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River Moselle, a tributary of the mighty River Rhine, winds through some of the most spectacular landscapes in Germany. With lush terraced vineyards, dreamy river promenades, fairy tale villages, half-timbered houses and rolling hills crowned with ancient castles, the Moselle Valley is rich with all the right ingredients for a romantic holiday. Here are 10 things to see and do in this stunning valley, occupying a chunk of southwestern Germany and parts of France and Luxembourg.
Deutsches Eck is an iconic headland marking the confluence of the Moselle and Rhine, adorned by a huge monument of German Emperor William I. A greatly enjoyable activity for tourists is to take the cable car across the Rhine to the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress, located in the UNESCO-protected Upper Middle Rhine Valley. The fortress can be traced back to AD 1000, though it was reconstructed in the early 18th century, and it offers gorgeous views over the town of Koblenz as well as a railing for love locks.
Steeped in more than 1,000 years of history, Cochem Castle is straight out of a fairy tale. The castle sits impossibly pretty on the bank of the Moselle, towering over rolling vine-covered hills. The walk through the forest up the hill to the castle is a delightful experience, with gorgeous views of the town of Cochem at every turn, but a shuttle bus is also available to take visitors up to the castle from the town. Visitors interested in learning more about the castle’s exciting history must sign up for the guided tour.
Reichsburg Cochem, Schlossstrasse 36, Cochem, Germany, +49 267 1255
At 16,000 years, Trier is Germany’s oldest town, and travelling through is like being transported to another era. Trier’s most notable ancient, UNESCO architecture in is the massive, 2nd-century fortified Roman gate Porta Nigra. Though parts of it were reconstructed in the later centuries, Cathedral of Saint Peter (Trierer Dom) can be traced back to the 4th century, and its treasury is a must-see for visitors. Other historic architecture in Trier includes ruins of the majestic Roman baths and the skyline-dominating Aula Palatina Basilica.
Mosel Wein Museum in the postcard-like town of Bernkastel-Kues (which has a century-old wine-making traditions) spells heaven for wine connoisseurs. This multimedia museum boasts of a treasure trove on the history of wine and vineyards in Moselle; however, even more exciting is the opportunity to sample 160 different kinds of wine. Bernkastel-Kues has a number of other vineyards to explore.
This quaint little town, quietly perched in the Middle Rhine valley, dates back to 830. Its skyline is graced by the Grevenburg Castle ruins from the mid-1300s, beautiful Brückentor city gate, huge French Mont Royal Fort and the Baroque Böcking House that once hosted Prussian royalty and legendary poet Goethe.
The tiny, peaceful town doesn’t have a long list of tourist spots, which is exactly what attracts travellers. Beilstein is the perfect spot to slow down and recharge, away from the hustle bustle of the world. This sleepy town has grown around the river, and the best way of exploring it is taking lazy strolls along the promenade and enjoying gorgeous views.
Romantic, enchantingly beautiful Stolzenfels Castle is perched on lush green hills a few miles from Koblenz. Its earliest existence was as a fort in the 13th century, and it was reconstructed as a castle in the 19th century. This icon of Prussian-Rhine romanticism, complete with its artistic gardens, offers guided tours to the public.
Schloss Stolzenfels, Schlossweg, Koblenz, Germany, +49 261 516 56
Few can possibly keep their heart from skipping a beat at the first sight of Burg Eltz. This spectacular 850-year-old castle is everything that childhood dreams are made of. It proudly stands on a rock 70 metres (230 feet) high, almost hidden from plain sight in a thick forest, and guided public tours offer visitors a chance to explore its armory, treasury, masks and medieval kitchen, furniture and artwork.
Burg Eltz, Burg-Eltz-Strasse 1, Wierschem, Germany, +49 267 295 0500
The tourist resort of Treis-Karden is yet another picturesque town upping the beauty quotient of the Moselle Valley. Its biggest attractions are its beautiful churches: Saint Castor’s Foundation Church, a tribute to 4th-century the priest and hermit; Georgskapelle, an aisle-less Gothic Evangelical church; and Hochkreuzkapelle (High Cross Chapel) are the most visited churches in Treis-Karden by locals and tourists alike.
Zeller Hamm is a spectacular loop in the River Moselle, and it can only be gawked at from certain vantage points: Prinzenkopfturm, an observation deck up in the vine-covered hills that offer uninterrupted views of the loop, and Marienburg, a former monastery and now a youth educational center (a few metres away from Prinzenkopfturm).