The starting-point of a round trip of the Northern Eifel is Andernach, in the Rhine valley.
The road from Andernach via Nickenich runs to the famous abbey of Maria Laach, one of the great beauties of the Middle Rhine. The abbey, founded in 1093, has been occupied since 1892 by Benedictine monks from Beuron. The six-towered Romanesque church, consecrated in 1156, contains the Early Gothic tomb of its founder, Count Palatine Henry II.
The beautiful Laacher See, ringed by forest-covered hills, is the largest of the maare in the Eifel. To the north is the Veitskopf (427 m/1,401ft), to the west the Laacher Kopf (445 m/1,460ft), to the south Thelenberg (400 m/1,312ft, to the east the Krufter Ofen (463 m/1,519ft) - all extinct volcanoes.
At the mouth of the Nette valley we come to Mayen (pop. 20,000), in Roman times a staging-point on the military road from Trier to the Middle Rhine. In the vicinity of the town there are basalt and slate quarries. Above the old town with its gates, towers and remains of walls (13th-15th C.) looms the picturesque Genovevaburg (13th C., with later renovation and rebuilding); in the east wing is the Eifel Museum (Eifeler Landschaftsmuseum).
West of Mayen is the Nürburgring (constructed 1925-27), which ranks as the finest and most demanding car racing circuit in the world. The classic northern loop (20.8km/13mi) encircles the Nürburg over the hills and valleys of the Eifel. It is a tremendous challenge to both cars and drivers - among them such famous names as Rudolf Caracciola, Hans Stuck, Alberto Ascari, Juan Manuel Fangio, Stirling Moss and Count Berghe von Trips. In recent years, however, the original track has been found to be inadequate for modern racing cars, and a completely new Grand Prix course was opened in 1984. This 4.542km/2.8mi long circuit is one of the most modern and safest in the world; it can be combined with the northern loop. On certain days visitors can drive their own cars on the Nürburgring (charge). There is a Car-Racing Museum.
Near the northern loop in the Nürburgring is the little town of Adenau (pop. 3,000). Attractive half-timbered houses in Markt; 11th C parish church; Eifel Farmhouse Museum in Kirchplatz.
Northwest of Adenau lies Blankenhein, in the German-Belgian Nature Park. Above the town is the 12th C castle of the Counts of Manderscheid-Blankenstein, now a youth hostel. Near the parish church, enclosed by a wall, is the source of the river Ahr.
Schleiden, in the Northern Eifel, has two old churches and a castle which was once the seat of the Counts of Schleiden.
The little town of Monschau lies in the narrow Rur valley, close to the Belgian frontier. Above the town are an old watch-tower and a ruined castle.
North of Schleiden and northeast of Monschau is the Schwammenauel artificial lake, a reservoir with a capacity of 205million cu. m/45 billion gallons formed by a dam on the Rur (1934-38); it is now a popular recreation area. To the south of this, in a closed military area, is the Urftstausee, formed by a dam on the river Urft.
Kommern - Rhineland Open-Air Museum
From Schwammenauel, B 266 leads east by way of Gemünd to Kommern (in the commune of Mechernich), with the Rhineland Open-Air Museum (Rheinisches Freilichtmuseum; farmhouses, domestic equipment).
Bad Munstereifel, Germany
From Mechernich it is not far to Münstereifel (a spa offering the Kneipp cure), surrounded by old walls and towers. Beautiful parish church (11th C.); Town Hall (14th and 16th C.); ruined castle.
Altenahr, in the middle Ahr valley, has a Romanesque parish church (Gothic choir) and the extensive ruins of Burg Are (magnificent view of Ahr valley).