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Felsenformation im Altmühltal, Bild: Oxie99 / shutterstock

The Altmühl Valley impresses with its beautiful landscape

The Altmühltal in the Bavarian administrative districts of Upper Bavaria, Upper Palatinate and Middle Franconia, which was founded in July 1969 and currently covers almost 3,000 km² in size, is located north of Ingolstadt. It follows the course of the almost 230-kilometre-long Altmühl River from its source on the 550-metre-high mountain range “Frankenhöhe” near Leutershausen in the district of Ansbach near the border of the two federal states of Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg to its confluence with the Danube near Kelheim in the district of the same name southwest of Regensburg.

Enchanting holiday paradise between Nuremberg and Ingolstadt

As a holiday and leisure region, the Altmühltal has been very popular for decades among nature lovers and sporty active holidaymakers if you want to spend your holiday in Bavaria , especially because of its picturesque landscape with bizarre rock formations, dense forests and clean bathing waters. Hikers use the approx. 115-kilometre-long “Limes Hiking Trail” from Gunzenhausen in the Weißenburg-Gunzenhausen district to the spa town and district of Bad Gögging in Neustadt an der Donau. Cyclists, on the other hand, like to ride on the approx. 250-kilometre-long “Altmühltal Cycle Path” from Rothenburg ob der Tauber to Kelheim, on the route of which famous natural monuments such as the Dollnstein between Eichstätt and Treuchtlingen and the rock group “Twelve Apostles” near Solnhofen are located.

Whether on land or on water: the Altmühltal is made for sports holidays

Prunn Castle, Altmühltal
Prunn Castle, Image: Chris Redan / shutterstock

Equally known and popular as a hiking route through the Altmühl Valley is the approx. 200-kilometre-long “Altmühltal Panorama Trail” from Gunzenhausen via Beilngries to Kelheim, which offers attractions such as the castles of Kipfenberg, Pappenheim and Prunn, the baroque bishop’s town of Eichstätt as well as Weltenburg Monastery from the 8th century and the Danube breakthrough at the “Weltenburger Enge”.

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Other recommended hiking trails through the Altmühl Valley are, for example, the “Jurasteig” (70 kilometres), the “Pilgrims’ Trail” (130 kilometres) and the “Way of St. James” from Nuremberg to Eichstätt (97 kilometres) as well as the “Urdonautalsteig” from Dollnstein via Wellheim to Rennertshofen (85 kilometres) and the “Labertalweg” around Dietfurt (24 kilometres). The “Three Valleys Trail” from Neuburg to Ingolstadt (24 kilometres), the “Gredl Cycle Path” from Hilpoltstein to Greding (28 kilometres) and the 463-kilometre-long “Franconian Water Cycle Path”, which can be used in individual sections, also invite you to explore the region. An unforgettable experience is also a tour by boat through the Altmühltal Nature Park, for the 159 river kilometers long boat hiking route you need about 8 days. Rest areas and campsites can be found in or near Gungolding, Illbling, Inching and Kinding as well as Treuchtlingen, Eichstätt and Altendorf.

The Franconian Lake District is one of the most popular holiday areas in northern Bavaria

The Altmühltal simply invites you to hike, Image: Wolfgang Zwanzger / shutterstock

Water as the most important element also determines the Altmühlsee, which was artificially created between 1976 and 1985 and is now 4.5 km² in size near Ornbau and Merkendorf in the district of Weißenburg-Gunzenhausen southwest of Nuremberg. Since its creation, the water has been used intensively for swimming, sailing and surfing, and there are about 100 berths for boats in the Schlungenhof lake centre. The Altmühlsee is part of the surrounding “Franconian Lake District”, which is important for regional tourism, which also includes the Great and Small Brombachsee, the Dennenloher See as well as the Rothsee, the Igelsbachsee and the Hahnenkammsee. Well-attended regular events at the Altmühlsee in summer are the “Altmühlsee Festival” in the municipality of Muhr am See in June and the “Altmühlseelauf” in July.

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Holidaymakers will also find offers for water sports at the Großer Brombachsee, on the Kleiner Brombachsee are the nature reserves Grafenmühle as well as Sägmühle and Brombachmoor, which are well suited for hikes. The “Rothsee Triathlon” takes place every year at the end of June with over 2,000 participants. There is a beautiful beach in Enderndorf on Lake Igelsbach and in Hechlingen on Lake Hahnenkamm, which is also popular with anglers. Interesting excursion destinations in the immediate vicinity of Lake Dennenlohe are the 25-hectare rhododendron park around Dennenlohe Castle and the 40-hectare Roman Park Ruffenhofen.

The via ferratas in the Altmühl Valley have long attracted active holidaymakers from all over the world

The Altmühltal is also known nationwide and internationally as a challenging and scenically extremely attractive climbing area. In the Franconian Jura, “climbers” will find over a dozen via ferratas of different levels of difficulty. The “Altmühltaler Adventure Park” below the Hirschberg castle grounds in the municipality of Beilngries has a rock cellar labyrinth including an underground brewery museum worth seeing, a team training area as well as a forest adventure trail and a forest high ropes course.

In the “Pappenheim Forest Climbing Garden” in the city forest, the “Bambini Parcours” for young climbers and the long cable car attract many families. Open all year round and daily from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. is the “Waldhochseilgarten Hammertal” at the Naturfreundehaus in Sausthal-Kelheim. Directly on the Altmühltal Panorama Trail and Altmühltal Cycle Path is the 45-metre-high climbing rock “Burgsteinfelsen” near Breitenfurt and Dollnstein, which is considered one of the most beautiful geotopes in Bavaria and often serves alpinists as a training opportunity. For over 100 years, the versatile climbing areas in the primeval Danube Valley near Wellheim have enjoyed a great reputation. Among the most famous routes are the “Dohlenfelsen” in the Konstein area, the “Weiße Wand” and the “Fensterlwand” in the Aicha area as well as the “Felsengarten”, the “Lochwand” and the “Oberländer Turm” in the Oberland area.