Germany wine country was something I didn’t know much about prior to planning our summer 2020 trip to Germany. I stumbled upon the Mosel Valley while drafting our German road trip itinerary from Sweden down to the German Alps, and I began looking at the best places for us to stop along the way. I had heard about the towns of the Rhine Valley, but I had never heard of the Mosel Valley before. However, the more I looked into it I was convinced that we must spend a couple days here and began putting together a Mosel Valley itinerary.
I mean… Wine and vineyards and quintessentially romantic German villages? Count me in!
I was a little bit skeptical to share this magical gem, because I feel like it is still largely off the main tourism trail. While we were there, it seemed that many locals had caught on to how special this sleepy region is, but it seems to still be off the radar of international tourists.
For those of you hearing about this region for the first time, the Mosel River runs through central-western Germany and is home to he most perfect little towns. You could spend days and days town-hopping along the Mosel River and admiring the almost-90-degree vineyards that scale the side of the river. But, if you only have a couple days like us, I’m going to give you the details on all the places you can’t miss!
SUmmary: OUr two-day mosel valley itinerary
Day 1: Spend the afternoon in Cochem
We arrived in Cochem on our first day around lunchtime. We spent a half-day wandering around Cochem, visiting the Cochem castle, wine tasting, and just enjoying the scenic town.
Day 2: Sunrise at Burg Eltz
A trip to Burg Eltz Castle cannot be missed when visiting the Mosel Valley. We opted to get up early at 5:30am to visit Burg Eltz for sunrise. However, if you aren’t an early bird, you can visit on your first day in the Mosel Valley before arriving in Cochem.
Day 2: Town-hopping in the Mosel Valley
After we returned from Burg Eltz, we checked out of our hotel and spent the day driving from town-to-town along the Mosel River. Keep reading to learn about my favourite towns!
Day 2: Spend the Night in Bacharach
At the end of the day, we headed back to the Rhine River to spend the evening in the sleepy historic town of Bacharach.
The best Mosel Valley towns
There are so many charming towns along the Mosel River to include in your Mosel Valley itinerary, you could get lost in back alleyways of half-timbered houses for weeks. The most picturesque part of the Mosel Valley lies between the area of Cochem and Traben-Trarbach. Here was a few of the best towns to visit in the Mosel Valley.
the most popular town: cochem
If you only have time to visit one town, Cochem is the best town in the Mosel Valley. And while it may be the most popular too, this is for good reason. It is home to stunning views of the Mosel River, is littered in hundreds-year-old half-timbered houses, and has a castle sitting atop of the town.
If you’re looking for the where to stay in the Mosel Valley, Cochem is a great home base. We stayed at Haus Christiane, a cosy little family-owned pension in the centre of town, with free parking and an amazing homemade breakfast included.
If you’re looking for the best things to do in Cochem, here’s some of my top recommendations:
Visit Cochem Castle: You can’t visit Cochem without going up to Cochem Castle. To get there, you’ll follow signs through narrow half-timbered alleyways and vineyards to the top of the town. From there, you can visit the castle grounds and you’ll also be welcomed by beautiful views of the town below.
Wine Tasting in the Mosel Valley: The Mosel Valley is home to German Mosel Valley Riesling wine, and doing a tasting in the region in a must. Around Cochem, you’re sure to find lots of spots to stop in for a tasting.
Indulge in German Food: Full disclosure, I really struggled with the food in the Mosel Valley. It was very meat-heavy and fried, which isn’t my thing. But, we enjoyed the atmosphere at the Alte Wein Wirtschaft “Wine Terrasse” and I was able to indulge in some pretty decent vegetarian Flammkuchen (Germany’s take on “pizza”).
Wander Without a Plan: This town is made for wandering! Make sure you take some time to cross the bridge and explore both sides of the town. Plus, you’ll find the absolute best views of Cochem from the bridge (especially at sunrise and sunset).
We really loved Ernst because it felt more local. Historical homes with children playing outside. Winding cobblestone streets. And if you want to the backside of the town, there are plenty of vineyards you can wander through and explore! You don’t need much time here, but the parking along the main road is free, and I found it to be really charming.
Beilstein was an easy favourite for me! This town is one of the best-preserved in the Mosel Valley, it looked like it was straight out of a fairy tale. The small settlement dates back to 800 AD and atop the town you can visit the ruins of an old castle. The narrow streets are perfect for wandering, and you’re guaranteed to find a whole lot of places to take photos.
Make time to visit the ruins of Castle Metternich, which was constructed in the 1200s. There is a small fee to enter, but it is absolutely worth it and the views of the Mosel River from the top are stunning.
I would recommend you spend 1-2 hours in Beilstein.
We didn’t spend much time in Zell, but we did make a stop here for a wine tasting. Zell is home to Zeller Schwarze Katz, or “Zell’s Black Cat.” The photo of the towns black cat mascot is on every bottle of wine, and has origins on folklore tales of the town. While wandering through Zell, you’re bound to come across many variations of black cat statues, sculptures, figurines souvenirs, and paintings of the iconic black cat (usually holding a glass of riesling).
I’d highly recommend stopping into this town for a tasting like we did. Although the black cat obsession may seem a bit silly, we loved the wine sourced from “black cat mountain” so much we bought a few bottles to bring home.
The last stop on my Mosel Valley itinerary is Traben-Trarbach, which dates back to 830. And this one is really charming! This is a great place to unwind at the end of your day Mosel Valley town-hopping, and you’re guaranteed to find a great glass of wine here. For hiking enthusiasts, there are some great trails around here too that take you into the vineyards.
looking for all these spots?
i've got you covered with a mosel valley map!
How to get around the Mosel Valley
Mosel Valley by Car: In the interest of time, we opted to drive around the Mosel Valley. Driving alongside the Mosel River was beautiful, and we found the region easy to navigate by car. You’ll normally find Mosel Valley parking lots along the river side at the foot of each town. In less popular towns, parking is typically free. However, you’ll have to pay a small amount in more popular towns, like Cochem or Beilstein, so make sure you have change for the parking meters.
Mosel Valley by Bike: We saw many people biking in the Mosel Valley from town-to-town. If we had more time, I would have loved this option. There were bike paths alongside the river connecting the towns, which meant it was easy and safe to bike.
Mosel Valley by Foot: If you’re feeling adventurous and have a lot of time to spend in the regions, you’ll find lots of Mosel Valley hiking paths leading through the vineyards and connecting the towns.
Things to Do near the mosel valley
burg eltz castle
If you are going to do ONE thing when you’re in this region, this is it. I absolutely love Burg Eltz. Dare I say it may even be my favourite castle in Germany?
My biggest tip for visiting Burg Eltz Castle: Go early. We arrived at the Burg Eltz parking lot around 6:00 am, paid for parking, and walked about 20 minutes through the forest trail to get to the castle. We were so happy to have the castle grounds all to ourselves, and to be greeted by the most perfect morning light.
If you want to visit the castle interior, Burg Eltz opening hours are from 9:30-5:30 for tours, and you can take a Burg Eltz shuttle to the castle if you don’t want to walk. If you are interested in taking a tour, please check the Burg Eltz website for language availability, as most tours are done in English.
Burg Eltz tour price: 11 euro for adults
visit the town of bacharach
Want to be transported directly into a Brothers Grimm story? The sleepy town of Bacharach looks like a real life Hansel and Gretal fairytale. Bacharach was named after Bacchus, the god of wine. To this day, the town is known for having great local wine and attracts wine enthusiasts from around the world.
With narrow streets filled with half-timbered houses, the best thing to do in Bacharach is just to get lost with a camera in hand. However, here’s some other must-do things to do in Bacharach:
- Burg Stahleck: Atop of Bacharach sits a castle, Burg Stahleck. You can walk up to the top of the castle and take in beautiful views of the Rhine River from above. The castle is also home to Bacharach’s most unique hotel.
- Go wine tasting at Weingut Fritz Bastian: If you’re looking to sample some local wines, this wine terrace is a great place to do a wine tasting. I’d also recommend having lunch or dinner here on a sunny day.
- Altes Haus: Admire the oldest house in town that dates back to the 1300s!
- Go for a hike: There are plenty of hiking trails surrounding the town Bacharach. The Rheinburgenweg (Rhine Castles Trail) leads you through vineyards, and past historical sites and castles.
- St. Peter’s Church Bacharach: It would be impossible to miss St. Peter’s Church, with stands tall in the centre of Bacharach. This church can be admired from many viewpoints in the town, but don’t forget to take a look inside too!
get ready to fall in love with german's wine country with this mosel valley itinerary!
I was so pleasantly surprised by the Mosel Valley and I hope you use this Mosel Valley itinerary to have the best time in German wine country!