Blick auf Kelheim mit Donau und Befreiungshalle_© Manja Wolf

Blick auf Kelheim mit Donau und Befreiungshalle_© Manja Wolf

The Five Rivers

The romantic bike tour connects the five river valleys, each of which is different from the other, and each has its own unmistakable charm. The Danube is a name known to all. The Altmühl – and the idyllic Altmühl Valley – is likewise known to many. But very few are familiar with the rivers Pegnitz, Vils and Naab! They are true secrets, far removed from the well-worn tourist paths.

Below you will find information on the main players in the Five River Bike Trail.


Europe’s second longest river bubbles up in the southern part of the Black Forest. As it travels east, it crosses Germany, Austria, Hungary, Croatia and Serbia. It forms a natural border between Bulgaria and Romania before it terminates after almost 3000 kilometres into a large delta in the Black Sea. History-rich cities and dazzling metropoles line its banks like pearls on a strand.


The Altmühl bubbles up near Rothenburg ob der Tauber and flows almost 200 kilometres southeast before is joins the Danube near Kelheim. There are different interpretations of the name with Celtic origins. Thus it could have been put together from the Celtic word roots of ‘alk’ (very) and ‘moin’ or ‘mun’ (calm, quiet, mild), which leads back to the speed at which the Altmühl flows: It is one of the slowest and lowest sloped rivers in all of Germany.


The Pegnitz originates at the Schlossberg in the village of Pegnitz in Franken. From there, the river flow to Nuremberg, where it branches off several times painting stripes through the city. After approx. 115 kilometres, the Pegnitz joins the Rednitz to form the Regnitz near Fürth. The river has been an important factor in the economy of the region since the Middle Ages due to its abundance of fish and driving power for numerous mills.


The river bubbles up in Kleinschönbrunn, north of the city of Amberg and heads fairly consistently due south from Vilseck. After approx. 90 kilometres, it runs into the Naab near Kallmünz. The Vils has impacted the region significantly, not just the landscape. In the Middle Ages, it was a significant transportation route for iron that was mined in the area. For a century, its water powered mills and forges. Still today, numerous castles brink the banks to stand witness to the former abundance of their lords.


Its name originates from the indo-germanic word ‘nebh’, which had many meanings such as ‘moist’ or ‘water’ and which was found in variants of ‘Nabas’ back to the early Middle Ages. The river originates in the Upper Palatinate forest and flows a good 150 kilometres into the Danube. On its way south, it passes the unmistakable - sometimes wildly jagged - landscape of the Bavarian Jura. Steep protruding cliffs on the left and right of the river valley, sharply ascending rock cliffs left and right of the river valley, dreamy backwaters and a rich flora and fauna adorn the course of the river.