Six spectacular, scenic German bike rides
- 10th July 2014
The Tour de France has captured our imagination this week as the cyclists have whizzed through the English countryside and the UK has given it the biggest “grand depart” it has ever known. Cycling has risen in popularity in the UK and there are big campaigns by cycling charities like Sustrans to get more of us to cycle to school and work.
What’s more we have a bewildering array of mostly traffic free cycle routes available from our German cities. You can do as much or as little as you like and we’ve given you some options for getting back from the end of the rides.
Some of our destinations are next to some of the most beautiful bicycle routes so we thought we’d point out a few and provide a few ideas for some short breaks for those of you wanting to enjoy some spectacular scenery on two wheels.
For the first blog in our cycling series we thought we would focus on rides from some of our destinations such as Frankfurt, Hamburg, and Munich.
Germany offers more than 200 bike routes and they are well marked and many run along riverbanks or old railway lines and are off road and not too strenuous. You can take bikes on German trains but some of the fast ones don’t take them so you need to check ahead.
Cycle routes starting near Frankfurt
Romantic Road Cycle Route
This route is rated as one of the top 100 sites in Germany and it covers approximately 400km from Würzburg to Füssen in the Allgäu region.
This is one of Germany’s most scenic routes and is well known around the world. This route leads through the Liebliches Taubertal region, the Nördlinger Ries situated in the heart of a giant crater, the picturesque Lechfeld plain and Pfaffenwinkel in the foothills of the Upper Bavarian Alps before ending up at King Ludwig’s famous fairytale castles.
Highlights: Historic towns, magnificent stately homes, palaces and medieval timber-framed houses. There are lots of festivals on this route from May until the autumn.
Distance: 400 km
Starts: Würzburg (1 hour 48 minutes from Frankfurt by train)
Ends: Füssen (2 hours from Munich by train)
Rhine River Cycle Route
This is a famous ride and some of the most spectacular scenery is between Bingen and Koblenz, which is a UNESCO World heritage region). There are around 40 castles and palaces line the gorge that the river has carved into the Rhenish Slate Mountains.
Small medieval towns like Bacharach and Oberwesel are great places to wander around the old streets and alleys. The narrowest point of the Rhine valley is where the legendary Loreley rock is situated. The Rhine is joined by the Mosel near Koblenz. Art lovers may enjoy the ARP Museum in Remagen in the final stage of the ride.
There are lots of cycle routes in the hilly region south of Frankfurt and you could take a train from Frankfurt to Mainz and then cycle along the Rhine to Koblenz or to Gernsheim where you can take a ferry over the river.
Highlights: The Romanesque cathedral, the Gutenberg printing press and the Rhineland carnival in Mainz which happens for three days around Ash Wednesday each year.
Option 1 Mainz – Koblenz
Terrain (both options): Asphalt paths mostly traffic free and fairly flat.
Distance: 98 km (about 6 hours by bicycle or take a couple of days)
Starts: Mainz (40 minutes by train from Frankfurt)
Ends: Koblenz (2 hours back to Frankfurt by train)
Option 2 Mainz – Berkastel Kues
Alternatively you can carry on another 100 km down the Mosel river past the spectacular Elz castle all the way to the picturesque town of Bernkastel Kues shown below.
Ends: Bernkastel Kues (4 hours back to Frankfurt by train)
Option 3 Mainz – Gernsheim
Distance: 47 km (about 3 hours by bicycle)
Starts: Mainz (40 minutes by train from Frankfurt)
Ends: Gernsheim (40 minutes back to Frankfurt by train)
Hessen Railway Cycle Route
This route is made up of various trails following disused railways with tons of unspoilt scenery and it offers some cultural highlights. The German Cyclists Federation have given this route four stars.
The route starts in Hanau, birthplace of the Brothers Grimm and runs along the disused track of the Oberwald railway. There are 2 options:
1. Through the Wetterau region
2. Along the edge of the Spessart hills, past palaces and Celtic barrows.
Highlights: Vogelsberg nature reserve, medieval town of Lauterbach, palaces in Ortenberg, Gedern and Eisenbach, the royal palace and cathedral in Fulda and the ruin of Gelnhausen Palace, once a residence for the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick I.
Terrain: Most of the route is asphalt paths and traffic free with some hilly sections. It is very well maintained.
Scenery: the route, characterised by riverside meadows, beech forests and panoramic views, runs from the Rhine-Main region through the Hessian hills and through the Spessart, Upper Vogelsberg and Hessian Rhön nature parks.
Distance: 245 km
Starts: Hanau (20 mins from Frankfurt by train)
Ends: Bad Hersfeld ( 1 hr 45mins to Frankfurt by train)
Frankfurt 18 km | Kassel 68 km
About the route: hilly in parts but easily managed by children.
Bike Hire: Here is the link to all the bike hire shops in Frankfurt
Cycle route around Munich
Munich is well supplied with bike rental places and you can even pick one up in one spot and leave your bike in another. You could have a gentle warm up just riding around Munich seeing the sights for a day.
Isar Cycle Route
This route follows the Isar river and provides spectacular alpine scenery if you choose to start the route at its source in the Karwendel mountains. You will see beautiful unspoilt alpine villages and medieval towns.
Highlights: St. John’s Church in medieval town of Fischbach and mountain scenery of the Alpenpark Karwendel conservation area.
Terrain: the paths sometimes run on asphalt; otherwise they are paved, on gravel or surfaced with gravel and sand. The route has only a few climbs and is mostly free of traffic.
Scenery: family-friendly river route characterised by views of the Karwendel mountains and by riverside meadows in the Alpine foothills, plus typical Upper Bavarian towns and beautifully decorated farmhouses.
Distance: 300 km (285 km in Germany)
Starts: Source of the Isar near Scharnitz (Austria) (2 hours 15 mins from Munich by train)
Ends: Deggendorf/Thundorf (2 hours from Munich by train) or you can choose to end your ride in Munich.
Distance from Munich: 165 km
Bike Hire: Here is the link to bike shops in Munich
This is a link to very useful guide to cycling in Munich. You have to buy a ticket for your bike on Bavaria’s trains and this link tells you how to do this.
Cycle route starting near Hamburg
Hamburg-Rügen Cycle Route
This cycle route runs through countryside along the Elbe river to the Elbe – Lübeck Canal and through a bisophere reserve from Ratzeburg to Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, through Schwerin to Bützow, and along a canal to Güstrow with a route featuring the highlights shown below and finishing on Rügen Island.
Highlights: Schwerin castle, Renaissance palace of Güstrow, Lake Kummerow, and the historic town of Stralsund.
Terrain: Asphalt-covered most of the way, with some paved sections and farm tracks. Some hilly parts but easily managed by children although the route is not all car-free.
Scenery: River views, canals, lakes and nature reserves. Hills, forests, coastal landscapes and beaches await inMecklenburg-Western Pomerania.
Distance: 520 km
Ends: Sassnitz/Rügen (4 hours 30 mins by train back to Hamburg)
Bike Hire: Here is a link to bike rental in Hamburg from as little as 8 euros per day.
Did you know?
bmi regional flies from Bristol to Frankfurt, Hamburg and Munich.
Bikes can be carried on bmi regional flights – space permitting but we recommend you rent a bike from the many bike hire locations listed to make your planning simple. Click here to view our bike carriage options.
Useful websites for planning your cycle ride: