Rhine Castles, Moselle Vineyards & Ancient Cologne
11 Superb Days
- Leisurely 3 night stays
- Small group size from just 10 to 28
- Genuinely inclusive, no additional on tour costs
- Character hotels in superb locations
- Designed for Australians & New Zealanders
- 'My Time' guaranteed
Explore the spectacular castles, steep hill clinging vineyards and delightful riverside towns of the Rhine and Moselle Rivers. Stay in Germany’s ancient towns of Trier and inspiring Cologne. Visit Luxembourg, Koblenz and Aachen, cruise down the Rhine, relax in Rüdesheim, dine on vine covered terraces and stand on a massive ‘treehouse platform’ with sweeping views down over the River Saar. And in July… We have special departures that include a superb André Rieu concert in Maastricht.
July – Special André Rieu departures
That world-famous violinist André Rieu was born and lives in Maastricht. Renowned as the modern day ‘King of Waltz’, every July, along with his Johann Strauss Orchestra, he transforms the gorgeous medieval square into a wonderful auditorium, where he performs to adoring crowds. Yes, we have tickets! Our July departure has been specially timed to catch these fantastic hometown concerts. Interested? It will be such fun and spaces are obviously limited, so we recommend you book now!
- Stay 3 nights in the heart of Cologne and enjoy dinner in a traditional beer hall
- Spend a day in Holland exploring Maastricht and enjoy a private guided tour through the amazing, historical man-made passages and caverns of the North Caves
- At picturesque Cochem visit the nuclear money bunker, relax beside the Moselle and visit the perched castle Burg Eltz
- Take a cable car up to the Niederwald Monument, enjoy lunch on a hilltop restaurant terrace with stunning views over vineyards and down to the Rhine.
- Enjoy ‘My Time’ in beautiful Rüdesheim, relax on an afternoon cruise along the Rhine past the Lorelei Rock
- Visit the gorgeous village of Bacharach, enjoy a farewell drink on a picture postcard Rhine valley terrace, and a farewell ‘wine cellar’ dinner
- Enjoy a walking tour of Roman Trier and ‘My Time’ in the pedestrian town
- Take an afternoon drive down to the river Moselle, enjoy the spectacular views from the battlements of Castle Burg Landshut, visit pretty
- Bernkastel-Kues and sample Moselle wines at a tasting
- At Mettlach, follow a tree top walk to the dramatic Saarschleife lookout perched high above the beautiful Saar River loop and visit the delightful ‘waterfall town’ of Saarburg
Why on earth settle for less?
There is a 65 km long stretch of the Rhine River that is UNESCO Heritage listed. Lined with historical villages, vineyards and castles it is quite wonderful however, many mistakenly think this is all that the region has to offer! By coach or by cruise boat, you usually get offered a cursory few hours here, or maybe a day or so on this stretch, and then you are moved on. Big mistake! This is so wrong because there is so much more just waiting to be discovered. That is why we spend 11 whole days in this divine region, delving so much deeper and seeing so many readily ignored, world class sites.
We boast three sets of three nights stays – in the UNESCO cities of Trier and Cologne, and in the heart of the UNESCO listed region of the Rhine. This gives us… gives you… that most valuable of all things – Time! Time to dine in spectacular castles, sip wine in steep hill clinging vineyards, and relax in the delightful riverside towns along the glorious Rhine and Moselle Rivers. Yes, we visit all the classic sites but why stop at that? How about a visit to ancient Aachen to see the tomb of the guy that became the first Holy Roman Emperor – Charlemagne. Or a visit to the dramatic, rock perched castle of Burg Eltz, the beautiful UNESCO Palaces of Brühl, and the lovely town of Maastricht. At Saarschleife we will even take you on a stunning ‘treetop platform’ for incredible, sweeping views down over a huge loop of the River Saar. In Cochem we visit a strange nuclear fallout shelter designed to only protect money! There are so many sites and possibilities.
Oh yes… did I mention Maastricht earlier? That guy André Rieu lives there, and every July he performs world-class concerts in the medieval town square. Yes, we have tickets. Interested? It will be such fun. Come and join us!
Day 1: Amsterdam welcome
Your tour commences this evening in Holland’s cosmopolitan capital city, Amsterdam. Join us tonight for a welcome drink before dinner in your hotel. This is an ideal chance to meet, and get to know, your Tour Manager and fellow travellers.
Park Plaza Victoria
Day 2: Cologne Cathedral and dinner in a classic Beer Hall
Travelling into Germany we reach Cologne around lunchtime. We will stay in this wonderful city for the next three nights. On arrival we are joined by a local guide who will walk us through the old town’s narrow cobblestoned lanes and lively squares such as Alter Markt. The highlight will be a visit to the UNESCO Heritage listed, twin spired Cathedral and its remarkable Treasury, the biggest in Germany. Secreted away in the medieval crypt, the ancient artefacts, treasures that include gold and bejewelled crowns, orbs and sceptres are
outstanding. This evening we have included dinner in one of Cologne’s classic Beer Hall restaurants.
Maritim Hotel Köln or Pullman Cologne
Day 3: Brühl – the Palace and Hunting Lodge and ‘My Time’
This morning, in the nearby town of Brühl, we enjoy a guided tour of the UNESCO heritage listed, Augustusburg Palace and the Falkenlust Hunting Lodge. Once the sumptuous residence of the prince-archbishops of Cologne, the interior of this grand rococo palace is sheer extravagance, and the grand staircase is a sight to behold. Behind the palace are ponds, waterways, fountains, ornate gardens and shady paths that lead through the woodland to the Hunting Lodge.
Your afternoon and evening will be at leisure in Cologne. Wonderful ‘My Time’. This evening make sure you stroll along the Rheingarten - the river bank green strip with its pedestrian and bike pathways. Along here, and leading right through the pedestrianised old town, you will find a mesmerising array of restaurants, al fresco cafés and bars, all absolutely buzzing with locals.
Day 4: Maastricht and the mysterious North Caves
Heading west we re-enter Holland and visit the ancient city of Maastricht. We start the day with a guided tour of the incredible man-made labyrinth of cave tunnels and passageways deep below the St Pietersberg Hill, called the North Caves. Dating back hundreds of years, you will discover underground living areas, hideaways, charcoal murals and paintings on stone cavern walls. During the Napoleonic Wars
the locals evaded the French down here. In WWII, allied servicemen were hidden here, locals used them as air raid shelters, and even the Dutch national artworks and priceless treasures were secreted away here. An amazing story.
We will spend the rest of the day in beautiful Maastricht. Dating back to Roman times, and still retaining much of its defensive walls, this very pretty city will surprise and captivate you with its lively squares, stately buildings and narrow streets with excellent shopping and al fresco cafés. Your evening is at leisure in Cologne.
July – Special André Rieu departures
That world-famous violinist André Rieu was born and lives here in Maastricht. Renowned as the modern day ‘King of Waltz’, every July, along with his Johann Strauss Orchestra, he transforms the gorgeous medieval square into a wonderful auditorium, where he performs to adoring crowds. Yes, we have tickets! Our July departures have been specially timed to catch these fantastic hometown concerts. Interested? It will be such fun and spaces are obviously limited, so we recommend you book now!
NOTE: these wonderful performances end with a firework display at midnight. Due to this extremely late finish time we will stay 3 nights in nearby Valkenburg, instead of Cologne. We have therefore flipped the day to day touring on these special ‘André Rieu departures. Instead of driving directly to Cologne on Day 2, we visit Aachen and Drielandenpunt and then continue to Valkenburg, where we stay at the 4 star Parkhotel Valkenburg. The next day we visit Cologne and Brühl. On ‘André Day’, a leisurely start before we
visit the Northern Caves. We have also included a pre-performance dinner in Maastricht.
Day 5: Charlemagne’s Aachen and the Drielandenpunt
Our day begins with a photo stop at the Drielandenpunt (three country point) in the forests above Aachen. Here you can stand on one spot with your feet in 3 countries – Holland, Belgium and Germany. We spend the rest of the morning in ancient Aachen. Dating back 1,200 years this city is steeped in history. The soaring octagonal chapel, in the heart of the cathedral, is bathed in glorious gold frescoes and murals. This is one of Europe’s great cathedrals and the resting place of Charlemagne - Charles the Great, founder of the holy Roman Empire. Because of the grandeur it was also the coronation place of over 30 German kings, and was the first site in Germany to be added to the UNESCO World Heritage list. All around the Cathedral and the striking Gothic Town Hall are the squares and cobbled streets of the Alstadt – Old Town.
Moving on, we drive through the Eifel National Park to the UNESCO listed city of Trier, where we will spend the next three nights. Dating back 2,000 years this city became important as Rome’s capital of the North.
Hotel Eurener Hof
Day 6: Trier, Moselle Wine and Castle Views
This morning we are joined by a local guide for a walking tour of Trier, which is considered the oldest city in Germany. The city boasts no less than eight UNESCO World Heritage sites, dating from the Roman times to the 13th century Gothic church. Most famous are the Porta Nigra gate, the Roman bridge and amphitheatre, and the acoustics in Constantine’s throne room in the Basilica are absolutely astounding.
The Hauptmarkt, a large market square, is delightfully encircled by well-preserved Baroque and Renaissance townhouses. The rest of the day is ‘My Time’- to shop and amble along the broad pedestrian streets. Late afternoon we will take a scenic drive along a section of
the Moselle River. First stop will be high up at Castle Burg Landshut, with its massive views down over the Moselle, and the beautiful town of Bernkastel-Kues.
Later we enjoy a wine tasting in town before ‘My Time’ to discover your own little Moselle wine restaurant or Stube. The town is littered with historic half-timbered houses, with shops and restaurants, and picturesque little squares. This is the Moselle at its best.
Day 7: Luxembourg and the ‘Saar Loop’ lookout and Saarburg
This morning will be spent in the Duchy of Luxembourg. One of three official capitals of the EEC, it is also the seat of the European Court of Justice. The city is heavily influenced by France, Belgium and Germany, all of whom border this tiny nation. A local guide will show us around the sites and then the rest day is free to explore.
Taking a different route back to Trier we reach Mettlach, where we take the Saarschleife treetop walking path through the forests to an extraordinary elevated lookout platform. They say the river loop here is the most beautiful in Germany, and from a height of 42 metres, the view across it is truly magnificent. As a finale, late afternoon, we stop in the pretty, waterfall town of Saarburg. In the middle of town is a large waterfall, surrounded by cafés and restaurants, and below the falls are a series of ancient wooden waterwheels. Very different!
Hand Selected Experience
The Saar Loop
You know about the famous rivers of the Moselle and Rhine, but how about the Saar? Big enough for Saarland region to be named after it,
it also sits in spectacular countryside. Near Mettlach the picturesque river hooks back on itself and it is considered the prettiest river loop in Germany. Above it, at Saarschleife, we will take you on a treetop walk which rises to 23 metres above the forest floor, leading to a 42 metre high ‘treetop platform’. The sweeping views right down over the huge ‘Saar Loop’ are incredible. What an experience!
Day 8: Cochem and the secret money bunker, Burg Eltz and Boppard on the Rhine
Today, on our way to the Rhine, we visit the lower section of the Moselle. Dropping down to the river we drive through Bremm. Either side we are flanked by incredibly steep vineyards - the steepest in Europe. One set of vines sit at an incredible 68 degree angle, and they have to use scaffolding and ropes to enable harvesting!
In the hills above the riverside town of Cochem we have included a visit to the Bundesbank Bunker Museum. A really strange place - it was the secret underground bunker of the German Federal Bank. It was not built for people, but as a gigantic, bomb proof vault keeping 15 billion Deutsche Mark safe in event of a fiscal or nuclear war. Amazingly, for its entire existence no one knew it was there.
Lunchtime will be at leisure in the picturesque town below, with its famous castle looming high above. In the afternoon we also visit the iconic, perched castle of Burg Eltz. Dramatically positioned on top of a rocky promontory and lording magnificently over the forest, we enjoy a guided tour through the castle and staterooms. Later we continue to the dramatic Rhine Valley where we stay the next three amazing nights. Dinner is in your hotel with views onto the River Rhine.
*10 September departure stays 3 nights at the excellent, 5 star Hackers Grand Hotel in Bad Ems. The itinerary for this departure will vary slightly as it incorporates a farewell dinner cruise on the Rhine taking in the Rhine in Flames celebration. See Day 10.
The Bellevue Rheinhotel
Hand Selected Experience
Magnificent Burg Eltz
Spectacularly perched 70 metres high on a rocky outcrop above a forest, this 850-year-old, perfectly preserved castle has been the family home of the counts of Eltz for its entire existence. Adorned with 8 towers up to 35 metres high, it was considered so iconic a castle that it featured on the last German 500 DM bank note! (about $300). There is a Knights Hall, museum, treasury and originally decorated rooms with significant period furnishings. Dramatic, historic, brilliant - uniquely Albatross!
Day 9: Rüdesheim, Niederwald monument and Rhine Cruise
One of the most gorgeous Rhine towns is Rüdesheim. Your morning is free to explore its old town, museums, squares and narrow alleys. The highlight will be the famous Drosselgasse. 144 metres long, this cobblestoned street is at the very heart of the town and is filled with historic buildings, bars restaurants and shops.
Later, we will ride on a cable car up over terrace after terrace of manicured vineyards to the Niederwald monument. Set on a terrace high over the Rhine, this impressive 32-metre-high monument of ‘Mother Germany’ commemorates the country’s unification.
We have also included a leisurely lunch on the terrace of a nearby restaurant. Time to relax and savour the dazzling views down across the vine clad slopes to the River Rhine far below. Later, you can either catch the cable car or enjoy a gentle walk down through the vineyards to Rüdesheim.
As a finale we will enjoy a relaxing cruise on a historic paddle steamer down the Rhine, past the famous Lorelei Rock, to our hotel. This is the most scenic stretch of the Rhine with picturesque villages either side, and ruined castles perched high above hillsides covered with neat, terraced vineyards. Delightful!
Day 10: Koblenz, Ehrenbreitstein Fortress and Bacharach
Our morning will be spent in the ancient city of Koblenz. This is where the Rhine and Moselle rivers join, and on the junction is the giant equestrian statue of William I, the first German Emperor. Here we catch a cable car across the river and up to the huge Ehrenbreitstein Fortress. A local guide – Humphrey – will take us through the fortress telling stories and breathing life into its centuries of history.
Later, you will have free time to explore Koblenz’s beautiful old town with its riverside walk, picturesque courtyards and pretty squares.
This afternoon we will drive back down the Rhine to enjoy an afternoon stop in beautiful Bacharach village, with streets of multi storied half-timbered houses. On the way back to our hotel we have one last stop, high up a mountain side, to enjoy a ‘farewell to the Rhine’ drink on a tree shaded terrace, with expansive views both ways along the river, far below. Our farewell dinner tonight promises to be a special event as we dine in the old wine cellar cave located beneath our hotel.
10 September – Rhine in Flames special departure
This departure has been specially timed to take in the famous ‘Rhine in Flames’ celebration. For your farewell dinner we have included a special evening dinner cruise. Called the ‘Night of the Lorelei’, this September spectacular event is very dramatic as it takes place in the heart of the Rhine Gorge, near the Lorelei Rock. Join us on board as the river explodes into light with impressive firework displays. What an experience!
Day 11: Frankfurt
Your tour ends today after breakfast with a morning group transfer to Frankfurt airport and city centre. We recommend you book flights that depart Frankfurt after 1pm.
Incredible Value Inclusions
- ALL excursions, scenic drives, sightseeing and entrances as described
- Fully escorted by our experienced Tour Manager
- Travel in a first-class air-conditioned touring coach
- 10 nights specially selected hotel accommodation
- Hotel porterage (1 bag per person)
- 16 Meals – including breakfast daily (B), 1 lunch (L) and 5 dinners (D)
- Tea, coffee and a complimentary beverage with all included dinners
- Welcome drink Amsterdam
- Hand Selected Albatross Experiences – Cologne Cathedral treasury, Brühl’s incredible palaces of Augustusburg and Falkenlust, Saarschleife scenic lookout, Bundesbank Bunker, Burg Eltz, cable cars at Rüdesheim and Ehrenbreitstein Fortress
- Local guides as described in the itinerary
- ALL tips to your Tour Manager, Driver and Local Guides
- Personal audio system whilst on tour
- Free WiFi on most coaches and at hotels
NO additional ‘on tour’ costs!
Maritim Hotel Köln or Pullman, Cologne - 3 nights
Both these excellent 4 star hotels are centrally located within easy walking distance of the cathedral, shops and old town.
Hotel Eurener Hof, Trier - 3 nights
Staying in a thoroughly Germanic style hotel is always a great experience. Located just outside of town, this romantic, 4 star hotel is
beautifully decorated. The public areas feature traditional craftsmanship skilfully implemented to provide a contemporary feel, in keeping with the region. The restaurant serves local specialties and the bar ‘Stube’ and terrace are the perfect place to relax.
The Bellevue Rheinhotel, Rhine - 3 nights
This first-class hotel is perfectly located in the village of Boppard, right in the heart of the UNESCO Heritage listed upper middle Rhine Valley. Dating back 130 years and still family-owned, this stylish Bella Epoque property sits directly on the banks of the River Rhine. Perfect!
*10 September departure stays 3 nights at the excellent, 5 star Hackers Grand Hotel in Bad Ems.