Moselle: Germany’s Sleeping Beauty
The Moselle River runs through kilometres of mountain vineyards and past quaint villages and ancient castles. The region around the town of Cochem is one of the most beautiful in all of Germany. From here you can take a canoe through this awe-inspiring backdrop, go climbing and try the local wines.
by Rahel Klein
About the region
With some 5,000 inhabitants, the town of Cochem on the Moselle is not what you would call a metropolis. But it does have charm. Along the central Moselle promenade, you’ll find a number of inviting bars, cafés and wine taverns where you can enjoy a view of the river. Less than an hour away from Koblenz, this little town is one of the most beautiful places on the Moselle, Germany’s oldest wine region. Over 4,000 winemakers are located along the Moselle where they tend more than 55 million vines. Of course, the culinary highlight here is wine. The most famous grape variety is Riesling, known throughout the world for its top quality. And the scenery is simply breath-taking with countless vineyards stretching down the mountainsides.
There's more to do in and around Cochem than enjoy the scenery – you can also get active yourself. The surrounding area is especially suited for one- or two-day excursions. It’s best to start out on a weekday to avoid the hordes of tourists which inundate the region at the weekends.
The region is named after the Moselle River which winds its way through a meandering valley. With a length of 544 kilometres, it is the second largest tributary of the Rhine River. More than half of it runs through Germany; the rest flows through France and Luxembourg. The states of Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland owe much of their distinct character to the Moselle. The scenic locations offer numerous opportunities to embark on cultural, athletic and culinary expeditions.
Take the regional train to Cochem. If you don’t have a valid semester ticket, the Deutsche Bahn offers several variants of the Rheinland-Pfalz Ticket, with which you can travel as a group inexpensively. From the train station in Cochem, you can continue to nearby towns via the Calmont Express (711) which will take you all the way to Zell. The 716 also runs along the other side of the Moselle via Beilstein to Senheim.
Outdoor activities in a magnificent landscape
Take the train to Ediger-Eller, situated about 15 kilometres from Cochem. The most exciting way to explore the region is to take a canoe ride from Ediger-Eller. Rent a canoe from a local canoe rental company. After receiving instructions from the staff, you can head out into the Moselle on your own. After you paddle past the river island Taubengrün, we recommend going ashore in Beilstein. This romantic village, also known as the “Sleeping Beauty of the Mosel” is registered as a historic landmark. Here you’ll find any number of cafés where you can take a break from all that canoeing. After you’ve rested, it’s time to get back on board and head to Ernst, the final stop on your canoe tour, and return your canoe. There are many wine taverns in Ernst where you can take winery tours and participate in a wine-tasting for around ten euros per person.
If you’re not a wine drinker, you can simply hop on bus 711 or ride a bike five kilometres back to Cochem. The canoe rental place also rents out bikes at a relatively low price.
Perched 100 metres above the river is the medieval castle Reichsburg. It’s an absolute highlight with its magnificent view of the Moselle and the surrounding vineyards! Tours of the castle are offered every day until 5 pm. The Reichsburg Shuttle Bus 781 will take you to the castle and back to Cochem.
In the evening, you have a chance to discover the historic centre of town and its old marketplace. The narrow, winding alleyways possess a charming holiday flair. You can also have dinner in one of the many restaurants along the Moselle and enjoy the end of an eventful day in a relaxing atmosphere.
If you’re not interested in taking a long canoe ride or would like to stay more than a day, there are many other things to do and see in the region. You’ll find a good overview of activities and sites on the Moselle tourist information website.
I visited the Moselle near Cochem and Beilstein when I was working on a film project. As a hopeless romantic, I immediately fell in love with the magnificent landscapes which seemed to rise from the middle of Rhineland-Palatinate. Surrounded by vineyards and the Moselle River, this region is a must for anyone who would like to take a relaxed excursion into the beautiful countryside.
An insider’s tip: the Calmont Klettersteig – a hiking route between Eller and Bremm. Take good hiking shoes and leave your fear of heights behind, because this free climbing tour will take you through the steepest vineyards in Europe – an unforgettable experience where you can test your mettle as a mountain climber. Along narrow paths, up ropes and vertical ladders, the route ascends 200 to 300 metres above the Moselle. The view over large expanses of the Moselle River valley is simply spectacular and there are many rest areas where you can take a breather. After reaching Bremm, you can hike back to Eller via the Calmont Höhenweg. The 6-km round trip takes three to four hours to complete.
The annual Cochem Heritage and Wine Festival takes place at the last weekend of August. The festival draws many visitors and features show bands, a parade and a fireworks display.
If you’d like to get out of the big city for a while and do some physical activity in fresh country air, then you should definitely plan a trip to the Moselle. The landscape alone is enough to lift your spirits.
- You should register in advance for the canoe tour, wine-tastings and winery tours.
- Make sure you wear good, strong hiking boots on the Calmont climbing tour and a hat or baseball cap to protect you from the sun.
- The Reichsburg in Cochem is only open until 6 pm, so don’t plan your visit too late in the afternoon.