Rhine valley boat tours, public transport and welcome cards

Last Updated on 27/01/2024

This topic is about the Moselle and Rhine Valley boat tours, welcome cards in the region and the rather complicated public transport tariff system around Frankfurt to Koblenz. The difficulty lies in the fact that the tourism region is divided into Rhineland-Palatinate and Hesse, and they have very different attitudes towards public transport.

Attractions around Frankfurt am Main, along the Rhine to Koblenz
Rhine castles from Kaub to Koblenz and Lorelei rock
Castles on the Middle Rhine on the map. 1. From Rüdesheim to Bacharach

Information on tariffs and welcome cards change frequently (every year). Cards can disappear, change their conditions. Note the date the post was updated and check the links for relevance of the information.

The general rule for visiting castles on the Rhine.

In order to see as many castles as possible (ie from the outside – to visit is the other way around), you have to drive from Rüdesheim to Kaub on the right-hand side, cross the ferry and continue on the left-hand side. However, there are very few viewing platforms, the road is narrow and there is practically no opportunity to stop to take a picture of the castle. You should plan the parking spaces in the towns and villages.

Therefore, to see and photograph the Rhine valley castles, use ships: downstream and in the morning (twice as fast and less sun than in the opposite direction).

Most of the popular sights are accessible by train and boat. If you don’t have a car, choose accommodation near the train station. The buses are intended for the residents of the villages above, but also run occasionally (rarely) along the Rhine.

Rhine valley boat tours

You can only really see the shore and the castles from the ship. Don’t rely on trains or cars.

In small villages like Trechtingshausen, ships only stop if you show them that you want to get on. The Rhine has a very strong current. Be at the spot 5 minutes early so that you can be seen. Otherwise the ship cannot slow down in time.

All companies also offer special trips (culinary or themed), including the “Rhine in Flames”.

Each company has its own pier, and the ticket seller prefers not to give information about competitors. Piers may be distant from each other. It is better to come in advance and carefully study all the available options. The landing stage of the Bingen-Rüdesheim shipping company, for example, is located behind the ferry in Sankt Goar.

Rheintal Schifffahrten
enlarge Map data ©OpenStreetMap, ©OpenTopoMap


One shipping company, KD, runs from Mainz to Cologne. The entire route is once a day (11 hours). Rüdesheim-Koblenz segment several times a day, depending on the season.

There is a short route also along the Mosel.
KD offers as well circuits in major cities. In the region: in Frankfurt and in Koblenz.

From combined tickets, the company offers a circular route in Rüdesheim (with cable car) (like other companies).

KD has a steamer “Goethe”.

Bingen-Rüdesheimer Fahrgastschiffahrt

The Bingen-Rüdesheim passenger ships travel from Rüdesheim to Sankt Goar, the entire route several times a day.

On the website the route is divided into sections with nice names, but the ship does not always make a circular route, it can also continue. Compare the schedule of different segments with each other.

Advantageous three-day ticket for active users, including ship and ferry: Rhein-Erlebnis-Ticket (approx. 35 euros adults, approx. 20 euros children).

Combination ticket – a round trip in Rüdesheim.

Other companies on the Rhine

Rössler Linie Link

A few travels:
standard circular route from Rüdesheim (daily),
from Rüdesheim to S. Goar (not daily)

Loreley Linie Weinand Link

The basic route is Boppard – Sankt Goar (several times a day)

In addition, the company travels to Rüdesheim once a day.

La Paloma. Link

La Paloma travels from Koblenz to Braubach (Marksburg)

Giles Link

There are regular tours around Koblenz.

Day trips to other tourist cities several times a season.

Hölzenbein https://www.hoelzenbein.de/

Round trips in Koblenz

Merkelbach UPD: closed (2023)

Several times a day from Koblenz to Braubach.

Boat trip on Moselle river

Gebr. Kolb Link

From Cochem to Trier.

Boat trip on Main river

Longer routes are operated by Primus Line. Link

Sightseeing tours in Frankfurt: Primus Linie, KD

Public transport around Frankfurt and along the Rhine

A short algorithm for buying tickets for public transport in this region, so as not to worry about the variety of tariffs.

1. You live in Germany and already have a Germany ticket and have no children over 6 years old – you can proceed to the welcome cards

2. You have a Germany ticket and have children that must to pay. Most likely, it will be unprofitable to take Germany tickets for them, separate tickets will be cheaper. But it’s better to calculate – see “How to calculate the costs” below.

3. You are an adult tourist and do not have a Germany ticket. Your next steps will depend on whether you have children or not, how many of you are traveling without a Germany ticket and your travel dates.

  • You are traveling alone, your travel dates are in the same calendar month, you travel a lot and have no children – get a Germany ticket and don’t forget to cancel the extension in good time.
  • Your travel dates belong to different calendar months and it’s not worth it for you to take a Germany ticket for two months – see below what day cards you have to choose from.
  • Your travel dates refer to one month, but
    you have children,
    or you are traveling as a couple or as a small group,
    or you don’t plan to travel much by public transport
    – further calculate each of your routes according to the algorithm.
    Why are children an obstacle to the Germany ticket? Because you have to pay for them too, and day tickets can be advantageous when traveling with children (for example, they travel for free).
    The same also applies to several adults: the more group tickets you buy, the lower the probability that several Germany tickets are worthwhile. Everything depends on the specific routes and their number. On my last trip, a ticket for me and the children together cost 20 euros, for children without me the same route cost 35 euros.

4. You are in the region for a few days and do not have a Germany ticket – look out for guest cards (see below). Pay attention on Rhine-Palatinate Ticket or Rhine-Main Card.

Trains in Germany
Local public transport in Germany
Germany ticket for regional public transport Deutschland-Ticket
Train delays and strikes in Germany. What can you do

How to calculate the cost of routes

First you find out which tariff network you are in and where you are going.

To do this, enter your travel plan on bahn.de and see which fares bahn.de offers (letters on the right). Then you can select a tariff or call up the transport association (Verkehrsverbund) website. If you need route maps, the transport association website will also help you.

The route must be entered in full: with all travelers, with intermediate stops, the correct starting point and the return route, if available. You can change individual trains later – regional trains are not obliged. The calculator only offers you what it thinks is right for you. It does not take into account that you are going somewhere else that day, that you have children or that you make stops along the way.

Note that:

  • Single ticket from A to B does not include any stopovers on the route. If you specify a stop in the route, the price for a one-way ticket will be higher (two tickets will be counted for you – the stop zone will be charged twice in this case).
  • If you are traveling within a fare network, you will be offered the entire range of tickets in this network. The federal state ticket (Landesticket) is given at the very end. The route is only given in one direction.
  • If you move across the border of tariff associations, you will be offered single tickets for the entire section. Children with parents travel for free with such tickets (and if they travel alone, they pay). The federal state ticket will not appear until it becomes more profitable.
  • Within a tariff association, day tickets of this association are usually more profitable. When crossing the border to tariff associations: choose single ticket for Deutsche Bahn (children travel for free) or federal state tickets. Also check Rhein-Main Ticket (see below).

Two federal state tickets and several tourist cards are valid in the region.

On the left bank and after Kaub also on the right bank you can buy Rhineland-Palatinate ticket from 26 euros per person and up to three children free (for two adults – 32 euros and up to three children free etc. plus 6 euros up to 5 people). Always enter the complete itinerary on bahn.de, including your bus stops, to see whether the ticket is still valid (it’s at the bottom of the list).
Also the all-too-clever site bahn.de doesn’t offer it if you’re just choosing a one-way route, or if the total cost of the return trip is less than the cost of the Rhineland-Palatinate ticket. I didn’t find a validity map for the ticket, but it is very widespread: in Saarland, in Wiesbaden and other cities outside of Rhineland-Palatinate, but sometimes only in rail traffic. So check.

On the right bank in Hessen – Hessenticket, but it is very expensive (39 euros for a group of up to 5 people), which is rarely justified.


Ticket selection in a fare network for the route St. Goar – Boppard. The order can be different: first a single ticket, then a day ticket, then a monthly ticket or vice versa. Some types of tickets cannot be bought on bahn.de (only in vending machines or apps).

The federal state ticket is right at the end of the list. If you are traveling with children, remember to count your children’s day tickets or take a group day ticket.

Ticket when crossing the border of the tariff network from Bacharach to Boppard (border to Bacharach). The conditions show that children travel for free and that the route must be continuous.

The federal land ticket only appears if the price of the individual tickets exceeds the price of the federal land ticket. Of course, you can still buy it if it is more convenient for you (in the machine, in the “Länderticket” section on the site).

It is not here yet:

And here it has already appeared

Tariff associations from Mainz to Koblenz along the Rhine

The borders of the associations are given approximately. Relevant train stations, some bus routes to major attractions and cable cars are also shown.

Öffentliche Verkehrsmittel Frankfurt Region
enlarge Map data ©OpenStreetMap, ©OpenTopoMap

Left side

The first association is RNN – Rhein-Nahe Nahverkehrsverbund Link. It combines the means of transport along the Rhine – from Mainz to Bacharach, along the Nahe and south to Worms. A special zones are Mainz and Wiesbaden – depending on how and where you travel, different tariffs may apply here. To calculate the price, select Preis-Fahrplanauskunft, give the entire length of the daily route.

Tickets with destination Bingen (single or single day tickets) are also valid for the ferry to Rüdesheim.

The network VRM – Verkehrsverbund Rhein – Mosel begins behind Bacharach Link

Those who stay here in certain hotels/apartments (list on the website) are lucky – they will receive a VRM guest ticket (VRM-Gästeticket) with free travel through the network area, as well as to Hessian cities (Lorchhausen, Lorch, Assmannshausen, Rüdesheim am Rhein, Geisenheim, Oestrich-Winkel and Hattenheim, RMV area 63).

For those who did not receive a free ticket, there are day tickets, three-day tickets and the Rhineland-Palatinate ticket.

Right bank and around Frankfurt

On the other side of the river is the main association RMV – Rhein Main Verkehrsverbund. Link

This association is not as strongly integrated as in other federal states. Cities have their own tariffs. Use the tariff information Tarifauskunft for the calculation. The main ticket type will be a day ticket.

Please note that tickets for Rüdesheim (single or day tickets for one person) are also valid for the ferry to Bingen. The same applies to the ferry to Oestrich-Winkel.

Welcome cards for Frankfurt and the Rhine Valley region

Let’s separate guest cards (Gästekarte), which you can get for staying overnight in the city, and tourist cards, which you can buy, which can be profitable and non-profitable.

Guest cards

The most valuable is the VRM Gästekarte, which you receive when you stay in the listed hotels/apartments. You can use public transport for free with the card. Unfortunately the list of hotels is short. Link

The VRM guest card is part of the Boppard guest card. That makes it very valuable, as does the 20 percent discount on KD rides.

Bad Ems has a KaiserCard. Specific benefits are not given.

The Wiesbaden guest card is pretty useless – small discounts on unnecessary attractions, unless you’ve always dreamed of going to the casino. Wiesbaden also has a welcome card for money.

Tourist welcome card in Frankfurt, Frankfurt-Main region, Mainz, Koblenz, Trier

Let’s go from Trier towards Frankfurt, so as not to forget anyone.


In Trier there are two cards:

ANTIKENCARD – 12/18 euros, adults and up to four children, 2/4 free Roman monuments and small other discounts. There’s not much point as separate tickets for two monuments are cheap even with kids.

Trier Card (€15/€30 per person/family).
Offers free travel on buses for three days and discounts on admission to museums from 10 to 30 percent.
Given that
Trier is not a very big city and no buses are needed for the city center,
the most valuable 30 percent discount – to the Karl Marx Museum,
family tickets for museums are very advantageous
– I don’t see the point of this card. If you need to use the buses, check the day passes and calculate discounts for the museums


Koblenz Card

Free buses, ferries and trains in the Koblenz area for 24 hours, 50 percent discount for museums, 20 percent discount for the cable car, 20 percent discount for ships. The costs are 9.80 euros. For short active trip in Koblenz with transport it can be useful.

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Rhein-Main, Mainz, Frankfurt

Rhein-Main Card

Card for 2 days for 32 euros (one person) or 52 euros (groups of up to 5 people).

The main component of this card is free travel in the RMV tariff network. This means that this card is not used to visit the castles on the Rhine, but around Frankfurt, along the Rhine to Assmannshausen, north and south of Frankfurt. It is particularly advantageous for a group. Check the website for ticket validity map Link

There are few discounts, decent discounts even less. You can look at the cities on the website. As far as I noticed: discount on ships, discount on thermal baths, 50 percent on the Palm garden in Frankfurt.

Mainz Card Plus

18 euros / 55 euros (groups of up to 5 people). 2 days free travel in the Mainz-Wiesbaden area and 48 hours of other discounts. Free museums in Mainz. 20 percent KD rides.

Considering that there is little to see in Mainz (except for the Roman and book printing museums, which are being renovated), the cost of the card seems too high.

Wiesbaden Card Premium

A similar card for two days, with the difference that the attractions are not free, but with discounts. Most interesting in the city are thermal swimming pools (20 percent), a rope park (10 percent) and a funicular (30 percent). The center is quite large and the walk to the funicular is about a kilometer and a half, so buses make sense.

Does the card make sense or is it better to buy a day pass for transportation – you need to calculate based on your expenses. The price of the card is 12.95 (one person) / 22 euros (group of up to 5 people) for two days. For comparison: A day ticket for the Wiesbaden-Mainz zone for a group of up to 5 people costs 12.60 euros.

Frankfurt Card

Available in 8 variants:
– with public transport (including travel to the airport) for 1 and 2 days for one person or for group
– without public transport for 2 and 3 days for one person or for group

You can find the prices on the website Link

50 percent for museums and Palmgarten
20 percent for ships and the Main Tower
other less relevant discounts

Other topics related to sights on the #Rhine

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