A friend and I had a plan to do a weekend of wine tasting and bring our kids along. I did some research where we could stay in a wine region, closest to the Netherlands and discovered the Rheingau valley in Germany. The Rheingau valley is known for its riesling and sparkling wines (sekt) and turned out to be a lovely area to visit. We made Wiesbaden our base and took the train to charming Eltville for our wine tasting mission. In this blog you will find all my recommendations for this area!
Where to stay: Before kids I was never a fan of chain hotels and I preferred to stay in a local B&B. However, with a toddler I must admit I love the amenities a big hotel can provide. We stayed in the Mercure Wiesbaden City for two nights, which featured a modern restaurant with delicious food, a full bar and a small swimming pool. The kids loved the pool and the parents loved dining without kids, as they were sleeping in their rooms.
What to see: Wiesbaden is one of the largest cities in the Rheingau area, it has about 300.000 inhabitants. What I loved about Wiesbaden was that there was a lot to do, but it didn’t feel overcrowded or touristy. The city center is quite beautiful, with lots of baroque buildings, a lively market square and lots of greenery and parks. There is plenty of choice of restaurants, make sure to have breakfast in a bakery as the breakfast culture in Germany is very good. Some streets of Wiesbaden reminded me of New York, with lots of brownstone buildings with the typical stoops. You will find these streets when you walk from the city center to the central train station. I can imagine these streets being particularly lovely in spring, when the trees are in full bloom.
World’s largest Cuckoo Clock: Apparantly, world’s largest Cuckoo Clock is located in Wiesbaden. Every half our you can see “the show”. We of course had to visit with kids, it was a bit disappointing as not a lot of action was going on, kids liked it anyway.
Biebrich castle: One of the best sights in Wiesbaden is Biebrich Castle. It is located a bit outside of the city center in the borough Biebrich, though very well connected by public transport. The castle was built in 1702 in baroque style, it had been ruined during WW2 and has been reconstructed very well since then. It doesn’t really have large castle gardens, however attached to it is a large public park. We visited Wiesbaden during a heatwave so were very happy to find some shelter against the harsh sun. The Biebrich borough is situated at the Rhine and you will find a nice promenade with platan trees and some restaurants next to it.
Henkell Sekt Kellerei: Henkell is one of the sekt brands that come from the Rheingau area. You can visit the winery of Henkell, which is located between the city center and Biebrich. You can do several kinds of tours and tasting, more information can be found here. The building is quite spectacular, so definitely worth a visit if you love wine and architecture.
Opelbad: Our toddlers are still a bit too young to go to an outdoor swimming pool for a long period of time, so we didn’t visit the Opelbad. However, if you are visiting with older kids, the Opelbad is a very good option to visit. The Opelbad is an outdoor swimming pool that overlooks all of Wiesbaden, a very picturesque spot!
We took the train to Eltville and arrived in this charming old town in about 15 minutes. When you take the train you get a fun ride with vineyard views, as you are nearing the Rheingau quickly.
Eltville is known as a wine, sparkling wine (sekt) and rosen city, sounds like a good combination to me! It has a historic city center with traditional half timbered houses, that didn’t feel overly crowded. On the promenade you will find the wine tasting stand (Weinprobierstand) where you can taste all sorts of local wines and sparkling wines. The area is known for its riesling, so you should definitely taste that. You can find benches and tables under the platan trees, so you can comfortably have your wine in the shade.
Burgschloss: A must visit in Eltville is the Burgschloss (Electoral Castle). You can visit the castle gardens for free, we visited in June and they were full of roses and other summer flowers. I found it a super impressive garden as it was so full of flowers and the castle walls were a beautiful backdrop.
Wein hotel Koegler: Next time in Eltville, I would love to stay at the wine hotel Koegler, just look at their lovely terrace. You can experience fine dining and wine tasting in this gem in the heart of the old town. It does book up well in advance, especially in the weekends, so make sure to reserve timely.
If you have a car, it is also possible to visit nearby Rheinstein Castle, which is located 30 minutes of driving from Wiesbaden. You can also combine a visit to Rheinstein Castle with a visit to Eltville, as they are located in the same direction. You can park for free at the foot of the castle, you then have to do a short uphill walk and you can enter the castle for 7 euros or visit the viewpoint for free. It is also possible to stay the night in Rheinstein Castle. From the castle you get amazing views of the whole area!