Castles like Burgk are highlights of scenic cycle rides by way of Thuringia.
Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo
1 The Rennsteig – Germany’s oldest mountaineering path
Thuringia’s most well-known mountaineering path is steeped in custom, and identified throughout Europe for its excellent surroundings. Hundreds of historic boundary stones – the image of the Rennsteig – mark the route and inform their very own story about how this path was for years a border between the Franconian and Thuringian provinces.
The 105-mile route winds down from the city of Eisenach (home of Wartburg Castle), by way of Suhl, and ends at Blankenstein, proper on the present border between Thuringia and Bavaria. Today, there’s additionally a 120-mile cycle path that runs nearly parallel to the strolling route, however with longer deviations to keep away from too many buttock-bashing hill climbs. But whereas the cycle path continues to be a youngster, the traditional mountaineering route is sort of 700 years previous. You can sense the souls that have trodden this well-known path over time, alongside the historic ridgeline above the forests. Some 100,000 walkers come yearly to discover this evocative slice of countryside. And deep beneath your ft a plethora of tunnels carry a few of Germany’s most necessary street and rail routes – together with the tubes carrying the model new Erfurt to Nuremberg high-speed railway.
2 The Hochrhoener path
Parts of the Hochrhoener path lengthen into Hesse and Bavaria, however its coronary heart lies in Thuringia. Running from Bad Kissingen to Bad Salzungen, by way of Kreuzberg and the Wasserkuppe mountain, the Hochrhoener path snakes for 87 miles. It is break up into 9 levels, if you happen to solely wish to stroll a portion of the longer path, and crests out at a powerful 876 metres. And if you happen to nonetheless really feel such as you wish to go increased, the Hochrhoener is the right place for gliding in Thuringia. If you gaze skywards from the paths you possibly can usually see gliders catching the currents, that are good right here because of the geography of the mountains and the way in which the climate methods work their method by way of the realm. Stargazers can veer off the principle path on the Geba path to find the “Sternenpark” or Star Park – one among Europe’s main darkish sky landscapes. With platforms and viewing units offered, it’s ultimate for gazing into house and recognizing stars and planets. And for a style of historical past, you possibly can discover the Point Alpha path resulting in the Point Alpha army installations and the stays of the previous inside German border – the iron curtain. In this space on the border there’s additionally Merkers mine – a former salt mine, the place the Nazis stashed treasures through the second world battle.
The route alongside the River Saale is dotted with nice lunch spots. Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo
three The Thuringian Chain-of-Towns – long-distance cycle path
Architecture aficionados will love this journey by way of the buildings and historical past of Thuringia’s essential city centres. The Chain-of-Towns path runs for a complete of 140 miles, however most of that’s over flat to softly sloping floor – so the going just isn’t like pulling tooth. And the route can be maybe greatest loved in small parts. Electric bikes are inspired and common charging stations pepper the route, plus there are a slew of DB (Deutsche Bahn) railway stations alongside the way in which, the place you possibly can let the practice take the pressure if you happen to don’t wish to cycle the entire thing. The Chain-of-Towns path begins in Eisenach, home to the Unesco world heritage web site, Wartburg Castle. Next, Gotha and its fortress Schloss Friedenstein. Cosmopolitan Erfurt’s pupil inhabitants ensures loads of bars, and its good-looking, historic centre is home to such architectural highlights because the Old Synagogue – one among Europe’s oldest, which is itself home to the well-known Erfurt Treasure of gold and silver. Then it’s on to historic Weimar and Jena, after which to Altenburg, the place the route concludes.
The riverside city of Jena is a superb vacation spot for bike excursions. Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo
four Saale cycle route – hills aplenty
Those double-wheeled daredevils who look in awe on the Tour de France’s King of the Mountains exploits can discover their biking satisfaction on this difficult and in the end rewarding run by way of the center of the Thuringian hills following the River Saale. Coming in at a thigh-chafing 250 miles, the Saale cycle route requires loads of Vaseline within the panniers. The first a part of the route from picturesque Fichtelgebirge by way of the excessive hills is essentially the most spectacular, and tea breaks will be taken whilst you marvel at gorges or pristine lakes. As the river widens and flattens, castles and vineyards turn into extra frequent sights. Bad Sulza’s wineries are particularly famous for his or her bottles of Grüner Veltliner or Muscat Ottonel. Reaching Saalfeld, cyclists or walkers discover the mesmerising Fairy Grottoes, listed within the Guinness Book of Records because the world’s most vibrant caves. Then, lastly, you discover peaceable meadows earlier than the river joins the Elbe and flows on its lengthy journey as much as Hamburg and the North Sea. Jena is one among Thuringia’s essential cities and gives loads of sleeping, consuming and purchasing choices. Optical innovator Zeiss was based right here and the city’s Zeiss Planetarium is rightly identified for its audio and video reveals.
5 Schwarza Valley Panorama path – for tree lovers
Fans of forests can revel on this peaceable journey by way of the bushes that sprout on the jap facet of the Thuringian forest nature park. The park is full of dense thickets of coniferous bushes that present a habitat for an enormous number of chicken and animal species, and you may even forage for wild mushrooms and garlic. This 84-mile path follows a loop route, beginning and ending in fairly Rudolstadt. Along the way in which, the path passes varied picture-postcard villages and cities similar to Bad Blankenburg, Meuselbach, Altenfeld and Cordobang. The path typically rises out from the forest and up into the foothills of the Thuringian Schiefergebirge mountains – whose top and scenic worth give the Saxon Switzerland hills, and even the Bavarian mountains, a run for his or her cash. Aside from the plain arboreal points of interest, the Schwarza Valley Panorama path additionally passes close to to a number of castles perched on the banks of the River Saale.