These cycle routes on small rivers in Germany are worthwhile

Ob Corona will disappear this summer, nobody knows. Safe forms of vacation are therefore still in demand. This definitely includes cycling trips. These mainly take place in the fresh air and keeping your distance is a matter of course.

Since Germany offers an almost endless network of paths, most cyclists still have a few routes to discover along lesser-known rivers. We would like to present some of them to you here.

The Loisach cycle path – from the Zugspitze to the Isar

It starts at the idyllic Weißensee directly on the old Roman road Via Claudia Augusta. All around rise the rock massifs of the two-thousanders, such as Grubigstein and Wannig. Towards the north, Daniel and the massive Zugspitze massif rise into the horizon. A great alpine scenery, not only for the Instagram fans. Tyrol and Upper Bavaria, as you wish.

And the best thing about it: The Loisach cycle path has no sweaty climbs, at most a few sections along the river bank that have been washed out by the rain. First it goes through the mountain forest to Garmisch-Partenkirchen. Then the river valley widens until you reach the foothills of the Alps near Ohlstadt.

A visit to the Franz Marc Museum on the Kochelsee with the works of the Blue Rider is worthwhile. A few kilometers further, many cyclists like to stop in the monastery courtyard of Benediktbeuern. After a little more than a hundred kilometers through meadows, pastures and beautiful farming villages, the Loisach flows into the Isar and the Loisach cycle path into the Isar cycle path in Wolfratshausen.

The Loisach meanders through the landscape

Quelle: picture alliance / Fotostand

Innerste Cycle Path – from the Upper Harz to the Leine Valley

The Innerste rises in the Upper Harz not far from the mining town of Clausthal-Zellerfeld, where Germany’s largest wooden church is also located. In addition to magnificent churches and castles, the small river route leads to four World Heritage sites at a little over 100 kilometers: to the Upper Harz water management system with its countless ponds and watercourses, to the Rammelsberg mine and to the old town of Goslar as well as to the cathedral in Hildesheim.

Around half of the route runs idyllically in or near nature reserves with rich flora and fauna, from kingfishers to gray herons. Between Wildemann and Langelsheim you roll comfortably on a former railway embankment.

A dam dams up the innermost

A dam dams up the innermost

Quelle: picture alliance/dpa

Rottal cycle path – from the Vils to the Inn

The Rottal is considered the heart of the Lower Bavarian hill country. However, the river Rott is not very long, only about a hundred kilometers. The accompanying cycle path (115 km) from Velden an der Vils to Neuhaus am Inn is therefore just right for a sporty e-bike tour or an enjoyable two-day trip.

If you don’t want to start cycling in the spa triangle, you can first take the Rottalbahn (bikes can be taken along free of charge) from Bad Birnbach or Karpfham to Neumarkt St. Veit, the “gateway to the Rottal”. Eager bikers continue from here to the starting point in Velden or to the Rottquelle in Wurmsham, others take a short cut and start their Rottal tour eastwards in Neumarkt St. Veit.

Agriculture still characterizes the lovely river valley today. The large Rottaler Vierseithöfe are particularly eye-catching. This rural architecture and culture is nice to discover in the Massinger farm museum. Other highlights include the towns with historic Inn-Salzach architecture. This means above all the decorative facades of the town houses on the town squares, for example in Eggenfelden and Pfarrkirchen. The Schönau moated castle and the Neuhaus am Inn castle at the end of the cycle path are also worth a visit.

An avenue in downtown Pfarrkirchen

An avenue in downtown Pfarrkirchen

Quelle: picture alliance/dpa

Eider-Treene-Sorge cycle route – between the seas

The wind is omnipresent on the coast as well as in the interior of Schleswig-Holstein, including on the three rivers Eider, Treene and Sorge. Because you have to reckon with a lot of headwind on this round tour, an e-bike is the more comfortable alternative. You glide relaxed towards Westerhever via Tönning and in St. Peter-Ording. About Eiderstedt – a North German picture book landscape – it is said that more sheep and cows live here than people.

Just a few turns of the pedals from the tourist attraction Westerheversand Lighthouse, the route continues through lush green meadows and pastures in the direction of Husum. From Husum you show the North Sea the rear wheel and drive into the green inland. A tip: drink another cappuccino in the picturesque but overcrowded Friedrichstadt before you finally enter the rural idyll of Schleswig-Holstein.

You crank through sleepy villages with the typical thatched houses, past the stork nests in Bergenhusen over to the Hohner See nature reserve. After crossing the Eider you are in Dithmarschen. From time to time a cabbage field shimmers out of the plain between the almost endless pastures. And because they are so proud of their vegetables, they even set up the German Kohlstrasse in Dithmarschen.

The well-signposted Eider-Treene-Sorge cycle route in the green inland between the North and Baltic Seas is 240 kilometers long, mostly on small country roads, paved dirt roads and bumpy flagstone paths in places. There are almost no inclines.

The sun shines on the Treene in North Friesland

The sun shines on the Treene in North Friesland

Quelle: picture alliance/dpa

Oste cycle path – from the Nordheide to the Elbe

The “inventor” of the Oste cycle path, Klaus Feldmann, called his route the soul tree route. In fact, it goes from the source of the longest tributary of the Lower Elbe quite quietly and contemplatively to the north. The mostly flat, 145-kilometre-long cycle route on dyke and field paths crosses moor, geest and marsh areas that were shaped by the ice ages, and leads past small Lower Saxon villages.

A highlight on tour are the ferries of all kinds that cross the river, especially the unusual transporter bridge from Hemmoor-Osten. The northern part of the Oste cycle path is identical to the southern section of the German ferry route Bremervörde – Kiel and is signposted accordingly.

A tip for culinary discoveries: Definitely try the Oste eel and take part in a smelt dinner. The smelt is a small, salmon-like fish that is mainly found on the Lower Elbe.

The historic transporter bridge travels across the Oste between Osten and Hemmoor

The historic transporter bridge travels across the Oste between Osten and Hemmoor

Quelle: picture alliance/dpa

Lenne Route – from Winterberg to the Ruhr

Our low mountain range tour across the Sauerland begins at Kahler Asten near Winterberg. Deep green forests, romantic meadow valleys and small half-timbered villages form the backdrop at the beginning. From time to time a castle or palace towers over the mountain. Historic factories and museums, such as in Maste-Barendorf and Holthausen, give an insight into the region’s industrial and mining history.

Towards the end of the 142-kilometer route, the Lenne Cycle Path increasingly leads through towns and touring cyclists get an impression of life in the Ruhr area. Finally, the last part of the route ensures relaxation. On quiet, well-signposted paths, away from the hustle and bustle of the city, you can reach the mouth of the Lenne in the Ruhr.

Most of the Lenne route is paved. The few sections on unpaved forest, field and bank paths can be mastered well. However, you have to switch to the country road on some sections.

Altena Castle above the Lenne

Altena Castle above the Lenne

Quelle: picture alliance / Zoonar

Nidda Route – from Vogelsberg to the Main

The almost 100-kilometer route is sometimes referred to as the Nidda Route, then as the Nidda Cycle Path or Nidda Uferweg. However, the same route is always meant, which is well signposted and leads from Schotten to Höchst near the river.

The cycle path leads through such diverse landscapes as the Hoher Vogelsberg, which is rich in forest and water, the Unteren Vogelsberg with hedges and meadow orchards, the Wetterau with fields and meadows and finally to the Rhein-Main plain, today one of the most densely populated cultural areas in Central Europe.

The towns along the cycle path, such as Staden and Bad Salzhausen, the smallest state spa in Hesse, have a lot of charm. Typical half-timbered architecture adorns the centers of Nidda and Schotten. And at the Wörthspitze, where the Nidda flows into the Main, an arched bridge spans the river, houseboats bobble in the water, and the Höchst old town invites you to take a tour, not forgetting a stop at typical Äppelwoi and Handkäs.

The Nidda provides cooling in summer

The Nidda provides cooling in summer

Quelle: picture alliance / Frank Rumpenhorst/dpa

Siegtal cycle path – from the Rothaargebirge to the Rhine

The name Sieg has nothing to do with triumph here, but comes from the Celtic “Sikkere” and means “fast river”. The “rapid body of water” has its source at 600 meters above sea level in the Sauerland-Rothaargebirge Nature Park. This is also where the accompanying 162-kilometer-long Siegtal cycle path starts. Most of the route is on cycle paths and former, asphalted maintenance paths along the Sieg, only a few unpaved sections await you in the upper part.

First it goes quickly downhill through the most densely wooded district in Germany via Netphen and Siegen in the Westerwald. There the Sieg winds through extensive meadow valleys past half-timbered villages and interesting places such as Knowledge and Hamm. The finale is contested by the cyclists in the Rhein-Sieg district past Siegburg and Troisdorf to the nature-protected mouth of the Rhine near Niederkassel-Mondorf, which is well worth seeing.

The ruins of Windeck Castle on the Sieg

The ruins of Windeck Castle on the Sieg

Source: picture alliance / Eibner-Pressefoto

Aischtalradweg – from Rothenburg to Bamberg

The Aisch links the most famous historic towns in Franconia and many cute villages on one tour. And without too much effort for the recreational cyclist. A difference in altitude of only around 300 meters over 121 kilometers, i.e. almost no inclines in either direction, well-developed country lanes and little traffic, gave the Aischtalradweg the rating of “extremely family-friendly”.

In addition to the cultural highlights of Bamberg and Rothenburg ob der Tauber, a long stop in the old towns of Bad Windsheim, Neustadt and Höchstadt is definitely worthwhile. The region is also famous for its carp, the Aischfounder carp, a breed of its own that many appreciate as a culinary specialty.

With more than 7000 ponds and ponds, especially in the lower Aischgrund, the region is home to one of the largest contiguous pond areas in Europe. The Aischtalradweg is well signposted in both directions.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber is considered one of the most beautiful towns in Germany

Rothenburg ob der Tauber is considered one of the most beautiful towns in Germany

Quelle: picture alliance / Zoonar

tips and information

Loisach cycle path:

Innerste cycle path:

Rottal cycle path:

Eider-Treene-Sorge cycle route:

Erft cycle path:

Oste cycle path:


Nidda Route:

Sieg Valley Cycle Path:



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