The Thuringian Town Chain - discover history on two wheels

Bike Touring Collection by komoot
3-4 days
3-4 h / day
142 mi
4,400 ft
4,525 ft

The seven most beautiful cities in Thuringia line the Town Chain cycle path like pearls on a necklace. From the Wartburg town of Eisenach in the west of the Free State to the skating city of Altenburg in the east, you will experience rich history, charming cities and beautiful landscapes. The 143 mile (230 kilometer) cycle path is divided into six stages varying in length from 14 to 37 miles (23 to 60 kilometers). The route is mostly flat, with one hillier stage through spectacular rolling hills. The Thuringian Town Chain has something for everyone whether you want to explore mighty castles and palaces with your family, celebrate with your friends in a different city every night, or if you're interested in medieval architecture. You will have a lot of fun on the town chain.

Beautifully landscaped parks, impressive monuments, castles, rustic restaurants and medieval streets await you in every city. To get there, you will ride on well-developed bike paths through idyllic villages, meadows and forests. From Eisenach, you will cycle to Gotha and on to Erfurt, passing the "Drei Gleichen", an extraordinary ensemble of castles along the way. Next, you will continue on to Jena via Weimar following in the footsteps of Germany's most famous poets, Schiller and Goethe and discovering the impact of the composer Franz Liszt and the optician Carl Zeiss. The section from Jena to Gera is particularly beautiful as you cycle along streams and past countless mills. The last stage leads you finally to Altenburg, where for skat was threshed for the first time.

Nothing can get in the way of your bike ride through history: all cities are well connected by rail and you can often hop on a train along the routes. The cycle path is marked continuously and mostly in excellent condition. You will also find enough places to stay in all of the cities from campsites to luxury spa hotels. After your bike ride, you can relax with a delicious bratwurst and a refreshing dark beer.

On The Map

Tours & Highlights

    22.9 mi
    9.2 mph
    650 ft
    400 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may be unpaved and difficult to ride.

    The bike tour through the history of Thuringia begins in the pretty town of Eisenach at the foot of the famous Wartburg Castle. It starts at the market square in the old town. Ducal palaces and medieval half-timbered houses give Eisenach a unique flair and it pays to stroll through the streets before cycling.On the shores of the Hörsel you drive out of the city. The way to Gotha is consistently very well developed and mostly flat to slightly uphill. In Wutha, you drive along the foot of the Hörselberge and look at the steep rock forest of the Wuthaer Fault. If you do not shy away from a little hike, a great panorama awaits you at the top.You follow the Hörsel on and drive through a quiet landscape with poppy fields and through small, idyllic villages. The only significant increase - if not really exhausting - brings you to the Boxberg and on beautifully developed bike paths you roll down again. In the middle of the field, you may suddenly encounter a tram. The old cars point out that you are approaching the historic city of Gotha.Take time to explore the historic city. Wander through the English Garden, visit the imposing Friedenstein Castle or discover the old town hall and the huge orangery. At any rate, it will not be boring for you and you can round off the evening in a convivial pub or a quaint restaurant.

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    24.8 mi
    10.6 mph
    425 ft
    775 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    You leave the historic city of Gotha via the Gotha Viaduct, which spans the valley of the Wilden Graben instead of the former 140-meter-long sandstone bridge. You drive past the zoo and over a dirt road and small streets until you reach Günthersleben. Here you can visit the remains of a former moated castle.Soon you will reach Mühlberg. The town with its remarkable baroque church lies at the foot of the castle, on which the Mühlburg towers. It is one of the "Drei Gleichen", an ensemble of three medieval castles and is one of the oldest surviving buildings in Thuringia. A short hike up is worth it alone because of the great panorama of the Thuringian Basin.On your way you will see the other two of the "Three Equals" and reach the little river Apfelstädt after a short while. Several pretty places are on its shore. At the confluence of Apfelstädt and Gera lies the Marienthal Bridge, a historic road bridge from the mid-18th century.From here you follow the Gera to Erfurt, the capital of Thuringia. The bike path leads through several parks and green spaces along the river. Thus, you come almost without traffic to the very center of the vibrant student city in the heart of Thuringia. The many attractions in the old town, the citadel, shops, cafes and restaurants invite you to linger and discover.

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  • Difficult
    16.0 mi
    10.0 mph
    500 ft
    425 ft
    Expert bike ride. Good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may require you to push your bike.

    This stage begins with a drive through the interesting old town of the Thuringian capital Erfurt. You meander through the medieval streets and cross the Krämerbrücke, a special river crossing full of half-timbered houses. As you drive through the Old Town, you realize that Erfurt has always been an important trading center and a major city.You leave Erfurt by a sprawling garden in Krämpfervorstadt and after a few kilometers in Azmannsdorf. There is the village church in the style of the farmer's baroque. On the flat, you continue to Niederzimmern and Hopfgarten, two truly beautiful places that have retained their original charm. In between, you cross the Grammewald forest and drive past the Hopfengarten dam.Before your stage goal Weimar it goes again slightly uphill and downhill again. Before you drive into the center, the Asbach green train is on your way. It is an impressive garden monument and an ensemble of several gardens and the newly renovated, historic Swanseebad.After a total of approximately 26 kilometers, this short leg ends in Weimar. Thus, you have enough time to explore the city, rich in historical and cultural highlights. Famous artists worked and lived here, among them the poets Schiller and Goethe as well as the composer Franz Liszt. The various splendid epochs have set their monumental buildings in the city, such as the City Palace, the Herder Church or the National Theater. It certainly will not be boring here.

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    14.6 mi
    10.4 mph
    450 ft
    675 ft
    Easy bike ride. Great for any fitness level. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    You've already mastered the first half of the Thuringian city chain, now the second one begins. You leave the city of poets over Ilmtal. The park areas on the Ilm run like a green ribbon through the city and are a popular recreational area. There you will find large meadows, shady spots and several interesting buildings, such as the garden house of Goethe, the Roman house or the bee museum.After you have followed the meanders of the Ilm for almost eight kilometers, it is a long stretch of slightly uphill and down from Großschwabhausen ten kilometers to your final destination Jena back down. You drive through the valley of the Leutra and follow the river to the center of Jena, which is nestled by hills romantic on the Saale.After the bike ride you can relax on the Saale or explore the old town with its large, historic market square. A walk through the huge botanical garden is also highly recommended. A special building is the landmark of Jena: the JenTower. At around 150 meters in height, it is the tallest office building in East Germany and is intended to symbolize the shape of a telescope. A tribute to the entrepreneur and optician Carl Zeiss, who worked in Jena.

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    37.8 mi
    9.5 mph
    1,425 ft
    1,250 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    In front of you is the longest and hilly stage on the Thuringian town chain, but also the most beautiful in terms of landscape. The tour also begins in a paradisiacal way. The "Jenaer Paradies" is a large park near the center of the city directly on the river Saale. You drive through the park, follow the Saale and later the Roda.Stadtroda offers itself for a small coffee break. There is an old monastery and a beautiful castle and you can fortify yourself in a café, because now it is hilly. There, where the Zeitz flows into the Roda, lies the hammer mill. The first of countless mills that are on your way.In Zeitzgrund the beautiful bike path leads through the shady forest. The path meanders along the rushing creek that has made many mills run for centuries. Some mills are now restored and accommodate, for example, a hotel or a restaurant.In Bad Klosterlausnitz you have reached the peak of your bike ride. From here it is almost only downhill. If you want to give your calves a little cooling after the effort, you can do that in the Kneipp spa in the spa park.A few minutes later you reach the next wild and romantic valley, the Mühltal. The name is program, because in Mühltal you will find many great mills as in Zeitzgrund. In the last mill, the Robertsmühle, some mills stand as a miniature edition in the garden.The way is flat, but not less beautiful. You follow the white magpie to Gera. This stage destination also welcomes you with a variety of highlights such as the castle, the orangery or the market square. Especially idyllic are the district Gries and the Elsterauen opposite.

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    25.9 mi
    9.6 mph
    975 ft
    1,000 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    The last stage on the Thuringian town chain takes you from Gera to Altenburg. It starts along the Gessenbach slightly uphill. On your route you will find well-kept gardens, a species protection tower in the tower of a former manor, the strawberry stadium and much more. So you can look forward to a varied and exciting bike ride.Just before Ronneburg you drive through the New Landscape. Where uranium was mined earlier, a large park was built as part of the 2007 Federal Garden Show. The dragon tail bridge connects two hills in the interestingly shaped landscape. It is one of the longest wooden bridges in Europe and it is fun to ride underneath as well as on it.The next few kilometers will lead you through quiet and small villages like Stolzenberg or Posterstein. Left and right are several castles and manors. Especially romantic is the bike path along the sprat. Cozy inns in the villages and quiet spots by the river invite you to take a break. Also in Schmölln you will find on or around the historic market square with its charming half-timbered houses a beer garden or a café, where you can strengthen yourself.From here it is not far to pedal the last few times on the Thuringian town chain. Before Altenberg there is still a small hill to overcome, then you go down to the Great Pond. The promenade offers a nice final for your bike ride and in the middle of the lake on an island is the zoo of the city. In Altenberg you meander through the old town, past the historic theater, the Residenzschloss and the Schlosspark, all the way to the main train station, the last link in the chain.

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
  • Distance
    142 mi
  • Duration
    14:29 h
  • Elevation
    4,400 ft4,525 ft

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