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D4 Mittelland Route
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Tired of all those easy, inviting routes beside rivers? No, us neither. But if you’re aching (literally) for a bit of climbing, this east-west ride is one of Germany’s most challenging national routes.

The Mittelland (Midland) Route is an A-Z of Germany… literally. It starts in Aachen, by the Belgian and Dutch borders, and ends at Zittau, by the Czech and Polish borders. This is Germany at its widest point, just over 1000km in all.

Bonn and Dresden are the best-known cities en route. Others, such as Erfurt, Jena and Chemnitz are decidedly off the tourist trail, but no less interesting for that – Chemnitz is Europe’s Capital of Culture 2025.

The route is roughly 50% on-road, 50% traffic-free. It does have a few gravel sections which road bikers may want to route around.

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Ridden this route? Write a ride report and share your experience…

Mon 24 Jul 2023, 21:49

I cycled almost all of this route in July 2023, in reverse, from Dresden to Aachen. It's a spectacular ride which covers an extremely varied range of terrain and offers an opportunity to experience almost everything that Germany has to offer. Some favourites were:

  • The Eifel National park, close to the start in Aachen
  • Crossing the Rothaar mountains, involving a steep climb but fantastic scenery and great views
  • Pretty towns of Thuringia which are all worthy of exploration: Erfurt, Jena, Gotha, Eisenach, ...
  • The 'Drei Gleichen' in Thuringia where you ride through open fields with three ruined castles poking out from the surrounding hillside
  • The Eisenburger mühltal (also in Thuringia), 8kms of extremely picturesque riding on a winding road surrounded by lush forest, with plenty of opportunities to stop for refreshment
  • Crossing the border between East and West

The route could be broken down into smaller pieces: the stretch through Thuringia (following the official 'chain of towns' cycle route) would make a great week-long tour with plenty of time for sightseeing and searching out local wines from the Saale-Unstrut.

Overall it was quite a hilly ride but nothing too crazy. Saxony was probably the hardest stretch with some long, steep climbs, but elsewhere there were plenty of flat stretches and gentle gradients. The route is almost entirely on quiet roads or cycle lanes - there was only one short 50m stretch on a busy highway. It's also well connected with the train network so is easy to skip ahead if you're short of time.