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Biking Vacation Heart of Europe Bike & Barge: Cochem to Metz​

Activity Level: Easy  |  Daily Mileage: 15 – 35 mi  |  Daily Biking: 2 – 4 hr
Pre-trip Extension:
Berlin · 3 nights $545

Post-trip Extension:
Munich · 3 nights $445
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Detailed Itinerary

Please note: For those traveling in 2015, your itinerary may vary slightly from what is presented below. 

Day 1 - Depart the U.S. and fly overnight to Frankfurt

Depart the U.S. for Frankfurt, Germany. The particulars of your arrival overseas are detailed with your flight itinerary and airline tickets.

Day 2 - Arrive in Frankfurt and transfer to Koblenz

Upon arrival at the Frankfurt airport, claim your luggage and clear customs. If your luggage is lost, fill out a PIR form before leaving the customs area: VBT representatives are not allowed into the customs area. Make certain your VBT luggage tags are affixed to your bag so that your VBT representative can identify you. After exiting customs, enter the arrival hall and look for your VBT representative, who will be holding a VBT sign. The representative helps you transfer via taxi or minibus (approximately 90 minutes) to your hotel in Koblenz. If you cannot find the VBT representative, or if you've been delayed, please go to the airport Meeting Point and wait there for a few minutes. If nobody arrives, you may wish to telephone the transportation company, Garske Touristik, at 0261 92 24 727.

Your hotel room may not be available until 2:00 pm. You may store your luggage with the front desk if you arrive before that time. At 4:00 pm, our local guide will meet you in the hotel lobby for a 1.5-hour walking tour around the historic old town of Koblenz. It will be about a 15-minute walk before we begin the tour, so we recommend you leave the hotel with everything you'll need to have dinner on your own in the Old Town once our tour has ended.

Day 3 - Cochem / Embark barge / Warm-up ride

VBT No-Air Package guests: You are responsible for making your own way to Cochem to meet our barge, the Sailing Home. Please arrive between 1:30 and 2:00 pm. Please note that you cannot arrive before this time as the barge is being prepared for you. If you are late, you must contact the barge as soon as possible to make alternative arrangements, because the barge will sail shortly after this time.

The barge will be moored in Cochem at Uferstrasse, on the right bank just downstream from the bridge. Contact telephone number is +49 151 57 81 33 06 or +31 620 245 095. 

VBT Air Package and Pre-Trip Extension guests: At 9:00 am, meet a VBT representative in the hotel lobby for your transfer by coach (approximately 1 hour 40 minutes) to the city of Cochem. Please ensure that all luggage you will not need is loaded onto the luggage minibus. This will go directly to the barge and your bags will await your arrival in your cabin.

Upon arrival, meet one of our VBT Trip Leaders, who will help acquaint you with this characteristic Moselle town of wooded hills, medieval buildings and a picturesque center with beautiful, timber-framed houses. Hike or shuttle to Reichsburg castle with your local guide for spectacular views of the Moselle Valley and its vineyards. The fairy-tale castle includes seven rooms of fine furniture and objects from different periods and styles.

After your visit, walk back into town, where you may shop and eat lunch on your own before boarding the barge at 2:00 pm. Meet the crew and your second VBT Trip Leader, then settle in before a bike-safety session and a short warm-up ride along quiet bike paths along the Moselle. Return to the Sailing Home afterward and gather for a welcome dinner on board. The barge moors in Beilstein tonight.

Day 4 - Bike to Zell / Traben-Trarbach / Cruise to Bernkastel-Kues

Today, follow the Moselle upstream and bike to Zell and Traben-Trarbach on an easy cycling path. Zell is beautifully situated on the Moselle, where the river meanders through the hills in many bends. Zell is one of the largest wine-producing communities on the river. One of the best wines made here, Zeller Schwartze Katz (Black Cat), is produced with grapes from 16 different locations. A sculpture on the market-square fountain shows a snarling cat on top of a wine barrel.

Another interesting stop today is the village of Traben-Trarbach, an architectural jewel of Jugendstil surrounded by woods and extensive vineyards. Traben-Trarbach was at one time the world's second-largest wine-trading center. At the turn of the 20th century, the city's wine merchants built a number of fine Art Nouveau buildings, many of which are carefully preserved and continue to operate as wineries. An entire range of Belle Époque splendor was attracted to Traben-Trarbach, making the city a favorite destination for lovers of the baroque and classical styles.

Board the barge in Traben-Trarbach, and then cruise along the river into Bernkastel-Kues. Bernkastel and Kues, united in 1905, were once two small cities divided by the Moselle. The pride of this small city is the market square, with its picturesque timber-framed houses and decorated fountains, some dating to the 17th century.

Dinner is on board tonight. Afterward, the captain speaks about navigation and our planned route.

Day 5 - Shuttle and cycle to Daun / The “maars” / Bernkastel-Kues

This morning, we shuttle (approximately 45 minutes) through the Eifel Valley to the city of Daun. From there, we take an exhilarating bike ride along a former railway track that is now a cycling path. The ride includes stretches through tunnels, over bridges and by small lakes formed from volcano craters. We'll pedal past castles, vineyards and green forests before cycling through quiet villages.

On the way, you can stop in Strohn for a visit to a small volcano museum. The region is scattered with “young” volcanoes about 12,000 years old. The typical craters found here, called maars, are actually volcano cones collapsed inside the earth. In Strohn, stop to share a simple home-cooked lunch with a local family.

Later, continue cycling to Bernkastel, where you can relax before dinner on board.

After dinner, we stroll to the fascinating cellar of Josef Zimmermann via an elegant district of fine Jugendstill villas, many of which display winegut, or winery signs. The simple, fourth-generation Zimmermann operation contains a century-old cellar, wine barrels and an inviting tasting hall, where we taste four different wines.

Day 6 - Cycle to Piesport / Trittenheim / Trier

After breakfast, we cycle toward Trier, the oldest town in Germany, passing Piesport and Trittenheim along the way. Both of these winemaking villages lie on scenic hairpin turns on the Moselle. See a reconstructed Roman winepress house in Piesport. We stop for lunch in Neumagen, where there are signs of ancient Rome.

A slogan for Trier, a lively tourist and university town, claims that it is possible to see “2,000 years of history in 2,000 paces.” The Romans established their local capital here. In the Middle Ages, Frankish kings and the archbishops of Trier reigned. A local guide conducts a walking tour of the city center, where we learn about the Porta Nigra (“Black Gate”), a city landmark and largest city gate of the ancient world. Then, visit the Amphitheater, the medieval Main Market and Church of Our Lady (where you can see the throne of Constantine the Great), the rococo Electoral Palace, the Imperial Baths and extensive subterranean service passages. Trier's monuments are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Tonight, the barge moors in Trier, where we have the opportunity to try one of the local restaurants. 

Day 7 - Cycle to Saarburg

Today, we cycle on the Moselle's easy bike path from Trier to Konz, at the confluence of the Moselle and Saar rivers. Then, continue into the Saarland along the more intimate Saar River. Wooded mountains, wide meadows, farmsteads and villages alternate in harmony along the two rivers. Later this afternoon, we reach Saarburg, a medieval jewel at the foot of a castle that towers above the river. The town center boasts a roaring 65-foot-high waterfall.

Enjoy a picnic lunch, then walk to the nearby bell foundry and museum, Mabilon, which produced bells until 2002. From there, choose between a scenic ride along the Saar River or time on your own in Saarburg.

This evening is free, so you may dine on your own in a romantic restaurant on the Leuk River. Savor the hearty food and viez, or apple wine, typical of this region. The barge moors in Saarburg.

Day 8 - Wasserbilling / Grevenmacher / Nennig / Remich

This morning we cycle along the banks of the Saar River to Konz. In Konz, find the Moselle, which forms a natural border between Luxembourg and Germany, and continue pedaling on its easy biking path. Soon we arrive in Wasserbillig, and cross the border into Luxembourg.

We rejoin the barge for lunch near Grevenmacher. You then can opt to continue riding or cruise into Remich.

If you cycle, you’ll follow the Route du Vin, famous for its vineyards and outstanding wines, including Riesling and Cremant. Approaching Remich, take a short detour to Nennig and admire Europe's largest Roman mosaic (remarkably, 90% of it is original and perfectly restored). Dinner tonight is on our barge, moored in Remich.

Day 9 - Picnic at Rodemack, France

On a very quiet bike path, we cycle along the Moselle River. Then, turn inland and cycle along a pleasant rolling route through small villages to Rodemack, known as Little Carcassonne Lorraine. This charming little village offers marvels of construction and fortifications erected over centuries. Impressive ramparts and walls encircle the village, with a labyrinth of back streets and cobbled alleys to explore, as well as an impressive fortress.

After a picnic lunch, we'll have free time to wander through the village.

An optional ride takes you back to Keoningsmacher, from where the barge cruises into France. Dinner is on the barge tonight.

Day 10 - Metz / Luxembourg / VBT No-Air Package ends

VBT No-Air Package guests: After breakfast, your tour ends. It is important that you leave the barge no later than 9:00 am in order for the crew to prepare for their next guests.

VBT Air Package guests: After a final breakfast on our barge, bid farewell to the crew and VBT Trip Leaders and say hello to our local Metz guide before disembarking the barge. Then, take a pleasant walk with our guide into the city center via charming bridges and romantic corners. Pass the elegant 18th-century city theater and the Palais de la Prefecture in the Place de la Comedie. Soon we see the imposing Cathedral of St. Etienne, one of the most beautiful Gothic cathedrals of France, built around 1250. Admire the fine stained-glass windows, including a modern one by Marc Chagall.  

Take the time to stroll the city and the Saturday morning local market, shopping or sightseeing on the lively Place St. Louis and Place Saint-Jacques. Lunch is on your own.

After your visit, board a private motorcoach to transfer to another great destination, Luxembourg City. There will be a short 15 minute stop at the Luxembourg American Cemetery en route. Your hotel in Luxembourg is a stroll away from the main square and the Vieille Ville (old city).

Check into Hotel Le Royal Luxembourg and use the rest of your day to discover Luxembourg City, then have dinner on your own. The city boasts more Michelin stars per square mile than any other city in the world and has a lively atmosphere in its many cafés, pubs and pizzerias. The biggest ethnic community here is from Portugal, adding a Latin flair.

Day 11 - Luxembourg City

This morning your local guide will meet you in the hotel lobby at 10:00 am and lead an orientation walk to help familiarize you with the city. Luxembourg City overlooks the Petrusse and Alzette valleys and sits high on a rocky outcropping. It offers a combination of cobblestone-arched narrow streets and small, elegant palaces such as the Palais Grand-Ducal and the Chambre des Deputes. The beautiful Chemin de la Corniche is said to be Europe's most beautiful terrace, with a pleasant promenade that passes restored ancient homes. The Casemates du Bock, a defensive labyrinth excavated in 1745 in the rocks beneath the city, is partly open to visitors. Other remarkable places include the Place de la Constitution and the cozy Place du Marche, still used for weekly flower and vegetable markets. 

Day 12 - Depart for U.S. or begin your optional extension in Munich

VBT Air Package guests: After breakfast*, meet in the hotel lobby and transfer to the Luxembourg City airport for your flight back to the U.S. Please be sure that you are waiting at the designated transfer time and location. Check your “Transfer Reminder” for the scheduled time. The transfer is prearranged by VBT and is prepaid. VBT transfer times and departure points are finalized in advance and cannot be modified for individual guests.

*For guests with early-morning departures, breakfast at the hotel may not be available. Please check with the front desk to verify the times that breakfast is served.
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