Want to visit age old castles nestled along the shores of pristine lakes? Want to get lost in history amongst the ruins of once-mighty castles? If this sounds like your idea of a good time, this route will make your smile grow larger the longer you stay on it. And it will teach you a thing or two about this mighty region’s past.
Winding from the Rhine, through to Aachen and across to the Eifel mountain range, this 400 km (250 mi) circular route takes you straight through the Germany’s castle country. With 120 of these ornate, ancient buildings to see along the way, there’s always a point worth stopping off at—and there’s always something age-old to discover. On the way, you’ll glide across idyllic river landscapes, through picturesque historical towns, past half-timbered houses and straight through the glorious mining traditions that made this region great, before returning to your starting point near Bonn.
As the landscape itself is predominantly flat, this route is also suitable for beginners and experts alike. You’ll ride around 20 to 70 km (12 to 45 mi) per day and, should you get tired at any point, can simply hop on the train at one of the numerous stations you’ll ride past each day.
For those that want to make the route a little tougher, or are simply open to a few surprises, you can choose to extend the route in numerous places. You can, for example, continue your journey into the Eifel national park near Heimbach, cycle along the Erft cycle path, or simply continue along the Rhine towards Cologne. Whatever you decide, however, this flat, flexible route guarantees a few things for all who ride it: history, beauty and a whole ton of fun.
This route is recommended in the brochure "Deutschland per Rad entdecken" by the ADFC (German Cyclist's Association) and is ranked as a quality cycle route with three stars. More information (in German): adfc.de/artikel/radurlaub-als-sternstunde
The Wasserburgen route immediately lives up to its name on the first 39-kilometer stage: Among other things, you will pass by the water castles of Gudenau, Lüftelberg and Morenhoven, as well as several mills.The official starting point of the Wasserburgen Route is the Bonn district of Bad Godesberg - via the train station Bonn-Bad Godesberg you have access to the Bonn Stadtbahn network, many regional express trains stop here.From the train station Bonn-Bad Godesberg you drive first through the spa park and past the redoubt park. Then further within reach of the Godesberger Bach and later in the area of Arzdorfer Bach to the Broicher mill - a highlight of this stage. Already after you have left the city of Bonn-Bad Godesberg, the landscape of the Kottenforst is determined. After about 17 kilometers on this stage you leave the forest behind you and cycle between fields and meadows towards the stage destination Euskirchen.
Today's stage is determined by the river Erft and its idyllic riverbanks. From Euskirchen you cycle almost always on the Erft cycle path in the direction of the Erft about 56 kilometers to the north. In addition to numerous beautiful shorelines in nature reserves, water locks and castles are also the highlight on this stage.
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From Bedburg an der Erft it is on this approximately 45-kilometer stage to Jülich on the river Rur written (without "h", and sometimes referred to as "Eiffel Rur"). Also on this stage, some beautiful castles and moated castles accompany your way - the relatively looped route also stems from the fact that there are two opencast mining areas in the area of this tour, which you will travel extensively.After just the first five kilometers you will pass the small town of Alt Kaster with its historic center and its castle ruins - a highlight on this stage. After another 15 kilometers you reach the forest area of the Sophienhöhe, which you circle around in a semicircle. Behind it lies the mining area Hambach.After 36 kilometers on this stage you will come across the Rur. From here it is still about 10 kilometers downstream to the center of Jülich.
Today it's time to pedal hard. The longest stage of the Wasserburgen Route takes you on a journey of about 70 kilometers from the town of Jülich to the old imperial city of Aachen. The first 35 kilometers are minimal (but continuous) rising. Especially if you are traveling in summer, you can look forward to the refreshing water of the bluefin lens after about 30 kilometers.You also drive along ponds and ponds as you cycle through the Broibachtal nature reserve. Also on this tour, the path is lined with moated castles and palaces - the undisputed cultural highlight is the Cathedral of Aachen at the end of this stage. On the last kilometers you drive through the streets of the city of Aachen.
The stage Aachen - Stolberg is only 20 kilometers long, so you can take it a bit more leisurely after the 70 kilometers long preliminary stage and use the time for sightseeing. Among other things, a visit to the sights in the old town of Aachen is recommended before you leave the city in a southeasterly direction. After about five kilometers through the city you reach the forest cemetery, so you have left Aachen behind you.Passing through meadows and forests, we continue towards Kornelimünster with its famous monastery, which you can reach after half of the way on this stage. The picturesque old town of Kornelimünster is definitely worth a longer break. And the stage destination Stolberg exudes a lot of charm with its historic half-timbered houses in the old town around the castle in connection with its long industrial history.
Today you drive past castles, moated castles, forests and the Rur to Heimbach in the Eiffel National Park. On this nearly 65-kilometer stage, once you've left Stolberg behind you with its old town, you'll leisurely walk through meadows and fields of wooded sections. After about 35 kilometers, you will meet at Kreuzau then on the Rur.The official water castle route leads you in a curve (or in a detour) past Kreuzau to the moated castle Burgau and from there back to the Rur. In the end, on the last 15 kilometers of this stage on the RurUfer Cycle Path, you cycle gently uphill through a wooded area towards the Heimbach stage destination in the middle of the Eiffel National Park. On the way there you pass beside several nature parks also the reservoir Obermaubach with its dam.
If you still do not have enough of moated castles, castles and castle ruins - the penultimate stage over about 55 kilometers from Heimbach to Rheinbach is one of the most castles in the entire Wasserburgen route. Already after three kilometers you leave the forests of the Eiffel and drive mostly between meadows and fields in hilly up and down in the direction of Cologne Bay, the stage destination Rheinbach contrary. The village of Kommern with its old town with numerous half-timbered houses and the Rhenish open-air museum is ideal for a break.
It goes back to the Rhine. The last stage will take you back to Bad Godesberg - the starting point of the Wasserburgen Route. The path usually runs through meadows and fields, and you will always come across castles and moated castles on this approximately 35 kilometer long stage. After 26 kilometers, after passing the Rolandsbogen (the last remnants of an old castle), you will finally descend steadily down to the Rhine.On the banks of the Rhine, you will meet in the Bonn district of Mehlem. The last few kilometers you drive - past beautiful villas - along the Rhine, until you turn into the city center to the train station Bonn-Bad Godesberg, the official end of the water castle route. Alternatively you can also take the ferry to Königswinter at Mehlem and from there take the train home. Or you still have excess energy and continue on the left bank of the Rhine to the center of Bonn.