5 Quaint Towns to Visit on a Moselle River Cruise
While the Moselle isn't necessarily the first river that comes to mind for a river cruise, it is a picture-perfect backdrop for any trip and can hold a lot of appeal, even for seasoned river cruisers. And while several of the destinations along this waterway are pivotal trade hubs, you won’t find any of the industrial hardware that you see tainting the ports of other rivers.
What to Know
With lush terraced vineyards, fairy-tale castles and villages, half-timbered houses, and rolling hills crowned with ancient castles, the Moselle Valley is rich in history and viticulture.
So if wine and castles are your thing, this river is the perfect match.
Most Moselle cruises start out on the Rhine, generally from either Amsterdam or Cologne. If you’re adding a pre-or post-cruise package to your river cruise you may start (or end) in either Frankfurt or even Luxembourg, depending on the itinerary you choose.
What you’ll see
Castles. Lots of castles. Some are grand, some not so much. Some are well preserved, some show considerable wear and tear from years of conflict. Some castles are thousands of years old and others are relatively young - for a castle anyway!
Vineyards – The Moselle River Valley is ripe with sprawling landscapes of vineyards that flank the river.
Half-timbered houses, Roman ruins, and Medieval architecture are also highlights along the Moselle.
Let’s start at the end – Koblenz
Koblenz stands at the corner where the Moselle joins the Rhine and it's possible to see this distinct line of convergence where the greener waters of the Moselle merge with the darker waters of the Rhine. This confluence takes place at Deutsches Eck (German Corner). A cable car runs up to the summit and from there you’ll have fabulous views of this historically significant landmark in Koblenz.
Other things to see and do are the “Old Town”, a patchwork of narrow cobblestone streets and squares, many lined with exquisitely restored traditional houses and cozy cafés.
Festung Ehrenbreitstein (Fortress of Ehrenbreitstein) is another impressive landmark of Koblenz, 287-ft high above the banks of the Rhine. Take the cable car across the Rhine up to the fortress for impressive views.
Marksburg Castle, about half an hour from Koblenz is an impressive stronghold made even more so by the fact that its 13th-century construction has never been rebuilt or restored since it’s never been conquered.
Steeped in more than a thousand years of history, Cochem Castle is straight out of a fairy tale. The castle sits majestically on the banks of the Moselle, towering over rolling vine-covered hills. Walk through the forest up the hill to the castle for gorgeous views of the town of Cochem.
Considered the epicenter of Riesling, and informally the wine capital of the Moselle, Bernkastel is the perfect place to go on a wine-tasting tour to one or several of the local vineyards. Bernkastel also has its very own Wine-tasting museum if you’d like to get a brief history of winemaking along the Moselle.
Of course, no stop would be complete without a castle. Hike to the hilltop ruins of Landshut Castle. This castle, which went through a recent restoration, was discovered only a few years ago to have been built upon Roman ruins dating back to the 4th or 5th century. A great opportunity to see a blend of Medieval and Roman architecture.
Trier has got to be one of the most underrated places in all of Germany. Trier has so much to offer, there’s no way you can fit it all in in one day, so if you're only there for the day, you’ll have to make some tough choices - or go back for another visit.
Trier is home to no less than 9 UNESCO world heritage sites. It’s also the birthplace of Karl Marx, has multiple Roman ruins, and is the home to Germany’s oldest Gothic Church – Church of our lady (Liebfrauenkirche).
Technically, not on the Rhine, however, I wanted to mention Rudesheim for a couple of reasons:
The Upper Middle Rhine Valley is a 65 Km stretch between Rudesheim and Koblenz and a UNESCO World Heritage Area with approximately 40 castles and fortresses. The architectural style of half-timbered houses you see along the Moselle is also very present here in Rudesheim as well.
Cruising from Koblenz to Rudesheim you’ll travel through the Rhine Gorge and come across the infamous statue of the mermaid, Lorelei. In the middle ages, a German author by the name of Clemens Brentano crafted a ballad describing a beautiful woman by the name of Lorelei who was convicted of bewitching sailors traveling down this once dangerous stretch of the Rhine which led to many ships sinking and the tragic death of these sailors. A statue of Lorelei sits on the banks of this stretch of the river at Sankt Goarshausen.
Finally, no trip to Rudesheim is complete without a stop at a café to try a Rudesheimer coffee – Coffee made with Brandy, sugar, whipped cream, and topped with shavings of dark chocolate. Yum!
You'll find most river cruise companies offer at least one itinerary that sails the Moselle. Whether you're a first-time river cruiser or a serial cruiser looking for something different, I highly recommend you check out a cruise down the Moselle!
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See you on the rivers!