A wide-open landscape with many high points
Cyclists love the wide-open trails of the Lower Rhine, but history buffs and art lovers will also be in their element with the wide choice of museums, parks and castles
Its expansive landscape makes Lower Rhine a big draw for visitors – including in winter when thousands of wild geese make their temporary home on the Rhine floodplains. And it is not just the flying visitors from the Arctic who favour this region between the Rhine and Maas rivers: cyclists also love its network of cycle paths lined with gnarled willows and passing by idyllic water meadows and heathland.
The Niederrheinroute (Lower Rhine Route) provides the region with Germany’s largest signposted cycle network, covering a total distance of more than 2,000 kilometres. The first Sunday in July is the date each year for the Niederrheinischer Radwandertag (Lower Rhine Cycling Day), the biggest cycling event of its kind in Germany. On the Rheinradweg (Rhine Cycle Route), cyclists can follow the great river from Bad Honnef to the water meadows of the Lower Rhine, passing the major cities of Bonn, Cologne and Düsseldorf on the way.
Following in Roman footsteps
A border-crossing and history-steeped cycle tour is available on the Via Romana, which takes the Roman Limes Road from Xanten to Kleve before finishing in the Dutch city of Nijmegen. Along the way, cyclists can admire the impressive Roman remains, including the former city of Colonia Ulpia Traiana, the present-day Xanten.
At Xanten Archaeological Park, Germany’s largest open-air archaeological museum, visitors can get further insights into the past. This was the site of the only Roman city north of the Alps that has not been built over since ancient times. The centrepiece of the park is the LVR-Römermuseum, which relates the 400-year Roman history of Xanten through original finds from the Roman city and the legion warehouses. One legendary episode from this era was the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest, when Roman legions marched all the way from the Lower Rhine to the Teutoburg Forest in the east of North Rhine-Westphalia. Today, this 400-kilometre distance can easily be cycled on the Römer-Lippe-Route (Roman Lippe Route), connecting Detmold with Xanten.
Cycling by numbers or on rail tracks
In the Heinsberg holiday region, tourists can cycle by numbers using the node system so popular in Belgium and the Netherlands. A total of 90 nodes point the way. And peddling on rail tracks is also possible: “Grenzland-Draisine” offers couples, families and groups the chance to discover the area around Kleve and Kranenburg by rail-cycle. For those who prefer to relax while travelling by rail, there is the Selfkantbahn, the last narrow-gauge steam railway in North Rhine-Westphalia. The train runs from April to October at regular intervals between the stations of Schierwaldenrath and Gillrath. Special seasonal trips are organised for the asparagus harvest and the visit of Nikolaus.
Visitors keen to explore nature in the Lower Rhine by foot should check out Schwalm-Nette Nature Park. Picturesque moorland, tranquil lakes and idyllic riverside forests provide the perfect backdrop for outdoor relaxation.
Art in the Lower Rhine region
Several exhibition venues for contemporary art can be found on the Lower Rhine. The Museum Schloss Moyland in Bedburg-Hau, for instance, houses the international Joseph Beuys Archive, and it is also worth visiting for its historic gardens and parkland. Mönchengladbach’s Museum Abteiberg is a centre for modern and contemporary art and the Museumsinsel Hombroich in Neuss attracts visitors with its special combination of nature and art. In Krefeld, as many as three museums are dedicated to contemporary art: the Kaiser Wilhelm Museum and the Haus Lange and Haus Esters museums all showcase the developments and movements of 20th and 21st century art. Meanwhile, the German Textile Museum in Krefeld is dedicated to the rich textile heritage of the Lower Rhine.
Speaking of heritage, palaces, castles and stately homes provide solid reminders of the region’s history and are well worth a visit. Schloss Dyck in Jüchen, for example, is a moated castle from the 17th century surrounded by impressive English-style landscaping. Its Centre for Garden Art and Landscape Design has something for everyone: from families to culture buffs and from garden enthusiasts to professionals. Like the park surrounding the baroque Wickrath moated castle in Mönchengladbach, it is one of the stops on the Straße der Gartenkunst (Garden Design Route). Schloss Rheydt is yet another tranquil castle in Mönchengladbach – apart from on one weekend of the year, when it erupts with a jousting festival. A medieval market, music and entertainment and a large jousting tournament are the main draws. |
Arriving at Weeze Airport