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Lesser-known cycling destinations: Munich and Bavaria

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When you think Munich, you think beer halls, lederhosen and Bayern Munich and not necessarily a region rich for cycling. But we’re here to tell you to change your thoughts and see Bavaria – the region of which Munich is the major city – as exactly that. With great food, beer and history, a week or so exploring Munich by bike is ample time to experience what the area has to offer.

On the doorstep of the Northern Limestone Alps, Munich is a great destination for any rider keen to get their climbing legs into tip-top condition. Furthermore, the parcours in and around the city itself are very similar to that of the Ardennes region, so you don’t have to venture too far to find good riding country.

Germany may well fly under the radar as a cyclo-tourism destination, but it offers similar and often better riding than that of the crowded traditional cycling hubs. Germany is actually Europe’s largest market when it comes to the cycling industry, but the canny locals want to keep their pristine bike paths, stunning climbs and varied terrain to themselves.

We’re going to focus on three rides to show the variety of options on offer and why Munich may just be the perfect unexpected cycling breakaway.

Road bicycle with a mountain in the background

A German Classic

It is very easy to get straight out of the countryside in Munich. The cycle infrastructure and road links are top-notch, which means you can be in a bustling city one moment, then up in the hills the next.

We’ve chosen this 93-kilometre route around Germany’s fifth largest lake, Lake Starnberg. Its stunning views and hilly terrain make it a great day in the saddle. Most of the ride is around the vast lake, but it certainly won’t get boring with amazing views across to the Alps and ample time to take a refreshing dip.

This is an undulating route so is perfect for testing your climbing legs, the profile is not too dissimilar to that of an Ardennes classic.

The ride starts and finishes in Munich’s West End, which is well serviced by public transport and has plenty of food and drink options for toasting your long day in the saddle afterwards.

The hills are alive

 When in Munich on a bike tour you must schedule some rides up in the Alps. The Sound of Music environment and beautiful snow-capped mountains make for some of the best days on a bike.

We have chosen a route that starts from Kreuzeck/Alpspitzbahn train station, which is a little over an hour away from central Munich in a car or two hours by train.

After a relatively short transit, you are into the heart of the Austro-German Alps. The ride takes in some fantastic climbs and an awe-inspiring alpine landscape around the aqua blue Lake Plansee.

The ride takes you through Austria too, so for the price of one bike holiday, you can ride in two incredible countries. Make sure to stop off at Ettal Abbey, a vast Benedictine monastery dating from 1330 with staggeringly beautiful architecture and Baroque dome that survived the Second World War.

There are plenty of big days in the mountains serviceable by car or train which even allow you to sample Austrian culture and cuisine.

An easier day in the saddle

It isn’t just all mountains and hills around Munich. There are plenty of low-level easier days on the bike too. This 47-kilometre loop we have picked out will make for a good rest day.

Munich has a wealth of towpaths and cycle lanes, and this ride in the North East of the city uses them to full effect. Once again, you get out into the suburbs pretty quickly and the relaxing route is perfect for recharging your batteries.

With enough time left in the day too, you can stay on your bike as you ride back into Böhmerwaldplatz and explore the city’s rich history and art scene in the Kunstareal District.

Where to stay

Off the bike, Munich is a thriving area with plenty of accommodation, food, drink and travel infrastructure within its bustling metropolis. Or, if you want to be closer to the Alps, transport links to and from the city’s hubs to areas on the periphery are plentiful.

As long as you don’t aim to head there in October or December, your options for accommodation and activities will be wide open. In those months, the Octoberfest and Christmas buzz makes the city feel pretty packed.

You can find apartments through any good holiday rental site. The prices are not too shabby either, with apartments rentable from £20 a night. It is of course worth noting the bike policy before putting any sort of deposit down.

A Munich bike trip screams out-group trip to us. A long ride during the day full of German cuisine followed by a debrief over a stein in a beer hall sounds like the perfect team trip experience.

 How to get there

There are frequent direct flights from the UK to Munich chiefly with Lufthansa, EasyJet and Swiss International. You should be looking at around £80 – £100 return tickets on either Lufthansa or EasyJet, but it’s worth noting extra bike luggage charges stretch up to £50 on both airlines. The trip is a little under two hours.

If you’re looking to cut your air miles down and experience the journey a bit more, you should think about taking the train. A standard return ticket on Eurostar costs £93.04, or you could go cheaper and take the £65.22 BlaBlaBus. You’ll have to really love the interrailing vibe with this option though, with two changes at Paris and Stuttgart before getting to Millionendorf. The average trip time is around fifteen hours, but seven of those are spent in Paris.

Alternatively, you can watch the European countryside go past outside the window via a coach. Flixbus run a 23-hour trip to Munich with a return ticket of just £41.47. It goes without saying that on both the train journey and coach journey, it is vital you check if they have space for your bike before the trip.

We focused mainly on road rides, but there is a wealth of different cycling to take in when you are in Munich. Bavaria is the perfect destination not just for roadies but gravel riders, mountain bikers and e-bike enthusiasts.

Whatever way you choose to get to Munich, be sure to take out cycle travel insurance , then get pedalling up those mountains and downing those steins. Preferably in that order, rather than the other way round.

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