If you long for secluded nature, romantic villages and regional moments of pleasure, the Sauerland has it all. And much more besides. Because this little corner of Germany can be discovered in a wonderfully relaxed yet active way – with a touch of adventure.
The best way to explore the German low mountain range region, which stretches over Westphalia, is from the saddle. Cycle through mystically beautiful forests, along lush green meadows and on the trail of history and fall into rural bed in the evening. Welcome to the Sauerland.
In this article I give you seven tips for a varied active holiday in the Sauerland – wellness happiness and culinary highlights included.
#1 cycling on old railway tracks
If you spend your holiday in the Sauerland without getting on your bike, you have definitely missed something. Because in the Sauerland, beautiful, mostly asphalted cycle paths await you, which lead through beautiful nature and picture book landscapes. The well-signposted SauerlandRadring winds its way through the region for 84 kilometres, linking the towns of Finnentrop, Eslohe, Schmallenberg and Lennestadt. Some sections are particularly picturesque along an old railway line, and relics of bygone times can be seen along the route time and again.
The HenneseeSchleife circular cycle path is ideal for a day trip. The 40 kilometre-long tour takes you along the banks of the Hennesee and the dam of the reservoir. Afterwards you cycle through Meschede along the Ruhr and on through the Wennetal nature reserve to Eslohe.
Don’t underestimate the gradients that the cycle paths in the Sauerland have to offer. It is not for nothing that it is also called the “Land of a thousand mountains”. If you like to be a little more relaxed, get off your bike for breaks and exploratory tours and are not so keen on top sporting performance, I recommend e-bikes.
#2 SUP on the Hennesee
The lakeside landscape of the Henneseesee is not only a pure pleasure for cyclists. In many places it is worth getting off the saddle and enjoying the proximity to the water. Three bays invite you to swim and sunbathe in the warm season. In Berghauser Bucht you can also let off steam playing beach volleyball.
The lake is also an eldorado for water sports enthusiasts. I dared to get on a stand up paddle board for the first time in the Sauerland and immediately caught fire for this trend sport, where you glide over the water in such a wonderful meditative way. At Wassersport Hennesee you can rent the boards at fair prices or book various tours, such as SUP Yoga. Kayaks and Canadians are also available for hire.
#3 strolling through idyllic villages
Anyone who, like me, has a weakness for half-timbered houses and slate facades will not be able to escape the rapture in the villages and small towns of the Sauerland. Saalhausen in particular has completely captivated me. One lovingly restored half-timbered house follows the next and the Lenne, a tributary of the Ruhr, winds its way through the middle of it.
Schmallenberg with its historic old town and numerous cafés and restaurants is also great for strolling. Sallinghausen near Eslohe seems like something out of a picture book. Peaceful tranquillity surrounds the landscape around the little village of almost 60 inhabitants. Horses graze in front of a chapel and pretty houses stretch up the hillside. Should I ever look for a place to retreat and write a novel, Sallinghausen would be my place to be.
#4 enjoying the silence
Switch off, recharge your batteries and breathe in the spicy forest air. Stroll through nature without time pressure or cycle through nature. One of the things I enjoyed most in the Sauerland was the wonderful peace and quiet in the region. Shortly after my arrival I was in the middle of it all, in time-out mode.
Whether on the lake, in the villages or even on the saddle, I never experienced crowds or crowded cycle paths at any point. And when the tour sometimes runs parallel to the country road, shortly afterwards, far away from the noise of traffic, you roll through romantic valleys and the native jungle.
Of course, you can also find cosy overnight accommodation for a relaxing break in the Sauerland. I can highly recommend the Forellenhof Poggel in Eslohe and the Pension Möser in Saalhausen.
#5 Feasting through the Sauerland
Whether you explore the Sauerland on foot or from the saddle, numerous gastronomic highlights along the way invite you to linger and enjoy. One of my favourites is the H1 am See. On the terrace of the restaurant you will be served delicious soups, burgers or cakes – with a wonderful view of the Hennesee.
In Schmallenberg, the decision is not easy with all the choice of cafés and restaurants. For all friends of Italian cuisine, we recommend the Bacio on Schützenplatz. The Café Zeit am Wasserrad, which is known above all for tasty cakes, is idyllically situated in the countryside.
About 11 kilometres away from Schmallenberg, you can let yourself be pampered at the Hotel Restaurant Flurschütz. Here you can enjoy regional dishes and craft beer from our own distillery. A wonderful place for coffee and cake in the afternoon is the Hofcafé Heinemann in Lennestadt.
#6 Experience history
History enthusiasts go into raptures in the Sauerland. You can experience a piece of railway history on the SauerlandRadring. Until 1966, trains still jerked through the landscape on about half of the 84-kilometre-long circular cycle path. Today, the paths have been extended for cyclists. But you can still feel the traces of bygone times. In addition to old signal lamps and carriages, the Kückelheim “bat tunnel” is a real highlight. You can cycle or walk a proud 700 metres through the dark subway. Pure goose bumps!
On the outskirts of Finnentrop, behind an inconspicuous gate, a true architectural feast for the eyes is revealed: the listed Bamenohl House, surrounded by a picturesque landscape garden. Lenhausen has another jewel to admire. A water castle from the 14th century, which was converted into a castle in the 17th century.
#7 Wellness in the spa gardens
Recharge your batteries at peaceful water landscapes, stimulate your circulation in a Kneipp pool and swing in hammocks on the riverbank. What would a holiday be without wellness moments. The climatic health resort Saalhausen is predestined for relaxation and well-being. A few years ago a unique vitality park was created in the village.
Besides a barefoot path, a panoramic swing and a water labyrinth, you will also find a music pavilion in the spa gardens. During the warm season your ears will be pampered at concerts here.
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*This article was supported by the Sauerland-Radwelt e.V. The experiences and adventures described remain unaffected.