Whether you are looking for mountains or for some entirely different highlights: The entire state is strewn with cycling paths that are just perfect for family excursions, from a day trip to a multi-day family vacation: Away from busy roads, these paved paths will take you across a number of landscapes and past many stations with further activities for your children: Not only is there a lot to see, but there are also many opportunities to rest and recover along the way, serving ice cream, cake, and regional specialties. Other side trips promise some educational adventures or additional opportunities to let off steam. Former railroad lines, for example, make it possible to cross mountains and valleys by bike while foregoing the exhausting ups and downs thanks to bridges, viaducts, and tunnels. River cycling paths on the banks of the Ruhr, Lenne, or Sieg rivers offer just as much cycling fun with low gradients, as well as some activities with paddles, castles, or balls. The other cycling routes are just as filled with side adventures, with options ranging from a visit to ancient Rome, to an original mine train in the visitor mine, or a flamingo colony in the wild.
Out on the railroad lines
Through the Mountains on level ground
Leisurely cycling through the mountains becomes child’s play on former railroad lines: With barely any incline to speak of, very rare crossings, and usually routed far from the roads, they are just perfect for bicycle trips with the entire family.
Through the Mountains on level ground
At a total length of 40 to 50 kilometres, for example, the Panorama-Radweg Niederbergbahn from Essen to Wuppertal and the Balkantrasse between Wuppertal and Leverkusen are easy enough to tackle even with children. An additional service is offered from April to November with the “Bergischer FahrradBus” to cover the outward or return journey, or even part of the route along the panoramic Balkantrasse cycling path, by bus on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays.
Dam and tunnel
The Sauerland-Radring does not make sweat a great deal either. Where steam locomotives used to puff between the Siegerland and Sauerland regions, cyclists can now move along effortlessly. This route’s highlight is the 700-metre-long bat tunnel near Kückelheim in the Fretter Valley, where a vast variety of species of these nocturnal animals have already been spotted, including the bearded bat, the great mouse-eared bat, and the brown long-eared bat. Families in particular enjoy the shorter version of about 50 kilometres that takes them through the most beautiful villages of the Schmallenberg Sauerland or may seek out some particularly child-friendly sections along the full route of about 80 kilometres.
Anyone who enjoys activity can dive into the water after a tour on the Möhnetal-Radweg Cycle Path connecting Brilon and Arnsberg on old railway routes. A refreshing swim in the Möhne reservoir is indispensable after the cycling tour, not only for families. The impressive dam wall affords a great view of the lake.
Charlemagne for Children
The Vennbahn cycling route from Aachen, Germany, to Troisvierges, Luxembourg, passes through the three countries of Germany, Belgium, and Luxembourg. Along the route, you will be able to read some stories about Charlemagne, fire, and steam, as well as coffee smuggling at the border.
Always following the river
By paddles or pedals
Break in the canoe
For millennia, rivers have been making their ways through the landscape, offering plenty of cycling fun along their banks with little incline and an eventful mixture of nature, culture, and history. The Ruhrtalradweg with a total of 230 kilometres connects the spring of the Ruhr near Winterberg to the mouth of the Rhine near Duisburg. It is one of the most popular river cycling paths in Germany, not least due to the many experience options spread out along it. It also comes with a break from pedalling included, as cycling can be combined with paddle boating, passenger ships, or rail busses. Families often choose to cycle on shorter stretches, e.g. from Lake Kemnader in Bochum to Lake Baldeney in Essen.
Bathing and cycling
The Radweg Sieg has some sections marked specifically as suitable for children. At lengths of twelve to thirty kilometres, these routes feature stations promising additional fun, such as playgrounds, basketball facilities, swimming opportunities, adventure trails with hands-on stations, or Germany’s single one-man ferry. A children’s map offers an overview of the adventure opportunities along the river cycling path. Anyone who runs out of steam on the road can switch to the trains from nearby stations as an alternative mode of transportation.
Visit a castle
The Lenneroute may go a little uphill, but the effort is well worth it in the end, in particular for families. After all, a visit to Altena Castle, towering high above the Lenne River and easily accessible by adventure lift, and the Dechenhöhle cave in Iserlohn are non-optional on this route between Winterberg and Hagen.
Discovery Tours for adventures
To Roman relics and pink birds
By bike to the Romans
Do you feel like it’s time to get off, park your bike, and experience even more family fun? Go for it! Many cycling paths offer additional adventures and eventful rest stops along the route. If you are travelling on the Römer-Lippe Route between Detmold and Xanten, you should certainly plan for an extended visit to the Xanten Archaeological Park, where children and adults can experience the times of antiquity from up close. The themed trail loops that complement the main route are particularly suitable for family outings. Varying in length, they lead past some excursion destinations such as the Bergkamen Roman Park, the Hermann Monument, and the Maximilian Park in Hamm with a number of themed playgrounds and a toddler climbing course in addition to its landmark, the walk-in glass elephant visible from afar.
Sporty and with fun
Families who enjoy athletic challenges will find just what they are looking for in the Sauerland as well: 550 metres of altitude are waiting to be conquered on the Kinderland trekking route in Schmallenberg. If this turns out to bit too much after all, there are some shortcuts for the 38-kilometre-long route past, among other things, wood experience courses or an old slate mine: Once the young cyclists get tired along the way, the route can be shortened as needed at four intersections.
Flamingos in the wild
Cycling tours turn pink in the Münsterland, or more precisely: in the Zwillbrocker Venn, where flamingos appear from March to July every year. If they can raise chicks, they will even stay until September. The Flamingo-Route with about 450 kilometres leads through the bird paradise as well as some other nature reserves and towns in Germany and the Netherlands.
Cycling across borders
The borders between nations and eras blur on a tour of the Eifel-Ardennes cycling route: On approximately 36 kilometres, it leads from Prüm to St. Vith through the German-Belgian border region and its eventful history. Since the tour follows a former railroad line from the imperial era, it has both witnesses of the railroad era to discover and affords some vast vistas of valleys and mountain ranges without requiring any strenuous climbs.