Earlier this month, I spent five days riding a section of the EuroVelo 7 route through northeast Germany — my first of hopefully many EuroVelo tours. The EuroVelo network is made up of 16 different themed long-distance cycling routes that cover 42 European countries and over 70,000 kilometers or riding terrain. To say Europe is a haven for bike touring is a bit of an understatement.
While each route covers thousands of miles, you can cycle as much or as little of it as you like — my brother and I did a small, 250-mile section of EuroVelo 7 from Berlin to Rostock on the shores of the Baltic Sea. All the routes are designed to take you past major cultural and natural sites, including plenty of UNESCO sites.
Along the way, you will be routed through towns for accommodation, food, bike repair, and public transport access. This makes it super easy to plan a tour based simply on how much you want to ride from one day to the next. Each night at dinner we planned out the next day’s lunch stop, coffee and cake stop (very important), and accommodation based on the mileage we wanted to ride and the small towns we would pass through. It was all pretty straightforward.
While the European Cyclist Federation is working to complete all infrastructure and signage by 2020, some parts of the EuroVelo network have yet to be implemented. On the EuroVelo website you will see which routes are complete, with green representing routes that are fully signed, yellow for those routes currently undergoing sign work but with cycling infrastructure in place, and red for those routes still in the planning phase.
Planning and Navigation
You can plan your route online at the EuroVelo website and some of the routes even have their own app for detailed navigation. I personally found it easiest to plan and navigate using Ride with GPS. Most of these routes have been ridden before and uploaded into the database so it’s pretty easy to search for the particular route you want to ride and get the gpx track. Before we left, I downloaded the route plus maps for offline use inside the app so that I could navigate each day with my phone in airplane mode.
Another option, which many Europeans use, is Komoot. On the website and app you can choose between touring, road cycling, or mountain biking and the database will find your best route accordingly. The touring option finds all the local in-country cycling paths and some gravel roads which is quite useful.
Germany is fabulous when it comes to bikes on public transport. We took the train back to Berlin from Rostock and every train had more than one car dedicated to bikes. During the month of July, I lugged my bike all over Germany — on trains, the S-Bahns and U-Bahns — and always found a space for a bike. I know the same can’t be said for all countries in Europe, however. For example, my experience with bikes on trains in the UK hasn’t been great.
Camping vs Hotel
My brother and I chose the hotel route as I was carrying all the gear for both of us and didn’t have room to add camping gear into the mix. But for those that wish to camp, it’s quite easy to find campgrounds or camping spots along the route. European countries differ in their camping regulations so be sure to check before you plan your trip. For example, in places like Scandinavia and Scotland you can camp pretty much anywhere but in Germany, not so much.
Notes on This Section of Eurovelo 7
Since my brother lives in Berlin and he has never bike toured before, we decided to ride the EuroVelo 7 route from Berlin up to the Baltic Sea at Rostock. It’s a fairly flat route and being Germany, most of it was on fahrradstrasse or dedicated bike paths.
We found the route really well marked with little green bike signs and distance indicators to the next town. I only had to consult Ride with GPS a few times to make sure we were still on track or to navigate if we wanted to veer off course to visit a town.
I really enjoyed the Mecklenburg Lakes region just outside of Berlin, the numerous forests, and the quaint little towns like Waren and Zehdenick. But my brother and I laughed as the sometimes endless expanse of corn and wheat fields dotted with windmills along the route reminded us of where we grew up in Minnesota — and to think this is the region where some of our ancestors came from.
And a note for anyone planning to ride through the small towns of Germany — EVERYTHING is closed on Sunday. We pulled into Güstrow on a Sunday night hoping to find a place to watch the women’s World Cup final and not even the Irish Pub was open. We ended up watching the game on the hostel TV with a vending machine pilsner to celebrate before wandering the streets to find the entire town lined up to eat at the one kebab shop open for dinner. Plan accordingly.