Rüdesheim, as a town, is one of the most touristy places in Germany due to its location on the Rhine River and centuries of history. Tourists start pouring in as early as 8 in the morning, as the many souvenir shops prepare themselves with a mix of wine and craft items. Dozens of restaurants — mostly with traditional German cuisine — look fancy, and already full, before you even decide on your favorite place.
Speaking of a tour, one of the delights of Rüdesheim and the Rheingau can be a walking wine-tasting tour with one of the many local wine farmers (or guides), as they tell you about the history of the region, and escort you to some of the top wine estates and vineyards. Or, you can create your own wine-tasting tour, and give your itinerary a new form than any guidebook rather suggests (as I ended up doing) by wandering through a few popular streets, trying some traditional German food (with a bit of wine-tasting, of course) and taking a boat-ride along the Binger Loch.
While an experienced guide will definitely enrich the experience, it’s not as overwhelming, as it may appear, to tour in the region, on your own. However, to do so, it’s highly recommended you first visit the Tourist Information center in Rüdesheim and get your bearings , particularly a free city map, as this will surely help you find out more about what appeals you better.
My recommendation is to spend at least a couple of full days in the area, and give yourself more time so you can visit the area at a relaxed pace, leaving times for walks and hikes, a bicycle ride, and a few unexpected stops, but even if not, and you’ve only a day trip to afford — as was the case with me — you can follow my recommendations and make the most out of Rüdesheim and Rhinegeau. And here’s how it goes…
Start With A Quick Walk Through The Street Of Drosselgasse
Probably the most popular street, Drosselgasse is the heart of Rüdesheim. And whether you’re in town for a day or a week, a visit to Drosselgasse is definitely a no miss. On its two-meter wide and roughly 144-meter long paved road, the hustle and bustle is nevertheless quite unique.
So as soon as you get off the train station in Rüdesheim , the very first thing I’d recommend you to do is take a walk along the street of Drosselgasse. Here you’ll find tourist shops selling some of the cheesiest souvenirs imaginable, with tourists from the US and Asia continuously bursting into wild screams of joy and wonder.
A quick walk through Drosselgasse, will set you in mood and prepare you for what you should be expecting in the town, and that is – more and more of Riesling!
Tour The Siegfried’s Mechanical Music Cabinet
As you conclude your walk through Drosselgasse, the next destination can be the iconic Siegfried’s Mechanical Music Cabinet. Though in theory, it can be a museum of automated, self-playing musical instruments, dating back their existence hundreds of years ago, in reality it’s much more than that.
Exploring various exhibits in action, you realise how a simple passion can sometimes turn into something much bigger and prominent, and that’s exactly the story of Siegfried’s Mechanical Music Cabinet.
It all started as Siegfried Wendel, a man from Germany found himself fancied with an arsenal of Player pianos and other automaton instruments, during his honeymoon near Los Angeles, back in 1960’s. Bitten by the anxiety and a die-hard will, he started collecting rare musical instruments, ranging from tiny music boxes to a giant player piano, and soon ended up with over several hundred different musical instruments.
As you take the 45-minute long guided tour and listen to different musical instruments — though mostly European — you realise how different regions can influence our taste and adaptation. Not a single thing I heard during the entire tour was any familiar to the kind of music my Indian roots were familiar to, but their melodies were nonetheless impressive… something to surely fall in love with and remember for a long time!
Eat At Hotel Grünen Kranz
A few hundred meters away from the Music Cabinet lies the popular historic hotel and wine restaurant “Grünen Kranz”, which has been appreciated for generations for its cozy atmosphere and family hospitality. The Rhenish cuisine it excels in is cooked with nothing but the many regional ingredients.
Since it was too early for me to take anything alcoholic (as I feel lazy after consuming limited alcohol. It should either be too much or not at all!), I ordered a Ginger Ale with traditional Rheingau wild boar goulash with wild mushrooms and red apple cabbage. And nothing could taste better than that.
Boat Cruise Along The Binger Loch
With your stomach feeling happy and satisfied, next in the list can be a pleasing boat ride as you slowly sail along the river Rhine, overlooking the ruins of Ehrenfels and as well as the many castles of Rheinstein and Reichenstein. The views of the vineyards, the picturesque landscapes and villages from the water are no less magical either.
Sit back and relax with a good company, a glass of local wine (or coffee, as was the case with me again!), and a happy company of fellow-tourists as the countryside passes by very gently.
An ideal thing to do here — as I was suggested by Bingen Tourism — was cruising with Bingen-Rüdesheimer from Pier 8, and getting off at the other side of the river at Bingen on your way back. The 45 minute ride can surely be an amazing and relaxing way to explore more of the area and the way of life.
Explore The Riverside In Bingen
The cultural riverside (known as Kulturefer) is the highlight of Bingen. With three kilometer promenade directly on the Rhine, a quick along the stretch here can sum up and moreover give you a better idea of the kind of life locals around the area love to lead — and that is a life of much vibrancy and socialism, with a glass of wine in your hand!
Interesting around the area can also be the park at the Mäuseturm. The Mouse Tower (Mäuseturm), a former fortress and watchtower from 14th century, is the town’s landmark but you can visit it only during three days in the entire year. The park has many playgrounds and a little museum called “Stellwerk Mench” or “Technik” — much popular among the visitors. But if you’ve only limited time to spare and still fancy a quick visit at one of the museums around the area, I’d recommend Museum am Storm, or the Museum on the River.
With its many exhibitions displaying 2000 years of culture and history, Museum am Storm, talks about three topics in particular: the Hildegard of Bingen, the romantic Rhine and the history of Bingen (though don’t forget to ask for the English translations at reception, if you don’t happen to be a German). The museum’s Roman surgical instruments (from 6th century) with 70 individual pieces, are nonetheless unique and another strong reason to visit the museum.
Dine At Weinzeit In Der Vinothek
Though the cultural riverside in Bingen offers a number of options for a delightful culinary feast and a bit of wine tasting, one of the recommended riverside restaurants is the Vinothek — or it was, at least, recommended to me by the Bingen Tourism. But due to time limitation, and a bit of reckless wandering — adding more to the unfortunate circumstances — I couldn’t make it to my reserved table and missed the most significant part of being in the area — wine tasting! But perhaps you can do that, and share some lovely pictures to my delight!
So, that’s just a taste of what you can do in Rüdesheim and in the town of Bingen if you’re here for a day!
Have you been to Rüdesheim before? What places/experiences around the region, would you recommend? Spill!