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Blankenheim is a charming medieval town in Germany not far from Cologne that is full of gorgeous half-timbered buildings. This gorgeous city is about an hour drive from Cologne and you might pass through it when driving through the Eiffel National Park region This guide to Blankenheim covers the best things to do in Blankenheim, Germany.
Blankenheim is a quiet, beautiful town without the fuss of Monschau. Although I absolutely loved Monschau and I’d recommend staying in Monschau to have more options in terms of food/accommodation, I’d still recommend taking at least a few hours to explore Blankenheim on foot.
You’ll find parking near the lake that is the beginning of the Ahr river for a couple of euros. There’s a cash point near the tourist information. (You’ll need it for parking in Blankenheim and paying for various items in the city if you do not have a German or Dutch card.) Most of the guides that I found focused more on the surrounding area rather than the town itself.
It’s unknown how old the town is, but it has existed since at least 721. It was luckily kept intact during various wars although it’s most famous in Germany as the beginning of the Ahr river and the witch trials held here. More than thirty people were burned at the stake.
Wander the beautiful streets of Blankenheim
The medieval city of
I particularly loved wandering down Ahrstrasse and Auf der Insel to admire the half-timbered houses! Auf der Insel will lead you to An der Ahrquelle, where the Ahr begins within a half-timbered house. From here, take the stairs upwards to walk through the Hirtenturn. The town is small enough that you won’t get very lost and you can always pick up a map at tourist information.
There are two small museums in Blankenheim, one focused on German carnaval and another focused on the regional history. We skipped both in lieu of exploring the town itself, but you could visit either.
Find the beginning of the Ahr!
The signage in Blankenheim is only in German, so you might miss one of the main attractions of Blankenheim: the beginning of the Ahr spring. It’s interestingly set within a half-timbered house dating back to 1726. You can follow the small stream to find the house, which is quite picturesque!
Stop into a cafe for a coffee and German meal
For lunch, Landlust came highly recommended from the local that we asked. This cozy little cafe serves generous portions of German food at reasonable prices, so be sure to step inside. The Museumscafe Blankenheim is also a good place to get lunch during a day trip. You’ll also find an ice cream shop and pizzeria.
Roman villa “Villa Rustica” Blankenheim
A bit north of the town, you’ll find an open-air museum of a former Roman village, which dates back to the first century. You can stand over the glass to view the ruins that have been excavated.
Browse for cute souvenirs
I loved browsing in Krims-Kram / Geschenke aus aller Welt, a charming little souvenir shop with home goods and knitting supplies. I ended up getting a beautiful wool scarf here for a reasonable price. Others might enjoy their funny cards, household decorations, and wool yarn.
Discover the old city gates
The Shepard’s Tower (Hirtenturm) is one of the historic city gates of Blankenheim. This beautiful gate dates back to 1548 and you can walk through it on foot. At the time it was part of the fortification of the inner city. Most of the other gates have been demolished over time although you will certainly pass through the other gate as you enter the town.
Walk up to the castle (turned hostel) for epic views
It’s hard to miss Blankenheim Castle, which is on top of the nearby hill over the city. The castle dates back to the 12th century and it once belonged to the van Blankenheim family. The castle has been rebuilt many times and was eventually abandoned by the family who once owned it. Later, it was used by the Prussian empire prior to falling into the hands of a German youth organization. Today, it’s a youth hostel. The water supply underneath the castle is a rare example of a water tunnel within a mountain.