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Heart of Europe Bike & Barge: Cochem to Metz

Trace the path of the Moselle River as it winds along half-timbered fairytale villages, old Roman outposts, volcanic maar landscapes and iconic castles.

  • 12 Days
  • Activity Level: Easy
  • Daily Mileage: 15 - 35 mi
  • Daily Biking: 2 - 4 hr
  • Small Groups: 24
  • Biking Activity
  • Perfect for those trying a bike vacation for the first time.
  • Airfare Packages Available

Why You'll Love This Tour

Overview

Heart of Europe Bike & Barge: Cochem to Metz

Trace the path of the Moselle River as it winds along half-timbered fairytale villages, old Roman outposts, volcanic maar landscapes, iconic castles, and a gorgeous wine route connecting some of the world’s most celebrated vineyards. Your journey takes you by bike, private barge, and rail through this fascinating corner of Europe where three countries—Germany, France, and Luxembourg—share overlapping traditions, dramatic histories, and mouth-watering cuisine and wine. It’s all yours to experience on an unforgettable journey that combines exhilarating rides with thoughtful discovery and the leisurely delights of VBT barging.

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, France and Luxembourg, in one trip
  • Relax with a glass of wine aboard your private barge

What to Expect

This tour offers easy terrain on bike paths and roads through both urban and rural areas. Our VBT support shuttle is available every day at designated points for those who need assistance.

Average Daily Mileage: 15 – 35 miles

Average Daily Cycling Time: 2 – 4 hours

Climate Information

Average High/Low Temperature (°F) – Luxembourg City
Jun 67º/51º  Jul 71º/55º Aug 71º/55º  Sep 64º/50º  Oct 54º/43º

Average Precipitation (in.) – Luxembourg City
Jun 2.6  Jul 2.7 Aug 2.7  Sep 2.5 Oct 2.7

 

 

What’s Included:

Bicycle Vacation Only – without Air

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

International Air Package

  • Roundtrip international airfare
  • Transfers
  • 7 nights aboard a private deluxe canal barge
    PLUS: 1 night in a Luxembourg City hotel, 1 night in a Koblenz hotel
  • 18 meals – 9 breakfasts, 4 lunches, 5 dinners
  • Guided walking tours of Koblenz
  • Entrance into Cochem Castle
  • AND the option to add our Low-Cost Trip Extensions:
    Pre-trip: Berlin – 3 nights for only $595-$795*

    Post-trip: Munich – 3 nights for only $395-$595*

Both Vacation Options Include

Reading List

Click here to download our Heart of Europe Suggested Reading List.

Dates & Prices

Please note: Due to high demand, there is very limited availability on our 2017 departures. If you’re interested, please contact our Tour Consultants at (800) 245-3868.

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Air Package Plus Single Supplement: $1495 | Land Only Single Supplement: $1345

Please note: Web Special savings cannot be combined with any other offer. Standard Terms & Conditions apply when purchasing this trip. 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 / 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 because of lost luggage or another reason, 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 2:00 p.m. You may store your luggage with the front desk if you arrive before that time. At 4:00 p.m., meet our local guide in the hotel lobby for a 1½-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 / Bicycle Vacation begins

VBT Bicycle Vacation only guests: You are responsible for making your own way to Cochem to meet your barge, the Iris. Please arrive between 1:30 and 2:00 p.m. 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 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.

Meet the crew and your VBT Trip Leaders, then settle in before a bike-safety session and a short warm-up ride on quiet bike paths along the Moselle to Beilstein. Here, you’ll reunite with the Iris and, after time to change, gather with your travel mates for a welcome drink and dinner on board. The barge moors in Beilstein tonight.

VBT Air Package and Pre-Trip Extension guests: At 9:00 a.m., 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 during the day today is loaded onto the luggage minibus. It will be taken directly to the barge and delivered to your cabin.

On arrival, meet one of your 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 p.m. 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, gather with your travel mates for a welcome drink and dinner on board. The barge moors in Beilstein tonight.

Please note regarding Wi-Fi on board the barge:  Each device (smartphone, laptop, etc.) receives 100 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. However, due to the nature of the barge movements, internet access is not always available. If stable internet access is critical to you, VBT recommends that you purchase your own bundle before traveling overseas.

Please note regarding RideWithGPS: Due to the limited Wi-Fi onboard, VBT also recommend that you download your VBT Maps & Routes Notes prior to leaving home if you wish to use Ride with GPS on your smartphones. This free service allows you to download VBT daily route notes in advance, prior to your departure from your home computer. During your vacation, you will be able to follow these route notes on your smartphone with turn-by-turn voice navigation as you ride. This option is in addition to VBT’s traditional printed maps and route notes available on tour. 

Hotel: Barge Iris

Meals: B, D

Daily Options: 6 miles (10 km)

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

Today, you will 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.

Continue to the village of Traben-Trarbach, an architectural jewel of Jugendstil surrounded by woodland 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. There’ll be time to admire a wide range of Belle Époque splendor, and you’ll quickly see why the city is a favorite destination for lovers of baroque and classical architecture.

Rejoin your barge in Traben-Trarbach, 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 your 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, ride the shuttle (approximately 45 minutes) through the Eifel Valley to the city of Daun. Climb on your bicycle 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. This exciting reel includes stretches through tunnels, over bridges and past small lakes formed from volcano craters, known as maars. By ride’s end, you will have passed castles, vineyards, green forests and plenty of quiet villages.

Along the way, 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, 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 you can 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, you will 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, you will see a reconstructed Roman winepress house. Stop for lunch in one of the small villages along your route, such as Neumagen-Dhron, where there are more signs of ancient Rome.

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 that leaves little doubt why the whole of Trier’s monuments have been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Tonight, your barge moors here, where you can 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: Train and 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, you will meet the barge for lunch before an afternoon reel into the Saarland along the more intimate Saar River. Wooded mountains, wide meadows, farmsteads and villages mark your progress as you ride. Later this afternoon, you’ll reach Saarburg, a medieval riverside jewel at the foot of a castle. The town center boasts a roaring 65-foot-high (19.8-meter-high) waterfall. From here, choose between a scenic reel 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, walk to the nearby former bell foundry and museum, Mabilon, which produced bells until 2002.  After, you’ll cycle along the banks of the Saar River to Konz, at the confluence of the Moselle and Saar rivers. Then follow the Moselle River, the natural border between Luxembourg and Germany, along an easy biking path. Soon you’ll arrive in Wasserbillig and cross the border into Luxembourg.

Rejoin the barge for lunch in Nittel. This afternoon, you can opt to continue cycling 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 the 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

Cycle a tranquil bike path along the Moselle River this morning, crossing from Luxemburg into Germany and on into France. Then, 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, you’ll 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.

Enjoy a picnic lunch, followed by free time to explore.

Today’s longer ride takes you to Thionviller, where you will board your barge and cruise into Metz. This evening, enjoy your final onboard dinner.

Hotel: Barge Iris

Meals: B, L, D

Daily Options: 14, 19 or 33 miles (22, 31 or 54 km)

DAY 10: Metz / Luxembourg City / VBT Bicycle Vacation ends

VBT Bicycle Vacation only guests: After breakfast, your tour ends in Metz, France. It is important that you leave the barge no later than 9:00 a.m. so that the crew can prepare for their next guests.

VBT Air Package and Post-Trip Extension guests: After a final breakfast on our barge, bid farewell to the crew and VBT Trip Leaders and say hello to your 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. Admire 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.

Then, walk 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, take a private shuttle to Luxembourg City. There will be a short 15-minute stop at the Luxembourg American Cemetery en route so you may honor those who fell here during World War II.

Check into the Hotel Le Royal, a stroll away from the main square and the Old City. The rest of your day is free to discover this fascinating city, capital of one of Europe’s smallest countries. 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’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.

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: Depart for home

After breakfast*, meet in the hotel lobby and transfer to the Luxembourg City airport for your flight back home.** Please be sure that you are waiting at the designated transfer time and location.

*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

Heart of Europe Cochem to Metz Map

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Accommodations

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, a lounge with a bar and a sun deck at the bow. 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 wine and liquor on board; 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: We have adopted a no-smoking policy in the van during transfers, on the barge and at meals Please note regarding Wi-Fi on board the barge: Each device (smartphone, laptop, etc.) receives 100 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 100 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 before traveling overseas.   .

Art 'Otel Berlin Mitte

Art ’Otel Berlin Mitte is a stylish boutique hotel combining traditional décor with modern design and architecture. You just might think this fine hotel – in the heart of Berlin’s Fischerinsel district on the Spree River – is an art gallery, as it features work from Georg Baselitz, one of Germany’s most famous contemporary artists. The outstanding lobby, covered with a glass roof, joins the modern wing of the hotel with its 17th-century wing. Behind the hotel, the Spree River flows quietly, far from traffic and hustle. Riverside, you’ll find cafés and restaurants. Art ’Otel’s boat, moored nearby, transforms into a restaurant for hotel guests in summertime. Free wireless Internet is available throughout the hotel.
Free WiFi Included
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