Living in mainland EU allows travel into many countries for a weekend break. From where I live in the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Luxembourg and Germany are all easily accessible by car or rail and I make the most of this as often as possible. Recently I spent a weekend in the lovely German town of Cochem, a re-visit on my part.
Cochem is a small town in the vine-draped hillsides of the Mosel valley. The town, complete with a castle and medieval timbered houses, sits at the edge of the Mosel/Moselle River. It was once a favorite Roman destination and now provides a stop-off point for river cruises and coach tours.
Surrounding the town are acres and acres of vineyards, all clinging bravely to the precipitous sides of the river valley, which provide the town and visitors with a large selection of wines.
The winding streets and ancient timbered buildings create the feeling of being in one of Grimm’s fairytales and to add to this, perched on a rocky outcrop, is the impressive Reichsburg Castle. The town is a delight to wander although it can be very busy in the height of summer.
What To Do
• Wine Tastings
In an area that produces Riesling wine there is a plethora of vineyards and vinoteca (weingut) that offer samplings of the local wines, such as J. Coll & Cie or the store in town of Walter J. Oster.
• Boat Tours
The boat tours on the Mosel provide opportunities from a lazy voyage, sipping wine and drinking in the views for an afternoon, to a short trip to the village of Beilstein. In Beilstein, you’ll have a chance to stretch your legs before sampling some more local wines.
Or, you can take a day trip down the Mosel to Trier, the oldest city in Germany, or all the way to the Rhine and the city of Koblenz.
All the boat tour information can be found along the riverfront in Cochem.
Cochem has a wide range of hikes around the town or along the Mosel. The bike path along the Mosel also offers splendid views of the river and vineyards as you cycle safely along the banks.
• Cochem Castle/Reichsburg Castle is the crown, literally, of Cochem perched as it is above the town. The original castle was destroyed in the 17th century but a wealthy German entrepreneur built the current castle in the mid 1800’s, about the same time as the famous Bavarian castle, Neuschwanstein, was being constructed.
Purists dismiss the castle but it is worth a wander around (English tours run on the half hour in the summer and cost 6 euros per person) and the views are spectacular.
If you decide against the tour it’s still worth the up hill hike for the amazing views, and maybe a coffee and a slice of cake…after all you have burned some calories getting up there.
• Cochemer Sesselbahn is a chairlift that will take you to the top of the valley, 255 meters above sea level, for some panoramic views of the town and the Mosel. At the top there is a terrace café that allows you to have a coffee or lunch whilst enjoying the amazing view. You can also use this for hiking if you choose to walk one way, up or down. (The price is 1.90 euros for a single, 2.90 euros for a return.)
• Bundesbank Bunker is where Germany stored up to 15 billion marks during the Cold War-era. Hidden in a residential area under two unimposing houses the bunker – capable of sustaining 80 people in the event of a nuclear strike – now houses a museum and runs regular tours. The tours are only in German but offer an info sheet in English.
• Cochem Senfmuhle/Mustard Mill dates from the 1800’s and here on a tour you can watch as mustard seed is ground and made into mustard. The attached store sells a huge diverse selection of various mustards.
• Wild & Freizeitpark is a 60 hectare wildlife and leisure park in the Mosel/Eifel area. Closed between November and April, during the summer it offers a fun family day out for a reasonable price.
Where To Stay
There is no shortage of hotels in the town and if you prefer to be a little further from the hubbub there are several places, such as the town of Ernst, that have hotels alongside the river.
The best of the boutique hotels include:
• Hotel Villa Vinum
• Kessler-Meyer Wellness & Wine Hotel/Spa
A weekend visit to Cochem in my experience always leaves you wanting more….wine, views, hikes or river cruises. Thankfully it’s only a few hours drive away!
Photographer/writer Jackie Harding was born in the United Kingdom. As a long-time expat, she lived in Boston for 12 years and in the Netherlands for the past 10 years.
Trained as a nurse in the U.K., she worked for nine years in the United States as a special education teacher’s assistant. Since moving to the Netherlands, she has discovered writing and photography.
Contributing to Dispatches since 2016, Jackie has written about her travels around Europe as well as about expat life and issues.
She also covered the Women’s March Amsterdam.
She’s married to British businessman Martin Harding and is the mother of two international adult children.