Cycling in Germany
Germany is quite a large country and has many regions that are ideal for a cycling vacation. There are also plenty of options for traversing the country via long-distance bicycle routes. We cycled from Cologne in the direction of the North and followed multiple bicycle routes. Below you can find an overview of our cycling trip in Germany.
Roads to Movement in Germany
Below you can find an overview of the places where we slept in our tent or at which Warmshowers hosts we were invited. Zoom out on the map below to see all the places.
Number of days cycled: 12
Total distance traveled: 655.14 km
Long distance cycling routes in Germany
If you would like to plan a multi-day cycling trip in Germany, you can certainly find inspiration through the links below. We followed several routes through Germany.
European Divide Trail: With 7,600km, the longest bikepacking route across Europe, from Portugal to the North Cape. We only cycled for a few days on this mainly unpaved cycling route. For the beginning of our trip this was just too difficult with our packed bikes, but also the continuous rain didn't help to cycle mainly on unpaved roads.
Eurovelo 3: The pilgrims cycle route runs from Spain to Norway and culturally offers many nice stops along the way. The sign posting was not always clear in our opinion, but online you can find quite a few gpx files. On their website, you have to look at "stages & countries" to find the designations for each segment. We found this route quite pleasant because of the little traffic. Also the amount of climbing in Germany is not too bad.
Friedensroute: Quiet and mainly car-free cycling route from Münster to Osnabrück that is dedicated to the Peace of Westphalia. A must-do for any cyclist interested in a piece of European history.
Brückenradweg: Osnabrück to Bremen offers the bike traveller a piece of history in combination with nature. You cross three nature parks and the variety inbetween is nice. We found it an okay route with the Dümmer lake as a highlight, but it was not the most impressive cycling route in our opinion.
From Bremen to Hamburg we took the train because of the bad weather. Taking a bike with you on the train in this region works very conveniently. We paid €29 + €10 for the bikes to cover this distance (for the two of us together). Be sure to take the regional trains (RE) when traveling by bike, it works a lot easier than the intercity trains. Check the timetable and hours via this website.
The Ochsenweg: A long-distance bicycle route that runs from Hamburg to Flensburg (and on into Denmark). We followed this route for the last part in Germany and found it to be the most beautiful part of our cycling trip in Germany. The roads are quiet, relatively well maintained and the nature gets more and more beautiful (we saw 8 deer in 1 day). You constantly pass through nice little villages and the towns of Schleswig and Flensburg are definitely worth a visit. The route is mainly asphalted but sometimes there are some unpaved sections which can be quite tough during bad weather. Once again we were happy with our bikes!
Sleeping in Germany
To our surprise, the offer of Warmshowers Hosts is huge in Germany. Since the nights in the tent were cold and wild camping was forbidden, we decided to make more use of the Warmshowers network. In general, it was always easy to find a host in (almost) every place.
We decided to book an AirBnB in Cologne and Flensburg. In Neumünster we found a nice hotel, Kontraste. If you would like to camp in Germany, the platforms below may offer a solution
Trekking Trails: Wild camping is prohibited in Germany (it is tolerated in some places). You can find some bivouac areas in some places, although the offer is not overwhelming.
Welcome to my Garden is a fun platform for the slow traveler. If you travel by bike or by foot, you can find a place in people's gardens. This started in Belgium and more and more places are being added in Europe. At the time of writing, the offer in Germany is still small, but that may change soon.
The website of Camping Info gives you a nice overall picture of campsites in Germany.
Campspace is also adding nice campsites in Germany, be sure to keep an eye open if you're looking for the more unique places to spend a night in your tent or campervan!
Budget in Germany
In Germany, you pay with the EURO.
€1 = 1,10 USD (April '22)
Average budget in Germany that we spent:
Groceries in the supermarket: €10 per day (for the 2 of us together)
Price for a coffee: €2.50 to €3
Price for a croissant: €1 to €1.50
Price for a soda: €3 to €4
Eating in a budget restaurant: €10 to €15 pp
Accommodation: €60 for a night in a hotel or AirBnB / Warmshowers are free / Campsites cost an average of €20 a night
The state of the roads in Germany was generally disappointing for us. This is not to say that they are bad, but not as good as you would expect them to be. There are quite a few potholes and unevennesses that are not always well maintained, which often made us feel that we could not really get our pace on. What bothered us most, however, was that the signalisation for the bicycle lanes is not done consistently. Suddenly the bike lane is on the other side of the road, then you are sharing a bike lane with pedestrians, another time you are cycling on the road while you should have been on a bike lane (which looks like a footpath). Only one city deserves a lot of credit when it comes to a cyclist' safety, Hamburg. In other cities we did not find it safe a lot of the times (at least not compared to cycling in Belgium). So there is definitely still work to be done here to make this safer!
The network of bicycle roads in Germany is quite large. If you want to stay on the beaten path, the red-white or green-white signs always indicate very clearly which direction to go to + distances.
Food and drinks in Germany
As indicated in the budgets, the prices in Germany for this are generally not too bad and for us it is comparable to a daily budget in Belgium. We almost never go out to eat, but what we did like is that it's quite easy to find a restaurant with a cheaper pizza, spaghetti, kebab etc. Extensive dining while traveling we didn't do in Germany and never really do on bicycle trips. If you are like us and can enjoy a simple meal in a nice restaurant from time to time, you have plenty of options.
Climate in Germany
March-April to September-October should be the ideal cycling time in Germany. However. the climate is unpredictable lately. The average daily temperature during our stay in Germany was between 3 and 8 degrees. We experienced everything from snow to hail and very fierce gusts of wind. Twice we took shelter inside for a few days because the weather was just too awful to get on the bikes. Unfortunately, the sun was rarely present and 1 out of 2 cycling days ended with soaking wet clothes full of mud. To say the least, it was not always pleasant to cycle in April this year, but of course we still enjoyed the challenge and the scenery. We wrote another blog about "April does what it wants" to discuss this topic.
Don't get discouraged though, because in general you can definitely start your cycling adventure to Germany in April. Temperatures should average between 5 and 10 degrees from then on and steadily rise. The further north you cycle, the cooler the climate becomes. As like in the rest of Eastern Europe, in summer you have the chance of many wet days, very hot days and perfect cycling days. Generally nothing too extreme, but staying flexible is the message!
Cycling vacation in Germany: Our tips and tricks!
The Germans were in our opinion extremely hospitable, we were hosted by 9 warmshowers and were approached by many people or invited for a cup of tea or coffee along the way.
Of course, German is the main language but in general many Germans speak sufficient to very good English.
Avoid the busy roads, the Germans are hospitable but in traffic we find them less courteous. Where in other countries many cars stop if you want to cross a road, this doesn't happen too often in Germany. We also had the feeling they drive really fast.
Looking for lots of veggie and vegan options for shopping? Rewe and Edeka have a wide selection. Also, in almost every restaurant you can find a vegan option.
At drugstore DM you can find vegan milk powder. We take another jar for when we go camping in Denmark and want to eat oatmeal in the morning.
Want to visit Hamburg? Check out our tips from this Instagram Post.
Need some more inspiration for a cycling vacation in Germany? Then be sure to read this blog about our cycling vacation in Eifel National Park!