You know those little towns you hear that are gorgeous, but when you get there, you are even more surprised?
It was like this when we visited the cute Monschau in Germany (almost on the border with Belgium). We liked it so much that we regretted not booking a hotel and staying longer (we only stayed one afternoon).
The first mention of Monschau was made in 1198, and the historic town centre (Altstadt) has remained almost untouched for over 300 years.
I loved the village, and it was a delight to stroll through the narrow cobbled streets and the half-timbered houses, many of them with cafes, restaurants, and handicraft and souvenir shops.
What to see in Monschau?
One of the main attractions is the Rote Haus Foundation-Scheibler Museum (Red House). It was built around 1760 by a textile manufacturer and merchant, and today is a beautiful example of how the upper middle class lived in the 17th and 18th centuries.
Due to lack of time, I didn’t research much about Monschau before going there and also, as we only stayed for a short time, some places were said to be super cool to visit, but I only found out afterwards.
One of them, not far from the Red House, is a path uphill (follow the signs “panorama route” – after crossing the Rur River in the Market Square) which takes about 15 minutes to the highest point and which has a panoramic view of the old city centre and the Castle.
Another place to see is the Castle which dates back to the 13th century and currently is a hostel. For that reason, it is not possible to visit inside. However, you can visit the patio, where you have a panoramic view of the Monschau.
There is also the Senfmuehle Mustard Mill, where you can choose from 19 types of mustards and learn about their manufacturing process.
The town is also a great base for exploring the Eifel National Park (German: Naturpark Hohes Venn – Eifel), which has over 240km of hiking trails. It is also a great location for day trips to Belgium and the Netherlands.
Monschau is also renowned for its Christmas market, which everybody says is stunning. For the dates, you can check their website here.
And with all the attractions I mentioned above, it’s no wonder the town is becoming quite well-known and one of the most visited in the area.
Although we visited in the low season (October), the town was packed with tourists (but later, we found out it was a bank holiday, so that might be the reason).
How to get there?
The nearest airports are Cologne-Bonn, Germany, 99 km away, and Brussels Airport, Belgium, 147 km away. From there you will need to rent a car or go to Aachen-Rothe Erde.
From the “Aachen-Rothe Erde” train station, take bus 66 in the direction of “Parkhaus/Schmiede, Monschau” and get off at “Flora Monschau”, where you will walk 300 meters to the city centre.
If you go by car, it’s best to park in one of the city’s public parking lots, which cost around 7 euros a day and are just a few minutes walk from the centre.
Be sure to bring or withdraw cash (there are ATMs in town), as many places don’t accept cards. By the way, this tip applies to all of Germany!
As the entire city is cobbled, wear comfortable shoes with good grip.
I know it’s cliché, but Monschau looks like something out of a fairy tale, making you feel like you’ve stepped back in time, and it’s no wonder it’s considered the most beautiful in the Rur region and among the most beautiful in Germany.