Three reasons to explore the Rheingau, Germany this spring
- 09th January 2015
Now that the festive season has drawn to a close, and a new year has arrived, we look forward to lengthening days and the return of the sun. Now is the perfect time to start thinking about a spring break.
The beautiful Rheingau region of Germany makes a great destination for a spring break. Rhine cruises are very popular but if you want to really explore this landscape of spectacular castles, riverside vineyards and medieval towns then why not hire a car and do a scenic drive, or even take a cycle tour?
We’ve come up with three great reasons to check out the stunning Rheingau region which should give you food for thought. We fly from Bristol and Karlstad to Frankfurt from which the Rheingau is easily accessible.
1. Wine tasting
The Rheingau is one of the oldest, smallest, and certainly the most spectacular wine-growing regions in Germany with around 3,100 hectares of vineyards extending for about 20 miles (30 km) along the right bank of the Main and Rhine rivers from Weisbaden in the east to Rüdesheim in the west.
The most famous wine produced in this region is the distinctive Rheingau Riesling. Wine expert Jancis Robinson gives her analysis of Rheinghau wines here. The region’s wine estates and small wine-producing towns are connected by a network of marked footpaths and cycle trails offering visitors views of gorgeous scenery, pretty villages, and, of course, wine taverns!
The famous Rhenigau Reisling route can be explored by car or cycle as it winds its way over a distance of around 75 miles (120 km) through picturesque wine villages, such as Hochheim, Eltville, Hattenheim, Oestrich-Winkel, Rüdesheim, Assmannshausen and Lorch.
This article from the winexmagazine website gives a good insight into how easy and enjoyable it is to tour this great wine-producing region.
And if you’d like to combine sightseeing with some exercise, this blog post we published on cycling tours of Germany contains a tour through this region of the Rhine valley.
2. Picturesque medieval towns
Rüdesheim am Rhine, in the north-west corner of the Rheingau wine producing region, is one of the most popular medieval towns in the area. Its narrow, quaint streets (including the famous Drosselgasse), old wine taverns, surrounding landscape and romantic Rhine river make a winning combination.
The cable car ride over the vineyards at Rüdesheim is a great way to see the old town and enjoy stunning panoramic views over the vineyards and the Rhine. The cable car ride operates from March through to November (details here) – taking you from the town up to the Germania monument overlooking Rüdesheim.
As well as a standard round-trip ticket, you can buy a “ringtrip” ticket which includes a two-person cable-car ride, a walk back down through the vineyards and a short boat ride back to Rüdesheim.
While you’re in the town you must try a Rüdesheimer coffee, served in distinctive red-and-white cups. This is not just any old cup of coffee – it includes sugar, coffee, a splash of local Asbach brandy, topped with whipped cream. The unusual cup is designed to make it easier to keep your hands warm!
Frauenstein, a village near Weisbaden, is also well worth a visit especially in spring. In April and May its sloping cherry orchards are covered with frothy blossom, attracting visitors from all over the world.
Known as the “town of wine and roses”, the charming town of Eltville is well worth a visit. It has a splendid rose garden and its old town features a maze of alleyways, superb villas right on the on the banks of the Rhine, plus the Electors’ Castle (see next section).
If medieval craftmanship is your thing then a visit to Lorch, just six miles (10 km) from Rüdesheim, should definitely be on your itinerary. Formerly a free state, Lorch is home to the oldest monochrome carved altarpiece in Germany, dating from 1483.
3. Fairytale monasteries and castles
Located near Eltville, the former Cistercian monastery Eberbach Abbey, with its impressive Romanesque, Gothic and Baroque architecture, is the most significant mediaeval cultural monument in the state of Hesse.
Its origins date back to 1136 and its 300 hectares of vineyards were the largest in medieval Europe. As well as being a wine producer, the Abbey has become popular as a film location – most famously in the 1980s the Abbey interiors were the setting for the film The Name of the Rose with Sir Sean Connery.
The ruins of Ehrenfels Castle make a romantic addition to the sloping vineyards between Rüdesheim and Assmannshausen overlooking the Rhine. The castle was destroyed by fire in 1689. Recent repair work means that visitors can access the two corner towers to get a fabulous views of the Rhine. Opposite the Castle on a small island in the Rhine is the quaint Mouse Tower.
A major landmark at Eltville, the Electors’ Castle dates back to 1350 and was the home of the archbishops and electors of Mainz. In 1635 the castle was destroyed but the East Wing was rebuilt by the 1680s.
Nowadays, the castle is the venue for many cultural events and festivals and can be hired out for private functions. There is an exhibition celebrating the life of the Joseph Gutenberg – inventor of the printing press – and visitors can explore the courtyard, castle moat, and rose garden.
So…are you ready to spring into action and book a spring break in the beautiful Rheingau?
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