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Rudesheim (Photo:Ekaterina Pokrovsky/Shutterstock)
5.0 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating

By Jamey Bergman
Cruise Critic Contributor

Port of Rudesheim

Rudesheim (pronounced roo-des-hyme) is a town built for tourism. Its omnipresent oompah bands and sprawling hillside vineyards tickle all the right notes of "quaintness" for the river cruise traveler who's looking for a picturesque German village. But the town and its environs -- particularly through the craftsmanship evident in the region's food and wine -- offer more than just a simple stereotype for those who want to peer behind the old-fashioned facade.

About Rudesheim


Pro

This storybook German village offers traditional touring options, while being easy-to-navigate for independent explorers

Con

While the town is walkable, the streets are cobbled, so if you don't walk carefully you might risk injury

Bottom Line

Rudesheim offers a taste of classic German culture, scenic views and plenty of opportunities to indulge


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It is easy (and worthwhile) to allow yourself to be swept along in the festive currents of music, tempting aromas of grilled meat, free-flowing Rheingau wines and crowds of travelers who seem to find their way to the town's narrow Drosselgasse ("choke alley") year-round. The nice thing about Rudesheim's size and setting is that you can also make a quick exit from the melee. Within minutes, you can find yourself wandering through row upon row of ripening grapes to an uncrowded vista over the Rhine Gorge, a UNESCO World Heritage Site -- or relaxing in a beer garden (biergarten).

Rudesheim is little, but it has a little bit of everything in an easily accessible package. So, indulge yourself. Take a gondola ride, taste some Rhenish wine and enjoy the summer sunshine on the Rhine Valley. Or meander through a winter evening's Christmas market in the warmly lit confines of ancient cobbled streets ... and if you fancy a nightcap, top off your coffee with local brandy and set it alight.

Where You're Docked

Rudesheim is quite a small town, and river cruise vessels dock very close to the town center.

Port Facilities

The docking area is adjacent to a small public green space, just a few hundred yards from the main road fronting the river. Train tracks and the busy road separate you from the town, but there are a couple of well-marked subway footpaths to get you to the other side. The tourist information center, restaurants, ATM's and shops are all easily accessible.

Good to Know

The cobbled streets can pose a trip hazard, and the size of the town necessitates a healthy amount of walking, so wear comfortable shoes and mind your step. One additional caveat is that many cafes, bars and taverns are smoker-friendly, which can be a shock to the system if you're coming from a region where smoking is not allowed indoors.

Getting Around

On Foot: Given that Rudesheim is a hamlet of fewer than 10,000 residents, you really don't need any other form of transportation besides your own two feet. Although vehicles are allowed to drive through the town, there are various pedestrianized zones, and the narrow, cobbled alleyway of the Drosselgasse is best enjoyed on foot.

By Bike: If your cruise ship doesn't have bicycles available for use, your best bet for renting one in Rudesheim is the Hotel Zum Grunen Kranz (42-44 Oberstrasse), which houses Radkranz bike rental.

By Cable Car: A tram runs up the hillside from Rudesheim (Rudesheimer Seilbahn, Oberstrasse 37) to the Germania monument above. There are numerous ticket options, including combining the ride up with a chairlift ride down into the next village over.

Currency & Best Way to Get Money

Germany's currency is the euro. For currency conversion figures, visit www.oanda.com or www.xe.com. There are only a handful of ATM's in Rudesheim. The closest, within a few hundred yards of the river cruise mooring points, is the Nassauische Sparkasse (Nassau Savings Bank) at 34 Rheinstrasse. Credit cards are widely accepted in restaurants, bars and shops.

Language

German is the local language, but English is widely understood and spoken there and in much of Germany. A few handy phrases in German will always enamor you to the locals, though, so try these:

Hello / good afternoon: Guten Tag (GOO-ten tahg)
Please / Thank you: Bitte / Danke (BIT-tuh / DAHN-kuh)
Yes / No: Ja / Nein (yah / nine)
Excuse me: Entschuldigen Sie (ent-SHOOL-de-gen zee)
Beer: Bier (beer)

Food and Drink

Given its wineries' reputation for quality and the town's focus on tourism, Rudesheim provides visitors with an array of options for regional cuisine among its impressive number of eateries. Choose among cafes, restaurants and inns. In addition, seasonal vintners' taverns -- which are licensed to sell wine only at certain times of year (you'll be able to tell by the wreaths and brooms displayed outside) -- offer up dishes like Handkas mit Musik (mini cheeses marinated in a vinegar and onion sauce) and spundekas (seasoned cream cheese) alongside home-grown regional wines.

For heartier fare from the region, local favorite Restaurant Jakobusklause features Rhenish Goulash soup and cabbage dishes for less than 5 euros, as well as traditional German meat offerings like schnitzel and bratwurst for less than 15 euros. Jakobusklause has an extensive wine and beer list as well as a small outdoor biergarten, to boot. (Markt 23; +49 (0) 6722 48 313; open daily noon to 2 p.m. for lunch and 5 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. for dinner)

For mid-range prices on local fare in a weingasthaus (vineyard hotel), try Breuer's Rudesheimer Schloss. The house speciality is freshly prepared Hessian cuisine with a list of nearly 300 Rheingau wines -- including every vintage since 1929. The hotel is managed by the Breuer family, who own the hotel and the Georg Breuer wine-growing estate in Rudesheim. Starters include bone marrow dumplings in beef broth; mains could be fried local trout with almonds and potatoes or schnitzel in cream sauce with fresh mushrooms. (Steingasse 10; +49 (0) 6722 90 500)

For a gourmet meal, head further afield to the Michelin-starred Gourmet Restaurant Schwarzenstein, about three miles from Rudesheim in Johannisberg. The elegant restaurant is part of the Burg Schwarzenstein Hotel, and the resident chef serves modern European cuisine in a stunning setting with views over the Rhine Valley. The restaurant is enclosed by glass walls, which open on warm days to allow for al fresco dining. You'll need a reservation for this splurge. Adjacent to the restaurant, the Davidoff Smokers' Lounge offers cigars and spirits. (Rosengasse 32; +49 (0) 6722 99500; open Wednesday to Saturday for dinner, Sunday for lunch and dinner)

Shopping

Rudesheim's most common tourist offering is probably Rudesheimer Kaffee, a flaming coffee drink whose signature fire is fueled by Asbach Uralt brandy, a locally crafted spirit. And the town capitalizes on the popularity of the drink, offering boxed sets that include all of the instruments -- special ceramic cups and saucers and extra-long spoons to stir the coffee after it's been lit without burning your fingers -- and ingredients you'll need.

Rudesheim is also a great place to buy Christmas ornaments and decorations -- even if you're not there during the traditional Christmas market season. Try Kathe Wohlfahrt on Oberstrasse. Also on Oberstrasse, a couple of wine shops feature the tasty, local wines of the Rheingau. You'll find Pinot Noir, Riesling and even sparkling wine from local vineyards.