The Rhine Route Source to Sea
September 7-28, 2021
Day 1 - Arrival. We'll gather in the exciting city of Zurich, Switzerland. Good airline connections make your arrival for this tour easy. Once on the ground, there's much to see and do with museums, art galleries and a charming Old Town district.
Day 2 - Zurich to Andermatt. We'll transport your bags/bikes, leaving you free to enjoy the meticulous precision of the Swiss rail system as you enjoy the delightful mountain railway for a spectacular climb to Andermatt.
Day 3 - Oberlap Pass to Chur 52 miles +2,400ft / -7,200ft.
From Andermatt our ride starts a further 6 miles up into the mountains in Oberalp Pass, the closest that paved roads get to the source of the Rhine. Hardy souls may choose to ride, otherwise it is a short second trip on the mountain railway. The ride is a classic alpine descent, starting with a steep plunge through hairpins, after which the grade eases and the rest of the day is a long gradual drop along the Rhine river valley, with just a few manageable hills. We end the day in Chur, reputedly the oldest town in Switzerland.
Day 4 - Chur to Lindau 67 miles +1,100ft / -1,800ft.
15 minutes carries us out of Chur and back to cycle paths beside the Rhine. In mid-morning the route carries us away from the river up the side of the valley through lush vineyards, before returning to the Rhine which has, by now, become a sizeable waterway. We ride atop the flood dyke for many flat miles, popping briefly into Lichtenstein (just because we can) before reaching Brigenz in Austria at the base of Lake Constance. Our last few miles are spent along the edge of the lake before finishing in the charming German island-town of Lindau, linked to the mainland by two causeways. For those that are counting that is a day with FOUR countries!
Day 5 - Choice day in Lindau
By far the best way to get to know this charming old island town is on foot. Lose yourself in the maze of small streets and passageways flanked by centuries-old houses. Wander down to the harbor for magnificent views, with the Austrian shoreline and mountains close by to the east.
Day 6 - Lindau to Schaffhausen 65 miles +1,900ft. / -1,900ft.
We continue along along the northern side of the lake, following the cycle route on paths and quiet back roads. Friedrichschafen makes an excellent spot for morning coffee with lake views and a rich history as the home of the infamous Zeppelin airships. Continuing on to Meersburg we take a short ferry ride, crossing to the southern shore and Konstanz. The afternoon is spent tracking the Rhine, and a stop for a cold drink or ice cream in Steim Am Rhein is strongly recommended. The perfectly preserved and ornately painted houses clustered around Rathausplatz in the old town are a 'must see'. Our day ends back in Switzerland, in Schaffhausen.
Day 7 - Schaffhausen to Rheinfelden 64 miles +2,400ft / -2,900ft
After a short ride out of town, you'll have views of the Rheinfall – the largest plain waterfall in Europe. You'll see the falls from below and have an opportunity to enter the visitor center and viewing platform from above. Today we are seldom right beside the river but it is never far away. We pass through countless small Swiss villages, ending in Rheinfelden, a town with something of an identity crisis as it straddles the river with feet in both Switzerland and Germany.
Day 8 - Choice Day in Rheinfelden
Enjoy some saddle-free time in this charming town. In addition to museums and churches, there is a state of the art wellness spa with 5 different themed pools and the Brauerei Feldschlosschen, which means "Brewery in the small castle in the fields," Switzerland's largest brewery.
Day 9 - Rheinfelden to Rust 77 miles +1,000ft / -1,500ft.
Though we start and end our day in Germany we spend most of it in Switzerland and France. We start by working our way through the major city of Basel, then pass into France and follow the Canal Du Rhine – a wonderful towpath ride which avoids a very industrial part of the main river. Towards the end of the day we return to the river and cross into Germany to spend the night in Rust (home of Europa-Park, Germany's largest theme park for the young at heart!). This is a long day but very easy going.
Day 10 - Rust to Rastatt 63 miles +900ft / -1,100ft.
We quickly return to France by means of a small ferry and pick up the Canal Du Rhine once again, following all the way to (and through) Strasbourg. We then return to the main river again, running through the woods on or beside the flood dyke. For our overnight stay we must briefly leave the river and head to Rastatt with its splendid palace which was modelled on Versailles.
Day 11 - Rastatt to Speyer 48 miles +900ft / -1,000ft.
A short easy day! In the morning we use a network of cycle tracks to bypass the industrial riverbank into Karlsruhe city centre. We then return to, and cross, the river into France where the route meanders through forests and fields to the medieval city of Speyer, our destination for the night.
Day 12 - Speyer to Mainz 61 miles +1,100ft. / -1,100ft.
We spend our morning cleverly bypassing the industrialized areas around Mannheim to reach the medieval German city of Worms. From here we follow new flood dykes, looping round a wide flood plain, passing through open farmland. We return to the river at Oppenheim and follow it closely to Mainz where we spend the night.
Day 13 - Choice Day in Mainz
Mainz is known for its old town, with half-timbered houses and medieval market squares. Nearby, a distinctive octagonal tower tops the Romanesque Mainz Cathedral, built of deep red sandstone. The Gutenberg Museum honors the inventor of the printing press with exhibits, including 2 of his original bibles. Mainz is also called "Germany's Wine Capital."
Day 14 - Mainz to Koblenz 63 miles +1,700 / -1,800
After riding thourgh some brief industrial areas, we soon return to open countryside, dotted with attractive wine-producing villages. We then enter the stunning Rhine Gorge with castles perched high above the vineyard covered slopes of both sides of the river. We pass through Bacharach for lunch and then continue along the gorge to Koblenz which straddles the river.
Day 15 - Koblenz to Cologne 66 miles +1,300ft. / 1,400ft.
As the gorge widens, the river continues through a narrow valley with mountains never far away. This section follows many cycle tracks, usually close to the river, along the west bank. In the afternoon we pass Bonn (the former West German capital), though you will scarcely notice it, to finish in Cologne.
Day 16 - Choice Day in Cologne
During World War II most of Cologne was destroyed. The picturesque parts of the Old Town have been rebuilt with an amazing amount of detail and accuracy. You will certainly want to visit the UNESCO-listed Cologne Cathedral, the beautiful Romanesque churches, the scenic riverside promenades, and a traditional brauhaus (brew-pub) to sample a Kolsch beer.
Day 17 - Cologne to Duisberg 54 miles +1,000ft. / -1,200ft.
Another short day. Despite traversing a major industrial area between Koln and Dusseldorf, there is a surprising amount of open country as the river meanders across a flat plain. By the end of the day we are in Duisberg, at the confluence of the Rhine and the Ruhr.
Day 18 - Duisberg to Arnhem 67 miles +900ft. / -1,000ft.
We gradually leave the industrialized region behind and enter big-sky country with seemingly endless horizons. Much of the route is on new flood dykes built after he floods of 1995. In the afternoon we enter the Netherlands at Millingen aan de Rijn, where the river starts dividing into many channels flowing onwards to the North Sea. A couple of short ferry rides later and we are in Arnhem.
Day 19 - Choice Day in Arnhem
One of the capital cities in the Netherlands, and home of the infamous WWII ‘Bridge Too Far’, you'll have a chance to visit a number of museums, including the Water Museum, the Open Air Museum and one of our favorites, the Wine Museum.
Day 20 - Arnhem to Schoonhoven 57 miles +900ft. / -900ft.
Arnham sits at the start of a low, sandy ridge and our route undulates between the forested slopes of this ridge and the water meadows of the Neder Rijn. Late in the morning we turn away from the hills across the flat polder land to Wijk bij Duurstede. In the afternoon the river divides again and we follow in the direction of the Hook of Holland on quiet country roads along the top of the dyke, finishing in Schoonhoven.
Day 21 - Schoonhoven to Hook of Holland 48 miles +700ft. / -700ft.
For our last day we continue along flood dykes, past the finest collection of preserved windmills in the Netherlands. We enter Rotterdam on dedicated cycle tracks and no significant road cycling in the city. These tracks continue out of the city and all the way to our final destination.
Day 22 - Departure
After celebrating our epic journey, some may wish to head home while others may extend their holiday with a few days in nearby Amsterdam.
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