In the Footsteps of History

6 Historic Hiking and Cycle Trails in SouthWest Germany

© Touristikgemeinschaft Odenwald, Christian Frumolt
Hiking or Cycling and Culture All at Once

Active time travel

Hiking or Cycling and Culture All at Once

Get on your bike! Lace up your hiking boots! Travel back in time! In Southwest Germany, the state of Baden-Württemberg, it is easy to explore 40,000 years of human history. Go back to the Ice Age. Step into the time of the Romans and the Celts. See what life was like in the Middle Ages. Understand how traditional craftsmen worked and how industrialization changed the world.

Ice Age Valleys Cycle Trail

The beginnings of human culture

Ice Age Valleys Cycle Trail

Blick aus einer Eiszeit-Höhle auf Bäume und den blauen Himmel. Die Sonnenstrahlen brechen sich am Höhleneingang.
The Vogelherd Archaeological Park near Niederstotzingen is an interesting stop along the 75 km (50 mile) Ice Age Valleys Cycle Trail. | © Archäopark Vogelherd Niederstotzingen
Vier Wanderer stehen auf eine Fußgängerbrücke über einen kleinen Fluss und blicken in Richtung einer Felsformation, bei der sich eine Höhle befindet.
The Ice Age Valleys Cycle Trail starts in Schelklingen where you can visit the Hohle Fels Cave. | © Arbeitsgemeinschaft Weltkultursprung

About 40,000 years ago, the Ice Age inhabitants of the Lone and Achtal Valleys in the Swabian Alb created artworks and musical instruments that are surprisingly sophisticated. Even then, humans were thinkers who expressed themselves through symbols and music. In 2019, the 75 km / 50 mile Ice Age Valleys Cycle Trail opened. It connects archaeological sites and relevant museums in an area two hours southeast of Stuttgart. Starting in Schelklingen, it continues through Blaubeuren and Ulm to the Vogelherd Archaeological Park near Niederstotzingen. The trail through this UNESCO World Heritage area is ideal for e-bikes and can be followed in either direction or combined with other routes.

Ice Age Valley Cycle Route

Cycling tour

Ice Age Valleys Cycle Route

  • 74.9 km
  • 04:33 h
  • 186 m
Hohle Fels near Schelklingen

Cave Schelklingen

Hohle Fels

  • Your "Alb Inclusive" Vacation
Klosterkirche am Blautopf


Hardly any other town is as connected with the history of the earth as Blaubeuren. Blaubeuren offers prehistory, monastery history, half-timbered …
Ulm Stadthaus


These people from Ulm are very brave: the white townhouse stands opposite the Ulm minster, the historic town hall is joined by the glass building of …
The Limes Cycle Path and Roman Paths

Borderline experiences

The Limes Cycle Path and Roman Paths

© Verein Deutsche Limes-Straße
The Limes Cycle Path you pedal past numerous reconstructed watchtowers and forts, wel-preserved archaeological remains and Roman museums. | © Verein Deutsche Limes-Straße, Foto: Erik Dobat
© Touristikgemeinschaft Odenwald, Christian Frumolt
The Roman Trails in the Odenwald Forest opened in 2022. | © Touristikgemeinschaft Odenwald, Foto: Christian Frumolt

A couple of hours east of Stuttgart, the Limes marked the northern border of the Roman Empire. Where Roman soldiers once patrolled is now an ideal place for hiking and cycling. Along the way are numerous reconstructed watchtowers and forts, as well as well-preserved archaeological remains and museums that illustrate Roman life in this part of Southwest Germany. The Limes Cycle Path covers 164 km / 100 miles of ever-changing rural, wooded terrain from the Odenwald Forest through the Hohenlohe region and the Swabian-Franconian Forest to the Remstal Valley and the eastern Swabian Alb. It runs parallel to the Limes hiking trail. 

Since 2022, the new Römerpfade (Roman Trails) take you back to the Roman past in the Odenwald Forest. These circular or long-distance hikes of 5 to 15 km / 3 to 10 miles have different levels of difficulty. Each is named after a Roman deity and has information on local Roman history. All are certified as Quality Hikes by the German Hiking Association.

Basilica St. Vitus with market place in Ellwangen

Cycling tour

LIMES Cycle Route Ellwangen

  • 45.8 km
  • 03:10 h
  • 201 m
Limestor Rainau-Dalkingen

Archaeological site Rainau-Schwabsberg

Limestor Rainau-Dalkingen

Limes Museum Aalen

History museum Aalen

Limes Museum Aalen

  • Your "Alb Inclusive" Vacation
The Löwenpfad Staufer Trail

In the footsteps of a German dynasty

The Löwenpfad Staufer Trail

© Landratsamt Göppingen, Tobias Fröhner
On the Staufer Trail near Göppingen you can enjoy fantastic panoramic views. | © Landratsamt Göppingen, Foto: Tobias Fröhner
© TMBW, Lengler
The 11.2 kilometer (7 mile) circular trail runs between Wäschenbeuren and Göppingen. | © TMBW, Foto: Gregor Lengler

Between the 11th and 13th centuries, Göppingen was home to one of the most powerful ruling families in German history: the Staufers. Their coat of arms with the three lions is even on the coat of arms of Baden-Württemberg today! And that's where the Lions Paths get their name from. The trail takes in reminders of the Staufer's power, such as the 13th-century Wäscherschloss Castle and the ruins of the Hohenstaufen Castle. Certified as a "cultural experience" by the German Hiking Association, the 11.2 kilometer / 7 miles circuar trail runs between Wäschenbeuren and Göppingen. Although the trail has some testing climbs, the reward is sensational panoramic views. Göppingen is located one hour east of Stuttgart.

Hiking trail

Löwenpfad "Staufer-Runde" - Barbarossa's traces in front of a fantastic backdrop

  • 11.2 km
  • 04:15 h
  • 352 m
  • Kurzer Qualitätsweg kulturerlebnis
City view


Situated on the river Fils, surrounded by the Three Imperial Mountains, the Hohenstaufen town of Goeppingen invites you to stroll and linger with its …
The Castle Road Cycle Route

Pedal into the past

The Castle Road Cycle Route

© Die Burgenstraße e.V.
On the Castle Road Cycle Route one historic sight follows another. | © Die Burgenstraße e.V.
Blick auf die Burgruine von Schloss Heidelberg mit güne Bäumen im Vordergund. Im dunstüberzogenen Tal liegt die Stadt Heidelberg mit dem Neckar.
Heidelberg Castle is one of over 60 castles along the Castle Road. | © SSG, Bayerl

When it comes to castles and palaces, few German federal states can match Southwest Germany. To see where medieval knights lived and where flamboyant rulers held court in Baroque splendor, follow the Castle Road from Mannheim to Kirchberg an der Jagst. One historic sight follows another on this popular holiday route along the Neckar River. Admire the mighty walls from the outside or stop for a guided tour. Some castles and palaces have been converted into hotels, so you can stay overnight and dream of days gone by. However, you will need to be fit (or rent e-bikes) as most castles and fortifications are built on hilltops. The route is hilly in the Hohenlohe region, but flatter along the Neckar Valley.

Mannheim_Barockschloss_©Stadtmarketing Mannheim GmbH_Achim Mende_105

Event location Mannheim

Mannheim Baroque Palace

Park Schwetzingen

Schwetzingen Palace Garden

Alte Brücke Schlosshintergrund

Castle Heidelberg

Heidelberg Castle

Mosbach Odenwald Blick auf Rathaus


The large district town of Mosbach shines with its picturesque old town with Mediterranean flair, a wide variety of owner-operated stores, cafés and …
Old castle

Castle Neckarbischofsheim

Old Neckarbischofsheim Castle

Kinzigtal Raft Trail

Go with the flow

Kinzigtal Raft Trail

© Touristinfo Schiltach
On the Kinzigtal Raft Trail you can choose between a 10 km (6 mile) and a 23 km (15 mile) section. | © Touristinfo Schiltach
© Touristinfo Schiltach
At the information points along the trail you learn all about rafting, an ancient tradition in the Black Forest. | © Touristinfo Schiltach

For 500 years, from the 15th to the 20th century, the Black Forest provided Europe with tons of huge logs for building ships and houses. They were floated downstream to the Rhine by skilled raftsmen, eventually ending up in the Netherlands. Two hours southwest of Stuttgart, you can relive this ancient experience in Germany's largest nature park, the Black Forest Nature Park. Follow the Kinzigtal Raft Trail, which runs down the Kinzigtal Valley along the 10 km / 6 mile section between Lossburg and Alpirsbach or the 23 km / 15 mile section between Alpirsbach and Wolfach. Learn all about rafting at stations and information points along the way; visit the museums; try your hand at geocaching.