A cyclists dream for 127 kilometers on a little-known route called the Fenway through the forest. This is Rails to Trail Europe. We ride on perfectly paved bike paths in Holland, peddling south into Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany again. The landscape is dotted with ancient abbeys, tidy villages with their whitewashed brick and half-timbered homes. We hopscotch along borders visiting two Imperial Cities (Aachen and Trier). With its lush forests and clean rivers, this region oozes abundance. The route meanders through high moor and grassland terrain, famous the world over for its local cheeses, cured meats and grains that flavor rich Belgian ales. Trailside cafés serve warm waffles with sweet toppings. Of course, sampling local specialties is what we do best.
Every day we bike through history. The Romans were firmly entrenched here evidenced by fort ruins, bridges, complex bathhouses, lead and copper mines, and a 130km aqua-duct supplying fresh water to troops on the Rhine River. Later, these woods were the favored hunting grounds of 9th century Carolingian emperors. A motherlode of iron and coal made the region a key player in steel manufacturing during the Industrial Revolution. The many markers and memorials remind passers-by of both the destruction and liberation by Allied Forces during the Battle of the Bulge.This is a destination you won’t find on your own. It’s tucked away, straddling borders you’d never know were there…a place mostly forgotten in the mists of time, a hidden gem in the heart of old Europe.
E-bikes Available on the Rails to Trail Europe Tour
Even though this tour is considered easy, the 2% grade uphill for part of the ride does require some leg and lung effort. If you do not like the word “hill”, please look at our other easy biketours OR: hire an E-bike for this bicycle trail!
E-bikes are a great way to do this tour without worrying about the effort it might take. E-bikes are trendy in Europe and they’re perfect for bicycle trails! They make biking as easy as you like it to be, still giving you the exercise and experience you are looking for. The type of e-bikes we use are supporting you a bit, or more, or a lot. You choose and you still pedaling! It stops when you stop! Save and easy.
Welcome in Limburg !
In the hills of Limburg, in a old village close to the Belgium and German borders, we will welcome you in a little luxurious hotel. This will be your home for the first 3 nights and from here we will go biking and discovering. But not today, let’s settle down first, have a nice drink on the terrasse and enjoy the scenery and the local hospitality. We will meet up and have a great dinner here.
Slenaken (NL) - Maastricht (NL)
Spanish and Roman ruins, elegant French and Belgian touches in the food, architecture and manners. This is the exotic Dutch south. Our bike ride weaves through rolling countryside dotted with castles and breweries… Never fear! After visiting the impressive Holland/American WWII cemetery in Margraten, we follow an easy route to the region’s capital city Maastricht, an ancient and important bridge crossing for getting food and grains from France to the Roman garrisons on the Rhine, the eastern frontier of the empire. Today, Maastricht is lively, international and buzzing with university students. The Maastricht Treaty made the city known in our times as the birthplace of the European Union, European citizenship, and the Euro currency. Take time to explore the beautiful square surrounded by grand cafés, shops, museums and a pair of magnificent churches. The cozy streets and alleys form a medieval labyrinth atop which Sint Pieter fortress crowns the city’s medieval defense system, linked via an underground network of tunnels. The best place to try spicy Indonesian food (outside of Sri Lanka) is in Holland thanks to their seafaring and spice trading routes in the East Indies. “Rijsttafel” (a selection of spicy dishes served with rice) is a must try before leaving.
Slenaken (NL) - Aachen (D)
After a hearty Dutch breakfast, we saddle up and follow the emperor’s road to Aachen, Germany’s westernmost city and former Imperial Residence of the Carolingian Dynasty. It was the heart and soul of the medieval European world, the home of Charlemagne and his court in the 9th century. Both French and German cultures trace their beginnings back to him. For 600 years after, 30 German Kings and 12 Queens were coronated in the cathedral Charlemagne built in 796, now a UNESCO world heritage site. His royal remains are interred here and it has been an important pilgrimage destination on the Road to Santiago de Compostela. Aachen is also a famous German spa town. Roman legionnaires soaked their battle-weary bones in the 30 hot springs that bubble up—heated by volcanic activity not far beneath the earth’s crust; medieval monks and kings all took the waters here. The modern-day spa is a topnotch bathing facility and highly recommended. The gothic Rathouse (town hall) is also worth a visit with its 50 life-size rulers guarding the facade. If you stop for a coffee at Café zum Mohren, you’ll have historic views of centuries in one glance…the medieval cathedral and ancient Roman ruins, not to mention the best homemade ice cream cakes in all of Germany. Not to be missed!
Aachen (D)-Monschau (D)
Today we start the 127km Fen-Railway bike path. This 1882 industrial line was built to transport iron ore and coal to the steel works in Aachen. A hundred years later, it was converted to a rails-to-trails. Crossing viaducts and tunnels, we cycle alongside various rail signal installations and huge water pumps that once filled thirsty steam locomotives. What a thrill for historic train enthusiasts. We climb at a 2% grade through a forest you can imagine Hansel and Gretel would have played—and gotten lost. The air is piney fresh along the German-Belgian border through towns like Roentgen—first to be liberated by American troops at the end of WWII. We descend into a narrow forested valley to Monschau, arriving at our historic hotel, a half-timbered beauty brimming with flower boxes. Thanks to the river that flows through the center, mills generated cloth fabric in the 1700s and the town grew rich. This pretty German village looks too “Disney” to be real, but it is. Imagine meandering cobblestone streets, craggy cliffs, a 12th century castle and outdoor terraces overlooking the river. It’s like finding a treasure when you least expect it.
Monschau (D) - St. Vith (B)
Today we ride through the high fen (moor) straddling the Belgian-German border heading south. It is a mystical landscape, a place for poets, daydreamers, and cyclists… Due to a unique variety of grasses, heathers and birdlife, this watery world of springs is not only a National Park but also a massive watershed for two major rivers including the Maas and the Rhine. We pedal through the peaceful Belgian countryside into sleepy villages with steaming waffles tempting you to stop. Smell the roses, they’re blooming! The views sweep across rolling green pastures as far as the eye can see with horse farms and grazing cattle. This is farm country at its best. If you happen to catch a whiff of bacon, it’s because the finest smoked meats are cured in the former railway station in Montenau along our route. St. Vith is our home for the night. After centuries as a market town and then important railway junction, you’ll notice the town appears new, and it is. On Christmas 1944, St Vith was obliterated, the fate of so many border towns throughout the ages. It’s the tiny part of eastern Belgium that speaks German. Find a café and order steamed mussels and a local Belgian ale. You earned it!
St Vith (B) - Clervaux (L)
The morning ride promises a good chance of wild animal sightings…herons, field rabbits, falcons, red stags and wild boar. Before you know it after a few more clicks in Belgium, we’re already in Luxembourg, the world’s only Grand Duchy. A country half the size of Rhode Island. The language is a mélange of her two powerful neighbors French and Germany, resulting in a unique language called Luxembourgish. For the last leg of today’s journey we board a train to our overnight destination in Clervaux overshadowed by a 12th century castle and Benedictine abbey, both worth visiting. In the afternoon, you can relax or spend time in our 4-star hotel’s wellness center. There’s an optional side trip to visit the Battle of the Bulge War Museum in Bastogne, Belgium. To prepare for this trip, we recommend Monuments Men and the HBO miniseries, Band of Brothers.
Clervaux (L) - Moselle area (D)
Back on a morning train to Ettelbrück in Luxembourg, where we enjoy easy cycling along the Sauer River, our final leg before reaching the vineyard clad slops of the lovely Moselle River. First we pass Diekirch, home of the famous Luxemburg Beer. An option to kayak down the river or ride your bike, passing the many campgrounds along the route. The Luxembourgers love their riverside campgrounds! We arrive for lunch in the precious town of Echternach, and you can feel a certain presence the minute you step foot inside the oldest town in Luxembourg. The town developed around the Benedictine monastery which Willibrord, the Patron Saint of Luxembourg built in 698 AD. He is the only saint to be buried in this country and his remains lie here. Another important pilgrimage stop for Catholics. The monastery was renowned for its Scriptorium, which produced priceless decorative manuscripts. Remnants of the largest Roman villa ruins north of the Alps are on display for us to investigate. Enjoy a leisurely lunch on the town square. By midday we arrive at the German Mosel River, famous for Riesling wines, dramatic scenery and Imperial Trier. In this ancient Roman city, Constantine the Great ruled during the late Classical period. The last night will be spent here. A city worth a more extended visit, so consider booking an extra night at the hotel! The hotel is located close to the centre of Trier, we will stroll to the restaurant to enjoy a great farewell dinner.
End of our guided tour/ transfer to Cochem or Metz
This morning we say goodbye! Our trip ends here, for those who are not continuing on the Bike and Barge Moselle trip.
If you continue on the bike and barge trip on the Moselle, this is a day of the transfer to the IRIS in Cochem or Metz.
Our first three nights in Limburg (NL)
Our luxurious family-run hotel in the little village of Slenaken offers a great start to the trip. Offers more to relax&enjoy your holiday. Indoor swimming pool and jacuzzi, outdoor tennis court, fitness room, strolling through the village or just enjoying the quiet terraces…..it’s there to enjoy. Rooms are very pleasant and the chef will serve a nice dinner every night we stay here.
more about the first hotel
in the centre of beautiful Monschau
This hotel is a little historic gem, so we have to accept some stairs to get to our rooms. It’s on the nicest spot of the village, and if you like you can enjoy your breakfast on the terrace next to the river that runs through Monschau.
in the heart of St. Vith
This little town has a lot of shops and in the centre we will find our cosy, well renovated and just right-for- us town-hotel. We will have a nice diner here.
A grand hotel in Clervaux, having a swim?
As an exception to our preferences, this night we will stay in a grand hotel. Luxury and Wellness await us. We’ll have an early check in here, so you can enjoy the facilities of the hotel.
After lunch it’s yours and diner is on your own this night.
on the banks of the Moselle
Last but not least we will stay in the Trier (area) and enjoy a farewell diner. You will stay in this hotel for 2 days, so you have the whole next day left “on your own”, exploring Trier or the nearby Moselle villages.
Not done biking yet: you might rent a bike and bike along the Moselle.
Services in detail:
Your tour has been prepared into the finest of details, check “about our SERVICES” for general information!
Our rates are based on one person, double occupancy of rooms.
Single supplement = € 240,- (2023) 280,– (2024)
- 7 nights in hotels in Limburg (area) 3x , Monschau 1x, St. Vith 1x, Clervaux 1x and Trier 1x .
- Welcome reception and dinner
- 3 x dinner in Limburg
- 1 x dinner in St. Vith
- Lunch at Troisvierges or Bastogne
- Excursion to Bastogne WWII museum and entrance fee
- Farewell diner in Trier
- Time to explore Trier; you can book an additional night at the hotel
- All transfers during the tour by train or coach
What is not included on this tour:
- Bike rental: Our nice Giant Liv bike is available for 110 euro (2024)
- E-bike rental: on availability: 220 euro (2024)
- Excursions, Exhibitions, Dinners/Lunches not mentioned in the day-to-day programme
- Drinks during lunches and dinners are included in the programme
- Gratuities for your tourguides/vandriver
- Travelling to and from your tour
Extra night(s)* in the Netherlands can be arranged on demand
Extra night(s)* in Trier (area) can be arranged on demand
Considering hiring an E-bike?
Even though this tour is considered easy, the 2% grade uphill for part of the ride does require some leg and lung effort. If you do not like the word “hill”, please look at our other easy bike tours OR: hire an E-bike!
E-bikes are a great way to do this tour without worrying about the effort it might take. E-bikes are trendy in Europe! They make biking as easy as you like, giving you the exercise and experience you seek. The type of e-bikes we use supports you a bit, or more, or a lot. You choose, and you are still pedalling! It stops when you stop! Save and easy.
Please be aware that an e-bike is heavier, and it takes cycling skills to ride one. It is not recommended for novice cyclists. Please prepare and try to make a local test ride to avoid disappointment if you are unsure about this.