Ilm-Valley Cycling Route: The most popular cycling route in Thuringia and a 4-star-quality trail.
Nature, history and culture: See the varying landscape of Thuringia on a cycling tour of more than 123 km length. Start at the source of the Ilm River and follow it to its flowing into the Saale River along the towns of Ilmenau, Weimar and Großheringen.
Castles, palaces, manor houses and World Heritage Sites string together and it is worthwhile to explore the places of interest and to enjoy the savoury Thuringian cuisine at your leisure.
The Ilm-Valley Cycling Route was the first to be recognised with 4 stars for being a quality cycling trail by the ADFC (German Cyclist’s Association). This means for the cyclists that they cannot only enjoy a picturesque landscape but also a high standard in terms of cycling-tracks’ trafficability, sign-posting, routeing, safety and service.
Stage - From Allzunah to Ilmenau (15 km)
From Allzunah (urban district of Frauenwald) on the Rennsteig, the ridge walk of the Thuringian Forest, you descend through the valley to Stützerbach. Here in the UNESCO biosphere reserve Vessertal-Thuringian Forest, originates the Ilm from several tributary wells. Stützerbach is a popular climatic spa town on the Rennsteig and gained public awareness mainly due to Goethes multiple visits. Thus, you will not only find a Goethe house but also a 20 km hiking trail: Following in the footsteps of Goethe you can walk via Manebach to Ilmenau, a university town on the Ilm full of Goethe reminiscences.
Stage - From Ilmenau to Kranichfeld (36 km)
Leaving Ilmenau in southern direction, you cycle through a piece of floodplain forest along the banks of the Ilm River towards Langewiesen and Gräfinau-Angstedt. Further on up the route to Griesheim and Stadtilm you have the opportunity to walk through the Saline in Oberilm. Or you can enjoy a cool draft beer in the brewery museum in Singen. Past the Mustard & Arts Mill in Kleinhettstedt and past Dienstedt with its karst cave you reach Kranichfeld and its two castles. In the Baumbachhaus in Kranichfeld you can obtain information about the area. You may also visit the exhibition inside or take an enjoyable coffee break at the snuggery.
Stage - From Kranichfeld via Bad Berka to Weimar (30 km)
The route leads through the Weimarer Land, as this region is called, further from Kranichfeld to Tannroda, a small town, offering a worth seeing castle and the Thuringian museum for basket making. After cycling through a picturesque landscape you reach Bad Berka, which has been a spa town for almost 200 years. The spa gardens in the midst of the city centre offer pieces of arts for eyes and ears, a Kneipp water-treading basin and the Goethe fountain, the waters of which are rumoured to have a healing effect.
Past the villages of Hetschburg, Buchfart and Oettern you come to Mellingen on a very well developed piece of cycle path, leading you via the road B87 between Buchfart and Oettern. This stage ends in the Ilm park of Weimar, the great cultural city! It is highly recommended to spend some time and get enthused by the city of the classics.
Stage 4 - From Weimar to Eberstedt (25 km)
The cycle path meanders through a beautiful landscape passing small villages the look of which is inspired by classical Weimar. The Maria-Pawlowna- Promenade connects the park of Tiefurt to that of Kromsdorf. There is a castle in Tiefurt as well as in Kromsdorf full of stories about Duchess Anna Amalias temple of the muses and about the Russian Grand Duchess and Grand Princess Maria Pawlowna’s sayings and doings.
In Denstedt, the mill and the castle above the Ilm River catch the eye. Near to the village, cyclists find a well equipped picnic area, offering a fine view on the scenery. After a visit to the Wieland Manor in Oßmannstedt you cycle on to Niederroßla and Zottelstedt. Here, it is worthwhile making a side trip to Apolda, famous not only for bell making but also for arts and fashionable knitwear. Passing Wickerstedt this stage ends in Eberstedt, where you can visit a historical oil mill.
Stage - From Eberstedt to Bad Sulza to the Mouth of the Ilm River (14 km)
After a break at the old oil mill in Eberstedt cycle down to Bad Sulza, a very popular spa town which is also renowned for its wines. You may meander through the spa gardens or spend some time in the pump room and the saline “Louise”.
The next part of the bike path leads through wine yards that run alongside the cycle path until it reaches the mouth of the Ilm River. You may either continue on the Saale bike path or you stop by. The winery “Zahn” boasts price-winning wines from the Saale-Unstrut region and a restaurant serving delicious food alongside their impressive wines. From the station, you can comfortably make your way back to Weimar. You can take your bicycle with you on the train.