Bernkastel-Kues & Wittlich – your city experience!

Art, culture, wine and cuisine

Bernkastel-Kues is THE hotspot of the Middle Mosel, known for its outstanding wineries and its extremely beautiful half-timbered architecture. But that’s not all it has to offer by any means! Excursions into the surrounding area, discovering the delicious gastronomy of an outstanding culinary scene, experiencing an open-air operetta typical of the region and cruising along the Mosel on a Roman boat are also definitely worthwhile. So make sure you allow plenty of time!

Magical half-timbered town with castle ruins

Ansicht des Fachwerks des Spitzenhäuschens in Bernkastel-Kues
© Instagram @purpurdaria

The abundance of beautiful half-timbered houses are Bernkastel’s pride and joy. The best thing to do first is to stand in the market square! A compact, narrow town house from the 15th century named the “Spitzhäuschen” will definitely draw your attention. Take a leisurely stroll through the winding streets and peruse the shops; you’ll come across several interesting boutiques and manufactories here. The historic confectionery maker “Bonbon Willi” for example, makes its sweets just like it did 100 years ago (Burgstr. 8). From the Spitzhäuschen, an approx. 30-minute ascent leads to Landshut Castle, which was built on the foundations of a Roman fortress. It was this “Princastellum” that gave the town its name! Sweeping views of the Mosel Valley await you here. A multimedia trail provides information on the castle’s history. If the climb up to the castle feels too much, there’s also the option of taking a vintage bus.

 

Medieval St. Nikolaus Hospital with extensive vinothek

 Ansicht auf den Innenbereich des Cusanusstiftes in Bernkastel-Kues.

On the other side of the Mosel, right next to the bridge, stands a late Gothic monastery estate that absolutely deserves a visit. It was built by Nikolaus von Kues, the son of a wealthy Kues merchant and Mosel boatman. Born in Bernkastel-Kues in 1401, he went on to study mathematics, physics, astronomy, medicine, ancient philosophy, law and theology. As a priest and scientist, he rose to the highest ranks of public life in his day and was even considered a serious candidate for papal election. He founded the estate as a “hospital for the poor, for old and weary men” of all social classes, and modelled it on a monastic structure. It has survived to this day and still functions as a home for the elderly thanks to Nikolaus von Kues’ generosity in terms of resources and the prudent statutes that he had drawn up.

Take a particular look at the Gothic chapel with its outstanding winged altar, an early work by the Cologne artist Meister des Marienlebens (c.1450/60). As part of a guided tour, you can also view the library, which is considered one of the most prestigious private libraries in the world.

One of the monastery buildings houses a wine museum with a large vinothek where you can taste wines from the entire winegrowing region!

Modern classic car museum “Zylinderhaus”

Luxury limousines and a little piece of happiness: thissophisticated motor museum depicts 90 years of German automotive history. More than 100 cars, motorbikes and transporters – everyday vehicles and legends alike – gleam on display at the Zylinderhaus. And it doesn’t end there! The museum also has a vintage row of shops, an old petrol station and much more.

 

Our tips for tasty treats

Ansicht auf ein Kuchengedeck im Café K in Bernkastel-Kues.

Sightseeing definitely makes you hungry! Fancy a sweet temptation? Then Café K (Nikolausufer 14) is the place to be. Revel in fresh seasonal cakes and tarts; baking mixes, canned fruit and other processed products are strictly off the menu.

You can find more Mosel cafés here: “10 sweet retreats”

Going out in the evening and treating yourself to something special is all part of a great holiday experience. You’ll find plenty of good places to eat in the Bernkastel holiday region! But we’d like to recommend the following three restaurants in particular. Two of these are award-winning establishments.

Ansicht auf ein Pärchen beim Dinner im Restaurant Schanz in Piesport.
Ansicht auf einen Seehecht im Restaurant Schanz.
Ansicht auf einen stivoll gedeckten Tisch im Wein- & Tafelhaus.

In Piesport, approx. 20 minutes by car from Bernkastel-Kues, is the restaurant of Thomas Schanz, who was recently named Chef of the Year 2021 by Gault&Millau. It isn’t easy to get a table but you should absolutely give it a try. In his contemporary French cuisine, the “passionate chef”, as Thomas Schanz likes to call himself, places great importance on teasing out all the flavours from the best fresh ingredients and capturing their fine, sometimes complex aromas. Everything is then presented with great elegance. You can find out even more about this impressive cuisine in our feature on Thomas Schanz.

And there’s another star chef in town. Just a couple of kilometres away at the Wein- und Tafelhaus in Trittenheim, Michelin-starred chef Alexander Oos is on hand to spoil you with excellent cuisine in his cube-design, glass-panelled restaurant or out on the terrace with fantastic views of the famous “Trittenheimer Apotheke” vineyard.
To the Wein- und Tafelhaus Trittenheim feature

Our third tip is the restaurant Rittersturz in Veldenz. Chef Volker Kruft cooks with high-quality regional ingredients, which includes everything from wild herbs and vegetables to meats. He’s even won over the Michelin Guide with his creations!

Superb venues for exclusive wine tastings

Have you ever heard or read about the “Bernkasteler Ring”? It’s the name of the oldest existing wine auction association in Germany. 41 distinguished Mosel wineries formed this association, united by the common goal of producing high-quality wines intended to earn the winegrowing region a national and international reputation as one of the best in the world. And they have succeeded! Their wine auctions hit the headlines time and again with spectacular prices.

Außenansicht eines großen Anwesens als Weingut

Among its members is Weingut Markus Molitor in Bernkastel-Wehlen, one of the best wineries in Germany. Its vinothek is open for wine tastings, which isn’t always the case at top wineries. The estate is also architecturally exceptional and a few years ago even won the nationwide “Wine Architecture Prize”, awarded by the Rhineland-Palatinate Ministry for the Environment, Agriculture, Food, Viticulture and Forestry, the German Winegrowers Association and the Rhineland-Palatinate Chamber of Architects.

Freistehendes Haus mit Spitzdach als Weingut

Weingut Kerpen is also located in Bernkastel-Wehlen. This member of the Bernkasteler Ring even has a wine tavern, the “Riesling Café”, for you to enjoy. The winegrowers’ villa, built back in 1907/1908, is also really interesting from an architectural perspective.

Vinothek unter hohen Gewölbedecken aus Holz

And there’s another special winery in Wehlen: the Weingut S.A. Prüm, which is situated directly along the Mosel. The Prüm family has been successfully involved in winegrowing for over 850 years. That’s quite something! Their wines have earned awards from Falstaff, Vinum, Eichelmann and others. The traditional winery is now being run by a woman for the first time, namely viticultural engineer Saskia Prüm. S.A. Prüm also has a vinothek open to you for wine tastings!

Langer Gewölbekeller zur Weinverkostung und Weinlagerung

It’s always an amazing experience tasting wines directly at a winery. But if you’re looking for the widest possible selection, the best place to go is the vinothek located in the vaulted cellars of the St. Nikolaus Hospital (see above). It’s the world’s largest vinothek specialising in Mosel Riesling. You can sample and buy over 150 different wines from the region here.

 

 

Mythos Mosel – A Riesling journey

Exceptional wineries invite you to a big wine tasting weekend

If you head to the Mosel on the weekend after Whitsun, you have the chance to get to know wines from around 120 outstanding wineries! 30 wineries between Detzem and Wintrich open up their tasting rooms and vinotheks for this event, and each invite three other wineries from other parts of the Mosel region to present their wines. This gives you the opportunity to get to know four wineries per stop and taste around 24 wines!

Journey back in time to the Roman era

Ansicht auf eine Frau mit Hut auf die Nordansicht der Porta Nigra in Trier.
© Instagram @purpurdaria

The Mosel owes its viticulture to the Romans, by the way. Have a read of this! Several ancient wine presses found by archaeologists in what are still the best winegrowing locations bear witness to this fact. Take a look at the Roman wine presses in Erden, for example, which have been partially reconstructed and brought to life with augmented reality. Simply download the free ARGO app onto your smartphone beforehand.

Ever travelled on a reconstructed Roman boat? We bet you haven’t! Then treat yourself to a Mosel cruise on the Stella Noviomagi, which departs from Neumagen-Dhron.

Speaking of Romans, you should definitely also take a trip to the Roman city of Trier with its UNESCO World Heritage status, and especially this year! It’s only about 50 kilometres away from Bernkastel-Kues. A large state exhibition worth seeing is set to take place in Trier between 25 June and 27 November 2022, its fascinating theme being: “The Fall of the Roman Empire”. You can find out more about Trier and the state exhibition in our Trier tips post.

Visit to the pilgrimage church Wallfahrskirche Klausen

Klausen is a very important Marian place of pilgrimage in the diocese of Trier and an attraction for several thousand believers every year. Its late Gothic pilgrimage church is also a standout destination from an art history point of view. The sacral building dates back to the Augustinian canons of the 15th century, a reform order that emerged from a Dutch devotional movement known as the “Devotio Moderna”. Nikolaus von Kues, who you’ve already come across regarding the Nikolaus Hospital, was very supportive of this movement, and advocated that the Augustinian canons should settle in Klausen. The Dutch reform movement aimed to counteract signs of corruption within the church and to steer the clergy back to traditional monastic virtues of humility, poverty and obedience. Some even see the “Devotio Moderna” as the forerunner of Lutheranism and Calvinism. Erasmus of Rotterdam is also said to have been educated in this school of thought. One of the main duties of the Augustinian canons was to copy books, which resulted in an excellent library with a wealth of manuscripts. A special highlight at the Klausen church is its high altar; a carved altar from the Brabant School dating back to 1482.

We recommend taking a guided tour of the church and monastery library to make sure you see everything. Klausen can be reached by car from Bernkastel-Kues in approx. 20 minutes.

Modern art and Wittlich’s historic old town

Wittlich born painter and cartoonist Tony Munzlinger is known to many in Germany for his SWR tv series “Unterwegs mit Odysseus” (Travelling with Odysseus) and “Abenteuer des Herakles” (Adventures of Heracles), which aired some years ago now. But he was also very successful and productive beyond these shows. So much so that Wittlich pays special tribute to him: there are over 200 of his works to discover at Casa Tony M., in the Alte Poshalterei.

The painter, graphic artist and stained-glass maker Georg Meistermann, who is considered one of the most significant figures in abstract art on the German art scene after World War II, was also very closely associated with the town. One of his first major commissions was to create the windows for the St. Markuskirche (St. Mark's Church) in Wittlich in 1948; the development process is documented at the town’s gallery in the Altes Rathaus building. You will find other works of his there too. And make sure you visit the St. Markuskirche nearby while you’re there!

 

Ansicht auf eine Frau beim Besuch der Casa Tony M. in der Alten Posthalterei.

If you want to stroll through the old town of Wittlich and learn more about its historic buildings, take advantage of the virtual city tour “Lauschtour”, which is available in German and English. All you have to do is download the free “Lauschtour”app from the app store onto your smartphone. The official starting point is the market square but you can also choose to start at various different locations.

Wittlich is approx. 20 minutes by car from Bernkastel-Kues.

 

Our open-air tip for the summer

The “Zeltinger Himmelreich” isn’t just a well-known vineyard, but also a really unique open-air theatre event with lots of humour, local colour and catchy melodies! Zeltingen-Rachtig is probably the only village in Germany with its own operetta. And of course it’s all about wine and love. The audience sits in the middle of the market square against a historic backdrop. The actors are all locals, and some have taken part since they were children. If that’s not a living tradition, we don’t know what is! So, our tip is: enjoy a balmy summer’s evening at the Mosel operetta “Zeltinger Himmelreich”.

Our accommodation tips

Want to treat yourself to some pretty special accommodation? Then book a stay at the five-star hotel Schloss Lieser! The magnificent 19th century estate has been extensively upgraded in recent years and is designed to the highest standards. The restaurant is excellent and the hotel also offers a bar, a traditional wine cellar, a library and a chapel. Its spa & wellness facilities included a fitness studio, an indoor pool, saunas and massage rooms.

Alternatively, we can also highly recommend the Weinromantikhotel Richtershof in Mülheim. The four-star superior hotel, which evolved from a historic vineyard, is now one of the region's finest locations. This is another great place to stay and there’s the opportunity to indulge yourself with some vinotherapy in the spa's wellness facilities.

There are lots of lovely hotels and holiday rentals in Bernkastel-Kues and the surrounding area. The Weinhotel St. Stephanus in Zeltingen is just the place to feel at home. Or how about the unique Märchenhotel in the Bernkastel-Kues old town?

Book your Mosel holiday now!

22.08.2022
-
29.08.2022

It appears that you are using Microsoft Internet Explorer as your web browser to access our site.

For practical and security reasons, we recommend that you use a current web browser such as Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Opera, or Edge. Internet Explorer does not always display the complete content of our website and does not offer all the necessary functions.