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Cycling in the Land of Open Distances – Rhön Cycleway in Germany


Cycling in the Land of Open Distances – Rhön Cycleway in Germany

Bike Touring Collection by Hannah



1-3 h

/ day

113 mi

4,900 ft

5,025 ft

Gentle mountain slopes, blossoming meadows and shaded forests come together in the “Land of Open Distances” – the Rhön. Situated in the heart of Germany, the UNESCO Rhön Biosphere Reserve offers unique landscapes stretching across Thuringia, Hesse, and Bavaria. The 111 mile (180 km) long Rhön Cycleway takes you through wide valleys and mountain pastures, along gushing rivers, and to historic villages with idyllic half-timbered buildings.

In this Collection, the Rhön Cycleway takes you from the spa town of Bad Salzungen in Thuringia to the wine town of Hammelburg in Franconia in five stages. Ranging in length from 16.7 to 31.6 miles (27 to 51 km), the stages give you plenty of time to explore the beautiful region at your own pace. You can easily combine the stages together if you prefer longer days on your saddle.

In total, you will climb 4,822 feet (1,470 m). However, as the elevation gain is spread over three stages it is very manageable as long as you have a basic level of fitness. The final section brings you down into the valley and through the Hammelburg wine country which is mostly flat.

You will mostly follow tarmaced paths, with the very occasional unpaved path or cobblestoned street, and quiet roads away from busy traffic. This means any bike, including your road bike, is suitable to enjoy the mountain scenery to the fullest.

Your adventure begins in the Thuringian spa town Bad Salzungen. From here, you cross the wildly romantic Werra Valley and Ulster Valley. You will ride along riverside paths lined by wooded hills to the town of Geisa in Hesse. Here, you can learn more about the history of divided Germany at the Point Alpha border museum. A gentle ascent takes you through lush green meadows and paths through fields to the Wüstensachsen health resort.

Next, you climb up to 2,723 feet (830 m) where the stunning panorama of the Hochrhön awaits before an exhilarating descent down into the municipality of Bischofsheim. You can also enjoy some rapid descents on stage 4, when you visit the Bad Kissingen health resort. The final leg takes you through the vineyards of the Saale Valley before finishing in Hammelburg with a glass of the finest Franconian wine.

To reach the start of your adventure in Bad Salzungen, you can take the STB 41 regional train from the Thuringian towns of Eisenach, Meiningen or Eisfeld. If you travel by car, you can return to the start point easily by train Hammelburg via Meiningen. You can also reach Frankfurt am Main, Nuremberg or Erfurt by train from Hammelburg via Schweinfurt. There’s a Flixbus from Schweinfurt to numerous cities around Germany and abroad.

The towns along the route offer you fantastic hotels, guesthouses, inns or holiday apartments. I’ve included information in each route description. Camping is also an excellent option. You’ll find an idyllic campsite at each of the stage destinations. Thanks to the low light pollution in the area, you’ll be able to enjoy stunning starry skies at night.

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113 mi

4,850 ft

5,050 ft

Last updated: November 18, 2021

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Tours & Highlights

  • Map data © OpenStreetMap contributors

    Etappe 1: Von Bad Salzungen nach Geisa – Rhönradweg

    25.6 mi
    9.5 mph
    950 ft
    750 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Your journey through the Rhön Mountains begins in Thuringia in the spa town of Bad Salzungen. You cycle over a good 40 kilometers to Geisa in Ulstertal and cross the romantic Werra Valley, where blooming meadows, shady forests and idyllic places with half-timbered architecture await you. You can easily

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    by Hannah

  • Intermediate
    19.3 mi
    9.1 mph
    1,075 ft
    125 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Today, the Rhön Cycle Path leads you over a 31-kilometer gradient with a gentle incline in the climatic health resort of Wüstensachsen at 570 meters above sea level. In Geisa you cycle on the banks of the Ulster and, flanked by the mountain peaks of the Rhön, you drive past the idyllic villages of Schleid

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  • Expert
    19.3 mi
    8.8 mph
    1,550 ft
    2,000 ft
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Your third stage is coming - and with it the final climb of the Rhön heights to 830 meters. On the total of 30 kilometers to the stage destination Bischofsheim you have enough time for breaks to enjoy the beautiful panorama. After just two kilometers you will reach the first enchanting rest area in the

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  • Intermediate
    31.7 mi
    10.4 mph
    675 ft
    1,425 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    On the fourth stage you drive to the spa town of Bad Kissingen and you can look forward to 51 kilometers with many runs that you cycled in the first stages. From Bischofsheim to Bad Neustadt an der Saale you drive 20 kilometers almost exclusively downhill. Halfway you can fill up your water bottles at

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    by Hannah

  • Intermediate
    17.1 mi
    8.9 mph
    650 ft
    725 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    On your last leg of the Rhön Cycle Path you cycle 27.5 kilometers to Hammelburg and have enough time for long breaks and your subsequent onward journey. After a lap of honor through the Bad Kissinger Kurpark you cycle relaxed along the Saale and after about seven kilometers you come across a beautiful

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
  • Distance
    113 mi
  • Duration
    11:57 h
  • Elevation
    4,900 ft5,025 ft

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