Last Updated on October 1, 2023

The appeal of Koblenz lies in its unique geography. Located at the confluence of the Rhine and Moselle rivers in the state of Rhineland-Palatinate, Koblenz, Germany is known for its picturesque setting – a place where two major rivers meet.

Though my wife and I and fellow Viking River Cruise passengers only had a day to spend in this magnificent town, we enjoyed exploring the city with a wonderful local guide who introduced us to Koblenz’ most intriguing sites.

Koblenz History

Old fortified wall at Deutsches Eck.
Old fortified wall at Deutsches Eck. Photo by Michael Kompanik

The area that is now Koblenz was originally settled by the Romans around 8 BC and then known as “Confluentes” because of the merging of the rivers here. It served as an important military and trading post due to its strategic location.

After the fall of the Roman Empire, the region went through a variety of rulers and was part of many different territories. In the Middle Ages, Koblenz developed as a trading hub and was, of no surprise, heavily fortified due to its strategic location along the Rhine.

During the Holy Roman Empire period, Koblenz was a part of the Electorate of Trier and then later, the Electorate of Cologne. 

During the Revolutionary Wars in the late 18th century, Koblenz was occupied by French revolutionary forces. It became the capital of the French Département de Rhin-et-Moselle from 1798 to 1814.

After Napoleon’s defeat, the city was awarded to the Kingdom of Prussia as part of the Congress of Vienna in 1815. It became an important Prussian fortress, and its fortifications were once again expanded. Koblenz continued to develop as a significant Prussian city and became part of the German Empire when it was founded in 1871.

During both World Wars, the city played a crucial role as a military and logistical center due to its location. Iits historic center and infrastructure were heavily damaged during World War II. Post war, efforts were made to rebuild and restore the city’s historic architecture and it became part of the state of Rhineland-Palatinate when the Federal Republic of Germany was established in 1949.

Today, Koblenz is known for its cultural heritage, historical sites, and role as an important transportation and trade hub. Due to its riverside setting and proximity to the Rhine Valley’s scenic landscapes, the city has become a favored German tourist destination.

If you have the chance to visit Koblenz, you should, as there are many notable features and attractions making the city a perfect base for exploring the fascinating UNESCO World Heritage Site of Upper Middle Rhine Valley.

Deutsches Eck

We began our walking tour at Deutches Eck (German Corner), the iconic bow-shaped platform spot marking the confluence of the Rhine and Moselle rivers. Visitors can stroll along the riverside promenade, enjoy the views, and see the imposing statue of Emperor William I on horseback.

Explore Koblenz Fortress (Festung Ehrenbreitstein)

If it’s a clear day, be sure to take the cable caror hike up to this historic fortress for panoramic views of the city and Rhine and Mosel rivers. The cable car whisks visitors off to the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress from the base station near the Deutsches Eck.   

Once at the fortress, it’s an exciting walk through the maze of corridors and high walls, punctuated with remnants of battlements. Archaeological and historic artifacts at the State Museum of Koblenz are also housed in the fortress.  

Lahneck Castle

Lahneck Castle.
Lahneck Castle. Photo by Michael Kompanik

The 13th century Lahneck Castle is located about 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) south of Koblenz, and definitely worth a stop for castle enthusiasts. This romantic medieval fortress on a hill looks down at the junction of the River Lahn and River Rhine.

The castle offers guided public tours through its many rooms and courtyards. From here, visitors can also enjoy beautiful vistas of the river valley below.

Stroll Through Old Town

Old Town is characterized by its narrow cobblestone streets, medieval buildings, and well-preserved architecture. The structures here showcase a variety of architectural styles including Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, and half-timbered houses.

The Romanesque church of St. Castor Basilica is a prominent landmark and the oldest church in Koblenz dating back to the 9th century featuring intricate architectural details, including a beautiful cloister.

We loved the fun and festive main street of Chlossstraße lined with boutique shops, cafes, wine bars and restaurants. This is a great place to explore, do some shopping, or enjoy a traditional German meal.

Don’t miss the Old Town squares of Jesuitenplatz, Liebfrauenplatz, and Zentralplatz where you can relax, people-watch and enjoy the small-town German atmosphere.  

Take a Rhine River Cruise

Historic Koblenz views from the Rhine.
Historic Koblenz views from the Rhine. Photo by Michael Kompanik

As always, seeing a city from the water is as fascinating as seeing its waters from the shore. Koblenz is an unbeatable spot for embarking on scenic cruises across the rivers Rhine and Mosel.

Boats from Koblenz go southwards all the way to Mainz and northwards to Cologne, both routes offering views of a series of hilltop castles, romantic vineyards and the opportunity to hop off at any stop to explore this region’s picture-perfect towns.

Wine Tours and Tastings

Koblenz has been a significant region for wine production since Roman times and today is home to almost half a million vines along the rivers Rhine and Mosel. Several traditional wine growers in Koblenz offer tours, while countless wine bars and taverns tempt wine lovers with a range of delicious locally produced varietals.

During harvest season, the region gears up for a myriad of celebratory and cheerful wine festivals.

Biking Through Koblenz

Some of our fellow Viking passengers embarked on a scenic bike ride through Koblenz and its surrounding environs and had a fabulous experience. Koblenz is a bike-friendly city with well-maintained cycling paths.

If you don’t opt for a tour, rent a bike locally and explore the city and its surroundings at your own pace.

Relax in the Rhine Gardens

“Rheinanlagen” in German, the Rhine Gardens are actually a series of public parks and green spaces that run along the banks of the Rhine River in Koblenz. The gardens offer a peaceful and picture-postcard scenic setting where residents and visitors can enjoy nature, relax, and take in the beautiful views of the river (after all this is quite the river town)!

Promenades offer walking paths, benches, and areas for picnics along with landscaped trees, flowers, shrubs, and other vegetation. The Gardens also provide a space for various recreational activities such as jogging, cycling, and rollerblading which are popular along the pathways. Additionally, these open spaces are great for outdoor games and gatherings.

Koblenz is one of Germany’s oldest and loveliest cities. Its vineyards, forests and four surrounding mountain ranges provide a magnificent backdrop to this 2,000-year-old city making it a place that surprised and delighted us during our short, but sweet visit. 

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