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The Ahr Valley is a special part of the Rhineland about 30 minutes from Bonn that’s covered in vineyards full of grapes for red wine and that receives more than 1,300 hours of sunshine a year with very little rain, while neighbouring Cologne get somewhere near 800. The valley is a magnet for wine lovers and health nuts for whom we have a list of the region’s best hiking opportunities.
Hikers call the Ahr Valley a hiking paradise—its river is lined with 89 kilometres (55 miles) of rock formations, castle ruins and terraced vineyards, most of which are accessible on well-maintained trails. In the middle of the valley, the Ahr River cuts through steep banks and further north, around the town of Bad-Neuenahr, it opens up onto a ledge called Bunte Kuh or ‘colourful cow’. After this, the cliffs fade away and the banks of the river transform into fertile meadows until the river reaches the Rhine near the city of Remagen. Take a rest on your hike at one of the many lookout spots or keep an eye out for kingfisher birds, dice snakes and an endless variety of flowers.
What could be better than combining hiking with wine tasting? Look for signs featuring red grapes on a white background to find this trail and follow its winding path for 35 kilometres (22 miles) through vineyards, winemaking villages and ancient ruins. You’ll be able to watch as winemakers bring in their grape harvest or stop to have a chat with a farmer to find out how the magic happens. The trail runs from Altenahr to Bad Bodendorf and all the wine villages connected by the trail welcome guests for tastings and a hearty meal.
The Iron Trail is part of a historic road that includes two themed trails, Wacholderweg and Köhler-Loheweg. Both are circular routes designed for hikers that want to discover rare plants and pond animals in their natural habitat. In addition to nature, hikers will pass by the remains of ancient burial grounds, leftovers from Roman blacksmiths and an industrial settlement from nearly 2,000 years ago.
If you’ve ever seen middle-aged people walking around in Germany with what looks like a pair of ski poles, you’ve probably seen Nordic Walkers. It’s a thing in Germany as well, so it’s no surprise that there are many fitness parks throughout the country devoted specifically to this activity. The largest one in Germany is, at it happens, in the Ahr Valley. The park has routes over 100 kilometres (62 miles) in length but if you want to take it easy, seminars or weekend classes are also available.
It’s true that cycling is not hiking, but it would be wrong not to mention that there many family-friendly bicycle paths in the Ahr Valley along with all of its hiking trails. The Ahr Cycle Way is 80 kilometres (50 miles) long, running from Sinzig to Blankenheim, and as long as you stay on the valley floor, the trail is pretty flat.
There are so many trails in the Ahr Valley to choose from that wherever you go, you won’t be disappointed. Eventually, you’re bound to come upon a village from which you can get a taxi to return home if you’ve gone too far. You can also hike directly along the Ahr River on a footpath opposite all the Wine Trail hikers for a more peaceful communion with the natural environment.