German Fen Route — A Satisfying Circular Cycle Trail

Oh, does Germany have a scenic route for you! Don’t think you’re going to have to rent a Mercedes or BMW for this one — it’s meant to be traveled by bicycle. Yes, bicycle.

The German Fen Route, in German known as Deutsche Fehnroute, is a 163km circular cycle trail through the heart of East Frisia along the waterways, moorlands and windmills of northern Lower Saxony.

Well, yes, you are free to travel this route by car, as well. As a matter of fact, there are two signs along the route: one for those who explore it by car and a second one for bicycle fans — with a number of different side routes along the way.

Now, since riding a bike is healthy, and many of the fans are bike enthusiasts, I’m going to rake this virtual tour by bicycle with you.

Now don’t go worrying about not being able to cycle the entire route. Thankfully there’s the East Frisian Bike Taxi (approx €1.20 per kilometer) that can take you & your bike to other points along the trail.

OK, so you’ve got your bike. You’ve got your gear. You’re ready to ride!

Wait! Where are you riding off to? Where does it start?

Lucky for you, I’m here to help every kilometer along the way of the Fehnroute.

Proposed Starting Point Of The German Fen Route

Let’s start at its northernmost tip: in Wiesmoor, an air health resort only 30km south of the North Sea shore. From March to October its Blumenhalle is bright with color from all the flowers, and many come to see its water organ. Plus, in the first weekend of September starts the widely popular 5-day Blütenfest or Flower Festival.

Your next town of Uplengen also keeps up with the nature theme. Not flowers this time, but a moorlands nature protected area. Additionally, Uplengen’s two windmills give the town a charming, romantic coastal feel.

Augustfehn can be a bit confusing as there’s Augustfehn I, II, and III. However, they’re all part of the town of Apen. Ham making is big business here, so here’s your chance to try a mild smoked local variety. Wash it down with a delicious Lower Saxon beer — especially if you’re here for Oktoberfest.

Even if you speak German you might not understand what language they’re speaking in the next town of Saterland. Saterfrisian is widely spoke here and often found on signs around town. Saterland is a great place to enjoy some other sports besides bicycling including tennis, beach volleyball, and swimming in Hollener Lake.

Back to the German Fen Route and back to finding more bogs and windmills across the landscape. In Rhauderfehn, you’ve picture perfect postcards made right from the Windmills Burlange, Rhaude, and Hanetange.

Next stop Papenburg. Not only is Papenburg on the Fehnroute, it’s also on the European Walking Route that runs from the Baltic States (Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia) to Portugal. They must all be coming to see the amazing artwork of the St. Antonius Church and the Nikolai Church.

Leer is the ultimate town along the German Fen Route. Since East Frisian tea is made here stop and try the drink that rules the region at an East Frisian Tea Ceremony. It’s drunken with Kluntje, a rock sugar candy to sweeten it and often served with cakes & cookies on weekends.

Tea isn’t the only reason to come see Leer; it’s a town with small winding lanes of cobblestone and brick. There’s an old Jewish Cemetery here, as well as the walls of what was once a medieval church. A beautiful example of mid-17th century Baroque architecture is found at the museum Haus Samson.

Hesel is next of incredible towns to see. No, there aren’t medieval churches or even other tourist routes through Hesel. It does deserve an honorable mention just for the fact that it’s an archaeology lover’s dream town. Think prehistoric burial mounds, a 10,000 year old fireplace, and a grand museum in the Villa Popken filled with prehistoric finds from the area.

After sightseeing in Leer and Hesel, it’ll be nice to ride through the lush green countryside of Moormerland. Just stop by the charming Reformed Church along the way of the countless fens and bogs.

Last stop before winding back in Wiesmoor is Großefehn. Here’s where you can camp out, snap photos of neatly painted houseboats along the canal, and find fens and windmills scattered throughout the landscape. It’s the perfect ending to a picture perfect route.

Now you know why many towns along the German Fen Route or Deutsche Fehnroute have the word “fehn” at their end.

German Fen Route Web Site

Here’s the official Web site about the German Fen Route (although, you may not feel the need to go there at all… ;-).


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