The Lahn. This river should really have several different names: It changes its identity as often as it changes its temperament and appearance across 245 kilometres through North Rhine-Westphalia, Hessen and Rhineland-Palatinate. Close to the source it is slow and sleepy like an indecisive stream; it then ripples and murmurs through dense green lands and old towns before finally streaming in full flow, broad and powerful. This river is certainly never boring. And just like a person with many facets and talents, the Lahn attracts a range of fans: canoeists who love the idyllic landscape; serious and amateur cyclists looking for varied cycle routes; walkers completing the Lahnwanderweg trail; culture vultures who love the towns and their architecture; and people looking for a quiet, relaxing holiday.
The Lahn is not the only body of water in the region with something to offer; there are also lots of intact wetlands in the north-east of the Burgwald, where walking trails like the “Franzosenwiesen” (French meadows), “Christenberg” and “Rotes Wasser” (red water) offer interesting excursions in the most forested part of Hessen. Meanwhile, the region’s many bubbling springs offer plenty of refreshment and revitalisation. They were found by the ancients and have been the source of well-known mineral waters like Selters and Karlssprudel for centuries. There are plenty of opportunities to enjoy these natural treasures, both indoors and outside. From Bad Laasphe, where the river has its source, to Bad Ems near the mouth of the Rhine, holidaymakers can enjoy an extensive range of thermal baths and mineral springs. The Gertudisbrunnen in Biskirchen is especially spectacular – mineral water rises from the depths of the earth at a fault block caused by an elevation in the Rhenish Slate Mountains.
The 250-kilometre Lahntalradweg isn’t an overly taxing cycle route but it does reveal the full range of delights offered by this unique river landscape. It takes you along quiet back roads and well-made cycle routes, through lively towns like Marburg and Limburg and romantic villages full of timber-framed buildings. You’ll also cycle past lush floodplain meadows, unspoilt wetlands and defiant castles. Together with its natural banks, the river provides a habitat for a great range of plants, which in turn provide food and protection for endangered animal species. The Lahn-Ohm and Lahn-Dill riverbank associations offer lots of interesting encounters for nature lovers; alternatively, you can enjoy watching the birds at Martinsweiher near Niederwalgern. And there is always something wonderful to admire, telling the tale of the dialogue between man and river. The Lahn Window at the weir of the Kinkel'schen Mühle mill in Giessen represents a unique natural spectacle: A serpentine “fish ladder” allows migratory fish to travel upstream to reach their spawning grounds. The panoramic window reveals an impressive insight into the underwater world of the Lahn River.
Passionate cyclists will also love the many detours into the tributary valleys, which can be easily combined with a bike ride along the River Lahn. Options include the 42-kilometre Dilltalradweg, which runs from Haiger to the Goethe town of Wetzlar; or the Salzböderadweg, which runs along the Salzböde river at the Kneipp spa town of Bad Endbach and takes you past the Lahn-Dill-Bergland-Therme spa. The Aartalseeradweg, the Seenradweg in the Lahn-Dill-Bergland and the Ohm-Radweg to the north of Marburg, taking you past historical bridges and mills into the Amöneburger Becken geological depression, all offer insights into the extremely diverse landscape of the region. Fans of this area have known for a while that you need to stay for more than just a weekend if you want to truly get to know the Lahn Valley and its diverse surroundings. Or you could just come back for a second visit!