Over the 140 miles (223 kilometers) that make up the Vechetal Route, you'll encounter a wonderfully diverse range of landscapes: Idyllic floodplains, dead straight canals, picturesque villages, windmills, moated castles and shady forests. Following the river from which it takes its name to its mouth in the historic trading town of Zwolle in the Netherlands, the Vechetal Route will let you experience this region like never before.
Over five stages, you'll cycle mainly along quiet roads and on excellent cycle paths. Both the Münsterland and the Netherlands are known for their almost perfect bicycle infrastructure, which you can fully enjoy on the way — one of many reasons that led the ADFC to award the Vechtetal route as a three-star quality cycle route. The route is flat throughout, making it ideal for occasional cyclists and families with children. There are also plenty of opportunities to take a break along the way. You'll cycle through numerous authentic villages and past farm cafés, shelters and small sights that invite you in to take a rest.
If you are traveling by train, the train station in Billerbeck is a good starting point for the route, as Darfeld itself has no railway connection. It's then about 4 miles (6 kilometers) from Billerbeck to the Vechte spring. From Zwolle, you can easily take the train home or back to Billerbeck. Not all stages have a train station, however. If you would like to travel on individual stages or stop the ride along the way, the following places with railway stations are ideal: Metelen, Ochtrup, Schüttorf and Bad Bentheim on the German side, and Gramsbergen, Hardenberg, Marienberg, Ommen and Dalfsen on the Dutch side. You can find more information at bahn.de or ns.nl. In the stage towns, you will usually find a good selection of accommodation to suit all tastes and budgets, some of which have even been accoladed by the ADFC as "Bed and Bike Hotels" due to being particularly well adapted to the needs of cyclists.
The first stage of the Vechtetal route starts, as befits a river bike path, at the source. In the cozy village of Darfeld in western Münsterland rises at the foot of the tree mountains, the highest "ridge" of the region, the Vechte. From here it ripples through the initially still slightly hilly terrain with great views of the Münsterland in the northwest, until it flows about 230 kilometers further in the Dutch Zwolle into the IJsselmeer. Here at the spring you can stop for a moment and look forward to the beautiful ride that awaits you in the next few days.Then it starts. The Vechtetal is idyllic and varied from the very beginning: after just a few minutes, Darfeld Castle is a great highlight for you. Although you can not visit the old moated castle from the inside, there is still a lot to marvel at as the cycle path leads right past it.In the further course of the stage beautiful moments are always waiting for you. You roll past old mills, pass cozy villages and always enjoy the idyll, which presents itself on the banks of the Vechte, which you cross several times over picturesque bridges. Just before Welbergen invites you then the oldest Westphalian moated castle, House Welbergen, for a little break. Although the bike has to stay outside, the idyllic castle garden is still a great place for a break.The last few kilometers to Wettringen, the stage destination, you will roll over a wonderfully quiet railway track cycle, spitting you out at a cozy restaurant with a beer garden, where you can fortify yourself and round off the day. In the small village there are some cozy accommodations and with the nearby Ferienhof Wildbrand you will even find a particularly cyclist-friendly sleeping accommodation with ADFC quality seal "bed + bike". Information can be found here: ferienhof-wilbrand.de.Darfeld itself has no train station. It is best to park your car in Billerbeck, which is about six kilometers away, because there is a good train connection from the finish line of the tour in Zwolle. If you want to arrive completely by train, Billerbeck is also the best starting point for your Vechtetaltour.
On the second leg of the Vechtetal route, there are all kinds of opportunities to discover the beautiful area to the left and right of the bike path in peace. You can decide for yourself if you prefer a more relaxed program or prefer an educational cultural program. Of course, a good mix is also a great option.For relaxation, the beautiful forests and meadows contribute, through which you cycle on the way to Nordhorn again and again. You will pass various idyllic mountain huts, which offer wonderful opportunities for a little break. With a detour to Haddorfer See you even have the opportunity to relax on the sandy beach and cool off with a dip in the lake.The cultural highlights of this stage are also impressive. Via the village of Ohne you reach Schüttorf, the oldest town in the county of Bentheim. Here it is worth stopping in the historic center, where the "Schüttorfer Riese" stands, the highest church tower of the county, from which you can enjoy a great view. In the stage destination Nordhorn worth a stroll on the "shopping island": The city center is completely enclosed by the Vechte. In addition, the entire area is pedestrian, so you can discover the city without disturbing traffic. Afterwards, a boat tour or a visit to the zoo provide a change.In Nordhorn you will find all kinds of accommodation for every taste and budget. Eight of them meet the criteria of a "bed + bike" accommodation of the ADFC - these hosts are particularly well prepared for the needs of cyclists.
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On the 53 kilometer long third leg of the Vechtetal route, you will cycle through the beautiful, green meadow landscape of the Vechte, which is lined with numerous artworks in the green. Again and again beautiful shelters invite you to take a break and it is worthwhile to take a detour here and there to avoid the nearby cultural and natural highlights.Such a detour awaits you after only a few kilometers. If you cycle out of Nordhorn and cycle through the beautiful meadow landscape along the Vecht, our route turns left and heads for the small town of Lage, which invites you to a first "cultural stop". If your timing is right, you can visit the historic mill "in action" and discover next door the ruins "glory of location".By the way, the Lager Mill is not the only one you pass. A little later, you see the next mill in Nauenhaus and it's worth a short stop as well. Otherwise, it is worth stopping your eyes. Because along the way you can admire here and there the art of the "Kunstwegen project". Meanwhile, more than 80 sculptural projects from more than 40 years line the Vechtetal route and some of them are on the section of this stage.Along the Coevorden-Piccardie-Canal you cycle to the stage destination Emlichheim. The small community in the so-called "potato region" offers some hotels and private accommodation, one of which is even certified by the ADFC as being particularly cyclist-friendly with the "Bett + Bike" seal: hof-veldink.de.
On the fourth leg of the Vechtetal route, you "make it over" to the Netherlands. The approximately 50-kilometer drive to Ommen is particularly varied: on the way today are beautiful cities, beautiful natural sections and a whole special ferry ride.It starts in Emlichheim. From there you cycle westwards along the Vecht River, which is to be crossed after about eight kilometers - with a ferry. But no ferryman will help you. The "crank ferry" you drive on your own. But do not worry: this is very easy and because the ferry is secured by a stretched rope between the banks, nothing can go wrong.Only a little later there is still a crossing. This time not over the Vechte, but over the German-Dutch border. From then on you will cycle over Dutch cycle paths. And just the first town after the border is worth a break. In the boathouse Grambergen you can strengthen yourself and then look at the small but quite interesting historic city center. In Grambergen there is also the "Artistic Information Center", where you can get all the information about the 80 artworks lining the Vechtetal route.On quiet paths you now reach Hardenberg with its lively shopping street and magnificent views from the promenade on the Vechte. Then it is idyllically quiet, if you cycle along the Vechte on a great bike path first through fields and meadows, and later through a longer forest area. Shortly after you reach the stage destination, the old Hanseatic city of Ommen, where you will find many accommodations (including some campsites) and in the summer months with a varied cultural program.
The fifth and last stage of the Vechtetal route takes you through small, typically Dutch villages via (also typically Dutch) excellent cycle paths or sometimes along a Vechtedamm to the former Hanseatic town of Zwolle, where the Vechte finally flows into the river "Zwarte Water", which does not have much later flows into the IJsselmeer.This stage is really idyllic. For the most part, you follow the course of the Vechte - on the way there are always great opportunities for short breaks with panoramic views. You can enjoy a particularly wide view from the lookout tower just before Dalfsen. The view of the idyllic meadow landscape, here and there a windmill and the typical Dutch small town are just great.Shortly before Zwolle, it is especially nice to drive around the town in a wide arc through a recreational and bird sanctuary, before cycling along the canals via various bridges to the star-shaped old town of Zwolle. Here you are guaranteed to find a cozy place by the water or in a small restaurant, to let the beautiful memories of the last days have an effect on you. Zwolle has a very good train connection, so you can easily get back to Billerbeck.