48 Hours in Cochem, Germany
I always say that the hardest part about traveling is not being able to see everything. As much as we'd probably all love to be digital nomads that can travel whenever, wherever, and for however long, vacation time is limited, so when we decided we were going back to Germany, it took us a long time to nail down an itinerary. From Frankfurt Airport, you have a lot of options. You could go west to Belgium, south to Lucerne, southeast to Munich - we toyed around with all of those ideas, but finally landed on a route that took us first to Cochem in the Rhineland region of Germany.
If you're considering visiting Germany, I would recommend the Rhineland to those who like the rolling vineyards of Napa or Paso Robles. It's wine country, where the pace of life is slow and cobblestone streets abound.
It was about 6 pm by the time we arrived but internally our clocks were still set at 9 am - either way it was mealtime, so we at our first meal at Restaurant NEOS.
Pro tip! There are plenty of city parking lots right off the main road in Cochem (Moselpromenade) but all the ones we encountered were cash only, so have your Euros ready!
When you’re looking for where to eat in Cochem, don’t stress too much about picking the perfect place. I would recommend just parking somewhere along Moselpromenade and walking around old town until you see a restaurant that appeals to you, which won’t be hard. We were there in early August, so most restaurants seat everyone outside on their cute little patios and it’s just great. Seriously, we didn’t eat a bad meal there and the atmosphere of all the restaurants was lovely, as long as you can stand the bees.
After dinner, we walked across Skagerrak Brücke (bridge), which was built in the 1920s, to watch the boats for a bit. We didn’t do this ourselves, but there are lots of dinner cruise boats that take you down the Mosel River that looked really fun! After that, we went back to our car and headed to Valwig, which is where our hotel was.
Valwig, Germany is a tiny wine town neighboring Cochem with only about 500 residents. We stayed at Boutique Hotel Rebenhof and loved it. I mean, how could you not when the view off your room's balcony looks like this? Talk about golden hour.
The next morning we took a gorgeous walk along Moselweinstrasse until we could see the town of Ernst across the river then headed back to our hotel for breakfast.
As an aside, while we were walking Moselweinstrasse we saw a lot of people RV camping along the river. It looked really fun, so if you happen to be interested, I found a site where you can find more info on Moselcamping Cochem!
Our next stop was Eltz Castle (Burg Eltz), which was about a 40-minute drive from Cochem. I highly recommend taking the footpath once you get there rather than taking the shuttle, because the walk was gorgeous. It was about a 20-minute walk from the parking lot to the castle.
Then all the sudden the forest breaks and BOOM, castle!
Burg Eltz is a medieval castle that was built in the 12th century and is still owned by the same family. You might notice how pieced together it looks - sort of like 10 castles patched together rather than one single castle, and I guess that was sort of intentional. The family kept adding onto it because multiple branches of the family all lived in the castle together and wanted to do their own thing. Sort of like when Lucille Bluth moved Lucille Austero's wall in their townhouse to make room for a bigger tub (Arrested Development, anybody?) Anyway...
The castle has an awesome beer garden where we ate lunch. This is something I remember from last time I was in Germany as well - even the places you wouldn't expect to have good food (like tourist attractions and train stations) actually have amazing food. When I say we didn't have a bad meal here, I mean even the snacks at the gas station were choice (nutella. cookies.)
Once we got back to Cochem from Burg Eltz, we decided to walk up to the castle. A lot of people just call it the Cochem Castle, but its real name is Reichsburg Castle. We had taken the tour last time we were here, so we opted to just walk up the hill and see the view from the castle. We also stopped in the gift shop/cafe and got some sweets (hey, when you're walking ~10 miles a day and you're on vacay, you can get the extra sweets).
Another fun thing to do when you're in Cochem is to ride the Sesselbahn, a mountain chairlift that gives you a great view of the city from the top.
From there, we decided to drive to Bernkastel-Kues (about an hour drive) to get dinner and walk around. In August, the sun doesn't really start setting until about 9pm, which is why we were able to pack so much into our first full day.
Bernkastel is quintessential storybook Germany, complete with the charming half-timbered houses, vineyards, and ruins of a medieval castle.
Germany holds a special place in our hearts. We were so excited to be back after eight years, and we hope it's not as long until our next visit.
Below is a map of all our major destinations while in the Cochem area! The next stop on our road trip would be Trier.