Koblenz is a 2,000-year-old city in the Upper Middle Rhine Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where the Moselle flows into the Rhine. Right at the confluence of these rivers, the Teutonic Order established its first headquarters in the 13th century, and in the 800s, the huge Frankish Empire was divided up here.
To commemorate this history, a colossal statue of Kaiser Wilhelm I was unveiled here at the end of the 19th century. Take an epic upstream journey on the Rhine Castle Trail, where castles and palaces mingle with vineyards on either side of a steep valley.
If you want to keep the local character, be sure to take the Koblenz cable car, which takes you across the river to the Ehrenbreitstein fortress on the other side.
Let’s check out the best things to do in Koblenz:
1. Deutsche Eck
The confluence of the Moselle and Rhine rivers has always held special significance in Germany, as in this exact place the Teutonic Knights had an early headquarters.
The Teutonic Knights arrived here in 1216 at the behest of Archbishop Theoderich von Wied of Trier.
In 1897, nine years after the emperor’s death, a large equestrian statue of Kaiser Wilhelm I was erected here.
The original monument was filled with imperialist iconography and was designed to evoke nationalist fervor in Germany.
Destroyed by bombing in World War II, the 37-meter-tall monument was not rebuilt until 1993 after a heated debate due to its controversial subject.
Until that time, the empty pedestal remained a monument to German unification.
2. Koblenz Cable Car
When you arrive in Koblenz, one of the first things to decide is when you plan to travel by cable car.
This will take you across the Rhine to the Ehrenbreitstein fortress.
The system is less than 900 meters long and has a total of 18 cars that can accommodate more than 7,500 passengers per hour, more than any other cable car in the world.
At the crossroads, you’ll get a bird’s-eye view of the World Heritage landscape of the Upper Middle Rhine and the vast river itself.
The view is better if you’re in car 17, which has a glass floor, but it’s clearly not for the faint of heart! Try to catch the car at sunset when the light is stunning.
3. Ehrenbreitstein Fortress
The high ridge of 118 meters above the right bank of the Rhine has been protected by a fort since the 11th century.
Until the early 1800s, the complex was surrounded, destroyed and exchanged for hundreds of years by the French and the Electors of Trier Archbishop, Princes of Saxony and Prussians.
When the French retreated in 1801, they blew up the fortress to avoid the Prussians having a fort on the left bank just metres from what was then French territory.
The current fort was built by the Prussians in 1828 and is the second largest in Europe.
4. Koblenz National Museum
Inside the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress is the faceted Landesmuseum, which exhibits the cultural history, viticulture, photography and archaeology of the Rhineland-Palatinate.
One of the most fascinating things is the Griffin (Griffin) cannon, which is over 5 meters long and is one of the largest cannons cast in the 16th century.
The photography exhibition exhibits the work of early 20th century photographer Jacob Hilsdorf, who took portraits of many notable figures of the era, from aristocrats to artist Max Liebermann.
Every time you come to the museum, there are various temporary exhibitions.
These can cover anything from famous vintners to up-and-coming German photographers, as well as artifacts such as the trove of coins found during the excavation of the fort.
The Willi-Hörter-Platz in the town hall courtyard is a fountain surrounded by Renaissance and Baroque Jesuit architecture.
Schängelbrunnen showing a boy spewing water irregularly into a basin, designed by sculptor Carl Burger in 1940, is a bit complicated to explain.
Inspired by the city’s national anthem, Schängellied, written in 1914. It’s a prank about city boys, known as Schängel.
The name actually originated in French: boys born during the occupation of Koblenz were called “Jean”, which became “Schang” in the local dialect.
Schängel in the Fountain sums up the endearing hooliganism cherished in this part of Germany.
6. Schloss Stolzenfels
Drive a few minutes upstream and you will come to one of the most popular castles in the Upper Middle Rhine Valley.
Schloss Stolzenfels has existed since the 14th century, but was destroyed by the French in the Nine Years’ War at the end of the 17th century.
It rotted away until Koblenz presented the land to Frederick William IV of Prussia in 1823. Soon after, he rebuilt the castle in the Gothic Revival style of the picture book, according to the romantic ideals of the time.
Getting there is half the fun, as you have to trek through the gardens on a long, winding path.
In this fairytale building, you’ll get a guided tour, learn about the intricate 19th-century etiquette, admire the master woodcarver inside, and even have to change into slippers to help protect the fine parquet floors.
7. St. Castel Cathedral
Within easy reach of the Deutsches Corner is the pointed Romanesque tower of the oldest church in Koblenz.
Once attached to the monastery, the cathedral is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of the landmark events it has seen since its founding 1,200 years ago.
It was here that 110 delegates negotiated the split of the Frankish Empire in 842.
Most of the buildings were built in the 12th century, and although the church did suffer damage in World War II, it can be repaired.
Intact in the attack were the choir and the stunning star-shaped dome above the nave.
8. Rhine Castle Trail
Between the towns of Koblenz and Bingen, less than an hour’s drive south, there are more than 20 castles by the river.
The Rhine Castle Trail also passes through three of Germany’s main wine regions.
Listed as a UNESCO site in the Upper Middle Rhine Valley, the landscape is a veritable walker’s wonderland.
A classic hiking trail will rise high up the walls of the valley, through vineyards, with fantastic views of the Rhine at every step.
There’s a lot to see along the way, but you’ll have to stop at the incredibly lovely medieval town of Boppard and make time for Oberwesel at the magnificent Schönburg castle above the Rhine.
9. Electoral Palace
Prince Clemens Wenceslaus of Saxony built this stately neoclassical palace on the left bank of the Rhine from 1777 to 1793. He was the uncle of King Louis XVI of France and was forced to flee Koblenz after the French Revolution and the First Coalition War, during which the city would come under French control.
The palace was handed over to Prussia in 1815 and would be frequented by the Prussian royal family for the next 100 years.
It was badly damaged in the bombing of 1944, but was soon rebuilt, with its façade restored to its original 18th-century design.
Now, the stylish Grand Café with herringbone floors has opened inside.
You can watch the river from the terraced gardens in front and see the monuments to the Rhine Fathers and the Moselle Mother.
10. Jesuit Square
This square in the center of Koblenz’s old town takes its name from the Jesuit order, which existed in Koblenz for only 200 years until its expulsion in 1773. On the south side of the square, the former Jesuit college in Baroque style, built at the end of the 17th century, has become the town hall of Koblenz.
It is flanked by domed towers and has a passage through a grand portal.
Crowded in the southeast corner of the square is the Jesuit church of the 1610s.
Take some time to study the tympanum in the Renaissance Portal, which houses the sculpture of St. John the Baptist, as well as Ignatius of Loyola and Francis Xavier, founder and co-founder of the Society of Jesus.
11. Church of Our Lady
The site has a church that is 1600 years old and dates back to the conversion of a hall by Christians during the reign of Roman Emperor Valentinian.
Looking at the Liebgrauenlirche from below, you’ll notice that its towers have baroque onion domes, which were installed at the end of the 17th century after the bombing of Louis XIV’s army in 1688. Pass under the statues of Mary and the Child and look up at the late Gothic rib vaults of the nave and choir, and the groin vault of the gallery.
In the south aisle is the 17th-century altar of St. Nicholas, along with a 14th-century wooden cross and tombs of local noble families dating back to the Renaissance.
12. German Defense Science and Technology Research Association
Dating back to the 1910s, the Langemarck-Kaserne (Barracks) is one of Germany’s largest exhibitions of military technology.
The series is organized by the government to help train soldiers and engineers, but is also open to the public.
If you like military gear, you have to go a long way to see the impressive stuff: there’s a ton of hardware on five floors, starting with planes (look for the Lockheed F-104), tanks (Leopard I and II) ), helicopters and heavy guns on the ground floor, then move up to lighter exhibits such as tactical uniforms, light weapons, ammunition and communications technology.
13. Morning plan
As one of the noble squares of Koblenz, the current style of Am Plan is attributed to Clemens Wenceslaus of Saxony, who redesigned the square in the 1770s.
The square’s historical interest lies in the Baroque buildings on its north side.
Look for the headquarters under the Liebfrauenkirche tower.
This was the seat of the fort commander and then the fire station for most of the 20th century.
Look around and you’ll see a plaque for Henriette Sontag, which marks the birthplace of one of the most famous sopranos of the 19th century.
Meanwhile, the fountain dates back to 1806 and was once supplied by the Metternich aqueduct in the Electoral Palace.
Outside St. Castor’s Cathedral, you can get a better view of Kastorbrunnen, a French-era fountain built in 1812. The fountain is a real antique, as it bears an inscription by the French prefect Jules Doazan prematurely praising Napoleon’s conquest of Russia, a campaign that actually ended in disaster.
In 1814, following the defeat of the French army, the Russian commander in Koblenz ordered a humorous inscription below Doazan’s original message: “Vue et approuvé par nous, le Commandant Russe de la Ville de Coblence” (viewed and approved by the Russian commander of the city of Koblenz).
15. DB Koblenz Museum
A satellite of the Deutsche Bahn Museum in Nuremberg, the attraction opened in 2001 in a 100-year-old wagon repair shop. On Saturday you can visit more than 20 vintage locomotives and carriages.
While there are some steam engines, the museum features electric rail travel, and a prized exhibit is the Trans-European Express you can ride.
Well-preserved wagons testify to luxury rail travel in the early and mid-20th century.
In addition to the actual rolling stock, you can view engine cross-sections, models, seats, black-and-white photos, and posters in the museum’s showcases.
Where to Stay: The Best Hotels in Koblenz, Germany
Lowest Price Guarantee