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Saale cycle path

© Copyright by Vincent Grätsch
Tour dates


403.8 km

04:28 h

49 m

740 m

3225 m

3914 m
Height profile


The Saale cycle path experience

Stage 1
The river Saale has its source in the Fichtelgebirge near Zell, on the northern slope of the large Waldstein. If you arrive by train, we recommend the train stations in Hof or Münchberg as starting point. From Münchberg you go to Zell, from there the cycle path always follows the Saale via Schwarzenbach a.d.Saale with its town centre and the Erika-Fuchs-Haus, the popular comic museum, to
The Saale cycle path experience

Stage 1
The river Saale has its source in the Fichtelgebirge near Zell, on the northern slope of the large Waldstein. If you arrive by train, we recommend the train stations in Hof or Münchberg as starting point. From Münchberg you go to Zell, from there the cycle path always follows the Saale via Schwarzenbach a.d.Saale with its town centre and the Erika-Fuchs-Haus, the popular comic museum, to Hof. With a view of the first houses in the town, it is worth making a detour to the Untreusee, a local recreation centre of the people of Hof. Passing the attractive indoor swimming pool and further through the Saale floodplains you reach the Hofer Saalebrücke. From here you can best explore Hof's old town with the Michaeliskirche (built in 1230), the neo-Gothic town hall, the magnificent Biedermeier facades of Ludwigstraße or the Museum Bayerisches Vogtland. During a rest you can enjoy the excellent Hof sausage and bakery products. After a view of the charming Art Nouveau building in the Bürgerpark Theresienstein, which is one of the most beautiful German parks, the route always leads along the Saale out of the city.

Stage 2
From Hof, the cycle path runs through hilly countryside and shady forests, partly together with the Jean-Paul hiking trail. The climb behind the underpass of the A 72 motorway is rewarded with a shot to the 17th century Fattigsmühle. Soon you will reach the small village of Joditz with a church worth seeing and the private Jean-Paul Museum (open on request). Outside the village, the bathing lake and camping site invite you to stay. Shortly before Hirschberg the cycle path leads downhill to Untertiefengrün. Here was and is the Saale border river, but today "only" between Bavaria and Thuringia. On the other bank of the Saale lies the Thuringian Hirschberg with its castle on the Lohberg. Shortly before Rudolphstein you cross the motorway A 9. The cycle path leads past Rudolphstein Castle into the valley and climbs the little used country road towards Pottiga. Downhill to Blankenberg and then steeply uphill again in Blankenstein.

Stage 3
This stage begins in Blankenstein and leads you through the Thuringian Slate Mountains and along the Saale reservoirs. In some places you can expect steep gradients and a hilly route, but the unique panoramic views are worth every effort. On challenging paths via Harra and through the railway viaduct Lemnitzhammer you cycle along the banks of the Bleiloch Reservoir, the largest reservoir in Germany, over the bridge to Saaldorf. On forest paths you will reach the next stage destination: Saalburg. Here, many tourist attractions invite you to park your bike and explore: climbing forest, boat hire, passenger boat trip or summer toboggan run. On the former railway line of the Oberlandbahn you ride via Gräfenwarth to Burgk, where the famous Burgk Castle and the Saaleturm await you. From up there you will enjoy an unforgettable view of the fjord-like landscape. When you are back in the saddle, you will cross the wooden bridge to the other side of the Saale. You cycle on forest paths close to the river bank to Walsburg and follow the original course of the Saale to Ziegenrück. Only the rushing of the water and the rustling of the leaves accompany you here. In Ziegenrück it is worth visiting the hydroelectric power museum and stopping at the cycle-friendly hosts.

Stage 4
Well rested, this stage begins with an ascent through untouched nature to Paska. Afterwards you will be "rewarded" with a rushing descent to Linkenmühle. The mill ferry takes you from Easter to the end of the autumn holidays comfortably and quickly to Altenroth. Outside the ferry times you can use an alternative route, which is not signposted. This route leads you over public roads from Ziegenrück to Altenbeuthen and is quite arduous. Between Ziegenrück and the mill ferry or in the direction of Altenbeuthen, a bike shuttle bus can be used from May to October to easily overcome the sometimes steep gradient. In Reitzengeschwenda you can visit the folklore museum, which gives interesting insights into the history of the region. From here, you ride leisurely downhill to the Hohenwarte dam, which makes an impressive impression, before the tour continues on a flat route to Kaulsdorf. The section to Saalfeld is again characterised by some steep ascents and descents. The town of Saalfeld, known as the "Stone Chronicle of Thuringia", invites you to a leisurely stroll through the town. You shouldn't miss a detour to the "most colourful show grottoes in the world" with fairy world and grottoneum.

Stage 5
The fifth section from Saalfeld is particularly interesting for culture lovers. From here on, the Saale cycle path is now family-friendly. The tour first takes you to Rudolstadt. High above the historic old town the residence castle Heidecksburg towers majestically. Here you can be enchanted by the "Rococo en miniature" - a fantastic world of miniatures in the style of Rococo. Or you can visit the Schillerhaus, the first meeting place of Goethe and Schiller. From Rudolstadt the path leads you directly past the Weissenburg Castle - here you can take a short break with impressive views over the Saale valley - before your next destination is the traditional rafting village of Uhlstädt with its rafting museum. Continuing on via Freienorla, where the Orla flows into the Saale, the bower of Orlamünde lies high above the Saale valley. Later you already see the "queen of the Saale valley" - the light castle - enthroned above the slopes. Discover the fascinating seven "porcelain worlds" here. Also the historical old town of Kahla and the porcelain factory with factory outlet are worth a visit. Only a few kilometres further you discover the lively university and light city of Jena - embedded in southern seeming shell limestone slopes - always a popular destination for people interested in cultural history and botany. Among other things, discover the world's oldest planetarium here, before you end the evening in the picturesque pub mile in Wagnergasse.

Stage 6
You leave Jena via the Kunitzer Hausbrücke with a view of the Kunitzburg. Even from a distance, the famous Dornburg castles soon greet you from the imposing shell limestone cliffs. At the train station in Dornburg (Saale) you can park your bikes and visit the castles with their exhibitions and the castle park on foot. Back on the cycle path, a short ascent at the Dorndorf cement works provides a beautiful view into the Saale valley. You should take a break on this stage at the weir in Döbritschen or in Camburg, at the walls of the Camburg and the Cyriak ruins. In the following wine village Kaatschen you can enjoy Thuringian wines in the winery directly on the banks of the Saale. A little later you will see the famous Saale castles Saaleck and Rudelsburg on the horizon - a steep ascent will take you directly to the historical witnesses of the times. In the spa town of Bad Kösen the tour takes you below the graduation works (more family-friendly recommendation: use the designated alternative route on the L 203, between Saaleck and Bad Kösen). Now you will be accompanied as far as Naumburg by the vineyards of the Saale-Unstrut wine region. The sixth stage finally ends in the cathedral city of Naumburg, embedded in gentle hills. Worth seeing is, among other things, the old town with its historic centre and of course you must not miss a visit to the Naumburg Cathedral St. Peter and Paul.

Stage 7
In stage 7 from Naumburg to Halle, the river Saale winds through an idyllic, extensive valley whose slopes are crowned by many an old fortification. After you have passed Schönburg, Goseck Castle greets you from afar. The new Saale bridge in Leißling makes it possible to reach Goseck Castle and the Stone Age solar observatory on a short route via the Dolmen cycle path. Back on the Saale Cycle Path, you will reach Weißenfels with the baroque Neu- Augustusburg Castle, the early baroque castle church and the music museum Heinrich-Schütz-Haus, before you reach the service station Bad Dürrenberg at the foot of the Sohlebohrturm. Here you can park your bike and visit the longest graduation works in Europe and the spa gardens of Bad Dürrenberg. You should not miss Merseburg, one of the oldest cities in Central Germany, with its impressive castle and cathedral. In the direction of Halle you cross the charming floodplain landscape before the river Saale takes in the White Elster as its largest tributary. The more than 1200-year-old trading town of Halle presents itself with many sights and a rich cultural offer. It is home to Burg Giebichenstein and Moritzburg, both the oldest and the youngest castle on the Saale. The Technical Halloren and Saline Museum, Handel's birthplace (with music museum) and the market church are well worth a visit. In the north of the city you will find the only German mountain zoo and the Landesmuseum für Vorgeschichte.

Stage 8
From Halle the cycle path leads through the unique landscape of the nature park "Unteres Saaletal". High above the Saale valley, the ancestral castle of the Wettin family towers above the village of the same name, Wettin. The historical Templar chapel in Mücheln is worth seeing and invites you to concerts in the summer months. The tour continues to the old skipper's town Alsleben with its hall gate as a former part of the town wall. Already from far away the former residence castle Plötzkau greets the former duchy Anhalt-Plötzkau. In the castle there is a small museum about the history of the former duchy. A restaurant located in the castle courtyard with a view over the floodplain forest invites you to linger. The cycle path now leads through the species-rich alluvial forest between Plötzkau and Bernburg. The old residence of the former duchy of Anhalt-Bernburg forms the end of the stage. But the picturesque castle - also known as the "Crown of Anhalt-Bernburg" -, the historic mountain and valley town, the Romanesque village church of St. Stephani in the Waldau district and the Paradise Fairytale Garden with its park railway ensure that there is no time for boredom. Those who still have their breath after visiting the many sights can discover the Saale River with the passenger ship MS "Saalefee".

Stage 9
The ninth stage leads to the finish in Barby, where the Saale flows into the Elbe as a wide navigable river. Numerous cultural sites lie along the way. The monastery church of St. Marien and St. Cyprian in Nienburg is worthy of special mention. Due to the imposing fragments of the late Romanesque stucco flooring, the church was included in the Romanesque street. The route continues via Wedlitz and Wispitz to Tippelskirchen and Gottesgnaden in the direction of Calbe. From there it is worth making a detour to Calbe, the Rolandstadt on the Saalebogen. The way there leads over the new Saale-bridge or the ferry Calbe/Gottesgnaden. Then the Saale cycle path leads you through the floodplain via Trabitz in the direction of Groß Rosenburg. Have a look at the surrounding area and visit the castle ruins in Klein Rosenburg. From Groß Rosenburg you take the ferry to the other bank of the river Saale. On a well-developed farm track you continue to Barby to the mouth of the Saale into the Elbe. The landscape around Barby is particularly charming, the little town on the Elbe lies on the border of the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Middle Elbe. The Elbe beaver is the symbol of the unique river landscape. It is recommended to continue on the Elbe cycle path to Schönebeck. The railway station there offers an ideal connection to regional and national rail traffic. On the way there you will come to the ring sanctuary Pömmelte, the German Stonehenge, which belongs to the heavenly ways.

 Read more
Start: Zell im Fichtelgebirge
Point of origin:
destination: Barby - mouth of the Elbe
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Condition: heavy
  • Culinary interesting
  • Family friendly
  • Culturally interesting
  • Refreshment stop
  • Multi-day tour
  • Accommodation
  • Signage
Author's tip: The Rennsteig Cycle Path near Blankenstein, the Thuringian chain of cities in Jena, the Ilm Valley Cycle Path in Großheringen in the direction of Weimar, the Unstrut Cycle Path near Naumburg in the direction of Freyburg offer detours or connection possibilities, in Merseburg the salt road cycle path, in Halle the Saale-Harz cycle path towards Lutherstadt Eisleben and the Himmelsscheibenradweg, near Bernburg the Europaradweg R1 as well as the Wipper cycle path and at the mouth near Barby finally the Elbe cycle path.

  • always open

Tour itinerary:


Saaleradweg e.V. c/o City of Jena

At the village green 15
07743 Jena
Phone: +49 36601 / 905206

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