Germany Holidays: Cycling in Emsland

The River Ems runs north from Rheine on the Lower Saxony/North Rhine Westphalia border to the North Sea at Emden, close to the Dutch border. Compared to other parts of Germany, it’s fair to say it lacks dramatic landscape beauty, being extremely flat, and its handsome brick farms and manor houses a largely hidden away.

However this flatness – a maximum elevation of just 59 metres above sea level – and subtlety appeals to the growing market of cycle-based holidaymakers. Many are riding the Emsland Route, a circular cycling path over 300 km long which is a perfect way to see and experience the region. One half follows the path of the river, from Rheine to Papenburg, and the other takes you across the more varied landscape of moorland, forests and fields. The route also takes in the region’s major towns (Lingen, Meppen and Haren) and the 5,000-year-old megalithic stones that were brought across by Scandinavians during the Ice Age. Many of these are thought to be tombs, and they also feature on Germany’s Route of Megalithic Culture.

Whilst the Emsland Route is the most popular path, there are over 40 other marked long distance cycle paths around the region, covering over 3,000 km. Many of these routes are relatively flat and consequently accessible to all. This focus on Emsland as a tourist destination for bike tours has allowed many of the hotels in the area to market themselves as ideal places for cyclists to stay, such as Meppen’s Hotel Tiek.

It’s not just tourists that cycle, the locals do as well.  The roads are full of cyclists and at the region’s largest football club, SV Meppen, there are hundreds of bicycles parked outside the stadium, way more than the number of cars in the car parks. For many short journeys, going by bike is the best option, being both healthier and more environmentally friendly.

So if you are looking for a family-oriented break, where you can pedal at a leisurely place through attractive towns and countryside, it is worth considering Emsland.      – Mark Arrol

Looking for more? See other destinations in Northern Germany

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