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Jul 26, 2021 Canyon.com

Germany’s most beautiful riverside cycle paths

Jul 26, 2021 Canyon.com

Riverside cycling tours are becoming increasingly popular in Germany. With good reason. From challenging mountain biking routes to flat, smooth family-friendly paths, there’s a route for absolutely everyone.

Germany’s most beautiful riverside cycle paths Riverside cycle paths in Germany. Photo by Kia Pilger on Unsplash

Picturesque riverside cycle paths in Germany: multi-region classics and hidden gems

Some of the most beautiful cycling paths in Germany run alongside rivers. These long-distance routes are usually well signposted and offer a range of amenities for tourists on two wheels, from accommodation to bike-friendly rest and refreshment facilities.

Add in a dose of Germany’s beautiful nature, not-to-be missed cultural and culinary experiences, and the chance to extend your ride on small detours into serene, picturesque side valleys and these routes are a true joy for every rider. From full-family excursions and relaxed leisure tours on board e-bikes or hybrid bikes, all the way to more performance-minded cyclists who prefer to ride on road bikes or gravel bikes.

Germany’s most beautiful riverside cycle paths Drone shot from above the Danube. Photo by Joachim Pressl on Unsplash

Riding Germany’s long-distance cycle paths

Whether you want to keep it simple on a series on single-day stages or you’re planning a big tour of Germany by bike, these routes are an excellent choice. And here’s a selection of the very best in the country!

Discover the west of Germany: the Rhine Cycle Route (EuroVelo 15)

The Rhine Cycle Route is a standout long-distance cycle path, starting in the Swiss Alps and following the whole length of the Rhine river, to its mouth in the North Sea. The route goes through a total of four countries – Switzerland, Germany, France, and the Netherlands – and takes you through a fascinating series of landscapes, each with their own special, unique cultural attractions and experiences just waiting to be discovered.

In several areas you can mix it up by switching which bank of the river you want to ride on. The route – mainly car-free – runs almost completely on smooth asphalt from St. Goar in the Middle Rhine Valley. Northwards of St. Goar, the entire cycle path is perfectly suited for families. In the upper alpine sections, the route has some challenging climbs.

  • Features & characteristics: EuroVelo Route 15 sometimes goes by different names in the different regions it covers. These include Veloroute Rhein, Rheintalradweg, Rheinradweg, Rheinschiene, and Rijnfietsroute. The route features connections to the Nahe Cycle Route, the Moselle Cycle Route and Lahn Valley Cycle Route.
  • Train connections: High-speed ICE trains stop at many stations along the route
  • Length: From the river source at Andermatt (Switzerland) to Hoek van Holland: 1290 km
  • Suitable for: Road cyclists, casual e-bike riders, families
Through central Germany on the R1 Fulda Bike Path, then the Weser Cycle Route to the North Sea

This tour starts at the source of the Fulda River in the Rhön Biosphere Reserve. It takes riders through impressive landscapes, the historic baroque architecture of Fulda, the Romanesque abbey ruins in Bad Hersfeld, fairy-tale half-timbered facades, and the not-to-be-missed city of Kassel, with its Brothers Grimm-themed exhibition, the Grimmhaus, and Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe, a UNESCO world heritage landscape park.

The idyllic town of Hannoversch Münden, with its beautiful half-timbered buildings, is the confluence point of the Fulda and Werra rivers which join to form the river Weser. The Weser Cycle Path runs partially on both sides of the Weser and ends in Bremerhaven on the North Sea.

  • Features & characteristics: Fulda Bike Path: mainly asphalted, hardly any gradients, hand-operated bicycle cablecar to cross the river at Melsungen. If you’re riding upstream from Fulda, you’ll need to be in good physical condition or use an e-bike. Weser Cycle Route: especially suitable for families.
  • Train connections: Regular stations along the way
  • Length: Fulda Bike Path: Gersfeld to Bad Karlshafen: 255 km. Weser Cycle Path: Hannoversch Münden to Bremerhaven: 520 km
  • Suitable for: City bikes, touring bikes (incl. with kids’ trailer)
Explore the east: the Oder-Neisse Cycle Path

The easternmost route on our list starts in the Czech Republic, around 700 metres above sea level, and takes you all the way down to its terminus at the Baltic Sea coast. After 58 kilometres, you’ll start cycling in Germany at Zittau. For the vast majority of the route, the Oder-Neisse Cycle Path runs close by the river – creating a relaxed, tranquil vibe. Numerous historical sights adorn the path, scattered amongst a breathtaking range of natural vistas: vast forests, green meadows, the Lower Oder Valley National Park, the Szczecin Lagoon, and the Usedom Peninsula to name just a few.

It's best to take the wind direction into account when planning your ride. The wind, especially up north, often blows inland. However, there are no significant gradients to consider. Things are different in the area around the source of the Neisse in the Czech Republic – as you travel north there’s a noticeable downhill gradient, and there’s less wind, blowing in more random directions. In Poland, too, there is an Oder-Neisse cycle path beginning up in the heights of Zittau, with multiple access points via local ferries and bridges.

  • Features & characteristics: Quiet in terms of bike traffic, well developed from Zittau onwards, make sure to plan your food and accommodation carefully
  • Train connections: Several access points along the route. The Usedomer Bäderbahn offers a connection to long-distance trains.
  • Length: From Jablonec nad Nisou (Czech Republic) to Ahlbeck (Usedom, on the Baltic Sea): 630 km
  • Suitable for: All bike types, from city bikes to touring bikes. On the Polish side we recommend a robust gravel bike or mountain bike due to the variable surface quality.
The Danube Cycle Path (D6), one of the most well-known and most-ridden long-distance cycle paths in Germany

4 stars, 8 countries, 2,859 kilometres, 600 km of cycling in Germany: the Danube Cycle Path is part of EuroVelo route EV6, which runs from the Atlantic Ocean to the Black Sea. The Danube Cycle Path itself runs from the source of the Danube at Donaueschingen all the way to the river’s delta. The route leaves Germany at Passau, continuing to Linz and Vienna (in Austria), before making its way through Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, then then along the border of Romania and Bulgaria.

The route, the majority of the which runs alongside the river, boasts an abundance of cultural and culinary opportunities for people of all interests. There’s a host of impressive landscapes, including the magnificence of the Swabian Jura, alpine mountains rearing up in the distance, the Inn/Ilz/Donau three-river confluence at Passau, the Danube gorge at Weltenburg, the Iron Gate in the Southern Carpathians and finally the Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve all make for an unforgettable experience.

  • Features & characteristics: Route and trail conditions in Germany and Austria are suitable for families. After Austria, partly gravel roads, climbs in the Carpathian region, there’s sometimes significant bike traffic coming into Vienna
  • Train connections: Donaueschingen, Ulm, Ingolstadt, Regensburg, Passau are easy and convenient to reach by train
  • Length: Donaueschingen to Tulcea and Constanta (Romania) 2,859 km
  • Suitable for: Casual riders on e-bikes, families, serious touring cyclists
Germany’s most beautiful riverside cycle paths Take your friends on a cycling adventure along beautiful rivers.

Two-river tours through charming river valleys

The enchanting Tauber Altmühl Cycle Route

This route earnt a huge 5-star rating from the ADAC German cycling association – and it’s easy to see why. The Tauber Altmühl Cycle Route runs from the mouth of the Tauber where it flows into the Main, all the way up to the headwaters of the Altmühl. Through the Altmühltal Nature Park, you can also reach the mouth of the Altmühl at Kelheim an der Donau.

Old palaces, castles and monasteries, historic old towns and picturesque villages, the UNESCO World Heritage Upper Germanic-Rhaetian Limes, imposing rock formations, the Franconian Lake District and numerous other attractions are all central parts of this two-river cycle path.

  • Features & characteristics: Two rivers - one route, features some light climbs but mostly flat
  • Train connections: Wertheim and Kelheim – as well as all official daily stage destinations – are reachable by public transport
  • Length: Wertheim to Kelheim: 350 km
  • Suitable for: Families with kids, mostly rideable with trailer, e-bike charging points available
The Kocher Jagst Cycle Route: round trip

The Kocher and Jagst rivers empty into the Neckar only two kilometres apart - this is a landscape tailor-made for a two-river bike trip. Our extra tip: take a detour through the side valleys of Kessach and Hergstbach for more impressive views.

  • Features & characteristics: Two rivers – one route, round trip, hilly in parts, a few gravel sections
  • Train connections: Intercity trains go to Aalen station
  • Length: Aalen – Neckarmündung – Aalen: 332 km
  • Suitable for: Touring bikes, mountain bikes, e-bike charging points available
Cycling heaven: the Hase-Ems Cycle Path

Between the Emsland and Osnabrücker Land regions you’ll find the scenic Hase Valley with its inland delta, floodplains, meadows, forests and idyllic farmlands. The Hase rises near Melle, shortly thereafter splitting into two rivers – the Hase, flowing towards the Ems, and the Else, which goes towards the Weser. We recommend you plan in some time for visiting the old towns of Osnabrück and Meppen. After Meppen, you’ll be following the quiet, relaxed course of the Ems river.

The long-distance cycle route – the Hase-Ems Tour – is well signposted and idyllic, lined with apple, pear, plum and cherry trees. So why not take a tasty free snack along the way?

  • Features & characteristics: Two rivers – one route, flat topography
  • Train connections: Melle is served by regional trains. You can also start in Osnabrück, a major rail terminus
  • Length: Melle to Rheine: 265 km
  • Suitable for: Everyone
Germany’s most beautiful riverside cycle paths The Lahn river in Germany. Photo by Uwe Conrad on Unsplash

Smaller rivers and hidden gems

The Lahn Valley Cycle Path

The Rothaar Mountains, countless forests and hills, the university town of Marburg, Weilburg, Braunfels, and towns of Bad Ems and Lahnstein am Rhein: the Lahn truly does have it all. And that’s not even all, with a variety of extra highlights and diversions await you along your journey. The route includes short climbs and descents, which can sometimes be steep. But with a Canyon bike, you’ll be able to get it all done. Most of the time, however, the route is flat.

  • Features & characteristics: Largely asphalted and car-free
  • Train connections: The source of the Lahn is located 15-20 km from Siegen and Bad Laasphe train stations.
  • Length: Source of the Lahn at Netphen to Lahnstein: 244 km
  • Suitable for: Bike tourers and casual riders
Eder Cycle Path

This route starts 500 m above sea level, then follows a diverse course taking you through the Waldecker Land region, the the Kellerwald-Edersee National Park, through the cathedral city of Fritzlar, to the mouth of the Eder at the Fulda.

  • Features & characteristics: The route includes sections on old converted railway lines, includes light inclines
  • Train connections: Erndtebrück
  • Length: Erndtebrück to Baunatal-Guntershausen: 171 km
  • Suitable for: Bike tourers and casual riders
Niers Bike Trail

This little-known bike path leads along the Niers River from Mönchengladbach to the mouth at the Maas river. Strong riders can easily complete the route in one day. Less experienced riders and families can take their time and just enjoy picturesque meadows and fields away from motorised traffic and buildings. A highlight of the route: a ferry bridge over the Niers.

  • Features & characteristics: The route rolls lightly downhill
  • Train connections: Erndtebrück
  • Length: Mönchengladbach to Gennep (Netherlands): 117 km
  • Suitable for: Bike tourers and casual riders
Germany’s most beautiful riverside cycle paths Winter riding is a truly special experience.

Germany’s bike paths: a winter wonderland

In winter, you get to have the bike paths almost all to yourself. Combined with that special winter feeling – with frosts, mists, and magic in the air – winter riding is a truly special experience. Since surfaces in winter are messier and less grippy than in winter, the wider tyres of a mountain bike or gravel bike are a good choice for some routes.

Get more information about Germany’s cycle paths here

In its annual Discover Germany by Bike brochure (available in German only), the ADFC (Allgemeiner Deutscher Fahrrad-Club) cycling association presents a range of top bike routes, detailing highlights along the way, bike service stations with e-bike charging options, and tips and addresses for planning your tour. You'll also find the most important tours and river bike routes clearly laid out on a map of Germany. It’s an excellent guide to cycling in Germany. Now all you need is the right bike to make the most out of your tour. And that’s where Canyon takes care of things.

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