Bikepacking the Riesling River Banks of Germany
I traveled to Germany to explore the Riesling country on a bike with my dad. We followed three of the main rivers in the region (Rhine, Moselle, and Saar), experiencing a good dose of flat roads, steep hills, and tasty wines.
The First Step
This time, we used my sister’s house in Frankfurt as our starting point. It was nice to just open the front door and start spinning the cranks on our bikes. This simplified our trip quite a bit since there was no need to worry about storage logistics. Frankfurt is one of the main transportation hubs in Germany, making it particularly easy to reach Riesling country by bike. Also, we were able to use Frankfurt’s vast network of cycle paths to get into the countryside in a relatively short amount of time.
Riesling wine is just as German as bratwurst and beer. Wine cultivation on the banks of the Rhine dates back to the ancient Roman era. The route we followed goes past Trier, which is considered the oldest German town, also established by the Romans. Vineyards literally dot the extension of the Rhine in this area and there’s no shortage of venues to purchase a bottle of tasty wine.
The going rate for a bottle of wine is between €5.50-8.00. Of course, you can find wines for well over €8.00, but those are usually specialty wines, like the coveted Eiswein. Quite a few of the wine bottles have a screw top, which is especially convenient for bikepackers looking to carry leftover wine inside a bike bag. Some skinnier bottles might even fit in a standard water bottle cage. For someone that lives in the US, cheap high-quality wine is definitely a novel idea.
Wineries (weingut in German) are not only a source of good wine but also serve as a community center of sorts for small towns. Many offer traditional fares like liver sausage (leberwurst) and fresh seafood.
The paths by the rivers are mostly flat. After Koblenz, the route goes up the Moselle on a very easy grade. You will encounter hundreds of cyclists along the way and most of them will be riding an e-bike. E-bikes are omnipresent in Germany these days. Most bike riders tend to stay on the river paths and you can get away from the crowds by exploring the vast network of (very hilly) service roads that connect most small towns.
We took a couple of small detours, usually to get away from the busy highways.
There are countless castles, fortifications, and historic buildings along the Rhein and the Moselle.
There’s no shortage of places to stop to eat and recharge. You are never too far away from civilization.
This route provides plenty of accommodation options. Many of the guesthouses (ferienwohnung) and hotels had vacancy signs posted (Early September). Availability becomes a little scarce on the weekends as tourists flock to the more scenic towns in the region.
While wild camping in Germany is illegal, you won’t have a problem finding private of campgrounds. RVing is very popular in Germany, like in many countries in Europe, and I didn’t see very many tents. Do your research first if you are planning on camping along this route.