This page is a forerunner to the following pages:
German Food and Drink,
German Wine, and the
City of Kassel, just to name a few.
I loosely paraphrase Andre Volkel of
Mercurio Bike Travel,
owner of a guided tour company, as follows:
"Although Germany is well-known for its automobiles and speed-limit-free
autobahn, it should also be considered a cycling nation as well.
There are 40% more bicycles than cars. Two out of five German vacationers
take bicycle vacations too. Well over 7,400 miles of dedicated,
car-free cycling routes make it an ideal place for vacationers of
any age and fitness level. Many routes lead through flat areas or
along rivers, cycling is a perfect way to relax and recover. In
a week or two you can see and do a lot: celebrate vibrant wine festivals
along the Rhine, marvel at hand-made filigree Meissen Porcelain
in Dresden, or experience Bavarian traditions and mouth-watering
"Whether you going it alone, booking a self-guided trip, or joining
a guided bike tour, organizing your own tour is certainly the most
exciting way. Don’t forget to visit Tim and Maxa Burleigh’s website
called BicycleGermany.com first. It presents their experiences on
most of the cycling routes. As they are recreational cyclists over
50 [in truth, we are over 60], their insights are perfect for those
of you that may not be as fit as others or for families. [Ah Man!
Is Andre insinuating that we are not fit? No, that cannot be; can
"On the other hand, traveling with a guided bike tour is a great
and safe way to see the countryside and offers the added benefit
of accompanying vans that transport your luggage. Your guide will
organize city tours and support you at any matter. Mercurio-Bike-Travel.com
offers some exceptional packages that are easy riding along the
rivers such as the Danube, Elbe, Moselle and Rhine."
With press like that, is it any wonder that Andre is one of my favorite
people? It would seem that he has said it all but I am guilty of wordiness
as anyone who spends any time on our website can tell. So, I need to
add a few things to Mr. Volkel's well thought out remarks.
Germany is famous for many things besides manufacturing a few automobile
brands like Mercedes Benz, VW, Porsche, and BMW. To begin with there
are the things you put in your body, like the many different types of
bread available at every grocery store. They are a major producer of
wine, beer, schnapps, liquors, and brandy. The nearly infinite types
of sausages is mind boggling.
I have asked many people who have bicycled in other countries and
while each country has its own appeal, none compare with the 50,000
of kilometers of dedicated bicycle paths and bike routes that are signed.
Adding in the hiking paths, there are over 190,000 kilometers of signed
bicycle and hiking tours in Germany. The several guidebook companies
that compete in Germany make finding a route that fits your preferences
easy, even if the choices are many.
I said the people in Germany are bicycle friendly. Many ride bicycles
from barely out of diapers to well into their 80s. Seeing people on
their way to and from the grocery store with a bicycle is a common sight.
In the mandatory driver training that every German has to take before
obtaining a driver's license, people are taught to treat bicycles
the same as any other traffic on the road. They do not honk at you
nor do they
offer a one finger salute when they drive up behind you on a narrow
road. Rather they do patiently follow at your speed until it is safe to
pass (even if you are huffing and puffing slowly uphill at 5km/h). Then
they pull out into the other lane leaving you plenty of space. Only
once on the Mulde did I get into a tight spot from someone passing us
without a clear view of oncoming traffic. Even then, I was given room,
albite only a little, while the two automobiles had perhaps less than
an inch between them.
We seldom stop to consult our map without someone offering to help
us find whatever it is that we are looking. Not that that does not happen
in other countries as well, but it seems to happen more often in Germany.
The ADFC (Allgemeiner Deutscher Fahrrad
Club) which translates roughly to the General German Bicycle Club
has published and maintains a list of
Bett & Bike overnight
accommodations that meet their rigid criteria of local and bicycle knowledge
and bicycle service abilities. In fact the ADFC in 2011 published a
map of Germany with over 50,000km of long distance cycle tours a small
percentage of which are on automobile roads but most of that distance
is on dedicated bicycle paths. The map is called
ADFC-EntdeckerKarte and can be purchased by ordering one from publisher,
ADFC, Attn: EntdeckerKarte, Postfach 10 77 47, 28077 Bremen, Germany.
The telephone number from Germany is: 0180/500 34 79 (0,14 Euro/Min.
from a wired telephone, but from a mobile phone the charge is max. 0,42
Euro/Min.) The phone number from outside Germany is 049+180-500-3479.
The cost of the map is a flat fee of €5. Or, you can fax ADFC mentioning
the EntdeckerKarte at: 049+(0) 421/346 29-32 and inquire about the cost
to send it to your address wherever you live in the world. If calling
from outside Germany, omit the country code and the (0).
The ADFC also offeres
that can be searched by the level of difficulity you choose.
Any good bookstore in Germany has a travel or vacation section where
you can find bicycle maps and guidebooks from such providers as
Esterbauer, producers of the
bikeline series of guidebooks and maps. Another prolific provider of
guides and maps is BVA-Bielefelder
who produce Spiralo guides.
The German Tourism industry and the federal train system (Deutsches
Bundesbahn, or just "DB" or Die Bahn) have cooperated
in making the entire country “bicycle friendly.” The DB publishes brochures
about bicycling vacations and interesting bike rides. In Germany, individuals,
entire families, clubs, and sometimes entire school classes take bicycling
holidays for a week or more. Some camp out in a Campingplatz
but others use the local hotels, guesthouses (Gasthaus and
Gästehaus), bed and breakfast establishments like Pensions
and, our favorite, Zimmer. See our
Bicycling is ingrained in the German culture. According to the Grosser
Fahrrad-Atlas Deutschland by Mair Geographischer Verlag, Karl von Drais
invented bicycling over 175 years ago. (Of course, the first bicycle
did not have pedals or a chain: you had to push it along with your feet
like a scooter except that you sat on it so one could use both feet
to push.) It is rare to find an adult German who did not grow up riding
a bicycle and whose children, parents, and even grandparents probably
still ride - if they still live. This fact makes drivers and pedestrians
understanding and accommodating to bicycle riders (unlike in the
We started our bicycling in Germany in 1999. As I write this in 2013,
we remark on how many more cyclists we meet on the paths. Sure the Euro
is down a bit against the dollar and all of Europe is experiencing a
recession but those facts alone does not account for the increase in
popularity of cycle vacations. The increase is probably also due to
better quality bicycles, more cycle paths, more cycle-friendly accommodations,
and it is much more fun to tell your friends and neighbors how you spent
your vacation cycling.
The only drawback about bicycling in Germany is perhaps a slight
shortage of campgrounds. And in some areas the castles are on top of
steep hills (darn it). You can solve the campground problem by getting
a good guidebook listing them. Sorry, we cannot solve the castles-on-the-hilltops
One more thought belongs here on the Germany page. Some of the freight
forwarding firms in Germany (or around the world) will ship your bicycle
to a physical address (house number, street, and city with postal code)
for a fee (starts around €30). One such firm is Hermes Versand Service.
If you are traveling by Deutsche Bahn (rail), you can organize sending
your bicycle by freight from house to house at least 2 days prior to
your planned arrival at your destination by calling DB's Hotline 0180-5-99-66-33
(the fee for this hotline is €0.14/minute from a land line, €0.42/minute
from a mobile phone). One can also Google "Hermes Verstand." It is not
inexpensive to ship a bicycle within Germany but it is convenient. You
can pack your bike for shipment or Hermes will pack it for you for an
additional €6 - €7 per bicycle.
I think I could go on and on until the cows come home. But I will
stop here having some comfort that I have made the case for bicycling
For more about riding in Germany, check out the following pages:
What to Expect,
Tim's Tips, and
Bicycle Theft in Germany.