Europe,  France,  Germany,  Switzerland

A Non-Cyclist’s Guide to the Rhine Cycle Route: An Overview of the Eurovelo 15 Stages

What is the Eurovelo 15?

The Eurovelo 15 is an AWESOME beginner cycling tour. Here’s a little infographic that’ll give you the gist of this route.

The Eurovelo 15.png

Before You Go

When to go

This route is best done from May to September. Though you could probably go year-round, once it gets colder, the Oberalp pass may not be accessible.

Do I need to train?

The Eurovelo 15 is a great first timer’s cycling tour because it’s mainly flat! I went into this with absolutely zero training or serious cycling experience, and I found it very doable. If you’re planning on doing days of 80 km or more, you might want to cycle a little bit beforehand to get used to the bike. If you’re going to train, I’d recommend doing both resistance training and endurance training. The resistance will help you get faster and more efficient on hills, and the endurance will help you with preparing for long days! In short, I didn’t find training necessary, but it could be helpful.

Packing

Your Bike & Kit

First things first- What bike should you use?

I cycled on a road bike and Phil cycled on a hybrid bike. A road bike will be fine for most of the journey, though Switzerland has quite a bit of gravel road, which I found tougher to cycle on. That’s the biggest downside to a road bike. The pro to having a road bike, however, is that it’s much more efficient than the hybrid on paved roads. I didn’t have to pedal nearly as much as Phil, and I was faster going uphill. On the gravel/natural roads, however, he was much faster than me. Either work!

You’ll also need a bike rack installed on your bike to hang your panniers from. The panniers will carry your equipment on the bike journey. I found a 20-litre pannier on each side (so 40 litres total) a good amount of space, though I’m a light packer. It might be helpful to have front panniers if you’re going to pack a little more. A bungee cord is also really good to have so you can attach something on the rack of the bike (in between the two panniers).

You’ll also want to carry a set of tools. I found a hex key SUPER important, as well as a flathead screwdriver AND a Philips screwdriver. If you’re flying, it’ll be important to take a wrench with you so you can take your pedals off. I carried a spare inner tube and a tire pump as well.

Personal Items

Along with the bike necessities, I carried quite a bit more! Phil and I were camping on this trip, so we had a lot more than the other cyclists who were staying in hotels every night.

Clothing_Technology_
Camping Equipment_.png

The Stages

Oberalp Pass – Lake Constance

You can choose to take the train up to the top of the Oberalp pass or you can cycle up from Andermatt. We cycled up! From the Oberalp Pass to Lake Constance, you cycle through valleys and lots of cute farmland.

Lake Constance – Basel

Lake Constance is a beautiful lakeside to cycle along. You could easily break this up into a few more days to have a more leisurely pace where you get to stop in cute lakeside towns. You also pass the Rhine Falls, which are pretty spectacular.

Read about the first two stages here.

Basel – Karlsruhe

This stage goes through Alsace, a beautiful foodie region with some good wine! You could definitely do a detour over to Colmar, and the route goes to Strasbourg, a beautiful town with Alsacian architecture and LOADS of good restaurants.

Karlsruhe – Bingen

This section is filled with lots and lots of vineyards! In Bingen, there’s even a vineyard that you can take a cable car up to and then walk down. It’s beautiful to cycle through and I bet it’s great to drink your way through! 🙂

Bingen – Cologne

This section of the Rhine is one of my favourites! It’s the “romance” region of Germany and it’s filled with castles and absolutely adorable towns.

Read about stages 3-5 here.

Cologne – Arnhem

This section is quite industrial, which is a huge contrast to the small fairytale towns in the stage prior. It’s still interesting to ride through.

Arnhem – North Sea

This stage winds around different rivers, so you’ll have to take ferries and pretty indirect routes. These routes take you through some seriously cute residential areas, and then to Rotterdam.

Read about the final two stages here.

Itinerary (& Suggestions)

This was the itinerary I had come up with. We didn’t follow it exactly; there were some really long days in this itinerary, and we’d make those shorter and make up the kilometres before a rest day. This itinerary is doable, but I do recommend spending more time in some areas (which will be noted) if your time and budget allow for it.

If there’s a day with particularly interesting sights, I’d recommend taking a rest day to see it. I have the rest days we took built into the itinerary, but the days are long, so if you’re keen to see something, take a rest day/half day.

Day 1 🇨🇭

Itinerary: Andermatt-Chur

Sightseeing: 

  • Oberalp Pass
  • Lake Toma (source of Rhine + 1 hr walk from pass)
  • Ruinalta Reichenau/Graubünden (gorge in between Ilanz + Reichenau)
  • Bündner Kunstmuseum (art museum in Chur)
  • Altstadt Chur (one of the oldest towns in CH)

Distance: 92 km

Approximate Time Cycling: 10 hrs

Day 2 🇨🇭/ 🇩🇪

Itinerary: Chur-Konstanz/Constance

Sightseeing: 

  • Lake Constance
  • Schloss Werdenberg and town (smallest in CH)

Distance: 129 km

Approximate Time Cycling: 12 hrs
Note: We felt this day was really long, so we stopped right at the beginning of the lake. This meant we were behind and we didn’t catch up on our mileage until Basel. You could easily take more time along the lake, as it’s beautiful!

Day 3 🇨🇭

Itinerary: Konstanz-Koblenz?
Sightseeing: 
  • Stein Am Rhein
  • Schaffhausen
  • Napolean Museum
  • Rhine Falls
Distance: 98 km
Approximate Time Cycling: 10 hrs

Day 4 🇨🇭

Itinerary: Koblenz-Basel
Sightseeing: 
  • Bad Sackingen
  • Rheinfelden
  • Basel Altstadt
Distance: 65 km
Approximate Time Cycling: 6 hrs

Day 5 🇨🇭

Rest Day

Day 6 🇨🇭/ 🇫🇷

Itinerary: Basel-Erstein (or another suburb of Strasbourg around same distance)
Sightseeing: 
  • Colmar (detour)

Distance: 113 km

Approximate Time Cycling: 9 hrs
Note: See day 7 note.

Day 7 🇫🇷 / 🇩🇪

Itinerary: Erstein – Strasbourg (France)
Sightseeing: 
  • Petite France
  • Notre Dame (can walk up to top for €5)
  • Au Brasseur (cheapish flammekueche + microbrewery)
  • Mon Oncle Malker de Munster (cheese shop)
  • Crémant @ Le QG
  • Beer @ Troquet des Kneckes
Distance: 23 km
Approximate Time Cycling: 2 hours 
Note: We combined days 6+7 to have a full rest day in Strasbourg. It was a long 11 hour day but we felt more rested after Strasbourg.

Day 8 🇫🇷 / 🇩🇪

Itinerary: Strasbourg-Karlsruhe
Sightseeing: 
  • Fish ladders (Gambsheim)

Distance: 91 km 

Approximate Time Cycling: 8.5 hours 

Note: We didn’t get all the way to Karlsruhe (it’s actually not on the Rhine route), and stopped quite a ways before. Again, we played catch up the next couple days and were only back on track in Bingen.

Day 9 🇩🇪

Itinerary: Karlsruhe-Worms
Sightseeing: 
  • Speyer
  • Lampertheim (asparagus town), lunch stop?
Distance: 92 km 
Approximate Time Cycling: 8 hours 

Day 10 🇩🇪

Itinerary: Worms-Bingen
Sightseeing: 
  • Mainz
  • Wiesbaden (detour)
  • Oestrich-Winkel – Inland Shipping Museum
  • Cable car over the vineyards and a walk back €5.50 one way or €8 return – www.seilbahn-ruedesheim.de
Distance: 88 km 
Approximate Time Cycling: 8.5 hours 

Day 11 🇩🇪

Itinerary: Bingen-Neuwied 
Distance: 85 km 
Approximate Time Cycling: 5 hours 

Day 12 🇩🇪

Itinerary: Neuwied-Cologne
Sightseeing: 
  • Food: Hommage- healthy cafe
  • Cologne Cathedral
  • Belgian District – fun bars and restaurants
  • Ludwig Museum
  • Chocolate museum
  • St. Martin’s- church
  • Köln Triangle for sunset – small fee for 103-meter lift
  • Ice Cream United (GOOD)
Distance: 75 km 
Approximate Time Cycling: 6 hours 

Day 13 🇩🇪

Rest day 

Day 14 🇩🇪

Itinerary: Cologne-Duisburg
Sightseeing: 
  • Dusseldorf
  • Tiger & Turtle Art Installation (detour)
Distance: 70 km 
Approximate Time Cycling: 7 hours 

Day 15 🇩🇪 / 🇳🇱

Itinerary: Duisburg-Arnhem
Sightseeing: 
  • Kalkar
  • Kleve
  • Emmerich am Rhein
  • Roman Archaeological Park in Xanten (https://www.triphistoric.com/historic-sites/xanten-archaeological-park)
  • Millingen
  • Nederlands Openluctmuseum (Arnhem)
Distance: 95 km 
Approximate Time Cycling: 9 hours 

Day 16 🇳🇱

Itinerary: Arnhem-Gorinchem
Distance: 71 km 
Approximate Time Cycling: 4.5 hours 

Day 17 🇳🇱

Itinerary: Gorinchem- Hoek van Holland 
Sightseeing: 
  • Rotterdam
    • Koekela- cake shop (Rotterdam)
    • Cube houses
    • Markthal
    • Supermercado (Mexican) – Witte de with straat
    • Lilith-breakfast/lunch – good smoothie bowls and pancakes
    • Euromast- view
    • Old port
    • Rotterdam new building- sky bar
    • Little Vietnam or restaurant pho
    • Urban farms -rooftop farms & fresh food
  • Kinderdijk – windmills
Distance: 83 km 
Approximate Time Cycling: 8 hours 

Accommodation on the Eurovelo 15

We did a mix of camping and staying in hotels. We were pulling long days, so the last thing we wanted to do was to set up camp, and we did stay in a couple guesthouses/hotels along the way. If you’re cycling in a pair or more, it really isn’t that much more costly to stay in a hotel. If you’re cycling on your own, there is a significant price difference between staying in a tent or a hotel.

I wrote a camping guide to the EV15, which you can find here.


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A Non-Cyclist's Guide to Cycling the Rhine River | Two weeks cycling through Switzerland, France, Germany, and the Netherlands | The best beginner cycling tour

 

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