Cycling tours along the Rhine – 7 ideas

by | Updated on 15/02/2024 | Cycling | 0 comments

Are you looking for ideas for easy, accessible bike rides in Alsace that are a little off the beaten track? See you along the Rhine! You’ll find itineraries that are completely flat and not at all difficult. Of course, we have the famous VĂ©loroute du Rhin in Alsace (EurovĂ©lo 15), but if you’re looking for a day’s cycling, here are a few ideas for loop routes that take in part of the VĂ©loroute, but that’s not all! The banks of the Rhine aren’t the most touristy corners of the region, nor are they the landscapes you first think of when you think of Alsace, and yet… the Rhine is one of the region’s highlights! The other advantage of riding along the Rhine is that you can easily cross over into Germany, making this a cross-border route. Nice, right?

Petite boucle des 3 Pays (40km)

velo-rhin-bale

Cet itinĂ©raire Ă  vĂ©lo vous mĂšne au sud de l’Alsace, explorant le Pays de Saint-Louis cĂŽtĂ© français mais traversant trois pays : la France, l’Allemagne et la Suisse. En partant de Saint-Louis, on longe le Canal de Huningue, offrant des arrĂȘts agrĂ©ables pour observer la riche biodiversitĂ© de la Petite Camargue alsacienne. En traversant l’Ăźle du Rhin, entre patrimoine industriel et rĂ©serve naturelle, on rejoint l’Allemagne via le barrage EDF, pour profiter des nombreuses pistes cyclables et dĂ©couvrir BĂąle en Suisse, avec notamment le DreilĂ€ndereck, point de rencontre des trois pays. En terminant par un retour en France le long du Rhin, cette boucle transfrontaliĂšre offre une expĂ©rience cycliste sympa, et agrĂ©able puisqu’elle se dĂ©roule principalement sur des pistes cyclables. Pour plus d’infos sur cet itinĂ©raire, lisez mon article dĂ©diĂ© Ă  la Petite Boucle des 3 Pays. 

Cross-border looping in the Rhineland (39km)

velo-pays-rhenan

Let’s go for a nice bike ride to discover the Rhineland! Do you know where it is? We are here in the north of Alsace (more or less at the level of Haguenau), in the zone located at the edge of the Rhine. A corner which is not the most known but deserves nevertheless largely to be discovered.

Easy bike loops

The Pays Rhénan offers a wide range of cycling routes, from 7 to 40km. There is something for everyone! What do they have in common? They are accessible to all audiences. Indeed, the region is very flat and there are no difficulties to be expected on that side. In addition, there are beautiful bike paths that allow you to be safe. The Rhineland is therefore ideal for family bike rides.

Circuit “The Cross-Border

I tested the cycle tour called “Le transfrontalier”, which is 39km long. As you may have guessed, this loop allows us to play the border jumping game by cycling to our German neighbors. That’s one of the things I like about the Rhine region: the possibility togo to Germany easily by land or by ferry. The opportunity to make a small trip very easily!

The loop starts in the beautiful marina of Offendorf. You immediately feel like you are on vacation with all the boats on the water! This is also where you can rent bicycles if you don’t have any.

If you follow the direction of the loop, you will start by following the Rhine on the French side. We are here on theEurovélo 15 and we go along natural reserves, it is pleasant. Then we take the ferry to Drussenheim (which is free of charge, also for bicycles) to cross into Germany.

On the German side, the bicycle paths along the Rhine are often not paved. I advise you not to choose too thin tires: prefer the VTC to the road bike, it will be much more comfortable.

You can walk along the Rhine or in the typical landscapes of the Rhine area, between alluvial forests and water bodies constituted by former “dead” arms of the Rhine. It’s wild and really pretty, it makes for a very nice walk!

Finally, it is the return to France via the Freistett/Gambsheim dam. The return to Offendorf is done by a small road which is not particularly pretty but which is not very busy.

Before returning to the port, you can stop in the center of Offendorf to visit a barge that houses the museum of inland navigation. Offendorf was indeed the largest village of boatmen in eastern France!

Lunch or snack on the waterfront at the Port of Offendorf

Here’s a place where you can take a well-deserved break after your cycling tour: the Offendorf marina and its Nautic restaurant. The food is very good (the homemade fish and chips is great!), and it’s also a good place to enjoy an ice cream (for the greedy, the whipped cream is homemade), all with a nice view on the boats.

And if you have time and energy left, you can even rent a canoe, paddle or boat to go for a ride on the water!

J’ai aimĂ©

  • Paysages de la zone rhĂ©nane
  • Boucle facile
  • Pause gourmande au port d’Offendorf

J’ai moins aimĂ©

  • Rien!

Mes photos du circuit “Le Transfrontalier”

Infos pratiques

Départ et arrivée

Port de plaisance d’Offendorf (avec possibilitĂ© d’y louer des vĂ©los!)

Caractéristiques

  • Distance: 39km
  • DĂ©nivelĂ©: environ 100m
  • DurĂ©e: environ 3h (sans les pauses!)

AccĂšs

En voiture

Offendorf se trouve Ă :

  • 30km de Strasbourg (environ 25 minutes)
  • 95km de Colmar (environ 1h15)
  • 135km de Mulhouse (environ 1h30)
En transports en commun

Vous pouvez calculer votre itinéraire sur Fluo Grand Est.

Cycling along the Rhine (58km)

ottmarsheim-velo

Here’s a great bike ride starting out from Mulhouse, exploring the Rhine strip. Don’t worry about the length of the circuit, it’s very easy! The walk starts at Mulhouse station and offers a variety of pleasant landscapes, between forests, fields and canals. Stops along the way include the Grange Ă  BĂ©canes in Bantzenheim, with its collection of vintage motorcycles, theabbey church in Ottmarsheim, renowned for its Romanesque architecture, and the Niffer locks. For more information on this itinerary, read my article on cycling in Mulhouse.

Cycling around Seltz-Lauterbourg (40km)

bac-neuburg-laurene-velo

Here’s a bike loop that will take you on a journey… Since it is a cross-border route, which passes through both France and Germany. This is the local loop 613 called “Le Rhin au naturel” from Lauterbourg, in the north-east of Alsace. A region that I discovered during this loop (yes, there are still corners of Alsace that I don’t know!) and that seduced me. This course is a little less than 40km long and is all flat .

Eurovélo 15 between Lauterbourg and Seltz

From Lauterbourg, the route starts with the French part: after leaving Lauterbourg (not the most glamorous part of the route, but it goes fast!), you take the Eurovelo 15, which is theRhine Bike Route. This part of the loop is very pleasant because we are on a bicycle path all the way. If you are with your family, it is perfectly suitable because it is both flat and safe.

We drive on green roads, sometimes right by the Rhine, sometimes a little inland. In any case, water is never far away: between the Rhine, its dead arms and the gravel pits, the omnipresence of water is one of the elements that characterize this loop.

In Munchhausen, we arrive at the Sauer Delta nature reserve, an area remarkable for its landscape and biodiversity. The view from the bridge, with the village and the flat-bottomed boats, is really nice. It is also a pleasure to stop and take pictures everywhere… The color of the water is often surprising and one feels out of place. I really enjoyed this aspect!

Cycling in Germany

Arrived at Seltz, we pass on the German side by taking the ferry of Seltz (free, for the bicycles too) allowing to cross the Rhine. The route then passes through the Rhine’s backwaters, which are home to unspoiled nature, but also through the Goldkanal, a beautiful place to swim! Remember to bring your swimsuit if you want to take a swim break🙂

Attention: on this German part of the route, the road is not paved. It will therefore not be pleasant with a road bike, prefer a VTC.

Another point to note is that there were important works in Germany when I did this loop: the bike path planned in the itinerary was not accessible, so I had to go further inland… As a result, I got a bit lost because I was trying to see the landscapes of the Rhine banks (of course!), which made me make a lot of detours. I would advise to wait until the work is finished but I don’t know when it will be finished… If not, take a map and be prepared to drive a few more miles 😉

Return to France

We then take the ferry back to Neuburg, which this time doesn’t take you from Germany to France, but… from the state of Baden-WĂŒrttemberg to the state of Rhineland-Palatinate. We remain in Germany and, this time, the ferry is paying (2€50 for a cyclist): bring some change, they do not take the bank card. Just before getting back on the ferry, the Zollhaus restaurant offers you a pleasant break on the terrace. Again, just remember to bring cash as Visa or Mastercard are not accepted.

At the descent of the ferry, we find the Eurovélo 15 which makes us cross the border to return in France and then join Lauterbourg.

If you want to continue the day, the Lauterbourg water sports center is really beautiful (with turquoise water) and offers swimming, surfing (yes!) and various water sports. Very nice!

J’ai aimĂ©

  • Paysages de la boucle
  • OmniprĂ©sence de l’eau
  • Amusant de passer de la France Ă  l’Allemagne
  • Terrasse au bord du Rhin du restaurant en Allemagne

J’ai moins aimĂ©

  • DifficultĂ©s Ă  payer en CB en Allemagne
  • Les travaux qui m’ont fait me perdre 😛

My pictures of the bike tour “The Rhine in the natural”.

Infos pratiques

Itinéraire

Retrouvez le dĂ©tail de l’itinĂ©raire et le tracĂ© GPX sur le site Alsace Ă  vĂ©lo

BL-613

Départ et arrivée

Lauterbourg

Caractéristiques

  • Distance: 40km
  • DĂ©nivelĂ©: 70m
  • DurĂ©e: 2h30 environ (pauses non comprises)

AccĂšs

En voiture

Lauterbourg se situe Ă :

  • 40km de Haguenau (environ 35 minutes)
  • 63km de Strasbourg (environ 40 minutes)
  • 130km de Colmar (environ 1h30)
  • 170km de Mulhouse (environ 1h50)
En transports en commun

Vous pouvez calculer votre itinéraire sur Fluo Grand Est.

Boucle à vélo dans la jungle rhénane (42km)

Voici un itinĂ©raire de balade Ă  vĂ©lo en boucle entre France et Allemagne, qui permet de partir Ă  la dĂ©couverte de la jungle rhĂ©nane. Il s’agit de la boucle Alsace Ă  vĂ©lo BL976 “Jungle rhĂ©nane”. On ne le sait pas toujours, mais le Rhin a de nombreux bras restĂ©s sauvages.

La balade dĂ©marre Ă  Boofzheim, un village situĂ© juste avant Rhinau. On est ici dans le Ried alsacien, dont je vous ai dĂ©jĂ  parlĂ© plusieurs fois: le ried est une zone situĂ©e en plaine d’Alsace et accueillant une importante biodiversitĂ©. De Boofzheim, on va jusqu’Ă  Rhinau oĂč se trouve… un bac permettant d’aller en Allemagne! Le bac de Rhinau assure la traversĂ©e du Rhin tous les 1/4 d’heures, toute l’annĂ©e. On peut l’emprunter en voiture, Ă  vĂ©lo, Ă  pied… Et en plus, c’est gratuit!

La balade se poursuit cĂŽtĂ© allemand par de beaux chemins au coeur de la nature: on sillonne dans la jungle rhĂ©nane, c’est vraiment joli. On s’Ă©loigne ensuite un peu des rives du Rhin pour traverser des petits villages avant de regagner Ă  nouveau le Rhin, oĂč se trouve un port de plaisance. Faites attention aux bords de la route que vous longez juste avant de regagner les rives: il y a de trĂšs belles sculptures en bois installĂ©es tout le long! C’est au bord du Rhin que j’ai choisi de faire une petite pause, il y a un petit snack avec terrasse sur le Rhin oĂč il est agrĂ©able de s’arrĂȘter.

Un pont permet ensuite d’accĂ©der Ă  l’Ăźle de Rhinau, qui accueille une RĂ©serve Naturelle Nationale sur 250 hectares. La balade Ă  vĂ©lo ne permet malheureusement pas de partir Ă  la dĂ©couverte de ce lieu, l’un des plus reprĂ©sentatifs de la jungle rhĂ©nane, car la piste cyclable la longe. Une immense ligne droite au bord du Rhin vous attend, c’est agrĂ©able aussi mais il faudra revenir Ă  Rhinau une autre fois pour parcourir l’Ăźle Ă  pied!

De retour sur la rive française, le parcours emprunte ensuite des petites routes pour rejoindre Boofzheim, en passant par des villages alsacien. Il faut Ă  nouveau prĂȘter attention aux voitures, mais ce ne sont pas des routes trop passantes.Le balisage est parfait au dĂ©but, en Allemagne mais devient ensuite trĂšs approximatif pour la derniĂšre partie en France. Prenez la trace GPX, c’est plus facile 😉

J’ai aimĂ©

  • Balade facile (toute plate)
  • DĂ©couverte de trĂšs beaux coins de nature
  • Pause sympa au bord du Rhin
  • Passer d’un pays Ă  l’autre, par le Bac de Rhinau puis par des ponts

J’ai moins aimĂ©

  • Balisage Ă  la fin

Mes photos de la balade Ă  vĂ©lo franco-allemande “Jungle RhĂ©nane”

Infos pratiques

Départ et arrivée

Boofzheim, vous trouverez forcĂ©ment oĂč vous garer dans le coin.

Caractéristiques

  • Distance: 42 km
  • DurĂ©e: 2h50 environ, pauses photo comprises (mais pas pause snack!)

Carte et trace GPX

Rendez-vous sur le site Alsace à vélo pour voir la carte et télécharger la trace GPX.

BL976

Route between France and Germany in the Rhineland (26km)

velo-bord-rhin

Here’s another cycling loop in the Rhine region above Strasbourg. This is the BL 601 of Alsace Ă  vĂ©lo entitled “Rhine activities”. An easy 25km bike ride from Drusenheim, crossing the border to discover the banks of the Rhine in Germany.

Across the Rhine on the Bac de Drusenheim

The bike ride begins in the village of Drusenheim. If you’re planning a picnic, I can’t recommend enough that you stop off at Galerie des Papilles, a great organic grocery store just a few minutes from the route, where you’ll be warmly welcomed. I had booked a vegetarian picnic basket which was really excellent.

Then off to catch the Drusenheim ferry. It’s free (including for bicycles) and takes just a few minutes to cross the Rhine into Germany. It’s super easy and quick, almost too quick as this mini cruise is quite enjoyable I must say! 😉

Cycling on German trails

The walk on the German side is mainly on gravel paths: I’d advise you to opt for a VTC or gravel bike, but not a road bike, you’d be in trouble.

The course is very pleasant. At times, we follow the Rhine, but there are also passages in the forest, allowing us to discover the wild Rhine. You may not realize it, but there’s a lot of beautiful vegetation to be seen near the Rhine! Trees reflecting on these abandoned arms of the Rhine, forming ponds of sorts, are always a sight to behold. Suddenly you feel like you’re away from the hustle and bustle, right in the heart of nature – perfect for a change of scenery!

The route sometimes passes along cycle paths, sometimes along small roads, but these are lightly trafficked, with slow-moving vehicles. It’s not a problem.

Gambsheim fish pass

After about 13km, it’s time to return to the French side. There’s no need for a ferry here, as passage is via the Freistett/Gambsheim dam bridge. But beware of the route of this bike loop: just before the dam, it told me to take a busy road (the L87), which I don’t recommend. You can in fact pass under this road: before the loop shown on the map, which leads to the L87 road, don’t follow the route, but follow the bicycle sign indicating a small path to the right. It allows you to pass under the road, skirt it and exit onto the L87 at a point where you immediately have a cycle path. Much safer!

The passage over the dam bridge is impressive, but very safe: you cycle over a footbridge and then a separate lane for cars. You’re standing on top of the Rhine and realize just how wide it is, and how strong its current is! The lock here is also impressive, both for its height and for the size of its bins, which can accommodate huge barges.

The dam is equipped with a fish pass, designed to allow fish to pass the dam from downstream to upstream. This includes migratory fish (salmon, for example), but also many other local species. This is achieved by attracting fish to an artificial waterway with a certain flow rate (migratory fish swim against the current) which bypasses the dam. Once in the pass, the fish gradually climb over an 11-metre height, passing through a succession of interconnected basins, with the possibility of resting in each basin before moving on to the next (yes, it’s still an effort to climb!).

Visitors’ area Passage 309 allows visitors to discover the Gambsheim fish pass and how it works. Unfortunately, it was closed when I visited, but I think it’s well worth a visit, whether you’re an adult or a family.

Cycling in Alsace

The return journey to Drusenheim is mainly by road, although there is a cycle path between Herrlisheim and Drusenheim. It’s not the most pleasant part of the itinerary, and I’d advise you to do things a little differently. Here are my tips, which should make the course a little longer, but not by much, and a lot more fun!

Follow the planned route to Offendorf: it’s on the road, passing through a gravel plant, but it’s not very long. Then take a break in Offendorf. historically the largest village of boatmen in eastern France. It’s a pretty village, and depending on the day, you can visit the MusĂ©e de la Batellerie d’Offendorf, or simply enjoy the picnic tables in the shade in front of the museum-peniche (it’s only a short detour)! A very pleasant location.

Next, I recommend leaving the “Rhine activities” loop and opting for the Le Transfrontalier route as far as Drusenheim, which I’ve already tried out on another Rhineland cycling loop I mentioned above.

Instead of taking uninteresting roads, you’ll pass through the Offendorf forest nature reserve and the Offendorf marina, a place I really like. Take a break at the Nautic restaurant (for lunch or an ice cream) and enjoy the harbour atmosphere while admiring the boats: you’ll immediately feel like you’re on vacation!

Then you’ll follow the Rhine to the ferry terminal in Drusenheim, where you can return to your starting point.

J’ai aimĂ©

  • Jolie dĂ©couverte du Rhin plus sauvage
  • Passage avec le bac amusant
  • ItinĂ©raire facile

J’ai moins aimĂ©

  • Trop de routes mais je vous propose une alternative 🙂

My photos of the “Rhine activities” cycling loop

Infos pratiques

Itinéraire

Vous trouverez ici la page de l’Alsace Ă  vĂ©lo dĂ©diĂ©e Ă  cette boucle, avec l’itinĂ©raire et le tracĂ© GPX.

boucle-601

Départ et arrivée

Drusenheim

Caractéristiques

  • Distance: 26km environ
  • DĂ©nivelĂ© positif: 30m environ
  • DurĂ©e: 2h environ

AccĂšs

En voiture

Drusenheim se trouve Ă :

  • 35km de Strasbourg (environ 30 minutes)
  • 100km de Colmar (environ 1h)
  • 140km de Mulhouse (environ 1h25)
En transports en commun

Vous pouvez calculer votre itinéraire sur Fluo Grand Est.

Strasbourg tour, on either side of the Rhine (30km)

promenade-velo-rhin-strasbourg

Here’s a bike ride from Strasbourg that will take you across the Rhine to our German neighbors. The itinerary only passes through bicycle paths, which is very pleasant to not worry about cars!

The walk starts in the Neudorf district of Strasbourg, in order to quickly reach the Jardin des Deux Rives (Franco-German garden located on both sides of the Rhine) and then cross the Passerelle des Deux Rives which leads to Germany. It then follows the Rhine, sometimes along the water’s edge, sometimes on small country paths, and at one point joins the famous Piste des Forts. This part of the walk is really lovely! Calm and bucolic as you wish…

We pass again in France by the Pfimlin Bridge then we follow a little the road: this part has nothing pleasant because very busy, but the cycle track is protected from the cars and we feel thus in safety. Note that there is currently work going on on part of the runway, but I was still able to pass through.

The itinerary then quickly reaches the Neuhof forest and its beautiful paths, then the banks of the Rhone-Rhine Canal which are also very pleasant. All that remains is to follow the canal to Strasbourg, possibly making a small detour if you want to go swimming in the Baggersee lake (a sign indicates it, count 10 minutes more to go and the same for the return): in the heart of summer, it can be a very good idea!

I liked

  • Nice and easy walk
  • Different landscapes: Rhine, forest, canal…
  • Bicycle paths all along the ride
  • Stroll between France and Germany

I liked less

  • Small part along the road (but protected)

My pictures of the bike ride between France and Germany

Practical information

Departure and arrival

Avenue Jean-JaurĂšs in Strasbourg (Neudorf district)

Features

  • Distance: about 30 km
  • Duration: about 2h30

Card

Click here for itinerary

LaurĂšne

LaurĂšne

LaurÚne est la créatrice du blog Mon week-end en Alsace. Bretonne installée en Alsace depuis 2014, elle est tombée amoureuse de sa région d'adoption au point de lui dédier un blog et d'acheter avec son mari une maison alsacienne dans un village du Kochersberg, prÚs de Strasbourg. A pied, à vélo, sur ses chevaux ou au volant de sa voiture, elle aime partir explorer les moindres recoins de l'Alsace pour dénicher de bonnes adresses à partager sur le blog.

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