While not necessarily the first river that comes to mind, the Moselle River is a picture-perfect backdrop for any trip and can hold a lot of appeal for a seasoned river cruiser. While some of the destinations along this waterway are pivotal trade hubs, you won’t find any of the industrial hardware that can clutter the ports of other rivers.
With lush terraced vineyards, fairy-tale castles and 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.
Moselle cruises are combined with a variety of Rhine River itineraries and have you starting or ending in Amsterdam, Cologne, Frankfurt, Nuremburg, Luxembourg or Basel – all fabulous places for pre and post cruise adventures.
What to expect?
Castles. Lots of castles. Some grand, some not so much. Some well preserved, some with considerable wear and tear from years of conflict. Some thousands of years old, others relatively young - for a castle that is! 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.
Following are 5 beautiful and quaint towns you are likely to visit on a cruise along the Moselle:
Koblenz stands on the corner where the Moselle joins the Rhine, an area called the Deutches Eck, or German Corner. 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.
In Old Town Koblenz, a patchwork of narrow cobblestone streets and squares, many lined with exquisitely restored traditional houses, cozy cafes and shops welcome you. Take some time to stroll through the town - you never know what surprises await you around the corner!
For fabulous views of the town and region, take the cable car up to the Festung Ehrenbreitstein (Fortress of Ehrenbreitstein). An impressive landmark of Koblenz, it sits almost 300 feet above the banks of the Rhine and Koblenz.
Another impressive site is Marksburg Castle, about 1/2 hour from Koblenz - impressive by the fact that its 13th-century construction has never been rebuilt or restored since it’s never been conquered.
Steeped in years of history, Cochem Castle is straight out of a fairy tale. The castle sits majestically on the bank 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 take 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 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 are only there for the day, you’ll have to make some tough choices, or go back for another visit.
Trier is 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) and no less than 9 UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Technically, not on the Moselle, 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 very present here in Rudesheim as well.
Cruising between 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 consequential 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 gondola ride up to the Niederwalddenkmal Statue for the beautiful views and wine tasting opportunities and/or a stop at a café to try a Rudesheimer coffee – Coffee made with Brandy, sugar, whipped cream and topped with shavings of dark chocolate.
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!
Laurie Marschall - Owner and Founder