There’s a good reason tourists flock to the charming town of Cochem in their hundreds of thousands every year; it’s an area of outstanding natural beauty. Located in the very heart of the verdant Moselle Valley in Germany’s south-west, the pre medieval town is a mecca for hikers seeking adventure in the neighbouring towns of Eifel and Hunsrück, wine enthusiasts sampling the region’s many vineyards, and holidaymakers drinking in the spectacular landscapes.
Location & public transport
The Moselle Valley spans parts of northeastern France, southwestern Germany and Luxembourg. The town itself, situated 140km or so to the borders with France and Luxembourg, sits either side of the Mosel river. A bridge links the two halves of the town.
Getting to Cochem isn’t difficult, as the town sits within easy reach of Frankfurt Hahn airport, roughly a 40 minute drive away. Also within travelling distance is Cologne Bonn airport, around 110km (1 hour 15 minutes’ drive) to the north. Cochem is also connected by railway to the nearby city of Koblenz, where travellers can take a connection to most major German cities.
What to see
The jewel in Cochem’s crown is its spectacular 12th century imperial castle, which sits atop a rocky hill overlooking the town. Brought near to total destruction by French troops in the 1600s, the epic landmark was more recently restored by a wealthy benefactor, who returned it to its former glory – perhaps even better than before. It’s fully open to visitors, and informative guided tours are available most days.
Visitors are unlikely to miss Cochem’s market square, located in the centre of the town. That’s a good thing, because it’s as pretty an example of traditional German architecture as you’ll find in any other old town in the country. Souvenir and trinket shops sell local produce, while a number of pretty pubs and restaurants offer Moselle Valley specialities and a wide range of German beers.
For spectacular views over the town and beyond, you can take a chairlift up the Pinnerkreuz mountain, or Pinner Cross, to a viewpoint 255m above sea level. At the summit there are cabins and a restaurant directly facing the castle.
Wine lovers will find themselves among friends in Cochem. The town is surrounded by vineyards you can visit for an hour or a day; visitors can help to harvest the grapes and sample the many local varieties on offer.
Visitors arriving in November or December should be sure to take a look at Cochem’s quaint Christmas market, where you’ll find typical festive wooden Christmas stalls selling traditional German Glühwein, or, translated literally “glow wine” (mulled wine), sure to warm you up on a chilly winter evening. There’s also a nativity play on 9th and 10th December in the grounds of the castle, in which actors in historical costumes and real animals are used to tell the story of Christmas. It’s worth bearing in mind that the story is told only in German.
Where to stay
The town has a wide range of accommodation options catering for every taste and budget, ranging from the affordable but highly agreeable Altes Pfarrhaus (rooms from around €50) to the 3-star Cochemer Jung with a choice of rooms with balconies overlooking either the Altstadt (old town), or the Moselle (rooms from around €110). A favourite among tourists is Filla Andre, a small, modern boutique hotel including a sumptuous hot breakfast and chic decor – and if you opt for one of the deluxe rooms – a balcony and whirlpool too. Double rooms typically begin at around €77 during peak times, although prices can fluctuate depending on availability.
What to eat
In or near the main square is where you’ll find some of the area’s finest restaurants, including a number of Mediterranean offerings serving Greek, Italian, and French cuisine, and several upmarket but reasonably priced places serving traditional German food. Chief among them is Dazert, where you’ll find authentic German dishes including Jaeger Schnitzel and Sauerbraten, delivered in generous portions and accompanied by a selection of local wines. Cochem is also where you’ll find Bistro am Markt, which serves Flammkuchen, a Moselle region speciality based on thinly rolled bread spread with fresh cheese and various other ingredients, and although the menus are only in German, the staff will be more than happy to help.
Other delicacies unique to the Moselle region include Stollen, a cake typically eaten in the weeks leading up to Christmas throughout Germany, symbolising the bread broken by Christ. The stollen you’ll find in Cochem is paired with local riesling wine to create a more robust, intense flavour.