Day trip from Düsseldorf – about 2 hours by regional train
Just a few hours from Düsseldorf, the landscape morphs into rocky, green hills. And draped across those hills like strings of emerald and ruby jewels? Gorgeous vineyards supported by steep rock cliffs. Old Roman forts crown the rises, while post-card-perfect wine villages and the Ahr river pay tribute from bellow. The Rotweinwanderweg, or 35 km red wine hiking trail, takes adventures straight through the middle of these sights, right into the heart of the vineyards.
When to Go
We’ve been at the start of summer, and it was beautiful; but the Autumn is incredibly stunning! I suggest planning to go on a weekend when one of the towns has a festival going on (see below for more on festivals).
Because there are different options and it can be confusing, I prefer to just go to the ticket office in the train station and buy the tickets there. If you have the ticket 1000 or 2000, you can get there for less than 20 Euro. If you go with 4-5 people and some don’t have the ticket 1000/2000, you can get the Schönes Tag ticket from Deutschebahn or the Schönes Wochenende ticket depending on what day you are going to (Under 55 Euro total). Just ask at the people at the counter.
Change trains in Remagen to go to the Ahr Valley. The ride from Remagen is beautiful, so don’t get buried in your phone. If you’re lucky, you’ll meet some locals on the train. We ended up meeting the sweetest 80-year-old woman with beautiful English who was so happy to be our tour guide on the train.
The villages themselves contribute greatly to the charm of the whole experience. You can stop at any of the stops along the route. Which means you can start and end in any of the villages along the trail. Pick a village, start your hike, drink in the views and the wine along the way, stop in villages as you please, and when you get tired, jump on the train in the nearest town and head back. The train ride itself is incredible!
I haven’t been to all of the towns, but I can tell you that Dernau is incredible and there is a great winery to stop for a bite to eat at the bottom of the trail in Mayschoss. Rech is also really cute. The other towns look so charming from the trail up above, and I can’t wait to go back and visit more of them!
The vineyards are steep, so you have to tackle a hill to get started, but it winds around and isn’t very difficult. In a few areas you’ll come across about ten rock steps, but the hike is relatively easy. Plus, the views and the wine are well worth it!
The first time we went to the Rotweinwanderweg, we hiked from Altenahr to Dernau. The second time, we did a shorter route from Mayschoss to Rech. I love this hike at the south end of the trail, but I have a feeling you can’t go wrong wherever you start and end your hike. All along the route, you can enjoy views of the river, the hills, the vineyards, the forests, and you can enjoy the wine! Often you can actually buy wine up in the vineyards from the stands. If the stands aren’t there, just pop into one of the towns along the trail and take a break at a restaurant or winery.
Make sure to check which towns are having festivals. The festivals start in may and run through October. I think Fall is the most beautiful, and this is also when the harvest festivals are going on, where the wine queens are crowned.
The northernmost wine area in Germany, the Ahr Valley is known for red wines. The region is composed of extremely steep slopes and rocky, rugged terrain along the river. The Romans were the first to settle this area with grape vines. It’s a small area though, so quality is much more important here than quantity.
Among other varieties, the Ahr region is known for pinot noir and portugieser. You can find more about the wines of this region by looking at the offerings of the wineries.
I really enjoyed the Blanc De Noir, French for “white from black”. They use red grape varieties to make a white wine. It’s interesting, and really good. I like the trocken (dry) version best.
A rare treat would be eiswein, or ice wine, which is a sweet wine caused by naturally freezing concentrate.
There are a lot of options, but you can’t go wrong. Get out there, pick a town, jump on the trail, grab some wine and go till your ready to zoom back home on the train!
Have a suggestion about the Red Wine Hiking Trail or other hikes in within a day of Düsseldorf? I’d love for you to leave a comment!