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German Wine Route – a symphony of grapes
The 85-kilometre German Wine Route has been meandering its way through the Palatinate from the German Wine Gate in Schweigen-Rechtenbach on the French border to Bockenheim in the north of the country since 1935.
In the Palatinate , a region famed for its sublime Riesling production, almond trees boast pretty pink blossom in the spring, kiwis, figs and lemons flourish and mighty oleander bushes fill farms and gardens during the summer months, and a sun-soaked, aromatic sea of vines cries out to be harvested and delicious regional specialities come into their own in the autumn. All of this and more makes the German Wine Route a wonderfully indulgent journey for all the senses. Fine wines from renowned wine-growing locations can be sampled in outdoor arbours, on the side of the road, in tasting rooms and at the countless wine bars along the way.
The Dürkheim Barrel is one top tourist attraction on the route, which winds through the narrow wine-growing villages and meanders through the vineyards. With a volume of 1.7 million litres and space for around 650 people, it is the largest barrel in the world. These days, it is used as a venue where guests can enjoy wine tasting sessions and fine dining. The list of wine-related events of all scales on the calendar is almost as long as the Wine Route itself.
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A Touristic Guide to Germany’s Wine Regions
- Written by: Tom Lipton
- Last updated: October 7, 2022
Most of Germany’s baker’s-dozen growing areas are concentrated within an hour or two of the Greater Frankfurt metropolitan area, close to Cologne, Heidelberg and Stuttgart, as well as Würzburg. Off the beaten track are those near Jena, Leipzig and Dresden. With Autobahn, rail and regional road, all are easily accessible, including Germany’s two newest appellations – Sachsen, (immediately east and west of Dresden) and Saale-Unstrut, (between Magdeburg and Jena.)
The best times to visit the vineyards are from late April into the summer and then, depending on weather conditions, immediately after the harvest in late autumn. Wherever you go there are hundreds of open-air wine festivals (Wein-or Winzerfeste), a perfect opportunity to taste the wines, mix with people, and enjoy local taste treats. There’s frequently dancing, and a parade led by the reigning wine queen, usually a junior family member of a leading local vintner. Spectacular fireworks displays brighten the skies at the biggest fests, and major culinary events are scheduled at local restaurants.
Traveling by bike or hiking? Well-marked foot and bike paths follow the rivers where the wine abounds. The website of the German Wine Institute can tell you everything you want to know about such things as wine regions, festivals, visitor-friendly wineries, grape varieties, how to cook with wine and lots more. There is even video.
We present here sketches of the country’s officially designated wine-growing areas:
The meandering Mosel River, snakes its way between the Rhineland-Palatinate’s Eifel and Hunsrück regions, carving a valley that is so narrow that no significant urban development ever evolved. The 160 kilometer (100 mile) valley’s steep slopes and slate-laden bedrock soils, however, are ideal for wine production, especially for Riesling, Germany’s world-renown varietal since the Middle Ages, and also for Elbling, Riesling’s predecessor, a grape which predates Roman times.
Given the extremely steep inclines, the Mosel’s vines don’t shade each other; and, the Devonian slatey soil retains the sun’s warmth at night. Riesling’s aggressively long roots penetrate the soil up to nine meters – that’s 27 feet or more! – resulting in Mosel Riesling’s characteristic, bracing, slate-driven minerality.
The Mosel experiences more sunshine hours than any other German appellation. This enables high fruit-sugar levels and extreme ripeness to evolve resulting in delicious tropical fruit flavor nuances: mango, banana, guava, pineapple and sweet citrus and peach. These are balanced with acidity and minerality that are so typical of Mosel wines.
Towns along the Mosel include Trier, Germany’s oldest city with the biggest concentration of Roman ruins north of the Alps. Another is the idyllic town of Bernkastel-Kues, home of to extraordinary vineyards including Graach, Sonnenuhr and Himmelreich at a dozen wine bar-restaurants riverside and in town. You can sample these and many others from the district’s world-renown vineyards at the wineries or at one of the town’s festivals as well. Another Mosel town of note is Cochem, with its iconic, multi-gabled, turreted, hilltop castle midway along the river. It hosts a wine festival in August.
Though the Rhine flows mainly in a northerly direction from the Swiss border to Holland, it makes a rather sharp bend half way along its course near Wiesbaden and flows west for about sixteen kilometers (ten miles). This means that the vineyards on the right bank have a southern exposure and get more sun than most others. This area is called the Rheingau, and it too produces top wines, specifically Riesling, in and around Rüdesheim, Oestrich-Winkel and Eltville. Riesling abounds here and thrives on a massive base of granite as well as on loamy, rich alluvial soils that provide a different sort of minerality underlying a basic, rich fruity, citrus Granny Smith apple taste.
The principal town of the Rheingau is Rüdesheim, about 20 minutes’ from both Wiesbaden and Mainz, with its very narrow “fun” street, the Drosselgasse — some 200-meters of door-to-door wine bars and pubs — and a wine museum. The commanding view of the entire Mittelrhein district from the huge commemorative Niederwald Franco-Prussian War Memorial high above the river is breathtaking.
Among the foremost growths in Rüdesheim is the stellar Schloss Johannisberg estate that belongs to the House of Metternich, the Austrian family that dominated post-Napoleonic Europe. You can enjoy Schloss Johannisberg’s famed growths from its terrace restaurant with a spectacular view of the river and the valley. Its winery tour and spacious shop are well worth the time, extraordinary wines both sparkling and still the first ever color-coded wine style designations.
Downstream a few kilometers in Assmannshausen, Spätburgunder or Pinot Noir shares the acreage with Riesling as one heads north to the legendary Lorelei Cliff and its 200 meter (600 feet) plunge to the Rhine. Rüdesheim celebrates its wine festival in August.
This is the celebrated part of the Rhine that you have always heard about; idyllic, half-timbered towns right to the water’s edge, and steep vineyard-covered slopes topped by castles. It starts right where the Rheingau leaves off but is on both sides of the Rhine and extends almost to Bonn. Most of its granite-driven, powerful, minerally white wines are consumed locally, but you can try them out at the festivals at some of the region’s best tourist attractions. The pretty town of Bacharach, named after the wine god Bacchus, holds its festival October. St. Goarshausen, across from the Lorelei where singing maidens supposedly lured lovelorn, entranced boatmen to their deaths, has a festival in September. And Braubach – near the Marksburg, the best-preserved castle on the Rhine – has its festival in early October.
This area’s scattered growths includes the upper Rhine, from the Swiss border to just north of Mannheim, parts of the Neckar River, (a Rhine tributary,) and the shores of Lake Constance. People are drawn to the area by such attractions as Heidelberg, Baden-Baden and the Black Forest. It wines are very variable flavor-wise given the totally different soils and weather of the many sub-districts along the Neckar and Rhine as well as the Genfer See. Probably the most noted Baden districts are those in the Kaiserstuhl and Ihringen. The village of Achkarren, near the Kaiserstuhl, has a wine museum and hosts a festival each September.
The vineyards of this region line the banks of the upper Neckar River, from about Heilbronn to Stuttgart, but very little Württemberg wine makes it outside of Württemberg, much less Germany. Its Lemberger/Blaufränkisch/Bardolino, Trollinger and St Laurent varietals are unique. Its Spätburgunder/Pinot Noir and Schwarzriesling – Pinot Meunier – are the perfect foil to French and Swiss culinary influence in Swabia and the Black Forest, Germany’s gourmet paradise. You can visit quite a few festivals without leaving Stuttgart. Districts of the city holding festivals include: Obertürkheim, Feuerbach, Uhlbach, and Untertürkheim. In fact the steep, enclosed, terraced vineyards confining the city’s eastern boundary extend virtually to the door of the Mercedes works where an important group of cooperatives produce wine in Untertürkheim. Kill two birds with one stone: visit the Daimler Benz Museum, and/or pick up a new car celebrating with a tasting at the Weinmanufaktur Unterürkheim!
The chain of hills about 23 kilometers (14 miles) miles inland from the Rhine paralleling the river’s east bank, northeast of Darmstadt, and from south of that city to immediately west of the Odenwald forest to Heppenheim are especially known for their early blossoming almond and cherry trees. They produce a delightful spectacle when they bloom in the spring usually a month before anywhere else. The same hills also produce good wines, but they are little known outside the area. State- and municipally-owned wineries, a cooperative and several well-above average individual producers account for Riesling, Pinot blanc and Pinot gris, Pinot noir, Rotling, and even some Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay on these greatly weathered-granite soils.
The places to sample them are the festivals in County seat Heppenheim in June and July, in ancient, picturesque Zwingenberg in summer, a few weeks later in Bensheim – Auerbach in July, and, finally in Bensheim proper for nine whole days beginning the first weekend of September. Do not miss the big time fireworks display from the Kirchberg the final Saturday of the fest.
Directly across from Baden on the Rhine’s Left Bank, the Pfalz extends from the French border up to Worms, and inland from banks of the Rhine to the Escarpment. One of the few cities along the Wine Road is Neustadt, at the center of Route 271 that bisects the entire growing area. It is the site of a festival where the German National Wine Queen is crowned each year. The festival runs every October.
The largest community on the Wine Road is Bad Dürkheim, home of the annual Sausage Market in September. Actually it’s a wine festival, too, and a big one. It is held in front of “the world’s largest wine barrel,” made strictly according to coopers’ principles but sufficiently massive to contain a full-blown restaurant!
(They say you have not lived until you have tried Saumagen – the Rheinland’s version of Scotch Haggis – with local Riesling, of course – and Zwiebelkuchen onion cake, for good measure!)
This region, which produces more wine than any of the others, is the warmest in Germany. Naturally sweet grapes such as spicy Gewürztraminer, Muscat, and Scheurebe are now vinified dry rather than sweet – to be enjoyed as table wines with food or for simple sipping rather than as aperitifs or dessert wines. Its vineyards don’t need the shelter of river valleys – it is so warm that even Mediterranean fruits, such as figs and lemons, grow here. It is there that we find the “German Wine Road,” the first “named” road to be established of the numerous named-roads that abound in Germany today.
This area is on the west bank of the Rhine, north of the Pfalz. It is Germany’s largest wine region in area and is second only to the Pfalz in the amount of wine it produces. Among Germany’s most celebrated growths are those along the 24 kilometer (15 mile) Rheinfront between south of Oppenheim (home of one of Germany’s most celebrated state colleges for oenology and viticulture.) Rheinhessen extends from Worms through Nierstein towards Mainz, and northwesterly towards Alzey, and Autobahn 63.
The Rheinfront’s hematite-rich red soils – loam, sandstone, limestone – at 45- to 65-degree inclines rise 60 meters (200 feet) from the Rhine to the top of the escarpment. Phenomenal Riesling grows here. A petroleum-tinged minerality is very unique to wines from these vaunted vineyards. Originally planted by Roman soldiers under Drusius, Emperor Augustus’s nephew who founded Mainz, these vineyards are 2,000 years old – Pettenthal, Hipping, the Oelberg, the Roter Hang, Ludwigshöhe and Guntramsblüm – are most famous among others.
Indeed, the flavors here reflect the mild, almost Italianate climates provided by the majestic Rhine. Most of these vineyards from the Rhine’s banks are hand-cultivated while the vast plateau above the “front” allows large acreage holdings, machine operations and large yields for mass consumption wines. A lot of dark purple-red, earthy Dornfelder grows here.
Adjacent to the northern edge of Rheinhessen is the Nahe, yet another tributary of the Rhine, which the Nahe enters at Bingen. The center of the wine region is Bad Kreuznach, which holds its wine festival in August. Extending east from the mineral- and semi-precious stone-rich area near Idar-Oberstein.
The Nahe is bounded on its northern bank by a huge wall of pink granite near Traisen. Pinot or Burgundian grapes such as Pinot blanc, -gris, -noir, -meunier and -madeleine and Riesling all do well. A dozen top wineries are bringing fame to this mountainous area with rolling hills and widely differing soils. But outside of Germany, Nahe wines require some searching.
This region, about 25 minutes southwest of Bonn off Autobahn A-61, extends along the banks of a small tributary that joins the Rhine at Remagen. The Ahr is one of the least-known German appellations. Many of its top growths are perilously hanging onto extremely steep heights — more than 50-degree inclines are common. The Ahr produces minute quantities of superb spicy Pinot Noir and terrific briskly acetic Riesling, but you’ll probably have to attend a festival, or visit a vintner or buy online to taste it. The principal city of Ahrweiler hosts a festival in September.
In Bavaria and in the East
The Silvaner, Pinot blanc and Riesling wine from this area, mainly along the Main River to the west and east of Würzburg, (Wertheim and Sommerach/Volkach, respectively) are noted for their use of the round, squat Bocksbeutel flask- bottle for its finer wines, although increasingly more use of Bordeaux- and Burgundy style bottles is evident.
Franconian red wines have seen the spicy-winey Domina grape emerge while the naturally sweet Bacchus white varietal in various cuvees appeals in the warmer months.
Wines from the ultra-steep, fossil-laden, chalky Steinhang on the northern bank of the Main are among Franken’s greatest growths. They date back to the 1300’s. You can try them at Würzburg’s Weinfest am Stein in July or at the Summerfest in the Talliaferre right on the River Esplanade. Numerous 2016 events commemorate the 700th and 880th anniversaries of the Bürgerspital and Juliusspital Charitable Foundations’ Wineries this year with special tastings and gala dinners. Special Edition wines for long-term storage will be presented at lavish ceremonies. Each of these top producers own vineyards beneath the imposing ramparts of the Marienburg Bishops’ Residence Castle; high above the city.
The alluvial soils of the Main to the east and the famed Eschdorfer Lump and Katzenkopf grand cru vineyards situated on rolling hills extending northeasterly to Schweinfurt vary greatly from the more gravelly soils of the Main’s zig-zag stretches south of Autobahn 3. Recently the Divino and GWF Grower’s and other co-ops’ wines are becoming increasingly visible in the US thanks to pooled marketing resources.
About 280 kilometers (175 miles) to the east of Franken is Sachsen. Following Reunification, this is one of the two smaller wine regions in the former East Germany that returned to quality German wine production after the ecological devastation of almost 50 years’ neglect and ecological abuse. Sachsen runs along the banks of the Elbe River on a stretch that includes Dresden and the famed porcelain-making city of Meissen, as well as Dresden’s fairy-tale summer Residence – Pillnitz Castle – the lovely summer residential rococo palace and its beautiful riverside gardens and grounds.
These two cities – and Pillnitz – are among the most popular tourist attractions of the no-longer, so-called “new” states. Their dry, crisp Silvaner, Weissburgunder/Pinot blanc and Riesling white wines created a long-standing wine-drinking culture here dating back centuries. The wines produced here were the ones savored by the first German emperors, the Ottonian kings of Saxony around 980 A.D., and then, some 550 years later, by Martin Luther, and were used by the new “reformed” Church. Dresden has a wine festival in July and Meissen has one in September.
This East German “other” growth area, flanking the same-named rivers in Thüringen and Sachsen-Anhalt, lies southwest of Leipzig, and east of Weimar in the heart of Martin Luther and J.S. Bach’s birthplaces. Saale-Unstrut has regained much of its wine making glory in recent years.
Forced collectivization of the wineries and excessive use of fertilizers and pesticides by the East German government-run wineries had all but destroyed its fame. Today, a handful of dedicated wine makers in and around Naumburg have worked wonders restoring these vineyards to their earlier excellence.
Millions of years ago, prehistoric seas left deep deposits of fossil-laden chalk soils under the scenic valleys’ loamy earth. Now that these once-polluted soils have been rehabilitated and reclaimed, finer quality white wines are returning as well as drier reds. Not much gets beyond the region so that travels along the historic Romanesque and the Reformation Route gives you the chance to savor some truly infrequent wines from private producers and a few former monasteries. Zweigelt and Blaufränkisch wines, originally from Austria, Pinot Noir, and Portugieser are red local favorites along with razor-sharp, finely delineated Riesling, Silvaner and occasional Pinot blanc are cultivated here. Traditional eastern German foods work well with them. No trip to Weimar, Jena, Magdeburg, Quedlinburg, Halle or Leipzig is truly complete without taking in this virtually tourist-free area with its old-fashioned, slow-paced friendly villages, bucolic, pastoral settings and cultural treasures.
Whether you are a true wine devotee seeking new taste sensations or simply enjoy a glass once in a while, trips Germany’s wine-growing districts are one of the most delightful ways to discover a different side of Deutschland and its most charming landscapes and ancient sites. Best of all, every vintage is different and every new wine a new sensation.
So, newcomers and veterans, Welcome to Germany and its wonderful wines.
As Robert Parker,the American wine maven says, “Here’s wishing you the best in Life and Wine,” during your stay in Germany.
Written by Tom Lipton . Tom’s relatives owned a fine wine store in New York City. Enthralled with the colorful growing areas maps photos of the world’s great growing areas, their history and beautiful packaging and labeling as a child, he eventually left performing arts management and made his way to the world of wine as a journalist, exporter, importer, broker and retail sales specialist. He has studied and worked with wineries in Germany, Austria, France, Italy, and the U.S. and is a frequent attendee at professional tastings and trade shows in Europe and the U.S.
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Travel and Destinations
The Best Wine Tasting Spots in Germany
It may seem strange to come to Germany if you’re into wine, but sometimes strange things reveal something wonderful. For those who know, particularly those who like white wine, an autumn spent poking around Germany’s wine regions has rewards beyond your wildest imagination.
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First, a primer about German grape varietals. It always helps to know what the bottle is trying to tell you.
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German white wines.
Riesling – comes in dry and sweet varieties.
Müller Thurgau – floral and not quite dry.
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Liebfraumilch – roughly “favourite woman milk” is a mild, slightly sweet blend containing Kerner, Müller Thurgau, Riesling and Silvaner.
Sekt – Germany’s version of champagne.
Ruländer – the German word for Pinot Gris.
Weissburgunder – literally white from Burgundy, it’s the German word for Pinot Blanc.
German red wines
Spätburgunder – the German equivalent of Pinot Noir.
Trollinger – a light table wine popular in the area around Baden-Baden.
Lemberger – also grown primarily around Baden-Baden, Lemberger is a rich, complex grape.
Wine areas in Germany
Just 30 minutes from Frankfurt Airport, the Rheingau, on the Rhine river, has more castles, monasteries and vineyards than a single person could visit in one trip. The centre of the area, Wiesbaden, is an ideal place to find a good hotel and rent a car.
Indulge in some fine dining at Schloss Vollrads or Schloss Johannisberg, which are both also wineries in their own right, or head to Kloster Eberbach or Schloss Schönborn for an aristocratic and ecclesiastical history of Riesling. The villages of Eltville, Lorch, and Rüdesheim are also high on the list of quaint little places to have a wander and some wine. The Benedictine Abbey of St Hildegard is a special pleasure.
Across the Rhine from Rüdesheim is the town of Bingen, officially in the Rhinehessen region, Germany’s largest by bottles produced. Most of it is table wine at best, but at events like Winzerfest, the 11-day wine festival that takes place every year in the first two weeks of September, more than 40 specialist producers will offer their top bottles.
Rheinhessen is the place to leave Riesling aside and save some sips for Liebfraumilch, a white and light-bodied reds made from the Dornfelder grape. Keep an eye out for Weingut Hemmes and Weingut Peter Ewen, some of the area’s best producers.
The Mosel is the king of Germany’s wine regions. Its steep, winding vineyards cover hillsides of such calf-shattering steepness that the grapes have to be harvested by hand. The Mosel follows the borders of Luxembourg and France and the region is equivalent to the Napa Valley in America.
The most well-known wine from this region is bright, crisp Rieslings with a unique balance of sugar and acidity. Wineries (Weingüter) are scattered all over the area, but the very best are concentrated around the villages of Bernkastel and Trittenheim. Keep an eye out also for the Weinstand in Trier, which has a revolving crop of vendors, as well as bottles made by Jakoby-Mathy or Günther Steinmetz.
The winner for largest German wine region by area is Baden, which covers basically the entire southwestern corner of the country from Lake Constance, along the Swiss and French borders and including the towns of Saarbrucken, Heidelberg, Freiberg, Stuttgart, and Baden-Baden. All of these places as well as innumerable villages throughout the area celebrate the many varieties of wine made in the province pretty well constantly. Still, like the other regions in Germany, autumn is definitely the best time to visit.
One of the most anticipated events on the wine-lover’s calendar is the annual Stuttgarter Weindorf at the end of August. The event closes three city blocks for two weeks in what is basically a Christmas market for wine producers. More than 100 vendors come to show off what they have made in previous years. With all the attendant food and laid-back party atmosphere, the Weindorf is probably one of the most fun ways to explore all the wine Baden has to offer.
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Germany’s 7 most interesting wine destinations
Germany’s top wines come from its most beautiful nooks and crannies, where steep hillsides expose grapes to the sun and rivers bring richness to the soil – even in the dead of winter. We’ve handpicked the most charming wine towns across the country, so you can plan your next wine getaway with ease. Prost!
Freiburg im Breisgau, Baden
The sun-kissed hills of Baden produce excellent Spätburgunder
In Freiburg im Breisgau , small streams crisscross the streets, where university students stroll beneath medieval houses and Gothic cathedrals. This vibrant village in the Black Forest is beloved for its delicious wine, best savoured in the many wine bars and restaurants around town.
Baden is Germany's warmest and sunniest wine region, so its wines are comparable to France’s Loire Valley or Alsace. The diversity of the soil means there’s a wide range of grapes and styles – prepare to sample plenty on your vineyard visits. After a day in the sun and the vines, the comfy rooms of Park Hotel Post invite a good night’s sleep.
A wine tasting is the best way to sample the best in the region
Deidesheim is one of the prettiest wine villages in the Palatinate (or Pflaz), a region known for dry, full-bodied whites. Half-timbered houses line its narrow streets, where wineries and Michelin-starred restaurants serve up rich, powerful Rieslings.
The thick forest surrounding the village has many hiking trails, where you can take in the scenery between meals. If you’re lucky enough to be here in August, the Deidesheimer Weinkerwe is a spectacular wine fair where you can sample the best the region has to offer. To be strolling distance from town, stay the night in the quiet rooms of Gästehaus Deidesheim .
Bad Neuenahr-Arwheiller, Ahr Valley
The 35-km walking route through the Ahr is most spectacular in autumn
The Ahr Valley is Germany’s best-kept secret when it comes to producing juicy, drinkable pinot noir. Tightly rowed vineyards tumble down the hills into the valley, where the Ahr river winds and rushes. On its banks, the village of Bad Neuhanr-Arwheiller beckons with curing mineral springs and candlelit restaurants.
In between glasses of refreshing reds and rosés, the rotweinwanderweg (red wine walking path) links each of the tiny wine villages, from Bad-Neuhanr to Dernau and Althenar, while cyclists can follow the river along forests and rocky cliffs. Finish your days at the aptly named Romantik Hotel Sanct Peter , in Arwheiller’s charming medieval centre.
Opt for a leisurely cruise along the Rhine in between vineyard visits
Nierstein is a tiny village on the Rhine known for producing some of the best whites in Rheinhessen. The rich, riverside soil creates complex flavours – it’s even nicknamed the Red Slope for the red slate found there – and the wines share a delicate, fragrant minerality.
The town comes to life with wine events during summer, like the International Cultural Festival in July and the Winegrowers’ Festival in August, and many wineries hold open houses in mid-September. But no matter the season, the regional specialties pair perfectly with a bottle of white. Try Spundekäs, a creamy cheese dip – or just opt for the wine directly in your dish with a Riesling Soup. If you’re spending the night, Best Western Wein-und Parkhotel is a top choice among wine lovers.
Bacharach looks like a fairy-tale village from the hilltop trails
Bacharach is named after the god of wine – and with a winery on every corner, it lives up to the title. Its half-timbered houses are draped in grapevines, medieval doors opening to fine restaurants where hearty dishes are served alongside local vintages. Like most of Mittelrhein, Bacharach is famed for its Rieslings, which have a characteristic fruit flavour and spiciness that’s endlessly drinkable. Besides the wineries in town, there are many vineyards worth visiting north or south along the river. Top off your evening with a glass at Bistro Rene , a welcoming hotel with its own bar and restaurant.
Many Volkach vineyards have been run by families for generations
Volkach is a romantic little town in Francofonia, the only wine region in Bavaria. The chalky soil produces powerful, dry Silvaner wines, best paired with hearty dishes like barbecued bratwurst and Bavarian cheese. The town itself is all rich reds and oranges, with pretty cobbled squares and family-run weinguts.
Every August, the Volkacher Weinfest brings together the winemakers of the region, and events like gourmet food festivals and concerts keep things lively all year long. As far as where to spend the night, Hotel Am Torum is a grapevine-covered gem with its own terrace for wine in the sunshine.
Bad Kreuznach, Nahe
Die Nahe-Brücke (the Near Bridge) is one of Bad Kreuznach's prettiest sights
Bad Kreuznach is made all the prettier by the river running through its medieval centre, where an arched bridge is framed by lush greenery. This spa town is located in Nahe, a wine region a bit off the beaten track whose Rieslings have achieved a world reputation in recent years. The wine made around Bad Kreuznach is considered the best – so expect steely, well-balanced vintages.
In between vineyard visits, take advantage of the curing thermal springs at the health resorts around town. For the ultimate relaxing stay, Hotel Kauzenberg has its own spa and soaring views over the vineyards and Old Town.
*These properties were chosen due to their popularity with Booking.com guests who endorsed the destinations for wine.
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Mosel Wine Region: Wine Tasting, Wineries & Tours 2023
Mosel Wine Region Germany: Wine Tasting Visitor’s Guide
Nestled in the enchanting landscapes of western Germany, the Mosel wine region is an ideal #Winetraveler destination that offers a rich blend of tradition, culture, and, of course, exquisite wines. This picturesque region, winding along the Mosel River between the Hunsrück and Eifel mountains, is renowned for its stunningly steep vineyards that beautifully reflect in the shimmering river below.
The Mosel’s viticultural history dates back over 2,000 years, making it one of the oldest and most revered wine-producing areas in the world. Its unique geographical location and slate-rich soils create the perfect terroir for cultivating world-class Riesling , which the region is particularly celebrated for.
This year, more than ever, Mosel offers an enticing journey for Winetravelers. The Mosel wine region’s vineyards, wineries, and towns provide an immersive experience, offering visitors the chance to witness the painstaking and legendary German attention to detail involved in producing these sought-after wines.
RELATED: Best Destinations to Visit in Germany This Year and Why
Wander through the historic town of Bernkastel-Kues, admire the medieval architecture of Cochem, or lose yourself in the Roman ruins of Trier – each location is a testament to the region’s rich past.
The Mosel wine region is not just about the wines – it’s about the marriage of stunning landscapes, history, culture, and culinary delights. A visit here is a feast for all the senses, making it a must-visit destination for any discerning Winetraveler this year.
Planning Your Visit to the Mosel Wine Region
Main towns of the mosel wine region.
Trier is one of Germany’s oldest cities, often referred to as “The Rome of the North” due to its extensive Roman heritage. Among its numerous historical landmarks, the Porta Nigra gate and the Trier Cathedral stand out . Its thriving food scene, charming old town, and numerous wine estates nearby make Trier a great starting point for any Mosel journey.
Check Rates for the Best Hotels in Trier
A picturesque town brimming with half-timbered houses and quaint cobbled streets, Bernkastel-Kues is a must-visit. The town’s medieval market square is particularly enchanting. Aside from its aesthetic allure, Bernkastel-Kues is renowned for its world-class vineyards, most notably the Bernkasteler Doctor.
Check Hotel Prices for the Best Hotels in Bernkastel-Kues
This delightful town is dominated by the impressive Reichsburg Castle, which looms high above on a hill, offering breathtaking views of the Mosel River and vineyards. Cochem’s narrow streets and squares, filled with traditional buildings and wine taverns, perfectly encapsulate the region’s charm.
Check Rates for Cochem Hotels
RECOMMENDED: Take a River Cruise of the Mosel River and Experience Reichsburg Castle From the Water
Where the Mosel River meets the Rhine, you’ll find the vibrant city of Koblenz. Steeped in history, Koblenz offers plenty to explore, including the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress accessible via cable car . The city’s Deutsches Eck, a headland where the two rivers converge, is a symbol of German unity and a must-see.
Once the second-largest wine trading center after Bordeaux, Traben-Trarbach is a testament to the region’s winemaking history. Its unique Art Nouveau architecture, underground wine cellars, and the annual Christmas Market held within these cellars, create a distinct atmosphere that sets this town apart.
Check Hotel Prices in Traben-Trarbach
Famous for its “Zeller Schwarze Katz” (Zell’s Black Cat) wine, Zell is a lively wine town. It’s surrounded by steep vineyards and offers a range of wine-related activities, including tastings and guided vineyard tours. The charming town center, with its beautiful promenade along the Mosel, is a wonderful place to relax after a day of exploration.
Check Rates and Prices for Hotels in and Around Zell
Best Time(s) to Visit
The Mosel region is charming all year round, but if you’re particularly interested in wine, consider visiting between late August and October . This period, known as the harvest season, will let you witness the vineyards in full production mode. The region also hosts numerous wine festivals during this time, adding a festive vibe to your visit. Spring and early summer, with their blooming landscapes and milder weather, also make for pleasant travel.
How to Get to the Mosel
The region is well-connected and easily accessible. The closest international airports are in Frankfurt and Cologne. Browse and compare current flight prices on Kayak to either airport here. From these cities, you can opt for a scenic train ride to Koblenz, Cochem, or Trier, some of the major towns in the Mosel region.
Alternatively, if you prefer road trips, renting a car will offer you the flexibility to explore the area at your own pace. Just be prepared for some winding roads and steep vineyards!
Getting Around the Mosel Wine Region
Once you’ve arrived in the Mosel wine region, there are several ways to explore its enchanting landscapes and historic towns.
Renting a car provides the most flexibility to navigate the region. It allows you to explore off-the-beaten-path vineyards and scenic overlooks that might not be easily accessible otherwise. Germany has well-maintained roads and clear signage. However, remember that some of the vineyard roads can be steep and narrow. Also, be mindful of the strict drinking and driving laws in Germany if you’re planning on wine tasting.
For the more active Winetraveler, the Mosel region is perfect for cycling. The Mosel Cycle Route runs along the river from Trier to Koblenz, offering breathtaking views of the vineyards, castles, and charming villages. You can rent bicycles in most towns, and many hotels even offer them to guests such as the Moselhotel Sonnenuhr and Gastehaus zum Moseltal . Be sure to pack a picnic for a riverside lunch!
The Mosel region is well-served by public transportation, including buses and trains that connect the major towns and some of the smaller villages. The train ride along the river is particularly scenic and is an experience in itself.
A river cruise on the Mosel is a leisurely and scenic way to travel between towns. Many companies offer day cruises or short trips that give you a different perspective on the vineyards and allow you to enjoy the region’s natural beauty. We highly recommend you book a cruise that leaves from Cochem .
Lastly, don’t underestimate the power of your own two feet! Many of the towns and vineyards are compact and best explored on foot. There are also numerous hiking trails in the region, such as the Moselsteig , for those who wish to explore the vineyards and hills on foot.
Visa and Travel Requirements
Germany is part of the Schengen Area, so visitors from many countries can enter for up to 90 days without a visa for tourism purposes. However, regulations may vary depending on your country of origin, so it’s wise to check the latest information from the German Embassy or Consulate in your home country. Always ensure your passport is valid for at least six months from your planned date of return.
Vineyard Hotels in Mosel Germany (and more)
Now, for the ultimate #Winetraveler experience – imagine waking up in the heart of a vineyard, surrounded by rows of grapevines, the river flowing quietly nearby. Staying at a vineyard or winery is a unique opportunity to get a behind-the-scenes look at winemaking in Mosel.
Properties like the Weingut Gästehaus in Lieser not only offer comfortable accommodation but also let you engage with winemakers, join guided vineyard tours, and taste the wines right where they are produced. It’s a dream come true for any wine traveler.
Luxury Hotels in Mosel
For those seeking a touch of luxury, the Mosel wine region doesn’t disappoint. Elegant properties such as the Schloss Lieser , housed in a restored castle, or the Bellevue Rheinhotel in Boppard, offer opulent rooms, fine dining, and panoramic river views.
After a day of wine tasting, unwind in a luxurious spa, take a dip in a heated pool, or simply enjoy the sunset over the river from your balcony.
Boutique Hotels and Guesthouses
If you’re looking for charm and personalized service, consider staying in one of Mosel’s boutique hotels or guesthouses. Many of these family-run establishments, like the Boutique-Hotel Jungenwald in Traben-Trarbach or the Weinromantikhotel Richtershof in Mülheim, offer individually designed rooms and a warm, welcoming atmosphere. They often feature locally sourced food and, of course, an excellent wine list.
Traveling to the Mosel wine region doesn’t have to break the bank. You’ll find plenty of budget-friendly accommodation options , from cozy B&Bs to modern hostels and self-catering apartments. Many budget accommodations still offer excellent locations close to the vineyards or in the heart of the picturesque towns. Plus, the money you save on lodging can be spent on tasting more of the fabulous wines the region has to offer!
Exploring the Wineries & Vineyards of the Mosel
Mosel’s vineyards are a fascinating study in resilience and harmony with nature. Many vineyards are planted on steep, south-facing slopes that capture optimal sunlight. The slate-rich soil retains heat and provides excellent drainage, both crucial for the slow-ripening Riesling grapes. The region’s cool, continental climate further allows the grapes to retain their acidity, adding to the distinct characteristics of Mosel wines. All these factors interplay in a beautiful symphony, resulting in wines that are much celebrated for their complexity and finesse.
Best Mosel Wineries to Visit
The Mosel wine region is dotted with numerous exceptional vineyards. Weingut Dr. Loosen , near Bernkastel-Kues, is world-renowned for its Rieslings. Weingut Markus Molitor , one of the largest and oldest family-owned wineries, offers a range of wines from different vineyards along the Mosel. For a panoramic view of the river, visit the steep vineyards of Weingut Joh. Jos. Prüm in Wehlen . Each vineyard offers a unique perspective on the tradition and innovation that shapes Mosel’s wine scene.
Mosel is inextricably linked with one grape variety – Riesling. This versatile grape thrives in the region’s cool climate and slate soils, producing wines that range from bone-dry to lusciously sweet.
Weingut Clemens Busch is known for its organic and biodynamic approach to Riesling cultivation, while Weingut Fritz Haag has a stellar reputation for its sweet Rieslings. Visiting these and other Riesling-focused vineyards offers an opportunity to delve deeper into the world of this noble grape.
Mosel Wine Tours & Vineyard Experiences
For a Winetraveler, no visit to Mosel is complete without a vineyard tour and wine tasting. Most wineries within the region offer guided tours where you can learn about the winemaking process, from the vine to the bottle. Walking among the steep, terraced vineyards, you’ll gain a deeper appreciation for the winemakers’ craft. After most tours, you can sample a selection of wines, often accompanied by local cheeses or other local delicacies. It’s a sensory experience that truly connects you with the region and its wines.
While many of the wineries we mentioned above offer their own tours, local tour operators offer more intimate experiences and can provide more recommendations on ideal wine bars, restaurants beyond the wineries. Below, find some of our most highly-rated and booked wine tours in Mosel when planning your trip.
Grape Escape Mosel – Personal Wine Tours
Germany’s winemaking legacy dates back to Roman times when the first vineyards took root on the Mosel’s steep slate slopes. Today, the region invites you to embark on a delightful journey—a Grape Escape—that immerses you in the enchanting realm of Riesling.
Experience the diversity of this renowned wine region by exploring a combination of internationally recognized and family-run boutique vineyards, each steeped in tradition and passion. These vineyards are the very heart of the Mosel, producing some of the most revered wines globally.
Your personal tastings will be a celebration of Riesling—the region’s crowning glory. Savor its various expressions, from bone-dry to late-harvest sweetness, each reflecting the unique soils of blue, red, and grey quartzite slate from which they’re grown. But the Mosel’s bounty doesn’t stop at Riesling. You’ll also have the chance to discover Germany’s acclaimed Pinot Noir, known as Spätburgunder, and indulge in their exceptional sparkling wines.
Embracing open minds and open wines, we welcome all thirsty Winetravelers to join this exciting journey . The more, the merrier! If, however, you prefer a private tour, please let us know. An additional fee may be required, depending on seasonal demand.
Koblenz – Old Town with the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress
Explore the UNESCO-listed Rhine Valley city of Koblenz on a private walking tour, where history meets the riverside. Traverse the charming Old Town and ascend to the iconic Ehrenbreitstein Fortress, all in a compact three-hour itinerary. Enjoy the flexibility of morning, afternoon, or evening departure times and benefit from the personalized attention of your private guide. The breathtaking views over the Rhine Valley from the fortress are a highlight not to be missed.
Mosel Half-Day Wine Tour
Dive into the world of winemaking in the picturesque Mosel Valley on this intimate half-day tour. Beyond bus travel, this experience invites you to explore hillside wineries on foot, tour processing facilities, and enjoy a curated wine-pairing session. Ideal for active wine enthusiasts, this tour ensures personalized attention and an educational immersion into local viticulture. It’s a delightful experience, perfect for families or friends seeking a blend of outdoor activity and fine wine.
Customizable Guided Tour of Trier
Experience the historical charm of southwestern Germany with a prebooked Private Walking Tour of Trier. Avoid crowded group tours and enjoy a personalized journey through the city’s most striking landmarks such as the Porta Nigra, St. Gangolf Church, Saint George’s Fountain, and the Electoral Palace. A dedicated guide will accompany you, offering exclusive insights into Trier’s rich history. This private tour ensures a comprehensive and engaging exploration tailored just for your group.
Mosel Gastronomy & Cuisine
Iconic dishes of mosel.
Just like its wines, Mosel’s cuisine is a delightful reflection of the region’s rich culture and fertile landscape. For meat lovers, “Sauerbraten” (a pot roast, usually beef, marinated before being slow-cooked) is a must-try. In many places, it’s served with “Kartoffelklöße” (potato dumplings), red cabbage, and a rich gravy. For those with a sweet tooth, the “Zwetschgenkuchen” (plum cake) or “Apfelstrudel” (apple strudel) are irresistible. Don’t miss the chance to taste the local fresh river fish, often grilled or smoked.
Pairing Local Wines with Food
The diversity of Mosel wines offers a wealth of pairing possibilities. A crisp, dry Riesling pairs beautifully with the region’s freshwater fish, while the slightly sweeter Kabinett style complements spicier dishes or roasted pork. The noble sweet Auslese, Beerenauslese, or Trockenbeerenauslese wines make a heavenly match with desserts or can be enjoyed as a dessert on their own.
Recommended Mosel Restaurants and Cafés
Mosel is dotted with excellent eateries that showcase local cuisine. Alte Zunftscheune (Neue Rathausstraße 15, 56841 Traben-Trarbach, Germany), in in Traben-Trarbach, serves traditional dishes made from locally sourced ingredients.
For a gourmet treat, head to Restaurant Schanz (Bahnhofstraße 8A, 54498 Piesport, Germany) in Piesport, which also has earned a Michelin star.
When it comes to cafés, CAFÉ ALLERLEI (Neustraße 27, 54290 Trier, Germany) in Trier is a charming spot for a coffee and cake break.
While all of the above work, Winetravelers will appreciate, Vinothek in the vaulted cellars of the St. Nikolaus-Hospital, which offers a selection of over 160 local wines by the glass, perfect for an evening of relaxed wine exploration.
Outdoor Activities Around Mosel
Hiking and cycling routes.
Mosel is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts, with a vast network of hiking and cycling trails that wind through vineyards, forests, and charming villages. One of the most popular cycling routes is the Mosel Radweg, a well-marked trail that runs along the river. For hikers, the Moselsteig offers over 365 kilometers of trails, with stunning views of the vineyards and river below. Whichever path you choose, you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking landscapes and plenty of opportunities to stop at wineries along the way.
River Cruises on the Mosel
A cruise on the Mosel River offers a different perspective on the region’s beauty. You can sit back and relax as you glide past terraced vineyards, medieval castles, and picturesque towns. Many companies offer a variety of cruises, from short trips to full-day journeys, and some even include wine tasting on board. Whether you choose a leisurely afternoon cruise or a romantic sunset voyage, it’s an experience not to be missed.
Picnics and Outdoor Wine Tasting
One of the joys of visiting the Mosel region is the opportunity to enjoy its natural beauty while savoring local wines and cuisine. Many wineries offer outdoor wine tasting experiences, where you can sip their offerings amidst the vines. Or, hire a private guide for a walk through the vineyards . For a more casual experience, pack a picnic with local cheeses, cured meats, and a bottle of Mosel Riesling, then find a spot along the river or in a vineyard. It’s a simple pleasure that encapsulates the essence of Mosel: great wine, delicious food, and stunning scenery.
Cultural Attractions in Mosel
Historic towns and villages.
Stepping into the towns and villages of Mosel is like stepping into a time machine. Places like Cochem , with its half-timbered houses and imposing Reichsburg Castle , or Bernkastel-Kues , with its medieval market square, are steeped in history.
Trier , one of Germany’s oldest cities , brims with Roman ruins, including the Porta Nigra, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Each town and village in Mosel has its own unique charm and story to tell.
Beyond the quaint towns and vineyards, Mosel is home to remarkable architectural gems. The Burg Eltz , a majestic castle nestled in the hills, looks as though it’s been lifted straight from a fairy tale. The Mosel Valley Bridge, a marvel of modern engineering, stands in stark contrast to the Roman Bridge in Trier, a testament to the region’s architectural diversity. And let’s not forget the countless wineries, many housed in beautifully restored historic buildings.
Museums and Art Galleries
For culture vultures, Mosel offers a range of museums and art galleries. The Mosel Wine Museum in Bernkastel-Kues provides fascinating insights into the region’s winemaking history. In Trier, the Rheinisches Landesmuseum houses one of the most important archaeological collections in Germany.
Art lovers should visit the Art Forum in Wittlich , which hosts rotating contemporary art exhibitions.
Local Festivals and Wine Events
Experiencing a local festival is a great way to immerse yourself in Mosel’s culture. The region hosts numerous wine events throughout the year, the most famous being the Bernkastel-Kues Wine Festival in September. Expect wine parades, live music, fireworks, and, of course, plenty of opportunities to taste the region’s outstanding wines. These events offer a lively and fun atmosphere where locals and visitors alike come together to celebrate the region’s wine heritage.
Where to Buy Wine and Local Delicacies
As you might expect, the Mosel region is an excellent place to shop for wine. Most wineries have shops where you can purchase their wines directly, often at very competitive prices. For a broader selection, visit the Vinothek in the Wine Cultural Centre in Bernkastel-Kues, which stocks a wide range of wines from the region. In addition to wine, you’ll also find a variety of local delicacies on offer. Check out the local markets, such as the weekly market in Cochem, for regional products like honey, cheese, cured meats, and preserves.
Souvenir Shopping in Mosel
Looking for a special memento to remember your trip by? Mosel has plenty of shopping opportunities. Many towns have charming shops where you can find traditional German crafts, handmade jewelry, and unique home decor items.
Consider purchasing a piece of ‘blue slate’, a distinctive rock used in local vineyards and often crafted into decorative items. In the spirit of the region, you could also pick up a set of locally made wine glasses, perfect for savoring Mosel wine once you’re back home. Whether it’s a piece of local art or a bottle of your favorite Riesling, you’re sure to find a keepsake that will remind you of your memorable journey through the Mosel wine region.
The History of Wine Making in Mosel
Wine has been an integral part of Mosel’s culture for over 2000 years. The region’s winemaking history can be traced back to the Roman era, but it was during the Middle Ages that Mosel truly established itself as a significant wine region. The steep slopes along the river, which the Romans had begun to terrace, were further developed during this time. Monasteries played a key role in advancing viticulture and winemaking techniques.
In the 19th century, Mosel wines, particularly the Rieslings, were highly prized and often commanded higher prices than even the finest Bordeaux wines. However, the region saw a decline in the 20th century due to world wars and changes in consumer preferences. Recently, there’s been a resurgence of interest in Mosel wines, with winemakers embracing both traditional methods and innovative practices.
Stuart Pigott, a renowned wine critic, once said, “The Mosel’s Riesling wines have a combination of delicacy and power, which is unequaled anywhere else in the world.” This testifies to the enduring appeal and unique character of Mosel wines.
The Roman Influence on the Region
The Romans left an indelible mark on the Mosel region, from architecture to viticulture. They introduced systematic vine cultivation and wine production to the region, recognizing the potential of the steep, slate-rich slopes for growing grapes. Even today, remnants of ancient Roman press houses can be found in the area.
The city of Trier, known as “the Rome of the North,” houses several well-preserved Roman structures, including the Porta Nigra, the Amphitheater, and the Imperial Baths. These monuments, along with the ancient vineyards, serve as a constant reminder of the profound Roman influence on the region.
As Dr. Markus Trier, director of the Rheinisches Landesmuseum in Trier, put it, “The Mosel region is like an open-air museum, where you can literally touch history and see how the Romans shaped the landscape and culture.”
Understanding the Mosel AOC (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée) System
Although the term ‘AOC’ is French and not typically used in Germany, the concept of regulating wine quality and origin is very much prevalent in the country. Germany’s equivalent is the ‘Qualitätswein bestimmter Anbaugebiete’ (QbA) and ‘Prädikatswein’ system.
In Mosel, wines are categorized based on their sweetness level (from dry to sweet), grape ripeness at harvest, and origin. The top-quality wines are often designated as ‘Einzellage’ (single vineyard wines), which means the grapes come from a specific, named vineyard. This system helps to preserve the distinct identities of the wines and provides consumers with a guarantee of the wine’s quality and origin.
Caro Maurer, a Master of Wine, explains, “The German wine classification system is complex but allows for a rich expression of the diversity of our vineyards. Each wine tells a story of its origin.”
Mosel Educational Visits and Winemaking Workshops
For those keen to learn more about wine, the Mosel region offers a variety of educational opportunities. Many wineries provide detailed vineyard and cellar tours that delve into the winemaking process.
For a more hands-on experience, consider enrolling in a winemaking workshop. Places like the Mosel Wine Museum offer workshops where you can learn about the art and science of winemaking, from grape cultivation to fermentation and aging.
Dr. Rowald Hepp, the director of Schloss Vollrads, one of the oldest wine estates in the world located in the neighboring Rheingau region, but with deep knowledge of German wine culture, says, “Winemaking workshops are a great way to get a deeper understanding of the passion, knowledge, and skill that goes into each bottle of wine. You’ll not only learn about the process, but also gain a greater appreciation for the complexity and beauty of wine.”
Furthermore, the region is home to several institutions offering more formal wine education, including the Hochschule Geisenheim University, which offers degree programs in viticulture and enology. Whether you’re a wine novice or an experienced oenophile, there’s always something new to learn in Mosel.
Why Mosel is a Must-Visit for Winetravelers
Mosel, with its steep, sun-drenched slopes and centuries-old winemaking traditions, is truly a paradise for Winetravelers. The region offers a spectacular blend of scenic beauty, cultural richness, and, of course, world-class wines, especially its signature Rieslings. But it’s not just the wine that makes Mosel special. It’s the chance to meet the winemakers, to walk the same ground where the grapes grow, and to understand the passion and craftsmanship that goes into every bottle. As a Winetraveler, you’ll be able to peel back the layers of this historic region and truly appreciate the magic of Mosel.
Tips for an Unforgettable Experience
Preparation is key to making the most of your visit to Mosel. Research and book your accommodations and vineyard visits in advance, especially during peak season. Remember, many vineyards still operate on a small scale and appreciate advance notice. Don’t shy away from hiring a local guide or joining a wine tour – their insider knowledge can greatly enrich your experience.
Learning a few basic German phrases will go a long way, and always make sure to carry cash as not all places accept credit cards. Remember to pace your wine tastings and stay hydrated—it’s easy to lose track when faced with so many excellent wines. Finally, keep an open mind and palate. You may come for the Rieslings, but don’t miss the chance to taste other local varieties like Müller-Thurgau or Elbling.
Below are some handy German phrases and wine-related terms to add to your language repertoire:
- “Ich hätte gerne eine Weinprobe” – “I would like a wine tasting.”
- “Können Sie mir einen lokalen Wein empfehlen?” – “Can you recommend a local wine?”
- “Eine Flasche von diesem, bitte” – “A bottle of this one, please.”
- “Welcher Wein passt am besten zu diesem Gericht?” – “Which wine pairs best with this dish?”
- “Ist dieser Wein trocken, halbtrocken oder süß?” – “Is this wine dry, off-dry, or sweet?”
- “Wo ist das nächste Weingut?” – “Where is the nearest winery?”
As a Winetraveler, your journey to Mosel is more than a vacation—it’s an opportunity to connect with a place and its people through the universal language of wine. Enjoy every moment of it. Prost!
Frequently Asked Questions about Germany’s Mosel Wine Region
What is mosel germany known for.
Mosel, Germany is globally renowned for its world-class wines, particularly its Rieslings. The Mosel wine region, named after the Mosel River, is famous for its steep, slate-soil vineyards that produce distinct, aromatic, and high-acid white wines. These Rieslings range from crisp and dry to lusciously sweet, including notable late-harvest varieties like Beerenauslese and Trockenbeerenauslese. Aside from wine, Mosel is known for its picturesque landscapes, featuring dramatic cliffs, terraced vineyards, and the winding Mosel River. The region is dotted with charming, historic towns such as Trier, Cochem, and Bernkastel-Kues, where you can find beautifully preserved half-timbered houses and medieval architecture. Trier, one of Germany’s oldest cities, is also recognized for its rich Roman history with landmarks like the Porta Nigra, the Roman Bridge, and the amphitheater. The Mosel region’s diverse food scene, especially its traditional German cuisine and fresh seafood, is another highlight that pairs perfectly with the local wines. Lastly, the Mosel region offers a variety of outdoor activities such as hiking, cycling, and river cruises, making it a wonderful destination for both wine enthusiasts and nature lovers.
How do you get to Mosel Germany?
Traveling to the Mosel region in Germany is quite accessible from various locations, thanks to its well-connected transportation network. The most convenient way to reach Mosel for international travelers is by flying into one of the major airports nearby, either Frankfurt Main Airport (FRA) or Düsseldorf Airport (DUS). These airports are serviced by numerous international and domestic flights, making them easily reachable from many parts of the world. Check the best flight prices here . Once at the airport, you can rent a car or use public transportation, such as trains or buses, to continue your journey to the Mosel region. For those already in Germany or nearby European countries, taking a train can be an enjoyable and scenic way to reach Mosel. German trains are efficient, comfortable, and well connected to cities across the country and beyond. Key towns in the Mosel, such as Trier and Cochem, have train stations, and the ride offers beautiful views of the German countryside. Alternatively, if you prefer driving, Mosel can be easily accessed by well-maintained highways and roads. This option offers the flexibility to stop at various points of interest along the way and enjoy the stunning landscape at your own pace. However, remember to check the local driving laws, especially if you’re from outside the EU.
Is Mosel Germany worth visiting?
Absolutely! Mosel, Germany is a treasure trove that every traveler should experience. This region is a paradise for wine lovers, renowned for its world-class Rieslings, cultivated in picturesque vineyards along the winding Mosel River. The dramatic, steep-sloped landscapes are breathtaking, and the charming, historic towns like Trier, Cochem, and Bernkastel-Kues offer a delightful journey back in time with their medieval architecture and half-timbered houses. Whether you’re savoring the local cuisine, exploring Roman ruins in Trier, or engaging in outdoor activities such as hiking or river cruises, the Mosel region offers an enchanting blend of culture, history, gastronomy, and natural beauty. It’s not just worth visiting—it’s a destination you’ll likely want to return to again and again.
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1. Rhine Valley Trip from Frankfurt including Rhine River Cruise
2. Small Group Rheingau Vineyards Tour with Castles and Abbeys
3. Exclusive Private Food Tour Experience: with a born and bred Berliner
4. Fantastic, full day, private wine tour to Alsace!
5. Grape Escape Rhine Valley - Personal wine tours from Frankfurt & Mainz
6. The Perfect Start: Munich City Guided Tour with Bavarian Breakfast
7. Heidelberg Tour with winetasting.
8. Ochsenfurt: Wine Tour "Towers & Wine"
9. Siciliamo - True Sicilian Cooking Workshops
10. Cologne Wine Tasting and Winery Tour with a Wine Expert
11. Lake Constance Wine Tour | Day trip to 3 to 4 wineries on Lake Constance
12. The ORIGINAL Munich Christmas Market Festive Food and Wine Tour
13. EAT LIKE A BERLINER - Market Tour, Cooking Class and Lunch
14. PRIVATE - Best Munich Cocktail Tour - all inclusive
15. Grape Escape Mosel - Personal Wine tours
16. Culinary Tour Kreuzberg de luxe
17. Wine tour to the Pfalz "The Tuscany of Germany" to taste cracking red wines
18. Private Champagne Sundowner on Rooftops of Munich
19. Pinot Noir & Pinot Wine Tour to Baden-Württemberg
20. Wine and food tasting at Italian Restaurant Pulcinella in Bogen
21. Visit a charming schloss & taste wine along the romantic Rhein
22. Private day trip to the Romantic Rhine Valley with river cruise and wine tasting
23. Romantic Road Day Trip from Würzburg (Main) to Rothenburg/Tauber (SUNDAY)
24. Original One80 Berlin Pub Crawl
25. Pub Crawl at Kwartier Lataeng
26. Full Day Private Tour to Vineyard (Rhine Valley) from Frankfurt
27. German Wine Self-Guided Tour in Munich's Old Town Wine Bars
28. Private wine tasting meets Bulli in the Ruhr area
29. Romantic Road Day Trip from Würzburg to Rothenburg/Tauber incl. Wine tasting
30. Full Day Grape Escape to Alsace wine route via Strassbourg
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Germany: Wine Tours Information
Pfalz Wine Region
Explore the best wineries in pfalz wine region.
Just getting started on your wine journey, or jumping back in? Taste through a selection of a great local wines.
Displaying 1-3 of 33 wineries
Wein- Und Sektgut Wilhelmshof
An amphitheater winery among the mountains of Siebeldingen
Let Yourself be Inspired & Know The Secrets of Unique Pfeffinger Wines.
Bergdolt-Reif & Nett
Taste the unique Weißburgunder and Graubugrunder, matured in stone barrels.
Travel Guide to Pfalz Wine Region
Pfalz wine region is the second-largest and one of the most important wine-producing regions in Germany with around 23,500 hectares of vineyards. Only Rheinhessen , to the north, produces more wine than the Pfalz wine region. The Wurstmarkt, which is the largest wine festival in Germany, happens in the town of Bad Dürkheim in Pfalz wine region every year in September. Vineyards are enclosed in a superb landscape that is home to a lot of biodiversities. Pfalz wine region is also important for German history, as it had a central role during the Holy Roman Empire.
Explore Pfalz wine region with the help of our travel guide:
Pfalz wine region, grape varieties and wines
Wineries to visit in Pfalz wine region
Cultural and natural places to visit in Pfalz wine region
Gastronomical Specialities to Try in Pfalz wine region
Key Wine producing Region in Western Germany
The vineyards of the Pfalz wine region are bordered by the Rheinhessen wine region to the north and the French region of Alsace to the south. Pfalz wine region is divided into two separate areas, the Mittelhaardt-Deutsche Weinstraße and the Südliche Weinstraße . The breathtaking surroundings include the Haardt Mountain Range, which is covered in trees, castle ruins, rows of fruit trees, orchards, and old walled villages. Production in the Pfalz wine region is characterised by the use of modern technology and traditional viticultural methods.
Wine tourism contributes significantly to Pfalz’s economy and many tourists visit the wine trail of the Pfalz wine region. This tourist trail was created in 1935 and it still draws hundreds of thousands of visitors to the Pfalz wine region each year.
Climate and Soils of Pfalz Wine Region
The delicious wines of the Pfalz wine region benefit from the perfect climatic conditions of the area, as it is one of the warmest wine regions in Germany . Summers are dry, but not too hot, and winters are mild. The climate is mild enough for grape varieties and other crops to thrive and grow well. The soil of the Pfalz wine region is quite varied throughout the region with areas of sandstone, limestone, marl, loess-loam, granite, and a few isolated stretches of slate. In the northern area of the Pfalz wine region, the most common soil is limestone, while in the Southern Pfalz wine region loess and loam are more common.
Riesling - the Star of the Pfalz Wine Region
Riesling is by far the most important white wine grape grown in the Pfalz wine region and it is becoming even more significant. In terms of vineyards, Riesling is the undisputed leader in the Pfalz wine region with around 6000 hectares cultivated.
While Riesling plays a dominant role throughout the northern Pfalz wine region, the southern Pfalz wine region has also begun to produce various varieties of Pinot. The warmer climate of the Pfalz wine region as well as the deep soil, make this part of the region an ideal area for growing Pinot Blanc (Weißburgunder), Pinot Gris (Grauburgunder), and Pinot Noir (Spätburgunder). Almost half of the vineyards in the area are planted with red wine grapes, making the south of the Pfalz wine region the largest red wine-producing region in Germany .
Today, the Pfalz wine region is highly regarded for its red wines and, each year, its vineries are among the recipients of the German Red Wine Prize. The most commonly planted red grapes in the Pfalz wine region are Dornfelder, followed by Pinot Noir. In the region, one can also find small areas of Gewürztraminer plantings, which are actually quite rare in winegrowing regions, despite the very German-sounding name.
Needless to say, Riesling is the most grown grape in the region followed by Dornfelder , Müller-Thurgau , Portugieser and Pinot Noir .
- Weiβburgender (Pinot Blanc)
- Grauburgunder (Pinot Gris)
Red Varieties :
- Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir)
Find out about Wine Tasting & Tours in Pfalz to enjoy if you visit the region.
What to Expect from Pfalz Wines
The white wines from the Pfalz wine region are dry but still possess bold and unique fruit flavours on the palate. The white wines can be described as ‘racy’, mainly due to higher acidity and distinguished quality. The Riesling from the Pfalz wine region is produced using grapes with substance and finesse, lower in acidity compared to the ones grown in the Mosel. This is also possible thanks to the mild climate, as the average temperature of the vineyard area is 11°C.
On the other hand, red wines from the Pfalz wine region tend to be lighter and present wild berries, black tea, rhubarb, and spices flavours. Today, the Pfalz wine region is highly regarded for its red wines and, each year, wineries in the Pfalz wine region are among the recipients of the German Red Wine Prize. Also, Pfalz red wines generally have a deep red colour and are produced mainly using the Dornfelder grape.
Early in the wine-producing history of the Pfalz wine region, winemakers recognised the region's ideal characteristics for the cultivation of Riesling grapes and when the dry wine craze swept through Germany about 20 years ago, they were already well prepared!
All the wines from the Pfalz wine region have an unmistakable full-bodied flavour with hints of earthiness and spiciness; these specific characteristics contribute to giving the perfect balance to the wine.
Pfalz Wine Region Map
Top Wineries to Visit in Pfalz Wine Region
The best way to enjoy high-quality regional wines is to visit wineries in Pfalz , where our local partners will meet you with open arms and introduce the story of their wines.
Wein und Sektgut Wilhelmshof
As soon as you arrive at the Wein- und Sektgut Wilhelmshof winery, you are welcomed by a very German house with the name of the winery written all over it. Here, the welcoming, as all the services and the wine, is absolute of the highest quality. The winery’s Riesling and Pinots (Blanc, Gris, and Noir) are all made with hand-picked grapes. The vines of the Wilhelmshof winery grow on clayey slate soil and thanks to their position, soak a lot of the sun.
Wein- und Sektgut Wilhelmshof winery’s sparkling wines have also won several awards including Germany’s Best Sparkling Producer 2018 and the Falstaff Sekt Trophy Blanc de Noirs 2018.
Weingut Heinrich Spindler
The Spindler family started their wine business back in the year 1656 and then expanded their vineyards after purchasing more hectares from Forster Weingut Ferd in the Pfalz wine region. Heinemann in 1980. Weingut Heinrich Spindler is located outside the village of Forst and the vineyards are sheltered by the Palatinate Forest, which creates perfect conditions to grow and produce exceptional wines. 80% of the vineyards are cultivated with Riesling grapes and the rest 20% is for Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir, and for a very fruity Sauvignon blanc.
At Weingut Langenwalter winery, the passion for wine growing started in the 17th century and it’s been kept alive ever since. The harmonious mixture of traditional and modern working methods results in the production of high-quality and fine wine. The peculiarity of Weingut Langenwalter’s wines is that they’re aged in Palatinate oak barrels, which show even more of the bond with the territory. Exceptional red wines, Burgundy wines, and Riesling are just some examples of the vast production of this winery.
Unique Places to Visit in the Pfalz Wine Region
Neustadt an der weinstraße – a german history lesson in between vineyards .
As the name of this city suggests, Neustadt is on the way to the vineries of the Pfalz wine region. In between wine tastings, there’s actually much more to see. The city’s main attraction is the Altstadt (Old Town) with its market square surrounded by half-timbered buildings. The most majestic building in the Altstadt is the Stiftskirche (Collegiate Church), the most important and significant Gothic church in the entire Palatinate region. It was built in the 14 th century and features two twin towers at the front. The church is divided into a Catholic and a Protestant side; a wall separates the two sections making it possible to celebrate to masses at the same time.
Outside of Neustadt, on the outskirts of the Palatinate Forest, you will find Hambach Castle. The castle is clearly visible from the road as it stands on a hill and dominates the landscape. The first settlement on castle hill dates back to late Roman times. During the Medieval Ages, the castle was used as the residence of the bishops of Speyer. The castle became famous for the Hambacher Fest, a democratic festival in support of a union of German princedoms that took place in May 1832.
TIP! After exploring Hambach Castle, don't miss the opportunity to visit The Müller-Kern winery . The winery is located just below the castle and tastes internationally recognized distinct wines in the idyllic village setting in the Pfalz wine region.
Landau - A long-Standing Cultural Center
Landau is a town located in the south part of the Pfalz wine region on the German Wine Route. It is known for being a university town, as well as an important cultural centre. The city centre of town is marked by the main square ( Rathausplatz ), where the town hall and the market hall are. In the past, Landau was a fortified town surrounded by defensive walls, which are unfortunately no longer standing.
15km to the north of Landau, you can visit Castle Villa Ludwigshöhe, the summer residence of King Ludwig I of Bavaria. The stunning villa is plunged into nature as it is close to the Palatinate Forest. King Ludwig’s Villa is closed for renovation until 2022, but you can still see it on the way to the green paradise of the Palatinate Forest.
Speyer – Come Visit the Emperors
Even though Speyer is a bit out of the wine route, it is still worth a visit for being one of the most beautiful cities in the entire Rhineland-Palatinate state. From the 11 th to the 17 th century, Speyer was one of the most relevant and important cities of the Holy Roman Empire. Together with Worms and Mainz, Speyer is one of the “Imperial Cities” and many German emperors are buried in the cathedral.
The Romanesque-style Cathedral dominated the skyline of the city. The Cathedral was consecrated in 1961 by Konrad II, Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. The enormity of the red-brick building will stun you as soon as you will catch sight of the high towers. Recently, a viewing platform was opened on the southwestern tower, from where to see the city and the Rhine River.
The entrance to the Cathedral is on the main street of the city, Maximillianstraße. It is 800m long and it connects the Cathedral to the western door of the city, called the Altpörtel. Maximillianstraße is characterised by baroque buildings, including the city hall, and shops.
Discover True Nature in Pfalz Wine Region
The natural landscape of the Pfalz wine region is diverse and unique, with striking landscapes, enchanting volcanoes and endless vineyards. Nature conservation is a priority for the Pfalz government, which is why the majority of parks and forests are under special protection. These environments also provide a safe home for many animals that kids, and also adults, like to spot while walking in the Pfalz untamed nature.
Hunsrūck-Hochwald National Park – Germany’s Newest National Park
The Hunsrück-Hochwald National Park was given the charter of a National Park in 2015 in the Pfalz wine region. The Ebeskopf, the highest point of the Rhineland-Palatinate state at 816m above sea level, is in this National Park. The flora consists mainly of forests of beech and firs, where wild cats and deer are free to run and hide from hikers.
The great variety of trails offered by the National Park makes it an ideal gateway for adventure-seekers, families and casual hikers. The German Gemstone Route is a circular path that passes through the stunning landscapes of the Hunsrück-Hochwald National Park. The peculiarity of this trail is the tremendous variety of precious gems and stones you can encounter while walking.
Palatinate Forest Biosphere Reserve - A German and French partnership
The Palatinate Forest was first established in 1958, making it one of the oldest nature reserves in Germany. Covering an area of about 1,790 square kilometres, the nature reserve is also one of the largest in Germany. In 1998, the Palatinate Forest joined the North Vosges park in France to form the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve of the Palatinate Forest-North Vosges. In the Palatinate Forest Biosphere Reserve the extensive chestnut and oak forests at the foot of the mountain ranges, and the pines and other conifers at higher altitudes, are particularly worth protecting.
One of the most popular hiking trails is the “Hauensteiner Schusterpfad”, a moderately difficult 15-km circular route around the shoe-making town of Hauensteiner. The trail is full of interesting sites, like medieval castles and unique rock formations. On the route, the numerous viewpoints invite hikers to stop for a minute and enjoy the panorama.
Volcanic Eifel Nature Park - The land of dramatic events and sceneries
This spectacular land was created by a series of dramatic events. Explosions and fire erupt from the core of the earth, blowing holes into the group and creating the mountains of the Volcanic Eifel Nature Park. Up until 10 000 years ago, the volcanoes in this area still gave off smoke and most recently the Ulmin Maar was formed – Germany’s youngest volcano. Volcanic activity hasn’t completely disappeared; it’s just taking a break and waiting patiently for the next eruption. Nevertheless, the legacy has been impressive, leaving behind some 350 small and large volcanoes, maars, lava flows and a number of mineral springs.
Besides this, Nature Park offers even more to see – red sandstones, tropical reefs and powerful sea deposits which tell a story of both peaceful and tumultuous times over the past 400 million years. The Nature Park has been named a European Geopark and has been recognised by UNESCO .
Find the best Wine Tour Guides in the Pfalz Wine Region and embark on Guided Tours to explore the beauty of the region.
Pfalz wine region specialities possess that strong German taste that characterizes the country’s cuisine. Chefs in the Pfalz wine region have a passion for authentic food. The authenticity of this food is based on the very best local and seasonal ingredients, such as chestnut, pumpkin, asparagus, figs, strawberries, or Pfälzer Grumbeer (potato) which will no doubt make you fall in love with Pfalz even more.
Gastronomical Specialities to Try in Pfalz Wine Region
Pflälzer spundekäs – spreadable cheese with a twist .
The Spundekäs is a cheese spread or dip that originates from the city of Mainz in the Pfalz wine region. However, it is typical in the entire Rhineland-Palatinate region. The base ingredients of the Spundekäs are fresh cheese (mainly Quark), butter, onions, peppers, chilli peppers and various spices. This delicacy is best experienced with a glass of wine and pretzel crackers or with some wholesome German bread. It is usually served in a cone shape, together with radishes and boiled potatoes.
Zwiebelkuchen – A Delightful Spongy Onion Pie
As its name suggests, this dish is literally a delightful onion pie. Zwiebelkuchen can have a round or rectangular shape; it is filled with steamed onions, fresh cream, caraway seeds and bacon. A variation of the Zwiebelkuchen has beef or meat inside.
The taste of the Zwiebelkuchen is very similar to that of the Flammkuchen however, the main difference is the dough. While the Zwiebelkuchen comes with leavened dough, Flammkuchen is made with a very thin base, more similar to a pizza.
Frequently Asked Questions about Pfalz Wine Region
1. where is the pfalz wine region located, 2. what are the most famous sub-regions and appellations in pfalz wine region , 3. what are the main grape varieties in pfalz wine region, 4. what is the best wine to try in pfalz wine region, 5. what is famous wine from pfalz wine region, discover pfalz wine region with local wine guides.
Check out our local wine tour guides with their wine tour offers to have everything organized when visiting the Pfalz Wine Region wine region.
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Map of Wineries in Pfalz Wine Region
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Subregions in Pfalz Wine Region
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30 of the best Christmas markets in Europe for 2023
Nov 1, 2023 • 15 min read
Here are some of Europe's best alternative Christmas markets © Image Bank / Getty Images
Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, copious amounts of mulled wine and some of the best hot chocolate you've ever had.
It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas across Europe , with hundreds of festive markets glittering brilliantly as soon as the first Advent door is opened. While Germany is the real fairy-tale deal, Christmas markets sparkle across the continent, come snow or shine, with crafts, choirs, light displays, and local grub.
From Alpine summits to tiny island towns, we bring you 30 European favorites that shine with their own Christmas culture, from unmissable classics to off-the-beaten-track faves.
1. Dresden, Germany
Dates : November 29–December 24, 2023
The granddaddy of Germany ’s Christmas markets, Dresden ’s Striezelmarkt has enraptured folk since 1434. It’s big , with 240 chalets welcoming nearly three million visitors each year. But it’s not just for tourists. The backdrop is spellbinding, with thousands of lights and, on the Altmarkt, the world’s biggest Christmas pyramid adorned with life-sized figures. The city on the Elbe fizzes festively with carousels and carollers, ice skating and stalls doing a brisk trade in everything from beautifully handmade nutcrackers, Räuchermännchen (smoking men) and Erzgebirge crib figures to Germany’s tastiest Christstollen, dense, buttery fruitcake sprinkled with icing sugar.
2. Innsbruck, Austria
Dates : November 15–December 23, 2023
In the snowy Austrian Alps, Innsbruck hosts several enchanting Christmas markets. In the medieval old town, a huge tree glitters in front of the Golden Roof, folk bands play and chalets sell decorations, candles, gingerbread, and mulled wine. Kids love the traditional fairground rides and puppet shows on riverside Marktplatz or take them to fairy-tale-themed Kiebachgasse. Market stalls and trees packed with twinkling lights light up Maria-Theresien-Strasse.
3. Nuremberg, Germany
Dates : December 1–24, 2023
You can’t whisper Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas market) without Nuremberg being uttered in the same breath. Does it live up to the hype? You bet. You’ll have to jostle with crowds, as two million visitors flock here each year, but it’s still fantasy stuff, with a blonde-locked, gold-robed Christkind launching the festivities. The hub is the Hauptmarkt, with its candy-striped chalets dishing out everything from Zwetschgenmännle (figures made from prunes, figs and nuts) to Lebkuchen (gingerbread) and brass-foil Rauschgold angels. But you’ll feel the festive vibes everywhere, with carols, concerts, fairground rides and a magnificent nativity scene in front of the Gothic church .
4. Barcelona, Spain
Dates : November 24–December 23, 2023
Who needs Santa when you can have a grinning, present-pooping log called Caga Tió? You will find this Catalan Christmas oddity in miniature form alongside mistletoe, turrón nougat and a biblical wonderland of nativity figurines at Barcelona 's Fira de Santa Llúcia, sprawling in front of the Gothic cathedral on Plaça de la Seu. And if you think Caga Tió is bizarre, wait until you see the irreverent Caganer, a defecating figurine hidden in the nativity scene for good fortune and fertile harvests.
5. Ravenna Gorge, Germany
Dates: November 24–December 17, 2023
Sheltering under a strikingly illuminated 40m-high viaduct in the thickly wooded, steep-sided Höllental (‘Hell Valley’) in Germany ’s Black Forest , this festive beauty in the Ravenna Gorge looks as though it has been plucked straight from the pages of a Grimm fairy tale. If there’s a dusting of snow, the winter wonderland picture is complete. Tourists? Not really – this one is largely for locals and is all the lovelier for it. Look out for Black Forest paper-cut designs, lambswool rugs and local smoked ham and venison sausage. Take a train to Hinterzarten or Himmelreich, then hop on the free shuttle or walk.
6. Mt Pilatus, Switzerland
Dates : November 17–19, 2023
For novelty value and sensational Alpine views, ride to Europe's highest Christmas market on the world's steepest cogwheel railway, which has been trundling up to 6995ft (2132m) Mt Pilatus since 1889. Perched above Lake Lucerne , the mountaintop Christkindlimärt has festive music and over 40 decorated market stalls selling beeswax candles, nativity figurines, gingerbread and other stocking fillers.
7. Zagreb, Croatia
Dates: December 2, 2023–January 7, 2024
The capital of Croatia might not immediately spring to mind when you fix your sights on Christmas markets, but Zagreb ’s is right up there with Europe’s finest. Wintry temperatures, twinkling trees and thousands of fairy lights bring a pinch of festive magic to its parks, squares and historic heart, where the twin-spired Gothic cathedral looms large. Head to Fuliranje (“Fooling Around”) market for carols, concerts, crafts and DJs, or swing across to Ban Jelačić Sq to snack on hot chestnuts, licitars (intricately decorated gingerbread hearts) and Hrvatsko Zagorje–region wooden toys.
8. Schloss Hellbrunn, Austria
Dates : November 23–December 24, 2023
Christmas markets glitter all over Austria come Advent, but few are as magical as Hellbrunn Advent Magic held at Salzburg 's Schloss Hellbrunn , with carollers, handicraft stalls, a Christmas train ride and petting zoo for kids, and the baroque palace's 24 windows transformed into a giant Advent calendar. A Christmas parade, brass bands, Alphorn blowers, nativity scenes and a veritable forest of 400 twinkling trees make Yuletide here special.
9. Zürich, Switzerland
Dates : 23 November–23 December 2023
Think you’ve seen one Christmas market, you’ve seen them all? Not like the ones in Zürich you haven’t. Sitting astride its namesake lake and the Limmat River, Switzerland ’s swankiest city pulls out all the stops with a flurry of markets. Hit the alleys of the historic Niederdorf quarter for mulled wine, raclette and fondue, pedal an e-bike to make the lights glimmer on the ginormous tree on the main station concourse, or head over to the Christmas village on Sechseläutenplatz to hunt for gifts in 100 chalets set up in front of the opera house. The icing on the festive cake is the Singing Christmas Tree on Werdmühleplatz, formed by choir singers wearing red beanies, who belt out carols and gospel classics at 5:30pm daily.
10. Colmar, France
Dates : November 24–December 30, 2023
For the true spirit of Christmas, you can't beat Colmar in Alsace , where the gingerbready, half-timbered old town hosts five different Christmas markets. Canal-woven Petite Venise hosts the children's market, keeping the kids entertained with its carousel, animated nativity scene and Santa's letterbox, while antique, art and craft shoppers roam the Ancienne Douane . Alsatian gingerbread, spicy Bredele cookies, anise-flavored Springerle biscuits and kirsch-laced Berawecka fruit cake make great foodie stocking fillers.
11. Lisbon, Portugal
Dates : November 18–December 21, 2023
Lisbon gets its Christmas groove on during Advent with sparkling lights illuminating its praças , parks and azulejo-clad façades. Right in the heart of Baixa, fountain-splashed Rossio Sq is where the action is, with a giant tree, Santa train, choirs, workshops, bands, and chalets selling crafts, mulled wine, hot chestnuts and porco preto (black pork) sandwiches. While you’re in the festive mood, take the kids to Wonderland Lisboa (November 30, 2023, to January 1, 2024) in Parque Eduardo VII for a spin on the Ferris wheel and ice rink.
12. Gengenbach, Germany
Dates : November 30–December 23, 2023
Few towns look as Christmassy as Gengenbach in Germany 's Black Forest . Its half-timbered old town is real snow globe stuff when the fairy lights are flicked on, timber chalets glow and carollers sing in front of the 18th-century, pink-and-cream Rathaus (Town Hall). Grab a spot here at 6pm to see one of 24 windows open to reveal an Advent calendar scene by famous artists and illustrators.
13. Helsinki, Finland
Dates: December 1–22, 2023
With frosty winds whipping across the Baltic and often the promise of snow, the Finnish capital, Helsinki , is the real Christmas deal – and one of the few cities where you can combine a festive shop with a sauna and swim in an avanto (ice hole). Market-wise, the biggie is on elegant 19th-century Senaatintori (Senate Sq), topped off by the pearly-white dome of the neoclassical Tuomiokirkko cathedral. Here a vintage carousel turns and rustic timber chalets sell traditional crafts, decorations and glögi (mulled wine). Festivities kick off with the switching on of the lights on Aleksanterinkatu, with a glittering parade, dance troupes, elves and a visit from Santa all the way from Lapland.
14. Tallinn, Estonia
Dates : December 1, 2023–January 7, 2024
You're more or less guaranteed snow in Tallinn at Christmas. Festivities are spread throughout the Unesco-listed Old Town, with an enormous tree towering above quaint wooden chalets on Raekoja plats (Town Hall Sq), its medieval centerpiece. Estonian crafts like hand-knitted hats, sea-grass animals, wickerwork and wood carvings are top buys. Santa Claus often stages an appearance in the evening. Find respite from sub-zero temperatures in candlelit cafes and warm up with hearty Estonian grub like sauerkraut and blood sausage.
15. Nice, France
Dates : December 7, 2023–January 7, 2024
It’s usually more blue skies, palms and double figures than snow, but Nice is a cracking choice if you want to combine a Christmas shop with a shot of southern French flair. The stately Promenade des Anglais dazzles with lights and Jardin Albert 1er gets properly into the festive swing with chalets selling gifts, crafts, mulled wine and (this being the ritzy Côte d'Azur) champagne and oysters. DJ sets, light festivals, fairground rides and visits from Santa are all part and parcel. And don’t miss the opportunity to grab gourmet stocking fillers like Provençal olive oil and honey.
16. Tromsø, Norway
Dates : 1–22 December, 2023
Oslo’s festivities are bigger, but for snowglobe looks and the true heart-warming spirit of Christmas, stray further north to Tromsø , 400km (248 miles) north of the Arctic Circle. Even bah-humbugs can’t help but be touched by the magic here, with snowy streets beautifully illuminated and stalls selling woolly hats, hand-carved gifts, gløgg (mulled wine) and the local riff on a kebab (wild mutton in pitta). Stomp down to the harbor for the Ferris wheel and ice rink, or float above the city on Fjellheisen cable car to see the lights from above. Here you can combine a festive shop with Northern Lights shows, reindeer sleigh rides and dog sledding. Cool, huh?
17. Winchester, UK
Dates : November 17–December 21, 2023
Gazes are lifted in wonder to the soaring spires of one of Britain’s most magnificent medieval cathedrals at Winchester ’s Christmas market. After a romp around the city’s decorous Elizabethan and Regency streets, the market in the cathedral’s historic grounds beckons. Taking a leaf out of the traditional German book, it’s all incredibly tasteful, with baubled trees, family craft workshops and timber chalets selling everything from hand-carved music boxes to artisan cheese, bean-to-bar chocolate and hand-blown glass. For more festive spirit still, time your visit to catch one of the cathedral’s Christmas concerts.
18. St Helier, Jersey
Dates : November 23–December 10, 2023
Supporting local artisans is central to the Genuine Jersey Simply Christmas Market held in St Helier, Jersey . Chestnut trees strung with lights illuminate Royal Sq, and market stalls get shoppers into the festive spirit with mistletoe, real ales, minced pies and locally-made crafts. There'll be live music and entertainment too, bringing visitors all the Christmas spirit they need in one enticing package.
19. Ulm, Germany
Dates : November 27–December 23, 2023
Never heard of Ulm ? You’re not alone but you are missing a trick. Midway between Munich and Stuttgart, this southern German city on the Danube is a stunner – it’s the birthplace of Albert Einstein, home to a whopping Gothic cathedral crowned by the world’s tallest steeple (161m or 528ft high) and enchants visitors with its canal-woven, half-timbered old quarter. Oh, and its Christmas market is a cracker, with a live nativity scene to coo over, a carousel to ride, a tree glimmering with 18,000 lights, a storytelling yurt, and 120 stalls trading in everything from Steiff toys to beeswax candles and edible snowballs.
20. Malmö, Sweden
Dates : November 24–December 18, 2023
Malmö dishes up a Swedish smorgasbord of Christmas markets, concerts and twinkling trees. Browse for handmade decorations, pausing to warm up over glögg (mulled wine) with pepparkakor (ginger biscuits) or lussekatter (saffron-flavored buns). Katrinetorp manor (December 8–10) is the go-to-market for antiques, poinsettias and festive food, while the market in Gustav Adolf Sq sells fairtrade, recycled and vintage gifts. Slip on skates to twirl around the open-air ice rinks at Raoul Wallenberg’s and Folkets Park.
21. Berlin, Germany
Dates: November 27–December 31, 2023
Berlin turns the Christmas fun up to the max, with more than 80 Weihnachtsmärkte switching their lights on for Advent and shimmering brightly until New Year. If you have kids in tow, don't miss WeihnachtsZauber on Bebelplatz, overlooked by the grand State Opera . Street entertainers deliver a full-on fairy tale, with acrobats, dance troupes, ice queens, golden angels, choirs and performers on stilts, and white, star-topped tents selling everything from quality ceramics to wood carvings, marzipan, fondue and schnitzel with champagne. If you fancy a shot of snow fun, head over to Potsdamer Platz for ice skating, sledding and mulled wine.
22. Seville, Spain
Dates : November 5–December 23, 2023
You might associate Seville more with flamenco and sunburn than Father Christmas and snow. But the high-spirited capital of Andalucía has tons of festive sparkle, as well as pleasingly mild temperatures and the first oranges ripening on trees in December. Most enchanting of all the Christmas markets is the Feria del Belén on Avenida de la Constitución in the shadow of the Gothic, gold-stone Catedral , which specializes in the belén (nativity scene), with exquisite and incredibly ornate hand-carved scenes, figures and decorations. The streets are also filled with lights, campanilleros (musical choirs) and sweet treats like convent-made polvorones (almond shortbread biscuits).
23. Erfurt, Germany
Dates: 28 November–22 December 2023
Medieval Erfurt , right in the heart of Germany , is a proper feast at Christmas. The city’s big market is on Domplatz, backdropped by the stately Gothic cathedral (where Martin Luther was ordained) and the three-towered, five-naved Severikirche . For kids, it’s like the Nutcracker come to life, with a 20m-high (65ft) tree, Ferris wheel, carousel, towering Christmas pyramid and nativity scene, enchanted forest, fairy-tale scenes and bakery. Brass bands and choirs enliven crowds as they browse 200 stalls selling pottery, Erzgebirge wood carvings and traditional blue-dyed fabrics. Pause to snack on Thuringian bratwurst and Erfurt Schittchen (the local take on Stollen).
24. Padstow, England
Dates : December 7–10, 2023
On the blustery Cornish coast, Padstow's Christmas Festival is a cracker. Rick Stein, Paul Ainsworth and Nathan Outlaw are among a star-studded line-up of chefs giving cookery demos to spice up Christmas dinner. Jazz bands and carollers entertain crowds milling around quayside stalls selling Cornish chutneys, pies and mulled cider, wooden toys and decorations. For kids, there's the reindeer enclosure and Santa Fun Run, where some 200 Father Christmas wannabes race for charity. Fireworks sparkle in the harbor at 8:30pm on Friday.
25. Freiburg, Germany
Dates: November 23–December 23, 2023
In Germany’s Black Forest, snug against the border with Switzerland and France, the vivacious university city of Freiburg hosts one of the country’s loveliest Christmas markets in its alley-woven medieval heart. Lights illuminate the gabled houses on Rathausplatz , where 120 wooden chalets keep things traditional with regional food and crafts. Nose around the stalls for folk carvings and nativity figures, Moravian stars, beeswax candles, sheepskin rugs and Black Forest ham. Snacks like roasted almonds and local Langer Rote sausages pair well with glühwein . Kids will have a blast baking cookies, making candles and riding the Ferris wheel.
26. Budapest, Hungary
Dates : November 18–December 31, 2023
The Hungarian capital dazzles at Christmas, especially at the market on stately Vörösmarty tér , which is transformed into a sea of gold lights and red-baubled trees. There’s no tourist tat at this nostalgic number, just choirs and concerts, glass-blowing, wood-carving and candle-making workshops, and a parade of prettily lit timber chalets where you can pick up mézeskalács (honey gingerbread), Hungarian pottery, embroidery and wood carvings. Warm up over gulyásleves (goulash soup in a bread bowl). If you can, tie in your visit with the candle-lighting ceremony of the enormous wreath at the Basilica of St Stephen at 4pm on Sundays during Advent.
27. Milan, Italy
Dates : December 1, 2023–January 6, 2024
As the fashion powerhouse of northern Italy , Milan styles Christmas in its own glam way. The headline market is Oh Bej! Oh Bej! (How Beautiful! How Beautiful!), which kicks off on December 7, 2023 (the Feast of St Ambrogio) at Renaissance Castello Sforzesco – a fortified vision in red brick. Going strong since 1510, the Christmas fair hums with stalls selling handcrafted toys, flowers, books, artisan-made iron, copper and brass creations, panettone and firunatt (necklace-like strings of chestnuts). More? Head over to the Christmas market twinkling below the Duomo , or go skating and snow tubing at the central station.
28. Basel, Switzerland
Dates : November 23–December 23, 2023
A progressive, art-loving city on the Rhine, Basel in northern Switzerland is never more bewitching than during Advent, when a heart-warmingly traditional Christmas market springs up on historic Barfüsserplatz and cathedral -crowned Münsterplatz. Snowglobe-strung trees, a fairy-tale forest, a revolving Weihnachtpyramide (Christmas pyramid) with nativity scenes, a fantasy carousel and stalls brimming with handcrafted toys, decorations and crafts await. Snack-wise, try local potato pancakes, grilled sausages and Baumstriezel (chimney cake) with hot chocolate or mulled wine.
29. Vienna, Austria
Dates: November 18, 2023–January 4, 2024
With its palaces and horse-drawn carriages, Vienna is fantasy stuff – and never more than during Advent, when you’re only ever a step away from the next Christmas market. Go for fairground rides, ice skating and mulled wine at the buzzy market in front of the neo-Gothic Rathaus or high-quality crafts at the romantic number in the narrow Biedermeier lanes of Spittelberg . Fairest of the lot, though, is the market on the grounds of Schloss Schönbrunn , with its magnificent tree, choirs, brass bands, carousel, and 80 huts selling everything from nostalgic wooden toys to beeswax candles, felt figurines, Alpine cheese and candied nuts.
30. Brussels, Belgium
Dates : November 24–December 31, 2023
With its step-gabled townhouses, cobbles and strikingly lit Grand Place, Brussels is like a scene behind the door of an old-fashioned Advent calendar. And at Christmas, it’s a knockout. Winter Wonders sprinkles the city with fairy dust, with sound and laser shows and a fabulous tree lighting up the Grand Place, ice and curling rinks and a merry-go-round on Place de Brouckère, and a 200-stall market spreading out from Place Sainte-Catherine, where you can shop for stocking fillers, scoff waffles and pick up Belgian beer and chocolate.
This article was first published November 2012 and updated November 2023
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