This weekend we decided to explore one of the hidden gems of Germany – the Arh Valley and the Eifel region. The North Rhine-Westphalia was one of the only states in Germany open for tourist travel, so we planned our trip around that. We stayed in Bad Munstereifel, which is the cutest little town. It was our very first overnight trip with a baby, and it was great! If you like hiking, wineries, history, and cute towns, this is the perfect short weekend trip for you.
The Arh Valley is somewhat of a local secret as far as German wine regions go. Most wine seeking tourists visit the Mosel and Rhine regions, but the Arh is known for its red wine. We began Saturday hiking the Rotweinwanderweg (Red Wine Trail). Our hike began at the top of Weindorf Dernau, and we made our way down through the vineyard wrapped mountains, to Weindorf Rech. The wine village Rech is filled with cute restaurants and wine houses and an old stone arch bridge.
We looped through Weindorf Rech and walked by the Arh to get back to Weindorf Dernau. Wine village Dernau is also super cute, and we stopped by two wine houses to buy some spatburgunder (pinot noir). Sadly, tastings aren’t allowed until June this year, but I’m sure we’ll be back. After scooping up several bottles, we finally sat down at a restaurant for a late lunch. This was so exciting for us because it was only the second time we ate out in 7 months. The weather was horrible, but the food was delicious!
Bad Munstereifel is an absolute gem of a town, and one that I hadn’t heard of anywhere else. Its old medieval town is now a city outlet, filled with picturesque half timbered houses, romantic bridges, and delicious cafes lining the Erft. The restored historic buildings are now shops filled with clothing, shoes, home goods, and more. The city walls surround the town and the castle towers over the city. What an amazing and unique shopping experience!
Eifel National Park
We hiked through part of the Eifel National Park on our way home on Sunday. Bad Munstereifel is very close to the Park, but our starting point for the hike was Vogelsang IP. Vogelsang is steeped in history, as it was once a training center for Nazi elite. After WWII it became a military training center for British and then Belgian forces, but now is an International Place (IP) for “tolerance, diversity and peaceful coexistence.”
You can visit the permanent exhibition on the National Socialist regime and Nazi documentation. We had the dogs with us, so we didn’t go inside, but from our experience, the Germans do a great job of not mincing the horrors of the Nazis, as a way to ensure their horrific crimes never happen again. Vogelsang sits in the middle of Eifel National Park and overlooks the Urft Dam, so this ended up being a great hike mixed with history and great views.
All in all this was a great first trip with the baby. We made a weekend out of it, but it can easily be a day trip. Bad Munstereifel is a little over 2 hours away from Ramstein and an hour away from Cologne. A super charming town plus great hikes make for an amazing quick German getaway.