Peaceful, rural, watery, heathery, mercantile and metropolitan: this route has got everything.
There are some great long distance cycle routes in Germany. Down the Danube from Donaueschingen to Passau, along the Rhine from castle to castle, up the Elbe from Dresden to the coastal mudflats, or from the Allgäu to the Austrian border along the foothills of the Alps. Take your pick.
But given that the public is keen on novelty, we’d thought we’d profile the newest of the lot in this section, and one of the most interesting, at least from a cultural perspective, because it runs from capital to capital, from Berlin to Copenhagen.
This 630 km itinerary has ingredients that others do not: two big cities, a short sea voyage across the Baltic, three relatively unspoiled regions – Brandenburg, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, East Denmark – and a lot of friendly people, people who respect the bike as a means of travel. Furthermore, although it is cross-country, this is not a route which tackles hills. With much of it on dedicated tarmac cycle track, you should be able to cover the ground relatively quickly.
This itinerary has ingredients that others do not
The route starts just outside Berlin in Hennigsdorf, where it breaks into the serene expanse of the Brandenburg countryside, passing the Dutch-style Oranienburg castle and a couple of sobering former concentration camps, Sachsenhausen and Ravensbrück. From here it starts to weave through the thousand-odd lakes and watercourses of the Mecklenburg Lake District, a watery playground whose biggest expanse of water – Müritz – is Germany’s second largest lake.
The cycleway spends a lot of time dawdling around coastlines
From the lakes there’s a mellow stretch of around 130 km of mainly heathland and farmland to cross before reaching the Baltic shore at Rostock, a handsome Hanseatic red brick city with three monumental churches. Although Rostock is itself a port, the ferry actually sails from Warnemünde, a seaside resort with wide sandy beaches, a lighthouse, and a colourful harbour. From here, you could find yourself sharing the three-hour crossing with rail passengers, because this service is one of the few that still provides a roll-on, roll-off facility for trains, swallowing up Copenhagen-bound expresses whole. They’ll barely notice your bike.
Once on the other side, you’ve still got around 250km to go to reach the Danish capital, in a series of circuitous loops that will allow plenty of time to acclimatize to the change in culture. This part of Denmark is all islands and peninsulars, so the cycleway spends a lot of time dawdling around coastlines, going nowhere in particular. If you are in a hurry to get there, you could always put the bike on a train!