Europe River Cruise, Moselle River in France

Moselle River - Best Tours & Trips 2019

A quieter, more serene little sister to the mighty Rhine, the Moselle River, along Germany’s western edge, is a fairytale come to life, complete with majestic castles, lively town squares and friendly vintners welcoming you to their family home. Grab a seat at an outdoor cafe and watch the locals go about their daily life, marketing in the square and stopping for a 21st-century chat on a very medieval street. From Burg Eltz, with its 800 years of history, to the crumbling Reichsburg Castle, from Trier’s busy hauptmarkt to remarkable Riesling vineyards, this is a memorable glimpse into the Europe of yesteryear.

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Trip Type Trip Type Classic Tour Groups are between 25-60 people, typically ~30-40. Usually there will be many opportunities to split off and enjoy meals and excursions in smaller groups. This is the most economical way to travel, saving up to 40% versus booking the same itinerary yourself.
Small Group Guided Experiences Small groups are usually defined as between 10 and 24 travelers, often less. If you're the kind of person who enjoys more intimate experiences and personal service this is a good choice. All else being equal you will pay a premium for this style vs a larger group tour.
River Cruise These vessels are smaller than most ocean cruisers, limiting which amenties are available. Passenger counts can vary. One of the biggest advantages of a river cruise is the ability to dock at smaller ports and local villages.
Small Ocean Cruise Small ship cruises usually have a max passenger count of 500. The primary purpose of these trips is to spend time off the vessel in local ports (e.g. Mediterranean) or experiencing nature (e.g Galapagos or Antarctica). Cabins can vary from budget to luxury.
Private Tour Private tours give you the undivided attention of a guide, and often involve special access to sites and unique experiences not available to larger groups. This is a great option for families, couples, and small friend groups. Expect to pay a bit more for the extra service.
Independent Package A travel company plans your itinerary and arranges all the logistics including lodging, local activities, and transportantion. You have the flexibility of a solo trip while still getting the convience and time savings of expert planning. Get 90% of the benefits of a tour, without a guide.
Vacation / Holiday Package Similar to a self guided tour, this usually involves a home base, such as a hotel or resort, with packaged activities and day tours as a part of the stay.
Large Ocean Cruise This is the "floating city" experience, with multiple ways to enjoy your vacation aboard the ship as much as on land. Ships are multiple floors, provide several activities, culinary, and shopping options. They often make fewer stops and have less time available for shore excursions.

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Lodging Level Lodging Level Camping Typically involves most nights sleeping in tents (sometimes permanent tented sites) or in rustic cabins and lodges.
Basic - 2 star You'll stay in no-frills, but clean and comfortable, hotels or guesthouses. A 'Basic' trip might also involve a few nights of camping.
Value - 3 star Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels.
Premium - 4 star 3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards.
Luxury - 5 star The highest level of comfort and service. All accomodations are in four or five star hotels, boutique lodges or high-end homestays.

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Physical Level Physical Level Very Easy Minimal walking - motor vehicles available for all major parts of trip.
Easy Normal generally flat walking in urban or suburban environments.
Moderate Walking or physical activity half to most of day - no carrying equipment.
Strenuous All or most of day hiking or biking, hills included.
Extreme Very challenging all day hiking and backpacking carrying significant equipment.

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Top Moselle River Experiences and Attractions

Top Moselle River Experiences

Riding the cable car to the mighty Ehrenbreitstein Fortress in Koblenz, at the confluence of the Rhine and Moselle rivers.

Visiting Constantine’s throne room and the ruins of Roman baths in Trier.

Hiking in to majestic 800-year-old Burg Eltz, still owned by the original family.

Strolling the riverside marketplace of picturesque Bernkastel-Kues, a quintessential Moselle River village.

Gazing down upon the Moselle River from the dramatic Reichsburg Castle in Cochem, the largest in the valley.

Wine tasting and meeting the local vintners at countless vineyards throughout the Moselle River valley.

Capturing a photo of the famous Zell Black Cat fountain.

Delving into the ancient history of the Roman Empire in Piesport.

Imagining life centuries ago in the enchanting, white Stolzenfels Castle near Koblenz.

Sipping a Moselle River valley Riesling on the promenade at the water’s edge in Beilstein.


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Moselle River Tours and Travel Guide

Moselle River Attractions & Landmarks Guide

A quieter, more serene little sister to the mighty Rhine, the Moselle River, along Germany’s western edge, is a fairytale come to life, complete with majestic castles, lively town squares and friendly vintners welcoming you to their family home. Grab a seat at an outdoor cafe and watch the locals go about their daily life, marketing in the square and stopping for a 21st-century chat on a very medieval street. From Burg Eltz, with its 800 years of history, to the crumbling Reichsburg Castle, from Trier’s busy hauptmarkt to remarkable Riesling vineyards, this is a memorable glimpse into the Europe of yesteryear.

Unabashedly charming, the Moselle River valley in Germany is the embodiment of storybook Europe. Vine-covered hillsides reach up from the placid river, castle turrets soar heavenward at nearly every bend and cute-as-a-button wine villages spread back from the banks, inviting travelers in for coffee and conversation in cozy cafes and history lessons in centuries-old cathedrals and town squares.

This is a place to unwind, to slow down, to live the exact opposite of a hustle-and-bustle lifestyle, a place to imagine what life was like when the now crumbling castles were in their glory days and royalty danced in villa ballrooms. As an antidote to the more frenetic pace of the Rhine, here one can wake up riverside, with the shopkeepers and farmers, and sip coffee in peace, breathing in the delicious aroma of fresh bread and the scent of vineyards and fermenting grapes.

The river wends its way like a blue ribbon between Trier and Koblenz, through Traben-Trarbach with its art nouveau architecture and the lively market square of Bernkastel-Kues, forming the border between Luxembourg and Germany. Moselle River cruises might utilize the extensive Moselsteig hiking trail network, the many cycling paths that connect one wine village to another or the public railway - with such choice and simplicity of travel methods, it’s easy to capture this entire beguiling valley in one Moselle River cruise.

Wine Tasting Along the Moselle River

Did you know you can find Europe’s (and possibly the world’s) steepest vineyard in the Moselle Valley? It’s Bremmer Calmont, with a 68-degree gradient, found just north of Bremm. It doesn’t come as a surprise to wine aficionados that this verdant valley is as renowned for its wines as its majestic castles. A Moselle River tour shouldn’t overlook the myriad vineyards open for tastings. Local whites are a favorite, as is the unique Roter-Weinbergs-Pfirsich Likör, a cordial that is produced from small, tart, red peaches that are found only in this region.

Today there are approximately 9,000 hectares of vineyards in the Moselle Valley, much of it on steep inclines. White-wine fans delight in the variety of Rieslings produced on these very hillsides, with grapes that are harvested as late as November - most are grown in the Middle Moselle, a region about 11 miles upstream from Beilstein in Zell.

Countless small, family-run wineries operate here and it’s not uncommon for travelers to be invited in to meet the winemaker. The star of the show is undoubtedly Riesling, but one shouldn’t overlook varietals such as Müller-Thurgau, grown on the large plateau of the Middle Moselle and gentle slopes of the Lower Moselle, the new Bacchus, a cross between a Riesling x Sylvaner and Müller-Thurgau, Weissburgunder, and Spätburgunder, which is planted in the traditional Riesling vineyards along the river and in the limestone soils of the Upper Moselle.

As for the nuts and bolts of where and when to go, just about any village along the river is going to delight the average oenophile, while the best season is between May and September. The villages are fairly close together, making it easy to pass on one that’s too crowded, and even add a bit of fitness to your Moselle River tour by cycling or hiking between towns. What’s not to miss? Make sure to sample the Grand Cru at Weingut Martin Müllen and the dry whites at Schmitges.

Fabulous Wine Festivals in the Moselle River Valley

Between March and late October - typically the end of the grape harvest - the Moselle River valley alights with wine festival after wine festival. Some are quieter affairs, held for one day in tiny villages, while others are raucous events that draw oenophiles from around the world, lasting a weekend, a week or longer. Beyond the dizzying array of wines to sample, there are concerts, food stalls, art exhibits, craft fairs and fireworks contributing to the lively ambience. A few of the top festivals include:

1. Moselwein-Festival, Traben-Trarbach - Takes place on the second weekend of July, turning Trarbach into a lively setting of wine, music and local delicacies.

2. Weinfest “Zeller Schwarze Katz” - Features pageants and musical fireworks.

3. Heimat und Weinfest Cochem - More than 80 years old, this home and wine festival in late August is one of the region’s highlights. Listen to music on two stages, watch the Sunday parade and ooh and aah at the fireworks over Reichsburg Castle.

4. Winninger Winzerfest - For 10 days in August, Germany’s oldest wine festival takes to the streets of Winnengen, including art exhibits, a wine market, music and fireworks.

5. Saarweinfest in Saarburg - Over the last weekend of August, witness the coronation of the Saar-Obermosel-Weinkönigin, follow the wine route in the Staden with wine, cuisine and music, enjoy fireworks from the Saarufer and watch the festival parade through the city center.

6. Weinfest der Mittelmosel in Bernkastel-Kues - The festival kicks off the Thursday before the last weekend of August with a wine-tasting event, followed by an artisan market on Friday and the coronation of the Mosella (wine queen of the city). Fireworks from the ruins of Landshut Castle light up the night on Saturday, and Sunday brings the extravagant parade of Middle Mosel community members in car, on foot and in music groups.

7. Olewiger Weinfest in Trier - Attracting 10,000 or more, this tradition-packed festival begins with the coronation of the Trier Wine Queen at precisely 7 PM on the first Wednesday of August. Wine, live music, fireworks, delicious local delicacies and, of course, Trier Moselle wine, make for a most enjoyable fest.

8. “Das Fest” der Römischen Weinstraße in Schweich - The festival of the Roman Wine Route, in May, marks the beginning of wine festival season on the Moselle. Look for wine stands, wine queen coronation, antiques and flea markets, dancing, bands, kids’ entertainment and more.

9. International Trachtentreffen der Mosel in Kröv - Taking place in May, this wine and folklore festival attracts attendees from around the world for its floating stage on the Moselle, a traditional costume contest, coronation of the wine queen, live music, a Saturday evening gala, a huge parade and more.

10. Ruwer Wine Festival in Kasel - Appointing its 53rd year Ruwer Weinkönigin and princesses (as well as other wine majesties!), the Kasel fest features games, entertainment, music, a large Ruwer-Riesling tasting and more.

Combining a Moselle and Rhine River Cruise

Why stop at just one grand European river when you can combine two on one epic river cruise? Combine a Moselle River tour and Rhine River cruise and get ready to discover one of the continent’s most enchanting river systems. There are Riesling vineyards to visit, Dutch windmills to photograph, ancient castles to explore and charming villages to get lost in as you venture through Switzerland, Germany and The Netherlands.

A typical Rhine cruise will sail from Amsterdam to Basel (or in reverse), taking in the delectable cuisine of Alsace, the traditions of the Black Forest, historic cities and medieval towns. Savor the mix of cultures in Strasbourg, straddling France and Germany; get philosophical in Heidelberg, Germany’s oldest university town; and spend hours cycling around Amsterdam or sailing its labyrinthian canals.

For those for whom this simply isn’t enough, tack on a Moselle River cruise where the river meets the Rhine in Koblenz, Germany. The river forms the natural border between Luxembourg and Germany and is just as captivating as its big brother, the Rhine, with its sloping vineyards, fairytale villages, medieval architecture, fascinating ruins and millennium-old castles. It was here that the Holy Roman Empire formed one of its major capitals, and the evidence remains. Take it all in while sampling some of the world’s most-loved Rieslings.

Typically, cruises that combine the Rhine and Moselle rivers will embark from Luxembourg or Basel, sailing Luxembourg to Koblenz, Germany, on the Moselle, and Koblenz to Basel on the Rhine. With such a comprehensive view of both river valleys, you’re in for a cultural treat - German and italian heritage in Trier, Roman Imperial Baths, French traditions in Strasbourg. It’s truly a storybook of fables and fairytales come to life.

Which Countries and Cities Does the Moselle River Flow Through?

Here’s a quick geography lesson on the Moselle River: This picturesque waterway is the west tributary of the mighty  Rhine River and flows for 339 miles through northeastern France and western Germany. It forms the border between Germany and Luxembourg for a short distance, then enters Germany and meets up with the Rhine in Koblenz. Major cities along the river’s most popular cruise route include Koblenz, Bernkastel-Kues, Cochem, Beilstein, Konz, Schweich, Traben-Trarbach, Treis-Karden and Trier.

Top Activities on a Moselle River Cruise

1. Shopping at Trier’s HauptmarktThis lively, colorful market square, a mainstay of the city since medieval times, is a must - plus, this is the oldest city in Germany and the biggest Roman city north of the Alps. Step back in time as you gaze upon the landmark market cross, the market fountain dating back to 1595 and converse with friendly stall owners as you pick up fresh produce and yummy baked goods for a snack.

2. Playing Royalty at Burg EltzWalk through the forest or shuttle bus in to this romantic medieval castle. It has never seen destruction and remains a stunning site - all turrets and towers, oriels and gables. The original family still owns it (for over 33 generations) and you’ll see evidence of their reign in the furnishings, paintings and armour throughout the castle.

3. Relaxing in Bernkastel-KuesThis is the European river town you’ve dreamed of. Less about checking off the boxes for tourist attractions, this lovely town is about slowing down and living in the moment. Breakfast on sausages and pastries before visiting the Graach Gate from 1300, photographing Late Renaissance and Baroque architecture and traipsing uphill to a castle beer garden to drink in the sweeping river views.

4. Drinking in the Views in CochemYet another postcard-perfect Moselle River town, Cochem is a vision on pastel, terraced buildings along the waterfront - places you’ll want to stay for hours. Visit the Medieval toll castle high above town, the undeniably charming Old Town with its half-timbered houses and three of four 14th-century gates and ride the gondola up to the Pinnerkreuz lookout for awe-inspiring views of the Moselle River loop.

5. Hiking the Moselsteig TrailPerfect for active travelers, this relatively new (inaugurated in 2014) hiking trail allows one to slow down and feel the natural rhythms of the Moselle River valley. There are 24 legs in all; a particular favorite is Stage 20 to Burg Eltz. (For boasting rights, hike the Calmont Klettersteig Trail to the steepest vineyard in Europe - it’s part of the Moselsteig Trail’s 16th leg.)

6. Wine TastingIt wouldn’t be the complete Moselle River experience without it, so be sure your Moselle River tour includes as many of the family-run wineries as you can handle. Usually, you’ll find it’s the family vintner him or herself who is giving you the history and story of their famous white wines. Remember that the vintners who offer tastings would love for you to buy a bottle (or five), but it’s usually a screaming deal on what is highly superior wine.

7. Cavorting in CochemDine al fresco next to a Medieval city gate, feel like a local at the Marktplatz with its Baroque town hall and visit the towering Schloss Reichsburg, high above town.

Top 10 Castles to See Along the Moselle River

  1. Grevenburg Castle, Traben-Trabach

  2. Stolzenfels Castle, Koblenz

  3. Burg Eltz

  4. Burg Landshut, Bernkastel-Kues

  5. Schloss Zell, Zell an der Mosel

  6. Winneburg, Cochem

  7. Bielstein Castle, Cochem

  8. Burg Coraidelstein, Klotten

  9. Burg Thurant, Alken

  10. Ehrenburg, Brodenbach

Top 5 Christmas Markets in the Moselle River Valley

  1. Christmas Market, Trier

  2. Christmas Market, Bernkastel-Kues

  3. Cochem Castle Christmas

  4. Mosel Wine Night Market

  5. Christmas Market, Koblenz

Top Moselle River Travel Companies

Things to Know Before You Go

Common Moselle River Cruise & Guided Tour Lengths

Although one might immediately think “river cruise” when considering a Moselle River guided tour, there are actually several ways to enjoy the region. Driving, cycling, biking and, yes, river cruising are all insightful ways to explore the valley - several Moselle River tours combine a couple modes of travel, for example, cruising and cycling.

This allows one to move away from the water and explore farther afield - the better to take advantage of all those great wineries! Most Moselle River guided tours hit the highlights in about one week’s time, though one could add a Rhine River guided tour and make it a two-week journey if time allows.

Physical Level Requirements for a Moselle River Cruise

For the most part, a Moselle River tour is not physically demanding. If you wish to engage in cycling and hiking excursions, those are certainly available and at various difficulty levels, but it’s just as rewarding to spend your time moving between your river boat and leisurely walks around the river’s many historic villages.

Remember that these towns are centuries-old and the roads and side streets may be uneven or cobblestone, so sturdy shoes and even a walking stick (depending on your level of comfort) are recommended. Several of the castle visits will require an uphill or stair walk, although many have built cablecars to make the ascent easier.

Top Moselle River Destinations

Moselle River tours are the simplest way to make sure you’re hitting the high points of the valley - and to hone in on your interests and tastes. All about wine? Mix is up with a river cruise and cycling tour that connects one wine village to another. History buff? There’s more than enough to stir your imagination of days gone by in Trier, Cochem, Trabel-Trarbach and Piesport. Look for these biggies when choosing your Moselle River tour: Burg Eltz, Koblenz, Bernkastel-Kues, Zell, Stolzenfels Castle and the Moselsteig hiking trail.

What’s the Weather Like on the Moselle River?

Adding to its perennial appeal, the Moselle River valley has a Mediterranean-esque climate, with mild to hot summers and a multitude of sunny days over the course of eight to nine months. Generally speaking, the warmest month is July (although there can be quite a bit of rainfall then), the coolest month is January and the driest month is March. For the most ideal weather, aim for the end of April through the end of October.

Who Will Enjoy a Moselle River Cruise?

1. Wine lovers - The Moselle River winds through the heart of wine country in Germany, affording countless opportunities to explore local vineyards, meet with friendly vintners and their families and, of course, taste their famous white wines, renowned Rieslings and superb reds.

Adorable wine towns like Cochem and Bernkastel make for lovely afternoons of shopping, exploring and indulging. Fun fact: Sample Bernkastel’s most celebrated wine, the Bernkasteler Doctor, which is said to have cured the illness of a local elector.

2. History buffsFrom the long list of Roman ruins in Trier to the tiny town of Trittenheim (first mentioned in 893 AD!), from the Middle Mosel’s lively, medieval-era marketplaces and 17th-century timber-frame houses to the not-to-be-missed Burg Eltz, never destroyed and owned by the same family since the 12th century, the Moselle is a history book come to life.

3. River cruise fansThe river cruise genre is for those who long to slow down and enjoy the finer things in life at a leisurely pace. The vessel typically docks right in the center of town, allowing for immediate sightseeing instead of transfer by car or bus. Most itineraries are all-inclusive, taking away the worry of being nickel and dimed throughout the cruise, and because there are fewer passengers than the mega ships, there is a distinctly local flavor to the experience - usually in the form of regional ingredients for onboard meals, village musicians or folk dancers and locally sourced experts who act as sightseeing guides.

All Moselle River tours, river cruises, expedition cruises, and adventure trips. Find the best guided trips and expert planned vacation and holiday packages. Average rating of 0.0 for all Moselle River trips.

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