A Sightseeing Guide of Cochem
Cochem is located in the heart of the picturesque Moselle Valley, right on the banks of the meandering Moselle River. With its castle perched atop a hill, cobblestone streets, and medieval buildings, Cochem looks like a town straight from a fairy-tale. In this sightseeing guide of Cochem, we’re sharing the best things to do, ensuring that your visit to Cochem is nothing short of enchanting.
History of Cochem
The history of Cochem is rich and storied, dating back to ancient times. The town’s strategic location along the Moselle River and its proximity to important trade routes have contributed to its historical significance. The area that’s now known as Cochem was inhabited by Celtic and Roman populations in ancient times. Cochem was part of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation until the French occupation in 1794. In 1815, Cochem was assigned to the Kingdom of Prussia. During World War II, large parts of Cochem’s old town were destroyed. Nowadays, the old town of Cochem is largely rebuilt back to its medieval state, making it a very unique place to visit.
A must-do in Cochem is visiting Cochem Castle, or Reichsburg. The Cochem Castle stands atop of a hill 100 meters above the town. In the Middle Ages the castle served as a toll castle, collecting money from the boats passing by on the Moselle River below. Presumably, the castle was built around the year 1100. During the Thirty Years’ War, the French destroyed the castle in 1689. Louis Fréderic Jacques Ravené, an entrepreneur from Berlin, bought the castle 200 years later in 1868 and rebuilt it as his family’s summer residence. Ravené rebuilt the castle in neo gothic style and the construction took place from 1868 until 1877. The family Ravené sold the castle to the government of Nazi Germany in 1942. In 1943, the castle was used as a school for nazi lawyers. The municipality of Cochem bought the castle in 1978 and opened it to the public as a museum.
Because Ravené rebuilt the castle after being destroyed by the French, Cochem Castle is actually one of the few castles in the Moselle Valley (if not the only one) that isn’t a ruin. This doesn’t only make it a unique place to visit, but also adds to the fairytale charm of Cochem.
You can only visit the castle by a guided tour. There’s an English tour every hour (at half past the hour), but German tours take place every 5 to 8 minutes, depending on how many visitors there are. As we missed the English tour by 5 minutes, we went on the German tour. If you’re not a fluent German speaker (like us), you can ask for a translation sheet. That’s basically a sheet of paper with the lines the tour guide tells translated to your preferred language. They had translation sheets available in a lot of different languages. During the tour, the guide shares the history of the castle and shows you around a few rooms, such as the dining hall, the weapon room and the balcony.
Summer season (11 March until 1 November): daily from 09:00 until 17:00
Winter season (2 November until 9 March): daily from 10:00 until 15:00
During the winter season, the opening hours can differ. It’s best to check the website for the most recent opening hours. An entrance ticket to Cochem Castle, including a guided tour, is €8,50 per person.
There are no parking places near the castle. The walk from Marktplatz in the town’s center up to the castle is 11 minutes. If you can’t or don’t want to walk, you can take the shuttle bus from Endertplatz that runs frequently from May 1st until October 31st.
Strolling through Cochem
Another must-do is strolling through Cochem’s enchanting old town. Marktplatz, or Market Square, is the heart of Cochem. Marktplatz is surrounded by colorful half-timbered houses that are typical for this region. Inside these buildings, you can find restaurants, cafés and souvenir shops. On a beautiful day, you can have a drink or bite at one of the outdoor seating areas of the restaurants and cafés. There’s a statue with a fountain in the middle of the square, that’s called Martinsbrunnen, or Martin’s Fountain. The statue depicts the image of Saint Martin on the back of a horse who is sharing his cloak with a beggar. The larger building north of the square is the Rathaus, or the Town Hall of Cochem. This baroque style building dates back to 1739.
From Marktplatz, you can see the tower of the nearby St. Martin Kirche, or the Saint Martin’s Church. Historical mentions of this church date back to 1130. The church has been rebuilt several times over the centuries. The current church was rebuilt between 1959 and 1963 after being almost completely destroyed during World War II. However, the Old Choir of the church survived the World War II bombings and dates back to around 1456, making it the oldest part of the church.
After strolling through the cobblestone streets of Cochem’s town center, we can highly recommend strolling along the banks of the river. Cross the Skagerak-Brücke for the best view of Cochem from across the river. This view of Cochem Castle perched atop the hill and the colorful buildings along the river makes it look like a scene straight out of a storybook. This is also a great spot to take photos of Cochem during golden hour with the soft sunset tones.
One of the great things about Cochem is that there is a chairlift, the Cochemer Sesselbahn, that takes you up the hill for some great views of Cochem. After spending a few days in the Moselle Valley and hiking up to the ruined castles you can find in almost any village/town along the river, it was a pleasant surprise to our legs to go up the hill by a chairlift.
At the top station of the Sesselbahn, there’s a café and two viewpoints. It’s also the start of more hiking trails in the area. The café is a great place for a quick drink. There’s a large outdoor seating area with amazing views. Because of the location, the prices for food and drinks are a bit higher than back down in the town.
The most well-known viewpoint is Pinnerkreuz, a small observation platform that’s recognizable because of the large cross. The view of Cochem is very beautiful. From the chairlift, it’s a small walk downhill to the Pinnerkreuz viewpoint.
There’s also another lesser known viewpoint near the upper station of the chairlift. When getting off the chairlift take the path up until the first bend to the left. When at the bend, there’s an unpaved path that you can take in between the trees to your right. Take the path and very soon you’re greeted with another great view of Cochem. There hardly is anyone around here which makes it a great spot to take photos.
The Sesselbahn is open from the end of March until mid-November. In general, the Sesselbahn is open daily from 10:00 until 18:00, but the opening hours can slightly differ depending on the season. We advise you to check the website of the Sesslbahn for the most recent opening hours.
A round trip with the Sesselbahn is €7,90 per person. A one-way trip is €5,90 per person. There’s also a hiking trail that you can take up or down the hill if you prefer to walk.
Something that we didn’t do but have thought about doing is going on a boat tour. As we were in the Moselle Valley only a few days and we wanted to visit more places, we didn’t have time to do this. The idea of a boat tour sounds great to us: experiencing the beauty of the Moselle Valley from the water. The company KD has multiple panorama cruises a day (except for Mondays). The panorama cruise lasts 1 hour and is €13 per person. The jetty of KD and the ticket office are located along the river in Cochem. It’s also possible to buy tickets for the panorama cruise online.
Where to stay in Cochem
Through Booking, we booked a room in Gartenstudio Anila which is located on the other side of the river close to the Skagerak-Brücke. We chose Gartenstudio Anila as the room was reasonably priced with parking included and when you cross the bridge, you’re right in the historic center of Cochem. Unfortunately, due to water damage the host last-minute informed us that we couldn’t stay there anymore. Luckily, the host arranged other accommodation for us nearby the town center with parking and breakfast included.
During our long weekend in the Moselle Valley we stayed in Pension Dapper. We stayed in a large room that was very comfortable. We were happy that we could park our car right in front of the pension free of charge as it’s not easy to find accommodation in Cochem with parking included. The extensive breakfast every morning was very good. Overall, we had a great stay in Pension Dapper and we can recommend staying especially if you’re traveling by car. We really appreciated how prompt and well the host of Gartenstudio Anila arranged new accommodation for us.
If you’re not traveling by car, consider staying right inside the town center. Most of the hotels in Cochem are located along the river and offer river views. However, Cochem is very small so even if you’re staying outside of the town center, it’s still probably less than a 10-minute walk to get into town. We used Cochem as a base to explore more of the Moselle Valley over the long weekend and it was great for that. Staying in Cochem allowed us to explore the historic town early in the morning before the tourists flooded in. Cochem is nearby other places along the Moselle River such as Beilstein, Bernkastel-Kues but it’s also just a 30-minute drive to the famous Burg Eltz. As it’s one of the bigger towns along the Moselle River, there are plenty of restaurant options that are open a little bit later at night. Unlike smaller places along the Moselle River, Cochem also has restaurants with different cuisines other than German. As we’re not the biggest fans of German cuisine, this was great for us.
How long to stay in Cochem
We stayed in Cochem for three nights. This amount of time is perfect to explore Cochem but also nearby places in the Moselle Valley. We spent the entire long weekend driving around and visiting places like Beilstein, Bernkastel-Kues and Traben-Trarbach. Three nights is a good amount of time to explore all the places worth visiting that are up to a 1-hour drive from Cochem. However, our days were filled with visiting at least three different places a day, which was quite exhausting. Staying a few days longer so you don’t need to rush that much, wouldn’t be a bad idea.
If you only want to visit Cochem, staying in Cochem for one night is long enough. Even though you could easily visit Cochem on a day trip for a few hours, we’d still recommend staying the night. Cochem is one of the most popular places in the Moselle Valley which means that it gets very crowded during the day. There’s also often an embarked multiple-day river cruise in Cochem which means an influx of hundreds of tourists at once. Staying the night in Cochem allows you to explore the town before the tourists come in early in the morning or when they’ve left in the late afternoon and evening.
We hope you’ve enjoyed our guide to the best things to do in this enchanting town and that our blog post inspired you to visit Cochem. Have you been to Cochem or is it still on your travel bucket list? Let us know in the comments below!
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