With its spectacular landscapes, charming villages, enigmatic castles, and delicious wines, the Mosel Valley is a dream destination for a perfect summer holiday. There are a plethora of things to do and see as well as activities to engage in. In this article, I share the best of them and give some tips on how to plan a delightful trip to this part of Germany.
- Why Mosel?
- Things to do in Mosel
- Planning the Trip
- Essential Wine Glossary
- Final Remarks
If you have never heard of Mosel before, you’re about to discover one of the most beautiful regions of Germany. And if you have but never visited, I assure you that it’s even more wonderful than anything you might have read about it.
Moselle (or Mosel in German) is a river in the southwestern part of Germany and a tributary to the Rhein. Like a blue ribbon, it winds its way through the land of Rheinland-Pfalz carving what ought to be one of the most remarkable valleys in the entire country.
The river twists and turns through the idyllic rolling hills creating some astonishing landscapes along its course. With seemingly endless dreamy villages and medieval ruins dotting its riverbanks, it feels like an absolute fairy tale.
The Mosel valley is also a cradle of German wine-making. The wine culture here dates back to Roman times. Up until today, some of the country’s finest rieslings are grown and produced in Mosel. So if you enjoy a glass of good wine, you will feel right at home.
But of course, it’s not all about just wine or the landscapes. There are a ton of other fun activities to occupy yourself with in Mosel. Be that cycling, kayaking, hiking, exploring, or diving deep into history, it’s all right here, waiting to be discovered.
Whether you’re traveling alone, as a couple, or with your whole family, Mosel has something to make your trip special. I was mightily impressed by it, and I think you will be too. So without further ado, here are some of my favorite things to do and see in the Mosel valley.
Things to do in Mosel
Cochem is one of the most famous towns on Mosel and the de facto tourist capital of the region. So it makes perfect sense to start our visit right here, in the very heart of the Mosel valley.
Cochem is a charming medieval town most known for its main symbol – the Imperial Castle (Reichsburg Cochem). The castle stands tall and proud at the top of the nearby hill, some 100 meters above the river.
Cochem Castle is often considered one of the most picturesque in Germany and deservedly so. With its formidable keep and the slender spires dominating the local skyline, it is immensely majestic. So much so that you’ll find yourself reaching for the camera the moment you lay eyes on it.
Like most villages on Mosel, Cochem is easily explored by foot. So take a stroll along its calm promenade marked with quaint timber-framed buildings before entering the bustling market square. Finally, head to the Skagerak bridge for some fabulous views, especially at dusk.
And if you feel like it, complete the tour by ascending the hill and visiting the castle yard and chambers. There, you will learn a lot of fascinating facts about its rich history and be treated to the commanding vistas of the Mosel valley below.
I was so impressed by the imperial castle that wrote an entire article on it. Check it out for details on the most stunning viewpoints in and around Cochem, including some rather obscure ones.
Sample the Local Wine
Mosel is the oldest and possibly the most unusual wine region of Germany. What makes it so peculiar is the steep valley slopes where the vine is cultivated. More than half of Mosel vineyards are situated on the inclines of over 30 (and in extreme cases up to 70) degrees.
Making wine in such conditions demands a lot of hard manual work. And this relentless dedication and determination inevitably translate into the quality of the finished product.
And so it’s hardly surprising that some of the most prestigious German wines come from the Mosel valley. The undisputed king of Mosel wine is the Riesling, and some regional Rieslings are well-known internationally.
All that is to say that no trip to Mosel is complete without trying some of the local wines. Most restaurants serve wine from the nearby vineyards, and waiters would be delighted to give you some hints.
But if you want to take it a step further, ask for a tasting in one of the wineries. There are plenty of them to choose from, and you probably won’t go wrong with just about any. The two I personally recommend are Weingut Kloster Ebernach and Weingut Riedel.
I’ve been to both and couldn’t resist buying an entire crate at each. The service, the attention, and of course the quality of wine are all top-notch.
Just remember that, unlike huge commercial estates, the vineyards in Mosel are mostly small and don’t necessarily operate a shop or a tasing hall. Therefore, it’s a good idea to call or write in advance to arrange the visit.
If you would like to learn more about the specifics of German wine, I invite you to read this post.
Take a River Cruise
One of the easiest and more relaxed ways to get acquainted with Mosel is from the cruise boat. Imagine yourself sitting on the top deck drinking coffee and watching the cute little villages and endless vineyards flow by. Not bad, huh?
With it being such a popular pastime on Mosel, there are a lot of options to consider. From the simple one-hour there-and-back tours to half-day, full-day, or even multiple-day cruises, everything is available – just take your pick.
In the end, it all depends on how much time you are willing to invest. Personally, I advocate shorter sightseeing excursions. These are highly enjoyable and don’t require any prior commitment or extensive planning. Simply show up on the riverbank whenever you’re ready. In summer, the next boat will never be too far away.
For something slightly more involved, check these offers by Moselrundfahrten. Each provides a well-rounded experience that you can adjust and tweak to your liking.
Tour the Mosel Valley on a Bike
Bicycle is easily my favorite way to explore Mosel. The region has an excellent cycling infrastructure, with Mosel Cycle Path covering a whopping 248 kilometers between Trier and Koblenz.
The cycling trail follows the riverbank, leading past countless vineyards, medieval castle ruins, and some of the best landscapes of the region. It is very picturesque, extremely undemanding, mostly paved and even throughout, making it accessible to almost anyone.
So leave the car at the hotel, hop on a bicycle and craft your own little adventure. No need to plan ahead – on Mosel, there is something new and exciting behind every bend of the river. You decide how far you want to go based on your abilities and desires.
To give you an example, we had a splendid mini-day trip by cycling from Cochem to the famous Bremm viewpoint and back. We took it easy, stopping for refreshments in the towns we passed and enjoying the fabulous Mosel nature. It was awesome.
If you don’t have a bicycle, many hotels in the area have bike rentals. And even if yours doesn’t, there are numerous rentals all along Mosel. Simply do a Google search near where you’re staying, and you’ll surely find one.
Rent a Kayak or Canoe
If the bicycle isn’t your thing, how about a kayak or canoe instead? You’ll experience Mosel from the water itself, navigating the river from one bank to another, discovering gorgeous secluded beaches and obscure tiny bays.
And when you get tired, why not stop for lunch or drinks in the next settlement? Honestly, it doesn’t get any better than this.
As with bicycles, there are quite a few spots where you can rent a kayak. We used mosel-kanutours.de, picking our 2-seater at their station in Ernst. The price was some 34 euros for the day, which was a bargain for some of our most memorable moments on Mosel.
And if you had never kayaked before, Mosel is a perfect place to finally try it. The staff will carefully explain everything there is to know, supply you with all the necessary equipment and help you start your first paddling adventure. You’ll love it!
Hike the Moselsteig Trail (or Part of It!)
For seasoned adventurers and nature lovers, Mosel hosts one of Germany’s most incredible and rewarding long-distance hiking trails. Meet the Moselsteig Trail – a 250 miles (400 kilometers) hiking route spanning the entire length of Mosel till its confluence with the Rhein.
The Moselsteig Trail runs high above Mosel, through forests and meadows, valleys and rocky ridges, picturesque towns, and peaceful vineyards. The views are fabulous every step of the way, yet no section of the path is overly challenging. It’s a backpacker’s dream come true!
Luckily, you don’t have to be an avid hiker to enjoy the Moselsteig Trail. The hike is split into 24 sections, and you can limit yourself to any of those. Since Moselsteig connects all the famous landmarks of the region, start with the location that interests you the most. Chances are, there will be a hike to it.
A couple of popular picks are the Calmont Klettersteig and the leg between Treis-Karden and Moselkern. The former is fun via ferrata leading up to one of the iconic vistas in Mosel – the Bremm curve. Meanwhile, the latter culminates at arguably the most amazing castle in Germany.
Take a Day Trip to Nearby Towns
Cochem is not the only town on Mosel worth visiting. Far from it. There are countless others, each with their stories, perks, and unique sights.
Trier is Germany’s oldest city rich with history and ancient monuments. Bernkastel-Kues is known for its lovely market square and the “doctor of Bernkastel” legend. Traben-Trarbach impresses with its castle ruins and fine Jugendstil architecture. Beilstein is sometimes called the “Sleeping Beauty of Mosel” because of its enchanting setting.
The list goes on and on. On Mosel, you cannot walk five kilometers in any direction without stumbling upon a cute little village, or medieval castle ruin. So spend a couple of days traveling around and uncovering all these hidden gems.
Visit Burg Eltz
Castle Eltz might well be the crown jewel of the Mosel Valley. It is a spectacular medieval castle that many call the most stunning in Germany. And believe me, when you see it for yourself, you’ll understand why.
With its numerous towers, spires, and keeps all bunched together into a single bedazzling structure, Burg Eltz seems like something straight out of the fairy tale. Honestly, it’s hard to believe something this ravishing even exists.
And yet, there it is, 100% authentic, never destroyed, conquered, or rebuilt.
I was so inspired by Burg Eltz that wrote a whole separate blog post about it. The bottom line is this – if you haven’t yet visited this castle, you owe it to yourself to do so. It will undoubtedly be one of the highlights of your time on Mosel.
Just Relax and Enjoy
Last but not least, no matter what you do, always put aside some quality time for yourself. Because Mosel is quite frankly unrivaled when it comes to relaxing, enjoying the vacation, and doing nothing at all.
Be that an afternoon in the park with a book in your hand or a friendly chat in a bar over a glass of good Riesling, allow yourself to detach and slow down, soak in the views and simply live the experience.
There is a lot to do and see, for sure. Yet the true magic of Mosel is in its leisurely, almost sleepy rhythm. There’s no rush, no urgency – only here and now.
Planning the Trip
Planning the trip to Mosel is not by any means rocket science. Still, here are a few hints and tips that I hope will help you make the most of your vacation.
When to go to Mosel
The Mosel valley is first and foremost a summer destination. The region is at its best between late spring and early autumn when the towns are full of life, the vineyards are green, and the weather is most cooperating.
Summer is also the prime season to kayak, cycle, hike, and engage in other fresh-air activities. So if you want to have a diverse experience, that’s the prime season to aim for.
In contrast, winter is a dormant period. While you can still explore the main landmarks, many tourist attractions, restaurants and hotels are closed. The days are short and often gloomy, and the area loses much of its charm.
Spring and autumn are somewhere in between, so your mileage may vary. September and May give arguably the best chance for optimal conditions at discounted prices, but anything beyond that is pushing your luck.
How long to stay
Well, how long do you want to have fun? Overall, for a pleasant and relaxed holiday on Mosel, I recommend a minimum of three days. That ought to be enough to cover the major sights and get a good taste of what Mosel is all about.
Having said that, if you can spend four-five days or perhaps a week, you will not regret it. There is so much to do, see and enjoy that you won’t feel bored for a second.
Where to stay
Honestly, almost anywhere along Mosel. Cochem is a popular home base because of its status and proximity to everything. However, that inevitably means higher prices and less availability.
Therefore, I urge you to also look elsewhere. There are plenty of smaller villages nearby that are equally incredible. My favorites are Ernst a few kilometers east or Beilstein a little further south.
Do you need a car?
You don’t need a car to have an excellent stay in the Mosel valley. Yes, you might want it for convenience but it isn’t required. There are plenty of other ways to get around, so you won’t be at any sort of a disadvantage without one.
Depending on your fitness level, a bicycle is an excellent alternative for short and medium-range distances. Not in a mood to exercise? Fetch a boat – in high season Cochem, Beilstein, Treis-Karden, Zell, and Koblenz are all connected via regular services.
And for everything else, there are also trains and buses. Check the Deutsche Bahn website for schedules and prices.
How to get to Mosel
Obviously, this depends on where exactly you are staying. But generally, the main transportation hubs on the Mosel are Trier and Koblenz. From these two, you can easily reach the major towns by train.
For those traveling from abroad, the nearest airports are Frankfurt Hahn, Cologne/Bonn, and Frankfurt. From the latter two, take the train to Koblenz, then change to wherever you’re heading. When arriving via Frankfurt Hahn, use the bus line 750 to Bullay, and from there the train to Cochem.
When coming by car, the quickest route will likely be a combination of the autobahns A1 or A48 and regional road B259. But if you have time, I highly advise taking a detour via B49 or B53, which run along Mosel and are super scenic.
Essential Wine Glossary
Mosel is known for its wines, so naturally, there is no shortage of places to try it. Here is a quick glossary of the most common terms you will likely encounter in the menus and signs throughout the area.
- Wein – the German word for wine. By extension then, Rotwein and Weißwein stand for red and white wine accordingly.
- Weingut – a winery
- Weinprobe – wine tasting
- Weinstube – a tavern or a small restaurant with mostly local wines on the menu
- Weinhaus – a wine bar
- Winzer – the winemaker
- Trocken – dry wine. Similarly, halbtrocken means semi-dry
- Riesling – white wine Mosel is most famous for
Of course, this is just scratching the surface. If you’re interested in learning more about the complex yet fascinating world of German wine, I suggest this article of mine.
Be that accomplished wines, stunning landscapes, rich history, or relaxed atmosphere, Mosel has everything to make your vacation truly unforgettable. If the saying “time flies when you’re having fun” is accurate, then it certainly does fly on Mosel.
In summer especially, Mosel is one of the most beautiful destinations in Germany, and you won’t go wrong booking a holiday there. I’m sure you would enjoy every second of it.
I hope you enjoyed this guide and got something interesting and useful out of it. If so, be sure to share it with your friends and on social media to help spread the word. And if you have further questions or comments, by all means, leave them below.
I also have other articles about Germany and beyond which you might find interesting. Here are a few recommendations:
- The Best of Heidelberg – 13 Top Things to Do and See
- How to Photograph Burg Eltz – Best Locations, Tips, and Tricks
- Photography Guide to Cochem Castle – Best Locations and Tips
- Hike to Lake Seealpsee in Allgäu
- One day itinerary for landscape photography in Southern Bavaria
- Lisbon Photography Guide: 10 Fabulous Spots to Capture
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