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

The longest I’ve been on a bike is 3 hours, so how the heck did I complete a cycling tour? Here’s my beginner guide to the Eurovelo 15.

What is the Eurovelo 15?

The Eurovelo 15 is an AWESOME beginner cycling tour. It’s also known as the Rhine Cycle Route, as it follows the Rhine River from its source, in the Swiss Alps, to the sea, in the Netherlands. Here’s a little infographic that’ll give you the gist of this route.

The Eurovelo 15.png

Before You Cycle the Eurovelo 15 / Rhine Cycle Route

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 for the Eurovelo 15?

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.

How long to cycle the Eurovelo 15?

We did the Eurovelo 15 in 17 days, though it’s definitely possible in 2 weeks. With two weeks, you won’t have any rest days and you’ll be covering a lot of ground daily. With 17 days, we were able to have a few rest days, but we were still covering a decent amount of ground per day. I’d actually recommend spending more like 3 weeks cycling this Rhine cycle route, as you’ll be able to rest and stop in all the cute towns along the way! How long you take to cycle the Eurovelo 15 is completely flexible, but I’d give it 2 weeks minimum.

Packing for the Rhine Cycle Route

Your Bike & Kit

anya and phil smiling at the camera with rhine falls in the background. They're cycling the Eurovelo 15

First things first- What kind of 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.

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Technology_
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Eurovelo 15 Stages: Cycling Along the Rhine Valley

The Eurovelo 15 is split into 7 stages. Don’t expect to do a stage per day – the EV15 is quite long and each stage will take a few days. The first two stages are in Switzerland, stages 2 -4, and part of stage 5, are in Germany, and from the second half of stage 5 to the end of the route, you’ll be in the Netherlands.

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

people floating down the rhine river in basel. Anya and Phil floated down the Rhine on the Eurovelo 15.

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

anya and phil smiling at the camera with the cologne cathedral behind them. Cologne was a stop on the Eurovelo 15.

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.

Eurovelo 15 Itinerary (& Suggestions)

This was the itinerary I had initially 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. I think we would have enjoyed the Eurovelo 15 even more if we had limited ourselves to 60 or 70 km per day to allow time for sightseeing! You go through so many sweet towns and it’s worth building time into your itinerary to explore them.

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

Note: I would consider breaking this into two days. There’s a restaurant at the top of the Oberalp Pass that would be nice to grab lunch at. Chur is also worth exploring for a few hours. Breaking this day into two would give you the time to do both of these!

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: 

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: 

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: 

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.

Rhine Cycle Route Camping

I wrote a Rhine Cycle Route Camping Guide, which you can find here. In a nutshell, camping is pretty convenient on the Rhine, and there are quite a few kinds of camping you can do, from glamping pods to pitching a tent in the wild!


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