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Mosel & Rhine Valley Day Trip Advice

My wife and I are planning a 4 night (3 full days) visit to the Mosel and Rhine Valleys in mid June of 2024. (It's never too early to start...right?)
Our intent is to base ourselves in Cochem and plan some sightseeing day trips from there. We will have a car, but also think traveling by train on a couple of these trips might work.
Here's what we're thinking. Any advice is appreciated.

  1. Train to Cologne via Koblenz...Should we plan a full day for Cologne? I've seen comments in this forum suggesting Cologne "has no touristic value" or, "the Cathedral is the only attraction worth visiting"
    Should we consider a shorter amount of time in Cologne and spend time in Koblenz on the return trip? Or,
    Skip the train and drive to either or both?

  2. Rhine River Gorge boat trip from either Koblenz or Bingen, with the understanding that the direction north from Bingen takes less time.
    The idea being we could drive to the depature location, take the boat trip, with a possible stop in one of the towns along the route, and take a train back to our vehicle from wherever we decide to disembark.
    Does this sound feasible?

3a. Drive to Bernkastel-Kues and return via Traben-Trarbach and other towns along the route?

3b. Bicycling along the Mosel to Bremm or Bullay and back?

Of those options, the Rhine boat tour has always been on our must do list. We're simply looking for advice as to the best way to accomplish it. Secondly, bike riding along the Mosel is high on our list and seems like it could be a very relaxing way to spend a day sightseeing. But we're not sure if that would involve having to ride along a busy highway with cars and trucks speeding by.
Also, I understand there is a regional travel pass available that discounts the cost of some of our transportation. Can anyone provide some additional information about weather it might be useful for our situation and how we would go about acquiring one should we need it?
Again, any advice or suggestions will be appreciated.

Thank You!

Posted by
6735 posts

Glad to offer more tips, but need to know where you're coming from and where you're going when you leave Cochem. Some things might be better done on your way in or on your way out.

1) It's one of Germany's most-visited places, but my personal take really shouldn't matter; you should only visit - and go all the way to Cologne - if it interests you, and if Cologne does too. And you do have lots of time to look into what it's all about.

3b) I would take the train to BULLAY and rent a bike there or in Alf across the river... then ride upstream to Zell and beyond using the mostly-designated cycling path, which occasionally shares asphalt with the road but is mostly peaceful.

3a) We stayed recently in Kröv and cruised to Bernkastel. But you can board in Traben-Trarbach as well. It's a nice way to get there. Cruise is about two hours, see schedule (table on bottom left.) Traben-Trarbach is served by train, an easy train trip from Cochem. Train to Bullay (10 min's) then train to T-T after a transfer in Bullay (18 minutes) to the Mosel Wine Railway and its cute little trains. The fastest driving route takes 48 minutes without stops.

June can be quite busy in Cochem. You may want to book in Bullay, where it's enormously quiet and you're only 10 train minutes from Cochem - and closer to T-T and Bernkastel too, of course. Bullay also has some lovely short hikes, and Bullay is also a cruise boat stop between Cochem and Beilstein. Bullay and Alf (ferry crossing.)

I can think of at least 4 castle tours that might interest most visitors. Not interested?

Posted by
2460 posts

For the Rhine boat trip, drive to the end point and take the train to the start. Show your train ticket for a discount.

I spent just a couple of hours in Cologne. I’d look at stopping at a couple of places on the way back, perhaps Remagen, Bonn, Linz

Posted by
50 posts

need to know where you're coming from and where you're going when you leave Cochem. Some things might be better done on your way in or on your way out.

Russ, Our plan currently is to arrive in Cochem from Rothenburg odT, but are undecided about a driving route that would take us north near Koblenz or something more southerly toward Bingen with a stop in Bacharach for lunch before continuing on. In either direction, it seems the drive times would be roughly the same.
Upon leaving Cochem, our destination would be Heidelberg.
Also, we are certainly interested in visiting castles in the area. Eltz Castle is on our list and perhaps Marksburg or Rheinstein castles.
What are your suggestions?

Posted by
6735 posts

I understand there is a regional travel pass available that discounts
the cost of some of our transportation.

There are in fact FREE passes for free rail and bus transport covering the VRM zone of the Rhine/Mosel region. These goodies come with booking at certain inns, hotels, apartments, and B&B's that participate in the VRM GUEST TICKET program. Here is a list of providers:

For Cochem providers, look under the "Ort" column on the second page. Note that anyone who books anywhere in Boppard will receive this freebie - ALL providers have chosen to participate.

These are the best possible VRM passes. NO after-9-am restriction, and as the map on the information flyer below shows, there is also rail access beyond the VRM border to Rüdesheim and other towns in Hessen.

The regular VRM day passes and multi-day passes are discussed below. The Rheinland-Pfalz ticket, a day pass which covers a much larger area, is a DB Ticket, but it is included in the discussion:

Posted by
6735 posts

"Rhine River Gorge boat trip from either Koblenz or Bingen, with the understanding that the direction north from Bingen takes less time."

Starting a cruise in Koblenz is typically problematic in part because of the strong current and the time required, because of the small number of departures, because of the long distance between dock and train station, but also because the scenery south of Koblenz isn't on par with the scenery further south. Most of these issues make ending a cruise in Koblenz problematic as well.

You will probably want to focus on the river between Bingen and St. Goar, the most scenic part. And you might want to consider cruising the Rhine either on your way north to Cochem or on your way south to Heidelberg. That's what I'll outline below.

You mention an interest in visiting Bacharach as well. So my suggestion will allow for a stop there as part of your cruise day.

ON THE WAY TO COCHEM... (This will allow you to see the gorge for the first time from the river instead of from land. Total cruise time with Bacharach stopover: 3 hrs. 25 minutes.)

  • Drive to Bingen, park, get cruise tickets for the 14:30 boat from Bingen.

  • Cruise north to Bacharach (15:15) for a 2-hr. look around this beautiful town and some refreshments.

  • Cruise north at 17:15 to St. Goar (17:55.) Enjoy the views, see town, maybe have a meal?

  • Catch the train back south to Bingen Rhein Stadt for your car (current schedule options... 18:56 or 19:56 from St. Goar, trip takes 30 minutes.)

ON THE WAY TO HEIDELBERG... (The total cruise time with stopover is 4.5 hrs., a little longer than the other way.)

  • Drive to St. Goarshausen, park. Get cruise tickets for the 10:45 boat.

  • Cruise south to Bacharach (12:05) and see town, quick lunch?

  • Cruise south at 13:30 to Rüdesheim (15:15.) You may want to visit R'heim and/or have a meal here.

  • Catch northbound train from R'heim (16:06, 16:36, 17:06...) for the 25-min. train ride back to your car in St. Goarshausen.

I've used the KD main season schedule for 2023 and the current rail schedule. Things may be different next year.

CRUISE TICKET: Ask the ship personnel to validate your ticket for reboarding when you get off in Bacharach.

Posted by
50 posts

AMAZING information Russ. Thank You!
I'll be spending the next few hours going over the information you've provided, and I'm sure I'll be posting additional questions as our travel planning progresses.

Posted by
6735 posts

Eltz Castle is on our list and perhaps Marksburg or Rheinstein
castles. What are your suggestions?

Rheinstein in Trechtingshausen is a small castle in a stunning setting. I hiked through the Bingen Forest to it once during a stay in Bingen. But you can pull off the main river road there, park, and take a staircase up to it if you're interested. As I recall, there was a small admission charge and relatively little to see compared with other castles. There was a vacation apartment or BnB operation on site as well, can't remember which.

Eltz and Marksburg are more the must-do sorts of castles, both intact from medieval times, Eltz with an especially stunning exterior and setting, Marksburg still very impressive for its setting and its true-to-medieval-times intererior. Eltz is much more gussied up inside with fancy furnishings from later centuries. Rick likes Eltz more than anything in Europe, possibly because Rick is Rick. I haven't seen everything in Europe, but I do like Marksburg maybe a tad more than Eltz for whatever reason, maybe because I'm me. But I'm very glad to have seen both.

I've never driven a car to these two castles, only to the Eltz Valley trailhead at Ringelsteiner Mühle in order to do the walk up to Eltz. On other occasions I hiked to Eltz from Moselkern after getting off the train (an hour plus perhaps.) And I've hiked up to Marksburg from the station in Braubach (which is significantly shorter, maybe 25 minutes, but also steeper.) I love both hikes. The forest and Eltz Creek make the walk to Eltz very enjoyable. If you like hiking, make a point of doing both. Or you can drive to them - but I understand you'll still have a hike of 15-20 minutes from the parking lot at Eltz, and 5-7 minutes of gentle upslope from the Marksburg parking lot also.

It seems to me that you might visit Marksburg on the way to Cochem or on the way to Heidelberg. One reason I might like Marksburg bettter: the lovely old-world town of Braubach, 10 minutes by train from Koblenz, lies just beneath it on the waterfront. There are only a handful of places to eat, and it's mouse-house-quiet there, but it's a great place for an outdoor meal in the old town. The Zum Goldenen Schlüssel (The Golden Key) has good traditional German food there at reasonable prices. Be forewarned - the restaurant takes its time off seriously and is closed entirely on Wednesdays and Thursdays! They also have reasonably-priced accommodations there... 3 doubles, one triple, and one apartment for 2-5 persons, all bookable by email. No fancy booking engines for this traditional establishment!

Braubach scene
Dinner on Braubach's Marktplatz
ZGS interior
ZGS Accommodations