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.
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.
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.
The 39 stations along the way
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.
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.
Explore the huge tephra deposits from the Laacher See volcano, which shaped the landscape of this region approximately 13,000 years back.
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.
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.
At Trasshöhlen, rubble and ash from volcanic eruptions solidified over the decades and was later shaped into caves by mining expeditions.
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.
This is the highest peak in the Eifel region, and promises beautiful hiking paths, and skiing opportunities in colder months.
Stone quarry at Raustert
This pond, with a diameter of almost a mile (1.5 kilometers), formed in a wide basin that was created by volcanic activity.
This a lake surrounded by an embankment of tuff rocks formed by volcanic materials. You can also see the 11th-century Ulmen castle here.
This is a 92-foot (28-meter) tower offering uninterrupted views of the Eifel region and the Mosel Valley.
This thermal spring originating from deep underground has a temperature of 32 degrees Celsius and is thought to have medicinal properties.
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.
This maar filled with water constitutes a pristine area, and is particularly pleasant in the summer months.
This is a massive rock with a diameter of 16 feet (five meters), formed by a snowball effect due to volcanic activiy.
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.
This beautiful maar lake came into being almost 10,500 years ago as a result of a volcanic steam explosion.
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.
This is a dry maar, and the second largest in the region.
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.
These are caves that were formed by volcanic activities; they can be explored, but at the visitor’s own risk.
This crater was formed by a volcano that was active about 10,000 years back.
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.
This is a 40,000-year-old maar lake that was formed by a massive underground phreatomagmatic explosion.
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.
The wavy rock folds are formed by volcanic activities pushing them against each other and covering them with ash.