What if Cologne had a fruit and vegetable garden of its own? It’d be the nature park Rheinland. Asparagus fields and orchards see regional delicacies growing all over the place here thanks to a mild climate and fertile soil. The Meckenheim apples, Brühl-Bornheim asparagus, and Alfter blackberry wine are available right from the producers here at the many farm shops. It’s all guaranteed to be regional.
Is your mouth watering yet? All that is left to do now is deciding whether you want to discover this world of pleasure on foot or by bike.
Delicious food from the farm
Food tastes best fresh from the field. The nature park Rheinland contains many farms with dedicated farm shops or cafés. Shopping locally is a proper experience on top of being sustainable since many farm shops not only sell regional products, but also invite visitors on guided tours to learn about cultivation and processing.
Brühl-Bornheim asparagus is a very particular regional speciality - and a protected brand to boot. Its cultivation area is clearly designated, spreading from Schlosspark Brühl along the base of the foothills until Bonn. The delicious asparagus can be bought right from the farm at harvest time, or at the great annual asparagus festival, where the harbinger of spring is celebrated, and an asparagus queen is traditionally crowned.
Cycling or walking?
Follow the worm! April or May is the best time for it, when the fruit trees are blooming. Autumn is another good choice, following the harvest. The Rheinische Streuobstroute cycle trail, marked with the worm, is ideal for skilled cyclists and relaxed dabblers. Nine stations along the route can be discovered and offer a chance for brief breaks along with information on the region’s orchards. Keep an eye out for the trees with their treats! You can get a taste of the various old varieties growing here.
Are you looking for a slightly greater challenge? The Rheinische Apfelroute leads through 124 kilometres worth of blossoming orchards, brightly coloured vegetable fields, regional farm shops, and half-timbered romanticism. Anyone who doesn’t want to do the entire distance can choose one of the six side loops for day tours. Always make sure to stop at a farm along the way and take a guided tour to learn plenty about fruit growing in the region.
If you would rather walk along the large orchards and meadows, you can find nature park routes between 3 and 27 kilometres in length here. One of them is the Kappesweg, for example, which passes by three organic farms. By the way, the best time for this is between mid-April and mid-May, when the landscape turns into a veritable sea of delicate pink and white blossoms.
Fire, water, air, and earth
Four elements. Four nature park centres that tell stories of the creation of the nature park and man’s influence on it. The Zentrum Gymnicher Mühle-is particularly popular among children with its multimedia-based interactive museum at river kilometre 51 and a large water adventure park for tinkering, observing, and exploration.