Looking to explore a number of European cities on one trip without feeling rushed and worn down?
Time to consider the ease of a river cruise.
A relaxing Avalon sail down the Moselle River is a lovely way to see historic sites, sample the products from sprawling vineyards, and check out festivals in charming villages that date back centuries through France, Luxembourg, and Germany.
Many Moselle river cruises have added legs through the Rhine, which adds a whole host of other options for interesting ports-of-call. But first, here’s why this often overlooked river is a picturesque cruise you don’t want to miss.
Koblenz is a popular stop on both Moselle and Moselle-Rhine tours given its placement at the spot where the two rivers meet. The town is steeped in more than 2,000 years of history (it celebrated its two-millennia anniversary in 1992) and is perhaps most well-known for the ring of forts that wall the city’s hills to the west.
No visit to Koblenz is complete without stops by the Basilica of St. Castor, a four-towered church founded by Louis the Pious in 836, and a trip to nearby Lahnstein, to take in the rocky façade of Lahneck Castle. The castle dates back to the 13th century and was the purported hiding place for the Knights Templar in 1312 as well as a battleground during the Thirty Years War.
The Hunsruck and Eifel mountains form a stunning backdrop while the town itself straddles the river, providing 360 degree views. Even a boat ride through Cochem is a sight to behold, but upon disembarking you’ll love getting up close to the quaint cottages and stately guild houses that line the meandering streets.
The proximity to water helped fuel wine production in the region and there are festivals throughout summer that celebrate the hospitality and delicious juice Cochem is known for. A few of the most exciting festivals (if you can time your visit):
Bernkastel is billed as “Moselle’s wine capital,” and indeed there are more than 5,000 vineyards in the nearby territories that funnel their wares into the town’s cellars. One of the most noted wineries is Bernkasteler Doctor, a small vineyard located on an impossibly steep hill that produces some of the priciest wines in all of Europe.
The market square is a whimsical place bordered by elaborate half-timber houses that are nothing short of picturesque. It’s the ideal place to sample the wares of the numerous wine stands that come out during the festivals in early September or you can visit St. Michael’s Fountain. There’s also the nearby ruins of Burg Landshut, a 13-century castle-turned-vineyard, which is worth the short drive if only for the views.
Traben-Trarbach is another city that is split by the river with beautiful promenades on each side – the city was originally two separate entities, Traben and Trarbach, which are now officially united.
It often serves as a gateway to Luxembourg and there’s beautiful architecture from the German Art Nouveau period to admire, but in many ways, the city’s biggest draw is the fact that it’s so relaxing. Find a table on an outdoor terrace, order a bottle of local wines (they’re delicious), and forget everything but what you’re hearing, seeing, and sipping in that exact moment.
When you’re ready to stretch your legs, check out the Mittelmosel Museu, for a glimpse back into life in Traben-Trarbach’s past, or head out to a winery to see the magic firsthand.
Of course this is just a snippet of what you’ll be feasting your eyes upon during this river cruise.