What the Rhineland-Palatinate region has to offer
East of Luxembourg, the Rhineland-Palatinate region of Germany is steeped in history, picturesque towns and fascinating castles. Volcanoes have shaped the landscape in the north and there are plenty of places for hiking or seeing animals in the region.
Most Luxembourg residents will be familiar with Trier which merits its very own article and and is not included in this list, but further afield there is plenty to do in the region, including some off-the-beaten track wonders like the Geierlay suspension bridge.
Here's a taste of what you can explore in the Rhineland region if you're looking for a weekend break close to home.
Idar Oberstein– the jewel of the Rhineland
Gemstone trading built this town and in acknowledgement it still boasts numerous gemstone shops and museums including the wonderful Idar Oberstein Museum which houses a unique collection of minerals, and a crystal hall displaying the largest gemstones ever brought to Europe from overseas. You can also view a collection of gems related to the city's history and the fascinating fluorescence cabinet.
Above the town reside the castles of Bosselstein and Oberstein, and you can climb to them from the marketplace, passing by the Chapel-in the-Rocks (a church hewn into the rocks). The Castle Bosselstein ruins date back to 1196, and Castle Oberstein to 1320. From this vantage point you can see across the valley to the Hunsrück mountains. You can find opening times for the Idar-Oberstein museum here.
Roscheider Hof Folklore and Open Air Museum – Konz
Explore the traditional way of life of the Rhineland regions of Eifel, Hunsrück and Saargau. Experience the conditions in which school children had to learn in a 1912 classroom, visit a traditional grocer, barber and village pub, and stroll through houses and farm buildings from the 19th and early 20th centuries, rebuilt and furnished exactly as they would have been originally.
Life was hard in the old days, but thankfully you don’t have to bake your own bread, as there is a cafe on site. Visitor information on opening times and entry prices is available here.
Be a fireman – Hermeskeil
Ever wanted to be a fireman for the day? Then this interactive museum is the place to immerse yourself in the history of fire fighting. The journey begins with fire as an element and covers events that influenced the founding and development of the first fire brigades in the Middle Ages.
Walk through a space of 1,000 square metres, to see how fire fighting equipment has developed over the centuries and feel how strenuous it was to work a historical hand-pressure spray. You can also hear the stories of firemen from different eras.
Koblenz – where the rivers meet
Founded 2,000 years ago as a Roman post, Koblenz derives from the Roman name for the town "Confluentes" referring to the spot where the Rhine and the Moselle flow together. You can start your visit at the German Corner under the massive statue of Kaiser Wilhelm on horseback, then head up the hill in a cable car to the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress for spectacular views of Koblenz. You can combine your cable car ticket with entry to the Fortress which includes exhibitions on the region’s culture and history and an area dedicated to children that has games and dressing up costumes.
In Koblenz old town, visit the Basilica of St Castor, a Romanesque building consecrated in 836. Outside there is a fountain, erected by the French in the Napoleonic era.
Romanticum is a museum with 10 different interactive sections devoted to the history of the Middle Rhine Valley, providing more than 70 hands-on stations that will keep children occupied for hours. You can combine your entry ticket with a boat trip. For information on prices and opening times, click here.
Cochem/ Bernkastel-Kues– historical streets
The landmark Reichsburg stands majestically overlooking the town of Cochem. Over 1,000 years old, much of the original castle was destroyed in 1688, but has been restored, and you can take guided tours which last about an hour. The historical mustard mill of Senfmühle is one of the oldest of its kind in Europe. You can visit daily from 10.00 to 18.00 and take a guided tour which lasts 30 minutes, but you must pay the entrance fee in cash.
For spectacular views of the town take the chairlift to the Pinnerkreuz lookout point. If that feels a bit too slow-paced, spice up the action with a visit to the nearby Freizeitpark Klotten which combines an animal park including birds of prey, with thrill and family rides and a puppet theatre. It’s open from March to early November. You can find current opening times and regulations for your visit here.
If you want to slow things down, head for the pretty wine-growing town of Bernkastel-Kues. Marvel at the timber-framed houses in the market square and the views over the town from the castle ruins. You can find out more here.
Eltz Castle – Wierscham
The majestic 12th century Eltz Castle sits in a secluded hilltop spot. Unscathed by war, it is still owned by the same family 33 generations on. Famous visitors have included French poet and writer Victor Hugo and British painter William Turner. From the car park, you can either take a gentle stroll down a 1.8km shaded path (buggy friendly) or catch a bus to the base of the castle.
Tours are available in English, and include the Rodendorf Kitchen, a vivid representation of a medieval kitchen largely unchanged since the 15th century, and the Knights’ Hall, the Armoury and Treasury. If you still have energy to burn, hike the surrounding nature reserve which has plenty of pathways including the Eltz Castle Panorama Walk.
Visitors can only see inside the castle on a guided tour, which is included in the entry fee.
Daun and Kasselberg - go wild with nature
Drive around the 8km dirt road to get up close and personal with buffaloes, wild boar, ostriches, llama, deer and donkeys at the Daun Wildlife Park. With parking spots close to the animals, the walk-through monkey sanctuary allows you to get close to mother and baby monkeys. The main centre features a giant playground including trampolines and enclosures for goats and rabbits, and you can observe newborn ostrich chicks.
In Kasselberg, the Eagle and Wolf Park is housed around the ruins of a 12th century castle and features wolf enclosures, eagles, hawks and wild boars. There are daily flight shows and wolf-feeding sessions (although due to deconfinement there will be no commentary from staff). It is open daily and you can view winter and summer opening times and entry prices here.
Explosive history – Mayern-Koblenz Volcano Park
Interesting for teenagers as well as younger children, the Mayern-Koblenz Volcano Park connects three parks in the Eifel region with exhibits on volcanoes, archaeology, industrial history and educations trails. The museum incorporates 25 stations which can be seen in one visit using either four main roads or hiking/cycle paths. These include a Roman mine, the spectacular Andernach Geyser, and the Mendig lava dome and lava cellars. Exhibits are interactive and educative. You can check out current opening times at the different sites here.
Mainz – home of the printing press
The state capital, Mainz is a more than a two-hour drive from Luxembourg City, but it features a beautiful 1000 year old Romanesque Cathedral with ornate tombstones, and is home to the Gutenberg Museum (opposite the Cathedral).
Devoted to the inventor of the printing press, the museum still houses two original Gutenberg Bibles from the mid-15th century and a reconstruction of his workshop, where on the hour you can see how printing was done all those centuries ago. Self-guided audio tours are available in English, French and German, and exhibits include printing presses spanning several centuries, book art and a history of newspapers. You can find opening times and entry prices here.
The Landesmuseum Mainz was renovated in 2010 and features art and history collections owned by the State. You can purchase tickets on site or book online.
Suspended bridge – Geierlay
If you fancy a good scare, walk across this bridge constructed in 2015 which is 360m long and 100m above ground and sways as you walk. You can park in nearby Morsdorf and take one of two walking routes to the bridge (1.2km from the visitor centre in Morsdorf). You can walk different signposted circuits around the beautiful countryside of the bridge, covering 3-14km.
The Geierlay loop is 6km, and if you don't dare cross the bridge, you can take a shortcut to get back to the starting point. You can find maps of all the circuits and hikes here.