Regarded as the pearl of the River Moselle; the historic German town of Cochem combines disarming beauty, awe-inspiring architecture and near-tangible romance. Small in size, but large in impact, Cochem is absolutely ripe for exploration on foot, inviting visitors to pad the cobbled streets and explore the long, rich heritage of the small town.
Wooden buildings, uneven plazas and an omnipresent Imperial castle peering over rooftops provide visitors to Cochem with surprises and delights around every unique corner. Slowly built over the space of roughly 1,000 years; Cochem is a wonderfully mismatched and eclectic little town, which has been charming visitors since the first settlers arrived. So charmed were the Romans when they stumbled upon Cochem, their forces would sing songs praising the beauty of the town, spreading its reputation far and wide.
Rush around Cochem and you’ll miss the true charm and beauty of the little town. A slow pace of life reigns supreme over Cochem, with locals taking their time to enjoy the day, talk to their neighbours and sip an aromatic coffee outside one of the innumerate cafés of the town.
Positioned close to two of the Moselle Valley’s best-loved hiking routes, Eifel and Hunsrück; Cochem is paradise for walkers. With many charming sights to behold and experiences to enjoy in such a small space, Cochem begs to be explored slowly and dreamily. So, to offer a little direction, we have put together a guide to the places to visit during a wander around charming Cochem.
Rising more than 300ft above the River Moselle, the Reichsburg Cochem is a fairy tale Imperial castle, imposing its neo-gothic beauty over the peaceful town. Thought to have been built roughly 1,000 years ago, the Reichsburg Cochem was originally a defensive structure for nobility. Many castles and forts have lined the winding banks of the Moselle over the centuries (it is thought that at one time 40,000 castles were present throughout German-speaking Europe), but few matched the sheer beauty and regal appearance of Reichsburg Cochem.
Built by palatinate count, Ezzo; Reichsburg Cochem has been home to emperors, lords, kings and archbishops during its millennium-long history. This noble residency has had its impact on the Reichsburg Cochem, with ornate flourishes and historical artefacts dotted throughout the beautiful old castle. Squares, stables and keeps are positioned in and around the ground floor of the castle, offering ample places to explore and a wonderful village-within-a-town experience.
Guided tours are available through the castle for visitors wanting to experience the full majesty of Reichsburg Cochem. Experienced guides will lead you through the legends and stories attached to the long and intriguing history of the castle, including Knipp Monday when the locals of Cochem make their way to Knipp Meadow with food and wine to celebrate the successful defence of the castle in the Middle Ages.
Although Reichsburg Cochem now sits in complete peace and tranquillity, it’s still an intriguing place to explore and experience.
Cochem Old Town
Incredibly well maintained, the Old Town district of Cochem, complete which fortifications and historic buildings is, perhaps, the town’s most rewarding place to explore on foot. Little seems to have changed in Cochem’s Old Town over a few hundred years, providing a genuine insight into life in the town during Roman rule and the Middle Ages.
Cochem’s past as a walled town, defending itself from Medieval invaders, is immediately recognisable in the Old Town. Defence towers, parapets and the old gatekeeper’s house, dating back to the early 14th century, can be explored on foot. The Cochem locals of yesteryear planned the town to make the most of all open spaces. Huge plazas and public squares can be enjoyed throughout the Old Town region, providing the perfect setting for a warming coffee, or a refreshing Riesling if you’re lucky enough to arrive on a warm German afternoon.
The Old Town of Cochem is also the best place to experience how the town has evolved over the centuries. Alongside the 14th-century fortifications, another focal point is the Baroque-style Town Hall, built in 1739, sat behind the delightful Martinsbrunnen fountain.
View from the Pinnerkreuz
For those who wish to drink in the complete majesty and beauty of Cochem, the best vantage point is from the peak of Pinnerkreuz mountain. With views across the entire town, and the magisterial Reichsburg Cochem, this lookout point sits high above the town and the River Moselle. Pinnerkreuz mountain can be reached by a short chairlift journey, which itself offers beautiful views over the town from a selection of different angles.
On a clear day, Pinnerkreuz mountain affords views for miles around – so you can enjoy the sweeping bends of the River Moselle, the relaxed beauty of the local vineyards, and really appreciate the scale of the Reichsburg Cochem.
With rolling green hills flanking Cochem in every direction, we’d recommend ascending to the Pinnerkreuz peak when the sun is low in the sky and beams of light catch the contours of the neighbouring fields and vineyards. And those who want to turn the wander into a hike, there are several paths down from the peak into the centre of Cochem – providing stunning scenery along the way.
The Moselle Valley’s Beautiful Vineyards
Fittingly, Cochem sits in one of the most beautiful spots of the Moselle Valley, where the river is flanked by rolling hills covered with wine-producing vineyards. The third largest wine-producing region in Germany, the Moselle Valley specialises in Riesling (accounting for more than 50% of the bottles produced in the region), creating some of the nation’s best-loved and most famous vintages.
The charming little bars and restaurants of Cochem are well-stocked with their local Riesling, and other grape variations from the neighbouring vineyards, but if you want to get a little closer to the action, a viticulture tour is a must.
The beautiful rolling hills of the Moselle Valley are home to a number of vineyard owners and wineries ready to take you out amongst the vines, sharing their wine-making expertise and experiences. Utilising methods passed down from generation to generation, the vineyard owners can take you on a journey through the history of Cochem and the wider Moselle Valley region.
Just a few minutes’ walk from the centre of Cochem is the Familienweingut Rademacher winemaker, offering a selection of tastings and tours for visitors interested in Germany’s favourite vineyard tipple.
Just a few miles further down the River Moselle is the tiny village of Beilstein. With barely a population of 150 people, Beilstein is notable for its peaceful serenity, outstanding surroundings and historic sites. With one of best-preserved historical appearances of any settlement in the region, Beilstein is lovingly referred to as the Sleeping Beauty of the Moselle.
Towering above slumbering Beilstein sits the ruins of Castle Metternich, destroyed at the tail end of the 17th century. The peaceful ruins remain popular with visitors, and the surrounding greenery provides a wonderful setting to enjoy the quiet, extensive beauty of the Moselle region.
Cochem is always one of the most popular stops on our Romantic Rhine & Moselle river cruise. To explore this beautiful little town and other gems on Germany’s delightful waterways, visit our dedicated itinerary page, here, or for booking information, call our helpful sales team on 0808 274 1366.