The Ems is only passable for ships when it has already completed half of its journey. Cyclists, on the other hand, can follow Germany's smallest river from its source. From the source at the edge of the Teutoburg Forest, the Ems Cycle Path follows the water to where the Ems flows into the North Sea near Emden. On the way, a varied landscape and towns worth seeing such as Warendorf and Telgte beckon.
The river cycle path leads through the countryside on quiet, asphalted paths away from busy roads, with almost no ascents. The route begins directly at the Ems springs near Hövelhof at the foot of the Teutoburg Forest and winds its way through the Paderborn Land and Gütersloher Land regions. Historic towns with half-timbered houses and the Flora Westfalica nature and recreation park characterise the unspoilt landscape.
Along the paradisiacal Ems meadows you cycle through the park landscape of the Münsterland. The Ems meadows are certainly one of the most beautiful sections of German river cycle paths. This is due to the varied routing of the cycle path, which leads sometimes to the left, sometimes to the right of the Ems or on small detours through parks and city centres. Along the way, observation towers, footbridges and information boards along the Ems Cycle Route inspire new views.
The Ems then reaches the green expanse of the Emsland - a region that combines nature and shipping tradition in a special way. Things get really maritime when the river cycle path reaches East Frisia. Here you can already sense the sea and almost sniff the sea air. At Emden, the Ems finally flows into the North Sea - the crowning finale of a journey on the Ems Cycle Route along and with the idyllic Ems.
The source of the Ems is located in the small town of Hövelhof near Paderborn. However, it is not just one spring, but numerous seepage springs. You can learn more about the "birth" of the Ems and its 375-kilometre course to the North Sea at the information centre.
Since 1991, the largest artificially created biotope in NRW has developed into an important retreat for rare birds and insects. In the Steinhorst Basin, flood protection has been combined with nautical protection in an exemplary way. The shallow water zones fed by the Ems attract countless migratory birds every year.
The small town of Rietberg enchants with its picturesque old town. Beautiful and lovingly renovated half-timbered houses line the alleys of the town and exude a very special charm. Rietberg's historic town hall is particularly worth seeing.
Rheda Castle is considered the landmark of the town of Rheda-Wiedenbrück. The mighty and historic building is framed by the historic old town. Wonderful sights such as the Ratskeller, the historic town hall or the Diedrichs altar building workshop invite you to visit the town.
The Cistercian monastery of Marienfeld near Harsewinkel looks back on an eventful history. The monastery was one of the most important in Westphalia. It reached the peak of its importance from the 12th to the 15th century. The parish church, which is well worth seeing, still attracts many visitors today. The monastery sees itself as a place of rest and meeting.
For over 185 years, the NRW State Stud in Warendorf has been dedicated to horse breeding and established Warendorf's reputation as the "capital of horses". The historic stables and especially the unique events such as the "Stallion Parades" and the "Symphony of Stallions" are true visitor magnets.
You will immediately feel at home here. Around the market square, in the shadow of the mighty church, picturesque alleys stretch through the town and to the banks of the Ems. Numerous half-timbered houses and sandstone buildings create a wonderful townscape that invites you to stay a while.
The Ems river is as much a part of Telgte's townscape as the half-timbered houses, alleys and beautiful squares where locals and visitors meet. A distinctive cultural programme is guaranteed not to leave you bored. A special sight is the famous pilgrimage chapel of Telgte.
The Sachsenhof of Greven is located in the immediate vicinity of the Ems. The reconstruction of a 1,200-year-old Saxon farmstead offers an interesting insight into early medieval living habits. Several buildings and craftsmen's workshops are worth a stop during the cycle tour.
To the north of Rheine, the Ems Cycle Path leads directly to Bentlage Monastery. Take time to visit the monastery and its exhibitions or browse through the books of the "German Fairy Tale Society". The café invites you to take a break and the extensive garden leads you to the beautifully landscaped salt works. A real highlight on the Ems Cycle Route.
The Emsland Moor Museum near Geeste is a must on your cycling tour. In the exhibition halls and the large outdoor area you can experience the moor with all your senses. The exhibition shows how the moor is treated, sheds light on the peat industry, explains why moor protection is so important and shows some impressive machines such as the "Mammut" deep plough.
The Haren Maritime Museum is located directly on the Haren-Rütenbrock Canal. In some of the ships of the museum fleet and in the lock keeper's house you can learn more about shipping on the Ems. Nautical science, shipbuilding and the history of Haren are the focus of the exhibition with numerous interesting exhibits.
The Altenkamp manor house near Papenburg impresses with its outstanding architecture. The architect Peter Proctorius skilfully used artistic elements that still impress today. The manor is framed by the magnificent gardens. The art exhibition at Gut Altenkamp is of outstanding importance.
A visit to the ocean giants. Papenburg and the world's most beautiful cruise ships are inevitably associated with the Meyer Werft shipyard on the Ems. On a tour you can look behind the scenes of the shipyard and learn more about its history and future.
Leer's historic town hall is worth a visit on its own. Together with the old town directly on the water and the harbour, the building forms a triad worth seeing. Enjoy the atmosphere of the city during a relaxed stroll through the alleys.
The picture-book village of Ditzum greets you within sight of the North Sea. The small fishing village on the Dollart shines with its neat houses, cosy alleys and the beautiful harbour with its refreshment stops. The Ems ferry, built in 1926, takes you to the harbour of Petkum on the other side of the Ems.
Not only does the Ems Cycle Route end at the seaport of Emden, the Ems also flows into the North Sea here. From Germany's westernmost port, over a million cars are shipped all over the world every year. At the end of the cycle tour, discover the world of the Dollart or treat yourself to a few days off on the island of Borkum.