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. They are accessible by a 45 minute direct train from Cologne, a 20 minute train from Bonn, or an hour long train ride from Dusseldorf.

If you’re visiting in the summer, you don’t have to do it by train either – you could do it by lovely Rhine river cruise. A company called K-D cruises is amazing and runs from Cologne (you can also get on at Bonn) to Linz – stopping at both Konigswinter and Bad Honnef, which is then perfect for exploring the Drachenfels. I visited in the depths of winter (not sure what I was thinking as it was COLD), so I took the train from Cologne.

So what is there to do at the Drachenfels?

1. Drachenburg Castle

You can walk from Konigswinter station to the base of the Drachenfels hill in about 20 minutes. From there you can make the choice to walk up to the castle, or take the railway. We were a bit pushed for time so took the train up and walked down. It is a steep walk, so I’d only recommend walking if you’re really up for some exercise!

The Drachenburg Castle lies about half way up the Drachenfels hill (so get off the train at the first stop for it). This Castle 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!

Looking out to The Rhine

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!

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!

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.

Sunset over The Rhine
View down to Drachenburg

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.

The Drachenfels make for the perfect day trip from Cologne, Dusseldorf, Bonn, Linz and anywhere in the North West region and a great way to get out in to the outdoors and 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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