8 out of 16 days BIKE AND BARGE. Easy biking. 3 world-class cities. This tour taps into the youthful and creative pulse of Germany. There is something for everyone on this BikePlanet tour! In Berlin, we visit all the major sites…and after four days biking, walking and exploring this capital treasure, we join the Elbe River bike path. Destination: dreamy Dresden.
Riding is flat and easy along the river as we bike through the romantic Saxony alps…where sandstone formations rise up like giants waking from a deep sleep. We pass Europe’s most northerly vineyards on our way to the Meissen porcelain factory. We finish in the former-Imperial city on the Main river in Bavaria. Medieval Bamberg is a perfectly preserved medieval gem, luckily spared from the ravages of war. It’s a journey to Germany’s greatest monuments—past and present.
Hang onto your hat for a bike and barge part like no other. Join the IRIS in northern Bavaria—the ancient kingdom of Franconia. This is the heart of old Germany and home of the Bratwurst! The bike path along the Main River is rated 5-stars by the German Federation of Cyclists. It’s hands-down one of the best cycle routes in the country. This tour is superbly solid and smooth in every way—just like a BMW. Vibrant cities, quaint villages, and gently rolling fields and forests. Simply enchanting. A place you dream about. See it all from the comfort of the barge or astride the saddle of your iron horse.
Yes, this part of the tour is officially in Bavarian territory, but only recently. The locals still refer to themselves as Franks…seat of the early German kings and ancestral home of the British royal family. The cycling is easy along the river; the locals are friendly and proud of their vineyards and poets, musicians and beer…and we mean beer! The feeling here is very Gemütlich—a tongue-twister you’ll hear a lot that translates as “cozy, friendly, fun” wrapped up in one word. Come explore this colorful tapestry of castles and cathedrals, popes and princes spanning the ages.Read more
Check-in at our hotel in Prenzlauerberg, one of the vibrant hotspots of the former East-German part of Berlin. We gather in the hotel lobby at 9:00 pm to meet our fellow travelers and tour guides. We’ll have a relaxing cocktail and explain logistics and bike safety.
Berlin - cycletour Potsdam
Travel by S-bahn (rapid transit railway) to Potsdam for the start of our cycling journey. Potsdam was the residence of the Prussian kings and German Kaisers until 1918. Around the city there are a series of interconnected lakes and cultural landmarks. We ride through the red-brick Dutch Quarter onto Alexandrowka, a small enclave of Russian homes (including an Orthodox chapel) built for immigrants. Next is the Wannsee Villa where Nazi officials met to organize and implement the Final Solution to the Jewish Question. From here we visit Cecilienhof where Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill met post-war. Our final stop in Potsdam is Sanssouci, the largest World Heritage Site in Germany and former summer palace of Frederick the Great, King of Prussia. It’s Germany’s answer to Versailles. This evening features a short lecture about the Berlin Wall and Cold War. We stroll to a local restaurant and toast to a magnificent day.
Not biking? A BikePlanet guide will escort you to Wannsee Villa, Cecilienhof and Sans Soussi palace.
Berlin - the Wall
We bike along the Berlin Wall with a local guide, stopping at Checkpoint Charlie and finishing our ride at Alexanderplatz. The rest of the day is yours to explore. Berlin is a city of art and museums, parks, monumental buildings, cool neighborhoods and history at every turn. What intrigues you? The site of the SS headquarters, the Jewish museums, a stroll along Unter den Linden to Brandenburg Gate? If you’re a museum-goer, choose from 170! Berlin’s Museum Island is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The Hackesche Höfe is a magnificent retail complex that embodies the characteristic buzz of Old Berlin with great shopping, theaters, and cafés. Or go above the city to the “Sphere.” It’s the famous rotating restaurant in the TV Tower with a bird’s eye view!
Not biking? A BikePlanet guide walks with you along the Berlin Wall to Alexanderplatz in time to join the others.
Berlin: Liebensberg and Sachsenhausen
Today we ride through a lovely rural area of field and forest criss-crossed by small rivers and lakes. Stopping in Liebenberg for lunch at a 17th century noble estate, we learn about the part they played during WWII resistance. The head of the SS Stormtroopers, Hermann Göhring liked to hunt here. After lunch we continue to Sachsenhausen concentration camp. Due to its close proximity to Berlin, SS officers trained here before moving on to oversee other work camps in the Reich. After this solemn visit, it’s back to Berlin.
Not biking? You have a longer excursion at Liebenberg and enjoy the group lunch. Then it’s your choice to visit Sachsenhausen concentration camp or return to Berlin for the afternoon.
Berlin - transfer to Dresden
Explore more of Berlin. Or, put a few miles on and pedal around the city with a local guide. Great bike paths throughout old neighborhoods and trendy new areas. The Berlin Philharmonic is one of the best orchestras in the world where Mahler, Brahms, Strauss and von Karajan all conducted. Did you know there are free concerts in the foyer on Tuesdays at 1:00 p.m.? One strategy is to reserve a table at the opera restaurant and enjoy an elegant lunch while the music plays. Whatever you choose, we do meet again in the late afternoon on a train to Dresden. After dinner in the hotel, we stroll through magical Dresden on the Elbe River. Lit up at night, she’s especially beautiful in her baroque refinements—this royal residence of Saxon Kings.
Dresden - Königstein
Wake up to church bells from the Dresden Cathedral, a baroque jewel lovingly rebuilt after 90% of the historic city was leveled at the end of WWII. Our local guide shows us around, and we hit the trail along the Elbe River, riding through an expansive green paradise known as Saxon Switzerland. Ancient rock families rise out of the landscape in unusual formations, softened eons ago by ocean waves. This is also a mecca for free climbers and the thing they like to do here is Boofen, an eyebrow-raising word referring to the local tradition of “sleeping in open air” under cliff overhangs. An unusual German activity that’s common here. We pedal onward to the massive medieval fortress called King’s Rock. This former dungeon-prison played an important role in Saxony’s history. The mighty Saxon Dukes and Prince-Electors used the hill-top fortress as a hunting lodge and secure refuge during war times. The best way to get back to Dresden is aboard the world’s oldest and largest paddle steamer. All aboard!
Dresden - Meissen - Marktleugast
Today we bike along the Elbe River to the Meissen Porcelain Factory and observe how fine porcelain has been crafted since 1710. Thanks to local deposits of china clay (kaolin), potter’s earth and German ingenuity, Meissen porcelain was the first of its kind made outside of the Orient. The emblem on the back of every piece is two swords crossed. It’s the oldest trademark in the world! After lunch we get on a bus and travel to a more unknown little gem in Moedlareuth. Here we visit a Cold War Open Air Museum, showing us the how the separation of Germany into East and West could devide a little country village. After this visit we continue our bus ride to Marktleugast were we will have dinner and a good nights rest in a Landgasthof.
Marktleugast - Bamberg
After our country side night, we conquer some hills and then follow the Main River crossing through countryside and little villages to arrive at Lichtenfels. Here we board the train taking us the last stretch into Bamberg. We walk to our beautiful Rezidenz hotel to check in. Dinner on the terrace if possible!
Bamberg to Hassfurt
A guided walking tour in Bamberg is on the agenda today. The entire old town is a UNESCO site. After exploring, you might need to quench your thirst. Take your pick from 9 breweries and 50 beer varieties in Bamberg alone. Once the seat of temporal and religious power in the 11th century, both an emperor and a pope are entombed here. The Imperial Cathedral showcases a wealth of art including the Bamberg Horseman, a medieval stone monument that (700 years later) inspired WWII resistance fighters like Claus von Stauffenberg, Hitler’s would-be assassin. Stop and smell the roses at the Price-Bishops Palace. There’s a lovely outdoor café overlooking the baroque gardens, tiled rooftops, and city church spires. The “island district” features the only town hall in the world straddling a river. For centuries, Bamberg cultivated and traded licorice root, but today, more famous are the city suds. Try the “smoked beer” from Schlenkerla Brewery.
The IRIS will be waiting for you in the harbor for embarkation at 14.00 and will start sailing!
You will meet up with other travelers, your guide(s) and the crew on the barge. We start sailing at 3 pm. While we sail on the River Main, we will serve your first dinner on board. Enjoy & settle in your home for the second week!
Our barge will sail to Hassfurt and we can have an evening stroll after docking.
Hassfurt - Schweinfurt-Volkach
After our IRIS breakfast buffet, we are ready to ride again, you can either follow the bike path along the river to Hassfurt or choose for a beautiful route through the hills to Konigsberg in Bayern. This medieval town is a romantic Franconian town right out of a picture book. It’s protected historic center with half- timbered houses is a hidden gem, embedded in a countryside of forests, valleys and hills.
Either way, we will bike through Hassfurt, to see the Knights Chapel and coat of arms collection. Up and down this valley you’ll find religious treasures from renaissance sculptor Tilman Riemenschneider. He is to Germany what Michelangelo is to Italy. There are two famous works in the parish church here. Then we ride. And it’s heavenly…through pretty wine villages and fruit orchards onto Schweinfurt, which literally means “Pig Crossing.” Funny name! In former times, the river was shallow enough allowing animals and people to cross easily. In Germany, pigs are auspicious. So if you see a little piggy in town, rub his belly for good luck. Schweinfurt produces most of Europe’s ball bearings, making it a target of Allied bombing during World War II Operation Pointblank. The town sustained heavy damage. Rebuilt and beautiful once more, this is the birthplace of poet Friedrich Rückert, the genius who inspired the likes of Schubert, Schumann, Brahms, Strauss, Mahler, Bartók. They all set his lyrics to music, but most famous is Schubert’s Du bist die Ruh (you are my peace). Some have called it the most beautiful song in the world. If you don’t know it yet, cue it up.
We set sail again to Volkach, having another dinner on board. Town walk into the lovely village.
Wake up in Volkach, deep in the heart of Franconian wine country. Set atop the hill is a precious pilgrimage church called Maria in the Vineyard. Inside more hand-carvings by Riemenschneider and outside phenomenal photo-ops of the river valley and the river’s famed oxbow, a great u-shape and perfect pitch for growing grapes. Two bike options to get to Kitzingen today, one taking you through the hills and the vineyards. We meet up in Kitzingen, with its cock-eyed watch tower. One silly legend (every village has one) recalls the tower built with a mortar and wine mixture. Sure thing. There’s even a wacky legend about Count Dracula buried in the cemetery next door. Why not. What’s in this wine, anyway? You’ll have to find out for yourself. This region is the largest wine producer in Bavaria. Raise a few glasses to your health and you’ll be leaning to one side.
Ride along the river to the historic town Marktbreit another place you’d like to return to. Take a break and walk around. Buy a pretzel, snap some photos, or write a postcard and save a dying art. Recently, a large Roman legionary fortress was discovered nearby. It startled historians because it was built in enemy territory way past the military frontier separating the Roman empire from the “barbarians.” This is also the birthplace of neurologist Dr. Alois Alzheimer, a recognizable name in medicine. On to Ochsenfurt (ox crossing) where King Richard the Lionheart was detained in 1193 on his return to England from the 3rd Crusade. Our barge will wait for us in Eibelstadt.
Eibelstadt - Wuerzburg
Our destination today is Würzburg, Anytime you see the word “Burg” after a city name, it’s going to be good. Burg = fortress. The imposing landmark of this city is the fortress (Marienburg) on the hill. Home of the once-powerful prince-bishops with monumental views over their ecclesiastic fiefdom. Vineyards slope down to the city ever since the Middle Ages providing wealth and good libation for this ancient arch-diocese. Famous writer Goethe preferred white wines from Würzburg. When the old fortress was deemed out-modish, these religious overlords built themselves an entirely new Residenz in the 1700s. All the big names around Europe were called in to collaborate. Go broke or go Baroque! Imagine puffy powdered wigs, corsets and cleavage, birdcage hats, pastel tones and gilded excess. This palace is considered one of the finest examples in Germany and UNESCO-approved. Connected by a bridge of saintly personalities, Würzburg spans both sides of the river where a festive mood lingers into the night. It might have to do with being surrounded by grape vines and a university.
Time to explore Würzburg! We will start with a guided visit of the Würzburg Residence, visited by many crowned heads in the past, like Napoleon. Destroyed by the Royal Air Force at the end of the World War II. The American occupation forces immediately after the war secured he dilapidated building monuments in an exemplary manner. It took the Allied Forces after the destruction at the end of WWII. It took untill 1987 to finish the restorations.
Wuerzburg - Karlstadt - Marktheidenfeld
An early morning sail brings you to Karlstadt, while having breakfast.
Mounting our solid steeds, we skip like a rock from one medieval village to another, following the sweeping S-curves as the river weaves past Germany’s great beech and oak forest known as Spessart Woods “woodpecker hills” and Charlemagne’s imperial hunting grounds. Bandits and poachers roamed here for centuries looting caravans traveling on old salt and glass trade routes. It’s the Sherwood Forest of Germany. And its magical. Germans revere their forests. Our route leads to Lohr am Main, a town with a colorful past. The plague in 1666. Witch hunts. The legendary home of real characters in Grimm’s fairytale Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. Lots to see as your pedaling…castle ruins and dramatic rock formations. Tonight we snuggle up alongside charming Marktheidenfeld. Among other things, there’s good ice cream.
Marktheidenfeld - Wertheim - Miltenberg
We pedal along savoring every last bit of biking. Comfortable in our saddles and confident on the trail, Miltenberg comes into sight. It is quintessential. You’ll discover crooked cobblestone alleys, medieval watch towers and a village that looks like an Advent calendar lit up at night. The view across the river is a 14th century abbey cloaked in vineyards. Miltenberg is also home to Faust Beer and one of the oldest (continuously-operating) guesthouses in Germany. Since 1411, big names have stayed at Zum Riesen. Two of them are Napoléon and Elvis Presley! They would have eaten sausage, dumplings, potato salad too. The beer to wash it down comes from the brewery next door. Fresh and local. Thump goes the stein on the table. You’re in the heart of Germany and this is why you travel.
Miltenberg - Aschaffenburg
The Main River path takes us along a first stop at Kloster Engelberg. A still functioning monestary, visited by walking quite some stairs…..with a Gastwirtschaft at the top and a great view on the river. At Park Schoenbusch we will find a classical English style Garden before we reach our final destination on this great tour: Aschaffenburg.
Aschaffenburg was mentioned in a charter drawn up by Emperor Otto II in 974 BC, and bygone centuries have fortunately lived on in its architecture to this day.
The most fascinating buildings are the Stiftsbasilika, which was first documented in the 10th century, and the unique Pompejanum. Built in the mid-19th century for Ludwig I of Bavaria in accordance with the excavation plans of the “Castor and Pollux” villa in Pompeii, this Roman villa now houses important exhibits from the Bavarian antique collection.
Archbishop and elector Johann Schweikard von Kronberg bequeathed Johannisburg castle to Aschaffenburg, which is one of the most important renaissance castles of the western world. Empress Maria-Theresia, Napoleon Bonaparte and many heads of state appreciated and enjoyed their hospitality of the castle’s owners.
We enjoy a last breakfast on the IRIS and than its time to say “Auf Wiedersehen” and “Danke Schön” Long live your memories of Germany. Prost!
hotel Myers in Prenzlauerberg, Berlin
Myer’s Hotel Berlin offers its sixty rooms in a unique design with individuality, flair and quality in the neighborhood of Prenzlauer Berg, near famous Kollwitzplatz and central Alexanderplatz. This place of hospitality and culture has a lobby lounge,a terrace, an idyllic garden, and a gallery as well as the red lounge, that invites you to stay with newspapers, a good book and a drink. In the yellow salon the appealing breakfast is offered.
Changing art exhibitions in the gallery, an exhibition of sculptures of Marco Flierl in the garden and the romantic entrance courtyard will impress you!
Our hotel “Martha” is located in the heart of Dresden, within a short walking-distance of the historical Old Town.
100 years ago the house at the corner of Nieritz-/Theresienstraße served as simple accommodation for women travelling unescorted, arriving at the Silesian train station, the future “Bahnhof Neustadt”. Most of the women came to Dresden hoping to find employment. Later the house advanced to a home for ladies, before the “Sophienschule” – a boarding school for young girls – moved in 1921.
Although today, a century later, the appearance of the house has changed considerably, it always remained true to its fundamental idea: accommodating people.
Enjoy our breakfast buffet with its extensive choice of freshly prepared dishes in peace before hours full of events in Dresden will follow.
A bright winter garden invites our guests to stay.
It’s a cosy hotel, typically German Biedermeier Style. In the vaulted cellar is a nice restaurant.
This time our hotel is close to the Bamberg Cathedral! We could not be more central in the historic Altstadt of Bamberg. This hotel is a modern building, added to the historic buildings in this picture-perfect old city. Our restaurant is a historic place, one of the first to host travelers back in the late middle ages. A very special place to be once more!
On the MAIN River: BARGE IRIS
One of the best: our comfort plus barge IRIS, sailing since 2005. Fully air-conditioned, lovely front sundeck, lounge and dining-area and selfservice Bar. Delicious 3 course dinners and packed lunches. Lots of options at Breakfast
Enjoy some cruising!
If you do not feel like cycling you are welcome to stay on board and have a privat cruise!Perfect to enjoy a cold beer or glass of Pinot Gris from our self-service Bar.
Your air-conditioned cabin has two comfortable beds and lots of storage (for such a small cabin!). Ensuite your private bathroom.
Services in detail:
Your tour has been prepared into the finest of details, check “about our SERVICES” for general information. The first part of this trip is a Bike Planet Tour:
Our rates are based on one person, double occupancy of rooms.
Single supplement = € 550 for the first part, second part on the IRIS on demand, only one available. Sharing is recommended!
What’s included on this tour:
- 8 nights in hotels in Berlin, Dresden and Bamberg, including breakfast
- welcome reception in Berlin
- 1x dinner in Berlin
- lunch at St. Cecilienhof
- lunch at Liebenberg
- guided Wall tour in Berlin
- guided Citytour in Dresden
- 1x dinner in Dresden
- coffee and cake on the way to Königstein
- entrance Königstein (King’s Rock)
- steamship to Dresden
- snacks on board
- entrance Meissen Porcelain Museum
- dinner in Landgasthof in Marktleugast
- guided city walk in Bamberg
- dinner in Bamberg
- all transfers by S-bahn, train or coach
- helmets, panniers and waterbottle
What is not included on this tour:
- Bike rental: Our nice Gudereit Trekking Bike is available for 150 euro’s for 14 days
- E-bike rental: on availability: around 250 euro’s for 14 days
- Excursions, Exhibitions, Dinners/Lunches not mentioned in the day to day program
- Drinks during lunches and dinners included in the program
- Gratuities for your tour guides/van driver
- Traveling to and from your tour
Extra night(s)* in Berlin : € 140 (roomrate per night, double room)
The second part of this trip is a Bike&Barge tour on the IRIS
What’s included in this tour:
- 7 nights in a twin cabin (separate beds) including breakfast buffet
- packed lunch, 1x lunch on board
- 6 x dinner
- tour guide (from 18 guests 2 guides)
- welcome drink
- beer/wine tasting
- helmet, pannier and waterbottle