Eine Frau im Rollstuhl und ein Mann genießen den Blick auf die Donau von der Befreiungshalle aus
Full speed ahead in the Danube canyon

Epic adventures set against a river landscape: the highlights in Kelheim’s holiday region can also be experienced by wheelchair users. Out and about, taking in giant crystals, amazing dragons and marble with a resonating effect

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Accessible Kelheim Holiday Region

The goddesses of victory stand tall and proud. And they’re not going anywhere: their good mood has lasted since 1863. In that year, the “Befreiungshalle” (Liberation Hall) was opened on the Michelsberg high above Kelheim, on the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Leipzig, and as an early memorial to German unity.

King Ludwig I is said to have burst into tears with enthusiasm. The building – comprising a giant dome at a height of 45 metres – has lost none of its ability to impress, even in the era of skyscrapers.

Marion Huber-Schallner has been here many times and is fascinated with each new visit: “For me, it’s like travelling back in time. And I admire the creative power of the people who erected such a monument without any major technical aids,” says the third mayor and inclusion and disability representative of the city of Abensberg. As a wheelchair user, she is particularly pleased that it is now possible to visit the iconic landmark without any barriers.

Barrierefreier Schiffsanleger in Kelheim

Nowadays, a lift can overcome the obstacle of a steep staircase. A lot has changed since the times of King Ludwig; and with that, fortunately, inclusion is no longer an alien concept.

This also applies to the small Danube cruise. In the small park at the top of the Liberation Hall, giant trees frame the perfect view of the cliffs in the Danube valley (some reaching up to 70 metres in height), between which the river squeezes through just before Kelheim.

The journey through this breakthrough point in the Danube starts down in the city. Kelheim has three historic town gates, the Danube Gate leads straight to the ship mooring area. There, the ships start their journey.

The “Weltenburger Enge” nature reserve became Bavaria’s first National Natural Monument in 2020, and is a habitat for rare plants and animals. With a bit of luck, you might spot one of the eagle owls breeding in the rock niches.

“Bavaria’s heart”: Treasures of Kelheim

The spectacular cruise takes about an hour, then you’ll find yourself at the Weltenburg monastery, which has defied the floods for 1,200 years. The location at the bend of the river is unique, the monastery beer of the “Klosterschenke” is legendary. On this autumn day, the mist lies over the valley and nature is nothing short of an array of different colours.

“Nature has been forging its own path here for thousands of years, and even though I only witness a millisecond of it compared to Earth’s history, I have noticed changes myself over the course of my life,” says Huber-Schallner.

For her, the excursion is an experience to be enjoyed in all weather and at all times of the year; she is usually out and about on her handbike. That’s because, conveniently, the monastery is a stop on the handbike version of the “Weltenburg Tour”, which also runs through her hometown of Abensberg, known for the Bavarian dynasty of the Babons.

Frau im Rollstuhl auf dem barrierefreien Schiffsanleger in Kehlheim
Frau im Rollstuhl mit Begleitperson genießt die Aussicht von einem Schiff auf der Donau in Kelheim, mit Blick auf die Befreiungshalle

The holiday region around Kelheim is an exciting mix of culture, nature, tradition and earth history. Hiking and cycling tours in the Altmühl and Danube valleys are popular, as are refreshing visits to the thermal baths in Bad Abbach and Bad Gögging. The aim of the tourism association is to transform this area into an experience for as many people as possible. Together with restaurateurs, hoteliers, leisure providers and municipalities, ever more accessible offers are being created.

Crystal Museum Riedenburg: Bling-Bling in XL

You’ll also find plenty of history along the trail in Riedenburg. This pretty little town on the Main-Danube Canal has three castles. The Scholz-Veits family’s accessible crystal museum offers a glittering display of the earth’s history.

Huge tourmalines shine there in all their splendour, and the centrepiece of the collection – which was gathered from all continents – is the largest rock crystal group in the world: 

The eight-tonne block with its crystal-clear peaks and columns is reminiscent of the Ice Queen’s giant castle.

Short films provide information about where the large rock crystal was found and how it was mined, or about the formation of diamonds and tourmalines. In addition, the “little crystal hedgehog” explains the topics in a child-friendly way in another six films. The museum shop sells gemstone jewellery, which fortunately comes in smaller sizes, ... and the “Fasslwirtschaft” next door offers regional delicacies to be savoured.

Großer Kristall im Riedenburger Kristallmuseum

On the way back to Kelheim, we make a pitstop in Essing. This colourful little village on the rock faces below Randeck Castle looks like a medieval, idyllic film set, and is correspondingly serene. The sculptures and installations along the art trail, which accompanies visitors along the banks of the Altmühl branch, are truly inspiring. Like a dragon, the “Tatzelwurm” Bridge at the entrance to the town winds its way across the Main-Danube Canal. At 193 metres, it is one of the longest wooden bridges in Europe and is also accessible by wheelchair. From the bridge, there are great views of Essing, the Randeck castle ruins and down into the Altmühl valley.

Frau im Rollstuhl im Shop des Kristallmuseum Riedenburg
Frau im Rollstuhl betrachtet ein Ausstellungsstück im Kristallmuseum in Riedenburg

An outside tip: “Hundertwasser” in Abensberg

As a parting gift, Marion Huber-Schallner has a tip from her home region: “One highlight in our region for me is the colourful Kuchlbauer Tower and the KunstHaus in Abensberg. The tower belongs to the Kuchlbauer wheat beer brewery – designed by Friedensreich Hundertwasser – with its bright colours and slanted walls, puts me in a good mood, and always takes my mind off things. At KunstHaus, a place just as colourful and quirky as the tower, I can always discover something new in the works of the Austrian artist.”

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