Here’s everything you need to know about visiting Burg Eltz – a Castle that’s so stunning that it will make your eyes pop.
Brace yourself, I’m about to tell you about the most magical medieval castle that will transport you to the world of fairytales – Burg Eltz.
Burg Eltz is Germany’s iconic medieval castle that is more than 850 years old. Did I mention that it was an inspiration for one of Disney castles? A blueprint of this castle was actually used for Disney’s Cinderella movie. It is dreamy, romantic and serene, and that’s not even the best part.
The best part about Burg Eltz is the abundance of natural beauty around it. The Eltz Castle is surrounded by nature and there is the Elzbach river that’s next to it. There is a forest around it that’s hilly. You have to take a little hiking path through the forest from the parking place to reach here.
I have been living in Germany since the last five years. The countries is known for it’s stunning medieval castles and for me Burg Eltz is the best of all.
Strangely enough, a lot of tour guides and articles about visiting Germany don’t mention Burg Eltz at all. You would read about the castles in Bavaria or the famous Heidelberg castle but enough about this one. However, the Eltz Castle gained a massive popularity because of Instagram.
Fun fact: an image of the castle was on the old 500 Deutsche Mark note. I wish I could hold one right now in my hands.
Oh and it is owned privately by the descendants of the same Eltz family that lived here in the 12th century. How cool is that?
Our favorite thing about this castle is that it is surrounded by nature. Moselle River makes a tributary – Elzbach river that surrounds the castle. Even if you don’t want to go inside the castle, there’s plenty to do around. You can sit by the river, hike or cycle around.
What’s So Special about Burg Eltz?
I mention a lot of these points in detail over the article but here’s why Burg Eltz castle so special:
- Burg Eltz castle was not destroyed in any of the wars, unlike many other European castles and old buildings.
- It is architecturally stunning, and is surrounded by spectacular natural beauty. The castle towers over the valley that it is built in.
- It is owned and taken care of by the same family since it was built, till today.
- Many of the original furnishings still exist in the castle since the last eight centuries.
- The castle treasury boasts of the best in the world gold and silver artwork.
Is Burg a Castle or a Fortress? Burg vs Schloss
Before we go further, I’d like to mention that the German word “Burg” directly translates into “fortress”. There’s another German word for castle – Schloss.
In most cases, a Burg (or a Fortress) is a castle designed for defense in battle and palace or a castle (Schloss) is more of a place of residence. To make matters confusing, Burg Eltz was never designed to be for defense, but it is still called eine Burg and not ein Schloss.
But, we will try to make things easy, let’s call it Burg Eltz, or Burg Eltz Castle as it is popularly known with English speaking travelers.
Yes, I know if you’re a German, you’re probably shaking your head in disappointment because calling it “Burg Eltz Castle” is like calling it “Castle Eltz Castle”, but hey, a lot of people say “Chai Tea”, and I’m and Indian and I’m not even complaining, haha.
Burg Eltz Name – is it a family name?
Burg Eltz hasn’t been named after a family, but the Eltzbach River. I talk more about the family in the next section. Read on if you’re interested.
A Brief History of Burg Eltz (Castle)
How can I talk about a historical building and not discuss the history? Well, about Burg Eltz, it was constructed between the 11th and the 13th century so it is around 850 years old. It is STILL owned by the descendants of the same family that lived here in the 12th century, 33 generations back.
Back in the 11th to 13th century, the Eltz Castle was built alone the trade route that linked the Moselle river with the Eifel and Maifeld. It was one of the most important trade routes in the German empire and therefore Burg Eltz’s location was strategically important.
The castle and the estate was divided in 1269 by the brothers Elias II, Wilhelm II and Theoderich. Three succession lines were established, which were “with the Golden Lion”, “with the Silver Lion” and “with the Buffalo Horns”. These three families shared the estate and lived together in the castle, forming a constitution – “Ganerbengemeinschaft”.
Until 1815, this joint constitution remained but after that “the Silver Lion” line sold their share of the castle and the “Ganerbengemeinschaft” was then dissolved. In the 15th and 18th century, the “Buffalo Horns” line (later the line Eltz-Rodendorf) had ended and the shares were transferred to the Kempenich line (of the house Eltz-Kempenich), that remained as the only owner of the Eltz castle.
Today the Rübenach and Rodendorf families’ homes in the castle are open to the public, while the Kempenich branch of the family uses the other third of the castle.
Honestly, if I start detailing out the history of Burg Eltz, I’d need much more than just one page. You can check the official page of Burg Eltz to read more about the history.
Fun Fact: Burg Eltz was featured on postal stamps from 1977 to 1982 which were published by the German post office.
Anyway, enough about the history and fun facts, now let me help you plan a trip to the Burg Eltz and enjoy everything in and around the castle.
How to Reach Burg Eltz Castle
As with most of the destinations in Europe, the easiest way to visit Burg Eltz is by driving to it. The parking place is around a kilometer away from the Eltz Castle so remember to wear comfortable shoes.
Alternatively, you can also take a train to Moselkern or Hatzenport, or Mueden stations and from a taxi from there. Call Taxi Charly, Pillig, Telephone: +49 2605 2022 or TAXI-Reuter GmbH, Treis-Karden, Telephone: +49 2672 1407.
If you’re visiting Burg Eltz on the weekends and public holidays, there’s also a bus – “RegioRadler Burgenbus” that takes you from all the above mentioned train stations to the castle. This bus is only on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays from May to October.
Visiting the Eltz Castle can be an adventure because you can walk from the train station, it is just 5 KMs. The forest around the castle makes this walk super rewarding. But remember, that you will again have to walk 5 KMs back to the train station and also 1-2 kilometer around the castle so that’s a lot of walking for a day.
If you’re arriving at Burg Eltz by train, then I suggest you stay in the town Moselkern overnight. Book Hotel Moselkern, that’s next to the train station and then hike to Burg Eltz whenever you want to.
What to Know Before Visiting Burg Eltz
Burg Eltz Corona Restrictions
- As of September 2021, the entry for the castle is only for those who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19, or those who can show a proof of recovering from the disease in the last 6 months, and also those who can show a negative corona test.
- Only a limited number of people can enter the Eltz Castle complex.
- Children under 11 are exempt from these rules.
- It is mandatory to wear a mask inside and outside the castle while on the castle ground.
No Photos Inside the Castle Grounds
If you decide to enter the castle or do a tour, then be informed that you aren’t going to be allowed to click photos. Yes, you can click a lot of photos outside and you will find many stunning spots but not when you’re inside.
This is also the reason why you wouldn’t find any photos of Burg Eltz’ interiors, unless someone found a way not to follow the rules. You can buy pictures of certain interior sections in the gift shop as postcards, but that’s only if you want to.
Book Your Castle Tour in Advance to Avoid Waiting
In order to enter the castle grounds of Burg Eltz, you have to take a tour. The tours are available in English, German, Dutch and Ferench.
If you’d like a German language tour then most likely you won’t have to wait for more than 10-15 mins. However if you’d like a tour in English, then be prepared to wait for a long time. See the above picture for a row of people that are waiting to enter. If you’d like a tour in Dutch or French, then keep in mind that they are only available if you prebook.
There is more to Burg Eltz than just entering the castle complex
I have mentioned it before but Burg Eltz can be enjoyed by just hiking and looking at the castle from the entry area as well as some other viewpoints. The above corona restrictions apply to those who’d like to enter the complex. You can still enjoy the beauty of the castle from outside.
If you’re like me and you like places where you can admire nature and historical structures, then you will love my post about the Externsteine in Teutoberger Wald. (It is a prehistoric structure unlike Burg Eltz)
Be Prepared to Walk / Hike
Sure, you want to click a picture in a pretty dress in front of the castle for your Instagram, but make sure you wear comfortable shoes because you will have to walk a lot. I suggest sneakers or flats for the trail that goes in the forest.
Burg Eltz Parking Location and Costs
If you are driving to Burg Eltz, then here are the google coordinates of the castle parking. Parking isn’t free, it is € 2 for cars and scooters and € for vans and camper vans or any cars with trailers.
The path that goes from the parking to the castle is more of a hiking trail. It goes through the woods and offers at least 1 or 2 spots from where you admire the view. The hike is short, fun and adds to the experience of visiting Burg Eltz castle.
Burg Eltz Shuttle Bus
If you’d prefer not to walk, then be informed that there is a ssuttle bus that goes till the Burg Eltz castle entry point. The shuttle stop is next to the barrier near Antonius Chapel. The shuttle isn’t free, it costs € 2 per person.
Honestly, I didn’t take the shuttle because I walked.
Burg Eltz Hours of Operation
Burg Eltz is open everyday during summer, autumn and spring from 9:30 am to 5 pm. When I say “open” I mean everything beyond the entry gate that you see on this path that leads to the castle.
In winters the castle is usually closed from the inside but it can still be enjoyed from the outside. It actually looks amazing when it snows!
Honestly, the castle is so lovely and the hike around it is refreshing that one doesn’t really need to feel sad about not being able to go in when it’s not possible.
What to do when you reach Burg Eltz
Hike around Burg Eltz, 5 Hiking Trails
In order to arrive at Burg Eltz, you will most likely walk for a kilometer or more. Even if you arrive by car or a shuttle till the entry point, I highly suggest you take out at least 30-60 minutes to walk around the castle. This trail is super easy. I was 8 months pregnant when I did this!
For many people this hike is enough but some hikers will crave for more. There are five hiking trails that go around the castle through the forest and along the Eltzbach river. These trails are very nicely marked and you will see the distance in kilometers on most of the markings as well.
1) Eltz Castle Panorama trail
The length of the Eltz Castle panorama trail is 12.5 kilometers and it takes approximately 4-5 hours to complete. This hike starts in Wiesen at Wierschem community centre. It offers amazing views from the Mosel plateau.
2) Up the Romantic Eltz Stream
The length of this hiking trail is 2.5 kilometers, and it takes approximately 35 mins to complete. This hike goes along the Eltzbach river. It starts in Ringelsteiner Mühle in Moselkern and ends at Burg Eltz. If you’re traveling with children that are over 4 or 5 years, then this is the hike that you should pick.
3) From Pyrmont Castle to Eltz Castle
There’s another castle in the area and it is the Pymont Castle. It isn’t as stunning as the Eltz Castle but you can enjoy an amazing hike that’s 9.5 KMs long that goes from one castle to another.
4) From Müdener Berg to Eltz Castle
The word “Berg” means mountain in German, so this hike starts at Müdener and goes to Burg Eltz. Even though it is a short route of 1.7 KMs, the hike is challenging because it gets steep in places. You can enjoy the views of both the Eltz and Pyrmont Castles along this hike.
5) From Karden to Eltz Castle
This hiking trail is 7 KMs long, it starts at Karden and ends at Burg Eltz. It goes through meadows, vineyard and goes along the Moselle river during the first half of the hike.
Inside Burg Eltz – the Castle Attractions
A tour inside the Elz Castle costs €11 per person. The duration of the tour is around 35 minutes and is in German, English, French and Dutch.
When you’re inside Burg Eltz, you will see the famous inner courtyard that was built over 500 years ago. If you decide to do a tour, you will get to witness the Armoury and Treasury of Eltz Castle, which is world renowned for gold and silver artifacts, as well as many other interesting precious things from the three families’ collections.
One of the most interesting sights inside any preserved palace or a castle museum is a historical kitchen. Burg Eltz also has one of them and it is the Rodendorf Kitchen. It is where you will see the mediaeval way of kitchen life with old school cooking machines and utensils.
Burg Eltz castle tour will also take you to the Knights Hall, which is the place where many important discussions and meetings took place. It was also the location for many festivities.
Burg Elz also has a restaurant and a souvenir shop inside.
Best Time to Visit Burg Eltz
This completely depends on your purpose of visit. If you’re visiting Burg Eltz for hiking, cycling, photography or to enter the castle grounds for a tour.
For hiking or cycling, pick a day of spring, summer or autumn months when it doesn’t rain. Check the weather forecast to know when it will rain and avoid that day because the path through the forest will be slippery. Another purpose of these hikes is to enjoy the views of the castle. When it is raining or cloudy, then you may not get good views. Of course, you can hike or cycle around in winter months but be prepared to handle German winters.
If you’d like to enter the castle and do a tour, then be aware that you can only do it from May till October starting at 9:30 am to 5 pm.
You can do photography at anytime in Burg Eltz, each season adds something special. The colours of the forest changes throughout the year. I visited Burg Eltz in early autumn and it looked spectacular because some of the trees had turned a little yellow. Even the small hike from the parking spot to the castle offers amazing views to see fall foliage in Germany.
You can’t enter Burg Eltz in winter but it looks stunning when it snows, when it is foggy or even when it rains. It is a popular spot for astrophotography because the forest around is obviously dark. Hiking in the forest at night isn’t advisable but do this in a group or call a taxi.
Burg Eltz Map
Here is a map of Burg Eltz Castle as fetched by Google Maps.
Where to Stay when visiting Burg Eltz
Burg Eltz is a short drive away from the lovely Bonn city, which is the birth place of the legendary Beethoven. You can either stay in Bonn, or pick one of the below mentioned hotels that are just a hike away from Burg Eltz:
Hotel Ostermann is 2.5 KMs away from Burg Eltz and is along the Mosel River. This hotel also has a swimming pool and a restaurant on the terrace.
Hotel Moselkern is also next to the River Mosel and is 2.8 KMs from Burg Eltz. This hotel is pretty convinient for those who are visiting by train because Moselkern Train Station is less than 500 meters away.
Ferienwohnung Moselallee 5 Sterne (Apartments)
If you’d like to book an entire apartment with kitchen so that you can cook your own meals, then check out the newly renovated Ferienwohnung Moselallee.