Eastern Central Germany

Amazingly varied riding, from wooded hills to open landscape and lakes

There’s so much to see the further east you head in Germany – and so much to ride as well. The area most riders have heard of is the Harz, the low mountains that were once bisected by the Berlin Wall. Head past that historic divider, into the old GDR and you find towns that preserved more of their traditional character than those in the more-rapidly modernised west. You also find fewer motorways and really big cities (though there are still plenty of those).

Out in the countryside, though, are riches for the touring rider. The traditional twisty roads that worked for centuries have been upgraded since reunification, with great surfaces now the rule rather than the exception. Those quirky old towns have many welcoming hotels and if you do want to venture into a big city, they’re as bustling as anywhere in Europe. So whether you want culture or mile upon mile of brilliant riding, go east, young man – go east…

The Harz region has so much to offer you could easily spend weeks exploring

The Harz region has so much to offer you could easily spend weeks exploring

Where to stay

Altenberg

Just south of the huge city of Leipzig is the quieter town of Altenburg – the ideal base for an escape to the famous Colditz Castle. Hotel tip: Park Hotel

Bad Lauterburg

Lots of towns in the Harz make a good case for being the ideal base… but we’ve gone for this small spa town rather than one of the bigger, more eastern ones, as it makes it easier to ride explore the entire area. Hotel tip: Guesthouse Roseneck

Brandenburg an der Havel

Until nearby Berlin got a bit uppity, this was the capital of Brandenburg – and it’s still a charming town, all red-brick gothic buildings and river views. Hotel tip: Havel Hotel


What to see

Auschwitz

Another sombre memorial to one of the darkest aspects of the Second World War. Auschwitz still has the power to shock and move.

Berlin

Berlin is the reunified capital of Germany is an incredible city – ideal for a city break or just a daytrip. So much to see, from landmarks like the Brandenburg Gate, the Reichstag and Checkpoint Charlie to the many museums and galleries.

Canals

It’s not just Venice (and Birmingham) that has canals. The oldest working boat lift – overcoming a 36m height difference – is east of Berlin in Niederfinow. An impressive feat of engineering.

Castles

You can’t move for impressive castles in Germany and this region is no different. From the wartime history of Colditz to the fabulous gardens of Dresden’s Pillnitz and the imperial splendour of Charlottenburg on the outskirts of Berlin you’re spoilt for choice.

Dresden

One of the finest cities in Germany, the capital of Saxony was lovingly restored to its pre-War glory (ahem) and is packed with spectacular buildings.

Harz towns

One of the reasons we like the Harz so much is the towns retain their historic cores so well. Goslar, Wernigerode, Quedlinburg, Stolberg…

Porcelain

Meissen has been making top-class porcelain for more than 300 years. The town itself is lovely, but most people go to visit the factory and shop.

Potsdam

Potsdam, is this just part of Berlin? Not quite – though it’s close. The big draw is Frederick the Great’s summer palace, Schloss Sanssouci. But it’s more than just Germany’s Versaille: there’s loads to see and do.

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OUR ROUTES

21 Hartz – north

Looping out to the fabulous town of Goslar, this decent day’s ride packs in more bends than MC Escher’s plumbing – and still plenty to see if you want time off the bike.
Start/finish: Bad Lauterberg
Distance: 175 miles
Riding time: 5 hours
GPX file

22 Hartz – south

Same starting point, very different ride: this route loops out through Wernigerode before heading south to Kyfhäusser and its 36 bends. Best ridden mid-week, as it's busy at the weekends.
Start/finish: Bad Lauterberg
Distance: 160 miles
Riding time: 5 hours
GPX file

23 Eastern promise

Frankfurt an der Oder is right on the border with Poland – and this route takes a relaxed amble thorough the lake-filled land between there and Berlin. Easily adapted to run from the city, if you want to stay there rather than Frankfurt.
Start/finish: Frankfurt an der Oder
Distance: 240 miles
Riding time: 6.5 hours
GPX files

24 Escape to Colditz

Start/finish: Altenburg
Leipzig may be hailed as the new capital of cool, but it’s still a big city. Our route loops out from quieter Altenburg to Colditz and Rochsburg castles on fabulously quiet roads.
Distance: 160 miles
Riding time: 5 hours
GPX file

25 West of Berlin

From the Prussian splendour of Brandenburg, this route (easily adapted to run from Berlin) is a laid-back, pillion-friendly canter through quiet countryside – a real contrast to the big city.
Start/finish: Brandenburg an der Havel
Distance: 145 miles
Riding time: 4 hours
GPX file