Even though the Drachenburg was constructed as a private villa, the 19th-century castle could well serve as a set for a Disney film. It’s only a mere 20-minute drive from central Bonn and sits atop a hill of the same name, with stunning views over the Rhine River below. The rooms are pompously decorated, and guided tours tell you about the unique history of the estate.
Schloß Drachenburg, Drachenfelsstraße 118, Königswinter, Germany, +49 2223 901970
If you’re in Bonn during winter, but you’re not impressed with the weather, have a look at Winterberg. With snowfall, the town 160 kilometres (99 miles) west of Bonn transforms into a mecca for winter sports enthusiasts. Ski slopes, cross-country trails, a bobsled arena and a ski jump ramp will leave you spoilt for choice. Rental equipment is available at several shops in the city.
Germany’s fourth-largest city, Cologne, is only 30 kilometres (19 miles) north of Bonn. Its imposing Gothic cathedral, which survived both World Wars virtually undamaged, essential excavation sites where the remains of the early Roman settlement were unearthed and the many jovial festivals, from Karneval and firework displays to Christmas markets, are enough of a reason to visit – at least for a day.
Wine and dine in one of Germany’s best wine regions. The Ahr Valley is virtually on Bonn’s doorstep – 30 kilometres (19 miles) south – and offers everything you need for a day of culinary highlights. Vineyards provide packages for wine tastings, cellar tours and lunches, or you can opt for a walk around the vine-clad hills of the valley and stop at multiple vineyards to sample the Pinot Noirs and the Portugais Bleus for which the region is known.
The city of Brühl, which is halfway between Bonn and Cologne, is home to a couple of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Augustusburg and Falkenlust Palaces, a residence and hunting lodge for the prince-elector of Cologne, are prime examples of Rococo architecture. Murals, frescoes and gold ornaments decorate the interior, while boxtree hedges and flower beds cover the surrounding parks and gardens.
Schloss Augustusburg, Max-Ernst-Allee, Brühl, Germany, +49 2232 44000
The hill range southeast of Bonn not only encompasses the previously mentioned Drachenburg Castle, but it is also home to multiple hiking trails that take you along the region’s highlights. Day routes pass monasteries, castle ruins, cute villages and hill peaks with panoramic views of the landscape. For those of you looking for a multi-day outdoor adventure, the Rheinsteig trail is worth looking into. The 320-kilometre (199-mile) path takes you from Bonn all the way to Wiesbaden in Hesse.
How about spending your day on a cruise up the Rhine. The meandering river is said to be one of Germany’s most romantic streams. A river cruise takes you past Drachenburg Castle, ruins, the city of Koblenz and the myth-enshrouded Lorelei rock formation, which inspired the Heinrich Heine poem Lorelei.