If you’re a family who likes a city break, then why not try a whirlwind tour of the Rhineland? Starting in Mainz and finishing up in Düsseldorf, with a day out in the countryside thrown into the mix, here are five good reasons for a family to visit this part of Germany…
This Rhineland city is easily explorable on foot and has a lot to offer. Families who love books should start their Mainz tour at The Gutenberg Museum; the oldest museum of printing in the world. And the nearby Druckladen offers kids and parents the chance to have a go themselves. (As long as they are over the age of five.) The Landesmuseum Mainz is another gem; a gallery and museum with touch screens, audio guides and countless opportunities for getting hands on with the exhibits; in fact staff positively insist you do. Another great option for families with children of any age is a backstage tour of Staatstheater Mainz. You get to sit on stage, tour the dressing rooms and scenery store, and finding out fascinating thespian stuff like how a wig is made. (Human hair eeugh!)
A walking tour of the nearby city of Koblenz is a pleasurable way to spend the day, and you can hire a guide or just wander yourself. Start at the river where you get a great view of the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress, before rising to 118 metres above the Rhine in the cable car to explore the historic monument in person. Another ‘must see’ is Koblenz’ answer to Belgium’s Manneken Pis, a small spitting boy called Schängelbrunnen who can soak you to the skin if you get too close. And if it’s a sunny day, we recommend having your own Mad Hatter’s tea party in the grounds of the Kurfürstliches Schloss, (Electoral Palace) where a long row of tables and chairs is conveniently placed next to a playground and skate park.
3. The Eifel National Park
You thought this was in France? That’s the other Eiffel. This one is a green paradise. The kids will love chilling out on the leaf shaped ‘zen loungers,’ going out with the rangers, or trying to spot one of the 50 wild cats that live here. If you go in autumn you can watch the spectacular sight of rutting deer and you can finish off your day with on a boat trip on one of the pretty lakes, or hire a canoe and go it alone. For families with older people or laden down with prams and toddlers, there’s the five kilometre Wild Kermeter path and guided system specially designed to be accessible to all, and leading to the spectacular Hirschley viewpoint.
Situated near the Eifel National Park, the health resort of Gemünd is a great place to do your gift shopping and scoff Eifel Pizza, a unique creation from the enigmatic chef at Café Müller. If you have young children you can while away a good hour at the toy shop in the pedestrian zone.
We’ve done this city twice and would still like to go back for more. It has world class art. It has stunning architecture. It has a gallery where kids can paint their own masterpieces. And it has ‘the longest bar in the world’ selling Alt Bier; a traditionally brewed local tipple. What more could a family want?
Kirstie Pelling is Director of The Family Adventure Project.