The town of Königswinter has one of the most-visited castles on the Rhine, the Drachenfels. Its ruins crown one of the highest hills in the Siebengebirge, with a spectacular view of the Rhine. It's also part of Germany's oldest nature reserve, with more than 100 km (62 miles) of hiking trails. The castle was built in the 12th century by the archbishop of Köln, and takes its name from a dragon said to have lived in a nearby cave. (The dragon was slain by Siegfried,
hero of the epic Nibelungenlied.)
The castle ruins can be reached via two different hikes, each of about 45 minutes. One route begins at the Drachenfelsbahn station, and passes the Nibelungenhalle reptile zoo along the way. The other route starts at Rhöndorf on the other side of the hill. The Siebengebirge Tourist Office at Drachenfelsstr. 51 in Königswinter can provide a map that includes these and other local hiking trails.
Drachenfelsbahn. If hiking to Drachenfels isn't for you, you can also reach the castle ruins by taking the Drachenfelsbahn, a steep, narrow-gauge train that makes trips to the summit every half hour March through October, and hourly in winter (except late November and December). Drachenfelsstr. 53, Königswinter, 53639. 02223/92090. www.drachenfelsbahn-koenigswinter.de. €10 round-trip. Mar. and Oct., daily 10–6; Apr., daily 10–7; May–Sept., daily 9–7; early Nov. and Jan.–Feb., weekdays noon–5, weekends 11–6.