Europe,  Eurovelo 15,  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! πŸ™‚

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 πŸ‡¨πŸ‡­

Itinerary: Andermatt-Chur

Sightseeing: 

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

Distance: 92 km

Approximate Time Cycling: 10 hrs

Day 2 πŸ‡¨πŸ‡­/ πŸ‡©πŸ‡ͺ

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 πŸ‡¨πŸ‡­

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

Day 4 πŸ‡¨πŸ‡­

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

Day 5 πŸ‡¨πŸ‡­

Rest Day

Day 6 πŸ‡¨πŸ‡­/ πŸ‡«πŸ‡·

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 πŸ‡«πŸ‡· / πŸ‡©πŸ‡ͺ

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)
  • CrΓ©mant @ 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 πŸ‡«πŸ‡· / πŸ‡©πŸ‡ͺ

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 πŸ‡©πŸ‡ͺ

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

Day 10 πŸ‡©πŸ‡ͺ

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 πŸ‡©πŸ‡ͺ

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

Day 12 πŸ‡©πŸ‡ͺ

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

Day 13 πŸ‡©πŸ‡ͺ

Rest day 

Day 14 πŸ‡©πŸ‡ͺ

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

Day 15 πŸ‡©πŸ‡ͺ / πŸ‡³πŸ‡±

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 πŸ‡³πŸ‡±

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

Day 17 πŸ‡³πŸ‡±

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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10 Comments

  • Katherine

    I’ve actually done part of this cycle route as someone who hadn’t ridden a bike since childhood and I loved it so much! It made me remember what it feels like to be riding a bike and feel like you’re flying, and the scenery is so gorgeous!

  • Lori

    Wow girl! That’s such an amazing accomplishment! And with no cycle training? I’m impressed! Awesome read, would love to try a cycle route like this one day

  • Cheryl Berriman

    We did this a few months ago .. really interesting ride. We cycle tour regularly and would have found it hard to fit into 2 weeks. We took 3 weeks. We like to do about 40 – 50 miles a day with a rest day every 4-5 days. It seems a shame to rush along and not be able to do some sightseeing. 3 weeks is more realistic if you want some rest days and time to detour to Colmar etc. It is not all flat! In Switzerland we did nearly 8000′ of climbing over 4 days (and 1300′ of descent). Some of the more industrial areas make for slower riding as there are roads to cross, routes to check, ferries to catch. Often the cycle route does not go through the town or city centre, so you need to detour or you will miss them all. We camped most of the way with no problems, but this also means daily stops for provisions. We also took the WaterBus from Dordrecht to Rotterdam – highly recommended for an exciting finish.

    • Anya

      In hindsight, I would have DEFINITELY done it in more time! We were struggling through our 140 km days! It was beautiful, but I feel we didn’t get the full experience because we rushed through it. I think 50 miles or so would have been a great way to do the route, and definitely more time for sightseeing! Luckily, I live along the Rhine, so nothing is too far that I can’t return! Do you have any other cycling tour recommendations? We’re itching to get back on bicycles! πŸ™‚

  • Cath Wood

    Thank you for all this great information. We’re planning to ride the entire Eurovelo 15 route this July, and I’m playing around with itinerary ideas now. You really covered some ground!

    We like to average more like 70-80km in a day so we’re curious to see if that’s still the case with this route, or if we find we can easily do more as you did.

    This will be our 4th tour. My first tour was a 2000km solo trip through France. I cycled along the Loire and that was pretty fabulous, I would certainly recommend it. The second year we went France, Spain, Andorra, France, crossing the Pyrenees (the idea of which terrified me for months in the lead up). The third year we cycled over the Swiss Alps then down into Italy and across France.

    You’re right that when it ends there’s a period of sadness that you’re not jumping onto a bike and heading off today. That feeling of freedom, of “I have everything I need to live right here on this bike” is intoxicating.

    • Anya

      Wow, your tours sound incredible! I would say that if you’re comfortable with cycle touring (which you definitely seem to be!), 70-80 km shouldn’t be difficult, as the roads are quite flat after Switzerland. Switzerland has quite a bit of natural terrain, which really slowed us down in the beginning, but after the first two days or so, it’s all road cycling and flat! The only reason I’d slow down if I were you is to sightsee- near Bingen (DE) might be nice to stop and walk around, as well as Strasbourg (FR), Rotterdam (NE) and lots of other really cute (but small!) stops. Sooo excited for you!

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