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: Bamberg, Würzburg and Aschaffenburg. Rapunzel let your hair down, it’s time to party!Read more
Bamberg to Hassfurt
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.
The IRIS will be waiting for you in the harbor at 2 pm. 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 week!
Please be aware that visiting Bamberg is NOT part of our Program. We strongly recommend to spend time in Bamberg before the start of your tour with us
Hassfurt - Schweinfurt - Volkach
Here we go! 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.
Schweinfurt is a modern little town, with museums and galleries. The IRIS will be there to invite us to again a sailing dinner, our destination is one of the most attractive little villages at the Main river: Volkach
Volkach - Kitzingen - Eibelstadt
We start biking from 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 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.
After a stroll through Kitzingen we will continue to cycle along Ochsenfurt and Marktbreit to Eibelstadt, a quiet place to dock for the night!
Our destination today is Würzburg, only 10 k to bike 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.
Mounting our solid steeds, after a morning sail to Karlstadt, 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.
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
Our first stop today will be at Kloster Engelberg, either looking at it or walking up to have a coffee at the “klosterschaenke” the monastery’s restaurant. Started in the middle ages to comfort the pilgrims that visited the Fransiscaner Monastery it still is.
We will pass by the Beggers Tower and the Chapel of St. Anna, before we have a stroll through the Park Schoenbusch, the oldest classical English style garden in Germany.
And there it is, the imposing silhouette of the Johannisburg. Must be Aschaffenburg, can’t go wrong there. 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 as well to have a well deserved cold drink. Cheers!
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!
Our passengerbarge 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. 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.
our lounge area
If you do not feel like cycling you are welcome to stay on board and have a private cruise!
our new cabins
renovated in 2020!
new en-suite bathroom
Very cool new bathrooms!
Beds together or separately? It is your choice!
- 7 nights onboard
- Bed linen and towels
- 5 x dinner onboard, including a drink at dinner
- Packed lunches for bike trips
- Coffee 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,– per bike (2023/2024)
- E-bike on availability, € 210,- / 220,– (2023/2024)
- Entrance fees for museums and monuments, on your own
- Travel and cancellation insurance
- Miscellaneous beverages and expenses on excursions.
- Gratuities for Guides and Staff