Weekend Getaway: Exploring the Castles of Mosel Valley
There is actually such thing as the German Fairy Tale Route, and it’s a bucket list adventure I’m hoping to take in the future. This route was established in 1975 and 600 kilometres in length (hence being on my future bucket list… when I find the money to buy my first Smart Car). The actual route takes you through fantasy stories such as Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Little Red Riding Hood and Pied Piper.
Since I’m currently residing in Düsseldorf, Germany, I wanted to use this as an opportunity to get out and explore a little bit of Western Germany along the Mosel Valley. I’m now going to take you through my own personal route of a Western Germany Fairy Tale.
This route can be switched up however you’d like, but since I departed from Düsseldorf, the small town of Zons was our first stop. Only about 20 kilometres from my apartment the town with was formerly known as Feste Zons is a tiny old village large enough to fit only about 124 small homes. The old town itself is surrounded by walls which now has two public gates for entrance. Make sure you take a stroll around the town to peak into the little shops and marvel at the beautiful windmill. If you’ve got some time to spare you can take a river taxi (by foot or car) across the Rhein River for another view of the town.
Köln is certainly no secret, but is worth a visit. Though the Kölner Dom does not actually have any reference to fairy tales (as far as I know), it’s a magical place that is large enough in size that I have always had difficultly photographing. The Kölner Dom is a Roman Catholic cathedral which was first constructed in 1248. On the average day about 20,000 tourists pass through the dom, so be prepared to join the crowds.
I’ve always found it special to watch the couples pass by along the bridge and add their love lock to the collection of millions already there. Every time I stop by Köln, I make a point of finding mine along the way.
Bonn is one of Germany’s oldest cities and is located along the Rhein River. We walked about 4 kilometres of the river pathway onward to the old town. It’s worth walking about the old town and taking a look at Ludwig van Beethoven’s birthplace in 1770.
I wouldn’t have actually found this place if my booking.com reservation in Koblenz hadn’t of fell through. I did manage to come across this stunning castle which is actually a ruined castle built in 1138 and now known as Drachenfels(dragon’s rock). We managed to get a beautiful view when we headed a little on upward following signs for Petersburg.
Koblenz is a unique point in the journey where you stop following the Rhein River and head onwards down the Mosel Valley. It is a city which actually sits on the corner of where the rivers meet – officially titled the Deutsches Eck (German Corner). You can’t miss it as you drive along, you’ll see the corner and the large Emperor William I monument right in the centre. If you’re there in the warmer months you can hop on the cable car and head to the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress (another awesome view).
Burg Eltz, Germany
Burg Eltz is surrounded by the Eltz Forest and just over the bend from the Mosel Valley. Though most of this journey will take you direct along the river banks, it’s worth a stop to explore this incredible medieval castle. The family who currently owns the grounds is actually the 33rd generation of the Eltz family and it is one of the only historical castles left standing near the Rhein.
Leave yourself at least a couple hours to explore Cochem properly. No matter where you go, there is a photo worthy moment. Take a stroll along the river, walk on up to the Reichsburg Castle, and explore the surrounding vineyards.
I didn’t actually explore the town of Beilstein enough to write about it, but the photos I took from the area were some of my favourites on the trip. It was one of those stops that I just wanted to sit and stare at for hours. Beilstein is a quiet town and probably a great spot to eat a picnic or get some fresh air.
An incredibly breathtaking town (which so perfectly worked out to provide me a spooky mist along the water in time for a photograph) and is perfectly situated between Koblenz and Trier (the beginning and end of my Mosel tour).
Bernkastel-Kues was also a small little town along the Mosel Valley, but for some reason it had me saying “I’ve gotta come back when the weather gets warmer”. I’m not sure what it is about this charming little fairy tale like place, but it’s one that I’m not yet finished exploring. If you make your way past here, be sure to check out the Medieval Market Square.
The final stop in our journey let us to Trier. We spend the night across the river bend in a really quaint hotel in Wasserliesch called the Landgasthof Albachmühle, a fairy tale in itself. The following morning we woke up to explore the Porta Nigra (Black Gate) which is a huge Roman city gate that was built between 186 and 200 AD. Trier in itself could be an entire new blog post, but in order to keep this one short(er) I’ll let you search on your own.
I should probably mention that the entire fairy tale route is about 300 kilometres. If you were to take the entire drive in one shot it would take you around 5.5 hours. I would suggest that if you’re interested in exploring the same route, spend a long weekend and really take in all that the Mosel Valley has to offer. It’s a slow pace region with beautiful vineyards and rivers that are not meant to be raced through.