Whether you’re new to Germany or have been here for years, Cochem might just be the place you need to be. It’s gorgeous, has an epic castle, is loaded with Insta-worthy moments, and has enough surprises to make even the most jaded traveler nod with grudging respect. As a bonus, Cochem is located on a beautiful curve of the Mosel River, which means photo ops, vineyards and cruises.
Cochem: Three Cool Things
1. Visit the Altstadt. Cochem’s old city ranks right up there in terms of archetypal German altstadts. We’re talking shops, markets, weinprobes and hearty restaurants. There are medieval towers, battlements, and city walls. And, of course, every visitor will love the half-timbered buildings nestled shoulder to shoulder along a narrow strip of river bank. You’ll find brightly-colored buildings, flower boxes, and just the right amount of architectural asymmetry. Wander. Stop for a drink if you’d like. But just enjoy it.
2. Go deep into The Bundesbank Bunker. Given the zeitgeist, this is almost a must-see. Built during the Cold War era to host a massive stash of cash in case of a nuclear war, and hidden in plain sight, this is basically an awesome secret hideout open to visitors. Located thirty meters beneath the surface, the bunker is both cold (bring a jacket) and cool.
3. Get wet and wild at the Moselbad. Cochem has an excellent swimming complex with a sprawling outdoor pool area on the banks of the river. This is the perfect place to visit any time of year. If the day shapes up as hot, make a reservation and bring your swimsuits. If you’re there during the colder months, then the indoor portion – with its crazy slides of all shapes and sizes – is a blast for the whole family.
The One Thing You Have to See: Cochem Castle
Though Germany is the land of many castles, you have to see Reichsburg Cochem. It is one of Germany’s most beautiful and iconic castles, and the walk up to it through the Altstadt is worth the trip alone.
The Reichsburg is also cool for a reason you might not expect. After having been reduced to ruins by 17th-century French soldiers, the castle was renovated in the 19th century after being purchased on the cheap by a Berlin businessman who was descended from French refugees. The renovation is actually what makes this castle so amazing: you can experience the full glory of a non-ruined German river castle.
Guided tours are available daily in English. The castle also has a great restaurant that is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
By car, Cochem is about two hours north of Kaiserslautern, approximately ninety minutes west of Wiesbaden, and just three and a half hours northwest of Stuttgart. Cochem is also accessible by train.