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Germany is a cyclist’s heaven. From the casual city biker to the cross-country nomads, there are paths everywhere, that will take you anywhere. Up an Alp, along a river, through a city, forest or field – over 70,000km in total. From Hamburg to Görlitz, Freiburg to Barth – adventure awaits!
Snaking its way from Kiel in the northwest to Fehmarn Island in the northeast, the Baltic Coast Cycle Trail is all about sandy white beaches, steep cliffs and breathtaking views. Shallow bays are great for an afternoon swim to cool off and gorgeous islands and peninsulas along the way will keep your memory card full to bursting.
This trail has been voted the most popular cycle route in Germany for ten consecutive years and it’s easy to see why. It follows the Elbe river, Germany’s largest which is wide enough for ships to pass but still wild. Leading from Hamburg to Dresden, the Elbe route offers a way to cross Germany with virtually no hill climbs. No wonder everyone loves it.
Mountain bikers with calves of iron who love a challenge will relish a ride on the Brocken Rocken. With a 1300m elevation over 60km traversed, the highest peak in Germany will make you work for it. Aside from that, the Brocken Rocken is the classic alpine tour. Technical challenges galore, rewarded by views seen previously only in your dreams.
The Bodensee, known as Lake Constance to English speakers, is a popular holiday spot in Germany. Starting in the northern foothills of the Alps and making its way along the Allgäu, Bavarian Swabia and Upper Bavaria, this cycle route offers the intrepid biker all the challenges they could ever want. Steep inclines are mercifully dotted with pretty country villages and their attendant cake shops.
The German Cyclists’ Federation rate the Oder-Neisse Cycle Route four stars out of five. Not bad going for this family-friendly trail, which runs along the Polish-German border. Dreamy Görlitz (site of Wes Anderson’s Budapest Hotel) and Prince Pückler’s Country Park in Bad Muskau make excellent stopping points along the way.
The Rhineland has such a hold on the German imagination – think Goethe, Hesse, Schumann and practically every 19th century bildungsroman – that it is no wonder UNESCO designated 120km of it a World Heritage Region. 40 castles and palaces line the river and Loreley rock – feature of countless poems – still stands proudly. The cycle trail covers 1233km on mostly flat ground, following the river from the south of France to North Rhine Westphalia.
The Danube Cycle Trail covers 1800km from the river’s source in Germany to its end, 10 countries later, in the Black Sea. In Germany, Austria, Slovakia and Hungary, the path is well maintained and wide, so recumbents and tandems bikes are not a nuisance. Further east along the trail in Croatia, Serbia, Romania and Bulgaria, the path is less well-maintained but remains passable.