When you come to Meppen, bring your bicycle, or else plan to rent one. You will find that riding on two wheels is not only the easiest way to get around, but also the enthusiastically approved mode of transportation in this ecology-conscious town.
As locals will proudly tell you, the area’s excellent cycle paths stretch on for 373 kilometers. You are standing at the head of the Geest Cycle Route, which passes through the gentle hills of Hümmling and past 5,000-year-old megalithic burial sites, all the way to Bremen.
So what should you see first as you bike through Meppen?
The town landmark is its historic Town Hall. Its basement was built of mighty boulders in 1408, part of fortifications that endured the Seven Years’ War in the mid-18th century.
From here you are only a short distance from the baroque Propstei St. Vitus church (circa 802) and the city museum, Arenbergsche Rentei, which was converted from a classic-style merchant’s house.
As you pedal the town, you may notice that the air seems heavier here than in other Lower Saxony towns you have visited. That’s because you are now just 15 meters above sea level, at the scenic confluence of the Ems, Hase, and Nordradde rivers and the century-old Dortmund-Ems canal. If you have a fondness for boating, you can experience the rivers with a rented canoe or kayak.
Atop a hill on the steep banks of the Hase, you will come to the oldest church in Elmsland, the Bokeloher Kirche. A portion of its walls date back to 948, and its tower was added in 1512. You may meet many tourists here, as it has become a major attraction.
When it is time for a break, you have plenty of culinary choices. Meppen eateries offer rustic Elmsland cuisine as well as gourmet delights, and it is easy to find a terrace with a canal view.
Try the Boothaus Meppen, for example, with its evocative location and balcony overlooking the channel. Or if you stop by the tourist office near Town Hall first, you can purchase a beer pass. It is good for eleven drinks at eleven different restaurants, bars, bistros and cafes in the downtown area.
With your bicycle, of course, parking will not be a problem. ;-)