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Heart of Europe Bike & Barge: Cochem to Metz

Our private barge navigates past the vineyard-lined banks of the Moselle at the most leisurely pace, and our bicycle routes reveal the most intimate side of this cherished sliver of Europe touching Germany, Luxembourg and France.

  • 12 Days
  • Activity Level: Easy
  • Daily Mileage: 15 - 35 mi
  • Daily Biking: 2 - 4 hr
  • Small Groups: 24
  • Biking
  • Easy
  • Plane

Why You'll Love This Tour


Heart of Europe Bike & Barge: Cochem to Metz

Let the leisurely current of the winding Moselle River set your pace on this glorious sojourn into the heart of one of Europe’s most beloved wine regions. We’ll unpack our bags and settle in for a relaxed 7-night cruise, disembarking along the river’s shores for rewarding rides past lush, terraced vineyards and timber-framed villages. Cycle into historic outposts of the Roman Empire, pause for delightful picnics on bucolic river banks, coast through a collapsed volcano, and enjoy the fruits of the Moselle with resident wine makers and café owners. Explore Germany, France and Luxembourg – three magnificent countries, one enriching journey!

Cultural Highlights

  • Cycle past charming villages and lush vineyards
  • Explore the volcanic landscape of the maars
  • Taste the Moselle Valley’s famous wines
  • Tour the former Roman stronghold of Trier
  • Learn an ancient art at a bell foundry and museum
  • Visit Germany, Luxembourg and France in one trip
  • Relax with a glass of wine aboard our private barge

What to Expect

This tour offers easy terrain throughout the trip. Our VBT support shuttle is available every day at designated points for those who need assistance.

Average Daily Mileage: 15 – 35 miles
Average Daily Ride: 2 – 4 hours on bike paths and roads through both urban and rural areas

Climate Information

Average Daily Temperature (°F) – Luxembourg City
Jun 67°  Jul 71°  Aug 71°  Sep 64°  Oct 54°

Average Rainfall (in.) – Luxembourg City
Jun 3.1  Jul 2.7  Aug 2.7  Sep 2.5  Oct 2.7


What’s Included:

Bicycle Tour Only – without Air

  • 7 nights aboard a private deluxe canal barge
  • 16 meals – 7 breakfasts, 4 lunches, 5 dinners

Air Package Plus

  • Roundtrip international airfare
  • Transfers
  • 7 nights aboard a private deluxe canal barge, 2 nights in a Luxembourg City hotel, 1 night in a Koblenz hotel
  • 19 meals – 10 breakfasts, 4 lunches, 5 dinners
  • Guided walking tours of Koblenz and Luxembourg
  • Entrance into Cochem Castle
  • AND the option to add our Low-Cost Trip Extensions: Pre-trip: Berlin – 3 nights for only $645 • Post-trip: Munich – 3 nights for only $545

Both Vacation Options Include

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Air Package Plus Single Supplement: $1445 | Land Only Single Supplement: $1195

Please note: Web Special savings cannot be combined with any other offer. Standard Terms & Conditions apply when purchasing this trip. 2015/2016 Prices include all airline surcharges and Government taxes and fees. Ask our Tour Consultants for details. Every effort has been made to produce this information accurately. We reserve the right to correct errors. Prices are based on preferences selected above, including meals and sightseeing as specified in What’s Included. All prices are subject to change. Departure dates and prices shown may be updated several times daily, and apply to new bookings only.

Itinerary & Map
Or, Expand All Days
DAY 1: Depart from home and fly overnight to Frankfurt

Depart from home for Frankfurt, Germany. The particulars of your arrival overseas are detailed with your flight itinerary.

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 have been delayed in customs or because of lost luggage, please go to the airport Meeting Point and wait there for a few minutes. If nobody arrives, you may wish to telephone our transportation company, Garske Touristik, at 0261 92 24 727.

Your hotel room may not be available until 2pm. You may store your luggage with the front desk if you arrive before that time. At 4pm, meet our local guide in the hotel lobby for a 1.5-hour walking tour around the historic Old Town of Koblenz. You will walk for 15 minutes to the starting point of the tour, so we recommend you leave the hotel with everything you’ll need to have dinner on your own in the Old Town at the tour’s end.

Hotel: Hotel Brenner

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 Iris. Please arrive between 1:30 and 2:00 pm. Please note that you cannot embark 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 we 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. It will be taken directly to the barge and delivered to your cabin.

On arrival, meet one of our VBT Trip Leaders, who will help acquaint you with this characteristic Moselle town, beloved for its wooded hills, medieval buildings and a picturesque center with beautiful, timber-framed houses. Hike or shuttle to Reichsburg Castle with your local guide, where you’ll enjoy a tour and 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 on quiet bike paths along the Moselle to Beilstein. Here reunite with the Iris and, after time to change, we gather for a welcome drink and dinner onboard. The barge moors in Beilstein tonight.

Please note regarding Wi-Fi on board the barge: Each device (smartphone, laptop, etc.) receives 50 MB per day free, to be used on that day. Additional amounts can be purchased via credit card or Paypal. Ask your barge crew for details.

Hotel: Barge Iris
Meals: B, D
Daily Options: 6 miles (10 km)

DAY 4: Bike to Zell / Traben-Trarbach / Cruise to Bernkastel-Kues

Today, we follow the Moselle upstream and disembark for a ride on an easy cycling path to Zell and Traben-Trarbach. Beautifully situated on the Moselle, where the river meanders in many bends through the hills, 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. Be sure to notice the sculpture on the market-square fountain depicting a snarling cat on top of a wine barrel.

We continue to the village of Traben-Trarbach, an architectural jewel of Jugendstil surrounded by woods and extensive vineyards. Traben-Trarbach was once the world’s second-largest wine-trading center. At the height of their prosperity 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. We have time to admire an entire range of Belle Époque splendor and we’ll quickly see why the city is a favorite destination for lovers of baroque and classical architecture.

We rejoin our barge in Traben-Trarbach, and then cruise into Bernkastel-Kues. Bernkastel and Kues, united in 1905, were once two small cities divided by the Moselle. The pride of today’s dual city is the market square, with its picturesque timber-framed houses and decorative sculpted fountains, some dating to the 17th century.

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

Hotel: Barge Iris
Meals: B, D
Daily Options: 17 or 30 miles (27 or 48 km)

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. We board our bicycles there and take an exhilarating ride, climbing a slight incline at first and then coasting downhill along a former railway track that is now a cycling path. Our exciting reel includes stretches through tunnels, over bridges and past small lakes formed from volcano craters, known as maars. By the time we’re done, we will have passed castles, vineyards, green forests and plenty of quiet villages.

Along the way, we stop in Gillenfeld and enjoy a simple lunch hosted by Sigrid and Leo Lenerz. Their café is idyllically located in an old barn and they specialize in regional products from local producers. Later, ride back 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 sample four different wines.

Hotel: Barge Iris
Meals: B, L, D
Daily Options: 10, 26 or 38 miles (16, 42 or 61 km)

DAY 6: Ride 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 of the Moselle. In Piesport, we see a reconstructed Roman winepress house. Stop for lunch in Neumagen-Dhron , where we observe more signs of ancient Rome, or other small villages along the way.

The people of Trier might tell you that it is possible to see “2,000 years of history in 2,000 paces” in their city. The Romans established their local capital here. In the Middle Ages, Frankish kings and the archbishops of Trier reigned. Here you can learn about the Porta Nigra (“Black Gate”), a city landmark and the largest city gate of the ancient world; 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 passages. It is an astounding repository of history and leaves little doubt why the whole of Trier’s monuments have been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Tonight, our barge moors here, where we have the opportunity to try one of the local restaurants for dinner on your own.

Hotel: Barge Iris
Meals: B
Daily Options: 16 or 33 miles (26 or 53 km)

DAY 7: Cycle to Saarburg

This morning you have time to explore Trier, with its shops and Roman history, before taking a local train to Konz. Here we meet the barge for lunch before starting our afternoon cycle ride into the Saarland along the more intimate Saar River. Wooded mountains, wide meadows, farmsteads and villages mark our progress as we ride. Later this afternoon, we reach Saarburg, a medieval riverside jewel at the foot of a castle. The town center boasts a roaring 65-foot-high waterfall. From here, choose between a scenic ride along the Saar River or free time 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.

Hotel: Barge Iris
Meals: B, L
Daily Options: 9 or 21 miles (14 or 38 km)

DAY 8: Konz / Wasserbilling / Nittel / Remich

This morning, we walk to the nearby former bell foundry and museum, Mabilon, which produced bells until 2002. After the visit we cycle along the banks of the Saar River to Konz, at the confluence of the Moselle and Saar rivers. We then follow the Moselle River, the natural border between Luxembourg and Germany, along an easy biking path. Soon we arrive in Wasserbillig and cross the border into Luxembourg.

We rejoin the barge for lunch in Nittel. This afternoon, you can opt to continue riding with our longer option 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.

Hotel: Barge Iris
Meals: B, L, D
Daily Options: 20 or 33 miles (33 or 53 km)

DAY 9: Picnic at Rodemack, France

On a tranquil bike path, we cycle along the Moselle River this morning, leaving Luxemburg into Germany and into France. Then, we turn inland and follow a pleasant rolling route through small villages to Rodemack, known as Little Carcassonne Lorraine and ranked one of the most beautiful villages in France. Here in this charming village, we admire marvels of construction that span the ages, including fortifications erected over many 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 have free time to explore.

Our longer ride takes you to Thionviller, where we reboard our barge and cruise into Metz. This evening enjoy our final dinner prepared by our chef onboard.

Hotel: Barge Iris
Meals: B, L, D
Daily Options: 14, 19 or 33 miles (22, 31 or 54 km)

DAY 10: Metz / Luxembourg / VBT No-Air Package ends

VBT No-Air Package guests: After breakfast, your tour ends in Metz, France. It is important that you leave the barge no later than 9:00 am so that the crew can 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 guide as you disembark in Metz, France, nestled at the confluence of the Moselle and Seille rivers. Then, take a pleasant walk into this charming city, a quaint tapestry of 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.

Our stroll through the city continues to the Saturday morning local market, and to the lively Place St. Louis and Place Saint-Jacques, where there’ll be time to shop or explore. Lunch is on your own.

After your visit, we board our private shuttle to Luxembourg City. There will be a short 15-minute stop at the Luxembourg American Cemetery en route so we may honor many who fell here during World War II. Your hotel in Luxembourg is a stroll away from the main square and the Old City.

Check into the Hotel Le Royal Luxembourg and use the rest of your day to discover this fascinating city, capital of one of Europe’s smallest countries. Tonight, dine 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 to its menus.

Hotel: Hotel Le Royal
Meals: B

DAY 11: Luxembourg City

This morning your local guide will meet you in the hotel lobby at 10am and lead a two-hour orientation walk to help familiarize you with the city.

From the city’s setting high on a rocky outcropping, you’ll have sweeping views of the Petrusse and Alzette valleys. Explore 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. You might also explore the Casemates du Bock, a defensive labyrinth excavated in 1745 in the rocks beneath the city; it is partly open to visitors. You’ll also bask in the beauty of the city’s two major squares: the regal Place de la Constitution and the cozy Place du Marche, still used for weekly flower and vegetable markets.

Hotel: Hotel Le Royal
Meals: B

DAY 12: Depart for home

After breakfast*, meet in the hotel lobby and transfer to the Luxembourg City airport for your flight back home**

*Please note: 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.

**VBT recommends that you check your transfer time in your “Transfer Reminder.” 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. If you extend your stay beyond the scheduled program dates, return transportation to the airport will be at your own expense.

Meals: B

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Hotel Le Royal

This luxury property, one of the Leading Hotels of the World, is centrally located in Luxembourg City. It boasts a beautiful garden and is only a few steps from the Old Town and shops. All rooms are spacious, elegant and fully air conditioned. The hotel is part of Luxembourg’s “Hot City,” a citywide network of free wireless Internet.
Free WiFi Included

Hotel Laimer Hof

Munich’s Hotel Laimer Hof, a neo-Renaissance villa from the late 19th century, is located in a quiet residential area just a few minutes’ walk from the Nymphenburg Palace and gardens. The lovely building exudes a warm, homey feel and is protected by the city of Munich as a beloved historic monument. It is owned and managed by Alexandra and Sebastian Rosch, who also live on the property. Wireless Internet access is available throughout the hotel.
Free WiFi Included

Hotel Brenner

Located in the Koblenz city center, this family-run property welcomes you with warm hospitality. Rooms are comfortably sized and offer free wireless Internet. Most overlook a small, well-maintained garden where you may eat breakfast. Hotel Brenner is stylishly decorated with hand-painted flowers on the ceilings and walls, as well as antique furnishings.
Free WiFi Included

Barge Iris

A luxurious and spacious, two-deck, 24-passenger barge with a homelike atmosphere, the Iris was put into service in April 2005. Its 12 comfortable cabins have private bathrooms with showers, and the barge has climate control throughout. Common areas include a dining area and lounge with a bar, and a sundeck at the bow. Smoking is permitted only outside on the sundeck. The barge moors each night. Drinks of all types are available for purchase at the bar on board the Iris. It is not customary for guests to bring their own drinks or to use the bar facilities of the barge. Your understanding is appreciated. Onboard meal menus are set, though the chef is happy to accommodate vegetarians and those on restricted diets for health reasons. Please note regarding Wi-Fi on board the barge: Each device (smartphone, laptop, etc.) receives 50 MB per day free, to be used on that day. Additional amounts can be purchased via credit card or Paypal. If travelers plan to utilize data in a normal fashion (i.e. email and basic web browsing) and avoid streaming videos and loading hi-res images, the 50 MB allotments should suffice. Please be advised that the wifi connection varies and it is not guaranteed. If internet access is critical during your travel, we recommend purchasing your own bundle either in the United States or Europe. .

Art 'Otel Berlin Mitte

As its name attests, art and design are first and foremost at the sleek and modern Art’Otel Berlin Mitte. Indeed, this 4-star hotel—in the heart of Berlin’s Fischerinsel district and close by the Spree River—is essentially a gallery devoted to George Baselitz, one of Germany’s most celebrated contemporary artists. Original works by Baselitz adorn the walls of each of the hotel’s 109 air-conditioned rooms, which are also equipped with cable television, minibars, in-room safes, private baths with showers and hairdryers, and free WiFi. Additional works by Baselitz are on display in the hotel’s intimate and elegant restaurant.
Free WiFi Included

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Pre-Trip Extension - Berlin

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Post-Trip Extension - Munich

3 nights for only $545

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Talk to a VBT Tour Consultant: (800) 245-3868