Monschau Germany: 13 Things to Do in this Fairy Tale Town in 2023
Monschau 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. Time has stood still in this small town in Germany. It’s virtually remained untouched over the past several centuries as if it was torn from the pages of a fairy tale book.
Whether it’s one day or an overnight getaway, here are the top things to do in Monschau.
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About Monschau Germany
This cute German town from the 11th century grew to become known as a hub for cloth production up until World War II. The well-preserved half-timbered houses in the Altstadt Monschau (Old Town) with the Rur river running through it have put this town on the map for being one of the prettiest towns in Germany.
Up until 1918, Monschau was actually known as Montjoie (in French), as it used to be part of Belgium. Today, it sits just 2 km from the Belgium border, making it a popular day trip from Germany, Netherlands and Belgium.
Is Monschau worth visiting? Absolutely it is! It’s one of those German cities near Belgium that is definitely worth adding to your itinerary.
13 Things to Do in Monschau
1. Tour the Beautiful Red House
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 which Monschau is known for.
Today, it’s a small private museum offering a guided tour. They tell 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.
2. Gaze upon the pretty Rur River
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
The Old Town or Altstadt is definitely 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, 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.
4. Enjoy the tradition of Kaffee Kuchen
Kaffee 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.
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 of the building.
7. Walk the Panorama Weg for the best views
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 actually see how small this town really is. How it’s nestled between the hills with the Rur River winding its way through.
8. Explore the Monschau Castle
The 13th-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
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.
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.
11. Prost! Have a beer in a pub
Enjoy 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, Alte Herrlichkeit to name a few.
Like all good German towns, there is no shortage of places where you can stop and enjoy a beer.
12. Tour the Felsenkeller Brauhaus & Museum and more
This is a must-visit for beer lovers. Tour the 150-year-old brewery of Felsenkeller Brauhaus & Museum which features a collection of bottles, antique brewery equipment, and beer-related artifacts. You can finish your tour at the museum’s restaurant for a meal or enjoy the local brew.
A popular museum with families is Erlebnismuseum Lernort Natur, a wildlife museum. See animals (taxidermy style) from the smallest, a mouse to the largest, a bear and learn more about them.
13. People watch in the Market Square
Head to the market square after you have enjoyed exploring all of what this small town has to offer. 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.
Cafes in Monschau
Just as many beer halls, there are a lot of cafes in Monschau. And each one is absolutely charming. Nothing fancy, just quintessentially styled in the traditional decor one might expect to find in Germany.
Cafes are known for offering good strong coffee and delicious cakes and pastries. It’s the go-to spot for the traditional kaffee und kuchen. But you can also find a light lunch menu.
The best ones to try are Cafe Koulard and Cafe am Roten Haus. Both are known for their mouth-watering cakes.
Hotels in Monschau
If you’ve decided to make Monschau your getaway, I don’t blame you, here are some top-rated hotels in Monschau, plus apartments and holiday homes.
- 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 bed and breakfast overlooking the Old Town
- Or, do your own search here
Nearby Day Trips
If you are making Monschau your short getaway, here are some nearby cities and things to do that you can add to your itinerary.
- Aachen – a UNESCO-designated city known for its historic Old Town, thermal baths and Aachen Cathedral (Aachen to Monschau is 30 km)
- Eifel National Park – is a beautiful natural area with great hiking (10 km to the exterior of the park)
- Maastricht – a charming Dutch city in the Netherlands that is known for its pretty Old Town, museums, and shopping (Maastricht to Monschau is 75 km)
- Liege – is a lively city in Belgium known for its arts & culture with many museums, theatres and an opera house, it also offers great architecture with a mix of Art Nouveau and Gothic (Liege to Monschau is 60 km)
Monschau Christmas Market
Monschau Christmas Market may not be one of the most famous Christmas markets in Germany, but it’s definitely 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).
The Monschau Christmas Market 2022 dates are Nov 25 – 27, Dec 2 – 4, Dec 9 – 11, and Dec 16 – 18.
How do you pronounce Monschau?
To pronounce Monschau it sounds like maan shau.
How do you get to Monschau?
The easiest way to get to Monschau is to drive via E40 and E42 highways and park just outside the Old Town. The nearest train station is Aachen, which is 30 km to Monschau.
How long do you need in Monschau?
Monschau is ideal for a day trip, with four to 5 hours being enough time to explore the Old Town, Red House, the Monschau Castle and enjoy a meal. Stay overnight and explore more in the nearby area.
What is Monschau known for?
Monschau is known for its narrow cobblestoned streets and traditional half-timbered houses that have remained unchanged for over 300 years.
What is 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. Also, a visit to the Monschau Christmas market is a must.
Travel Resources for Germany
To help with your Germany trip inspiration and planning, check out some of my other articles.
- Garmisch-Partenkirchen is a great place to explore in southern Germany
- Guide to Lake Constance
- Berchtesgaden National Park in the Bavarian Alps
- Guide to Munich
- A Road Trip through the German Alps
- UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Germany
- Guide to Maastricht, Netherlands
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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 definitely one of the most picturesque European towns I’ve been to.