wupper river and is likely one of the finest castles close to Cologne to go to. The fortress was an necessary seat for the Berg Duchy, which grew to develop into an necessary energy in Western Germany (therefore the identify of the area at this time, Bergisches Land).

However for British guests, the fortress has a way more necessary declare to fame: the house of Anne of Cleves, Henry VIII’s second spouse. But bizarrely, there may be actually no point out of her anyplace contained in the fortress. Burg Castle is likely one of the few castles on this listing you can enter with out a guided tour and freely roman the interiors, which is nicely value doing.

If you come to go to Schloss Burg, there are three issues you possibly can’t miss: a 10km loop alongside the Wupper river taking within the Müngstener Brücke, Germany’s highest railway bridge; a journey on the chairlift from the underside of the hill to the fortress; adopted by a really well-earned Bergisches Waffle within the tea rooms within the fortress grounds.

From Cologne, take the 260 bus from Messe/Deutz to Wermelskirchen, adopted by the 266 bus to Solingen, Burg Schloss.

Must-see castles in the Eifel

Castles near Cologne: Burg Satzvey

Burg Satzvey

Burg Satzvey is one in every of Germany’s most picturesque Wasserschlösser – or water castles – which is usually used to explain palaces constructed instantly on water, seemingly arising from the depths. 

Burg Satzvey is hidden in a small hamlet (you’d actually don’t know it was there when you have been driving previous) and at this time hosts a good quantity of family-friendly occasions all year long (we noticed folks practising their jousting as we visited). It’s most likely finest visited as a part of a hike, which you’ll simply mix with the close by Katzensteine rock formations or Hochwildpark Rheinland, a wildlife park.

Public transport connections from Cologne to Satzvey aren’t nice – finest to take the automobile.

Read extra: The finest round hikes from Cologne by automobile

Bürresheim Castle

I’ll be sincere: I haven’t made it to this fortress close to Cologne but, but it surely’s on my listing! Bürresheim is recognisable to most individuals as the place Indiana Jones and his Dad (Sean Connery) have been held prisoner in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. It holds the excellence of being one in every of solely three castles West of the Rhine which have by no means been destroyed.

Castles close to Cologne: the Mosel River Valley

Burg Eltz

Burg Eltz

Chances are: when you’ve bought Instagram, you’ve seen numerous photos of this fortress. Second solely to Bavaria’s Neuschwanstein in photogenic-ness (most likely not a phrase), Burg Eltz is one in every of Germany’s most castle-iest castles (positively not a phrase).

Burg Eltz is discovered nestled within the loop of a small stream a number of kilometres’ stroll away from Moselkern within the Mosel valley and sure, the fortress is de facto as dramatic and magical because it seems to be. Turning the nook, you might be abruptly struck by a fortress straight from a fairy story. However, you might be additionally struck by bus-loads of vacationers, so be ready to be affected person if you’d like that excellent Instagram picture.

There are loads of hikes that incoporate the fortress (the Moselsteig from Treis-Karden or the Traumpfad panorama hike are simply two of them).

Getting to Moselkern from Cologne means taking the RE5 (RRX) or ICE to Koblenz after which altering to a regional practice. The journey time is round two hours quarter-hour.


Cochem fortress

When it involves the Mosel Valley, Cochem is the actual showstopper. Undeniably lovely (and extremely fashionable with Dutch vacationers), Cochem is the valley’s actual vacationer centre and has the bustling environment, nice eating places and – sure, that’s proper – the fortress to show it.

Reichsburg Cochem, which means Imperial Castle Cochem, sits proudly above the beautiful city of Cochem and is the biggest fortress within the Mosel valley. Throughout historical past, the valley discovered itself strongly contested between Germany and France, which led to the destruction of the fortress. It was purchased in 1866 and slowly and lovingly restored. It’s really one of many few castles that I’ve visited as a part of a guided tour (however contemplating this was a college journey in 2007, I bear in mind completely nothing of it.)

For nice views of the fortress and the city, take the Sesselbahn chairlift as much as a viewing platform.

Getting to Cochem from Cologne means taking the RE5 (RRX) or ICE to Koblenz after which altering. The journey time is round two hours quarter-hour.

Read extra: the finest small cities in Germany


The Moselsteig because it passes Burg Thurant

Other castles alongside the Mosel

Much like the Rhine, the Mosel Valley is residence to numerous castles that can be visited by way of a hike or taken in on a leisurely river cruise. Personal favorite day journeys of mine have been climbing previous Burg Thurant as a part of Moselsteig Stage 22 or skirting previous Castle Metternich above Beilstein on Moselsteig Stage 17.

Ruins alongside the Sieg river

The Siegtal is one in every of my favorite locations in straightforward attain of Cologne – it’s excellent for climbing and it’s rather well related with the town by way of the S12, S19 or RE9. The valley is residence to no less than two castles ruins nicely value visiting on a stroll or hike.

Castles near Cologne: Blankenberg Sieg

Blankenberg Castle

The first from Cologne is Burg Blankenberg, which occupies a formidable location atop on outcrop surveying the valley. Today, the ruins are partly occupied by a cute communal backyard, though loads of not-so-cute defensive options nonetheless stay, together with the town partitions which encircle the beautiful little outdated city.

Castles near Cologne: Schloss Windeck

The ruins of Windeck Castle

Another set of ruins are these of Schloss Windeck, situated simply exterior of Schladern. Located on a excessive vantage level above the city, the ruins largely encompass the stays of a defensive turret and a nearly-complete wall. On a transparent day, the location has nice views of the valley. 

Castle excursions: are they value it?
Despite placing collectively this weblog submit on a few of the finest castles to go to from Cologne, I’ve really been inside only a few of them. The purpose? I discover fortress excursions might be actually disappointing, if I’m sincere. I’m positive there are some actually good ones on the market, however I can’t suppose that I’ve been on one. Frustratingly, entry to a fortress is usually with a guided tour solely, which suggests the within I usually skip the within and give attention to Instagramming the surface. It’s additionally why I believe many of those castles are finest visited as a part of a hike – to benefit from the panorama and the surrounds of the fortress quite than the stuffy inside.

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