Remagen, Germany Makes Good Bike Base Camp
If you’d like to explore the Rhine region of Germany by bike, the town of Remagen, Germany provides a good central location for basing your adventures. This bike tour is different than most European long-distance trail tours because it gives you the opportunity to stay at one location and then take bike rides our from that central base. And, since bike routes parallel both sides of the river, you are able to do loop rides rather than out-and-back rides. If you stay at the Hotel Leonard Pinger in Remagen, Leonard can provide you with rental bikes for your time in the area. You will want to allocate at least three full days for the following bike rides:
- Remagen to Bonn, Germany with a must-stop in the town of Erpel, Germany
- Remagen to (at least) Bad Honningen with a must-stop in Linz, Germany
- The Ahr Vally Bike Trail Tour (Ahr-Radweg) with must stop in Ahrweiler, Germany
Differences Between the Rhine River Trail and Mosel River Trail
If you have ever ridden the (Moselle) Mosel River Cycle Route, you’ll notice a fairly significant difference between these two European bike paths and their surrounding area. Here are just a few of the differences you’ll experience:
- Way more vineyards on the Mosel River
- More quaint towns & villages along the Mosel trail
- Slightly better bike paths on both sides of the Mosel River
- Wine is king along the Mosel.
- The award for best side path goes to the Ahr Valley bike path off the Rhine River Cycleway.
- Way more bridges on the Mosel and way more ferry boats on the Rhine
Beginning in Remagen, you will bike along the west bank of the Rhine River all the way to Bonn. This bike path is well-marked and mostly traffic-free with a little over half of it being dedicated cycle paths. As long as you stay on the bike route, it is completely free of heavy traffic. From this side of the river, you will only go through a few small towns, but will be surprised how quickly you arrive at the outskirts of Bonn, a very large city. Along this cycle path, you will see interesting, historic and scenic sites on both sides of the river. Among the beautiful structures you see will be the Carstanjen Mausoleum just before you get into Bonn proper. After this, you will have two bridge options for crossing. You can either cross the very first bridge you get to, if you’d like to shorten your ride a bit. Or you can proceed to the next bridge (Kennedy Bridge or Kennedy Brucke) so that you can see more of the city of Bonn. Both of these bridges have separated pedestrian/cyclist crossings and are easy to find and cross. Once you’re on the eastern side of the Rhine River, you’ll find the bike path to be quite a bit more elusive. From what I could see, it looked like they were taking steps to amend this. But for now, you’ll be on a very well-defined bike path for the first few miles, but then it becomes a bit more vague. Remember that at any time, you can cross back to the other side of the Rhine on one of the many ferries. Remember also that it’s pretty difficult to become too lost in these river valleys. Just don’t let yourself wander too far from the Rhine, and you’ll be okay. Remember also that some of your best discoveries will come when you are “lost.” Which brings us to the final tip for this segment of the Rhine River Trail. If I wouldn’t have gotten a little lost, I never would have found the town of Erpel and now it has become my favorite German town. If you get there in the morning and sit down in the Marketplatz, you’ll feel as if you’ve been transported back to Medieval times. Like so many other German towns, it is filled with gorgeous half-timbered houses. But unlike most towns & villages, they have allowed some of these buildings to remain in a more natural state rather than literally and figuratively white-washing them. It is truly an amazing little European village. Once you are finished exploring Erpel, you can take the pedestrian/bicycle ferry boat across the Rhine to Remagen. At the time of publication, the ferry ride cost €1,40 for a crossing and leaves Erpel twice per hour.
This is a very short bike ride, excellent for your first day, last day or even a rainy day. It involves two ferry crossings and a visit to quaint little old-town area of Linz, Germany. Once again, you will be able to ride on both sides of the river, so this is another mini-loop route. Start (again) on the west side of the river and follow the little green bike signs to assure you stay on track. Follow this path for a little over six miles until you come to the town of Bad Breisig. Just past the town, you will come to a car ferry (that also caters to bicyclists) that crosses the Rhine to Bad Honningen. This ferry costs only €1 and is constantly crossing the river (during business hours) so you shouldn’t have to wait long for a ferry. Once you’ve made your intrepid river crossing, you head back toward Linz where you’ll definitely want to stop for a applekuchen or gelato in their old-town plaza. You’ll find the fortified entrance to the town quite photogenic. Once in old-town, the shopping and gastronomy make the town a worthwhile visit. After you’ve spent sufficient time in Linz and possibly had lunch there at one of the many restaurants, you will take the ferry back toward Remagen. This ferry costs €1,40 and also makes regular stops during most daylight hours. Once you’re back on the Remagen side, if you didn’t already stop at the famous Bridge of Remagen, an important World War II site, you should put this on your to-do list. In addition to the remnants of the war-ravaged bridge, you will also have the opportunity to visit the Peace Museum. (open March to November)
This bike trail has it all: a train ride, castle ruins, a wine museum and a beautiful old fortified city. We’ll start from Remagen again, but this time we’ll hop on a train instead of getting right on the bike path. Of course, if you’re so inclined, you’re welcome to ride this entire out-and-back on your bike, but the train ride up the Ahr Valley just adds to the excitement of this trip. So board the train at the Remagen Train Station (right across the street from the Leonard Pinger Hotel) and head toward Ahrbruck. It’s not hard to miss since it’s the last stop on the train line. Check with the local station master for train times and boarding information. But bicycles are allowed on the train, so don’t forget to bring yours (or more likely your rental) with you. Once you get off the train at Ahrbruck, you’ll continue to head up the Ahr Valley on your bike. Of course you don’t have to keep going up, and many people just ride down from here. But, if you do opt to ride the entire trail, a little over half of it will involve an out-and-back ride. Head toward the furthest town on the trail which is Blankenheim, Germany. Or feel free to stop at any of the little towns that tickle your fancy including towns w/ such enjoyable names as Liers, Dupelfeld, Insul, Schuld, Fuchsofen, Antweiler and Dorsel. Okay, now you get to start biking downhill (mostly). On your way back down, stop at Altenahr to make a brief (hiking) climb up to the old castle. Next, stop in MayshoB (as in Mayshoss) for a visit to the Wine Museum. If you’re lucky, you may get to join one of their tours or you can try to arrange a wine tour with Leonard Pinger in Remagen. And finally, you’ll want to stop in Ahrweiler and visit the (another) fortified old-town area. And don’t let the spiked gate hit you in the Walporzheim on the way out.
Rhine Cycle Route: Rheinradweg, Eurovelo 15
Or, you could just bike the entire Rhine River Trail from Andermatt to Rotterdam. Maybe next time.
This blog-post auto scheduled for publication on 6/26/15