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Bicycling in Muensterland--trip synopsis of a marvelous, little-known area & a cheap bike trip

Bicycling in Muensterland--trip synopsis of a marvelous, little-known area & a cheap bike trip

Aug 14th, 2006, 07:05 AM
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Bicycling in Muensterland--trip synopsis of a marvelous, little-known area & a cheap bike trip

Last month we discovered a fantastic area of Germany that is off-the-beaten-path as far as most American tourists go (in fact, a number of times we had people ask us what Americans were doing in the area because Americans usually only go to Bavaria), and it is perfect for biking as there are 4000 K of designated biking paths in the area. To top it all off, the area is mostly flat as it is not too far from the Netherlands and Belgium. While there are different types of routes available in the area, we opted for the route of the water castles. This area of Germany is peppered with large manor homes that are moated for defensive purposes. Many of them are still privately owned and not open to the public, but there were just enough open to tourists for us to have some nice sightseeing opportunities. There is even one extremely large estate that is referred to as the Versailles of Germany. This is a bit of a stretch, but it was still a very interesting place to visit and spend a few hours. This is a rural area predominated by lovely farmland broken up by small villages. We had no problems finding cafes and/or groceries when we wanted them.

Out tour was arranged by the local tourist office in Ludinghausen, and, with the exception of one screw-up, they were very easy to work with. They offer several standard tours of varying lengths, but we asked for a customized tour of four nights and five days riding between 30 and 50 kilometers a day. Price for this was E 269 per person and included four nights lodging in 3* hotels, bike rental, breakfasts, maps, and luggage transport. We would just leave our luggage in the room when we left in the morning, and it would be waiting for us when we arrived at our next hotel. The only negative that I can think of was that, with a few exceptions, all of the available literature was in German because the area sees so few English-speaking tourists. But, even though we speak only very, very basic travelers’ German, we didn’t find this to be a problem. All routes were clearly sign-posted and we had no problems finding our way.

The first day we hopped on the train from the Dusseldorf airport and made our way up to Ludinghausen where we were to check in at our first hotel and then pick up our rental bicycles. Ludinghausen itself was an absolutely charming small town with a main square and some houses set along a stream. If it were in Bavaria, I imagine it would be high on the list of places to visit. From our hotel there we took a taxi to the nearby town of Seppenrade where we picked up our 5 speed bikes. I had requested these “sporty”, as they were described, bikes rather than the more typical 3 speed used in the area. We stopped to visit a lovely rose garden in Seppenrade and then made a circular loop of the area before returning to Ludinghausen for the night. This was horse country, and it was fun to see the riders, farms, & horses. We also stopped and visited Burg Vischering which is a local water castle—schoss—open to the public.

Most of our trip was in the country and the only large town we visited was Muenster, which probably deserved a two night stop, but we only had one night there. Thus, we didn’t really get a chance to do anything other there than just bike and walk around the center of the city. Never in our lives have we seen as many bicyclists as in Muenster. In fact, we even ran into bicycle rush hour in the afternoon which was quite an experience. We had selected a hotel in Muenster which was a little further out from the center than we would normally choose, but this was no problem at all as we just hopped on our bikes and rode into the center for the evening and dinner. We could have easily walked it, but why do that when you’ve got a bike and everyone else there rides their bikes to dinner too?

The Muensterland area itself was delightful for biking. We were probably on regular public roads maybe 20% of the time, and then, for the most part, they were very lightly traveled country roads. In the cities there were often extra wide sidewalks with colored designations so pedestrians would walk on one side and cyclists would ride on the other part. In Muenster there were even special traffic light designations for bicyclists. We took one nice dirt trail through what seemed like an enchanted forest it was so beautiful, but other than that the bicycle trails in the countryside were away from the roads and paved.

All in all, this was a great trip for someone looking for an interesting area, beautiful scenery, just the right amount of tourist sites, mostly flat topography, friendly people, and an inexpensive bicycle trip. If anyone is interested, I can fill you in on the route we took, the towns we spent the night, the sites we toured, and the places we visited on the rest of the trip. I should also add that this trip is easily doable by anyone in somewhat fit condition. We are, unfortunately (gasp!) closing in on 60, and while we like to do recreational biking at home, we certainly aren’t biking or fitness fanatics by any means.

julies is offline  
Aug 14th, 2006, 07:27 AM
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In 1998 we did a more challenging but very nice self-guided tour in Alsace. The English tour company was Sherpa Expeditions, cheaper than any US company. However, instead of renting we brought our own road bikes. We got along with French and/or German and some younger folks spoke English.
KemiRad is offline  
Aug 14th, 2006, 07:34 AM
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We used to live not far from Muensterland and explored that region whenever we had a chance. Nobody ever asked us what we were doing there as my husband speaks more than passable German. There is something slightly Dutch in the region's ambience.

Did you go to the rose gardens near Senden or to Nordkirchen?
BTilke is offline  
Aug 14th, 2006, 07:37 AM
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Oops, sorry, missed the part where you went to the rose gardens in Seppenrade.
BTilke is offline  
Aug 15th, 2006, 05:22 AM
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Thanks for this interesting trip report and tip. While in the Army, I lived in Germany with a bike for a few years. I have always wanted to go back for a short bike tour. This region sounds really inviting.

Regards, Gary
Gary_Mc is offline  
Aug 15th, 2006, 08:54 AM
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I would love to hear the details, towns and pensions stayed in, castles visited, etc. Please, by all means do post this.
hardwater is offline  
Aug 16th, 2006, 03:41 AM
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hardwater, a couple of links to get you started:



This pretty region is one of the most bike-friendly parts of Germany and is ideal for those who like more relaxed bicycle riding rather than intensely challenging routes.
BTilke is offline  
Aug 16th, 2006, 04:39 AM
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I would love to hear more as well.
ahotpoet is offline  
Oct 4th, 2006, 07:05 AM
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topping for CRose
BTilke is offline  
Nov 20th, 2006, 08:09 PM
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This sounds like a lovely trip. Would it be enjoyable for someone who speaks no German at all?
travelgirl2 is offline  
Nov 21st, 2006, 05:12 AM
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We speak very, very basic travellers' German and had no problems at all. People at all the hotel stops spoke English. You'll be fine. We'd return to the area in a heartbeat.
julies is offline  
Jan 21st, 2008, 09:57 PM
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BTilke is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2008, 01:04 AM
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julies, I am so glad that you posted your report.

We live on the fringe of the Münsterland, and whenever we host guests from abroad, we make a tour into the Münsterland and they are always fascinated.

Here some links that give impressions:

Burg Vischering - a romantic medieval castle:

Schloss Nordkirchen - the Westphalian Versailles:

Münster - historic city with lots of attractions:
traveller1959 is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2008, 06:22 AM
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BTilke-- thank you for reviving this post.

julies-- this is so intriguing! Thanks for a great report!
Surie is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2008, 07:11 AM
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I don't see information on this region, but a great bicycling site for touring in Germany (and some other areas) is

bigtyke is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2008, 04:20 AM
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Thanks for reviving this. My husband and I were fondly remembering the trip last night. When we looked at the reasonable cost too we started thinking of sometime doing another similar trip in the area despite how poorly the dollar is faring. Do you have any suggestions for other adjacent areas that would be as much fun to do by bike? Thanks.
julies is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2008, 04:46 AM
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Teutoburgerwald, The area around Detmold is full of towns, villages and paths, although it's not as bike friendly as Muensterland.
The Freilichtmuseum (outdoor museum) near Detmold is one of the places we liked the most out of all th sights we've been to in Germany. Like Muensterland, it's a place that is barely or not even mentioned in most Germany guidebooks marketed to Americans.

Detmold is an attractive town, pleasant, with its own brewery, and an outstanding music college...lots of free or inexpensive concerts by students or faculty. As you walk through the town at night, you catch snatches of classical and jazz music drifting from apartments and the college's various practice rooms. We stayed in the Detmold Best Western, a very comfortable 4 star hotel with private underground parking on the edge of the pedestrian zone, with spacious doubles available for as little as 60€ per night.

It surprises people when we tell them that NRW is one of our favorite regions in Germany. Most don't realize how interesting and scenic it is beyond the megalopolis of Dusseldorf/Essen/Bochum etc. (But we enjoy those cities, too). Rick Steves, for example, dismisses the whole region (outside Cologne) with a brief reference to the "unromantic Rhine". His loss, our gain!
BTilke is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2008, 05:18 AM
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Two possible cycling routes in the area:

BTilke is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2008, 12:12 PM
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good report. Nice that you didn't get grief on this one like you did on your recent post on the Roman museum! Boy, were some people in grouchy moods when they posted!

I am planning a cycling trip to southern Germany in 2009. I am looking at staying in bauernhof and ferienwohnung rather than hotels and then will do day trips from them.

In doing research for the trip, i have run across several sites that tell about trips like you took where your luggage is transported for you. I think that if you check the tourist office sites in the area you might want to tour, then you are likely to find such a service.

I have found that often this type of info is shown on the German language site but may be missing from the English language site (if the town has one)
bigtyke is offline  

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