A perfect holiday in Bernkastel-Kues would mean taking a tour of the historic architecture in town, going on a lazy river cruise, learning all about the rich history of wine-making in the region and tasting some of the best wines the country has to offer. Here’s our pick of the best activities in town.
The old town square of Bernkastel is deemed to be among the most well-preserved in the country, and still exists much the same way it used to stand several centuries back. The square is lined with rows of gabled, half-timbered houses, dating as far back as the 17th century, giving travelers the distinct feeling of stepping back in time. The old town square also has the best cafes and restaurants in town, most of which offer traditional German cuisine.
Looming over the old town square is the magnificent late Renaissance architecture of the Rathaus (Town Hall). This 13th century construction stands out because of its unique elements, including a basalt column, a delicately-curved Baroque roof and the stone sculpture of Salvator carrying a globe. Also worth checking out is the town’s last remaining fortification gate, Graacher Tor (Graach Gate), constructed in 1300. During its lifetime, it has protected the town from invaders, served as a prison and housed the homeless. Today, a small museum tracing the local history of the town occupies the gate.
Rathaus – Markt 30, Bernkastel-Kues, Germany, +49 6531 500190
Graacher Tor – Graacher Str. 3, Bernkastel-Kues, Germany, +49 6531 4659
The Moselle region boasts delicious cuisine. Perhaps you would like to sample some juicy, melt-in-your-mouth pork knuckles or a hearty schnitzel (pork cutlet), or be a little more adventurous and try smoked eel? If you are looking for a truly special meal, make a beeline for to Doctor Weinstube, an immensely-popular restaurant housed in a restored 1688 building and known for its authentic German cuisine, delicious wines and unique atmosphere.
The 9th-century hilltop Landshut Castle was originally built as a residence of the archbishops of Trier. In 1692, most of the castle, along with its treasures, was ravaged by a devastating fire. While the castle is mostly in ruins, it is still worth visiting because of its surviving thick ring walls, myriad passages and the panoramic view the terrace commands over the entire town and beyond. The castle is also a great starting point for several hiking routes through mountains and verdant forests. Landshut Castle can be reached by foot up a steep path through the vineyards or aboard a vintage bus leaving from the old town square.
Burg Landshut – Bernkastel-Kues, Germany, +49 6531 972770
The former St. Nikolaus Hospital, established in 1458 by Nicholas of Cusa with the initial aim of caring for the poor, has now undergone extensive makeover and opened its doors to wine connoisseurs. The basement of the building is now a vinotheque, which gives wine connoisseurs the chance to taste up to 160 varieties of wine. Alongside, innumerable taverns and wineries across Bernkastel-Kues offer wine-tasting programs, and most restaurants stock an excellent range of wines as well.
St. Nikolaus Hospital – Cusanusstraße 2, 54470 Bernkastel-Kues, Germany, +496531 2260
Bernkastel-Kues being located in the midst of the oldest wine-producing region in the country, Moselle Valley, it is no surprise that it has a wine museum. Right next to St. Nikolaus Hospital, the multimedia Mosel Wein Museum walks visitors through the 2,000-year-old heritage of wine production in the region.
Mosel-Vinothek & Wine Museum – Cusanusstraße 2, Bernkastel-Kues,Germany, +49 6531 4141
For those looking to explore and understand the wine culture of Bernkastel-Kues in even more depth, the Doctor-Wein-Tour tour comes highly recommended. The 90-minute tour will introduce you to Doctor Wein, the legendary winemaker who cured Trier Elector Boemund II of a serious illness with his wine. The tour concludes with two glasses of special local wine. The tour runs only on specific dates, so look up the schedule online before planning.
A visit to Bernkastel-Kues wouldn’t be complete without taking a lazy cruise down the River Moselle. You can sign up for one-hour cruises that start and finish in Bernkastel-Kues, or longer cruises to other picture-postcard towns along the Moselle Valley. No matter which cruise you choose, you can be sure of being rewarded with fantastic views of sleepy villages wrapped in rolling vineyards.