The capital of Hesse with its 279,000 inhabitants is one of the oldest spas in Europe, a cultural metropolis with famous museums, theaters and a colorful restaurant and bar scene. Above all, however, it is also the gateway to the Rheingau, Germany's smallest wine-growing region, where plenty of joie de vivre sparkles in the glass. Our suggestions for a wonderful weekend in Wiesbaden and the Rheingau.

Wiesbaden

The capital of the state of Hesse with its 15 thermal and mineral springs counts is one of the oldest spas in Europe. About 279,000 people live in the second largest city in the state.

Friday afternoon: Arrive relaxed

Many roads lead to Wiesbaden: Whether A3, A5 or A61, all three highways pass close to Wiesbaden. You can also travel to Wiesbaden by Deutsche Bahn, which offers many direct ICE connections. Regional trains also leave every hour from the neighboring cities of Frankfurt or Mainz to the state capital.

After checking in at the hotel you should first take a short walk through the city or a ride on the THermine. The little red train, which moves through the streets without rails, covers the city's most beautiful sights in 50 minutes: from the Marktkirche to the Kurpark, Kurhaus, Staatstheater and Neroberg with the Nerobergbahn to the Kochbrunnen, Schlossplatz, City Hall and Wilhelmstraße with its elegant boutiques. Perfect for a first overview. The start and finish of the round tour is at Marktplatz, just opposite the tourist information office. On the way, however, you can get off at the Russian Orthodox Church and in the Nero Valley for a stopover. Which we highly recommend! The church with its golden onion domes is a real highlight of Wiesbaden. It was built by the Nassau master builder Philipp Hoffmann, who was inspired by Orthodox architecture during a trip to Russia. By the way, here at the Neroberg there is another real curiosity to discover: Wiesbaden's local mountain is one of the few inner-city vineyards in Germany - and thus a cultural monument. It is even listed as a historical monument. By the way, you don't necessarily have to climb up to the 245-meter-high summit on foot. You can take a leisurely ride on the Nerobergbahn, which also boasts a superlative: it is Germany's only funicular still operated with water ballast. A special experience!

Back in the old town you have now earned a break. How about coffee and cake? Then you've come to the right place on Marktstraße - Café Maldaner. Here, in Germany's first original Viennese coffeehouse, there is a wonderful smell of freshly brewed coffee and sweet cakes from the in-house pastry shop. Drop into one of the comfortable sofas or armchairs behind the old wooden revolving door and enjoy the atmosphere of the traditional coffee house, which first opened its doors in 1859.

Friday evening: culture at its best

Tonight is classical culture and you should dress up properly for it. After all, the Hessian State Theater still attaches great importance to evening dress. Otherwise, you could easily feel underdressed in the magnificent rococo-style foyer. Just as grand as the operas, ballets, plays and concerts that take place here is the neo-baroque theater hall in the Großes Haus. More than 1,000 guests can enjoy the performances here at the same time. Incidentally, the building, which is well worth seeing, was built in 1894 by order of Kaiser Wilhelm II.

Saturday: All about the Rheingau

Castles, many romantic wine villages and sun-drenched hiking trails - that's the Rheingau, one of the most charming landscapes in all of Germany. The best way to explore it is by car, because many sights are located in the vineyards and quite far apart. From Wiesbaden, it takes about 25 minutes to reach the Rheingau's most famous sight, the Eberbach Monastery in Eltville. However, you can extend your route by five minutes and drive the wonderful route directly along the Rhine. It is worth it!

The Eberbach Monastery is a former Cistercian monastery and is located in the middle of the Rhine-Taunus Nature Park. With its Romanesque and early Gothic buildings, the complex is one of Europe's great artistic monuments. It is large and there is much to see, so plan at least half a day for it. The heart of the complex is the basilica, built in 1150 in the unadorned purism of the Romanesque style. Nothing was meant to distract the monks from their communion with God. The elegant Gothic chapter house is much more opulently furnished, as is the festive Baroque refectory. You should also take a look at the hospital and the dormitory with its cross vault. The monastery is also famous for its wines. In the ancient vaults of the hospital cellar are stored more than 4,000 bottles of the finest in-house wines. The oldest bottle is a Hoheim Riesling and dates back to 1706. Incidentally, the monastery's vineyards are top sites directly on the Rhine and extend over 200 hectares. Mainly Riesling grows here, but Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir and Dornfelder are also cultivated. If you would like to visit the monastery and also taste the wines, it's best to book one of the guided wine tours on offer. You'll really learn a lot about the 900-year-old abbey and can then taste your way through the different wines to your heart's content. You can buy your favorite wines later in the vinotheque and in the monastery store... and continue to indulge in Eberbach memories at home.

After so much culture (and maybe wine) you are now certainly in the mood for fresh air, nature and exercise! Directly from the monastery you can hike through the vineyards and enjoy the spectacular view of the Rhine. For example, the 30-kilometer Rheingau Klostersteig starts here. You could march all the way to the former Marienhausen monastery in Rüdesheim on the trail, which is well signposted with 100 markers.

Saturday afternoon and evening: half-timbered houses and Rhine romanticism

Maybe you are in the morning from the car already noticed the city, which nestles with its half-timbered houses and small alleys so pretty on the banks of the Rhine. Eltville is the largest town in the Rheingau, but still exudes a lot of almost rural charm. This is probably due to the many wild vines that grow over the neat house facades, or to the many winegrowers who chug around the town on their little tractors. Eltville is also the town with the most titles in Germany - it can call itself Rose-, Wine-, Sparkling Wine-, Gutenberg- and Sustainability Town! It's best to just drift through the alleys and take a walk along the banks of the Rhine, because that's where you'll feel Eltville's charm the best. And that lies not least in the wine. In summer, you can meet the local winegrowers on Montrichard Square, under the plane trees, directly on the Rhine promenade and only 150 meters away from the Electoral Castle, who serve their wines here at small tasting stands. The old town, by the way, lies somewhat elevated as if on a terrace above the lower part of the town. Eltville owes its name to this terrace. It comes from the Latin Alta Villa, which means "high court" or "higher town.

When your stomach growls, you could drop in at the Weinhaus Krone. The family-run restaurant is located directly on the Rhine and serves what is probably the best Spundekäs' in the Rheingau. Spundekäs' is a kind of national dish here; each family maintains its own recipe. Classically, it consists of a cream cheese and quark mixture, seasoned with pepper, salt and paprika powder. However, there are also creative variations with caraway seeds, mustard or garlic. It goes wonderfully with fresh onions, pretzels and, of course, a Riesling. If you're feeling peckish, the Weinhaus Krone also serves hearty regional dishes. The perfect end to your trip to the Rheingau.

Sunday morning: Wiesbaden en detail

On your last day In the capital of the state of Hesse, you could pay a more intensive visit to two special sights. One of them is the Kurhaus in Wiesbaden, where there is a lot to see: With its great foyer with a 21-meter-high dome, the magnificent columns and lavishly decorated halls in the most beautiful Belle Époque style, the Kurhaus is one of the most beautiful buildings in Wiesbaden. Receptions, exhibitions, concerts and balls are regularly held here. And in one of the oldest casinos in Europe, cultivated gambling is the order of the day.

After that you walk in a quarter of an hour to the museum of Wiesbaden. The foundation stone for the mighty, three-winged building was laid in 1912. Today, the museum is one of the five Hessian State Museums and, with its 7,000 square meters of exhibition space, is one of the most important museums in the republic. Absolutely worth seeing is the permanent art nouveau exhibition by F. W. Neess. A nice contrast to this: the precious natural science specimens.

Sunday afternoon: pure relaxation

Do not forget Wiesbaden is not only a lively cultural city, but also a wonderfully relaxing spa. 26 hot springs feed the pools in the Aukammtal thermal baths and in the Kaiser-Friedrich-Therme. The latter is located in the middle of the city center. In the spacious sauna area or during a massage, you can wonderfully switch off at the end of your weekend and let the impressions of the last few days pass in review. Or you can feel like you're in ancient Rome, because the columns and elaborate ornaments atmospherically transport you to an ancient thermal bath already in the entrance area. The whole building is a tribute to the former Roman sweat bath, on whose ruins it was built. Nota bene: The entire bath is textile-free. If you prefer to regenerate in swimwear, you can go to the Aukammtal thermal baths located just outside the city. It is in no way inferior to the Kaiser-Friedrich-Therme, but with its many pools it is more family-oriented. But no matter which spa you choose, Wiesbaden is a wonderful place to be. And it certainly won't make it easy for you to say goodbye...

Cover photo: Cultural metropolis with feel-good factor - welcome to Wiesbaden © Wiesbaden Congress Marketing GmbH

In collaboration with Hesse tourism

Hiking through quiet low mountain ranges, old beech forests or orchards, paddling on the Lahn, looking at the most beautiful medieval half-timbered houses and soaking up the atmosphere of historic spas - Hessen makes romantic souls happy all around. But gourmets also get their money's worth on wine hikes, in Hessian butcher shops and with "Handkäs mit Musik", a pickled cheese. Reasons for a Vacation in Hesse there are enough!

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