Going on a road trip is one of the best ways to explore a region in-depth. The Mosel River in Germany offers the perfect road trip. From Trier to Koblenz you’ll find the cutest Mosel River road trip stops. Winding roads, ancient Mosel castles, and cute villages. Pair that with German cooking and some of the best wines of Europe and you have the ultimate recipe for your road trip. I give you the best things to see in the Mosel River Valley and a 3 and 5-day Mosel road trip itinerary to plan yourself.
Over the past years, I took several road trips from the Netherlands to the Mosel river area. As it is so close to the Netherlands, it makes for a perfect weekend get-a-way. This proposed 3-day Mosel itinerary is a combination of several of those trips.
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Mosel River Germany
For this post, I focus on the Mosel River in Germany. The Mosel River originates in France, called the Moselle, and ends into the Rhine River at Koblenz. The Mosel River is 545 km / 339 miles long and the whole river is a beautiful area to explore. For this post, I focus on the Roman city of Trier, the Mosel Valley up to Koblenz, and the city of Koblenz. Perfect for a short holiday or long weekend road trip.
Roman Trier Germany
The ancient city of Trier, Germany, is one of the oldest cities in Europe. Earliest remains date back to the Celts in the 4th century BCE but the city flourished under the Romans. Added to the Roman Empire around the 1st century BCE, the name Trier has a Roman origin.
In the following centuries, the city flourished until around 407 CE, when the administration moved to France.
Things to do in Trier
As I love all things Roman, I really liked Trier. Below a few of the things to do in Trier:
- Walk underneath the Porta Nigra, the black Roman gate of Trier
- Visit the Constantine Basilica, the hall of Roman Emperor Constantine who had his throne here
- Explore the Roman Amphitheater of Trier and check the schedule for any plays being performed.
- Cross the oldest bridge north of the Alps on the Roman Bridge
- Explore more of Roman habits as you explore the ruins of the Roman Baths in Trier
- If you like churches, visit Trier Cathedral
- Explore more of modern history, as Trier is the birthplace of Karl Marx. Learn about Marxism at the Karl Marx House
- Or just kick back, relax and enjoy one of many beer gardens or wine “stubes” as they serve some of the best wines in the region
Mosel Valley Road Trip
Although Trier is great fun and has many things to do that are interesting, the true beauty of the region lies upstream towards Koblenz. The area between Trier and Koblenz along the Mosel River is one of the prettiest landscapes you’ll find. And it is perfect for a Mosel Valley Road Trip.
Find the best car rental for this road trip here.
We leave Trier behind us and move upstream towards Koblenz. I give you some suggestions of things to see and do on your road trip of the Mosel Valley.
Known for its healing powers, Bernkastel-Kues is a famous wellness resort town. Walk from one medieval square to another, admire the pointed wood-timbered houses and cross the suspension bridge over the Mosel River.
On the hill, overlooking the Mosel Valley and the town, you’ll find the ruins of the Landshut Castle. The great vantage point to admire the river.
The small town of Traben-Trarbach sits on both sides of the River Mosel. Traben on the left bank, connected by 3 bridges with Trarbach on the right bank. Traben-Trarbach is a great base to explore the ruins of the Castle of Grevenburg. Grevenburg is a 14th-century castle, destroyed by the French in 1734 and now offering dramatic views of the Mosel River Valley.
Zell am Mosel
As you continue along the Mosel River on the B53, you cross the small town of Zell. A great stop for your road trip as it’s cute, small and there are plenty of places to sleep. We stayed at the Guesthouse Am Römerbad which offered amazing breakfast in the morning.
Zell is famous of the Zeller Black Cat (Zeller Schwarze Katz) Wine Festival, which happened to coincide with our visit. What better thing to do in the Mosel Valley then to test wine and buy a few bottles to take home? Make sure to opt for this useful wine check bag to transport your wine home safely.
Feel like working out? Climb the hill for the breathtaking views of the Collis Tower above Zell.
As the road meanders through the Mosel Valley, the B53 continues into the B49 when you’ll hit postcard-perfect Beilstein. Located in a bend of the river, you can either cross by ferry or cross the river at the villages of Senheim or Bruttig (to take the L98).
The main attraction in Beilstein is one of the Mosel Castles of Burg Metternich. Climb up to the castle for a glass of wine overlooking the river or make it all the way to the top of the tower. Read more about Metternich Castle below.
Beilstein offers some of the best-preserved Medieval villages of Germany. Stroll around town, settle for a glass of Mosel Valley wine or indulge in some coffee and cake (Kuchen).
Cochem Mosel Valley
Cochem sits conveniently located almost halfway between Trier and Koblenz on the banks of the Mosel River. The city is a tourist hub and a perfect base to explore more of the region. Stay here for a few days and drive up and down the River Mosel Valley or stop on your Mosel River road trip.
The must-do thing in Cochem is walk around town. This is the place to buy your (wooden) souvenirs, shop for wine or dried sausages and have schnitzel for lunch, or dinner, or both.
Another thing you must do in Cochem is visit Cochem Castle. A shuttle bus takes you from Cochem city up the hill, to Cochem Castle. More on why the castle is so special below.
The Mosel River Valley is dotted with different castles and ruins. During my road trip, we visited a few. If you like castles (who doesn’t??) then the Mosel River is a paradise for you. Located only a couple of miles from each other, the Mosel Castles are each different so worth a visit.
They do have some things in common: great history, amazing views, and perfect photo opportunities.
Metternich Castle is also known as Beilstein Castle, after the village, it is located in. Going back to at least 1268 (or even further back to 1129) the castle first belonged to the Winneburg family. In 1652 it came to the hands of the Lords of Metternich, after which it holds its name today.
The troops of King Louis the 14th ransacked the castle and burned it to the ground in 1689. It remained in ruins ever since.
You can visit Metternich Castle for 2,50€ per person. They have maps and information in several languages. You can walk around the structure and enjoy the views of the Mosel River. Once inside the walls, you’ll find a small cafe and a washroom. Climb the stairs to the top of the keep for sweeping views of the Mosel River.
The Imperial Castle of Cochem sits proudly above the town of Cochem. First built in 1130, King Konrad 3rd called it his royal castle. The castle was used to rule the traffic on the River Mosel (and collect taxes to pass Cochem).
The castle was overrun and destroyed by French troops in 1688. 180 years it sat in ruins, until a businessman from Berlin, bought Cochem Castle in 1868. He fixed it up and redecorated it in the Gothic Revival Style. Nowadays, it is owned by the town of Cochem.
You can visit the outer grounds of the castle, admiring the tower and golden mosaic of the walls and take in the view of the river for free. If you want to visit the castle grounds, you have to join a tour. Buy a ticket at the gift shop for 6€ per person. Every 15 minutes a tour starts (depending on your language of choice) and tours last around 45 minutes to an hour. For more details on the tour, read here.
We didn’t get to see the whole castle and didn’t have a lot of time in all the rooms, but we did get a great feel of the castle. I especially loved the little balcony on the Mosel River with framed views of the river.
Burg Eltz near Moselkern
Moselkern is another of those cute Mosel River villages. Moselkern is particularly famous as a jump-off point to explore Burg Eltz. Eltz Castle is located in the forest area, away from the Mosel river. Tucked away in the thick forest, surrounded by the smaller Eltzbach River the castle is hidden for intruders.
It is one of the few Mosel castles, that had never been ransacked or captured. Since the 12th century it belonged to the Eltz family, even today!
Located on a rocky spur, surrounded by the river, the Eltz Castle looks like a fairy tale. You can drive up to the car park from where it is a steep walk to the castle, but there are shuttle buses too. My advice: walk down and take the shuttle when you go up. On weekends and holidays, you can also visit Eltz Castle by public transport.
You can only visit the interior of the castle of Eltz with a guided tour. For €10 you can visit the castle and treasury. I thought the most beautiful side of the castle was the exterior and opted to explore the area around the castle on foot. The Castle grounds offer a nice area to sit and relax and enjoy the view of the castle and get some famous German food, like currywurst (or beer).
230m above sea level, the Ehrenburg Castle can be reached from Brodenbach. A ruin of the 1161 spur castle, the Ehrenburg Castle is hidden in the forest. Captured and partially blew up by French troops in 1688, the castle ruins are now preserved by the friends of Ehrenburg.
They even offer hotel services and you can sleep at the castle! We visited Ehrenburg Castle on a Sunday when there were numerous activities going on. There was a medieval cafe for food and drinks and medieval craftsmen displayed their trade.
We roamed the ruins and halls and eventually made it all the way to the top of the tower. For children, there is a super fun treasure hunt, with clues scattered around the castle grounds.
You can park your car not far from the castle for free and from there it’s a short walk (downhill, but you need to climb back up again on your way back) to the castle. On the days of the “Lively Castle Ehrenburg” you pay a couple of Euros entrance fee (cash only).
Continue on the B49 or cross the river and take the B416 towards Koblenz. The River Mosel will continue until Koblenz, where it merges with the Rhine River at the German Corner (Deutsches Eck).
Koblenz was first a military outpost for the Romans since 8 BCE. Even the Latin name back then referred to the confluence of the two rivers (Rhine and Mosel).
After all those cute little German villages and nature views, Koblenz is a great place to immerse yourself in history, culture and big city living. It is a great base to explore the last part of the Mosel River Valley or as your starting point if you wish to travel the other way around towards Trier.
Things to do in Koblenz
What I loved most about Koblenz was the amazing view of the two rivers coming together at a small corner of the city. On one hand the mighty Rhine River and on the other the cute River Mosel which we’ve been following for a couple of days.
The point where the confluence of the rivers is located is clearly visible as you see the different streams collide together. Watch the smaller ships struggle to navigate from one river to the other.
Other things to do in Koblenz are:
- Take a river cruise on the Rhine River at Koblenz to see the city from the water
- Count the bell towers (there are 4) of the Basilica of St. Castor
- Cross the river and explore Ehrenbreitstein Fortress, the magnificent defense structure overlooking the rivers and the city of Koblenz. Take the cable car across the river to visit this Prussian Fort.
- Relax and enjoy the view of the German Corner at the William 1st Monument. A great place to hang out and meet with friends.
- Eat your last schnitzel or curry sausage or enjoy a beer at the Old Brewery House.
3-Day Mosel River Road Trip
As you can read from the above, the area between Trier and Koblenz is worth a road trip. If you only have a short time, like a long weekend, follow this 3-day Mosel River Road Trip itinerary to see the best.
For this 3-day itinerary, we focus only on the Mosel River. Trier and Koblenz need more time to explore.
Day 1: Drive up to Trier and take the B53 along the Mosel River. Enjoy the views and stop for lunch and a stroll at Bernkastel or Traben-Trarbach. Continue to Zell where you can stay for the night at Guesthouse am Römerbad and enjoy the Zell Black Cat wine.
Day 2: After a hearty breakfast in Zell, continue by car on the B49 to Cochem. Stop for lunch or coffee in Beilstein and visit the Metternich Castle. End the day in Cochem where you have the rest of the day to explore the town. Stay at the Hotel am Markt, which means the hotel is located directly at the main market square of Cochem (super cute). They offer car parking for a small fee.
Day 3: Head to Cochem Castle for an early morning tour and view of the river. Continue to Moselkern and visit Burg Eltz. If possible, do this as early (or late) as possible as the castle gets very crowded. Depending on the time, you can continue onwards along the Mosel River to Koblenz.
5-Day Mosel River Road Trip
If you have more time (and I definitely recommend it) take a week or 5-day Mosel River Road Trip. This gives you more time to explore Trier and Koblenz and add a few more stops along the way.
Day 1: Head to Trier and settle into your hotel. Explore the old Roman Town with the Black Roman Gate and the Amphitheater. Stay at the Park Plaza Trier, right in the center of town and super cute and cozy. As you’ll sleep in Trier tonight, have a glass of wine at one of the wine houses.
Day 2: start your Mosel River road trip and explore the ruined castles of Landshut near Bernkastel-Kues. Walk around town, before you continue to Traben-Trarbach. The perfect place to wine and dine. You’ll sleep in Traben-Trarbach for example at the Hotel Moselschlösschen, with the best views of the river. Or across the river at Hotel Moseltor with more business-looking rooms, but better prices.
Day 3: Drive along the Mosel river. Stop in Zell and climb to the Round Tower of Zell for amazing views or take a Mosel River Cruise for an hour or 2. Continue to Beilstein and visit Castle Metternich.
Day 3 ends in Cochem where you explore the wine houses and beer places. Sleep at the Hotel am Markt or opt for the swankier Hotel Traumblick (Dream view) across the river with indeed.. amazing views of Cochem.
Day 4: Can’t get enough of all those medieval castles and houses? Good! Head up the hill and take the tour of Cochem Castle. Explore more of the town and enjoy the views of the river. Families with children might want to take a side tour and see the Amusement Park Cochem/Klotten.
The park is a mixture of a family amusement park and a zoo with several species of indigenous wild animals to this part of Germany. Continue to Moselkern. Moselkern doesn’t have many options to sleep, so I recommend the Alte Weinstube Burg Eltz in nearby Treis-Karden. This rustic wood-timbered old wine bar offers a bed and… great wine!
Day 5: final day of your Mosel River Road Trip. Rise early and head to the Burg Eltz. Be the first of the visitors to see the castle and explore the area. If you really like to visit all of the Mosel Castles and it’s a Sunday, head to Brodenbach for the castle experience at Ehrenburg Castle.
From there, it’s a short drive to Koblenz where you can enjoy the view of the river with a beer or some Mosel wine. Need a place to sleep in Koblenz? Consider the Altstadt Hotel Koblenz, a charming hotel right in the center of the old town.
Trier to Koblenz Germany: Mosel River Road Trip
As you can see from the above, there is plenty to see and do along the Mosel River and between Trier and Koblenz. The suggested itineraries are only guidelines.
Things depend on your interests and how many castles you can handle in a few days. I do recommend to sleep in the mentioned villages as other towns get completely deserted after 5pm and there is not much to do.
Time your visit to the Mosel River during some of the many wine festivals (early June till September) for the best weather and (wine) experience. But even in late fall or early spring, there is plenty of wine to get a good taste of the Mosel.
Have you ever been on a road trip along the Mosel River? What did you like better, Trier or Koblenz? Leave a comment in the section below or share on social media with your friends.