Do you have an image of what a real life fairytale town would look like? I did, and as we arrived by train into Cochem, I saw my fairytale come to life. Matthew had added Cochem to our trip itinerary and asked me not to do any research on it. This was his second visit to this area, and he wanted me to see it all as a complete surprise. It was his baby of the trip, and he had been waiting for it. Before arriving all I knew was there were a castle, a forest hike and schnitzel (of course).
We took the train from Munich, and the entire time I wanted to hang my head out the window and take in all the sites we passed. Talk about some gorgeous countryside. The weather was not on our side during our time in Cochem, but it didn’t seem to matter. We were able to find breaks in the rain and used them to our advantage.
Tucked below the street level, we found a great little bar. Their doors opened wide to watch people and the river go by. We spent the rainy afternoon lip syncing to some 80’s music greats. It was such a fun way to enjoy the day, relax and make the best of the rain.
In the morning we took the train to Moselkern to start our hike to Burg Eltz Castle. In my opinion, there is no other way to get to Burg Eltz other than trekking through the magical forest. Bring snacks or even a picnic to enjoy on your journey. It was so cool to walk through the woods and to turn a corner into a clearing and see an amazing castle on the top of the hill. I was seriously taken with this entire experience.
We toured the castle. Our guide was lovely and full of interesting historical tidbits. The castle does get crowded. Buy your tour tickets first before wandering around; otherwise, you may wait for a long while to get into the next tour. I believe there are shuttles that will take you to/from the castle, but if you want a better experience take the forest route. Of course, bring plenty of water, look out for slugs and bugs and lots of critters.
Upon returning to Cochem, we wander the streets around town, and I will say it again…fairytale. Locals waved and said Hello as we passed. From the views of the river to the views of the store fronts the entire town was so picture perfect.
The next morning we made our way up the hill to visit the Reichsburg Cochem (Cochem Castle). As you walk up the hill to reach the castle stop to take in the views of the mountains to the west and north, the town below and the Mosel River and city to the east. Wow! So beautiful. Check their website for updated prices and tours. If you need a non-German speaking tour guide check ahead of time.
The Moselle River Valley is the calmer, quieter younger brother to the Rhine. You get a chance to see the best of Germany, its many small towns. The Moselle is sprinkled with towns, castles and vineyards; particularly in the white family. Speedy trains connect the majors points on the line, and local trains and buses fill in all the gaps nicely.
Burg Eltz Castle: The castle itself has been intact and inhabited by the same family for over 800 years. Tours are the only way to see inside the castle and are included in the price of admission. Food is available on the grounds at the castle cafe. Tickets, parking, and food are all available, but CASH is the only payment option accepted for any of these items.
You have three choices to get to the castle:
- Hike through the Elz Valley from the Moselkern train station and takes roughly 90 min.
- A bus from the village of Karden, but this option is only available during the summer and on weekends.
- Your other option is to either drive or take a taxi from one of the neighboring towns. I strongly recommend taking the hike through the woods, it is definitely the best possible way of arrival and sets the stage for the visit.
Most people stay in either Cochem or Koblenz, but if would like to be as close as you can, Moselkern has very limited options so book as early as possible. Check their website as ticket prices may change and the castle is not open all year. *If you choose to take the train to Moselkern I would advise you to buy your return ticket in advance as their train station is often closed.
- Hello – Guten Tag! (goo-ten tahk) (formal) or Hallo (ha-lo) (informal)
- Goodbye – Auf Wiedersehen (owf vee-der-zayn)
- Please – Bitte (bit-teh)
- Thank You – Danke (dahng-keh)
- Where’s the toilet, please? – Wo ist die Toilette, bitte? (vaw ist ai-ne to-a-le-te, bit-teh?)
Germany is part of the EU; therefore, on the Euro. As with all currencies, there is fluctuation. Check conversion rates while planning your trip. It is recommended that you do your currency conversion at the ATM, and avoid Dynamic Conversion if it comes up during your transaction.
Tipping: As with most of Europe, tipping at restaurants is only done when getting table service, in which case you should tip 5-10%. If you get your food as take away, no tip is required. Taxis are also in the 5-10% range. If you feel your taxi driver went above and beyond, please give more. On the other hand, if you feel you are being taken advantage of and possibly driven in circles, feel free to skip the tip. The only other time you might consider giving a tip is either with a tour guide or very helpful hotel workers, like valets or the concierge.
Train – The train is going to be your number one option for this adventure, and as a bonus, you follow the river for most of the way. Whether you are coming from Cologne, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt or Munich, you will most likely be switching trains in Koblenz. The German train system is my favorite as far as easy to navigate, clean and on time, so this should be one of your easier treks. If you are coming from Germany’s neighbor Paris has a train that will connect you to Cochem as well.