On the Monks’ Trail, you cycle in the footsteps of Christian missionaries in the Middle Ages, through the diverse landscape of Lower Saxony and Schleswig-Holstein. Numerous monasteries and churches, sparkling lakes, shaded forests, fruit trees stretching into the horizon, and maritime Hanseatic towns await on this epic journey.
The Monks’ Trail reveals the region’s fascinating history of religion, as well as Slavic and Germanic nationalities. You visit over 100 churches en route. However, history is not the only thing of interest; North Germany also has stunningly varied landscapes.
First, you pass through the Wümmewiesen near Bremen, before continuing through the Stader Geest. The route then takes you through the largest fruit growing region in Germany and vast areas of marshland. Here, you cross the Elbe and enter the undulating forest and heath landscape of Holstein. You cycle past several climatic health resorts on your way to Holstein Switzerland’s enchanting lake landscape. Last but not least, you can dip your feet into the Baltic Sea and relax on the beaches.
The Monks’ Trail
leads 370 miles (600 km) from Bremen to Wagrien on the tip of the Baltic Sea. In this Collection, I have broken down the official route into 11 stages for you. The route is largely flat except for the hilly lake landscape of Holstein Switzerland, which, however, doesn’t get higher than 100 meters (320 feet). Of course, you can also choose to cycle individual stages rather than completing them all in one go. The Monks’ Trail
is suitable for cyclists of all ages.
The stage lengths vary between 18 and 43 miles (30 and 70 km) They give you enough time to get off your bike and explore the great places along the way. This subdivision of the stages is a suggestion that I have taken from the official route. You can shorten or lengthen them as you wish, or decide spontaneously each day where you want to end the stage.
In the beautiful places along the route, you’ll find accommodation that is geared towards cyclists. You can also use the Komoot route planner to find the nearest campsites if you are travelling with a tent.
You can easily reach the starting point in Bremen with public transport. Likewise, your final destination on the island of Fehmarn is well-connected by train and bus. If you’re itching to go further, you could even take a ferry to Denmark from the island.
This Monks’ Trail is best in summer, as you pass numerous swimming lakes. The island of Fehmarn on the Baltic Sea is also a great place to end your trip on the beach when the sun is shining.
Your journey begins in Bremen, absolutely bike-friendly and even in third place in bike cities across Europe. Here you feel comfortable as a bike traveler and start with a wonderful feeling on your journey along the Mönchsweg. The first stage covers 70 kilometers, so I recommend that you start early to have enough time for the great stops.
Passing the Bremen Cathedral and the Bremen city forest, you immediately reach a rural setting, cross the nature reserve West Hollerland, the Borgfeld Wümmewiesen and the Fischerhuder Wümmeniederung. Many rare bird species live here, and with a little luck and patience you can spot them.
The route continues through the small towns of Fischerhude, Wilsted, Vorwerk and Horstedt, where you can discover idyllic half-timbered houses, churches from different eras, great gardens and small forests. The places on your way invite you to take a little rest and refreshment. There's nothing standing in the way of a picnic in the country on your route.
In Gyhum and Elsdorf you will pass exciting churches with an impressive history before you approach today's stage destination Zeven. Here you will find the St. Vitti Church, the monastery museum and contemporary art in the Municipal Gallery.
On your second stage, a relaxed 30 kilometers to Harsefeld are on the program, so you can start the day at a leisurely pace in Zeven. On your route you drive through the middle of the Stader Geest, a special landscape that was formed by sand deposits in the last ice age.The first place on your way is Heeslingen, through which the Oste flows. On the way, the typical Meklhüs invite you to take a break. After you have crossed the small village of Boitzen, you drive about ten kilometers through the great landscape with meadows, arable land and small bogs. The area is particularly known for its potato and asparagus cultivation.After Ahlerstedt you will reach the Braken nature reserve, a beautiful and mystical forest that the Benedictine monks already protected and managed sustainably. Out of the forest you are almost in Harsefeld, your destination, where you can linger and relax in the monastery park.
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Today's stage takes you 34 kilometers to the picturesque Hanseatic city of Stade. From Harsefeld you drive through forest and field to Bliedersdorf, where one of the oldest field churches in the region is located. From there it continues to Horneburg. The small river flows through the town and has a small castle with a beautiful castle garden.
On the route from Horneburg to Stade you drive through the largest fruit growing area in Germany: here the apple, cherry, pear and plum trees stretch as far as the eye can see. A real splendor at flowering and a delight for the palate at harvest time. You cycle past the magnificent fruit farms and can try the regional delicacies in the lovingly designed farm shops.
About ten kilometers after Horneburg you will already reach the Elbe, along whose banks you will be directed to the Hanseatic city of Stade. You can end the day in one of the many restaurants in the lovely old town.
Today it's about 50 kilometers to the Elbe ferry. After you have left the beautiful Hanseatic city of Stade, the vastness of the marshland will enchant you on this tour and lead you through small places like Himmelpforte or Breitenwisch.
Once on the banks of the Oste, you follow their course to the magnificent, baroque St. Petri Church in Hemmoor. Then you drive back along the river and turn off at the Große Rönne.
Now you cycle the last 20 kilometers to the ferry, which takes you to the other bank with your bike. The 340 km section of the Mönchweg stretches across the Elbe. You can decide on which side of the Elbe you want to end this stage.
Today is your lucky day because you start your stage in Glückstadt. You will reach Kellinghusen on 70 kilometers, accompanied by the sturgeon.Endless horizons await you on your tour through the marsh landscape. After the first 25 kilometers you will reach the Else cable ferry, which will take you safely to the other side of the sturgeon. There you moor in Bahrenfleth, where the pretty St. Nicolai church is. From here you follow the winding course of the sturgeon.
Once at the Kasenort inland lock, the route takes you in a loop around the Wilsterau to Wilster directly in front of the St. Bartholomäus church on the market. Then you drive back on the other side of the Au and follow the sturgeon again.The path along the Stör leads you through Itzehoe, where you cross the river and the last 20 kilometers through the special moorland and through the wide Mönchswiesental to Kellinghusen. There you have reached your today's milestone.
The sixth stage leads to the climatic health resort of Bad Segeberg over 70 kilometers, and you've already cycled half of the 530-kilometer Mönchsweg.
The path runs through wide fields and you pass the small Stellau church. Here you can also make a detour to Melkhus for a delicious breakfast. After about 20 kilometers you will come to a small forest with a wonderful forest chapel. The path through the undulating forest and heath landscape takes you to Bad Bramstedt, a spa town with numerous floodplains.
Next you will reach the community of Großenaspe, which is about halfway through the stage. The path leads you past the Katherinenkirche, and you have the opportunity to climb the Ketelvierth lookout tower, from which you can enjoy a fantastic view of the Holstein floodplain.
The route will soon take you through the Stellbrookmoor nature reserve, part of the Easter Valley. We continue on wonderful forest trails through the Segeberg state forest. From the forest you drive ten kilometers to your stage destination in Bad Segeberg.
This stage is an optional day tour from Bad Segeberg to the monastery in Nütschau. The Benedictine monastery is the only monastery still active on the Mönchsweg and is located on Via Baltica, part of the Jakobsweg. The circular route from Bad Segeberg to the monastery takes you around 37 kilometers to the monastery and back again over 20 kilometers.
The path initially goes back into the Segeberg forest and you drive almost ten kilometers on wonderful forest paths. Passing the church in Todesfelde, it goes through the floodplain area of Leezen, through Groß Niendorf and along a quiet side street at the foot of the Klingberg.
After five more kilometers you will reach the Benedictine monastery of Nütschau, an oasis of calm, reflection and inspiration. According to the rules of St. Benedict, pilgrims and cyclists are offered accommodation here for one night. Courses, seminars, concerts and meditations are held in the Nütschau Monastery, which guests can attend. The best thing to do is to visit the website kloster-nuetschau.de and call in advance if you are planning a visit.
On your way back you will pass Lake Neversdorfer halfway along the route, a great swimming lake that is a wonderful place to rest even in cooler temperatures. The rest of the route runs on a quiet and idyllic side street. Five kilometers further you will reach the Mözener See, where you can find another swimming area with a sandy beach and a campsite. It is only a stone's throw from here to Bad Segeberg.
The next regular stage takes you over 50 kilometers from Bad Segeberg further north to the city of Plön, which is criss-crossed by lakes. You will come across lots of lakes on your route, all of which are ideal for swimming. Therefore, you can only make the right decision at which point you want to take a swim stop.
First you drive out of Bad Segeberg past the small Ihlsee. The Mönchsweg leads you along idyllic paths along the fields and through the Negernbröteler heath landscape. After you have crossed Daldorf, you will walk through the ErlebnisWald Trappenkamp, where you can discover educational trails, tours and much more. Then the path in Bornhöved takes you past the St. Jakobi Viceline Church, the oldest church on the Mönchsweg.
You are now about halfway along the route and can now look forward to a different lake every few kilometers. First you drive past Bornhöveder See and Schmalensee. Then the Stocksee with a beautiful swimming area, small island and nature reserve awaits you. Here you will also find a farm with regional delicacies.
The next lake is already the Großer Plöner See and you cycle into the water town Plön with a wonderful view of the lake landscape. Plön includes a whopping eleven lakes, here one wonderful water place follows the next. The Plön Castle, one of the most important Renaissance buildings in Schleswig-Holstein, is the symbol of the city - of course also with a view of the lake.
In today's stage, the route takes you to the port town of Neustadt in Holstein on the Bay of Lübeck and you can already look forward to fresh Baltic sea air.Even if you leave the water town of Plön, your tour of 55 kilometers today will be no less rich in lakes. On your route through the lake landscape of Holstein Switzerland, you will pass a good ten lakes, which tempt you with a dip in the cool water or a rest at the water.Along the Behler See and Dieksee you drive on a beautiful route. In Bad Malente you can discover the Maria Magdalenen church. Now the route heads north, makes an arc around Lake Neukirchen, and leads along idyllic dirt roads and low-traffic country roads back south to the Kellersee. There is a cycle and footpath along there and there is the possibility to swim and stop off.From there you drive around the Great Eutiner See and continue on dreamlike riverside paths. At the end of the lake there are still about 15 kilometers to your stage destination Neustadt in Holstein, where the salty sea breeze and the maritime port flair await you.
Your penultimate stage of the Mönchsweg on the Baltic Sea coast starts today. With a length of 44 kilometers to Oldenburg, you can start the route at a leisurely pace and look forward to many breaks for enjoyment and your first beach.It starts with a dangling over Altenkrempe past the basilica. Then you drive through the East Holstein panorama towards the coast. Now it's back inland past windmills and through the meadows and fields to Brenkenhagen.From there, the Mönchsweg takes you back to the coast and you can enjoy the beautifully natural beach in a romantic dune landscape in Lensterstrand. Now you drive inland again and after five kilometers you come to the Cismar Monastery, a former Benedictine abbey, where art and cultural events and guided tours take place today.We continue on beautiful paths through the fields and meadows until you reach your destination in Oldenburg after about 20 kilometers. In addition to the Oldenburger Wall, which can be climbed, there are still many exciting things to discover, such as the oldest brick church in Europe.
Today begins the last stage of your 600 km journey in the footsteps of the monks. The route takes you today for almost 60 kilometers over the Baltic Sea to Puttgarden on the island of Fehmarn.
In Oldenburg you drive through small villages to Heiligenhafen, 20 kilometers away, the center of which is located directly on a bay. You can admire the historic old town and the impressive cliffs here. The journey continues across the extreme tip of the Wagrien peninsula and through the vastness of the Feldmark. At Grossenbrode you will find an exciting nature trail on the other side of the tracks and the path leads you past the St. Katharinenkirche.
Next, you will come to the Fehmarnsund Bridge, an impressive structure that connects Wagrien with the island of Fehmarn. Crossing this bridge and enjoying the magnificent view of the Baltic Sea and the island is a special experience.
Now you are on the island of Fehmarn and the Mönchsweg leads you via Albertsdorf, past the small Petrikirche in Landkirchen, to Burg auf Fehmarn. Here the route runs in one lap through the small town.
The last 20 kilometers will take you to Puttgarden with a short detour to Bannesdorf and along the coast. The official German route of the Mönchsweg ends here. But if travel fever grips you, the ferries will take you here to Denmark. The 430 km long Munkevejen starts from Rødby and leads you to the cathedral in Roskilde. In Fehmarn there are also many great bike paths along the coast so you can end your tour on the beach.In Puttgarden and Burg auf Fehmarn you will find a train station where regional trains run to Hamburg, and you can also take the Flixbus to various German cities.