Radfahren Rheinradweg Königswinter, © Dominik Ketz, Tourismus NRW e.V.

Water castles route

Cycling to the nobility

Palaces and castles follow on one from the other along the Wasserburgen-Route (“water castles route”) between the three cities of Aachen, Cologne and Bonn, and make it a popular destination for cyclists.

Sport and culture complement each other on this tour. Visitors getting on their bikes to cycle along part of the water castle route will not only get fit, but will also have the opportunity to see all kinds of impressive buildings. Along the overall length of 470 kilometres, with only a slight incline, the network of cycle paths runs through the Eifel, the Jülicher Börde lowland region and Rheinische Bucht (“Rhenish bay”) areas, where the nobility once built huge castles and palaces.

Whether it’s directly on the Rhine, such as the Rolandsbogen arch, which is still regarded today as being a symbol of the romantic Rhine, or somewhat set back such as Schloss Miel palace in the Swisttal valley, it’s worth stopping at all 120 ruins along the route. Particularly since the most are freely accessible to the public and have places to eat on site. Many of the mansions along the route also host regular cultural events such as concerts. The knight’s tournaments are well known far beyond the state borders. These “Ritterspiele” have been held once a year for decades at Burg Satzvey castle in Mechernich.

However, the landscape in the region between Aachen in the west and Bonn in the east also has its attractions. The stages of the route are of different lengths, and are suitable both for day trips and for a short multiple day tour, and lead through idyllic, unspoilt stream and river valleys and the fertile lowland landscape, which is mostly agricultural. The mining industry has also left its traces here. While travelling through the former Rhineland brown coal region, cyclists can see how nature is recovering in the recultivated areas, or can enjoy the view of the wide open spaces of the Rhineland region from one of the mining viewpoints.


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

More information

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