Full steam ahead – cycling through railway history around Dresden

Bike Touring Collection by Kristof

Is spring calling bringing with it a renewed ache for adventure? If you are itching to get back on your bike but are struggling to find inspiration for your next ride then I have something for you. In this Collection, I will unveil eight cycle paths around Dresden which will take you through hidden corners of Saxony. Following former railway lines, you’ll learn more about this historic city in the East of Germany.

In the mid-19th-century, the railway arrived in Saxony and before long an expansive network was built in the region. With the arrival of cars, however, it disappeared almost as quickly as it arrived from the 1940s. As railway lines are usually completely flat, they make ideal cycle paths once the tracks are removed. In Dresden, many of the old railway lines have been converted into cycle paths and more are being created. In this Collection, you’ll find well-known, paved cycle paths as well as hidden tracks through deep gorges and dense forests.

As you ride, you’ll spot clues from the railway’s history such as tunnels, converted train stations, railway museums, and signal boxes. Even if railway history doesn’t interest you, the routes will take you to beautiful corners in and around Dresden. Wide fields, dreamy hills, magnificent castles and charming towns will accompany your ride.

The start and end point of the routes can be reached by tram or train, meaning you can easily take your bike with you. You’ll find a suitable route for your fitness level as the distances vary from 10 to 40 miles (17 - 60 km). Some of the Tours are slightly more demanding with challenging climbs and segments along dirt tracks whilst others are perfect leisurely rides. There are exciting things to discover on every route like museums and castles so try to allow some extra time for exploring. Along some sections, you may even find a historic train still operating, but make sure you do your research in advance to see if it’s open. Now, nothing stands between you and your adventure in and around Dresden – full steam ahead!

P.S.: This Collection is dedicated to my fellow students from the Faculty of Transport at the University of Dresden.

On The Map

Tours & Highlights

  • Easy
    01:01
    10.5 mi
    10.4 mph
    450 ft
    450 ft
    Easy bike ride. Great for any fitness level. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Until the 1950s, you could take the tram from Dresden Neustadt to Weißig and change there to Dürrröhrsdorf. Since many railway lines were destroyed in the Second World War and the material was scarce, the decision was made to dismantle the tracks from Bühlau to Weißig and on to Dürrröhrsdorf.A wonderful bike path now leads along the former route. You start in Dresden-Bühlau at the end of tram line 11 and drive to Weißig. This is where the shady bike path begins. In spring the bright yellow rapeseed blooms left and right of the path, in autumn the Schönefeld highlands are colored in colorful foliage. You will always find relics of the former railway along the route.Shortly before Dürrröhrsdorf you cross an impressive viaduct over the Wesenitz and reach the Dürrröhrsdorf train station a short time later. There is a great ice cream parlor waiting for you!

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  • Intermediate
    02:20
    22.2 mi
    9.5 mph
    850 ft
    1,500 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may be unpaved and difficult to ride.

    The road to Hohenstein was difficult for people and goods for a long time. That is why the railway had to be built in the 19th century. Originally the route from Dürrröhrsdorf should have been led through the Polenz Valley, but Prince Georg did not want "the romanticism of the Polenz Valley to be disturbed by a train". That is why the decision was made to take the route through the Schwarzbach valley.This bike tour is not only interesting for railway enthusiasts, but also ideal for adventurers and nature lovers, because the former route is largely unpaved and leads through an almost untouched nature.The tour starts at the Neustadt train station in Saxony. You drive on particularly beautiful paths through the fields to Hohnstein. There it is worth exploring the old town and the impressive castle with its eventful history on your own.Then you follow the traces of the former Schwarzbachbahn. In Lohnsdorf, an association has lovingly rebuilt a short section of the railway. Then you dive into the wild and romantic Schwarzbach valley. You cross tunnels and finally drive over a former railway viaduct over the Sebnitz.You follow the Sebnitz to its mouth in the Elbe near Bad Schandau. In the well-known health resort you make a short dangle to the terminus of the Kirnitzschtalbahn before you drive to the train station.

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  • Difficult
    02:37
    23.1 mi
    8.9 mph
    700 ft
    500 ft
    Expert bike ride. Good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may require you to push your bike.

    At the end of the 19th century, the narrow-gauge railway to Radeburg was opened after decades of planning. After the decommissioning was often in the room, it is all the more gratifying that the “Loessnitz Dachshund” still breathes and steams between Radebeul and Radeburg. On this tour you always ride close to the train and explore the beautiful plateau around Moritzburg.The tour starts at Radebeul Ost train station. This is where the railway line you follow begins, and the Karl May Museum is also nearby. Through the shady Loessnitzgrund you drive past the well-known vineyards of Hofloessnitz. After you have climbed a few meters, you drive around the Doppelsdorfer pond, which the train crosses on a dam.The next stop is Moritzburg. You circle the castle pond so that you can marvel at the huge, baroque castle from all perspectives. Then you cycle to the Pheasant Castle. Here you ride - or push - your bike a short distance directly next to the railway line. If you don't like coarse gravel, you can drive along the large pond on the other side.Finally you follow the train to its final station in Radeburg. The center of the village or the nearby reservoir are ideal for a short breather. The last eleven kilometers of your tour take you to Ottendorf-Okrilla, where you can board the train back to Dresden.

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  • Difficult
    02:22
    21.8 mi
    9.2 mph
    1,150 ft
    1,125 ft
    Expert bike ride. Good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may require you to push your bike.

    The Windbergbahn between Freital and Possendorf was opened in the middle of the 19th century to better develop the many coal mines. After a turbulent history, the museum railway has recently been running on a small section. Most of the route was converted into an excellent bike path and named after Guido Brecius. He was the railroad engineer who managed to build the route without large engineering structures such as bridges or tunnels. And where did he study? Of course at the TU Dresden.This varied bike tour also begins right there in front of the Faculty of Transport Sciences. You will immediately recognize the building by the railway signals placed in front of it and if you look through the basement window, you will discover the largest scientific model railway system in the world.Past the railway museum you follow the United Weißeritz through the pretty gorge to Freital. There you wind your way parallel to the tracks of the Windbergbahn to the train station in Gittersee. The wonderful cycle path starts right behind. You keep leaving it to discover some beauties along the way, such as the King Albert Monument with the fantastic view. If you just want to enjoy the wonderful bike path, I have created a stripped down version of the tour: komoot.de/tour/179465532.The bike path leads through beautiful nature, mostly in the shade of an avenue. To the left and right of the path there are remains of tracks or a nicely renovated, former station building. But you will also come across relics from mining again and again. Back to Dresden you roll over a great path with a wonderful view over the Elbe valley.

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  • Difficult
    02:45
    25.2 mi
    9.1 mph
    1,200 ft
    975 ft
    Expert bike ride. Good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may require you to push your bike.

    Shortly before the beginning of the 20th century, a network of narrow-gauge railways was built around Wilsdruff. After it was decommissioned in the 1970s, great bike paths emerged, on which you can explore the highlands around Wilsdruff excellently. On this tour you will get to know the route from Freital to Nossen.You start at Freital-Potschappel station and drive steadily uphill to Kellelsdorf. The route takes you via Grumbach to Wilsdruff and the former train station. It was the second largest of the Saxon narrow-gauge railways and is now an interesting railway museum.The route on the railway embankment leads you through the idyllic landscape until you reach the Freiberg Mulde at the customs house. The Mulderadweg is also absolutely recommended. You follow the river to Nossen. There you can enjoy a great view of the castle proudly enthroned above the city as you enter the city.

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  • Difficult
    02:07
    21.1 mi
    10.0 mph
    775 ft
    950 ft
    Expert bike ride. Good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may require you to push your bike.

    Shortly before the beginning of the 20th century, a network of narrow-gauge railways was built around Wilsdruff. After it was decommissioned in the 1970s, great bike paths emerged, on which you can explore the highlands around Wilsdruff excellently. On this tour you will get to know the route from Freital to Meißen.It starts in Freital-Potschappel. It is leisurely uphill on the former railway line to Kesselsdorf. Then you roll slightly downhill to Wilsdruff. The station there was the second largest of the Saxon narrow-gauge railways and is now an interesting railway museum.There is almost nothing left of the former route behind Wilsdruff. So you drive a bit on small roads that roughly follow the old route. Shortly after Ullendorf you drive again on the old railway embankment through an idyllic valley.The last kilometers of the tour you follow the Triebisch to Meißen, where the narrow-gauge railway had its end point. The old town of Meißen is always worth a visit, so it is worth spending a little time there before you drive over the railway bridge with a spectacular view of the Albrechtsburg to the train station.

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  • Intermediate
    03:31
    29.7 mi
    8.4 mph
    1,250 ft
    1,075 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may be unpaved and difficult to ride.

    At the beginning of the 20th century, the Wilsdruffer narrow-gauge network was expanded to include the route from Wilsdruff via Meißen and Lommatzsch to Döbeln. This bike tour takes you from Meißen to Döbeln. The tour starts at the terminus of the S-Bahn in Meißen-Triebischtal. If you want to stroll a bit through the old town before the tour, simply get off at the old town train station.The bike tour begins with a ride through the Triebischtal. The remains of what was once the longest narrow-gauge viaduct in Saxony are still visible in Robschütz. Shortly afterwards you leave the Triebischtal and cycle to the hill where the railway cycle path begins.On the way there are many relics of the former “beet railway” to be marveled at, such as the museum in Löthain and countless wooden train station houses. Sometimes you cycle on a beautiful nature path, sometimes on asphalt routes. But the path always leads you through an enchanting landscape.In Lommatzsch, a short stop is worthwhile either for a coffee break or a visit to the Terence Hill Museum. (Unfortunately, it is currently closed until April 2021. As a little consolation, you will later cycle past his former home.)There is almost nothing left of the former railway line between Lommatzsch and Döbeln. That is why you always drive on small streets near the old route. In Döbeln the tour ends at the depot of the horse-drawn tram. You can still drive through the old town on selected days using horsepower. The museum, however, is open from Tuesday to Saturday. From Döbeln you can take the train back to Meißen or Dresden via Riesa.

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  • Difficult
    04:25
    38.3 mi
    8.7 mph
    1,575 ft
    2,475 ft
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may require you to push your bike.

    For this wonderful and extraordinary tour, you should best take the whole day. It is not always easy to drive due to the vertical meters and the forest paths, but you will discover rare treasures along the former narrow-gauge railway from Frauenstein to Nossen. You can also shorten the tour well and get on the train after around 30 kilometers in Klingenberg-Colmnitz. If you do that, a small detour to the Klingenberg dam is worthwhile.Since Frauenstein, the starting point of the adventurous route, is no longer connected to the rail network, I recommend you travel to Nassau in the Ore Mountains with the Freiberg railway company. The first kilometer on the bike is also the most strenuous. It's always going uphill.In the Gimmlitztal you pass several remains of the once important mining industry, such as a silver wash. Many boards inform you about the story. After a last juicy climb you have arrived in Frauenstein, the highest point of the tour. The castle ruins and the Silbermann Museum are worth seeing, if only because of the wonderful view.Now the actual tour along the former railway line begins. It often runs on nature trails and leads you through idyllic fields, shady forests and every now and then along a babbling brook.In Dittmannsdorf you turn onto the main line of the former railway and drive into the wild and romantic valley of the Freiberger Mulde. This extraordinary bike tour ends at Nossen train station with a wonderful view of the Nossen Castle.

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
    8
  • Distance
    192 mi
  • Duration
    21:07 h
  • Elevation
    7,925 ft

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