Ever since visiting the Moselle Valley for the first time in 2019, my husband and I have gone back at least once per year. We love this region so much. It’s my favorite in the whole of Germany! The Moselle (or Mosel as it’s called in German) is a picturesque region along the Mosel River, renowned for its breathtaking landscapes, world-class vineyards, and charming small towns.
If you’re seeking a destination that seamlessly blends natural beauty, cultural heritage, and exquisite wines, then the Mosel Valley should be at the top of your Germany travel list.
When planning a visit to the Mosel, it can be difficult to decide which small towns to visit. There are so many and they dot the entire perimeter of the river. Each town has its unique character and allure. After visiting the Moselle Valley six times now, I am here to reveal the 8 best towns along the Mosel river to help you organize the perfect visit. Perfect for a weekend getaway, these towns will leave an indelible mark on your heart and memories to cherish.
In this blog post, I’ll unveil the hidden gems of the Moselle, showcasing the best small towns that capture the essence of this region. You’ll find detailed descriptions of each town, highlighting the must-visit attractions, worthwhile restaurants & wineries, and the unique experiences that await you. Whether you’re a wine connoisseur, a nature lover, or a history enthusiast, the Mosel Valley has something for everyone. Get ready to immerse yourself in the rich winemaking tradition, explore historic landmarks, and experience the warm hospitality of the locals. Without further ado, let’s dive into the wonders of the Mosel Valley’s best small towns.
8 Adorable Towns to Explore in the Moselle Valley
Considered to be the jewel of the central Mosel, Traben-Trarbach is one of the largest towns in the Moselle Valley. The name originates from two towns situated across the river from one another (Traben and Trarbach), which have slowly blended into one over time. Hike up a moderate hill to the Grevenburg Castle Ruins for a panoramic view over Traben-Trarbach.
In the past, this was the second largest wine trading port in Europe behind Bordeaux. As such, you’ll find beautiful historic architecture and large mansions to house the wealthy merchants. There are some really beautiful art nouveau homes along the riverfront. You can take an architectural tour if you are especially interested.
These days, Traben-Trarbach is a major transfer point for the ferry lines and a popular tourist stop in the Moselle Valley. You’ll find plenty of restaurants, wineries and shops throughout the charming old town. If you are looking for a relaxing wellness day during your stay, it is also home to Moseltherme Spa, the only thermal spa in the Moselle Valley.
Backdropped by the Runder Turm, Zell is a moderate sized town in the heart of the Moselle Valley. Zell is a sliver of a town, thanks to the steep embankment behind it. It is only 4 streets wide! You can get a lovely view of Zell, along with a delicious meal, at Turmblick restaurant on the opposite side of the river.
I personally like Zell because of their town mascot – the Black Cat. As the owner of my own black cat named Odin (who also happens to be the best boi in all the land), Zell’s love of black cats has a special place in my heart. According to legend, a black cat saved a wine merchant from peril on the river, leading to the town’s prosperity.
This beloved story is now adorned throughout the town. Zell’s most famous wine is the Zeller Schwarze Katz (Black Cat in German). You will enter the town by going around a roundabout with a large Black Cat raising up a wine glass. Plus, there is a Black Cat fountain in the heart of town celebrating this local legend.
If you’ve seen photos of the serpentine bends in the Mosel River, then you have most likely seen a photo from the panoramic viewpoint above Bremm. The town sits at the apex of one of the river’s narrowest bends! Embark on a memorable hike along the Calmont-Klettersteig, a challenging trail that winds through the vineyards. As you ascend, you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views and a profound sense of awe at the sheer beauty of the surroundings.
Another cute town along the Moselle River is Kröv. Wine has been growing here since Roman times, and wine culture has always shaped the region. One of the town’s claims to fame is the Kröver Nacktarsch wine, which translates to “Kröv Naked Bottom.” This unique name seems to have a somewhat humorous origin dating back more than 400 years.
The original name probably derives from the Celtic “Nackas”, which means “rocky elevation”, refering how the slopes look in autumn when all the leaves are gone. In another version of the story, a vintner spanked the bare buttocks of two boys after he caught them drinking wine from his barrel.
More versions of the origin story can also be found on numerous labels from producers of this wine. It has become a symbol of the town’s winemaking heritage! Look for bottles adorned with the cheeky label and savor the high-quality wine that has earned a reputation among wine enthusiasts.
Beilstein is a teensy tiny town on a picturesque bend in the Mosel River, and it is perhaps my favorite place in the entire Moselle Valley. What I love about Beilstein is all the coordinating building facades. It’s like the people of the town purposely paint and decorate the exteriors of their home to match each other. The planter boxes and hanging flowers are the cherry on top!
Beilstein feels like a living museum. Clearly some tourists treat Beilstein like an outdoor museum, because you’ll see signs that say things like “We Actually Live Here” or “Private Property, don’t just walk into our house”. Always be respectful to local residents and admire from a distance.
Because Beilstein is situated in the heart of the Mosel, there are several wine-focused shops and restaurants in town. You can do a Reisling flight at Winzerschenke to sample some of the best white wines coming out of the Mosel. You absolutely must have a meal at Zehnthauskeller. I ate the best Flammkuchen of my life there!
One of the most notable landmarks in Lieser is Lieser Castle, a magnificent neo-Gothic castle sitting on the banks of the river. Built in the late 19th century, the castle has undergone extensive restoration and now serves as a luxurious hotel with a lovely restaurant and terrace. Take a leisurely stroll around the castle grounds, admire the architectural beauty, and enjoy panoramic views of the Mosel River and the surrounding vineyards.
Like so many of the other towns on this list, Cochem has half-timbered houses, cobblestone streets and medieval gates. But the real draw of Cochem is Reichsburg Castle, one of the most Instagrammable castles in all of Germany. Precariously perched 300 feet above the banks of the Moselle River, the origins of this castle date back to 1100. Reichsburg castle has seen many iterations over its long history, and you can learn all about it on a guided tour of the interior! If you are more interested in the views of the Moselle and surrounding area, you can simply amble up the shop-lined streets of Cochem at your own pace up until you reach the castle.
Cochem is one of the largest towns on the Mosel River. For many people arriving by train or bicycle, it is the gateway town to the heart of the valley. What that means for visitors is that you’re most likely to run into crowds in Cochem. It also has more tourism support with kitschy attractions, tourist shops, and mediocre restaurants. While I almost always bring guests to Cochem to see the castle, it usually isn’t my first choice of places to spend the night.
Located almost directly in the middle of the German section of the Moselle Valley is the charming town of Bernkastel-Kues. It looks like a model for a fairy tale German village, like those ones your grandma put out around Christmas time. Narrow cobblestone streets and half-timbered houses date all the way back to medieval times. Some of the homes even have a precarious looking lean to them!
Wander up Alte Römerstraße for an seemingly endless stream of candy colored houses and picture-perfect views. There is a colorful main street that leads to an even more colorful market square, making this a lovely place to wander with your camera at the ready.
Bernkastel-Kues is also home to some great eateries, including the 3 Michelin star Schanz Restaurant. Chef Thomas Schanz serves elevated French cuisine with elaborate tasting menus & wine pairings in a sophisticated venue. Another great option is Burgruine Landshut. Situated inside the ruins of an old castle, both the indoor dining room and outdoor dining rooms offer stunning views of the Mosel river. The best time to go is around sunset when the vineyards are awash in those golden hour colors!