Visiting and photographing the Eltz Castle, Germany

 

Right, the Eltz Castle (Burg Eltz in German). If you’re all about social media, you’ve probably seen it recently since the hype is seriously on the rise. And frankly, quite rightfully.

This castle is for sure one of the most picturesque medieval apartments, I’ve ever seen. Eltz is planted quite peacefully and unusually in a valley (not on top of the highest hill which makes it a dream for photographers). It is surrounded by lush forests and by a small river carving almost a full circle around it.
 

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There is basically no distraction in terms of modern buildings, power lines, roads, etc. Even the parking area is not located directly at the site (you must walk for about 10 min downhill or take a shuttle for 2 EUR). All this together will transport you 500 years back in time.

Arriving in the Rhein-Mosel area (the real name is Rheinland-Pfalz) might make you think, whether you’ve chosen the right castle. Reason? There is simply so many! Seriously, if you’re into medieval buildings, going by train along Rhine and Mosel will most likely be the ride of your life. What I’m trying to say is that there are couple of other castles that would definitely deserve at least as much attention as the Eltz castle. Just saying. 🙂

40707,7371,34066: Get Your Guide

So how to get to Burg Eltz?

Getting to the area

Well, obviously, first you’ll need to get to Germany. Since Germany is big, somewhere in the mid-west will do best (sounds almost poetic). If you have a car, just smash “Burg Eltz” into your GPS. If not – no problem, you can easily go by train to one of the nearby villages! I personally recommend the village called Moselkern as your base camp. Another option would be Müden (a bit further) or Wierschem. The last one is not reachable by train, which I found too complicated. Nevertheless, Wierschem is known as the “Eltz town”, so you might want to check it out.

Going by train from Frankfurt: I briefly describe this option since it’s a very likely one. Take an IC train from Frankfurt Hbf (the main station) to Koblenz. You can even departure directly from Frankfurt International Airport if you wish to skip visiting Frankfurt. The train ride to Koblenz will take about 1.5 hour and is really enjoyable – I promise you passing at least one castle every 5 km. When you arrive to Koblenz, you’ll need to change for a small regional train (most likely it will be called “RB” + a number, e.g. RB81) in direction Trier. If you’d like to follow my tips, you’ll get off in Moselkern.

You can easily book (and even save for booking in advance) your tickets online on bahn.de. Print them out or download the bahn.de app.

Hiking to the Eltz castle from Moselkern

The reason I chose Moselkern was not only the simple train connection but also the short distance to the Eltz Castle. The hike to the site takes about 1 hour 15 minutes from the Church in Moselkern. Or 55 minutes if you decide to see the sunrise and walk with a headlamp through the dark foggy forest. Alone. In the middle of the night. At least I wasn’t scared.

But back to the hike – it is fairly easy. You’ll sweat a bit, yeah. But no hardcore hiking. Also the route is well maintained, mostly 1-2 person wide. It gets a bit slippery when wet.

Directions: Start at the church. When you’re standing in front of it and looking at it, start walking to your left. The road will lead you into a right-turn and through a rail underpass. Now you’re on the right track! You’ll walk on the asphalt road until you get to a bridge with a sign for hikers sending you off the road to the right. From now on, just follow these signs. Always look for “Burg Eltz”. Here’s a map:

Photographing the Eltz castle

I counted at least 5 cool photo spots at the location (please comment if you find more!) which I marked on the map below. As mentioned in the beginning, this place is very touristy. In general, you won’t mind tourists at the upper spots. They could be quite distracting at the lower spots.

Sooo, why not coming for the sunrise? I tried it out myself. The night hike was a bit adventurous but because I hiked to the castle the previous afternoon and because I had a headlamp (necessary!), all went well.The Eltz castle is such a treat for photographers! So often in the morning, there is a thick cloud of fog rolling through the valley and around the castle. I was lucky as well and as a bonus, I had the entire place for myself. Bring enough time as it can take a while before the fog dissolves enough to see the castle. By the way, the castle’s opening time is 9:30 – 17:30 (only relevant for the building, not the area), so plan your shooting accordingly.

Map of the Eltz Castle area with marked photo spots
Map of the Eltz Castle area with marked photo spots

Spot A – morning location due to better light and less people; the first spot when arriving to the castle from Moselkern – I found it interesting as it is not photographed so often :); you can use the staircase as a leading line to the castle; wide lense recommended

Below the staircase of Castle Eltz
Spot A – below the staircase

Spot B – morning location due to better light and less people (almost impossible to shoot during the day); the most famous spot; try experimenting with the low walls as leading lines and with different perspectives; great when foggy!

Castle Eltz - misty morning
Spot B – misty morning at Castle Eltz

Spot C – I didn’t try this one as on this side there was a large scaffolding (mid May 2018) but it looks like a good sunset spot

Spot D – all day location; walking up to the parking, you’ll get to this curve which offers great views slightly from the side and is far enough so other people are not distracting; not the best point in the early morning though – they park the shuttle bus (big red van) right at the main gate from the inside

Burg Eltz - view from the road curve
Spot D – view from the road curve

Spot E – all day location; keep walking up towards the parking area until you get to a viewpoint on your left; this spot offers phenomenal, almost drone-like views of Burg Eltz; the best place to watch the fog rolling in the morning! Speaking of drones – flying a drone is not allowed in the entire area (incl. all the forests around).

Last but not least – if you have a tall tripod, it’s a good idea to bring it. It will help you to eliminate the fence and bushes at the upper spots.

Burg Eltz - the eagle perspective spot
Spot E – almost bird perspective!

 

Staying in Moselkern

If I’m honest, the village is with its 600 inhabitants quite a sleepy place (Are maybe weekends different? Let me know!). I had the feeling most people just pass by. The only café was closed. There was only one other person in my hotel (Hotel Moselkern). I kind of liked it anyway – it has a small church, a unique stone with depiction of Jesus’ crucifixion, a beautiful town hall. It feels somewhat authentic. If you require more human contact, check out the local guesthouses.



Booking.com

What else to do?

There is really enough to see in the area! You can pretty much stop in any village on the way along Mosel (and along Rhine, as I wrote previously) and you’ll have great time. There are tons of hiking trails everywhere around. I chose Cochem as my next stop (15 min train ride from Moselkern direction Trier). It is one of the largest towns around (ca. 5.000 inhabitants) and very touristy. You can go for a boat trip from there if that’s your sort of thing. The historical centre is beautiful!

My first shot requires some effort – it is from a place that overlooks the entire town of Cochem with focus on the Cochem castle. To get there you’ll need to walk up first, almost to the castle. At the last junction before the castle (there is a big tree and some banks) you’ll turn right and follow the sign “Drei Kreuzen” (“Three crosses”). This will lead you up to a small chapel. Right at the chapel, you’ll see a narrow trail going further up through the woods. It will lead you to a road. Be extremely careful as it’s quite busy. You’ll walk around 50 meters to the right which will get you to the viewpoint.

 

The impressive Castle of Cochem from the hill
The impressive Castle of Cochem from the hill

 
My second shot was less difficult – cross the bridge in Cochem and enjoy a beer. That’s it!

Cochem City Castle
The city of Cochem

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35 thoughts on “Visiting and photographing the Eltz Castle, Germany

  1. I looooove castles after Copenhagen and want to visit more in Europe! Definitely takes you back to medieval fables one read as children. Pinning!

  2. What absolutely amazing pictures. It looks like you found five great spots to take pictures. I cannot believe that the castle is in such a pristine surrounding without all of the tangle of wires of the modern world. It does seem to transport us back in time.

    1. Moselle is truly amazing, just castles and historical buildings in a beautiful valley. It’s like going through a Disney movie 🙂

  3. This place looks like something straight out of a fairy tale. The foggy picture is just spectacular! We’re visiting some German castles next month but don’t think we’ll make it far north enough for this one. We’ll have to go next time for sure!

    1. Thank you! I’m sure you’ll enjoy it! That’s the thing – there is simply so many beautiful castles around that are not even very well known 🙂

    1. Thanks for your comment, yes it does! I hoped to get some fog as it really is quite famous for it and I was lucky! 🙂

  4. Looks incredible man. I didn’t know places like that really existed. Looks like a fairy tale| story kind of castle. Good job with the photos

  5. I bet this place looks even more magical in person. I love your photos! They give the castle an air of mystery and it’s like I am being transported to another time when there were knights and princesses in need of rescuing.

  6. Wow! Cochem looks stunning. Gotta love castles and towns in Germany. I really loved the misty photo of the castle!

  7. Amazing. We saw Neuschwanstein and it’s sister castle in Bavaria but we really missed out on seeing other castles like Eltz Castle. I love your pics especially the Eltz Castle on a misty morning. Would love to spend time hiking around that area.

    1. Thank you for your comment! If you ever come to Germany and you enjoy castles, come to the Rhine and Moselle area!!! You’ll be in heaven 😀

  8. I like the photo in the fog. It makes castles look more mysterious. Would love to get there with my camera.

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