Mecklenburg Lakes District Cycle Path
Mecklenburg Lake District or Mecklenburgische Seenplatte or
Mecklenburger Seen-Radweg is one of the more beautiful bicycle rides in
Northern Germany. The route takes you through green countryside that is punctuated
with lakes large and small as well as cities and villages.
June 2008. This is a 7-day ride from Lüneburg on the Elbe to Neustrelitz.
The tour guidebook will take you to Wolgast on the island of Usedom on the Baltic
Sea but we cut the tour short with the hope of finishing it later. Our shortened
distance is 217 miles (356 km). The entire distance is 660 km according to the
bikeline guidebook. The Lüneburg Heath (Lüneburger Heide) and
the Mecklenburg Lake District (Mecklenburgische Seenplatte) are part of
the low lands of Germany. In theory, there should not be any hills. However, the
trouble with theories is that someone always proves them wrong. I will say that
the ride is mostly flat though and certainly flat enough for kids on kids bikes
or babies in trailers.
It is interesting to compare this tour to the Lake Constance tour. The German
state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania (Mecklenburg-Vorpommern) is in the
north and it was formerly part of East Germany. The overnight accommodations are
less expensive than other parts of Northern Germany.
for the hills noted, the terrain is mostly flat. Additionally, you will find more
gravel path in Mecklenburg than most other areas in Germany. Each year, they pave
a little bit more of the path.
weather can be somewhat more blustery in the north but the week we ride this tour,
we have wonderful weather as we make this ride but southern Germany is being flooded
with thunderstorms. We are certainly lucky.
Maxa’s brother Guntram and his partner Ulla accompany us on this tour. They have
been joining us for a tour once per year and we always have more fun than we should
have when they are along.
Signage is excellent. If there is any complaint it is that there are several long-distance
trails that cross the path we are following. For example, day two and three we ride
along the Elbe river and the signs for that long distance path are more numerous
than that of the Mechlenburgischer Seen Radweg. In addition, we cross the
Berlin to Denmark Radweg midway through our tour. If you are as easily
confused as I am, you could find yourself in Berlin – or in Denmark. Wife Maxa keeps
me on the right path, on this tour and in the rest of life as well.
This is a favorite area for vacationing
Europeans and there are sufficient overnight accommodations. There enough hotels,
Pensionen and Privat Zimmer with their “Zimmer Frei”
signs displayed. The word Zimmer is both singular and plural for the English
word room. The word “Frei” simply means vacant. The only possible confusion
for non-German speaking bicyclists is when the sign Zimmer Frei has a sign
next to it saying Besetzt. That means the room is now rented or otherwise
unavailable. One may also notice the word Ferienwohnung or its abbreviation
FeWo. The word Ferienwohnung translates to vacation apartment.
Typically, Ferienwohnung owners will decline short stays but you never
know unless you ask.
Lüneburg, Bleckede, Ludwigslust, and Waren.
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We used the 1:75,000 bikeline
Radtourenbuch und Karte, Mecklenburgischer Seen-Radweg, von Lüneburg nach Usedom.
However, as you will discover, we stopped well short of the island of Usedom. With
any luck, one day we will be able to complete the mapped route and when we do, we
will complete the travelogue.
Day 1: Lüneburg to Scharnebeck (13.6 km)
If Lüneburg were not the starting
place but just a stop along the way, I would definitely list it as a worthwhile
stopping place. The city is wonderful with its step-gable buildings, a side canal
of the Elbe River flowing gently through the Old Town, the medieval crane, and ancient
water tower, the street front restaurants. Lüneburg is a bicycle-friendly city.
We start this tour at Lüneburg
Bahnhof. We arrive here by train in the late afternoon and the first order of business
is to stop for coffee and/or a beer. Once refreshed, we make a short 5-kilometer
tour around this beautiful city with its many sights, then we push on to Scharnebeck.
Downtown Scharnebeck. We stop for the night at Ferienwohnung
Hansmann since it is nearing 6:00PM. The address is Adendorfer Str. 19, Scharnebeck
21379. The telephone is 04136/244. The cost is €76 for two people per night. As
a note, they do not serve breakfast because, in reality, this is a vacation apartment
with a kitchen so users normally fix their own breakfast. The owners much prefer
several nights’ rental rather than the one night that we are enjoying.
After we unloaded our panniers, we ride to the Elbe Seitenkanal (Elbe Side Canal)
to photograph the locks. It is a few blocks away. The lock is extraordinarily impressive
in how they handle such a big change in elevation, a modern marvel. For those of
you who are engineers, there is a visitor’s interpretive room (Ausstellungshalle)
but I do not know the hours.
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Day 2: Scharnebeck to Hitzacker
We encounter some 20 to 30-foot
rolling hills east of Rullstorf but nothing that requires dismounting and pushing.
The locals call these hills the Lüneburger Alps, but it is said tongue in cheek
as it is an over exaggeration. Maxa and I always enjoy riding ferries. Perhaps it
is the experience of going somewhere without pedaling. But in any event, there are
two ferries today. Even with the hills at the beginning of the day’s ride, most
of the way is flat and most of it is paved.
Starting from our Ferienwohnung,
we happily discover that the first hill marked on the map is not much of a hill
at all. At most, it is a gentle rise and that gives way to a euphoric hope among
the four of us that the entire tour will be without hills. Confucius should have
said, “One who makes assumptions with limited information is usually wrong.”
We almost miss the sign pointing
the way to the Buckelgräberfeld Boltersen. This is a historic graveyard for people
of the Langebard tribe who buried their dead in urns under small hills. While that
activity dates from 300 BCE, other graves in this area date from as early as 3000
BCE. One has to be an archeologist or paleontologist to appreciate all of this.
To me, it looks like just another clearing full of sagebrush. However, it is fun
to try and imagine what it would be like to participate in a funeral when the graves
were dug 5,000 years ago.
In Neetze, watch for signs
to Bleckede then turn left.
We take the ferry across the Elbe at the town of Bleckede
after a quick visit to Schloss Bleckede.
Once across, we notice a guard tower left over from the DDR
days (East Germany’s Deutsche Demokratische Republik). We stay on the dike or next
to the dike all the way to the ferry near Bitter, across from Hitzacker. A bit of
a boring 30 km stretch but it is dead flat and newly paved. We had passed this way
a couple years ago shortly after the flooding of the Elbe in 2005. The flood wiped
out the dikes but they have been rebuilt in the meantime. We had to take an alternate
route in 2006 that was very primitive. The ferry does not show on the bikeline
guidebook. Perhaps that is because it is only a passenger ferry but they do take
bicycles; as do most passenger ferries. The cost is about €4.00 per bike and rider.
We stopped for the night in Hitzacker. This walled city was originally built on
an island in a swamp near the Elbe River. That swamp has long ago been filled in
and is now a residential area. Hitzacker was first mentioned in print in 1203. The
city is beautiful and the Stone Age Park on the outskirts is worthy of a visit.
The guidebook route does not cross the river but stays on the right bank of the
Elbe. We know about this little town from our Elbe tour in 2006.
Stone Age Village Museum,
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Day 3: Hitzacker to Ludwigslust
We start the day by visiting a
reconstruction of a Stone Age village just on the outskirts of Hitzacker. The cost
is €7 per person. It is interesting to note how advanced the engineering (and I
am not an engineer) skills were back in those days. I am reminded that our species,
Homo sapiens sapiens (not a typo), was then every bit as intellectually advanced
as the rocket scientists of NASA today. The path today is flat and all paved.
Here at the railroad tracks
outside of Malk Göhren, we decide to take a shortcut because the sky is threatening
to rain. The map shows a low traffic road through Steinberg and rejoining the guidebook
path at Karenz. The shortcut saves us about 5 km and the only downside is we have
to climb over a 40-foot hill. By the way, it does not rain; we were faked out.
We ride through the grounds of Schloss Ludwigslust. In 1772
Ludwig, the prince of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, decided to move his capital to this
beautiful little city and he commissioned the Schloss near his hunting
lodge. Today, it is a museum and the surrounding garden a city park. The canal through
town was used for commerce but today its use is purely aesthetic. Prior to Ludwig,
the town was a village of unremarkable origin. That shows you how valuable being
a capital can be. The name "Ludwigslust" translates to Ludwig’s joy. On
the dark side, Ludwigslust is four miles south of the location of the Wöbbelin Concentration
Camp where during the 3 weeks prior to liberation in the spring of 1945, as many
as 1,000 prisoners died of starvation.
We spend the night at Pension
Schwarzenberg, Am Seminargarten 4, 19288 Ludwigslust, telephone and fax is 03874/22438,
cell phone (Handy) 0174/9887135. The cost is €43 for two people per night. Our stay
here was very pleasant. The rooms were large, the beds were nice, and the breakfast
was very nice. Our host even gave us packaged lunches to take with us as a parting
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Day 4: Ludwigslust to Lübz
Today we experience mostly flat
terrain and only a little bit of graveled or sandy path. The weather is sunny and
the landscape is pretty. I must be on the right medication; I am in a good mood.
Leaving Ludwigslust with
our picnic lunches packed away, the first obstacle comes as a surprise. Guidebook
maps are flat and they do not fully explain that we have to ride up and over the
railroad track. The hill is a pusher for all but the strongest cyclists.
We are crossing the Elde Canal and notice the locks ahead.
A bit further on, one has to pay attention to the map because vandals, which is
an ancient German tribe that apparently still has a few members around, removed
the path signs. In any event, when the path joins the road, turn right, then right
again across the Elde River.
We stop for coffee and sparkling mineral water in Garwitz-Matzlow.
From here, we ride through the forest alongside the canal Müritz Elde Wasserstrasse;
the direct translation is “water street.” The path is soft gravel and packed sand
through the forest but improves after a couple of kilometers. When you get to a
paved road, take it to the left; those darn vandals have been out and about again
This is Parchim, one of
the Brick Gothic (Backsteingotik) cities on the European Autoroute of
Backsteingotik cities. Such cities in Northern Germany include Münster,
Stralsund, Lübeck, and others. One of the Brick Gothic buildings here is St. Georges
Church, built in 1220 but destroyed by fire in 1289 and rebuilt in 1307. After a
quick lunch, we make our way along the north coast of the Wockersee towards Lübz,
the home of Lübzer Bier – Yaa!
We stop for the evening
at Lindeneck, Eisenbeissstr. 29 19386 Lübz. They charge €45 per night for two people.
This Pension is right on the bike path just as you enter Lübz from the west. It
is a new building with small but clean rooms and a wonderful breakfast.
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Day 5: Lübz to Röbel
We start the day with a gentle
grade that gains about 50 feet in elevation as we leave Lübz. The weather forecast
is for thunderstorms but as in the US, German weather forecasts can be wrong. We
ride on cobblestone in the morning until we pass Kritzow. Cobblestone is good if
you have any loose filling you want to vibrate out; otherwise, it is not my favorite
path condition. Until you get to Plau, the path is paved even if some of it is cobblestone.
After Plau, there are about 10 kilometers of gravel path, at one point the path
is bumpy from roots and loose gravel. The terrain has rolling hills but nothing
too steep until you get about 35 kilometers into the ride. At that point, there
are two short but steep pitches to push up. One of the neat things today is we ride
down two long sun-dappled ‘Allee” or roads between two rows of old deciduous
trees. It is picturesque and so European.
After about 15 kilometers of cobblestone, we finally reach
Plau. We break for a Milchkaffe (think coffee latté) on the banks of the
canal. I am impressed by the little drawbridge and there are pictures on the left.
Leaving Plau, we ride south along the west side of Plauer See over some primitive
and gravel path that finally ends at Bad Stuer. As we leave Bad Stuer we climb gradually
over a 100-foot hill.
In Rogeez, we stop at a
sign for a Hügelgrab, or a grave mound in English. The grave here dates
back 3,500 years to the Bronze Age. From here, we climb up another 80 feet on sandy,
This is Käselin. A wide
spot on the road with two streets, Short Street and Long Street.
After riding down another
quaint Allee (road between rows of trees) we enter Röbel. Our intention
is to catch a tour boat here and float on the Müritz See to Papenberg near Waren.
Müritz See is the largest lake in Germany and the center for tourism in this region.
We are disappointed to learn that the boat left just before we arrive at the dock.
That has happened to us twice this year, on this tour and on the Ems Tour. So, fresh
out of alternatives, we ask the nearby tourist information office to find a place
for us to stay here in Röbel and a rather interesting place it turns out to be.
The “Hostel” is called the Alter Synagogue, Engelscherhof Kl. Staven Str. 11, 17207
Röbel/Müritz, telephone 49039331/53344. As you might guess from the name, the Hostel
is in a former Jewish Synagogue turned into a conference center and arts school.
Our guidebook says the building is under the protection of the historic landmark
designation. It commemorates the 200-year history of the Jewish community in Röbel,
which ended with “deportation” in 1943. There are several rooms, I would guess about
ten or so, that are primarily used for attendees to the various events but open
to tourists like us when not otherwise occupied. We are the only guests tonight.
This evening, a group of college-age women who are studying music treat us to a
choral concert. The concert is one of those special things that happen to travelers
when they least expect it.
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Day 6: Röbel to Mirow
We start the day in a bakery around
the corner from the hostel because the hostel does not do breakfast. Like most bakeries,
you can purchase a continental breakfast off the menu and eat it there. Unlike most
bakeries, this one has booths instead of the typical stand-up tables. Our day starts
with glorious weather and we are headed for the ferryboat dock.
After riding 1.4 km to the boat dock, we pay €10.50 each for the
ferry/tour boat ticket and depart for Waren. Taking the boat shortens our ride by
29 kilometers. I reset my odometer on the boat so our mileage will start in Waren.
The map in the guidebook shows the path around the lake is mostly gravel. If you
ride around instead of boating, just add 29 or 30 kilometers to my mileage for comparison.
Waren is quaint. We check out the public market in the square and purchase some
supplies for our picnic lunch later on. We also make a quick visit to a bicycle
repair shop to replace my brake pads. I spring for the expensive kind that means
the next time I need pads, all I have to purchase is the rubber instead of the whole
We stop for an afternoon
break in Boeker Mühle.
Just before Lärz, we cross the Müritz-Havel Wasserstrasse.
There is that word again. The picture of the altar is from the church in Lärz.
We stop for the evening
in Mirow. Again, we check with the tourist information office to find our accommodation.
They recommend we stay with Frau Ewert, Strelitzer Strasse 21. She charges €45 per
night for two people.
Mirow was first mentioned in 1226 as a settlement of the Knights of St. John
of Jerusalem, Die Johanniter, a Protestant order. Back then, they were
part of - or descended from - the Knights Hospitaller, which was founded
in 1080 to care for the sick and injured people returning from the crusades. (Hmmm
… “Sort of like the US Veterans Administration.” he said with a smirk on his face.)
The word Mirow stems from the Slavic word for peace or place of peace.
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Day 7: Mirow to Neustrelitz
In Mirow, we investigate the Schloss and the adjacent Liebesinsel
(Love Island). The town originally was a mere settlement on this island but later
come to encompass much of the land surrounding the present townsite. The Schloss
is the birthplace of Sophie Charlotte who became Queen of England after marriage
to King George III. We find a tomb here of Adolph Friedrich VI. He committed suicide
in 1918 after being accused of treason and espionage. I zero my odometer at the
tourist information office in Mirow. The path goes through a rolling landscape but
the hills are less than 40 feet in elevation gain and loss; just enough to keep
After leaving Neu Canow,
we experience some sandy path conditions and even have to climb a steep pitch while
enduring the sand. Shortly thereafter, the path turns to Plattenweg. A
Plattenweg is something that seems only to occur in the former East Germany.
The communists seemed to enjoy making prefabricated concrete panels that they would
use to build not only roads but also buildings, retaining walls, and just about
anything else they could think of. For bicycles, these roads are tooth-jarring and
In Wesenberg, we stop at a display of rocks. Sound interesting?
Well if you answered no, you would be wrong. The rocks here are all found locally
but they were carried here by glaciers and they are mostly from Scandinavia. Rocks
of all types and origins are plainly labeled and one can envision how this part
of Europe came to have such a diversity of stones. Also in Wesenberg, we discover
that the route has been altered a little, directing bicyclists through more of the
town. Just follow the signs and you will end up on the correct path through a residential
We break for lunch on the
shores of a lake. The sun is warm and apparently so is the water. Three adult bicyclists
were skinny dipping in the lake as we ate our picnic lunch. I mention this only
because skinny dipping in public is not such a rare occurrence in Europe and one
should not be surprised or shocked. I do not have a picture, sadly. Picture taking
of naked people is impolite - not to mention disappointing, and downright scary.
While still on a gravel path, we ride past a sign that says
Slavindorf. It is a tourist trap but supposedly represents a Slavic village at the
beginning of the Iron Age. This area was occupied mostly by Slavic peoples. I am
unimpressed but our party nevertheless gathers a few souvenirs from the vendors
This is the center of Neustrelitz
and the end of the tour for now. We hope to return someday and finish this tour
to Wolgast; but now it is time to find a room for the night and then take the train
home to Kassel. We choose the Öko-Hotel Fabrik at Sandberg 3a, 17235 Neustrelitz;
telephone 03981/203145. They charge us €50 for two people per night but the posted
rates are €65. I am not sure why we got such a deal because it is rare in Germany
to cut rates (or any prices for that matter).
The hotel is a former Kachelofenfabrik or tile oven factory that closed
several years ago. As a historical aside, it used to be common for houses and apartments
to be heated with a large tile stove almost reaching the ceiling. It was used as
an oven at times and it burned wood or coal (frequently brown coal). These ovens
could be plain Jane or works of charming and beautiful craftsmanship. It is interesting
to look into the museum and see pictures of the factory in operation.
The hotel is about 1.5 kilometers west of the tourist information office and
is across from a grocery store. We drop our luggage off at the room and pedal back
to the Bahnhof to purchase train tickets for tomorrow morning. We also
score a couple of bottles of wine at the store to celebrate completing the tour,
at least the part that we planned to complete this year.
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