The Saxon stretch of the Elbe Cycle Route is one of Europe’s most attractive options for a cycling holiday. Like a “best of Saxony”, it takes in everything from the terraced vineyards along the Elbe valley to the spectacular rock formations in Saxon Switzerland, not forgetting historic towns and cities such as Meissen, Radebeul, Dresden, Pirna or Bad Schandau that make for perfect stops on the way. It is a wonderful way to see the region’s top sights and experience what makes this part of Germany so unique.
Germans love cycling which means that visitors can benefit from a standout network of well-appointed cycling routes. Saxony and Thuringia are home to some of the country’s favourite cycle rides. Our top picks offer something for every fitness level, running along rivers, through forests and over mountains and even taking adventurous cyclists underground. Take a look and find your favourite!
Ilm Valley Cycle Route
Palaces, castles, UNESCO World Heritage, gently rolling hills, picturesque villages and meadows buzzing with bees: Cycling along the Ilm River in Thuringia is a delight. The route runs along a good 76 miles from the source of the river in a north-easterly direction until it flows into the Saale River. Tip: The 18-mile leg between Kranichfeld and Weimar comes with a particularly high share of fairy-tale moments, think tranquil countryside dotted with lush, flowering gardens, half-timbered houses peeping out from the meadows, and bountiful fruit trees. Rural bliss at its best!
New Lakeland Cycle Route
Here’s an idea: City break in Leipzig and exploring the surrounding “Leipzig New Lakeland” region by bike. Former opencast mines were flooded to create a beautiful are of 22 (!) lakes where it’s all about water sports, be it surfing, sailing, water skiing, stand-up paddling or just going for a gold old swim. The New Lakeland route is perfect for discovering the area and stop off at some of the many sandy beaches on the way. Tip: The red “Speisewagen no. 51” food truck on the eastern shore of Lake Störmthal offers delicious snacks – and there are many more restaurants and beer gardens along the route!
Rennsteig Cycle Route
Thuringia’s Rennsteig is not just for hiking but also a popular route for sportive cyclists and mountain bikers. Running over a good 121 miles along the ridge of the Thuringian Forest, it requires some stamina which will not only be rewarded with stunning views along the way but also many of the region’s best sights such as the UNESCO-listed Wartburg Castle in Eisenach.
Mountain biking for all the family: The Blockline in Saxony’s Ore Mountains covers altogether 87 miles and can be discovered in three different loops or 15 individual stages. The adventure mountain bike route is suitable for children from the age of eight who will love the sense of freedom when riding through the region’s great scenery, with stunning views, unique rock formations, lush mountain meadows and idyllic streams.
Saale Cycle Route
If you like river routes, cycling along the Saale River should tick your boxes. The Thuringian stretch (112.5 miles) of the Saale Cycle Route takes you from the fjord-like landscapes of the Thuringian Slate Mountains to the wine-growing areas in the region’s north. On the way, there are castles, the lively university town of Jena and a picturesque ensemble of three palaces near Dornburg.
How about a bit of underground biking? Head to the Trailwerk in Kamsdorf where a former copper, silver and iron ore mine has been turned into a very special adventure playground, featuring a labyrinth of underground trails that can be mastered on mountain and enduro bikes. You can choose from different levels of difficulty and all tours are guided by an MTB expert. Should prefer daylight, there are also overground trails and route that make the most of the former mining district.