Rolling hills, steep vineyards, a flowing river, quaint villages surrounding a picturesque valley, fairy tale castles, and white wine galore. Germany may not be the first place that comes to mind after reading all those characteristics, but its the exact location I’m describing.
The Mosel Valley is amongst one of the dreamiest regions in Germany. A tourist attraction for Germans and some Europeans that hasn’t quite received the hype in the states. I’m sure the locals prefer it this way, and so did I, as I got to hike up empty trails and sip on some of the best Riesling without any distractions.
The Mosel runs through three different countries and is located in south-western Germany. It ‘s known for being one of the largest Riesling crop areas in the world and oldest wine region in the country.
The route around the Mosel is stunning and will leave you in awe. On the left you’ll be greeted by classic villages and rolling vineyards that lie on the shore of the river, on your right, you’ll be greeted by the Mosel. Whether you drive, bike, or hike along the Römische Weinstraße (Roman Wine Route), the scenic views won’t disappoint.
To my surprise there are a number of trails to hike. They range in intensity and distance but it had a similar feel to the famous “El Camino” pilgrimage in Spain. Although I didn’t see any pilgrims, there are 24 stages that are offered and lodging for them to rest.
We chose to do the Calmont Klettersteig hike, which was short and started in the village of Bremm, which is where we stood both nights. This area was once occupied by Romans, one of the ruins that is still preserved is the Stuben Convent, which could be seen if you look out towards the River.
The trail had many signs, portraits of Saints, and even wine refrigerators. It was quite steep but being amongst the vineyards was something I’ve never experienced, not to mention, those vista points! Absolutely gorgeous.
It took us a few hours to complete the hike and get back down to the train station so we could visit other villages. We also made a pit stop at a café to sip on some wine. It just so happened that this was also the spot for paragliders to take off.
It was such a beautiful October day. Sunny and warm, autumn toned vineyards, good wine, and people paragliding above the landscape and villages. This was one of the highlights of the hike.
Riesling makes up 60% of the wine in this region but there are other Pinots, Elblings, Kerners, and Chardonnays to buy. The range in Riesling goes from dry to sweet. As it ages it becomes more yellow in color and aromas become more intense.
The Mosel can be broken into three sections the lower, middle, and upper. The lower begins in the village of Pünderich and evidence of terracing began by the Romans could be seen here. The middle Mosel is formed by the meandering of the river between the Hunsrück and the Eifel highlands. The middle Mosel has been a winegrowing region since the Romans. The Upper Mosel refers to the area that forms the border between the German states of the Saarland and Rhineland-Palatinate on one side and Luxembourg on the other.
Once we hiked back down, we walked it over to the train station to ride over to the village of Cochem, which is one of the main tourist attractions.
The village is beautiful, and something you’d see in a Disney movie. Half-timbered buildings line the cobbled stoned streets.
Since we were there during the pandemic, most restaurants were closed but had the dining outside option, which prior to the pandemic, Germans aren’t people to shy away from the colder weather. So it didn’t look that much different to me. We had bought groceries so we could cook at our place, but did buy some pommes.
One of the main reasons people visit Cochem is to see the castle that sits at the top of the hill, Reichsburg or Eltz Castle. This castle is not the original, as it was obliterated in 1689 under King Louis XIV’s demand.
In 1868 a wealthy businessman from Berlin purchased the ruins and had permission to have it rebuilt. It was touched up in Neo-Gothic style so that his family could vacation there. An Octagonal Tower or witches tower, which legend claims witches were thrown out from was modified along with other additions. Many visitors claim it’s to fake and prefer to see it from a distance.
There’s a fee to enter the castle and guided tours are offered. We stood outside of the main gate and admired the exterior and view from the fortified wall.
After walking around the village for a few hours we decided that the perfect way to end our day there would be on a cruise. Thankfully we moved quick and were able to get tickets to one that was leaving in the next 10 minutes. It was nearing 5 o’clock and the sunset was scheduled to set in the next thirty minutes.
There weren’t many people on the boat and it was very spaced out, we picked a section in the left rear. It was quite cold but the glimmers of sun that we caught heated us up quickly.
They offered drinks and food aboard.
We ordered some Riesling and a waffle.
We tried our best to get a glimpse of all vantage points, from the river to the top of the hills. I’d say we did pretty well. They were all breathtaking and the fall foliage made it even more special.
Once we docked, we made our way back to the train station and walked it back to our space. It took a good hour, but we stood along the pedestrian path and watched the evening turn to night. The stars got brighter as each minute passed. I have to add, it was Halloween night so there was a bit of a spooky essence walking back through the quiet villages.
The following day we checked out of our guest house and drove through the village next door called Neef. We stopped at St. Peters Catholic church and into the cemetery. From there it led us to a mini trail of another vantage point.
It is said that the first inhabitants of this area can be traced back to the Middle Stone Age.
It was a gloomy day and our destination was Frankfurt. We made our rounds around the Mosel once more and stopped by another castle, Burg Thurant. Romans occupied this area but the castle was erected in the 1200s. As happens with many historical buildings it was captured, claimed, and taken over by many hands before it became owned by Geheimrat Robert Allmer in 1911. In 1973 it became property of the Allmer and Wulf families.
The castle can be found in the village of Alken. It’s a spur castle which was used for defense back in the day. There’s a small fee to pay, which we did this time since there was hardly anyone there. It has been touched up since 1911 and is relatively big. There’s a cafe inside in case you want to enjoy some tea or coffee. One of the volunteers that works there for fun lives in the village right below and mentioned that many locals come in just to read or study for the day. How cool is that? It’s not often you hear someone say they feel like studying at the local castle instead of the local coffee shop.
We stood for only 45 minutes before heading to Frankfurt. It was a gloomy ride but we made a few quick pitstops through different villages.
Another village we visited was Trier, which is said to be founded in the Neolithic era and is Germanys oldest city. Different groups seized this area such as the Romans, Franks, and Celts. One of the largest witch trials also took place here. Pretty spooky right!
This was such a beautiful stay before I left back to the states a day later. I would absolutely visit again, but during the summer time. I hope it doesn’t get bombarded by tourists but it’s also so special that I hope everyone can visit at some point.