Whether you’re indulging in Christmas shopping at one of the city’s 7 Christmas markets or taking a Christmas cruise along the idyllic Rhine River, there are plenty of ways to enjoy Christmas in Cologne.
Most travelers choose to visit the Rhine Valley either during the summer months or around the festive Christmas season, but lower prices and cooler weather make the autumn shoulder season a perfect choice for sightseeing. This is the time to hike to a hilltop medieval castle, take a bike tour along the UNESCO-listed Middle Rhine Valley or make the most of low season deals on Rhine River cruises.
At the heart of one of Germany’s most famous wine regions, Mainz has long been dubbed the wine capital of Germany and the Mainz Wine Market is the largest of eight annual wine events hosted in the city. Held over the last weekend of August and the first weekend of September, the Mainz Wine Market brings together vintners from over 40 vineyards around the Rheinhessen, Rheingau and Nahe regions for the enormous fair, which takes place in the Mainz Volkspark (Municipal Park).
Whether hosting one of Germany’s most famous spring carnivals, the vibrant Mainz Fastnacht, or seeing in the summer with the traditional Mainz Midsummer Night Festival, the capital of Rhineland-Palatinate certainly knows how to throw a good party. For those exploring Germany’s wine regions though, it’s the city’s lively wine festivals that demand the most attention, cementing Mainz’s reputation as the wine capital of Germany.
Cologne might be most famous for its iconic architecture and lively nightlife, but take a tip from the locals and you’ll find a more relaxing way of soaking up the scenery – on the golf course. Yes, the striking metropolis of Cologne is also the golf capital of Germany, with 6 courses within the city limits and an incredible 35 world-class courses within easy traveling distance of the city – the most of any city in the country.
Immortalized in William Turner’s dreamy landscape paintings, Heidelberg has long been renowned as one of Germany’s most romantic cities, but this year the romance steps up a notch with the city set to host The Wedding. The aptly named 3-day event, held from August 9th -11th, is a celebration of the 400th anniversary of the marriage of Frederick V to the English Princess Elizabeth Stuart.
A glittering procession of boats glide down the Rhine River, their reflections turning the water surface into a kaleidoscope of color. Along the riverside, the villages are aglow with flickering bengal lights; the skies overhead ablaze with fireworks that cast a rainbow of colors over the landscape. This is the Night of a Thousand Fires, one of 5 show-stopping fireworks displays and boat parades taking place along the Rhine river valley throughout the summer months as part of the spectacular Rhine in Flames Festival.
From the iconic Loreley Rock and the many mountaintop castles, to the vibrant cities of Cologne and Mainz, there are plenty of sights to see in the UNESCO World Heritage listed middle Rhine Valley, but those with an interest in religious buildings should plan in a visit to the Abbey of St. Hildegard of Bingen.
With an array of vibrant cities, quaint medieval towns and lush landscapes sprawled along the banks of the mighty Rhine River, there are plenty of things to do with one week in the Rhine Valley. Here are a few ideas.
Days 1-2: Cologne
Start your trip in the lively city of Cologne where you can admire the breathtaking Kolner Dom cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage site, as well as the city’s 12 Romanesque churches, then wander around the modern harbor and the idyllic riverfront Rheinpark. Not ready to leave yet? There are plenty of options for day trips from Cologne including sampling the nightlife in nearby Dusseldorf and cruising along the river.
Towering on a hilltop over the riverside town of Rüdesheim, the Niederwald Monument, or Niederwalddenkmal, is one of the most iconic landmarks of the UNESCO World Heritage listed Rhine Valley, built to mark the rebirth of the German Empire after the end of the Franco-Prussian War.