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Bicycle round tours in the Altmühl Valley for campers
Bicycle round tours in the Altmühl Valley for campers

Bicycle round tours in the Altmühl Valley for campers

Three tips for your bike tour in the Altmühl Valley, Germany, that start at caravan sites, including tips on what to see and do.

Author: Freeontour, Header image: Tourismusverband Naturpark Altmühltal / Dietmar Denger

The Altmühl Valley in the southern part of the Franconian Alb in Germany is a great destination for campers who want to enjoy spring or autumn exploring towns and countryside by bike/e-bike. You will not only be able to ride on an array of cycle paths and trails and experience beautiful landscapes, but the service infrastructure for cyclists and e-bikers is well developed. Freeontour has selected a few bicycle tours that start and end at a motorhome car park or campsite and are easy to complete in a day with a bike/e-bike. But don't forget to take time for a well-deserved break or two, or otherwise you might miss some beautiful sights along the route.

Tip #1: Bicycle tour from Kelheim through the Altmühl Valley and the Danube Valley, approx. 50 km, moderately difficult

This bike trip goes from Kelheim through fascinating natural landscapes in the Altmühl Valley and the Danube Valley, with many highlights along the way, such as Weltenburg Abbey, the Danube Gorge, the Tatzelwurm wooden bridge and a cable ferry across the Danube. We recommend starting the tour at the Am Pflegerspitz RV park in Kelheim, which is right on the banks of the Danube as well as on the Danube Cycle Path. Moreover, the Old Town in Kelheim is only a stone's throw away, which is ideal for a leisurely stroll either in the evening or the next day. Take the Danube Cycle Path from the RV park, head to the Main-Danube Canal and follow it upstream to the Gronsdorf lock. You can also visit the reconstructed Celtic city gate, which is just one of the attractions in the Altmühl Valley Archaeology Park, with more awaiting you on the rest of the route.

As you cycle towards Essing, you won't regret making a quick detour to the Schulerloch stalactite cave. Or you could simply enjoy a coffee in the towns of Essing, Prunn or Riedenburg. Just after Essing, you will come across an extremely popular photo motif – the Tatzelwurm, one of the longest wooden bridges in Europe while boasting an unusual design. It connects the two sides of the valley for pedestrians and cyclists. If you want to shorten your tour by a few kilometres, you could go across the bridge and then ride up the hill on the other side of the canal to the Echendorf Farm Museum.

If you decide to not cross the bridge, head towards Riedenburg. The route is roughly 17 kilometres long, but mostly flat with very few small inclines. But that all changes when you leave Riedenburg. Continue westwards on the Schambachtalbahn Cycle Path and then take the road up to the Echendorf Farm Museum. Shortly after, you will find it less exhausting riding through the quite flat Hienheimer Forst and down to the Danube. The next stop on the tour is about 35 kilometres away, namely the cable ferry that will take you across the Danube from Hienheim to Eining. The ferry normally operates from mid-April to the end of October, Tuesdays to Sundays during the day. Although closed on Mondays, it will run on a Monday if it is a bank holiday, but will remain closed on the following Tuesday. The crossing costs €1.50 for adults and €0.50 for children and per bicycle.

After getting off the ferry, continue on the Danube Cycle Path towards Staubing. This is where you will find the world-famous Weltenburg Abbey, also known as the Asam Church – an example of excellent European Baroque architecture and definitely worth a visit. The setting of this Benedictine abbey is just as spectacular. Located at the entrance to the romantic Danube Gorge, also called the Weltenburg Narrows, it is surrounded by mighty limestone cliffs. The Danube squeezes its way from here through the limestone walls, which are up to 70 metres high, for about five kilometres. If you want to go back to your base at this stage, you can opt to enjoy this impressive sight from the water and take a ship back to Kelheim. If you want to continue, you will have to overcome another steep ascent of roughly 120 metres behind Weltenburg before you can roll down the mountain to Kelheim.

Tip #2: Bicycle tour from Eichstätt through the Jura landscape into the Anlauter Valley, approx. 58 km or 88 km, challenging

The advantage of this bike tour to Kinding is that after you can take a coach to get back to your motorhome: it even has a trailer for transporting bikes during high season. If you're physically fit, there's nothing stopping you from doing a round trip. Some great highlights along the way include the Old Town of Eichstätt that resembles a Baroque work of art, the Gutmann Brewery in Titting, the idyllic Anlauter Valley and the Roman and Bavarian Museum at Kipfenberg Castle. The RV park an der Altmühl in Eichstätt is a good starting point as it lies right on the Altmühl River and Altmühl Cycle Path.

Leave the RV park and follow the Altmühl Valley Cycle Path towards Dollnstein. You will soon come upon the Baroque university town of Eichstätt with its Mediterranean-style streets. You could easily spend a day here as there is so much to see and do, e.g. Willibaldsburg Castle towering over the Altmühl River, the Baroque Rebdorf Abbey, several churches and imposing buildings as well as the Jura Museum at the castle. The roughly 17 kilometres to Dollnstein will take you through the striking Jura landscape of the Altmühl Valley with rocks and beech forests. The route has a few intersections, and you will have to overcome a slightly steeper climb just before Breitenfurt. But it's all worth it once you see the impressive Burgstein mountain, one of Bavaria's most beautiful geotopes, just before you get to Dollnstein.

Leave the Altmühl Valley Cycle Path at Dollnstein and the really challenging part of the tour begins: you will have to overcome an altitude of about 130 m up to Schernfeld on the plateau, and then the 27 kilometres to Titting are full of strenuous ascents. But you can look forward to a well-deserved drink and a long break at the traditional Gutmann Brewery in the former moated castle of Titting. Afterwards, the remaining 17 kilometres on the Anlauter Cycle Path will be kind to you as you can cycle in a relatively leisurely fashion through the idyllic Anlauter Valley to Kinding, but there are also a few fast descents.

If your legs are tired now after cycling the roughly 58 kilometres to Kinding, you can take the "Freizeitbus" coach, which operates in the Altmühl Valley from the beginning of May until autumn and also has a trailer for transporting bicycles, to return to Eichstätt. You will then need line 6010 with Dollnstein as its terminus. The bus stop in Eichstätt is not at all far from the motorhome car park.

But if you still want to continue, you have 30 kilometres left on the Altmühl Valley Cycle Path from Kinding, which is fortunately mostly flat and easy to manage. On the section of the route to Kipfenberg, you can stop over at the Roman and Bavarian Museum at Kipfenberg Castle. However, this detour would mean having to cycle up to the castle. Further along the cycle path, you will pass many small villages embedded in the southern Franconian Jura mountain ranges with typically dry grassy slopes full of juniper bushes. You will also come across a number of historical remnants just before you get back to the campsite. You can find a map and more information on the route here.

Tip #3: E-bike tour from Dietfurt through the Valley of the Weiße Laber, approx. 46 km, moderately difficult

You don't want to regret not taking this bike tour as it combines the historic towns of Berching, Beilngries, Breitenbrunn and Dietfurt with idyllic natural surroundings. For instance, you can visit the Parish Church of St Vitus in Kottingwörth, the Chinese fountain in front of the town hall in Dietfurt, the Old Town in Berching with a partially preserved and accessible town wall and Plankstetten Abbey with its own shop and tavern. You can use RV parks in either Beilngries, Dietfurt-Ottmaring or Berching as a base and starting point. The tour is signposted throughout as a jurAktiv tour. Our Freeontour tip: start in Dietfurt and after roughly halfway you will have managed all the strenuous ascents and won't have to work your legs too hard on the second half of the route.

In Dietfurt, the 7 Täler campsite and the free pitches at the jetty, which are available all year round, are good starting points as both are located right by the Main-Danube Canal Cycle Path into which the Altmühl River flows near Dietfurt. For a leisurely start to this bike tour, we recommend making a detour to the Old Town of Dietfurt because you can explore the most important sights of the 7-valley town simply by taking a short stroll through it. For example, six of the original ten defensive towers of the medieval city fortifications have survived. Moreover, Dietfurt is known for its many creative fountains. Also worth visiting are the Baroque Parish Church of St Ägidius, the Franciscan monastery and the Pilgrimage Church To The Three Miserable Saints. If you continue the bike tour from the Chinese fountain – Dietfurt’s landmark right in front of the historic town hall – and follow the main street after your stroll through the city, you will also pass the Altmühl Valley Mill Museum. It is not just the only mill museum in the Altmühl Valley, but also houses a mill that is over 500 years old and still working today.

Shortly after the Mill Museum, turn left into Breitenbrunner Straße and then follow the cycle path to Haas through the picturesque Valley of the Weiße Laber and then to Breitenbrunn through the Valley of the Wissinger Laber. The route is only slightly, but constantly, uphill to Breitenbrunn, and is easy to manage. The first really steep ascent awaits cyclists behind Breitenbrunn – one more reason to treat yourself to a short coffee break beforehand and to see the Baroque parish church or the ruins of Breitenegg Castle. The most strenuous part of this tour comes after Breitenbrunn: the bike path goes up to the Jura mountain range to Dürn and via Wimpasing to Staadorf back into the Valley of the Weißer Laber. Turn right towards Erbmühle before Staadorf, and then turn left again up the Jura mountains via Oening and on to Winterzhofen. Shortly after Winterzhofen, the exhausting part of the tour is over, so you will be able to appreciate the scenery much more while cycling into the Sulz Valley to Berching.

Berching is the perfect place for your next break and where you can do a bit of sightseeing on foot as its closed townscape with the 500-year-old defensive wall with thirteen towers and four gates is practically unique in Bavaria. Moreover, small colourful houses, dreamy alleys and corners as well as mighty warehouses still bear witness to the heyday of this small town in the Middle Ages. Don't forget to visit the Baroque Parish Church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary before you get back on your bike. As you continue along the Main-Danube Canal, you will go past the Berching lock where you then switch to the other side of the canal. We carry on to the left on a gravel road that runs parallel to the canal and passes the villages of Eglasmühle and Plankstetten. If you haven't had enough of sightseeing, you can marvel at the Benedictine Abbey of Plankstetten before cycling towards Beilngries via Biberbach.

The Sulz and Altmühl rivers join at Beilngries, with the Main-Danube Canal bordering the town to the north. So it's no wonder that water has had a major impact on life here for centuries. The local breweries have been using numerous fresh water sources to brew beer for hundreds of years, which you can still enjoy today in any of the many inns. Beilngries also has a romantic old town with lots of small streets and towers as well as some historical buildings that are most certainly worth making a detour for, e.g. the Baroque town hall or the Rococo Frauenkirche church. And on the last stage of the bike tour, follow the Altmühl Valley Cycle Path to Dietfurt via Kottingwörth and Töging and stop for a quick break at the fortified church of St Vitus in Kottingwörth.

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