Europe can be expensive! While it’s nice to be able to travel and the KMC area is conveniently located within four hours of more than half a dozen countries and hundreds of exciting cities, sometimes it’s nice to have fun on the cheap.
The good thing is, there are already so many options. Most castle excursions are free. Visiting a city (minus the gas money) is free. And even sightseeing can be free if you travel by foot. That being said, sometimes a person just wants to do more than sightsee and visit castles. Fair enough. After some digging, it turns out there are a few places that are either free or incredibly inexpensive within a few hours of the KMC area.
Geierlay Haengeseilbruecke is the longest rope suspension bridge in Germany. Opened in 2015, it’s about an hour and a half from the KMC area but can easily be combined with a visit to nearby Bern Kastel-Kues or Cochem. The visitor’s center, Besucherzentrum, offers parking at just 2 Euro for the entire day. Be sure to take advantage of the free use of restrooms inside the visitor’s center before making the 20-25 minute trek to the bridge (about 2 km each way). It’s recommended to bring food unless you want to eat at the restaurant attached to the visitor’s center where a small bottle of soda will cost you about 4 Euro. And one final bonus, both the visitor’s center and restaurant are open on Sundays!
There are signs leading visitors to the bridge, but it is likely there will be plenty of other people to follow. Once you arrive at the bridge, there are a few benches for rest. Walking across the bridge is free and it is always open unless there is severe weather. It is not recommended to push a stroller across as the bridge is pretty narrow, but walking a dog (leashed, of course) or bike is welcome.
GPS Address: Lahrer Strasse 10, 56290 Moersdorf, Germany
Barefoot Park — Bad-Sobernheim
While this one isn’t free, it certainly is a cheap and rewarding adventure. The Barefoot Park in Bad-Sobernheim is about an hour away from the KMC area. Starting April 30, visitors can venture through all types of surfaces. From clay to water to grass to sand, the barefoot path is a one of a kind experience! Not your kind of thing? Don’t worry – there is a beer garden for those who choose to relax with their shoes on.
Entry for adults is 4 Euro, kids ages 3 to 17 cost 2.50 Euro. Group prices and annual passes are also available. Parking is free.
GPS Address: Staudernheimer Strasse 90, 55566 Bad Sobernheim
John Deere Museum — Mannheim
Just under an hour away, outdoor enthusiasts of the farming variety can enjoy the John Deere Forum. Visitors can walk through the world of agricultural engineering exhibit. From tractors to harvesters and much more, patrons will get to experience these machines from up close! Learn about engine performance as well as modern technology that helps protect the environment and create sustainable food production. There is even a model farm in the Junior Club Corner showing what a modern farm looks like. Kids are encouraged to participate in the games and play on the tractors!
Cost for this adventure is free for kids under the age of 15. An adult ticket is 10 Euro and young adults over the age of 16 are 5 Euros. It is recommended to sign up for a tour ahead of time on the John Deere website: www.deere.de. The museum is open Monday through Friday 0900 – 1700, closed Saturday, but open on Sundays from 1100 – 1630.
GPS Address: John-Deere-Strasse 70, 68163 Mannheim
Castle Playground in Bitburg
With days feeling longer and the weather getting warmer, it’s only natural to want to spend more time outdoors. About an hour and a half from the KMC area exists a hidden gem of a playground built up to look like a castle and surrounding village. Surrounded by small wooden animals and all the trimmings, there is also an area for smaller kids with a hammock, bridge, and small slide. Bigger kids have the option of rock climbing, a rope bridge, and a long slide. For the even bigger kids, there is a basketball court, ping-pong table, and a zip-line!
With plenty of benches and no major eateries nearby, this might be a good opportunity to make a day trip out of the experience and pack lunches, snacks, and drinks.
Although the playground is somewhat hidden, online maps will take you directly to the location when searching for “Peter-Wallenborn-Strasse Spielplatz, 54634 Bitburg.”
If boredom sets in at the playground, you can find a year-round ice-skating rink less than 10 minutes from the castle Spielplatz. Open every day of the week from September/October to April, with varying hours, the Eissporthalle in Bitburg offers hours of entertainment that won’t break the bank. Kids under the age of 17 are less than 4 Euro, with a special rate of less than 3 Euro on Thursdays and Fridays. Adult tickets are less than 6 Euro a person and for groups of ten or more, a ticket is just over 3 Euro per person. For more details on specials and pricing, visit their website at www.eissporthalle-bitburg.de
GPS Address: Gueterstrasse 7, 54634 Bitburg
TOPPELS — Twisted World
If you’re looking to shake things up, how about shaking it upside down? You might want to think about visiting Toppels Twisted World in Wertheim Village. Although it’s about a two-hour drive, this one-of-a-kind experience will be worth it. Everything is literally upside down. Open 365 days a year (yes, Sunday’s too!) from 1000 to 1700, visitors can experience this house offering unique perspectives in every room. With nine exciting rooms to explore where up is down and down is up, the pictures alone are worth the visit! For those that need a break to settle back in to their feet, the coffee shop – Café Ueberkopf – provides organic and fair trade products for purchase.
Although your loss of direction may turn your stomach, the entry fees certainly won’t: Children under the age of three are free, Kids four to fourteen are 3.50 Euro, and adults are 4.50 Euro. Furry friends are welcome as long as they are leashed. Reservations are not required, so what are you waiting for?!
GPS Address: Almosenberg 6, 97877 Wertheim
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