Fairytale castles on the Rhine – A day in the Drachenfels

The Drachenfels (Dragon’s Rock) is a tall hill, part of the Siebengebirge (Seven Hills) between the German towns of Konigswinter and Bad Honnef. I’d recently ready about the area and decided to visit during a trip to Cologne. I was so glad I did as the castle and surrounding hills are so beautiful and provide awesome views out to the Rhine.

How to get there

The Drachenfels are accessible by a 45 minute direct train from Cologne, a 20 minute train from Bonn, or an hour long train ride from Dusseldorf to Konigswinter which is the access point to the hills. This makes the Drachenfels the perfect option for a day trip from the region’s main cities. I took the train from Cologne and it was super easy to navigate.

Cologne Hauptbahnhof on a cold but bright winter’s day

As I was visiting in winter, I was limited to train only transport options. However, if you’re visiting in the summer, you could also reach the Drachenfels via a lovely Rhine river cruise. A company called K-D cruises is amazing and runs from Cologne/Bonn to Linz – stopping at both Konigswinter and Bad Honnef – which is then perfect for exploring the Drachenfels.

What to see there

Arriving in to Konigswinter station, it’s a 20 minute walk to the base of the Drachenfels, where you can walk up to the top or take a train. We decided to take the train to maximise time at the top, and instead walked down.

1. Drachenburg Castle

The first stop the train makes on the way up is at Drachenburg Castle, which was actually constructed by a rich banker who planned to live there, but never did. It then became a school, was owned by the Nazis and eventually transferred to the local government and was opened to the public after a refurbishment programme. You may also recognise it from the TV show Babylon Berlin, where it is home to Alfred Nyssen.

It’s a lovely site to walk around, and Insta heaven for those of you willing to make the effort and capture all of the right angles! The views out over the Rhine are also stunning and we spent about 1hr here.

Wow the views!

2. Hiking to the Drachenfels point

From the Castle, we hiked up to the Drachenfels summit. You can get the train if you prefer, however we wanted to get to the lookout point out over the Drachenburg Castle….and some exercise after yet more sausage!

View down to Drachenburg Castle

The hike up is steep and takes around 45 minutes depending on fitness. At the top, there is a restaurant, and stunning views out over the Rhine. Truly beautiful, and if you can time it for sunset even better!

Sunset over The Rhine

3. Burgruine Drachenfels

At the summit is a small path which leads you even further upwards to the Burgruine (castle ruins). At the very summit of the hill are some castle ruins, from a castle built in the 1100s! It was originally built to protect Cologne from invasion, but was all but destroyed during the 1600s in the Thirty Years War and never rebuilt. It’s cool to explore the ruins though, with even more epic views.

We then walked all the way down, partially in the dark as we visited in winter, but with torches and clearly marked paths is was no problem at all and a little bit of an adventure. The Drachenfels make for the perfect day trip from Cologne, Dusseldorf, Bonn or Linz and are a great way to get out in to nature to experience some of the amazing places Germany has to offer away from the cities.

Thanks for reading and I hope you’ve found this post interesting and helpful. Stay safe and happy travelling!

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