13 Amazing Things to Do in Monschau Germany in 2024

Monschau Germany is one for the storybooks – a fairy tale that is!

You can find Monschau, Germany in the beautiful hills of the Eifel region near the Belgium border.

I stumbled upon Monschau as I was looking for places to visit in Germany near Belgium when on holiday. And, was I ever glad I did!

Time has stood still in this gorgeous small town in Germany. It has virtually remained untouched over the past several centuries full of half-timbered buildings as if it was torn from the pages of a fairy tale book. If you adore old-world charm as much as I do you’re in luck as Monschau has it in spades.

The Monschau historic old town may be small, but it surprisingly offers a lot to see and do! A ruined castle, a fairytale Old Town, museums, shops and more!

If you are wondering what to do in Monschau, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, I will share everything you need to know to plan your visit, including my recommendations for Monschau things to do.

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Quick Guide to Visiting Monschau Germany

rooftops of Monschau

Where is Monschau Germany

This gem is tucked away in the picturesque Monschau Eifel region of western Germany. Specifically, you’ll find this charming town in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia.

It’s not far from the Germany-Belgian border. Up until 1918, Monschau was known as Montjoie (in French), as it used to be part of Belgium. Sitting 2 km from the border, it is considered the nearest German city to Belgium.

How to Get to Monschau

Drive via E40 and E42 highways and park just outside the Old Town.
The nearest train station is Aachen, which is 30 km from Monschau.

Is Monschau worth visiting

houses over river in monschau germany as one of the things to do in monschau is admire the view and stop for a photo

Monschau is absolutely worth a visit! It has so much appeal, for every type of traveller.

  • History buffs will flock to Monschau’s medieval castle and the Red House museum.
  • The town is a living postcard with its well-preserved half-timbered houses appealing to architecture enthusiasts.
  • Tucked away in the Eifel, Monschau is off the beaten path, offering a tranquil escape from more touristy destinations appealing to hidden gem seekers.
  • Nature lovers will revel in the scenic landscapes surrounded by the Eifel National Park with its hiking trails and the Rur River as its backdrop.
  • Culture enthusiasts will fall in love with the hospitality of local cafes and shops, offering a taste of regional cuisine and unique souvenirs as well as the various festivals and events throughout the year.

The best time to visit Monschau

The best time to visit Monschau is from April to June and September to October to experience this fairy tale town with fewer tourists. A popular time to visit Monschau other than the summer months is December for the Christmas market.

The History of Monschau

Monschau, dating back to the 12th century, evolved from a medieval castle village to a thriving center of cloth and trade in the 16th century. The charming half-timbered houses that characterize Monschau today are remnants of this affluent era.

Monschau, like many European towns, faced the challenges of the Napoleonic era. In the early 19th century, it fell under French occupation. But following WWI it fell back under German rule.

Being so close to the Belgium-Germany border, the town’s occupation and unfortunately some devasting bombings during WWII were quickly restored post-war.

Today, with its half-timbered houses in the Altstadt Monschau (Old Town) and the Rur River running through it has put this town on the map for being one of the prettiest towns in Germany, with “historic” status.

How do you pronounce Monschau?

“Monschau” is pronounced as “Mohn-shou.” The “Mohn” part rhymes with “own,” and “shou” is pronounced like the English word “show.” So, when saying it, it’s “Mohn-shou.”

Where to Stay in Monschau

If you decide to make Monschau a mini getaway, I don’t blame you!

I did a bit of research to find which places I would stay at if I were to return to Monschau for an overnight. Here is what I recommend:

  • Burgblick1 – is a gorgeous 4-bedroom home in a historic home in Old Town that has been renovated and offers a modern decor
  • Haus Barkhausen – is an apartment building for 1 or 2-bedrooms in the heart of Old Town
  • LOFT13 – is a 2-bedroom modern styled loft space with a terrace overlooking Rur River
  • Monschau-Auszeit – is a contemporary 3-bedroom house in a historic building on the edge of the Rur river
  • Haus Stehlings – is a charming bed and breakfast overlooking the Old Town

13 Things to Do in Monschau

Monschau is ideal for a day trip, with four to five hours being enough time to explore the Old Town, Red House, the Monschau Castle and enjoy a meal. Stay overnight and explore more, including in the nearby area.

1. Tour the Beautiful Red House

red house overlooking river in monschau germany

One of the first historic buildings you will notice is the Red House or Rotes Haus. Dating back to 1756, it was the former home of the Scheibler family, who were prominent cloth merchants for whom Monschau is known.  

Today, it’s a small private museum. Take a private tour where you will learn about the story of how 4,000 to 6,000 spinners and weavers produced woollen materials which were exported to countries as far away as Turkey and Russia. 

🕣Opening hours: From April 1 to November 30: Open from Tuesday to Sunday 10 am to 1 pm and 2 pm to 5 pm

If you are keen to visit other local museums, there are two more:

  • Tour the 150-year-old brewery of Felsenkeller Brauhaus & Museum which features a collection of bottles, antique brewery equipment, and beer-related artifacts. (Note: this is now closed, I’ll update if anything changes).
  • Erlebnismuseum Lernort Natur is a wildlife museum where you can see animals, taxidermy style, from the smallest (a mouse) to the largest (a bear).

2. Gaze upon the pretty Rur River

river with buildings in monschau germany

The Rur River flows right through this small town in Germany. It starts in the north from the mountains in Eifel National Park and meanders through many towns along the way.

You will even see local fishermen out getting their catch of the day where trout and salmon are found here. 

There are several footbridges where you can admire the views of the Rur River. And it will be hard to tear yourself away, it’s just that pretty, especially as it catches the light. The sound of the soft rustling of the water can be heard as you stroll through town. 

3. Wander Monschau Altstadt to admire the buildings

cobbled stone road with timber buildings on monschau things to do

The Old Town or Altstadt is a dreamy place for a stroll. With its winding cobblestoned streets and its half-timbered crooked buildings. You will feel as though you have stepped back in time.

The row upon row of picture-book buildings is awe-inspiring. With no two alike, take your time to admire each one. One of the prettiest is Haus Troistorff.

There are over 300 buildings that are listed as historic monuments in this town. Thankfully, most of Monschau was left intact after WWII.

Visit the quaint shops, like the all-year Christmas store, a traditional coffee roasting house, and a hat shop were among my favourites.

People watch in the main market square. The surrounding cafés and restaurants fill out the square with their tables and chairs. All of them look equally charming and offer traditional German cuisine. It’s buzzing with people come lunchtime when the entire town stops to eat. Enjoying a meal is something you’re going to want to add to your list of Monschau things to do

4. Enjoy the tradition of Kaffee und Kuchen

Kaffee und kuchen, or coffee and cake, is a tradition that is enjoyed mid-morning and mid-afternoon throughout Germany. In this pretty little town, they specialize in apfel kuchen and apfelstrudel (apple cake and apple strudel). And, it would be a sin not to try it in one of the cute cafes in Monschau.

Each one of the Monschau cafes is charming. Nothing fancy, just quintessentially styled in the traditional decor one might expect to find in Germany.

I recommend Cafe Koulard and Cafe am Roten Haus, where I enjoyed kaffee und kuchen twice! One in the morning when I arrived, and once more before I left in the late afternoon.

5. Watch a glass-blowing demo at Glashutte Monschau

Visit the glassworks shop in Monschau and watch as artisans practice the tradition of glass blowing to make colourful and pretty glass objects. In the glass shop, all of the creations can be admired and purchased.

6. Go shopping at Handwerkermarkt

In the same building as the glass store, is where you’ll find the large Handwerkermarkt, or craft market. Under one roof, friendly artisans are proud to show off their homemade arts and crafts. It’s a great place to shop for souvenirs. Be sure to check out the detailed sand sculptures at the end of the building.

7. Walk the Panorama Weg for the best views

view of rooftops monschau germany

The panoramic road or Panorama Weg starts straight after you cross the Rur River at the main square in the Old Town. It leads you up the hill to a terrace where you can enjoy panoramic views of the town below.

From here you can see how small this town is. How it’s nestled between the hills with the Rur River winding its way through.

8. Explore the Monschau Castle

gray rooftops in Monschau germany

The 12th-century Monschau Burg or castle overlooks the town. It features a heavily fortified ring wall and walled walkways.

Unfortunately, it fell to ruins and was abandoned in the early 1800s. Since then been renovated and operates as a youth hostel.

Although tours of the castle are not offered, you can enjoy a stunning view of the town from its courtyard. It’s a steep walk up to the castle, but the views are well worth it. 

9. Peek inside some of Monschau’s churches

Churches in Europe are always interesting places to visit. Most for their historical significance, or just because they always seem to be the most attractive sites in the town you are visiting.

In Monschau, the most charming sites are the buildings themselves. But don’t let that stop you from peeking inside Monschau’s main church – Stadtkirche.

10. Go Taste Testing at Monschau Mustard Mill

mustard bottles sold in shop as things to do in monschau germany

This pretty town is known for its production of Monschauer Senf, or mustard. The Mustard Mill or Senfmühle dates back to 1882 and is one of the last historic mills in Germany. And, it continues to produce the traditional mustard recipe, along with 19 other varieties.

This is one of the Monschau places to visit that I recommend. The historic mill is about a 15-minute walk up out of the town. Or you can visit the small shop in the Altstadt where you can sample and buy their 19 unique flavours of garlic, horseradish, honey, curry, tomato, and many more.

Each mustard is sold in the traditional pottery jar just as they did centuries ago, and it makes for a great souvenir to take home with you. I still have my pottery jar even though the mustard is long gone.

11. Prost! Enjoy a Beer in a Pub

outdoor dining in market square monschau

Have a beer in one of the local pubs and sample whatever is on tap. Some of the best pubs to try are VAT 60, Zum Haller, Alter Markt, Lütticher Hof, and Alte Herrlichkeit to name a few.

I went to Zum Haller for lunch and was surprised to find that local beers also included Belgium beers!

Like all good German towns, there is no shortage of places where you can stop and enjoy a beer.

12. Take a Day Trip from Monschau

If you decide to stay a night or two in Monschau, here are some day trips I recommend.

  • Nearby is Eifel National Park, a beautiful natural area with great hiking.
  • Visit the UNESCO-designated city of Aachen. This small city is known for its historic Old Town and Cathedral along with many more wonderful things to do in Aachen.
  • A little bit further is the charming Dutch city of Maastricht in the Netherlands known for its pretty Old Town, museums, and shopping.
  • If you are looking to visit a Belgian city outside of Brussels, one of the closest to Monschau is Liege, known for its arts and culture with its many museums, Art Nouveau architecture, theatres and an opera house.

13. Monschau Christmas Market

The Monschau Christmas Market may not be as famous as the Dresden Christmas Market or as large as the Christmas Markets in Berlin but is surely known as one of the prettiest.

Every year, this fairy tale town hosts a traditional Christmas market on all four Advent weekends (Friday to Sunday) from November 24–December 23, 2023. The Monschau Christmas Market 2023 dates are:

  • Nov 24 – 25, 2023
  • Dec 1 – 3, 2023
  • Dec 8 – 10, 2023
  • Dec 15 – 17, 2023
  • Dec 22 – 23, 2023

As a Holidaymaker

Undeniably, a visit to the fairy tale town of Monschau does not disappoint. Considered to be the most beautiful town in the Eifel region, Monschau makes you feel like you have stepped back in time.

It’s one of the most picturesque German towns I’ve been to and gets added to my list of others I highly recommend:

  • Wismar, a UNESCO World Heritage Site along the Baltic Sea, is celebrated for its medieval architecture
  • Lübeck, the “Queen of the Hanseatic League”, boasts a maritime history seen in the Holstentor Gate and salt storehouses
  • Quedlinburg is also a fairytale town steeped in Middle Ages vibes with its UNESCO Old Town and panoramic castle views
  • Potsdam is known for its Sanssouci Palace, an elegant Old Town and beautiful parks and gardens
  • Wittenberg was regarded as the birthplace of the Reformation, with landmarks like Luther House and Castle Church making it an interesting place to visit.