The Rhine Cycle Route
From source to sea through Switzerland, Germany and the Netherlands
By Mike Wells
Guidebook to cycling the River Rhine from source to sea, through Switzerland, Germany, France and the Netherlands. The 1372km route from the summit of Oberalppass to the Hook of Holland is split into 27 stages, mostly following well-surfaced cycle tracks. Includes information on facilities, useful contacts and a language glossary.
SeasonsThe whole route can be cycled when the Oberalppass and Surselva valley (Stages 1 and 2) are snow-free, usually mid-May to mid-October. Stages 3 to 27 can be cycled at any time of year, though April-October is the best period.
CentresBregenz, Konstanz, Basel, Strasbourg, Karlsruhe, Speyer, Worms, Koblenz, Köln (Cologne), Düsseldorf, Arnhem, Rotterdam
DifficultyThere are no steep climbs and apart from a few gentle ascents in Switzerland. The route is generally downhill or level, mostly on good asphalt surfaces suitable for hybrid or touring cycles. Mainly dedicated off-road cycle tracks, often along flood dykes suitable for family cycling, but where roads are used there is usually a marked cycle lane.
Must SeeThe Oberalppass and high alpine valley of Surselva; Ruinaulta canyon; Liechtenstein; Bodensee (Lake Constance) and medieval towns and cities of northern Switzerland; the three-country city of Basel; the industrial cities Karlsruhe, Mannheim, Koln and Dusseldorf; governmental centres of Strasbourg and Bonn; historic and religious Speyer and Worms; fortified towns including Neuf Brisach and Germersheim; great vineyards and attractive villages of the Rheingau and the Rhine gorge between Mainz and Koblenz; Second World War memorials at Remagen bridge and Arnhem; Rotterdam, with the world's second largest port
This comprehensive guidebook offers a detailed stage-by-stage description of an epic 1370km route along the Rhine, one of Europe's great rivers, which passes through six countries on its way from Switzerland to the North Sea. The cycling is easy, downhill and along dedicated cycle routes, the countries visited are very cycle-friendly and the waymarking is excellent. The whole trip can be completed in two weeks by a fit cyclist.
The guide includes plenty of information to help you plan your trip, with advice on travel, accommodation and facilities. The full route is then presented in 27 stages of 32-69km, with step-by-step route description, 1:100,000 mapping and notes on local points of interest. A facilities table, glossary and list of useful contacts can be found in the appendices.
On its way, the Rhine Cycle Route passes the remains of Roman cities, medieval towns, castles, cathedrals, palaces, great cities of the industrial revolution and relics of 20th-century warfare – and it travels through a great range of stunning scenery. Starting in the Swiss Alps with high mountains, deep glacial valleys and gorges, it soon reaches Europe's third largest lake, the Bodensee, and its greatest mainland waterfall. After Basel, the Rhine becomes a broad river, now the world's busiest river trading artery. The middle Rhine, between Bingen and Koblenz, forces its way through the narrow rocky Rhine gorge, lined by romantic castles perched above Germany's finest vineyards. Finally, the river passes through low-lying Holland, famed for its many flood dykes and windmills.
Getting there and back
Food and drink
Amenities and services
What to take
Safety and emergencies
About this guide
Alpenrhein (Alpine Rhine)
Stage 1 Oberalppass to Ilanz
Stage 2 Ilanz to Chur
Stage 3 Chur to Buchs
Stage 4 Buchs to Bregenz
Hochrhein (High Rhine)
Stage 5 Bregenz to Konstanz
Stage 6 Konstanz to Schaffhausen
Stage 7 Schaffhausen to Waldshut
Stage 8 Waldshut to Basel
Oberrhein (Upper Rhine)
Stage 9 Basel to Neuf-Brisach
Stage 10 Neuf-Brisach to Strasbourg
Stage 11 Strasbourg to Drusenheim
Stage 12 Drusenheim to Karlsruhe
Stage 13 Karlsruhe to Speyer
Stage 14 Speyer to Worms
Stage 15 Worms to Mainz
Mittelrhein (Middle Rhine)
Stage 16 Mainz to Bacharach
Stage 17 Bacharach to Koblenz
Stage 18 Koblenz to Remagen
Stage 19 Remagen to Köln
Niederrhein (Lower Rhine)
Stage 20 Köln to Düsseldorf
Stage 21 Düsseldorf to Duisburg
Stage 22 Duisburg to Xanten
Stage 23 Xanten to Arnhem
Delta Rijn (Rhine Delta)
Stage 24 Arnhem to Wijk bij Duurstede
Stage 25 Wijk bij Duurstede to Schoonhoven
Stage 26 Schoonhoven to Rotterdam
Stage 27 Rotterdam to Hoek van Holland
Appendix A Route summary table
Appendix B Facilities summary table
Appendix C Tourist offices
Appendix D Youth hostels
Appendix E Useful contacts
Appendix F Language glossary
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Mike Wells is an author of both walking and cycling guides. He has been walking long-distance footpaths for 25 years, after a holiday in New Zealand gave him the long-distance walking bug. Mike has also been a keen cyclist for over 20 years. After completing various UK Sustrans routes, such as Lon Las Cymru in Wales and the C2C route across northern England, he then moved on to cycling long-distance routes in continental Europe and beyond. These include cycling both the Camino and Ruta de la Plata to Santiago de la Compostela, a traverse of Cuba from end to end, a circumnavigation of Iceland and a trip across Lapland to the North Cape. He has written a series of cycling guides for Cicerone following the great rivers of Europe.View Articles and Books by Mike Wells