The idyllic river flows gently around the castle mound. It’s cool, shallow waters and smooth stones are perfect for a barefoot walk.
As my daughter and I stacked pebbles and stones into precarious pillars in the middle of the river the hem of her cotton dress skimming the water’s surface, small children splashed and giggled in their underwear a bit downstream.
Cyclists dismounted from their bikes for the opportunity to dip their hands in the chilly waters refreshing after a long ride. Families lounged along the shore with picnic baskets heavy with homemade lunches and a time-worn couple relaxed in the shade on a paint chipped bench reminiscing about their youth.
From its hilltop perch, Burg Eltz elegantly reigned over the valley observing another generation enjoying a beautiful, sunny day by the river.
My family and I recently had the opportunity to visit the medieval Burg Eltz in the Rhineland-Palatinate state of Germany. Built in 1157 along the lower Eltz River, which serves as a tributary to the Mosel River, this castle was once situated along a popular trade route, which has since been abandoned leaving this regal beauty nestled within the German wilderness.
Here are some reasons why I think you should visit Burg Eltz.
Burg Eltz has never been destroyed.
Unfortunately, many castles in Germany have been destroyed as a result of conflicts, or due simply to neglect. While beautiful, it’s expensive to maintain a castle and in modern times is not considered a comfortable place to call home. Therefore, most castles in Germany are ruins, or have been rebuilt and lack originality. I’m not a castle snob, but I prefer the original builds and even the ruins to a reconstruction.
In this regard, Burg Eltz is a gem. It is a time capsule, a walkthrough museum to explore. Taking photos is forbidden within the castle. As a result, the only way to see what lies beyond the gate is to actually experience it.
Burg Eltz has been owned by the Eltz family for its entire 853-year existence. A family, which held extensive political power at its prime and still occasionally occupies the castle, when in the area. If walls could talk, I think Burg Eltz would have many stories to tell.
Great place to hike.
As I mentioned, Burg Eltz is surrounded by wilderness making it a great place for hiking. There are well-shaded, clearly-marked hiking trails at varying skill levels that offer scenic wilderness views as well as different perspectives of Burg Eltz. This castle is beautiful from every angle. So, be sure to wear your hiking boots and bring a camera/phone. You’ll be tempted to take many pictures. Most of the hiking trails can be managed by families with children and some people brought dogs with them, but note that your pup will not be allowed inside the castle grounds.
The Eltz River that runs next to Burg Eltz was an unexpected highlight of the trip. It was fun to play in the cool water with my daughter and was a great place to people watch and enjoy the view of the castle from a lower elevation. I recommend bringing a lunch and having a picnic in the shade next to the river. If possible, try to stake a claim on the central island next to the old bridge. Great spot.
- Arrive early in the morning to try to avoid a line. We arrived in the early afternoon and easily waited an hour to enter because there is a limited number of guests allowed within the castle grounds at one time due to Covid-19.
- You will not be permitted inside without a mask.
- Bring sunblock. There’s no shade while standing in line.
- Use the bathroom before you arrive. Like I previously mentioned, the wait can be long and there are no restrooms until you enter the castle grounds.
- They accept euros and credit cards.
I hope this post inspires you to add Burg Eltz to your destination list. It was a wonderful way to spend a day in Germany.