The Saale cycle path — 9 stages from the source of the Saale to the Elbe

Bike Touring Collection by
komoot

Beautiful nature, majestic castles and charming towns accompany the Saale cycle path from the Fichtel Mountains to the Elbe. You'll cycle through enchanted forests, past breathtaking reservoirs and into romantic river valleys—and you'll visit some incredibly picturesque vineyards on the way.

The Saale cycle path takes you from Bavaria to Saxony-Anhalt on over 400 kilometers (250 miles) of breathtakingly beautiful bikeways. Starting in the Fichtel Mountains in Upper Franconia, it winds you alongside the Saale river to the cities of Jena and Naumburg—leading you to the point where it joins the Elbe near Barby.

Along the cycle path, you'll find countless accommodation options, such as hotels, guesthouses and campsites. As the regions is fairly popular amongst cyclists, these places are also specially prepared for the specific needs of bikepackers/long-distance tourers. You will also find many restaurants, cafés, beer gardens and wineries as well as beautiful resting places in the middle of nature where you can enjoy a quick rest stop or picnic while you ride. Allowing you to cut the ride short should you suddenly need to head home, you'll also pass numerous train stations which will allow for a quick getaway from any of the individual ride stages.

To get to the start of the ride, you can take the train to Münchberg, which is about nine kilometers (six miles) from the source of the Saale. If you don't want to cycle this section, you can also start the first stage at Seulbitz, where there is a train station, and skip the first 15 kilometers (9 miles). At the end of the Saale cycle path, you can simply continue down the road a little further until you get to Schönebeck. From here, you can take the train to wherever you're headed—whether that be back home or off to your next adventure.

If, after all this biking, you're not quite done yet, you can also combine the Saale cycle path with other long-distance bike routes, such as the Unstrut Cycle Path and the Elbe Cycle Path. You can find our Collections detailing these potential add-ons here:
komoot.com/collection/547/unstrut-cycle-path-4-days-through-thuringia-and-saxony-anhalt
komoot.com/collection/380/elbe-cycle-path-part-i-cross-border-cycling-pleasure

On The Map

Tours & Highlights

  • Intermediate
    02:08
    34.2 km
    16.1 km/h
    170 m
    440 m
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    At the Saalequelle in the Fichtelgebirge begins the Saale Cycle Path, which you can drive well in nine stages. The first stage takes you 34 kilometers from the source of the Saale to Hof.The tour starts with a beautiful descent through the forest, which brings you to the edge of the Fichtelgebirge. Through wide fields and meadows, the cycle path meanders around some gentle hills to Schwarzenbach an der Saale. In the Upper Franconian town you can rest well, be it a picnic on the banks of the Saale or a stop at one of the restaurants or cafes in the city.Strengthened it goes on the bike path further north. The route takes you in the immediate vicinity of the river through idyllic forest, across open fields and through some villages to Hof, today's stage destination. There you can comfortably end the first day on the Saale Cycle Path, for example with a refreshing visit to the outdoor swimming pool.

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  • Intermediate
    02:08
    29.3 km
    13.7 km/h
    360 m
    400 m
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may be unpaved and difficult to ride.

    Today's stage takes you from Hof ​​to Blankenstein and, at 29 kilometers, is shorter than the previous stage, but also a bit hilly.In Hof, it starts once flat. You cycle along the Saale out of the city, where a beautiful field and meadow landscape welcomes you. On the Jean-Paul-way, it's a piece through the idyllic forest, which spoils especially on hot days with its shady trees.Behind the Fattigsmühle, where you can take a break, it gradually begins to hilly. But the scenery along the Saale Cycle Path will be even more beautiful. A varied mix of refreshing woodland, luscious green meadows and wide fields that nestle in the rolling hills, waiting for you. Of course, you'll also meet the Saale nearby, where you're cycling. However, at the latest in the stage destination Blankenstein you will have a rendezvous with the river, where he flows in some playful arches through the village.

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  • Expert
    03:20
    44.0 km
    13.2 km/h
    620 m
    750 m
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    On the 44-kilometer stage from Blankenstein to Ziegenrück, it is now hilly again, but the landscape is all the more spectacular.From Blankenstein you cycle to the mouth of the Lemnitz in the Saale. From there you follow the ever widening Saale, which is dammed a few kilometers further down. Over a hill, from which you can enjoy a beautiful view, you reach the lead-hole reservoir. Here you can take a break and swim in the cool lake. As you pedal along the banks of the dam, you can enjoy the breathtaking view of the water and wonder if you want to stop and rest in Saalburg. The small town on the reservoir is located about halfway and attracts with restaurants, cafes and ice cream parlors.The next hill leads to the Burgkhammer reservoir, on whose banks Burgk Castle towers. Behind the dam, the Saale Cycle Path meanders along the river to the stage destination Ziegenrück. In the resort you can end the day with a stroll through the charming old town comfortably.

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  • Expert
    02:52
    42.0 km
    14.6 km/h
    700 m
    800 m
    Ferry
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels. The tour includes crossing by ferry.

    42 kilometers are today, bringing you from Ziegenrück to Saalfeld. The track has a similar characteristics to those of the previous stage: a few hills, a beautiful reservoir and breathtaking scenery.From Ziegenrück you follow a loop of the Saale over a small hill. The path leads you mainly through the forest. A pleasant descent brings you back to the shore of the Saale, which you cross with a ferry. Here begins the biggest climb of the day, during which you climb about 230 meters in altitude over several kilometers. You can enjoy the view of the surrounding land and the Hohenwarthe dam, which you finally descend on in a long descent. As you go along the shore, you can look for a nice bathing place to refresh yourself.Through smaller villages, idyllic forest and pretty field and meadow landscape, it then goes to Saalfeld, today's stage destination. Here it is worth visiting the fairy grottos, which enchant with stalactites and colorful iridescent grotto lakes.

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  • Intermediate
    03:30
    57.0 km
    16.3 km/h
    350 m
    420 m
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    On the 57 kilometers from Saalfeld to Jena today it is mostly downhill, only a few short ascents provide a bit of variety in between.Via Volkstedt and Rudolstadt the cycle path winds its way from Saalfeld along the Saale until it continues its way through wide fields and meadows parallel to the course of the river. Facing the Saale again and again, the route leads through the valley of the river, which is lined with pretty wooded hills. If you let your gaze wander into the distance, you can always see on the hills a castle or a castle, which towers majestically above the valley.On the way to Jena, you will regularly pass small villages and villages where you can rest comfortably. Also on the banks of the river Saale, you will pass a few restaurants and relaxed beer gardens that invite you to stop off. In the stage destination Jena you cycle to the end through a beautiful park on the Saale. It takes you to the gates of the old town, where you can end the day with a stroll.

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  • Intermediate
    03:04
    49.0 km
    16.0 km/h
    360 m
    410 m
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may be unpaved and difficult to ride.

    Today you cycle 49 kilometers from Jena to Naumburg. Here you come through the wine-growing area Saale-Unstrut. This stage is therefore characterized by pleasure cycling, because on the track you always have the opportunity to taste the delicious wines.After leaving Jena, you will find yourself in a beautiful landscape characterized by meadows, fields and wooded hills. On many sections the cycle path leads you at the foot of the hills through the refreshing forest. About halfway you reach the place Camburg. Here you can already rest and taste the regional wines in the restaurants. But you can also go on cycling and stop in one of the wineries on the way.The Saale valley behind Camburg is picturesque, because it is partly lined by steep cliffs and just from the vineyards of the Saale-Unstrut wine-growing region. The wine from the steep terraces and slopes of the region is characterized by its fruity tangy character. The perfect drop for a dinner on a warm summer evening after the bike tour in the stage destination Naumburg.

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  • Intermediate
    03:42
    60.0 km
    16.2 km/h
    250 m
    280 m
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may be unpaved and difficult to ride.

    From Naumburg today it is 60 kilometers to Halle an der Saale. The route takes you through beautiful nature but also through many urban sections as you pass cities like Weissenfels, Merseburg and the foothills of Halle.After Naumburg, you can first cycle along the banks of the Saale and enjoy nature. Wide fields and meadows give you a view of the surrounding hills, where you can occasionally see a castle. After a few kilometers you will come through Weißenfels, where you can take a break if you want. Here is worth a visit to the castle or a stroll through the city.Passing some vineyards, the route continues northwards. Halfway through today's stage lies Bad Dürrenberg. Here you can stop at the graduation tower and inhale the healthy salt air. Passing Leuna and Merseburg, we head towards Halle, today's stage destination. Here you can end the day on the impressive market square, which also offers a lot of gastronomy, cozy.

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  • Intermediate
    03:25
    58.7 km
    17.2 km/h
    230 m
    240 m
    Ferry
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels. The tour includes crossing by ferry.

    You cycle 58 kilometers on the penultimate stage of the Saale Cycle Path from Halle to Bernburg. On today's route you can admire many castles and palaces lining the Saale.Through beautiful parks and meadows on the Saale you leave Halle. Behind the gates of the city you have a nice view over the nature reserve Brachwitzer Alpen, which impresses with the rock walls on the other side of the river. On the further route, too, the view always enchants, whether on the Saale, which meanders through the enchanting valley, or the picturesque castles that tower on high rocks and hills.Through charming town on the Saale, romantic alluvial forests and wide field and meadow landscape, the river follows the direction of Bernburg, today's stage destination. Here, too, a majestic castle high above the Saale awaits you, which you can visit at the end of the day in peace and quiet.

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  • Easy
    01:50
    31.8 km
    17.3 km/h
    60 m
    80 m
    Ferry
    Easy bike ride. Great for any fitness level. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels. The tour includes crossing by ferry.

    Today is the last stage on the Saale Cycle Path, which brings you from Bernburg to the mouth of the river to the Elbe. At 31 kilometers, it is one of the shorter and also one of the shallowest stages of the bike tour. A really nice conclusion to enjoy so.From Bernburg you roll in a leisurely departure along the banks of the river Saale. Passing the Alte Saalearm, you go out into the wide field and over wonderful green meadows. The route promises pure country idyll and nature at its finest, such as on the Saale side arm. Cozy country inns provide pleasant rest stops and one or the other lock for exciting entertainment when you watch the boats and ships at the locks.At Gross Rosenburg you take the ferry to the other side of the river Saale and cycle from there to Barby and the Elbe, where the Saale flows a few hundred meters further south. You accompanied her on her 413 kilometer journey from the Fichtelgebirge to the Elbe. That's a good reason to pause for a moment and review the beautiful bike ride. As soon as you have said goodbye to the Saale, you can ride on the Elbe Cycle Route for about 16 kilometers to Schönebeck, where you can take the train home.

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