Last Updated on 23/01/2023
If you are looking for real toirist Germany, then you schould forget about big cities. Tourist routes help with it. And Castle Road is one of the best. We explore german part of the route and start from Mannheim. At the beginning Castle Road runs along the Neckar valley. This part of Neckar cycle route is one of the best bike routes I’ve come across.
There are few ups and downs, the picturesque Neckar valley, the road mostly goes separately from cars, and, among other things, there are also enough sights.
Therefore, in this post, not only about the cities along the route, but also a couple of tips for cyclists. Please note: we will talk upstream, but, of course, it is more pleasant to ride downstream.
About the Castle Road
For me personally, the Castle Road seems more interesting and rich than the promoted Romantic road. There are many old half-timbered towns that were spared by the war, many fortresses and palaces – from ruins to well-preserved samples, there are interesting garden and park complexes, museums. The route is fully described on the official website.
The Castle Road starts from Mannheim and ends in Prague.
Neckar cycle route
Heidelberg and Stuttgart are connected by a railway along the Neckar. There is also a line running through Sinsheim. Therefore if you want to see the route along Neckar, enter on the Deutsche Bahn website an intermediate station (Eberbach) into the schedule, otherwise you will get a train without views.
It is better to overnight in Heidelberg or Bad Wimpfen.
The red line is the bike path.
There is a special bike road not everywhere. It is better to rent a bike for rough terrain, but you can also get by with a city bike with a minimum of speeds.
A special bicycle road almost all the time goes along the side opposite to the train, so you need to correctly calculate the forces – bridges and ferries are not in every village. However, it is easier now than before: in the last 10 years, several pedestrian bridges have been built, in particular in Zwingenberg, Neckarzimmern.
What to see on Castle road / Neckar cycle route
Mannheim was practically destroyed during the war. It can be interesting mainly shops in the city center and the original urban layout of the center. The center is divided into squares with letter designations. Driving is possible only in one direction. That is, one street goes forward, and a parallel street goes back, then forward again.
The main historical sight of the city is a baroque residence near the train station. Most of the residence is occupied by the university, but some rooms can be visited.
For recreation and entertainment, especially with children, Luisenpark can be interesting. A little of botanical garden, a little of zoo, playgrounds and boating. It is good, but expensive for one-time visits.
We can also recommend the Wefa Turkish restaurant with good barbecue.
In Mannheim, the Neckar flows into the Rhine. There is no point in cycling from Mannheim to Heidelberg. The region is too densely built up.
Points of interest near the route:
Technik museum Speyer
Schwetzingen is must-see in the time of cherry blossom. But also in the summer and autumn it is a good park with small palace and rococo theater. Time for visit – 3 hours.
More about Schwetzingen
Heidelberg is a city that cannot be traveled without stopping for at least a day. It can also easily become a base for a week.
Read more about Heidelberg
Neckarsteinach is 15 km from Heidelberg. Ships from Heidelberg go here. The goal is four castles and one fortress on the mountain.
However you schould remember, that 4 castles are on the right riverbank (ship, train, bus) and the fortress on the hill on the link riverbank (bus). With bike you must change the bank for Neckarsteinach, because the main route is on the left bank.
Two castles, Vorderburg (1200) and Mittelburg (1170), are privately owned, the ruins of two others, Hinterburg (1100) and Schadeck (or Schwalbennest, Swallow’s Nest, 1230), can be viewed.
The photo above shows two inhabited castles, below is Hinterburg Castle and the Swallow’s Nest, photographed from the Dilsberg fortress.
On the mountain opposite Neckarsteinach, is the Dilsberg fortress, built between 1150 and 1200. From the other side of the river it is almost invisible, you can only a little from the Swallow’s nest, just as the city is not visible from the fortress.
Despite active hostilities, the fortress was not destroyed during the Thirty Years War. Later it served as a prison. In the 19th and 20th centuries has been restored. Now the fortress is a small settlement with half-timbered houses, surrounded by a wall that can be bypassed, a couple of churches and the remains of fortifications. Unfortunately, the top view is not as great as it appears from below.
The Swallow’s Nest is visible.
Hirschhorn is a picturesque old town, a climatic health resort. The settlement has been known since the 8th century. The Hirshhorn fortress was built in the middle of the 13th century, the city walls – in the 14th century. The fortress is now used as a hotel and restaurant.
Hirschhorn merges into Ersheim. Here you will come across the oldest church in the Neckar Valley, the Gothic Ersheimer Kapelle. She is mentioned for the first time in 773.
The cycle path from Hirschhorn makes a loop with the Neckar through the beech forest. This route is especially beautiful in autumn.
The next on the way is Eberbach – a relatively large city, the tourist center of the Odenwald Nature Park. All trains stop in Eberbach, and a railway line to the center of Odenwald is separated to the north (read about some cities in Odenwald separately).
Eberbach Castle was first mentioned in 1227. At the same time, the city was founded by King Henry 7. The corner towers have been preserved from the medieval city. The city itself is not very interesting.
Katzenbuckel – highest “mountain” in Odenwald, 626 m. It is located not far from Eberbach (by bus 12 Minuten to Waldbrunn).
On the top is observation tower and abandoned quarry with a lake. In the village – thermal bath Katzenbuckel Therme.
Why is it called Katzenbuckel? The hill has such form of cat’s back.