Germany’s longest scenic route picks its way from the dazzling wall of pure white cliffs at Cape Arkona on the Baltic island of Rugen, to the flowered gardens of Reichenau, the island gem in the temperate beauty of Lake Constance. For 2,500 km (1,562 mi) between Poland in the extreme north and the southern borders with France and Switzerland, it wends through central Germany’s most vivid scenery. It’s a leisurely road, but it is not random. Its path is determined by the avenues of trees that line what used to be trade routes and superhighways, and are now forgotten byways. The trees were planted centuries ago as windbreaks, and to provide summer shade. Now, they provide an almost unbroken, leafy canopy of continuous charm that crosses eight of Germany’s federal states – a magical path that brings travellers close to some of the country’s finest cities and landmarks, without ever losing its own transcendental quality of peacefulness.
After the rivers, lakes and shimmering water-worlds of Mecklenburg and Brandenburg, the Avenues Route splits at Rheinsberg. One branch continues into Saxony-Anhalt on its way to Goslar (one of dozens of UNESCO World Heritage Sites and Biosphere Reserves in transit) before turning south above Gottingen; the other leads to Dresden and the extraordinary pristine landscapes of the Erzegebirge mountains along the Czech border, then twists along the river gorges and remote forested hills of Thuringia. Linden trees, oaks, maples, chestnuts and poplars alter the road’s character with the seasons. Framing castles and palaces, fields of yellow rapeseed and open tracts dotted with red poppies and blue cornflowers, the promise of the Avenues is renewed and fulfilled down the Lahn Valley and above the Rhine gorge, to the Black Forest and up into the Alps. It’s one of Germany’s very best surprises.
By motorbike or car
WHEN TO GO:
May to October
TIME IT TAKES:
7-10 days by motorbike or car, but motorbike clubs recommend allowing at least 14 days.
Meissen’s porcelain, the Bauhaus at Dessau, Dresden’s Zwinger Palace, Saalfeld’s fairy grottoes, Bad kreuznach’s medieval bridge-houses, castles at Rheinsberg, Koblenz and 100 other stunning sites.
The ‘secret corridor’ – If you don’t actually visit any of the cities on the Route, you could believe from the Avenues that Germany was to a large extent a vast nature park.
The UNESCO World Heritage site of Reichenau – Germany’s oldest monastery complex, and repository of Its historic Benedictine soul.
It’s a miracle the Avenues Route still exists. Under an EU ruling, France has been forced to cut down swathes of its own trees along Its famous poplar-lined highways
because of the ‘risk’ of ‘strobe-effect’ when you drive down them very fast in sunshine.