© Thomas Berns

Cycling the Route der Industriekultur (Industrial Heritage Trail)

Discovering the history of the Ruhr Area by bike

Discovering the Ruhr Area by bike: the Industrial Heritage Trail links outstanding attractions, such as the Gasometer, Zollverein Coal Mine and Landscape Park Duisburg North.

The network of cycle paths linking the many industrial monuments on the Route der Industriekultur (Industrial Heritage Trail) between Duisburg and Hamm covers 700 kilometres. The two main paths, the Emscherparkradweg (Emscher Park Cycle Path) and the Rundkurs Ruhrgebiet (Ruhr Area Circuit), run more or less in parallel, but are linked up in several places by side paths. This gives cyclists plenty of freedom to choose their own route – whether for a day trip or a longer tour of the region.

There are certainly enough interesting sights to fill an extended tour. The Gasometer in Oberhausen is the tallest exhibition space in Europe, with frequently changing displays and installations. The Zeche Zollverein (Zollverein Coal Mine), a UNESCO World Heritage Site, in Essen and the Denkmalpfad Zollverein (Zollverein Heritage Trail) provide a very different kind of museum experience. Also worth a stop-off is the Landschaftspark Duisburg-Nord (Landscape Park Duisburg North) – whether for its climbing facilities, a balmy evening at the open-air cinema, or simply to get a close view of the impressive industrial heritage site with its blast furnaces, cast houses and blasting halls. Another interesting detour is the old Schiffshebewerk Henrichenburg, a boat lift in Waltrop, which was inaugurated by Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1899 and is now a museum. Visitors can learn how the Dortmund-Ems Canal and the lift were constructed and also see historical ships at close quarters.

Traces of the 150-year industrial history of the Ruhr Area can be found all along the cycle route, from the winding towers and former workers’ settlements that keep appearing in the distance to the disused railway tracks on which some sections of the network now run. The route is anything but grey and industrial, however: it follows river banks and winds its way through forests in many places. The Ruhr Area may be well-known for its industrial heritage, but it also has its share of pleasant green landscapes.

In 2006 the “Route der Industriekultur per Rad” was made North Rhine-Westphalia’s Cycle Route of the Year 2006. In 2014, the German Cyclists’ Association (ADFC) certified it as a three-star quality route.

Map of NRW

Tour overview

Info, data & tour route

Distance in km
Duration in days
Walking/Journey time in hours

Highest point in metres
Uphill altitude difference
Downhill altitude difference
Tour Level
Level of difficulty
  • Round trip
  • Family-friendly
  • Wheelchair-accessible

Images and videos

Be inspired: images of your NRW

© Jochen Schlutius / RTG
© Jochen Tack / Stiftung Zollverein
© Thomas Berns

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