You can expect varied landscapes and interesting history along the entire length of the Dortmund-Ems Canal. Whilst other waterways in Germany have lost their importance, the Ruhr area needed so many raw materials that a railway wasn’t enough to supply the area. Kaiser Wilhelm II opened the canal in 1899 and some 120 years later, there’s still plenty to discover along the banks of this waterway.
Beautiful places, from the Ruhr area to pretty medieval towns and the Wadden Sea, lie en route. As you ride from Dortmund harbour to the estuary, you visit imposing water castles, historic locks and dreamy lakes. In between, you enjoy the waters of the Dortmund-Ems Canal, of course.
The Tour starts in Dortmund before leading to Westphalia and on to Norddeich in East Frisia, with almost no climbing. I’ve deliberately kept the individual stages rather short so you can include a few detours away from the canal or stay longer in a city. If you like long Tours, you can do the 370 kilometres (230 mi) on a gravel bike in three days.
Both the starting point in Dortmund and the end point in Norddeich, as well as most places in between, are excellently served by rail. This means that you can flexibly plan your Tour. You’ll also find plenty of accommodation but you should book well in advance, especially in summer near the North Sea.
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Last updated: September 14, 2023
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The Dortmund-Ems-Canal cycle route starts - as the name suggests - in Dortmund. It starts right at the main train station. On bike paths and small streets you first drive through the Fredenbaumpark at the Dortmund harbor, where the Dortmund-Ems Canal begins.
From here you follow the canal over 200 kilometers…
There is a lot of water around Lüdinghausen: canals, streams, ponds and lakes form this special landscape. And in some lakes you will find an imposing moated castle. On your today's stage you will pass several moated castles.
This time too, you don't just follow the canal, but explore the treasures to…
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Shortly after the start, you cross the pretty, small Münster lock. A few kilometers later you drive to the impressive sewage fields. The former irrigation areas for sewage were renatured around 2000 and form a species-rich biotope for all kinds of plants and animals, especially birds.
The next highlight…
On the fourth stage you almost always cycle directly along the canal and can see how the landscape changes around the waterway.
Sometimes you cycle straight through the landscape for kilometers. A small bridge or lock are a welcome change. Sometimes you drive through a forest, then again past an industrial…
Today the longest stage is waiting for you. For 65 kilometers you follow the Dortmund-Ems Canal, which repeatedly follows the meanders of the original Ems River. As you leave Meppen, you can already see some oxbow lakes to the left and right of the canal.
Several locks, some of which have been in operation…
Today you can already feel the salty sea breeze in your nose, because at the end of the stage you will (almost) reach the North Sea. You leave Papenburg on flat paths and after a few kilometers a little adventure begins: The Friesenbrücke was damaged by a ship collision and is being dismantled. Thanks…
After the Ems has flowed into the Dollart, the Dortmund-Ems Canal has also reached its destination. On the other hand, you can expect another stage of the official Dortmund-Ems-Canal cycle route, because you want to go to the North Sea or the Wadden Sea.
A dense network of canals, ditches and valleys…
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