Whichever cycle route in the western part of Germany tickles your fancy, you will soon realise that bikes are part and parcel of daily life here.
Surveys suggest that Germans love cycling along rivers best. If you want to follow in their footsteps, or rather tyre tracks, try the western part of the country where the Rhine, Moselle and smaller rivers such as Nahe or Saar offer a wide variety of cycle routes.
Germany is a country of cycling fanatics and cycling holidays have been on the up for years. Around 22 million overnights can be attributed to Germans spending their holidays on one of the country’s 200 long-distance cycle routes plus numerous short trails. Consequently, Germany is an extremely cycle-friendly destination with so-called Bett & Bike (bed and bike) hotels, cycle lanes everywhere and no charge for bikes on a lot of the trains and public transport.
The landscape in the western part of Germany is dominated by a number of rivers so let’s start with the Rhine where the Rhein-Radweg (Rhine Route) follows the course of the river over 330 km from Neuburg in the south to Remagen in the north. On the way, this route includes the legendary stretch between Bingen and Koblenz with around 50 castles and the Loreley rock. It’s in Koblenz as well that the Rhine meets the Moselle at the Deutsches Eck. There are lots of vineyards and wine villages on the way, in addition to the enchanting riverside scenery.
Germany is an extremely cycle-friendly destination
The German stretch of the international Moselle cycle route (it travels through France and Luxembourg as well) is very popular with avid cyclists because of its idyllic setting. Some 250 km is through the Moselle wine-growing country with its typical steep vineyards and with lots of opportunities for stops in wine-making villages on the way. The trail will also bring you to Germany’s oldest town, Trier, with its famous Porta Nigra, a magnificent 2nd century Roman city gate.
The Saar Radweg (Saar Route) explores a less well-known corner of Germany, in the very west, next to France and in Germany’s smallest Federal State, the Saarland. The trail is nice and flat and not too long at 98 km, starting in Sarreguemines (France) and ending in Konz, not far from Trier. Saarbrücken, the Saarland’s capital, is located right on the river Saar, and is not particularly spectacular but with a nice relaxed vibe. The former ironworks in Völklingen are an impressive testament to the region’s industrial and steel making culture and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. By contrast, the Saar Bow where Saar and Moselle meet is the major natural sight of the region.
And anyone combining a love for cycling with a liking for good food should definitely try this route, since the Saarland is one of Germany’s gourmet corners, which might have something to do with its proximity to France. There are lots of restaurants, including some with Michelin stars. And since you’re cycling, there’s no need to worry about putting on the calories either.
Bett & Bike guide with cycle-friendly accommodation, www.bettundbike.de