Hang onto your hat for a bike and barge journey like no other. Join us 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 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. Look forward to two World Heritage sites and three very ancient, yet cosmopolitan cities: Aschaffenburg, Wuerzburg and Bamberg. Rapunzel let your hair down, it’s time to party!Read more
Aschaffenburg - Miltenberg
As we are leaving immediatly we do recommend to come to Aschaffenburg earlier if you can, to see it’s highlights. Luggage Drop of on the barge after 9.30 am is possible!
Visit the imposing Johannisburg.The massive four-winged co dmples, build from 1605 untill 1614 is one of the most important Renaissance buildings. After serious damage during WWII, the palace was restored, including rescued parts of its furnishings. Next to it the Pompejanum, an idealized replica of a Roman Villa, build in the 19th century. And yes, Aschaffenburg has lovely terraces and shops.
On board at 13.30! No biking yet, but we will have a great afternoon of sailing and settling in at the barge. Right after check-in we will “set sail” for Miltenberg, to arrive there in the evening.
While we do you can settle in, get to know your fellow travellers, bike tour leaders and crew. Join the captain in the stearhouse our just unpack and have a cold beer at the sun deck. Welcome aboard!
After an early diner, we will walk through the old centre of Miltenberg. You’ll discover crooked cobblestone alleys, medieval watch towers and a village that looks like an Advent calendar lit up at night. 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 to Marktheidenfeld
After a sailing breakfast we get ready to ride in Freudenberg.
We pedal along savoring every first bit of biking. Comfortable in our saddles and confident on the trail, we pass through villages and have a stop in Wertheim with its imposing castle ruins from the 12th century, the former “Residenz” town of the counts of Wertheim at the point where the Tauber flows into the Main.
We will visit the castle for a good view over the branches of the Spessart and Odenwald and the confluence of the Main and Tauber
There is much to see on the route to Marktheidenfeld, a beautiful old town with historic buildings and Franconian timbered houses. Ice cream at a terrace maybe?
Marktheidenfeld to Karlstadt
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 along Karlstadt. Explore the more than 800 year old buildings in the by walls, towers and gates surrounded old town on our evening guided walk.
Our destination today is Würzburg, only a short ride there. 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! We will have a guided tour here!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.
Wuerzburg - Kitzingen
Along the river we are now entering the wine villages like Marktbreit and Ochsenfurt. From Marktbreit you can either stay along the river and bike to Kitzingen or you can take the longer route that goes to the medieval village of Iphofen, known for its rare medieval town wall and other historic buildings as well as for being a location of wine production.
We arrive 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. Presented in a Bocksbeutel. A what?? We’ll explain!
Kitzingen - Volkach-Hassfurt
We start biking to 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. We offer a ride through the vineyards with great views over the meandering Main and a long decent in to Volkach. This is the more challenging option for today!
The easy one continues along the river with a stop in Schwarzach to visit the Benedikt Abbey. You can have a look at the exposition about life in the Abbey through the ages.
We meet up in Volkach, this 1200 year old former Free City of the Holy Roman Empire offers its visitors a lovely restored old city.
After Volkach the valley becomes narrower and narrower and the vineyards more and more numerous. Final destination for today is Schweinfurt. From Schweinfurt we will join the barge for a sailing dinner to Hassfurt.
Hassfurt - Konigsberg in Bayern-Bamberg
Here we go! Our final day of cycling on this tour: You can opt 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.
If you opt for staying at the river bike path we will pass little wine villages and fruit gardens. We all cycle to Bamberg! And there it is, this impressive old city.
Wow, Bamberg! 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 prince-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, the sweet plant that flavors candy. But even more famous are the city suds. Try the “smoked beer” from Schlenkerla Brewery. You’ll never forget your first sip.
After our last breakfast on the IRIS it is time to say “Auf Wiedersehen” and “Danke Schön”. Long live your memories of the Main. Prost!
PS: You still could visit Bamberg, we are sure you would love to spend some more time there! Luggage can be kept untill 1.00 pm at the latest!
Our premium passengerbarge IRIS
One of the best, our premium barge IRIS, sailing since 2005. Fully air-conditioned, lovely front sundeck, lounge and dining area and self-service Bar. Delicious 3 course dinners and packed lunches. Lots of options at Breakfast. Want to know more about bike and barge? check here
Your air-conditioned cabin has two comfortable beds and lots of storage (for such a small cabin!). Ensuite your private bathroom. Cabins and bathrooms are renewed in 2020/2021
as we used to offer: still a very economic use of the space! Now with dividing closets
still the same storage space, but less room to move around, we can now offer a double bed, size 160 cm x 200 cm.
our lounge area
If you do not feel like cycling you are welcome to stay on board and have a private cruise!
bar and breakfast/dining area
always a nice place to savour some great food, or just sit and enjoy
- 7 nights onboard
- Bed linen and towels
- 5 x dinner on board, including a glass of wine or a beer served at dinner, 2 dinners on your own
- Packed lunches for bike trips
- Coffee, hot chocolate and tea on board
- Tour guide (from 18 guests 2 guides)
- Cabins cleaned daily
- Climate-controlled cabins
- Helmets, panniers and waterbottle
- Bike rental € 100,–/110,– (2023/2024)
- E-bike on availability, € 210,– /220,– (2023/2024)
- Entrance fees for museums, and monuments, if not offered on the tour with the guide(s).
- Travel and cancellation insurance
- Miscellaneous beverages and expenses on excursions.
- Gratuities for Guide(s) and Crew