The Moselle River Valley is where Riesling is grown. The drive along the river is one of the most scenic in Europe, with vineyards and picturesque towns on either side, our favorites being Boppard and Bernkastel-Kues. The valley is also home to the famous Burg Eltz castle. We recommend budgeting at least 4 days and $60 per person per day for a rental car and accommodations.
We began our drive in Cologne and visited Augustusburg Palace and Schloss Drachenburg on route to the Moselle River Valley. We crossed the Rhine River on a ferry in Koblenz, where the Rhine meets the Moselle, and enjoyed a beer here. We then drove to Boppard on a road that is part of a UNESCO World Heritage protected stretch of the Upper Middle Rhine Valley.
Driving Tip: Google Maps often defaults to the shortest route which takes you away from the Moselle river. Make sure you select the route that follows the meander of the river, as this is the whole point of a scenic drive.
We stopped in Boppard to watch the sunset, then drove on to Moselkern, the closest town to Burg Eltz. In the morning we joined the first tour of the day at Burg Eltz, which opens at 9:30am. If you arrive early, you can walk up the path in front of the castle and see it from above.
After the castle tour, we drove through Cochem and Zell before arriving at our Airbnb in Horbruch, an idyllic town with pastures and farmland, where we based ourselves for the next two days. During these two days we visited Traben-Trarbach, where you can climb up to the Grevenburg Castle Ruins for a beautiful view of the Moselle River Valley below, Bernkastel-Kues, and Piesport, along with numerous terraced vineyards along the way.
In each of these towns we sampled Riesling and learned about the vineyards in this region. The best grapes apparently grow on the steepest hillside vineyards. There are many wine shops that serve small pours for just a few euros. You can even take your glass outside and sit by the river.
Finally, we ended our road trip in Trier, a larger town with many historic and architecturally interesting sites, such as Konstantinbasilika, Saint Peter’s Cathedral, and Kurfürstliches Palais. We spent two nights here before returning the car.