Do you feel like testing your limits? One of the most spectacular cycling routes in Lower Saxony will do you justice in this respect in more ways than one: 223 kilometers of route between the source of the Vechte in Münsterland and the mouth of the river in Zwolle will ensure that your muscles, body and soul get into gear.

And when you hear Zwolle, you'll know right away that you're crossing the border to the Netherlands. You can expect pure nature, but also turbulent city life: The Vechte Valley Route guarantees variety on and off the route. Our tip for people who only have a long weekend and don't want to tackle the whole 223 kilometers: Start in Nordhorn, then three particularly beautiful stages - can start right away with the good life!


How to get to Nordhorn by train: Plan arrival.

Thursday evening

Arrive in Nordhorn in the Grafschaft Bentheim and take a deep breath. After checking in at the hotel of your choice, we recommend a short walk in the park (be sure to stop at Café Kaffeemühle) or, alternatively, a boat trip on the charming Vechtesee lake in the middle of town. For dinner, there's Asian cuisine here, for example: In Hoch 5, you'll find great cocktails as well as fine sushi on the menu. Of course, there are several other options for good food in Nordhorn, but the bonus of the Hoch 5 Bar Lounge is: the view. The roof terrace is unique and sets the perfect mood for the days ahead: What! For! Fine! Views!


Nordhorn - Emlichheim (route length: approx. 52 km)

The first stage of the "Tour de Vechte Valley" promises wild heaths, moors and idyllic forests. But the romantic natural landscape of the Grafschaft Bentheim is only one of the advantages that this very special cycling tour has to offer: It's always about art, too! Or rather about art routes, a collection of now more than 80 sculpture projects that line the Vechte Valley along its route: sandstones, large-scale photographs, wall works, iron sculptures and, in some cases, elaborate installations ensure time and again that (bicycle) hikers pause in amazement. On today's route, it is above all the two art routes-The exhibits "tumulus" on the Spöllberg and "A Path through the Moor" caused quite a stir. Tumulus" is Art in Progress, if you will. The 240-meter-long iron chain that Luciano Fabro laid down on the Spöllberg in 1999 with the help of 200 people is sinking piece by piece into the ground and is now being very slowly overgrown by "green" nature.

Impressive, but only one of the sights to be noted on the stage between Nordhorn and Emlichheim: Frenswegen Monastery and the castle ruins with the curious name "Herrlichkeit Lage" are also worth a detour. Definitely a touch more homely than the ruins is the 600-year-old Frenswegen Monastery, which resides stately in the middle of the County of Bentheim, surrounded by old farms. Since 1979, an ecumenical meeting place has been established on the monastery grounds, which - to the delight of cyclists and hikers - is also open to "walkers". Depending on your taste, you can also explore the famous labyrinth in the monastery's east garden, which was created by Gernot Candolini, probably the most famous labyrinth artist in Europe. As a reward - or consolation, as the case may be - the cozy café at the monastery beckons. Here a rich breakfast buffet is offered daily, in the afternoon the proud number of cakes and pies might be of more interest.

The castle ruin "Herrlichkeit Lage", however, cannot serve with such culinary temptations, because the Renaissance fort, first mentioned in a document in 1183, was besieged and destroyed in 1626 not for the first time, but for the last time until today. Instead, since 1686, a beautiful manor house has stood near the castle, which is still quite respectable even in its ruined state. Visitors are also attracted by the water mill in Lage, first mentioned in 1270 and meanwhile so finely restored that one can still experience the mill in operation from time to time.

Overnight tip: In the chic brick hotel Veldink farm in Emlichheim you are in good hands. The hotel radiates dignified elegance with simultaneous rural nonchalance. And if you want to eat out in the evening, you'll find the right place at the Gasthaus Gerbrand Schurmann a menu, on which also the specialties of the neighboring country are not missing ...


Emlichheim - Ommen (NL) (route length: approx. 49 km)

A little border traffic: On the stage from Emlichheim to Ommen, you cross over into Holland and, after driving through Laar, reach the kunstwegen information center in Gramsbergen, among other places. But before you dedicate yourself to the background of this extraordinary art spectacle, you should also take a few minutes to visit Gramsbergen itself: The restored town center looks exceedingly romantic, especially in the evening hours when the nostalgic lanterns cast a fleeting glow over the little town. If you're lucky, you can catch a play or a musical performance at Gramsberg's open-air theater in the summer. And while you're in the area, there's probably no other "pond garden" in Europe like Ada Hofmann's in Loozen (about three kilometers from Gramsberg) - 50 ponds, 3,000 different varieties of plants, shrubs and trees - a must-see for nature lovers.

A nice way to spice up the Vechte bike tour with another means of transportation is to ride the Vechtezomp. In case you are now frowning questioningly: This watercraft is a replica of a historic flat-bottomed ship that used to transport goods, mainly Bentheim sandstone, across the Vechte River. Today, mainly excursionists sit in the chic wateroldtimer and have a great time.

With the Vechtezomp "de Mölle" you can enjoy the untouched nature and fascinatingly diverse landscape from the water. Experienced skippers will take you with the historical flat-bottomed ship from Emlichheim across the Vechte or the Coevorden-Almelo canal, until after a short time the German-Dutch border is passed.

Back on the regular route, two interesting works of art from the art routes-route, "Wordless" by IIlya & Emilia Kabakov and "Chain Reaction" by Bonnie Collura - and the town of Ommen itself, of course, the final destination of the stage. Ommen was named Walking Community of the Year in 2013, and a variety of themed routes give you a choice. Or would you rather just take a stroll? Of the five mills in the town, we particularly recommend De LelieThere you can not only look, but also buy regional products in a small shop. And if you are hungry for honest cuisine with decent prices in the evening, you will not be disappointed in the restaurant Ekkelenkamp.


Ommen (NL) - Zwolle (NL) (route length: approx. 41 km)

After so much water, woods and meadows, it's time to get a little more urban: After all, the destination of this last stage is a real metropolis, Zwolle, with its 120,000 inhabitants. Until you arrive in the modern Hanseatic city, the route takes you overland on excellent bike paths, but often also on a real Vechtedamm. The ride into Zwolle is already a highlight and leads through a recreational area and bird sanctuary. A must on the way: a short stop at the observation tower. De Stoktewhich offers a great panoramic view of the Vechte river basin. The tower itself looks a bit like a steel winding tower in the Ruhr area, 20 meters high and clad on the outside with chic wooden slats - an eye-catcher.

This also applies to the Vilsteren estate, which was founded in 1839 as a hostel and today looks like an open-air museum: On more than 1000 hectares, a manor house is grouped with a mill and the historic farm - and with the De Klomp inn, also a wonderful hotel with an equally fine restaurant. Not for the faint-hearted: if you stop here for too long, you might not want to ride the rest of the way to Zwolle ...

But that would be a mistake: Zwolle is a lively city with a medieval center that is worth every hour you spend there. Special feature: the old town is picturesquely surrounded by water, and a canal - navigable by boat - leads directly to the neighboring town of Kampen. Also definitely worth seeing in Zwolle: The Sassenpoort, the only preserved gate of the former fortification, is one of the landmarks of the city. In the Museum de Fundatie are works by Vincent van Gogh and Piet Mondrian.

Zwolle is also a great place for relaxed shoppers: the historic old town is home to numerous attractive stores. Worth highlighting here: "Waanders in de broeren", a bookstore in a church. Finally, here's a culinary tip for a nice end to the tour: In the De Hofvlietvilla you can dine in a chic villa with equally chic terrace on the waterfront: an evening for stomach and soul!

Arrival and departure: Rail travel from Zwolle to Nordhorn possible, more info at. There is also a rail connection from Bad Bentheim via Nordhein to Neuenhaus in Grafschaft Bentheim: