Beilstein Germany is a tiny town sitting along the peaceful Moselle River (a.k.a. Mosel River in English). Beginning in France, the Moselle River enters Germany near Trier and meanders to Koblenz where it flows into the mighty Rhine River. While not nearly as popular as the Rhine Valley, the Moselle River Valley is a delightful place to visit as both sides of the river are dotted with castles, vineyards, and cute little villages. We sadly only had two days to explore this area, and we chose to stay in Beilstein, known as the “Sleeping Beauty of the Moselle” because of its historic inaccessibility and beautiful setting. We’ll tell you about our explorations in Beilstein, share some tips on getting there, and give you some pros and cons of staying there versus the picturesque and popular Moselle town of Cochem.
Basic Information on Beilstein Germany
Beilstein is located along the Moselle River about 15 minutes from Cochem, 40 minutes from Burg Eltz, 40 minutes from Frankfurt airport, 1 hour from Koblenz, and 1 hour and 15 minutes from Trier.
The best and most convenient way to get to Beilstein is by car, but it is also possible via local bus or Moselle river cruise. You can also take a taxi. For bikers, it is possible to get here by bike but it is a long bike ride from most of the other Moselle towns so check distances and maps before setting out.
Car: There is both free and paid parking along the river. Please note there are several places named Beilstein in Germany so make sure you have the correct one along the Moselle River (postal code is 56814). The town is tiny and does not show up on all printed maps.
Bus: You can take a local bus from many of the nearby towns and get to Beilstein, such as Cochem, Koblenz, or Trier. You can check the bus schedule for times and stops.
River boat: River boats come and go along the Moselle from the dock at Beilstein, but these are seasonal so check the Kolb Brothers boat schedule. Note that boats move at a very leisurely pace on the Moselle because of all the locks in the river they must navigate.
Where Can I Find More Information about Visiting Beilstein Germany?
There is no official tourist information office in Beilstein that we are aware of, but there is a town website in German which lists some of the local guesthouses and inns, eateries, and local wineries under the Tourist Information section. If staying in town I would recommend asking your innkeeper for some information. We found several pamphlets during our stay at Haus Lipmann. As far as guidebooks, we found Rick Steves Germany guidebook to be the most thorough resource on Beilstein compared to most other guidebooks we checked which often only offered a paragraph or two.
Our Time in Beilstein Germany
After picking up a rental car in Düsseldorf and stopping for a few hours at the very impressive Köln Cathedral, we headed to Beilstein Germany for our first night’s rest in Germany. The drive was pleasant but we were super tired after a full day of flying and traveling. We were both were very happy once we finally arrived in Beilstein. We parked at a small gravel parking lot near the river, walked the short walk to our inn, and took our suitcases inside to our home for the night, Hotel Haus Lipmann. Built in 1714 and in the Lipmann’s family ownership since 1795, Haus Lipmann is one of those great historic places that Ethan and I love. After depositing our suitcases in our small but charming room, we headed downstairs to have dinner at the inn.
Since we knew we would be arriving in the evening, we had paid for the half-board option which includes dinner; however, you can certainly eat for less elsewhere in Beilstein. For dinner, I had a bowl of the white asparagus soup (white asparagus was in season during our stay in Germany and France, heavenly!), shared the special of the evening which was venison steak and spätzle with Ethan, and tried a glass of the local white wine. The meal was delicious and fairly priced and the service was very good. If you are in Beilstein during the evening, I would highly recommend dinner here even if not staying at the inn. If the weather is good you can sit outside with a river view or if not, the historic dining room is also a great place to dine.
Energized by the hearty German food, we set out on foot to explore a bit of the town before sunset. We walked along the pretty Moselle river and then decided to do the short, but fairly steep hike up to the ruined castle Burg Metternich. We walked up through the vineyards, which was perhaps not the easiest route.
The castle was closed at this time in the evening (there is a small fee to enter), but the views on the walk up were great and honestly there is not too much to see inside as only one of the original towers is still standing today. The castle is believed to date back to the 12th century and was destroyed by the French in 1689 while under the ownership of the Metternich family. Following the destruction of their castle in Beilstein, the Lords of Metternich would later build what is now Haus Lipmann (our hotel) in 1714. Coming back to the inn, we followed a gravel path and then the road back down through town.
After reviewing some German phrases in our phrasebook (our German was woefully horrible throughout our trip), we went to sleep after a very full first day in Germany. Miraculously, we woke up early the next morning and headed down for breakfast at 8:00am. The dinner the night before was great, and the breakfast buffet at Haus Lippman was probably the best we had in Germany. First, it is served in the banquet room which was built in the 18th century and is full of antiques, feudal weapons, and other medieval decorations. The buffet contained tons of food choices, including cheeses, cold cut meats, eggs, yogurt, bacon, cereal, breads, etc. They even offered wine and I had a mimosa along with my coffee for my first morning in Germany.
Fueled by our second fantastic German meal, we set out to do some more exploration of little Beilstein. The town is tiny but it is uphill with narrow lanes so it takes a bit of time to get around. We started with another short walk along the river and then proceeded to head uphill and meandered through the narrow lanes of hilly Beilstein. The town is very well-preserved and an hour or so walk will allow you to see plenty of half-timbered houses from the 17th through 19th centuries, remnants of the town’s stone fortifications, former tithe house, a former chapel, a former synagogue, and a Jewish cemetery. One of the larger buildings in town, other than the castle, is that of the former Carmelite monastery and the Saint Joseph’s Catholic Parish Church (Pfarrkirche St. Joseph). The church contains a 12th century Black Madonna and is a pilgrimage sight. There is a restaurant right in front of the church entrance which offers good views. We didn’t eat here but we took in the free views from the terrace. The chapel was open and it was pretty inside with a painted ceiling and walls.
After our little walking tour, we headed back to the inn to check out and say goodbye to Beilstein. We wished we could have spent a little more time enjoying our stay at Hotel Haus Lipmann, but we were very excited to check out Burg Eltz that afternoon. On route to Burg Eltz, however, we made a 40 minute or so detour in the town of Cochem. Compared even to pretty Beilstein, Cochem is a real knock-out with medieval streets, cute colored old homes, and a majestic (and elaborately restored) castle overlooking it all. It is a long and skinny town and there are plenty of great paths for riverside strolling here.
Cochem versus Beilstein as a Place to Stay Along the Moselle
Cochem and Beilstein are both very picturesque Moselle towns sitting alongside the river and are two popular contenders when thinking about a town to choose as a base to explore this area. Cochem is much larger than Beilstein (although still a small town), and is able to offer a lot more conveniences (tourist information office, grocery stores, banks), activities (sports center, castle tours, winery tours, chairlift), and has many more lodging and eating options than Beilstein. You can check out the tourist information website here and the Cochem city website here. Cochem is also closer to the Rhine River Valley and is much easier to reach by public transportation than Beilstein and has its own train station. Cochem is also a more popular tourist stop and is more likley to be crowded, but both towns can be overrun by visitors during the day. Both towns become quieter at night and can be dead during off-season. We’d definitely consider a stay in Cochem in the future and would love to spend more time exploring this pretty town. However, given all the perks of Cochem, we were very happy in our choice of staying in Beilstein. Beilstein makes a lovely place to stay for those who want to stay in a tiny little town and are not looking for any real activities and just want a peaceful break in their itinerary to watch the swans in the river, hike to the ruined castle, and sit and enjoy a cup of coffee or local white wine from a riverside terrace. A day visit can be a great way to get some good views of this pretty little town, but if you want to experience Beilstein at its best we’d recommend an overnight as we found the early morning after breakfast and evenings after dinner to be ideal times to explore after the day trippers leave.
Have you visited any of the towns along the Moselle River? As always, feel free to ask us any questions about our trip and we love hearing your thoughts and opinions. Stay tuned for our next post about Germany as we explore Burg Eltz, which is definitely a contender for our favorite German castle.