Want to know all the best things to do in Cochem? We have you covered! Below, you will find our guide to all the best Cochem tourist attractions to plan your ultimate trip to this gorgeous town.
Written with care and personal experience, I draw on my own travels and insights from locals. This is a complete list of everything you need to know to make your own visit to Cochem a success.
In a picturesque location between a hill and the Moselle River, Cochem is truly beautiful. It has a gorgeous Old Town complete with half timbered houses and Medieval walls. Reichsburg Castle seems to keep watch from above.
This fairy tale village is the perfect home base while exploring this part of Germany. I warn you though – you may never want to leave!
Below, you will find our full Cochem travel guide with everything you need to know about the best places to visit in Cochem. I also list the best places to stay for your ultimate vacation in Cochem. There is a handy map of all the things to do Cochem offers.
You’ll find special sections on things to see in a Cochem day trip or with kids.
Traveling to Germany? Click here to download your free Germany Trip Planning checklist. We’ll help you get ready for your trip!
An Introduction To Cochem
With a population of just under 5,000 people, you can find Cochem in the western part of Germany. It’s a couple of hours west of Frankfurt or an hour and a quarter south of Bonn. It’s the seat of the Cochem-Zell district, Germany’s second smallest district seat. Located on the Moselle River, it’s in a very pretty spot.
The origins of Cochem are unknown. Researchers believe that Celtics or Romans established the town. Documents first mention Cochem in 866, referring to it as “villa cuchema.” It also had many other similar names over the years.
The castle passed hands a few times and, up to 1151, was where the Rhenish counts palatine, the Ezzonen, held court. At this time, Konrad III came from Boppard and occupied it as an imperial fief.
It remained this way until 1294. This is when King Adolf of Nassau mortgaged Cochem to the Archbishopric of Trier. The mortgage was never paid, but Cochem stayed part of the Electorate of Trier until 1794.
This was a prosperous time for Cochem who received town rights in 1332. Town fortifications were then built that can still be seen today. The castle was extended.
Of course, it was not all happy times. There was a plague epidemic between 1423 and 1425. The town was besieged during the Thirty Years War. In 1689, French forces burnt down Winnerburg castle and conquered Cochem. They killed the garrison and a large segment of the population.
In the 18th century, Cochem became increasingly important as a center of commerce.
The French Revolutionary troops came to Cochem in the latter part of the 18th century. They occupied Cochem with the town coming under French rule. In 1815 at the Congress of Vienna, they gave Cochem to the Kingdom of Prussia. It became the administrative center of a new district authority.
Louis Fréderic Jacques Ravené bought and reconstructed the Imperial castle in 1866 according to plans from 1576. In the 19th century, the first tourists came to Cochem. Cochem particularly attracted English artists who drew and painted the pretty Moselle Valley. This helped launch it as a tourist destination.
In World War II, big parts of Cochem’s Old Town were destroyed. After the war, it became part of the new state, Rhineland-Palatinate.
Today, winegrowing and tourism are important industries in Cochem.
Top 12 Things To Do In Cochem Germany
Here are the best Cochem Germany attractions. Read through and select the ones that fit your interests and timeframe. If you only have one day to visit these Cochem things to do, find our one day Cochem itinerary below.
Note that I sort these things to see in Cochem based on geographical location. I start with the central Old Town then I list the closest things to do to Cochem station on the west bank of the river and then the east. The order isn’t based on what I think are the most important attractions.
Altstadt (Old Town)
Exploring Cochem’s Old Town at such a picturesque location is fantastic. It’s one of my favorites in Germany. It’s wedged between the hills and the river. The sloped streets are fun to wander and explore which checking out the half-timbered houses.
Make sure you go to the central Marktplatz with the 1739 Baroque town hall, Medieval stone clock tower and a pretty fountain.
Keep a look out for the city walls. Much of them have survived including three 14th century gates. While you are wandering, you can also check out some of the Cochem attractions coming up below.
It’s really a fabulous place to wander and enjoy. Take your time!
Cochem still has three of its Medieval gates (out of an original four). Enderttor is the largest one and dates back to 1332.
Located at the northern entrance of Cochem, this tower controlled the route along the valley of the Endert. This is one of the Moselle River’s tributaries. It has a guard house attached.
At one point, it was a prison for Cochem, but now a visit is all about its history and charm.
Cochemer Sesselbahn (Chair Lift)
For great views and a fun experience, take a ride up the Cochemer Sesselbahn (Chair Lift) during the warmer months. It starts at the lower station (look at map below) and takes you 360 meters at 0.8 meters/second to 255 meters above sea level. The “chairs” are double seats that have a cover if weather is bad.
Just a short walk away is the Pinner Kreuz lookout with awesome views over the Moselle River and Cochem. I highly recommend you take this walk. It’s quick and easy.
There’s a cafe and a terrace at the top. An ice cream or slice of a cake is the perfect way to enjoy the view!
It’s quite a steep gradient so if you’re not a fan of heights, you may not like it. We did this with our kids and had a great experience.
Find more information on their site.
Vinothek Walter J Oster
Of course, you can’t come to the Moselle Valley without trying the local wines. Vinothek Walter J Oster is an easy and nice way to do this right in town by Marktplatz on Herrenstraße.
The Oster family has been producing wines for 15 generations in this region and their vineyards are nearby. They produce more than wine. They also have spirits, brandies and liqueurs as well as vinegars, oils, dips and more.
This wine shop has a large range of wines and these other items and is a great place to stop to taste. You can also pick up some yummy picnic supplies before heading on a hike of the area.
Reichsburg (Imperial Castle)
It would be hard to come to Cochem and not want to visit Reichsburg, the castle that sits on the hill behind Cochem.
Originally built in the 11th century, the original castle was in ruins after the French invaded in 1689. Rebuilt by Ravené in the 19th century, it has quite the fairy-tale look now.
To visit, you need to take a 40-minute tour which runs every 15 minutes. Booking in advance is not possible. Some tours are in English or you can grab an English leaflet or audio guide.
The tour takes you through the decorative rooms of the castle while telling you about its history. There are many things to see including tapestries, armour, old furniture and Baroque paintings.
There is a tavern on-site with food and wine which has great views. It’s a great place to have lunch if you can time your visit well.
Even if you don’t want to do the tour or eat up here, it’s worth walking up to see the castle outside up close and for the views.
There are also some special events throughout the year. This includes a lantern walk and Christmas Castle event in Advent. There is also a Medieval Castle Festival in August. There are regular ghost tours for kids too, but, unfortunately, only in German.
For a special treat, head up for the special “Gasterey in the style of the old knights” on Fridays and Saturdays. This is a four-hour banquet after a tour of the castle in the cellar. You learn about Medieval customs, manners and punishments as well as get to enjoy music. You also get to take part in a knighting ceremony. Unfortunately, it’s mostly in German.
You can’t drive up here. It’s a 10 – 30 minute walk from the Old Town or shuttle buses run in the warmer months for an extra cost. Walking up is quite a work out, but we did enjoy this with our kids.
You can find opening hours and English tour times here. There’s also information on the shuttle bus.
It’s time to move from Medieval times to Cold War history at the Bundesbank Bunker. The German Federal Bank built this unique attraction. It’s under what looks like residential buildings. They then filled it with 15 billion Deutsche Marks in case of a war.
This is only one of the bunkers they built to try to stop hyperinflation if war came. This one was in operation from 1964 to 1988 and had enough air and supplies for up to 100 people to survive two weeks here.
On a one-hour guided tour, you can walk down the 100 steps into this bunker designed to survive a nuclear war. The temperature is 12 degrees so you may want a jacket. The tours are only in German, but there is an English pamphlet and an app you can download for more information.
In the warmer months, you can catch a bus here from the tourist office. Otherwise, it’s a steep walk. In winter, it’s only open on weekends.
Moselle River Cruise
One of the most enjoyable ways to see more of Cochem is from a river cruise on the Moselle. It’s a beautiful area and this is a great way to see it!
The Moselle River can be quite busy. You’ll notice plenty of boats passing by while you are in Cochem. So why not join them?!
In one hour, you can take a leisurely cruise seeing more of Cochem and the surrounding area. It comes complete with audio commentary either from a guide or an audio guide.
It’s a great way to take a moment to enjoy the scenery and to relax after walking up and down the steep hill to the castle.
You can also buy snacks and drinks onboard.
The Moselsteig Trail is a long distance hiking path that leads all the way from Trier to Koblenz along the Moselle River. While you may not want to take this entire hike (it’s 365 kilometers long!), hiking a section can be very enjoyable.
A great option is to hike to Beilstein (coming up next on this list of the best places to visit around Cochem). This is about 13.5 kilometers away and you can take a boat back. It takes about four hours if you don’t break.
There are some steep climbs and rocky paths. You’ll walk through vineyards, woods and more. It’s not an easy hike and its rating is moderate.
You can read more information about this stage of the Moselsteig Trail here.
With less time or for something easier, you can walk a shorter section than this.
If you thought Cochem was gorgeous, Beilstein is even cuter!
This small village of around 150 people is just a 12 minute drive along the river from Cochem. It’s worth a stop for its fairy-tale looks and its old Marktplatz (which dates back to 1322).
It’s half-timbered buildings are gorgeous and the town is surround by steep vineyards. You can also stop by the 17th century Karmeliterkirche St Josef (Carmelite Church of St Joseph).
Don’t forget to take a walk to Burg Metternich (Metternich Castle). It’s now in ruins, but it has a pretty position behind the town. You can get here on a path off Im Mühlental. There is a cafe with a great terrace for taking in the views.
Burg Eltz (Eltz Castle)
Another option of the things to do near Cochem is to visit Burg Eltz. Located about 26 minutes northeast of Cochem, this fairytale castle is a very scenic stop in the Moselle Valley.
Burg Eltz has to be one of the best looking castles I have ever seen. The best part is that this Medieval castle is over 850 years old without ever facing destruction. It’s even still owned by the original family 😮
They built the castle on a large rock (about 70 meters high) in a valley. The Elzbach River flows around the castle on three sides. This location secured a trade route, and there are remains here of fortifications from Celtic and Roman times.
If you think the outside is stunning, don’t worry. You won’t be disappointed in the castle grounds either. There are multiple buildings and a great inner courtyard.
Visits are by guided tour which are generally only in German, although you can organise an English tour. They begin every 10-15 minutes and last 35-40 minutes. You can get a free flyer with the translation of the tour in English or many other languages.
You can also visit the Treasury with your tour ticket which you can explore at your own pace. The information in the Treasury is all in German but you can get an English pamphlet with information.
During your visit, you will see more of the architecture of the buildings, paintings, tapestries and original furniture. These span 800 years. There is also an armoury and a treasury with gold and silver works.
It’s really an amazing castle.
From the car park, you either need to walk 1.3 kilometers to the castle or take a bus. The four daily shuttle buses only run in the warmer months and cost an extra fee. There is also a fee for parking. There is a public bus that runs to this car park during the warmer months as well.
You can find more information on their site.
If you are looking for day trips from Cochem, it’s hard to beat a day in the Rhine Valley. In less than an hour, you can be in one of the gorgeous towns on the banks of the Rhine. You can sip some riesling in a vineyard or explore one of the historic castles. It’s all waiting for you.
For the cutest town along the Rhine, start your day in Bacharch. Take a stroll to Peterskirche (St Peter’s Church) and the Wernerkapelle (old chapel ruins). Also climb up the old Postenturm (tower) surrounded by vines.
Next up is Rheinstein Castle which dates back to the 13th century when it started life as a toll castle. Rebuilt in a 19th century Romanticism style, this picturesque castle is home to a museum. It has a great collection of 17th-19th century furnishings, knights’ armour and weapons from the 15th century, cast-iron oven slabs and hunting trophies. You can also find stained glass windows from the 1300s to the 1800s, wall and ceiling frescoes and much more.
There is a signposted walk to help you explore the castle which takes about 45 minutes. It’s also a great spot for lunch with a restaurant on site.
Then drive on to Oberwesel for its beautiful Old Town with three kilometers of the best preserved Medieval town walls in the Middle Rhine area. It’s also worth checking out Liebfrauenkirche (Church Of Our Lady), Martinskirche (St Martin’s Church) and Schönburg Castle which is home to the Tower Museum.
Finally, make sure you leave some time for Boppard. It started as a Celtic settlement before becoming a Roman Fortress and evolving into a Frankish Royal Court and Free Imperial City. The remains of this past are still here today.
While in town, try to visit Römer-Kastell (Roman Fort), Severuskirche (St Severus Church) and Rheinallee, a beautiful riverfront promenade with cafes, restaurants, wine taverns and boats.
When it’s time to head back, it’s only 45 minutes back to Cochem.
If you don’t have a car, you can train easily between the three towns mentioned above.
For another Cochem day trip option, head to Germany’s oldest city, Trier. Just an hour and a quarter’s drive away, Trier has tons to explore. You won’t be able to see everything in day, but anything is better than nothing 🙂
With a whopping nine Unesco World Heritage sites, Trier is home to many Roman monuments. These include the Porta Nigra (an entry gate) pictured above, an ampitheatre, thermal baths, a throne room and so much more.
There are not just Roman monuments either. You can visit Germany’s oldest Gothic church and the birth place to Karl Marx.
I highly recommend a day trip to Trier if you can. It’s really like nowhere else in Germany and feels like Italy at times with all the amazing Roman ruins. You won’t regret spending a day here.
What To Do In Cochem Germany In One Day
Only have one day in Cochem? What a shame! But it’s ok, it’s still worth going to Cochem if you only have one day.
With one day, you can enjoy all the sights around town without rushing around wildly. I recommend you leave the attractions near Cochem for another time though.
Here’s an itinerary you can follow…
Cochem Attractions Map
Best Place To Stay In Cochem
When it comes to where to stay in Cochem, there is a small range of hotels and other accommodation options. You shouldn’t have any problem finding somewhere to stay as long as you book ahead.
Below, I’ve listed two different places to consider based on what budget you have.
If you want more options, you can use the map below. It will help you find hotels and home rental accommodation around Cochem.
If you are looking for the best place to stay in Cochem, here it is! With just eight cosy rooms, this 120 year old hotel is in a great location. It is moments from the center and close to the bottom of the chair lift.
There are double and quadruple rooms which are classically furnished with a modern style. This is thanks to a full renovation in 2014/15. All rooms have satellite TV, toiletries and a seating area.
This hotel includes internet and breakfast. You can also choose to eat lunch and dinner here. There is free parking for bikes and motorcycles.
VALUE – Hotel Zehnthof Review
On the opposite bank of Cochem to the main town area, this hotel is still in a convenient location. It’s also a more budget alternative to the Hotel Osteria Del Vino Cochem above.
There are a range of room types including singles, doubles, family rooms, triples and quadruples. All rooms come with minibar, desk and private bathroom. They are brightly decorated and comfortable. Some rooms have balconies with a great view of Reichsburg. They are worth the extra cost.
This hotel price includes a buffet breakfast (with a glass of sparkling wine) that is available until 12pm. Internet is also included. There is private parking available for an extra fee. There is also a bistro on site where you can enjoy the local drop and dinner in the evenings.
How To Get To Cochem
We traveled to Cochem by hire car which made it very easy to get here. It’s a scenic area and a fun place to explore by car. The drive here along the river is beautiful.
There are regular trains and buses here. You can find timetables and all your options here.
Once in Cochem, we found it easy to explore on foot.
Cochem With Kids
Cochem is a great place to explore with kids. We came here with our three kids aged 6, 10 and 12. We found it a nice, easy going place to explore with them – nothing was too long or museum-y 🙂
The chair lift was particularly a hit. Burg Eltz also captured their imagination. They also loved the next attraction…
Wild- & Freizeitpark Klotten
An 11 minute drive from downtown Cochem, Wild- & Freizeitpark Klotten is the perfect place for families that need a break from traditional sightseeing.
This park started as an animal park but now also has amusement park style rides and water slides. On the animal side, there is a petting zoo, birds of prey shows and brown bears.
For the rides, you can enjoy a roller coaster or flume ride. There are also rides specifically for younger kids. In fact, I would say this park works best for younger kids. It worked better for our 6 year old than our 12 year old.
You can find more information on their site.
I hope you found this guide to Cochem useful. It’s a stunning part of the world and we loved exploring this region of Germany very much. I’m sure you will too!
Traveling to Germany? Click here to download your free Germany Trip Planning checklist. We’ll help you get ready for your trip!