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The slow-flowing Altmühl River in Bavaria is a canoeing paradise, with lovely scenery and interesting small towns along the way.
There are many reasons to fall in love with Altmühl Valley Nature Park. Situated about 100 km north of Munich, Bavaria’s capital, it offers serene nature, many cycling tracks, and a slow-moving river that gives it all a special charm.
For someone like me living in nearby Ingolstadt, Altmühl Valley is definitely a great choice for an adventure-packed weekend. Covering 3,000 square kilometers at the heart of Bavaria, it is one of Germany’s largest nature parks, and unsurprisingly there are loads of possibilities for outdoor activities. I often go there with my boyfriend to go cycling or to enjoy sunbathing and swimming at the lovely Pfraundorfer See.
In this article, I would like to share with you our favorite canoeing tour in Altmühl Valley. I have already done this tour twice, and on the most recent time I managed to get some pictures for this article. This trip is definitely worth sharing! It can even be done as a day trip from Munich, although the scenery is so magical that I would recommend spending the whole weekend there.
Why you should try canoeing
Let’s be honest: one really doesn’t need any special skills for doing canoeing. It’s perfect for anyone looking to enjoy some time in nature and do some light exercise at the same time.
So, why should you definitely give is canoeing a try?
- It makes you spend time in the fresh air. Even if you’re just taking part in a gentle paddle, being outside and close to nature can lower your stress levels. You will sleep better and feel happier.
- You’ll get closer to nature. Waterway wildlife is generally less shy around paddlers, so you’ll spot things that walkers and cyclists rarely get to see.
- It’s a great workout for your shoulders. Canoeing makes use of most of the muscles in your arms and shoulders – it’s wonderful for toning your upper body. If you do it regularly, you will definitely get stronger.
- The whole family can get involved. Canoeing is a very accessible sport and is great for kids and adults alike. As Altmühl is one of the slowest rivers in Germany, it’s definitely a great choice even for first-timers.
- It’s rather inexpensive. Canoeing is cheaper than you might think. You don’t need to go out and buy all of the equipment; renting it is quite a reasonable price in Altmühl Valley. Plus, the company will drive you to the starting point as well as pick you up at the end.
About our experience
Canoeing is definitely one of the best ways to experience Altmühl Valley. We did a 12-kilometer tour from Kipfengerg to Kratzmühle. It’s about 3,5 hours of paddling, plus breaks. Overall, it was a great day spent out in nature.
After a making a telephone reservation (to be sure we could get a boat that day), we arrived at the service station at Pfraundorfer See in order to get the boats and pay the fees. We did the trip with KANUUH (the only company that we found providing day rentals in this area).
The rental cost for one boat (for two people) was 55 EUR. If you are family, you can get bigger boats (suitable for 2 adults + 2 children) for 70 EUR. The prices include lifejackets and everything else you need for your tour. Not that the normal canoeing season is from April to September/October.
As soon as we got our boats, they brought us to the starting point in Kipfenberg (Address: 85110 Kipfenberg, Försterstr. 47b). There they gave us a short safety demonstration, showing us how to use all the equipment. Then we set out and canoed along at a slow pace, enjoying the scenery and the pleasant workout. We started around 10 am and finshed at 3 pm; tthe endpoint was situated at Pfraundorfer See and that is where we returned the boats.
You can do it much faster if you do it in one go, but we took it easy and made a stop in Kinding to have lunch (and beer!) in a local restaurant. This was a fun stop and rounded out our overall experience.
When we returned the boats, we had a swim in the refreshing Pfraundorfer See (also called Kratzmühlsee). I definitely recommend spending some extra time here. It’s the largest swimmable lake in Altmühl Valley Nature Park. You can find a spot on the small island, or have coffee & cake in a local restaurant.
Tips for organizing a canoeing tour in Altmühltal Valley:
Select your route. Altmühl river provides a lot of opportunities, from the Altmühl Lake at Gunzenhausen to where the river flows into the Main-Danube Canal at Dietfurt is 120 km.
Plan your canoe rental. As I mentioned above, you don’t need to have any special equipment. It’s good enough to wear sporty clothes; the rest you get from the rental company.
Boat rentals are available from:
- Dietfurt bei Treuchtlingen (San Aktiv, tel 09831-4936)
- Treuchtlingen: (Frankenboot, tel 09142-4645)
- Dollnstein: Geggs Bootsverleih (tel 08422-691)
- Eichstätt: Fahrradgarage, Herzoggasse 3 (tel 08421-2110); or Boote Glas, Industriestraße( tel 08421-3055)
- Beilngries: Christa Pfaller (tel 08461-8903)
Skip the summer season if you can. The best time to do canoeing in Altmühl Valley Nature Park is in spring and autumn. In the summer, the water levels are sometimes too low.
Bring flip flops. You will have to step in the water when getting on and off the boat. The maneuvering is easier if you are wearing flip flops or another kind of open shoes.
If you camp, do so only on the designated spots. You can even combine your canoeing tour with camping. The valley is really lovely, so you might be inspired to stay overnight. There are several places and campsites where this is possible. Note that locals are quick to report illegal camping to the police.
Adventure review: Canoeing in Altmühl Valley Nature Park
- Adventure factor - 60% 60%
- Fun factor - 80% 80%
- Danger factor - 30% 30%
Canoeing in Altmühltal Nature Park is an unforgettable experience. The Altmühl river, one of the slowest rivers in Germany, has over 160 kilometers that are accessible. No matter where you go, you will see beautiful countryside dotted with lovely little towns. Once you rent your equipment from one of the local tour agencies, you can look for a great day out in nature. With a little bit of luck, you may even spot some wildlife along the way. It’s definitely a great experience, and suitable for the whole family.