The best sightseeing day-trip cruises on the Mosel River (Moselle) in Germany are from Cochem, Koblenz, Trier, and Bernkastel-Kues.
The meandering Moselle River (Die Mosel) is one of the most popular rivers for day-trip sightseeing cruises in Germany. Internationally less famous than the Rhine, many consider the Moselle Valley more beautiful and a more relaxed destination to visit. The Moselle cruise season is long with day-trip excursions and panorama cruises departing from Easter to October and also during the advent season over Christmas. Gebr. Kolb is the main cruise line on the Moselle with KD currently only having a presence in Cochem — buy KD tickets online. The area around Bernkastel-Kues is probably the most beautiful and best part of the Moselle for day cruises but many boats operate also from Cochem and Trier.
Cruising on the Moselle River in Germany
The Mosel (Moselle in French and English) flows from France (Epinal, Nancy, Metz), forms the Luxembourg-German border (Schengen, Remich), before meandering through Germany towards its confluence with the Rhine River at Koblenz. Traditionally, it was a major transportation link for French mining and industrial products meaning water levels are controlled to make year-round cruising possible.
For pleasure cruises, the constantly meandering river with steep vineyards, picture-perfect villages, and castles is perfect for sightseeing but progress is slow. The Moselle valley is narrower than the Rhine with steeper slopes and more curves to make the landscape more interesting. Although the Loreley Valley of the Middle Rhine remains the most popular stretch of river for excursion cruises in Germany, many consider much of the Moselle more beautiful.
Moselle River Boat Cruises and Cruise Lines
Multiple-day cruises on the Moselle river are popular but less common than on for example the Rhine or the Danube Rivers. Day-trip excursion cruises usually operate within small regions, especially around Cochem, Bernkastel-Kues, and Trier where panorama cruises and excursions are possible. From Koblenz, riverboats mostly cruise up the Rhine rather than up the Mosel.
Gebr. Kolb operates most Mosel excursions and panorama cruises in Germany. The main departures are from Cochem, Bernkastel, and Trier. Köln-Düsseldorfer (KD), the largest operator of pleasure boats on the Rhine River, currently limits its activities on the Mosel to sightseeing panorama cruises in Cochem.
Moselle River Cruise Prices
Return tickets for Moselle River cruises are only marginally more expensive than one-way fares. On long cruises such as Cochem to Koblenz or Traben-Trarbach, the one-way fare is €28 (return €35). Panorama cruises are usually around €12 for one-hour cruises of €18/20 for two-hour cruises. Children under 14 pay half the price.
On some cruises, two may cruise for half price on an exact birthday. Students usually receive some discount, seniors mostly not. Dogs usually go for free, bicycles may add €3-4 depending on the cruise. KD has a long list of special fares but these are more useful on Rhine cruises.
Tickets for the panorama cruise of KD in Cochem are easy to buy online (and usually a bit cheaper). However, for other cruises buy tickets from kiosks at major stops or directly on the boat. Tickets may be bought online too but for Kolb it is still a cumbersome process, more expensive, and requires tickets to be mailed.
Trains are often not an option to return from a cruise on the Moselle River. Koblenz, Cochem, and Trier are linked by frequent trains but the railways are not in the river valley and many of the smaller towns are only sporadically reached by public transportation. Buses are rare at night.
Best Times to Cruise on the Mosel
Boat cruises are available most days on the Mosel from early April (or Easter if it falls in March) to late October. Weekends usually have more cruises while the lowest number of cruises are on Mondays. During the main season from May to September, cruises depart every day of the week.
Longer cruises such as Cochem to Koblenz are usually done only once or twice a week while shorter cruises may depart several times per day. Cochem has the highest number of options, although cruising in the region between Bernkastel-Kues and Traben-Trarbach is probably the most spectacular.
The Moselle Valley in Germany is beautiful year-round but autumn, when the vines turn yellow and red, is probably the most beautiful time of the year to visit and cruise on the Mosel.
Cruises in winter are limited but some are available during the romantic Advent and Christmas market seasons, especially in Bernkastel and Trier. Don’t expect any cruises in January, February, or March.
Moselle Panorama Cruises in Cochem
Cochem, where the beautiful Reichsburg (Imperial Castle) towers over the city and Moselle Valley, is one of the best Mosel towns for day-trip and sightseeing riverboat cruises. Gebr. Kolb and Köln-Düsseldorfer (KD) both have several sightseeing panorama cruises per day. Kolb further has excursion tours from Cochem to many Moselle towns.
The panorama excursion cruises are usually an hour with up to 12 departures per day. These panorama cruises are very similar and the best choice is usually simply the next boat to depart. Prices, around €12 for the one-hour cruise, are the same for both cruise lines. Buy KD cruise tickets online or simply from the kiosk or when boarding.
Mosel Excursion Cruises from Cochem
Kolb offers a variety of excursion cruises from Cochem to other popular Moselle destinations. Cruises downriver to Koblenz or to visit Burg Eltz are classics but the views are better upriver from Cochem. These riverboats call frequently at stops along the route, where it is possible to join the cruise or to disembark for sightseeing.
The most frequent excursion on the Moselle from Cochem is to Beilstein (via Ernst , Bruttig, and Schleuse Frankel) — around an hour each way. This is the only routing on this part of the Moselle where it is possible to interrupt a cruise and continue with a later boat.
A few times per week, it is possible to cruise upriver from Cochem to Traben-Trarbach — around four hours each way. An alternative is a cruise from Zell to Cochem — three hours each way. Both cruises allow for some sightseeing at the destination before returning.
The classic cruise from Cochem to the confluence with the Rhine in Koblenz is done only on Fridays. Cruising time is around four hours each way with more than two hours allowed for sightseeing before turning back. Trains are an easy alternative to return to Cochem from Koblenz.
Boats also cruise several times per day from Cochem to Karden — from here, it is a two-hour hike to beautiful Burg Eltz.
Moselle River Cruises from Bernkastel-Kues
Beautiful, romantic Bernkastel-Kues is one of the most picturesque Moselle wine towns. It is a popular departure point for Mosel cruises but also frequently the destination. Not only is Bernkastel-Kues a particularly beautiful town but the meandering Moselle is at its most beautiful in this region.
Popular excursion cruises connect Bernkastel-Kues and Traben-Trarbach several times per day. Although the flight distance between these two towns is only around 3 miles, the meandering river needs around 15 miles with cruises taking around 2 hours (with stops). Boats also frequently arrive in Bernkastel from Alf, Bully, Zell, Leiwen, Piesport, and Trier.
One-hour panorama cruises depart several times per day from Bernkastel from Easter to October. Panorama cruises are also offered in advent — the beautiful Christmas Weihnachtsmarkt in Bernkastel-Kues attracts visitors from many parts of Europe.
Moselle River Cruises from Trier
Trier, famous for its Roman monuments and as the birthplace of Karl Marx, is also a popular departure point from Moselle River cruises.
Panorama cruises — one or two hours — depart frequently. Seniors (60+) should check the times for Seniorenfahrten when a coffee and waffle add only €1 to the regular cruise price!
Excursion cruises from Trier go downriver to Bernkastel-Kues (over four hours each way) or upstream and into the Saar River to Saarburg (two hours).
Trier also has many Christmas markets and event cruises in winter.