Traben-Trarbach is one of the most charming wine towns along the Mosel river, in the Rhineland-Palatinate region of Germany. It has some castle ruins and fine Jugendstil architecture to admire, but this is mostly a place to kick back and enjoy life. Stroll along the lovely river side boulevard and take in the lush hill side vineyards on both river banks. Then sit down on one of the outdoor terraces to try some of the fine local wines produced here, and just forget time...
Now officially united, Traben and Trarbach are originally two villages, situated on opposite sides of the river. A large bridge connects the two parts. Note that Wolf, now also a part of the city, is in practice rather a village of its own. Located in the next river curb, it's almost an hour's walk from Trarbach centre. More quiet, Wolf has plenty of good places to stay and eat and -especially if you have transport of your own- makes a fine base from where to explore the Moselle Valley.
- Tourist Information Office, Am Bahnhof 5, ☎ +49 65 41 8 39 80, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. May-Aug. Mon-Fri: 10AM-5PM, Sa: 11AM-3PM. Sep-Oct:Mon-Fri: 10AM-6PM, Sa: 11AM-3PM. Nov-Apr: Mo-Fri 11AM-4PM. The tourist office is very helpful, with lots of information available in English. It's also the go-to place for bookings of tours, and can arrange wine tastings and other activities. It can also book accommodation for you.
The Frankfurt-Hahn airport is a 20 minute ride by car, and has a bus connection to Bullay. Ryanair has a good number of international flights here, and Wizzair and SunExpress have a few others. For non-discount air connections, Frankfurt Airport is your best bet. Additional options (although further off) include Metz-Nancy-Lorraine Airport (IATA: ETZ) and Cologne.
If you're travelling by train, Traben-Trarbach is a stop on the Moselwein-Bahn and a 20 minute trip from Bullay. From there, faster IC or RB trains will take you further to e.g. Koblenz (1 hour).
Coming by car, take the A1 coming from the directons of Trier or Koblenz. Take exit 125 Wittlich Mitte. From there, you can just follow the signs. Alternatively, take the more scenic B53 route along the Mosel river.
The hills in this area can be rather steep to ride, but when you follow the river valley, biking is a good option even if you're not super fit. There's an indicated Mosel Bike route, called "Mosel-Radweg".
The dual town can easily be explored on foot. To get to the hill top ruins, or just to the hills above town to admire the view, it's quite a walk up though. The same goes if you want to head to Wolf. A bike or car can come in handy for that.
Both the Traben and Trarbach sides of town have a pleasant and typical old flair to it, with timbered houses and many Belle Epoque details all around. Although the origins of both places go back to the Middle Ages, mass fires destroyed most heritage from those days. In 1857, the last city fire left 1400 of all 1700 inhabitants of Trarbach without a roof over their heads. As the town (officially united since 1904) grew into a major wine trading city - at the turn of the century it was second in the world, after Bordeaux- it was splendidly rebuilt after the latest fashion. Many of the buildings were designed by the famous German architect Bruno Möhring, one of the most prominent Jugendstil architects in the country.
- Ruins of the Grevenburg (The walking path up to the ruins is indicated from the Brückentor.). Constructed around the year 1350, the Grevenburg was originally the ancestral seat of the counts of Sponheim. Repeatedly besieged, damaged, occupied and rebuilt, it was conquered for the fourth and last time in 1734 by the French, during the War of the Polish Succession. The castle was blown up and large parts of it fell down into the river valley below. Only a few ruins are standing today, but much of the foundations remain. At the ruins, there's a small tavern and some gardens, and of course you get to enjoy some excellent panoramic views. If you're interested, there's a tourist brochure available for download and the Mittelmosel-Museum has some more detailed documentation about the castle. It also provides further information about opening hours. No entrance fee..
- Underground Wine Vaults, ☎ +49 65 41 8 39 80 (for bookings and more information). As the city has long been a major wine trading centre, large parts of it have extensive vaults underneath. Up to 120 meters(!) long and sometimes multi-storied, these vaults make for a fun excursion. Unfortunately, tours are rare, taking place only at the last Friday of each month. You need to reserve ahead, via the tourist office. For groups, separate tours can however be booked. Adults: €5 (incl. a glass of wine).
- Mont Royal Fortress ruins. Starting in 1687, the French “Sun King” Louis XIV engaged his brilliant architect and master builder Vauban to build a huge fortress on the peninsular mountain high above Traben. The massive fortress provided space for 12,000 soldiers and 3,000 horses, and became one of the key strongholds for the French Rhine army, protecting the French borders. The incredibly expensive fortress was however demolished by the French themselves, no more than eleven years after it was built, following the Peace of Ryswick. There's a tourist brochure available for download[www.traben-trarbach.de/nextshopcms/cmspdf.asp?id=90] and the Middle Mosel Museum has plans and archaeological finds on display. Guided tours take place regularly in season and can be booked ahead via the tourist office. No entrance fee.
- Brückentor (Bridge Gate). The bridge gate was designed by Bruno Möhring and established in 1899.
- The Middle-Mosel Museum, Casinostr. 2. The Mittel-Mosel Museum has displays on local and regional history.
- Hop on one of the many sight-seeing cruise boats to get a view from the water. From about 10:30AM to around 4:30PM several companies operate trips to nearby Bernkastel-Kues, which take about 2 hours and typically cost around €13/19 for a single or return. The ticket offices and boats are hard to miss, as they line the river banks close to the bridge. They all indicate their departure times and prices, allowing you to take a convenient pick.
- Don't miss out on a wine tasting. Wine is what this area is all about, and sampling some of the countless examples of local produce is a must-do. Look for signs indicating Weinprobe or Weinverkauf or anything of the kind. Prices differ, but you'll typically get about 6 samples for under €10.
- Plenty of hiking and biking routes are indicated. For some splendid views, make your way high up to the top of the river side vineyards, or, for more easy paths, follow the Mosel and stay in the valley. The tourist office has some maps.
- Rent a canoe and paddle your way down river. Try either Kanu Verleih Jürgen Claus, An der Mosel 90, or FunTime Kanuvermietung In den Kirchgärten 10 .
Even for those who are not typically wine enthusiasts, it will be difficult to leave Traben-Trarbach without a bottle or two. And why not; it's the obvious souvenir and if you don't plan on drinking it yourself, your friends will likely be grateful if you serve them your own import wine.
Restaurants are scattered all over town, with options varying from 5 course gourmet cuisine to traditional and filling schnitzel and fried potatoes for around €12.
- Clauss-Feist. The restaurant of the famous Bellevue hotel has some of the best options for fine dining in town, in a nicely historic setting. €40 for 4 courses.
- Die Graifin, Wolfer Weg 11. Close to the Buddha museum, this place has great food in a rustique restaurant setting. Located in an old wine house, the wines served today are exclusively from the own vineyard.
- Marika's Stuebchen, Fährstraße 2. Located in Wolf, this friendly place on the river side is somewhat away from the large Traben-Trarbach crowds, but still very popular. It serves tasty dishes (many traditional meat and fish plates) and large portions for small prices. On weekends on summer, many dishes are served from the outdoor grill. They serve and sell good wines from their own vineyard as well as brandy and sweet liquors. There's also an apartment for rent. Full meals from €10.
Obviously, if you come here, you just have to try the local wines. There are truly excellent examples and so many different kinds, that there's a favourite for everyone. Some of the river bank vineyards have the names of the "Weingut" (wine house) it belongs to indicated in huge white letters. In town, you can try sample of order bottles at really every tiny restaurant or café, of which there are plenty.
Several of the Wine houses also have distilleries, producing brandy and sweet liquors.
A prime tourist destination for over a century, Traben-Trarbach has a broad scale of lodging options, varying from top end hotels to lovely but cheap camping sites. There are many bed&breakfast style "Gästezimmer" available, which are often good options. Even in high season you might encounter signs stating "Zimmer Frei" (Room free), but booking ahead is advised.
- Wolfer Camping Site (Along the river side, entrance where Im Luxgraben meets the river side.), ☎ +49 6541 9174. Quiet, family-run camping site with a good number of spots directly on the water side, overlooking the vineyards on the other side. Many guest are full season guests, but this place is welcoming to short term visitors too, even for a night. Most of the free spots are usually at the far end of the camp side, with nice places but a bit far from the bathrooms. If you want electricity, note that the spots on the far end are also far from the division points. There's a small playground for children, but nothing special. The small store has basic needs and wine (of course!). There's no check in/out time. €8 for a large tent plus car, plus €5 per adult. Shower coins €0,80 (4 min.).
- Romantik Jugendstilhotel Bellevue, An der Mosel 11, ☎ +49 6541-7030. This is one of the top places in town. Established as a luxury hotel over a century ago for the upper class tourists of the time, the looks of this place have hardly changed. It's one of the prime examples of Jugendstil hotels in the country, and one of the finest Belle Epoque sights in town. Service and facilities are fully up to date however, making this a great place to stay. If you're not staying for the night, consider dining in the fine gourmet restaurant (3 course dinner from €30). Book ahead. €135/€170 in low/high season.
- Hotel Trabener Hof, Bahnstr. 25. Another century old hotel, family run and with a 3 star notation. It's not on the river side but a bit more in the Traben centre. Great service and spacious rooms, and a nice restaurant in the basement. Doubles from €95.
- Park-Hotel Traben-Trarbach, Enkircher Str. 1-3, ☎ +49 6541 811740. Ask for a room with a view over the river. This 3 star hotel has nice rooms, and extra large family-rooms are available. There's a good restaurant and the service is excellent. Good value for money. Wifi is free. From €95 for a double (rooms with a view €99).