Hike 323 miles (520 km) from Rennsteig to the Swabian Alb – the Franken Way showcases Francinia’s vast diversity in 24 stages. From the green wilderness of the Franconian Forest with its wildly romantic Höllental Valley to the rafting country of the Wild Rodach, the trail takes you through a medieval adventure country. Old castle ruins, wooden observation towers, magnificent buildings such as the Basilica of the Fourteen Saints or the pentagonal Wülzburg are some of the highlights you can look forward to on your hike. Bizarre rock formations, mysterious caves, old beer brewing art and tranquil villages with their typical Franconian half-timbered houses also make the way from Untereichenstein to the mighty Harburg an unforgettable experience.
To reach the starting point in Untereichenstein you can take the Erfurt train which runs several times a day to Blankenstein station (Saale). The return journey from your destination Harburg (Schwaben) is just as uncomplicated as the regional train runs several times a day in both directions. If you only want to hike one section of the Franken Way, you will find towns with good railway connections en route. Kronach, Kulmbach, Neumarkt and Weißenburg are excellent starting and finishing points if you don't want to walk the Franken Way in one go.
At almost every stage destination, you will find yourself in a pretty town or village along the route, without making any detours. Sometimes, however, the choice of accommodation will be limited so it's a good idea to book well in advance. As there are no alpine sections along the Franken Way and as rest points are never far away, the trail is excellently suited to amateur hikers.
If you are looking for a bigger challenge and mountain air, then the Franken Mountain Way is definitely right for you. A detailed description can be found here:
Your journey on the Frankenweg literally begins "in hell". But do not worry - it is one of the most beautiful sections of the long-distance hiking trail. You start exactly where the Rennsteig starts: at the "hub of hiking". At this point, five very different long-distance trails meet.You follow the Frankenweg to the lookouts Wiedeturm and lookout point King David. Both allow a magnificent view of the Höllental. It counts with its rugged rocks and steep forest slopes to the most beautiful valleys in Germany.If you have a little time left and are here on the weekend, then look in the Friedrich-Wilhelm-Stollen on a tunnel past.Along the Selbitz river, you will now cross the wild and romantic Höllental, a spectacular natural complex of rocks and woods. Narrow paths will eventually bring you to your destination in Schwarzenbach, which is easily accessible by regional train.
Today you wander on your way to Elbersreuth mainly through the beautiful valleys of the Franconian Forest. But at the beginning of the stage, it goes up to Döbraberg. Give yourself time to climb, because today's stage is refreshingly short.At the summit of the Döbraberg, climbing the steepled Prince Luitpold Tower is almost a must, as the view of the wooded landscape is picturesque. In Gasthof Bischofsmühle you can recover from the ascent or you can imagine at the nearby rafting pond, as here once busily the rafting was pursued - one of the former most important economic sectors of the Franconian Forest.Disused mills and Franconian villages with their typical slate-clad houses are your companions until the stage finish in Elbersreuth. If you want to take a breather in between, a picnic area with wooden bench and table invites you to linger.
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On the third stage you leave the valley of the Rodach and take the big steps towards the Middle Ages with its majestic castles and fortresses.Through the forest and across vast meadows and fields, the Frankenweg leads you to the Radspitze with its pebble schist peak. On it is a 20 meter high observation tower, from which you can enjoy a magnificent view of the Franconian Forest. Nearby you can stop in Radspitz-Stubn. There you will be served one of the best beers in Franconia.The raft museum in Marktrodach brings you closer to the history of the rafting plant in the Franconian Forest, before you pass the mighty fortress Rosenberg shortly before Kronach - your destination today.Since Kronach has good train connections, the place is ideal if you only want to go part of the Frankenweg.
Towers with breathtaking views, wide forests and the brewing tradition of Franconian beers make the fourth stage a real pleasure.After leaving behind the Lucas Cranach town of Kronach, you will reach the lookout tower of the same name, named after the famous painter. A spiral staircase leads you to the 360 degree observation deck of the imposing stone tower. From there it goes down to Weissenbrunn, which can look back on a long brewing tradition in the Franconian Forest. Your path leads you on to the Kirchleuser Platte, an extensive calcareous plateau.Before descending to Kulmbach with its regional train station, you can climb another observation tower, the Patersberg Tower. He carries the absolutely inviting nickname "Schaudichum".
On the fifth stage you hike through wonderful nature and discover historic places from the Baroque and Middle Ages.You leave the "secret capital of beer" Kulmbach behind you and follow the valley of the White Main. At the confluence of the White and the Red Main lies the magnificent Steinenhausen Castle, which today houses the Bavarian State Office. This is where the ascent to the high plateau of the Franconian Jura and the region of the Upper Main Jura begins.On the promising Görauer Anger you hike along the northern edge of the Franconian Jura to the remains of the wall of the Niesten castle ruins. Your destination is Weismain, which is surrounded by a historic, well-preserved city wall.
Impressive places of worship, former palace complexes and fantastic distant views characterize the sixth stage on the Frankenweg.Shortly before the first ascent to the two saddles of the Large and Small Kordigast you pass Giechkröttendorf Castle, which is now privately owned. Through thick forests and green meadows you get to Klosterlangheim. The once powerful monastery complex of the Cistercian monastery in Langheim is the heart of the town. In the local history museum you can find out about the history of the monastery.Now it goes over the plateau of the Hohen Rangen. Nearby is one of the most important baroque buildings in southern Germany - the Basilica Vierzehnheiligen. A visit to the impressive church is possible with a short detour of around 500 meters.Shortly before your milestone Loffeld - a district of Bad Staffelstein - you reach the exposed and popular Staffelberg with a wonderful view in all directions.
After the historical highlights of the sixth stage, a relaxing day full of idyllic nature awaits you today.From Loffeld, a steep climb takes you through the forest up to Morgenbühl - a high plateau with a wide variety of shrubs. From here you have another great view of the Staffelberg. The Küpser Linde is ideal for a first breather, because the panorama over the Franconian Jura is picturesque. You may also want to immortalize yourself in the summit book while you take a seat on the comfortable benches.Another wonderful view awaits you in the landscape conservation area Hohe Metze. At 577 meters, there is a wooden bench ready to let you enjoy the wooded landscape in peace.Your day's destination is now downhill and finally you follow flat dirt roads to the village of Scheßlitz with its beautiful half-timbered houses.
Leaving the pretty village of Scheßlitz, you are now crossing the gate to the Franconian Switzerland. Churches, castles and mills line your way on the eighth stage.Your day begins with a climb up two hills, from which you can look towards Bamberg. Up here are the impressive Chapel and the Giechburg with its inviting Burggaststätte. The chapel itself was built on the site of an old castle.The Frankenweg leads you through the valley of the Leinleiter to an old watermill, the Heroldsmühle, where grain was once ground. Opposite the mill delicious, homemade cake is offered.In the evening, the contemplative stage town of Heiligenstadt awaits you on the banks of the Leinleiter.
The Franconian Switzerland charms you today with a hilly stage and magnificent views over idyllic valleys.After leaving Heiligenstadt behind you, you first wander through the Leinleitertal into the Mathelbachtal. The next ascent is rewarded with mesmerizing panoramic views over bizarre, rocky hills and the valleys below.On your way down to Streitberg you will pass the Binghöhle. A visit to the cave with its fantastic drip formations is worthwhile. Plan for about 45 minutes.The end of your day is the small village Muggendorf, through which meanders the river Wiesent and has a train connection.
Another day follows through hilly terrain and unique rock formations in the heart of Franconian Switzerland.Shortly after you have left Muggendorf, the first spectacular crossing awaits you - that of the tunnel-like Oswaldshöhle, a karst cave. Stepping out of the cave, you can see the Franconian Switzerland in all its beauty from the nearby lookout tower. After a descent you follow the course of the Wiesent. Mighty dolomite rocks line the way up to Gößweinstein with its imposing pilgrimage basilica.The Frankenweg now leads you above the Püttlachtal into a rock-shaped stage destination Pottenstein.
The eleventh stage is kept short, so today you have more time for some exploration off the Frankenweg.Still within your starting place Pottenstein is the Teufelshöhle. The gallery is brightly lit and reminiscent of a shiny treasury. The visit is possible as part of a guided tour. Even the wild and romantic way to the cave is an experience. The so-called "Weihersbach male" a few hundred meters further proves once again what bizarre rock formations made of dolomite rock are created by the forces of nature.At the castle ruin Leienfels you can mentally put yourself directly into the Middle Ages. Again, you can watch how nature slowly takes possession of the old ruin.The small village Obertrubach is your stage destination for today.
Even today you can expect a comparatively relaxed day on the Frankenweg, which lets you enjoy nature to the fullest.You roam the forest criss-crossed with rocks and suddenly you hear water splashing next to you. You have arrived at the Egloffsteiner waterfalls, which rush through the forest via small stone stairs. The beautiful Thuisbach valley continues the natural idyll and takes you through forests and meadows to Thuisbrunn Castle. Right next to the mighty ruin you can stop at the cozy Gasthof Zeitz with home-brewed moose brew.If you have strengthened yourself, you follow open meadows to the beautiful Gräfenberg, your today's goal.
A natural spectacle of the special kind lies on the 13th stage of the Frankenweg: the sinter terraces. And you also do not have to worry about the physical well-being.With Gräfenberg you leave behind another place of medieval grace behind you. From the Michelsberg with its remarkable monument to the fallen of the war, you once again have a great view of the surroundings and Gräfenberg itself. Soon you will reach the monastery of Weißenohe with its baroque monastery. Here you can enjoy a monastery beer brewed according to old craftsmanship in the cozy beer garden.Located in the middle of the Franconian Switzerland Nature Park, you will reach the babbling sinter terraces - a natural spectacle created by calcification along the Lillach. Over a foothills of Frankenalb it continues woody up to the Old Rothenberg, before you soon reach the old town of Schnaittach.
With only about 13 kilometers, you can set off a little later today or take your time for one or the other visit along the way.The Frankenweg takes you up to the beginning of the day on a charming fruit avenue up to the Rothenberg with the same name medieval fortress. It can be visited during the summer months as part of one of the hourly guided tours. Two more climbs are waiting for you - up to the Glatzstein and the big Hansgörgl with its summit cross.At the finish Hersbruck you can visit the pretty historic town church at the end of the day.
Medieval flair and Franconian half-timbered art characterize the 15th stage of the Frankenweg.You wander today along the western edge of the Frankenalb and meet after about 6 kilometers on an old monastery wall - relics of a once-large monastery complex. Time and again, you will meet historical Hutangern on the wayside, which are witnesses of the old shepherd culture. For some years now you can see cattle grazing again among ancient oak trees.At about half day distance you will find the Steinerne Rinne on the wooded Buchenberg. Over a period of centuries, lime-rich water created a stream running in a raised channel.On wide forest roads you continue hiking to the stage destination Altdorf.
It continues along the edge of the Franconian Jura. You can expect quite hilly terrain today, which is interrupted for a longer distance by a high plateau.Once you have left the pretty Altdorf, you first hike over gentle hills through the Franconian Jura. On your way lies the handsome ruins of the Gnadenberg monastery.Your day ends today in the small town of Pilsach. If you still feel like it, you can visit the fortified church of St. Paul and Peter here.
Look forward to an impressive castle complex and interesting rock formations on your way along the Franconian Jura.You first hike leisurely from the tranquil Pilsach and roam through dense forest. It descends briefly before the Frankenweg now pulls up quite steeply. Once on the Wolfstein you will find the bizarre rock formation of the crow's table. Opposite you have a fantastic view of Neumarkt in the Upper Palatinate from the castle ruin Wolfstein.Neumarkt has good rail connections, so that a hike of a section to or from here is recommended.
Take a breather with the reading stone. On the bench you have a fabulous view of the Sengenthal below.You end your day's stage at Deining station. From here you can take a train to nearby towns such as Neumarkt and Parsberg with some accommodations.
A leisurely stage with pretty villages and a medieval highlight lies ahead of you today.Your tour starts at Deiching train station, which is located just outside the village. You pass the romantic village of Döllwang, whose white village church is clearly visible from afar from the open dirt road. Then the remote places Roßthal, Hennenberg and Emsdorf are waiting to be discovered by you.Now you are already on the home stretch in medieval Berching with its numerous towers and the imposing defensive wall.
The 18th stage takes you back into hilly terrain and densely leafy forests.You leave your starting point in Berching along the stone wall and cross the Main-Danube Canal. From the other side of the river, it is worth looking back into the village from a hill. From now on the path runs along the edge of the forest for a while before it goes through the forest and through orchards down to Obermässing.Shortly before your milestone, you come to an impressive group of trees. A bank invites you to enjoy the view. Then you descend via a beautiful path to Thalmässing. If you still have time and feel like it, the Museum of Prehistory and Early History will inform you about regional development history right back to the Stone Age.
A mighty, pentagon-shaped castle awaits you today as an absolute highlight on this section of the day. You always hike along the Albrand on an equally scenic route.From Thalmässing you climb quite steeply to a terrace on the slope of the Frankenalb. A mighty - probably from Celtic times - earth wall rises in front of you, then the open Alb plateau extends again.You pass the tranquil towns of Bergen with its Geyern and Kaltenbuch districts up to the Rohrberg. The impressive Wülzburg with its pentagonal defensive wall is enthroned at a height of 630 meters directly in front of your stage destination Weißenburg. The inner courtyard and the outside tour are accessible at all times and you can dine in the Burgwirt as if it were a knight.There are a number of accommodation options in Weissenburg in Bayern. Since the city is easy to reach by train, it is suitable for partial hikes along the Frankenweg.
With the 21st stage you hike into the area of the Altmühl Valley Nature Park. Wooded sections are your constant companions to Wettelsheim, a district of Treuchtlingen.After you leave Weißenburg, the Frankenweg leads you into the beautiful Weißenburg forest. In Graben, a district of Treuchtlingen, you arrive at the Main-Donau watershed. A fountain shows you clearly that the water can even flow from here to the Black Sea. The remains of the Karlsgraben are located not far from the fountain. A permanent exhibition provides information about the incomplete canal construction project from the time of Charlemagne.On Bubenheimer Berg you can relax on a curved wooden lounger and soak up the panorama of the Altmühl valley. Then it goes to the stage destination Wettelsheim, where the Wettelsheim beer is brewed according to ancient art.
Today you meet again on your hike on a natural spectacle, which you already know from a previous stage: a stone gutter. You will then climb the ridge of the Hahnenkamm before the Frankenweg takes you back to beautiful valleys.At Wolfsbronn you will encounter a natural phenomenon you already know: a stone gully. This channel is one of the strongest of its kind. If you continue hiking, you can admire a similar natural spectacle at Kurzenaltheim. However, the channel here is still in a relatively early stage of development. From the 628 meter high yellow mountain you should not miss the view over the Hahnenkamm. The Frankenweg remains at the same height and brings you to Schloss Spielberg, which is now family owned but can be visited on Sundays. Your day ends today in the tranquil Heidenheim.
History along the way - this is probably the best way to describe this stage on the Frankenweg with its ruins and churches.From Heidenheim you climb up to the Rechenberg and back on the Frankenweg. The path now follows the Rohrach Valley for long stretches. At Hechlingen am See you can decide whether you want to take the extra kilometers to the medieval ruins of the St. Katharinen chapel. We have prepared the route to you in the route. Otherwise, you simply continue to follow the Frankenweg along the beautiful Hahnenkammsee, to which the course of the Rohrach was dammed here.The Basilica Maria Brünnlein is worth a further detour as a pilgrimage church. The beautiful baroque building is almost on your hill at Wemding.
On your last stage of the Frankenweg, nature will once again show its most beautiful side. As an absolute highlight of your trip, you can visit the magnificent Harburg.You leave the romantic Wemding with its moat and you will soon find yourself in nature. Lush meadows, green forests and wide views of the landscape are your companions to the Harburg suburb of Ronheim.After you have crossed the Wörnitz, you are already very close to your destination. The medieval Harburg towers impressively above the town and ends your fantastic journey from Rennsteig to the Swabian Jura majestically.Perhaps you will celebrate your graduation in the princely castle tavern before you travel home by train.