Sometimes, you need to come down, but not stay still. So you grab your bike, and keep on pedalling. Until you feel at one again with yourself and the world, and discover a new curiosity in all the things you might come across along the way. It was from this feeling that the Wasser-Radlwege Oberbayern were created. They gently guide you through experience after experience of pure joy on three themed tours.
Whether you take the 'Hopfen und Bier-Schleife' (hops and beer loop), 'Salz-Schleife' (salt loop) or 'Kunst-und Kulturschleife' (art and culture loop), Munich serves as the hub for all waterside cycle routes. The State Capital has a total of 1,200 km of cycle routes, which also cross paths in terms of the topics they cover. Munich owes its existence to the salt trade of the Middle Ages, is famed worldwide for its beer and the Hofbräuhaus (beer hall) and is one of Europe's most appealing centres of art and cultural enjoyment.
Attractions such as the Schloss Nymphenburg (Nymphenburg Palace), the Bier- und Oktoberfestmuseum (Beer and Oktoberfest Museum), the Hirschgarten (park), the Lenbachhaus (art gallery), the Pinakotheken (museums) and the Bavaria Film Studios are tour highlights that you can enjoy at the end, or just as easily at the beginning of your cycle tour. Then it's time to head out of town. In the north, the cycle route is dominated by hops, the south-east is all about salt, and in the south-west, art is in the spotlight. But the water is a constant companion along all three loops, offering plenty of opportunities to stop by the water or take a dip.
The Hopfenschleife (hop loop) leaves Munich passing by the Eisbach surfers, through the Englischer Garten heading north to Freising. There, in the Weihenstefan district, is the word's oldest active brewery. The route then continues through the world's biggest hop-growing area in the Hallertau. As a holiday region, it's one of Germany's top secret tips - idyllic but not overrun. Learn all about hops at the Deutsches Hopfenmuseum (German Hop Museum) From the botany to beer brewing, cultivation to hop growing, from past to present.
In Altomünster, you will come across the highly traditional and photogenic Kapplerbräu (brewery) where a guided tour will show you how beer was brewed a hundred years ago. Beer is still brewed here today. Just a good sip of the brewery's own beer, and you'll be blown away by its quality. Take the time for a long stroll through the city of Ingolstadt. It was here that the Bavarian Purity Law was enacted in 1516.
Further information: www.oberbayern.de/hopfenschleife
The salt tour takes you through cities dominated by salt extraction and trade, including Mühldorf, Altötting, Burghausen, Traunstein, Rosenheim and Wasserburg. There are plenty of opportunities to boost your own wellbeing on this stretch: enjoy the feel-good stress-relief of the salt in the Crystal Salt Chamber at the Therme Erding (thermal spa), in the Salt Grotto at the Chiemgau Thermen (thermal spa), or during a salt peeling at the Rupertus Therme (thermal spa). At the other end of the scale, you can embark on an exciting journey as you enter the Berchtesgaden Salt Mine, with its underground chutes.
Cyclists can also learn all about salt mining on a visit to the Old Salt Works in Bad Reichenhall, at the Moor- und Salzmuseum (museum) in Grassau and on the 'Vom Salz zum Bier' (From Salt to Beer) city tour in Rosenheim. To totally chill out, why not take a trip on the Salzach (river) on a 'Plätte' (traditional wooden boat). In the Middle Ages the Plätte, an old salt barge, was used to transport the 'white gold' from the salt mines at Hallein near Salzburg to Burghausen. On the salt loop, you will find countless lakes such as the Wöhrsee at the foot of the world's longest castle in Burghausen, the Chiemsee and the Simssee.
Further information: www.oberbayern.de/salzschleife
Lovers of art and culture will adore the route through Fürstenfeldbruck and Landsberg am Lech towards Garmisch Partenkirchen. It's a dream journey in every respect. Stirring mountain views, die Partnachklamm (gorge) and the full vista of the Upper Bavarian lakes, from Ammersee and Starnbergersee to Walchensee. At the foot of the Alps is the Murnauer Moos (marshland), whose colours so profoundly touched the Blaue Reiter (group of artists) in the early 1910s that they settled here. The house where Gabriele Münter and Wassily Kandinsky fell in love and spent summers of creativity still looks as if its two inhabitants had just popped out.
Numerous monasteries, churches and chapels line the route, including the famous Wieskirche (church), a Rococo gem that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Also worth stopping off at are Schloss Possenhofen (castle) with the Sissi-Museum and the Buchheim Museum der Phantasie (museum) at Starnbergersee, as well as the Büttenpapierfabrik Gmund (paper factory) at Tegernsee (lake). If you don't have that much time, you can halve the route, for example by cycling from Gauting S-Bahn (suburban train) stop on line S6 to Starnberg) on the western bank of Starnbergersee directly to Murnau, and return by train.
Further information: www.oberbayern.de/kunst- und kulturschleife
As well as opportunities to bathe in Upper Bavaria's near-natural rivers and lakes, the waterside network of cycling paths also offers a fabulous wealth of sightseeing spots or places to stop for a drink or a bite to eat - all to do with hops, salt and art and culture of course! The three loops of between 280 and 380 kilometres are well signposted. GPX data with directions for all three routes can be downloaded from the website. If the weather's not good, you can soon switch to a wellness option, and head to the Therme Erding, the lake-front saunas at Tegernsee and Schliersee or the Chiemgau Thermen. You can use the S-Bahn and regional trains to shorten the three loops of the waterside cycle routes by choosing different starting points, or skipping certain sections. The route passes several ADFC Bett & Bike accommodation providers that are happy to take cyclists for as little as one night, and provide lockable rooms for bikes as well as offering other bike-friendly services.
There are plenty of places to hire a bike or an e-bike in and around Munich.
Further information: www.oberbayern.de