Around Thuringia — 7 stages through Germany's green heart

Martin Donat

Around Thuringia — 7 stages through Germany's green heart

Road Cycling Collection by komoot

Thuringia — the land of palaces, castles and historic old towns with all their myths and stories. The land of bratwurst and dumplings and the land of glass and porcelain. Situated in the middle of Germany, full of culture and beautiful nature, Thuringia is a versatile, beloved corner of Eastern Germany — and there's no better way to discover it than by road bike.

At the perfect cruising speed to discover all the beautiful Highlights, you'll roll along the quiet roads and cycle paths of the province. On bike, you'll experience every inch of this stunning landscape using nothing but the power hidden in your own two legs.

In this Collection, we take you in seven stages through the southeast of Thuringia. Characterized by the river Saale with its impressive dams, tranquil villages, shady forest slopes and sun-drenched wine plantations, you will experience Thuringia (and on a few small detours parts of Saxony-Anhalt and Saxony) in a manner that's simply not possible using other means of transport.

We have chosen the university town of Jena as the starting point for our Tour of Thuringia. And that's not without reason — one great feature of our 360-mile (580-kilometer) round trip is that you can easily take the train back to Jena from any stage. That way, you'll always have a Plan B in your back pocket in case you can't ride any further or if the weather changes. Additionally, this gives you the opportunity to ride the stages individually or to "build" your own adventure, which may take only two or three days. Along each stage, you will also find a large selection of hotels and guesthouses as well as shopping facilities, restaurants and cultural highlights. That way, your journey of discovery can continue long after the ride. The individual rides are also relatively short, so you can do them even if you are not particularly well trained. If, on the other hand, you want to challenge yourself a bit more, you can simply combine one or two stages. Just keep in mind that Thuringia is quite hilly: You'll be climbing and descending numerous times throughout the day — so try and take it easy on the flat stretches to conserve your strength.

On The Map

Tours through Thuringia

    113 mi
    13.9 mph
    4,800 ft
    4,725 ft
    Expert road ride. Very good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may require you to push your bike.

    The first stage of our trip to Thuringia is marked by Saale and Unstrut and the beautiful cycle paths that run along these rivers and are also passable on the road bike.It starts in the university town of Jena, whose typical high-rise skyline you may have looked at from afar. Today you will get to know the city and its beautiful sites in person and on the bike. From the center, the route takes you along the Saale out into the countryside. After about eight kilometers, you will be strolling past an idyllic campsite, which we can recommend to you as alternative accommodation to hotels or inns in the city.From here it is really nice and quiet. You follow narrow country roads where you rarely see a car, and drive through small, sleepy nests where time seems to stand still. Until you reach Apolda, where you will receive the pompous facilities of the Federal Garden Show from the year 2017. But immediately afterwards it becomes rural and quiet again. Even a longer ascent with associated downhill, then changes this stage their character to the finish in Naumburg.Because now begins the Unstrut bike path, which meanders along the river through its valley. Here you can enjoy the view of the river and the surrounding vineyards in peace and quiet away from traffic. If you want to take a break, here is a good place for it. Because along the way you will find many cafes and wine bars, where you can relax.The goal of the tour is the rock cellar directly on the Saale. Here you can fortify yourself in the rustic beer garden and then spend the night in one of the holiday apartments. One thing is certain: you will not find a better view of the Saale anywhere else. If you want to stay a little more central, you need only drive a few minutes, then you are in the middle of the center of Naumburg.Tip: If you want to ride this tour individually, take the regional trains SE 15 or RB 20 from Naumburg in just over half an hour back to Jena.

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    45.1 mi
    13.7 mph
    2,025 ft
    1,750 ft
    Intermediate road ride. Good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may be unpaved and difficult to ride.

    Today, the route starts in Saxony-Anhalt and leads you back towards the end of the stage on Thuringian soil. The stage is characterized by two long sections on beautiful bike paths (some former railway lines) and thus runs over long distances completely traffic-free.It starts right on the Saale - if only for a few hundred meters. Then the route bends to the south and takes you over the mill bike path through the picturesque valley of Wethau. About quiet cycle paths and small roads you come to the tranquil village of Seidewitz, where the entrance to the Zuckerbahnradweg is located. Where once trains with coal and sugar rattled, today you can enjoy the beautiful scenery in the border area of ​​Thuringia and Saxony-Anhalt completely car-free. The only price you have to pay is occasional stops on one or the other bollards, which here and there ensure safe crossing of some roads.In Zeitz you have already made more than half of today's tour and you deserve a short or longer break absolutely. Zeitz is best suited for this. Whether just a quick coffee in the well-kept city center or a longer break with a tourist program - you will not be bored here.After the break, you have a new companion: From now follows our route of the White Elster, a tributary of the Saale, which brings you partly accompanied by the Elster bike path directly to the final destination to Gera. Here you have no problems finding a suitable accommodation or finishing your tour and coming back to Jena by train.

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  • Intermediate
    44.5 mi
    11.9 mph
    2,500 ft
    1,975 ft
    Intermediate road ride. Good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may be unpaved and difficult to ride.

    From Gera today our route makes a detour to Saxony and brings you wonderfully quietly through picturesque villages and idyllic valleys in contemplative Netzschkau.After leaving Gera behind you, the track bends directly onto a quiet bike path that takes you to Ronneburg. It is worth noting that it looked quite different here years ago, because the bike path takes you past a former uranium mining. In the course of the recultivation and the Federal Garden Show 2007, you do not expect an inhospitable end-time scenario, but a really beautiful landscape, through which it is excellent cycling.So the journey continues. In the casual up and down you pass small places, follow again and again freshly splashing small rivers and enjoy the magnificent view of the Koberbach dam, in which you can cool off in good weather and short.At the end of the stage, there is another real highlight awaiting you: The Göltzschtal bridge is the world's largest brick bridge and it is even more impressive if you ride your bike under it before you reach the finish in the cozy Netzschkau. Here you can end the evening with a visit to the castle Mylau. On the other hand, if you want to end the stage tour here, you can take the train back to Jena.

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    36.0 mi
    13.0 mph
    2,425 ft
    2,375 ft
    Intermediate road ride. Good fitness required. Mostly well-paved surfaces and easy to ride.

    The short leg from Netzschkau to Zeulenroda is all about water. First, you circle the Pöhl dam, before you head for the Zeulenrodaer Meer.Today the way is the goal. On the way, neither special sights nor larger cities are waiting for you. For a lot of water, lots of nature and the wonderful peace in the middle of Germany.In the stage destination Zeulenroda there is enough time to enjoy the beautiful landscape and above all the two dams, which together form the "Zeulenrodaer Meer". If you want to fall asleep with a view of the lake, the luxurious Bio-Seehotel offers accommodation, but Zeulenroda also offers many more down-to-earth lodgings. For dinner we recommend a delicious carp dish - the Zeulenrodaer are known to be connoisseurs in the field of carp breeding.Despite the quiet location, it is no problem from Zeulenroda to travel by train back to Jena. However, the station is a bit out of the way and hears the name Zeulenroda lower station (officially: "unt Bf").

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    57.2 mi
    12.6 mph
    3,825 ft
    3,950 ft
    Expert road ride. Very good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may be unpaved and difficult to ride.

    Today's stage holds some wet highlights ready for you. It goes straight well when you cross the dam Zeulenroda and can enjoy a great view of the large reservoir. Incidentally, the sooner you set off, the more beautiful you are because here you can enjoy the magical light of the rising sun.The second "water highlight" leaves no 30 kilometers to come: the Plothener ponds are really beautiful and have an interesting history. Originally, the many ponds were created to cover the high fishing needs of the monks during the fasting days. If you fancy a little break where you can learn more about the area, take a break at the nearby stilt house. This is in the middle of the house pond and houses a museum.After another 20 kilometers, our route crosses the river Saale, which decisively shapes the landscape in this part of Thuringia. Because here are five dams the so-called Saalekaskade, which repeatedly builds up the river on a section of 80 kilometers - formerly that served the shipping, today the energy and the local recreation.Our tour ends today idyllically right on the banks of the Hohenwarte reservoir, which you have previously followed a piece on the Saale cycle path. Here is a nature hotel with attached campsite, which can bring you a wonderfully quiet night's sleep. If you want to end the stage tour through Thuringia today, you have to go on for around ten kilometers. The nearest train station is in Kaulsdorf, from there you can quickly return to Jena by train.

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    51.9 mi
    13.2 mph
    2,775 ft
    2,950 ft
    Intermediate road ride. Good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may be unpaved and difficult to ride.

    After a restful night at the Naturhotel, the penultimate stage of our Thuringia tour starts comfortably on the banks of the Hohenwarte reservoir - the great view of the reservoir is included. After a few kilometers of casual curling, it's a good start for the first time. After the crisp climb you are really warm and you will be rewarded with a great view of the reservoir. And with a nice descent, which brings you back to the shore of the Saale, directly in the worth seeing district town Saalfeld, where you can calmly plan a small break.In case you are still too early for a break: ten kilometers further, the next possibility comes when you roll through Blankenburg. After that, however, it is much quieter and you drive over a wonderfully secluded road over to the valley of the Ilm. Next (food) stop: Stadtilm with a very excellent Thuringian Rostbratwurst, which is actually part of a Thuringian cycle tour (unless you are a vegetarian).The last section of the route follows the Ilmradweg to the spa town of Bad Berka, where you can find the right accommodation or take the train back to Jena.

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    55.3 mi
    13.3 mph
    3,475 ft
    3,900 ft
    Expert road ride. Very good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may be unpaved and difficult to ride.

    Admittedly, from Bad Berka it is actually not that far to the starting point of our Thuringia round in Jena. But cycling in Thuringia is so much fun that we've just put a few nice "loops" so you can enjoy the beautiful landscape for a bit longer.Let's go in the spa town on a main road to Blankenhain. From there it gets rural. You drive through an idyllic valley where you meet a bizarre peculiarity. Suddenly strange figures stand, float, hang and lie on the roadside. They want to lure you into the art garden of a creative couple who has created an interesting parallel world in the small town of Plinz. A short visit is worthwhile.In Kahla you cross the Saale again - for the penultimate time on this tour. In a wonderfully quiet loop, we will finally take you back to Jena. If you take the striking wooden bridge over the Saale in Kunitz, you've made it right away. A few more kilometers and you're back in Jena. Behind you are around 580 kilometers and countless beautiful, interesting and exciting impressions of an area that can only be experienced as close to the bike as you have done.

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
  • Distance
    403 mi
  • Duration
    30:33 h
  • Elevation
    21,825 ft

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Around Thuringia — 7 stages through Germany's green heart