Amazing riding in the provinces of Nord Rhein-Westfalia and Lower Saxony.
The north-western corner of Germany butts up against Luxembourg, Belgium, Holland and the North Sea – and it’s busy. South-east of England busy – with major cities and their satellite suburbs, ports and a host of major roads linking Germany’s industrial heartland to Western Europe.
Yet there’s so much more to discover here than just the bustle around Aachen, Bonn, Cologne, Dortmund, Essen and the rest… Outside the alphabetically indexed urban areas are stretches of heavily wooded hills packed with twisty roads – and surprisingly little traffic. The land is flatter the closer you get to the coast, but by the sea there’s a wild beauty to the landscape – not dissimilar to North Norfolk.
There’s a lot to see and discover, and it’s the most accessible corner of the country. It’s just a few hours’ ride from the North Sea ports (even Calais) once you’re clear of the cities you’ll discover amazing riding.
Where to stay
Yes, this is where the Pied Piper plied his trade – look out for the golden rat on one of the footbridges over the River Weser. Historic Hamelin (sorry, Hameln) is a fantastic, compact city with plenty to see and do off the bike. Hotel tip: Hotel Bellevue
This compact town just over the Belgian border is ideal for exploring the Eifel mountains (if you’re not staying in Belgium at British-run www.aeaventures.com). Popular with outdoor types, so plenty of choice for accommodation. Hotel tip: Garni Hotel Haller
Home of the British Army in Germany (and a particularly good tractor-and-model-car museum), Paderborn is both easy to get to and handy for plenty of great riding. The ancient heart around the cathedral and university is a great area for exploring on foot when the riding’s done. Hotel tip: Road House Hotel
Things to see
Aachen is a small city near the Belgian border has a fabulous half-timbered main square and loads to see – the cathedral and its neighbouring treasury are definitely worth visiting.
It’s a huge city but is a real must-see, as the historic core is fabulous. Bremen is built around a compact market square – visit the cathedral (the Dom) and the impressive town hall.
If you want a fairy-tale castle, this is it. Schloss Drachenburg (just south of Bonn) sits proudly on a peak, looking out across the Rhine. A guided tour is recommended.
Evenburg is a huge Gothic castle north east of Bremen, near the northern Dutch, with lovely gardens (and a centre for horticulture). Has a great café attached so makes a good multi-purpose culture-culture-and-coffee stop.
The Ruhr Dams
It’s a bit hard to explain to the locals why Brits like to visit the Ruhr dams – but the Dambusters raid stands out as one of the cleverest, bravest British acts of the Second World War. For more info see
If you want to experience traditional old-time Germany, look no further than the old-town of Hattingen, southeast of Essen. It’s quiet, beautiful and has lots going on.
The East Frisia seaboard has that same austere beauty as the East Anglian coast – with a difference: a chain of small islands to explore.
Or Cologne, as we Brits call it… It’s huge, mostly modern and bustling with life. It definitely has its share of impressive historic buildings (ticks the 'impressive cathedral' box) and museums – we like the chocolate museum. If you fancy a day off the bike and on the river, it’s our pick of the places for booking a cruise on the Rhine.
Another compact city, another beautiful half-timbered old town… But the heart of Münster is unusual in that there are lots of parks and even small lakes to stroll round. Plenty of high-quality museums, too.
The small town of Cloppenburg is home to the Museum Dorf, an open-air museum: a recreated German medieval village for you to explore, complete with functioning windmill. Step back in time before stepping back on the bike.
1 Rhur dams
Distance: 215 miles Riding time: 6 hours
A good day’s ride around the Ruhr Valley, taking in the key sites of Eder, Sorpe and Möhne dams. Remember, it’s historic interest rather than schadenfreude… Some cracking roads through wooded hills linking the now-restored dams.
2 Eifel tour
Distance: 115 miles Riding time: 3.5 hours
So much great riding in the Eifel. Just note that this route needs to be ridden mid-week as some of the roads are closed to motorcycles at the weekend. Often well-policed, so ride sensibly and enjoy the amazing roads.
3 Hameln south loop
Distance: 135 miles Riding time: 4 hours
Once great city, two satisfying routes carving out through the countryside. The southern loop from Hameln traces the curves of the River Wesser before looping back on quiet roads.
4 Hameln north loop
Distance: 145 miles Riding time: 4.5 hours
Our second route around Hameln heads north to the vast Steinhudermeer, side-stepping the bigger towns in the area in favour of a more laid-back day in the saddle.
5 North Coast Cruise
Distance: 190 miles Riding time: 5.5 hours
From historic Oldenburg, this route rolls through the beautiful East Frisian landscape to hug the north-sea coastline. Uses a little autobahn to sidestep busy Wilhelmshaven – though a detour in to explore the old port is worth the effort, if you have time for it.