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If you’re up for beautiful hikes, exploring castles and walking along cobblestone streets as if you landed yourself into some German fairytale… Monschau will be your perfect weekend escape. Though admittedly, Cochem, the Harz Mountains, and Giethoorn all take close seconds!
Monschau, Germany is located in North Rhine-Westphalia in the hills of Northern Eifel. The little town is covered with romantic half-timbered houses, narrow alleys, and the beautiful River Rur running through the center, much of which hasn’t been changed for over 300 years. You can take a short 10-minute hike up to the castle for a picture-perfect panoramic view, or you can explore the little alleyways and timbered houses up close.
How long did it take to get there?
The drive from Düsseldorf to Monschau shouldn’t take you more than an hour and a half (approximately 110 km). If you’re up for it, you could even make it a day trip to explore the old town and hike a few hours before the sunset.
While it is possible to get there by train, it will take you a few hours, so I would suggest checking out all the other possible options to get to Monschau. Try and check out car-sharing options if you don’t have your own, or compare rental car prices for the weekend (that’s what I did – rental cars can be super cheap in Germany).
What are the highlights of Monschau?
Despite the small size of the town, there is plenty to do to keep yourself busy. I spent a couple of days in Monschau, but I wish I had stayed a few more nights so that I could have really explored a number of the hiking trails while visiting. However, if you only have the weekend, here are a few highlights you can’t miss out on.
- Explore the Old Town / Market Square: If I had of had the time, I would have sat myself down in the Market Square, grabbed a tea and a sandwich, and just watched daily life happen. Every single corner of Monschau is picture-perfect. You won’t be able to turn around without snapping another photo. Grab a small map, and explore every inch of the town by foot.
- Visit the Red House / “Rotes Haus”: Even the locals will be the first ones to tell you that you can’t come to Monschau and not visit the Red House. As you walk through the museum you’ll find a number of large-scale, upper-class furnishings from shiny brass doorknobs to the luxurious linen wallpaper. This house is truly remarkable.
- Walk up to Monschau Castle: Monschau Castle is certainly a huge focal point in the old town of Monschau, up in the hilltops overlooking the town is a 13th-century castle once used for the Dukes of Jülich and now a popular place for summer concerts and operas. Since World War I, the castle has also served as a Youth Hostel.
- Hike through National Eifel Park: If you’re staying for the weekend, make sure you leave enough time each day to pick a hiking trail to explore in the National Eifel Park. The tourism board offers trail maps and directions (in English).
What are the hidden gems of Monschau?
The town itself is quite a hidden gem surrounded by major cities like Cologne, Düsseldorf, and Aachen. Each and every single alleyway offers a new hidden gem as you surround yourself with crooked timbered houses, cats lounging in the windows, and the sound of church bells going off in the distance.
Of course, there are plenty of other things to see and do, including exploring the sand sculptures in Monschau, drinking a beer at Felsenkeller Brauhaus & Museum, and visiting the historical mustard mill.
Best Places to Eat in Monschau?
If there’s one thing I had to share when it comes to eating and drinking in Monschau, it’s that it’s hard to choose just one. So why not have your appetizers in one place, your dinner in another, and your dessert at the café down the road?
Here are a few restaurants worth checking out while you’re visiting:
- Restaurant Rur-Cafe: This tip comes from the manager at the Monschau Castle Youth Hostel. There is never a better way to find restaurant recommendations than by asking a local.
- Zum Haller: You might not find many international restaurants in Monschau, but you’re definitely going to get a hearty German meal if you visit Zum Haller.
- Cafe Am Roten Haus: Remember when I said save dessert for the local café down the road? Here you go.
If you’re planning to get out and explore some hiking trails, there are also a number of bakeries around. You can stock up on sandwiches and yummy treats before you hit the road.
Where to stay in Monschau?
When you can stay in a 13th-century castle overlooking the entire old town of Monschau for less than you might pay in the old town itself, why wouldn’t you?
DJH Youth Hostel Monschau-Burg might be a youth hostel, but it’s also open to travelers of all ages. My cousin and I had a chance to stay in a 2 bedroom tower suite overlooking the beautiful nature of Monschau.
The castle grounds are open to exploring, you can find nooks and crannies around every corner and you’ll be sleeping in rustic castle rooms with stone walls and old fireplaces. Not to mention, they’ve even managed to offer Wifi in some of the central areas of the castle grounds. If you’re traveling with the whole family, DJH Monschau-Burg also offers a modern apartment with a kitchen and bathroom.
If there’s some other type of accommodation that you had in mind, you can use the search function below to find something that suits you!
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