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.
The beginnings of human culture
Ice Age Valleys Cycle Trail
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.
The Limes Cycle Path and Roman Paths
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.
In the footsteps of a German dynasty
The Löwenpfad Staufer Trail
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.
Pedal into the past
The Castle Road Cycle Route
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.
Go with the flow
Kinzigtal Raft Trail
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.