We wanted a quick weekend getaway from Frankfurt that would be fun and interesting. After doing some research it became clear that Rudesheim was a must see for anyone wanting to experience the Romantic Rhinen (castles along the Rhine river) and Rheingau region (tons of vineyards growing grapes to make rieslings) with kids. So we went!
How to get there?
There are several ways to get to Rudesheim. One could take a boat from anywhere along the Rhine, drive, or take a train. We took the train from Frankfurt Haupbanhof, which was really easy! The trains go hourly and it only takes an hour to get there, and the train is a regional train, so it is extremely cheap.
What to do?
There is quite a lot to do in and around Rudesheim. It could be a day trip or a base for a long weekend of excursions. Here are some highlights for families with kids...
Drosselgasse is an ancient alley that is full of quaint restaurants, bars, wine shops, and souvenir shops. It is apparently very crowded during the high seasons of summer and Christmas markets, but was pleasant and accessible during the last weekend of August. It cannot be missed, and is the center of Rudesheim. It's adorable to adults and children! We ate dinner in Drosselgasse both nights in Rudesheim. After 8pm most restaurants have live music and dancing, which
was really fun, especially after a few glasses of reisling.
Rudesheim Seilbahn (Gondola) and Niedderwaldenkmal (Germania Monument) http://www.seilbahn-ruedesheim.de
Our favorite thing in Rudesheim was the Seilbahn and Monument. The Seilbahn leaves from the top of Drosselgasse, and is a beautiful ride over the vineyards. You disembark at the top of a beautiful crest overlooking the Rhine. There are trails and sitting areas, and many viewing points, as well as a couple of restaurants. It's incredible picturesque. The highlight is the absolutely enormous Niedderwaldenkmal, a huge monument erected in the 1880s to celebrate the unity of Germany. If you are in Rudesheim, this is not to be missed!
Assmannshausen is a neighboring town to Rudesheim on the Rhein. Many people who visit Rudesheim choose to take the Seilbahn to the Niedderwaldenkmal, and then take a ski-lift down to Assmannshausen, explore Assmanhausen, and take a ferry back to Rudesheim. I simply could not take our two-year-old on a ski lift, but was curious to see Assmanhausen, so we took the ferry there round-trip. It was a neat ferry ride with beautiful castle views, and was good to see another town, so we explored a bit and walked along the edge of the Rhine, and had a delicious lunch of Flamkuchen at the cutest restaurant, Zum Anchor. while we awaited our ferry back to Rudesheim. Assmanshausen is quite small but worth a visit.
Hiking in the Vineyards
The vineyards around Rudesheim are beautiful, historic, and very well maintained, with an extensive network of trails and paths. We had such fun walking, exploring and examining the old walls and small shrines dotted around the vineyards. We also tasted the very sour, very seedy grapes!
Another really cool thing to do in Rudesheim is check out the Wine Museum, which is located near the ferry docks and in-between the train station and Drosselgasse. This fascinating place is a 1,000 year old castle (Bromserburg Castle), which has been restored and is now a wine museum. We got headsets and did a self-guided tour of the castle, which was perfect for us and the three kids, since all kids love electronics! It was a great way to explore a dark and chilly castle, as well as learn a bit about the history of wine in the Rheingau region.
Any family who visits Rudesheim with small children will surely notice the bright blue sightseeing train, the Winzerexpress. This "train" departs a few times a day on a short trip around Rudesheim and the vineyards, with commentary in German and English. This was really fun, and Andrew (age 5) especially loved it.
Siegfried's Mechanisches Musikkabinett (http://www.siegfrieds-musikkabinett.de)
One thing that we did NOT do in Rudesheim, but that is on my list for a future visit, is visiting this museum of mechanical musical instruments. I have heard great things about it, and it looks incredibly inviting from the outside. We will check it out another time!
Where to stay and where to eat?
Rudesheim is quite small and there are limited options with respect to eating and lodging. We stayed at the very homey and welcoming Hotel Felsenkeller (http://www.felsenkeller-ruedesheim.de) where we had an extremely large room for the five of us. The breakfast was delicious and it is in a very central location, although the bar down the block was a bit loud on the Saturday night we were there!
As far as food, there are many delicious choices with wonderful reisling and ambiance. I would recommend wandering around Rudesheim and seeing what appeals to you and your family. We particularly liked Quetschkommod (http://quetschkommod.de/de/start.html) for a casual, kid-friendly spot with live music.
Rudesheim is a touristy spot along the Rhine. That being said, it was really cute and a lot of fun! I feel like our visit there gave us a taste of the Romantic Rhine with it's views and castles, as well as the Rheingau region, with it's reislings and vineyards. Also, the kids LOVED it. So, we think it was well worth the visit!