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Waterfall at the Butzerbachtal in the Eifel region
Waterfall at the Butzerbachtal in the Eifel region | © r.classen / Shutterstock
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A Guide to Exploring Germany's Volcano Route

Picture of Anwesha Ray
Updated: 9 March 2018
Germany’s Volcano Route stretches from the River Rhine to the Eifel Mountains, between the cities of Bonn and Trier. The route is 174 miles (280 kilometers) long, and connects the most famous volcanic sites in the region. These sites belong to the Geopark Vulkanland Eifel in the Volcanic Eifel (Vulkaneifel) and are of immense significance from cultural, historical, geological, and industrial perspectives.

The drive can theoretically be completed in half a day, but to enjoy the route to the fullest, it is necessary to stop and explore at least some of the sites in detail.

Waterfall at the Butzerbachtal in the Eifel region
Waterfall at the Butzerbachtal in the Eifel region | © r.classen / Shutterstock

Why you should go

If you are even mildly interested in geology, you won’t need to be convinced to try this route. Even if you are not, this ruggedly beautiful countryside has plenty of attractions to fascinate you. After all, it’s not everyday that you visit a 10,000-year-old extinct volcano!

While touring the pristine hills and open meadows of the Eifel region today, it might be hard to picture its fiery, roaring past, and it might not be easy for travelers without knowledge of geology to understand the process that shaped this land. That is why several geological museums along the route aim to present the history and geography of this unique landscape in a way that is interesting and comprehensible for any traveler.

Aerial view of the Rursee lake in the Eifel region
Aerial view of the Rursee lake in the Eifel region | © r.classen / Shutterstock

The Volcano Route boasts almost 350 eruption sites and 39 main stations. Each station houses one or more eye-popping sights, including volcanic lakes, quarries, sinkholes, walls of volcanic rubble, geysers, domes, and hot springs, adding up to an almost surreal landscape, the like of which you would rarely experience.

Eifel landscape
Eifel landscape | © Arteck555 / Shutterstock

The 39 stations along the way

Laacher See

This volcanic lake is the largest lake in the state of Rhineland-Palatinate, offering great views and the chance to boat across its calm waters.

Maria Laach Abbey

This Benedictine abbey, located on the shore of the Laacher See, is agreed to be an outstanding example of German Romanesque architecture, with its soaring towers and beautiful porch.

Maria Laach Abbey
Maria Laach Abbey | © Ronile / Pixabay

Eppelsberg: Steinernes Inferno

This is a stone quarry produced by volcanic ash from a volcano that was active almost 230,000 years ago. Thanks to mining, visitors get to peek into the layers of the volcano and enjoy views of a cinder cone.

Roman mine at Meurin

This archeological site is an interactive museum, detailing the process of mining that was carried out by the Romans who once resided in this region.

Tourist information center at Rauschermühle

Here, you can get expert help in planning the next leg of your journey, and get all your questions answered about the Eifel region, volcanism, and mining.

Wingertsberg

Explore the huge tephra deposits from the Laacher See volcano, which shaped the landscape of this region approximately 13,000 years back.

Lava dome

Here, you get the chance to venture deep into the bowels of the earth to explore volcanic cellars. The museum in the town of Mendig, where the dome is situated, is especially interesting for children and will help them to understand the concept of volcanism.

Lava-Dome – Deutsches Vulkanmuseum Mendig
Lava-Dome – Deutsches Vulkanmuseum Mendig | © Elke Wetzig / WikiCommons

Mayen mine field

Stop here to learn about the history of the eruption of the Bellerberg volcano almost 200,000 years ago.

Slip fold, Dachsbusch

This protected area fascinates visitors with dramatic volcanic layers that were transformed by a freezing cold period about 150,000 years back.

Devonian terrace, Kurfürstenbrunnen well, and Angelika spring

Here, you can see layers of ash that were formed by the Laacher See volcano and try a sip of mineral water from the Bad Tönisstein mineral springs.

Trasshöhlen

At Trasshöhlen, rubble and ash from volcanic eruptions solidified over the decades and was later shaped into caves by mining expeditions.

Bausenberg

Explore the horseshoe crater formed by the Bausenberg volcano.

Tourist information center

Tuff Rock Center

Here, you can learn about the rock tuff and its uses.

Hohe Acht

This is the highest peak in the Eifel region, and promises beautiful hiking paths, and skiing opportunities in colder months.

Basalt blocks on Hohe Acht, Eifel
Basalt blocks on Hohe Acht, Eifel | © Ramessos / WikiCommons

Stone quarry at Raustert

Mosbrucher Weiher

This pond, with a diameter of almost a mile (1.5 kilometers), formed in a wide basin that was created by volcanic activity.

Ulmener Maar

This a lake surrounded by an embankment of tuff rocks formed by volcanic materials. You can also see the 11th-century Ulmen castle here.

Volcano platform

This is a 92-foot (28-meter) tower offering uninterrupted views of the Eifel region and the Mosel Valley.

View from the volcano platform in Steineberg
View from the volcano platform in Steineberg | © Daniel Ponten / WikiCommons

Bad Bertich

This thermal spring originating from deep underground has a temperature of 32 degrees Celsius and is thought to have medicinal properties.

Immerather Maar

This maar (low volcanic crater) was formed by volcanic activity around 40,000 to 70,000 years ago. The lake area is a nature reserve.

Pulvermaar

This maar filled with water constitutes a pristine area, and is particularly pleasant in the summer months.

Lava bomb

This is a massive rock with a diameter of 16 feet (five meters), formed by a snowball effect due to volcanic activiy.

Holzmaar

This maar lake lies within a nature reserve.

Dürres Maar and Hitsche Maar

These are a dry, withered-up maar and the smallest maar in the Eifel region respectively.

The Hitsche Maar (front) Dürres Maar (center) and Holzmaar (rear), 2015 aerial photograph
The Hitsche Maar (front) Dürres Maar (center) and Holzmaar (rear), 2015 aerial photograph | © Wolkenkratzer / WikiCommons

Weinfelder Maar

This beautiful maar lake came into being almost 10,500 years ago as a result of a volcanic steam explosion.

Gemündener Maar

This lake in a 30,000-year-old maar is a favorite spot for swimmers in warmer months.

Eifel Volcano Museum

Educate yourself about volcanic activities and their effect on the landscape.

Trasshöhlen

This is a dry maar, and the second largest in the region.

Dreiser Weiher
Dreiser Weiher | © A.Savin / WikiCommons

Basalt intrusion, Arensberg

This mountain was created by two successive volcanic eruptions, the first one over 32 million years ago.

Palagonite tuff ring

This is a unique topography, comprising a huge cinder cone underlain by a maar.

Mühlstein caves

These are caves that were formed by volcanic activities; they can be explored, but at the visitor’s own risk.

Papenkaule

This crater was formed by a volcano that was active about 10,000 years back.

Stone runs

This rocky landscape was formed by the erosion of rocks during volcanic eruptions.

Kaltwasser Geyser Wallender Born

This is an active cold-water geyser and one of the most popular sights on the route.

Kaltwasser Geyser
Kaltwasser Geyser | © Walter Koch / WikiCommons

Meerfelder Maar

This is a 40,000-year-old maar lake that was formed by a massive underground phreatomagmatic explosion.

Mosenberg Reihenvulkan

This is a volcanic crater lake fed by precipitation and home to some rare plants.

Maar Museum, Manderscheid

This museum is your one-stop destination for learning everything related to maars: the science behind them, their significance, and their formation.

Rock fold

The wavy rock folds are formed by volcanic activities pushing them against each other and covering them with ash.