gray rooftops
Germany

Monschau: the Best Fairy Tale Town in Germany

Are you looking to visit a fairy tale town in Germany? Go to Monschau – one of the best fairy tale towns in Germany. Tucked away in the hills of the Eifel region of Germany, near the Belgium border, lies the prettiest of towns. Time has stood still in Monschau. It has remained virtually untouched over the past several centuries. Just as if it was torn from the pages of a fairy tale book. 

Whether you plan a day trip to Monschau or plan on staying a couple of days, here are the top things to do in Monschau. 

crooked half timber houses by river

How to Get to Monschau

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. Monschau is a popular day trip from Germany, Netherlands and Belgium.  

The easiest way to get to Monschau is to drive. Park your car just outside of the small town and take the short walk until you come across a small footbridge. 

half timber buildings over river

Top Things to Do in Monschau

VISIT RED HOUSE

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

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 woolen materials which were exported to countries as far away as Turkey and Russia. 

red house overlooking river

GAZE UPON THE RUR RIVER

The Rur River flows right through the town of Monschau. It starts in the north from the mountains in Eifel national park and meanders through many towns along the way. You will see local fisherman out getting their catch of the day with trout and salmon found here. 

There are several footbridges that you can take in the views of the Rur River. It is just so pretty. As it catches the light and the sound of the soft rustling of the water as you stroll through the town. 

half timber houses overlooking river

TOUR THE OLD TOWN

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 are awe-inspiring. With no two alike, take your time to gaze upon each one. 

Visit the quaint shops, like the all-year Christmas store, a traditional coffee roasting house, and a glass-blowing workshop, just to name a few. 

cobbled stone road with timber buildings

TAKE THE PANORAMIC ROAD

Take the panoramic road that starts straight after you cross the Rur River at the Market Square. It leads you up the hill to a terrace where you can enjoy panoramic views of Monschau. From here you can actually see how small Monschau is. How it’s nestled between the hills with the Rur River winding its way through the town. There are over 300 buildings that are listed as historic monuments in this town. Thankfully, because Monschau was left intact after WWII.

Views of Monschau from the Burg Monschau, a 13th century castle that is perched above the pretty town of Monschau, Germany

EXPLORE THE MONSCHAU CASTLE

The 13th century Burg Monschau (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. Though tours of the castle are not offered, you can enjoy a stunning view of town from its courtyard. It’s a steep walk up to the castle, but well worth it for the views. 

view of rooftops

GO TASTE TESTING AT MONSCHAU MUSTARD MILL

The Mustard Mill or Senfmühle dates back to 1882, and is one of the last historic mills in Germany. It continues to produce the traditional mustard recipe, along with 19 other varieties. To visit the historic mill, it’s a 15-minute walk up the hill. 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. 

outdoor dining in market square

SIT AWHILE 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 lunch time when the entire town stops to eat. 

Enjoy the traditional kaffee kuchen, or coffee and cake, which can be enjoyed mid-morning and mid-afternoon throughout Germany. In Monschau they specialize in apfel kuchen and apfel strudel (apple cake and apple strudel). 

crooked half timber buildings

As a holidaymaker…

Undeniably, our visit to Monschau did not disappoint. Considered to be the most beautiful town in this region, Monschau makes you feel like you have stepped back in time. It’s definitely one of the most picturesque European towns. 

Monschau is a must see fairy tale town to visit any season, however, it is known for its Christmas market. 

fairy tale town with half timber buildings
half timber building over river

57 Comments

  • Subhashish Roy

    Germany was in our plans last year but we had to cancel the trip. However had not planned for Monschau. This place looks so pristine. It’s always so much fun visiting places like these which are not frequented by too many tourists. Thanks for bringing it to notice.

  • Raksha

    The mustard mill sounds so fascinating. I have never been to Germany even though I have a very good friend of mine who stays there and she has been inviting me for long. I am definitely visiting Monschau when I am there as the place surely looks beautiful and picturesque.

  • Sherianne

    Germany is my favorite country and I haven’t been to Monschau. Mustard would be the perfect souvenir from Germany, I adore the lopsided homes along the Rur River with the footbridges and the half-timbered buildings in the old town. Thank you for highlighting Monschau!

  • Ami Bhat

    The town is indeed very picturesque and lovely. The Rur river does make a lovely photo opportunity and I sure am game for those cafes. Pity you can’t explore the castle as I would have liked to but am good with capturing the views around it. Definitely a place that I would want to try and visit.

  • Pamela Mukherjee

    This place looks so idyllic! I’ve never been to Belgium or Germany, so I want to visit this town along with the other countries. Definitely keeping this in mind when I will be visiting or planning for the countries. Lovely place to cherish.

  • Natascha

    What a coincidence! I just finished a novel based on historical facts that is set in Monschau. It was about a small pox outbreak in the 1960s. While this is a weired topic, it is nice to get images of the city. I had no idea that they have such a beautiful Altstadt with all this half timbered houses.

  • Linda (LD Holland)

    We really do need to plan a long visit to Germany so we can visit fairy tale villages like Monschau. That Red House really does stand out. Those foot bridges over the Rur River look charming. I do love all the colour on the window frames. And would be charmed for sure walking down the cobblestone streets. So many great spots to enjoy coffee and cake with a view.

  • End

    What a pretty town. I love the timbered buildings, it just really makes me immediately think of Germany. But how great is it that you’re essentially able to visit Germany, Belgium and Netherlands in a single day. I love Europe for that.

  • JoJo Hall

    This looks and sounds like such a cute little hidden gem! These lesser known places are perfect for those looking to get away from touristy places for a chance to experience things locally.

  • barry

    This is one gem of a town. The images youve captured are stunning. Those half-timbered houses are so tall as well, as if they grew over the years. The squares with the view up to the buildings higher up are so idyllic. i am surprised so much of the town survived the two World Wars as there was heavy bombardment in this area in both wars. You have enticed me to visit it and being so close to other major transport hubs will be easy to get to. Thanks for sharing.

    • The.Holidaymaker

      You’re right, there are so few towns that escaped bombing. I think those that are close to boarders managed to be saved. You’ll have to plan a visit one day!
      Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

  • Riana Ang-Canning

    What a cute town! I love the half-timber houses. It reminds me a lot of Cesky Krumlov in the Czech Republic with the windy waterway through the town. And I’m definitely here for a town that has an all-year Christmas store!

  • Kerry Heaney

    What a gorgeous little town. I love the half-timbered houses built so close to the edge of the river. There is something very special about a town that has not changed for decades.

    • The.Holidaymaker

      I’m so glad that you fell in love with this town as much as I did. Thanks for stopping by.

  • Drew Hannush

    What a fascinating place. It’s amazing this little town survived two world wars! The architecture and colors are crazy. Definitely a place to discover.

    • The.Holidaymaker

      Thanks Drew for commenting. Indeed, a city in that was left untouched by the wars is worth visiting to see its original architecture.

  • Michael Hodgson

    I LOVE half-timbered houses! And Monschau sounds amazing. You say you have seen a lot in Germany … as have we, but we have not yet experienced Monschau. Have you visited Quedlinburg?

    • The.Holidaymaker

      How could you not love half-timbered houses! I haven’t visited Quedlinburg before, nor that immediate area. You must be recommending it, and will have to add it to my list.
      Thanks so much for taking the time to check out the post.

  • Lara Dunning

    Monschau is now on my small town bucket list! Love the old buildings and how they rise up from the river. And, while I’m not a huge mustard fan, I’d totally want to see the mill and sample the products. I’m sure the hubs would find one to take home. While you were there did you notice any lodging that would be good?

    • The.Holidaymaker

      Glad to hear that this post has inspired you to add it to your bucket list! There were a couple of hotels/inns in the town (they are in the upper levels of the building). I don’t recall the names or could comment on the quality, sorry. Another option to explore is to stay in Aachen, which is another picturesque town about 40 minutes north of Monschau. Perhaps more selection.

  • Amber

    This is such a beautiful town! It reminds me of Strasbourg in the French/German border. I really need to visit Monschau in the future! Such a beautiful place!

    • The.Holidaymaker

      Yes you are right Amber it does look like the buildings in the Alsace region. I hope you get to visit it one day. Thanks for stopping by.

  • Emmalene

    I absolutely love the old fairy-tale towns and villages and this (and Aachen) are high on my travel wish list! Thank you for the information and the beautiful photos!

    • The.Holidaymaker

      Thank you Emmalene for taking the time to read my post. I hope you get to see it and Aachen one day soon!

  • Heather

    I have never heard of Monschau but it is one of the most picturesque towns I have ever seen! Your photography (particularly your composition/angles) is really nice! You mentioned Christmas markets, holy cow I can’t imagine how beautiful it would be then! I would love to see it at Christmas!

    • The.Holidaymaker

      Thanks Heather for your kind compliments. I appreciate you taking the time to read and comment. Yes, a return visit at Christmas is in my future!

  • Candy

    I love visiting places like this. Small towns have so much history and charm. But, like you, I am a huge fan of gourmet mustard so this alone would bring me to this town. Hoping I can visit someday!

    • The.Holidaymaker

      Thanks Candy for taking the time to comment and read the post. If you do decide to visit, don’t do what I did, and that is only bringing home 2 jars! I instantly regretted not buying more. 😊

  • Darah

    Wow! What a beautiful town. I really love that there’s still a working mustard mill from 1882 (and I would totally keep the jars too!) How far would you say it is from Brussels? I may have to add this to our places to visit.

    • The.Holidaymaker

      Thanks for commenting Darah. It is about 90 minuets from Brussels. We made it a day combining this with other areas we wanted to see along the way. It is an easy drive, once you are out of the city. Do add it, you won’t be disappointed. It is a lovely town.

  • Mei and Kerstin

    We spent a weekend in Monschau to visit its Christmas market a month ago, because one of my colleagues who’s from the German community in Belgium told us that it’s one of the most picturesque villages in the region. And she was right. 🙂 However, it was too cold (or maybe we were just too lazy) to walk up to the castle. It’s good to know that it’s actually a youth hostel now. We would have walked there for nothing! haha..

    • The.Holidaymaker

      Oh how fortunate are you to have spent more time there and also during the Christmas market. I want to return for that very purpose. Thanks for commenting.

  • Martina

    Honestly, I didn`t know anything about this marvelous place before! Thank you so much for sharing this insider tipp – I put this lovely little city Monschau on my bucket list. All your pics are so beautiful – You really make me wanna go and visit this jewel.

    • The.Holidaymaker

      I am so glad Martina you were inspired by Monschau and now have added it to your travel list. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

    • Kerry

      I have never heard of this place but it I agree its most definitely a fairytale land. The rur river has so many beautiful and interesting houses, as does the old town. The market sounds good too.

    • The.Holidaymaker

      Thank you Adele for your kind compliment. Appreciate you taking the time to read and comment.

  • Julie

    Looks so idyllic! I’ve actually been in the area, but I’ve never heard of this town. Definitely keeping this in mind for the next time I’m in the area:)

    • The.Holidaymaker

      Thank you Julie! Appreciate you taking the time to comment. Yes, definitely when you are in the area next, you have to stop in. You won’t regret it!

    • The.Holidaymaker

      Thank you Lynne for taking the time to comment. I do too, small, charming villages are the best.

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