Cochem is an incredibly gorgeous German city that straddles the Mosel or Moselle River. It’s the most populous town in the Cochem-Zell district of the Rhineland Palatinate state of Germany. The city has a must-see castle, beautiful half-timbered buildings and cobble-stoned streets. The medieval city gates date back to 1332. This romantic city is full of quaint cafes along the most picturesque portion of the Mosel River valley. There are so many things to do in Cochem and each one provides a reason to visit this unassuming hidden gem in Germany.
We were lucky enough to visit Cochem as part of our Germany road trip and it’s a stand-out city. Best of all, you can use Cochem as a jumping off point to explore more of the Mosel and Rhine valleys, but here are the best things to do in Cochem while you’re there.
Keep reading as we describe:
- The best things to do in Cochem
- Tips for visiting Cochem
- How to Get to Cochem
- Recommended Cochem Hotels
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The BEST Things to Do in Cochem
It’s true… Cochem isn’t the biggest city in Germany, but when you’re there you’ll fall in love with this charming river town. If you’re wondering what to do in Cochem, your options range from historic sites to outdoor activities.
You’ll also want to make time for relaxing, because the best part about Cochem is the chance to take in the memorable surroundings. This makes it a perfect destination for slow travel in Germany, in fact we wish we added one more night in Cochem to just live the provincial lifestyle for one more day.
To help you plan your Cochem itinerary, here are the 10 best Cochem attractions to include along the way.
1. Visit Reichsburg Castle
Visit Reichsburg Castle also known as Reichsburg Cochem. It’s the focal point of the Cochem landscape and besides the Mosel River it’s the defining feature of the village.
As soon as you enter the city of Cochem you notice the gorgeous and perfectly-preserved castle on the hillside. The castle has watched over the river and town below for over a thousand years. It sits atop a hill of full of wine-producing grapes with a beautiful winding path to the town below. When you reach the top you can enjoy a glass of Mosel Valley wine in the on-site restaurant. After hiking to the Cochem Castle, you’ll have earned a glass of wine or even a bite to eat. It’s not an impossible climb, but the grade is steep in some sections of the trek from Cochem’s city center.
While it’s been brilliantly restored since, the site was largely razed by French forces led by the Sun King, Louis XIV in 1688. He certainly earned the victory as records show that over 40,000 knights defended the castle. It was always a defensive fortress and not a residential castle. In the late nineteenth century a local businessman funded restorations for you to enjoy today. The castle grounds are open to the public where you can enjoy stunning views of the Mosel River valley below.
2. Enjoy a Mosel Valley Wine Tasting
The tradition of wine production in the Mosel Valley goes back centuries. There’s no excuse for missing it when you visit Cochem and a wine tasting is the perfect way to enjoy the local culture.
There are countless wine purveyors to visit in the village, so it won’t be hard to make a wine tasting happen. You can visit any of the wine cellars in town but the one we chose for a tasting was on the right bank of the Mosel. It’s called H.H. Hieronimi and it’s the only one we can confidently recommend. We decided to do a wine tasting there because their location gives you a lovely view of the river and who doesn’t love drinking wine outside and watching a gorgeous river flow by.
You can walk in any time and do a tasting or a schedule a more detailed presentation with a resident expert. The family has been producing wine in the Mosel Valley for six generation – way before wine tourism was actually a thing.
Most of the local wines are white or blush wines and you can also try them in local restaurants. They’re listed on menus as “sweet” “dry” or “semi-dry” and whether you decided to make it a full event or just enjoy a glass with your dinner you must try the wine in Cochem.
3. Spend Some Time in Market Square
It may be a tourist crossroads, but you just have to visit and linger in Cochem’s adorable Market Square. It’s a quintessential Old World plaza with half-timber houses, a medieval stone clock tower and a bubbling fountain.
In Market Square you’ll discover the beautiful, 18th century Rathaus or Town Hall. It’s full of boutiques, hotels and outdoor cafes. You can even find a seat around the delightful Saint Martin fountain, the centerpiece of Market Square. Find a table, order a latte and people-watch for a few hours.
Like most popular tourist destinations, the Market Square is bustling throughout the day. Still, if you arrive early you can get some photos and enjoy the space before it’s too crowded. There’s a lot to enjoy if you wander the cobbled streets of Cochem’s Altstadt or old town.
Just take a wander and explore. You never know what you might find, including one of the oldest mustard mills in Europe called Senfmühle.
4. Cruise the Mosel River
The highlight of visiting a beautiful river town is getting to explore the surrounding landscape by water. So book a river boat cruise and make it happen.
What we quickly discovered is that the walk-up kiosks on the left bank of the Mosel are mostly commuter focused boats. Their routes and schedules aren’t meant for a short sightseeing trip. Then we found a perfect solution on GetYourGuide and booked one of their panoramic tours.
We really only wanted a one-hour sightseeing river cruise around the city of Cochem and we found it. It was around 10€ and we were able to book the first boat at 10:30AM to enjoy a coffee and pastry to start the day on the river. There was an audio guide highlighting attractions along the river.
Space is limited, so you should reserve a spot online with instant confirmation and ticketing. Boats leave every 90 minutes from 10:30 – 18:00 and you can CLICK HERE TO BOOK or use the calendar to find tickets for your dates.
Have a little more time? A little more adventerous?
If you have time for a half-day tour – try this Canoe Excursion on the Mosel River. We did not have time, but we regret not baking in more time in Cochem for this adventure. It’s a 5 hour tour including your canoe trip with a professional guide and stops for lunch (and why not have some wine as well). The landscape along the river is so incredible, and views from the water will be beyond belief. CLICK HERE TO BOOK
5. Visit Bundesbank-Bunker
In one of the city’s most unassuming buildings you can find a German bank building that’s steeped in Cold War era history.
Visit the Bundesbank Bunker and revisit the West German bunker that protected an emergency supply of German marks. There was a legit fear in West Germany that the Eastern Bloc countries would introduce large amounts of counterfeit bills into circulation in West Germany. They feared it could cause massive hyperinflation.
The solution? Keep a reserve of German marks worth over $15 Billion in a secret bunker in the quaint river town of Cochem, Germany. Of course!
This relic of Cold War history is open to the public and does a great job of explaining the important secret role that Cochem played in the Cold War.
6. Take a Walk on the Mosel Promenade
One of the first things you should do in Cochem is go for a stroll along the peaceful Mosel Promenade.
The stretch of pavement that lines the banks of the river are perfect for a romantic walk. We made sure to walk the promenade after dinner and take in the beauty of the surrounding village. It offers yet another view of the city, the river, the hills, castle and landscape.
End every day in Cochem with a walk along the rivers edge. The Mosel Promenade is just one more way that this city will touch your heart.
7. Explore Nearby Mosel Cities and Attractions
Most people use Cochem as a jumping off point to reach other Mosel Valley destinations. It’s a perfect city from which to explore all there is to see and do along the Mosel.
From this medium-sized town along the river, you can easily travel to other cities for half-day trips. Explore Bremm which is downriver from Cochem.
You may also want to check out upstream cities like Koblenz. It’s the point in which the Mosel River and the Rhine meet at Duetsches Eck. It is quintessential Germany and the heart of the region. You can easily reach Koblenz from Cochem by booking a ticket on the longer river boats, taking a train or of course driving.
Just off the river you can also work in a trip to see Burg Eltz. It’s one of the most beautiful and well-preserved residential castles in Germany.
The opposite of Burg Eltz is Burgruine Winneburg, a ruins castle near Cochem. Visiting Burgruine Winneburg requires a little bit of hiking, but it;s worth it to explore a very unique site outside of Cochem.
Another popular spot to get views of the river is Pinnerkreuz (Pinner Cross). It’s a series of hiking trails and lookouts atop the Pinnerberg Mountain. You can take a cable car called the Seselbahn to reach the mountaintop.
One final suggestions is to walk across the Geierlay Suspension Bridge. It again requires a hike to reach, but you’ll love the views and the chance to cross a massive expanse from one summit to the next.
Wherever you decide to explore, you’ll find Cochem is a great stop-over point from which to visit other German cities and nearby attractions.
8. Cross the Mosel by Foot for Views From the Bridge
The majestic river is easily crossed by car or on foot using the stone bridge that connects both banks of the Mosel. Make a point to walk across the river at least once while you’re in Cochem
Even though we had a car in the city, it was nice to park it and leave it during our days in Cochem. It’s easy to navigate by foot and we were in awe at the beautiful views when we crossed the bridge that connects the two sides of the city.
If you follow us on instagram, you saw that our story was full of videos from this spot. Head there for the best instagram spots in Cochem and make all of your friends and followers jealous too!
How To Get To Cochem
Cochem is easily reached by road, rail or water. Because it’s on the Mosel River, you can take a river boat to Cochem from any of the towns up or down the river. The city is also popular for river cruise lines like Viking.
Cochem has it’s own train station and if you didn’t already know this – Germany is super easy to travel around by train. To search for tickets, rates and train schedules check out the Duetsche Bahn website HERE.
We drove to the city from Cologne where we spent the weekend before embarking on our road trip. It was a beautiful drive from Cologne to Cochem. The steep valley surround the Mosel is covered with wine grapes and the road is almost level with the river which provides beautiful scenery.
Recommended Cochem Hotels
We decided to stay on the right bank of the Mosel River. This gave us better views and it felt like we were one degree removed from the bulk of tourism. On the opposite banks the river cruises dock and the boat cruises and ferries dock. It felt more quaint on the right bank and we didn’t sacrifice hotel or restaurant options.
We stayed at Hotel Zehnthof and it was perfect for us. It’s a lovely mid-range hotel with well-appointed and spacious rooms. Breakfast is included in your stay as well as parking. Both of these amenities were super helpful in our stay and made it easier to see all the Cochem attractions we planned out for the trip.
Now You Know Everything You Need to About Cochem
Now that you’ve read this post – you’re ready to visit Cochem. You know what to do in Cochem, where to stay, how to get there and key tips from our experience. Now all that’s left is for this enchanting German river city to seep into your hearts like it did ours.
Please let us know what you think in the comments and share your own experiences. Reach out to us with the contact form if you have any personal questions – we’re always happy to help other travelers.
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