Tucked into a picturesque valley in the Eifel region of Germany, Monschau is a gem. Natural beauty and a lovely downtown make for a memorable visit. It also has a Christmas market that is one of Germany’s best.
Every road that leads to Monschau is a good one. Nestled next to the Belgian border in Germany’s Eifel region, the little town is surrounded by rolling hills and deep, wooded valleys. It is an ideal spot for day trippers and weekend voyagers, especially during the Christmas season.
To put it plainly, Monschau is as about a visually appealing town as you’ll find in Germany (which is saying something). Geography dictates a lot of this beauty. Since the bulk of the old town is located along the banks of the Rur River in a steep gorge, there’s not much room for sprawl. As a result, the village center is packed with cute shops, restaurants and old buildings.
History has a little bit to do with Monschau’s attractiveness, too. Even though the town has been around for roughly a millennium, it was in danger – along with nearly every other town in the area — from being destroyed during World War II. Because U.S. forces were able to secure the town quickly in 1944, it was spared much of the damage that ravaged nearby towns in Belgium and Germany.
What to do
There is no shortage of fun activities in Monschau. Because it is so hilly, the territory around the town is ideal for outdoor enthusiasts. Walkers, hikers and cyclists can take advantage of many nearby trails. There is also a nice circuit path that goes around the city, and provides great views of the Rur river and the valley in which Monschau sits.
The town itself also offers a lot of variety. You can visit parks, stroll the castle walls, or sit on benches and admire the river. Monschau also has an excellent selection of shops and restaurants.
Great Christmas markets can be found throughout Germany. What makes the Monschau experience so much fun is that the entire town seems to morph into one giant market. Which is to say, it’s not just limited to stalls and faux pines that suddenly end. It’s everything. Hotels, taverns, galleries, and artisan studios all seem to be part of the fun, too. And as evening falls, the lights are magnificent.
Unfortunately, COVID put a damper on last year’s Christmas market (which was the case almost everywhere). For up-to-date information on this year’s market, please visit https://www.monschau.de/en/experience/christmas-market/opening-hours/
By car, Monschau is slightly less than three hours northwest of Kaiserslautern, and a bit more than an hour north of Spangdahlem.
For U.S. government employees, including service members, remember to always follow command regulations, which may be different than host nation policies when it comes to travel.