Traveling Germany by Bike

Traveling Germany by Bike

With more than 200 cycling routes covering 70,000 kilometers, Germany is a bicyclist’s paradise, for both long- and short-distance travel. Scenic routes take you alongside rivers, past castles, through vineyards, or—if you’re up for the challenge—up and down the Alps.
by Nicolette Stewart

But don't let the thought intimidate you: Even a beginning cyclist can enjoy Germany from the back of a bicycle.  Instead of biking the entire route, you can hop on and off the train (more information on that below) to make your destinations accessible without having to pedal like a pro.  Or take the train from hostel to hostel (or camping site to camping site) and then use your bicycle for day trips in the surrounding region.  No matter where you stop, you can be sure that you will never be far from the next cycling path.

Choosing a route

Do you want to see castles?  Sample local wine?  Follow in the footsteps of the Brothers Grimm?  Visit scenic rivers and lakes?  With 200 cycling routes across the country you can be sure that there is a little something for every cyclist.  On germany.travel you will find an interactive map that can help you plan your trip and ADFC (Allgemeiner Deutscher Fahrrad-Club) offers many online resources for planning your route and trip.

The ADFC also offers a bicyclist’s alternative to Mitfahrzentrale (ride share) in the form of a Mitradelzentrale, a service that helps people find other cyclists to ride with.

Getting there

If you don’t already live in (or close to) Germany, your first step will be packing your bike for the airplane.  You have a couple of options.  The safest is to pack your bike in a box (ask for a discard at a local bike store) or a bag.  However, many airlines will accept an unpacked bike, as long as you deflate the tires, loosen the stem to turn the handlebar, and sometimes remove the pedals.  If you plan on biking directly from your destination airport, don’t forget to pack the tools you will need to set your bike right at the airport!

Alternatively, you could ship your bike per post to your arrival destination.  (For example, to the hotel or hostel you will be staying in your first night.  But be sure to check with the hotel first.)  This website has some helpful tips for doing so.

Can I take my bike on the train?

Yes you can, but you will want to check your specific route when booking train tickets.  Some regions ban bicycles from public transport during rush hour, while others allow as many bicycles and people as will fit.  Some states and train lines allow you to take your bike on the train for free, while others require a bike ticket (generally 9 euros).  You can find more information on the Deutsche Bahn website.

Accommodations

Hotel, hostel, or campground?  The only limitation is your budget.  Bett+Bike is a service geared at bicyclists looking for accommodations along their route, no matter what the budget.  Google "Zeltplatz + city name" to find a campground along your route.

Tips and tricks

You will want to brush up on the law for bicyclists in Germany before leaving for a bicycle-centered trip.  An English translation of most of these laws can be found here:

Know your holidays!  German school holidays are staggered from state to state.  Hostels, camping grounds, and other tourist destinations are more likely to be full during these holidays, so check your trip against the year’s schedule

Have you ever gone on vacation via bicycle?  Hop on over to the Young Germany facebook page and tell us about it!

by Nicolette Stewart