The Franconian Lake District has a natural appearance, but is man-made. A wonderful side effect of the massive re-routing of water from south to north: it created real gems for leisure time. At Altmühl, Tauber, Main and others, everything has always flowed smoothly in this regard. Text: Christian Haas
Lake District or Main?
Florian Gruber is a European, world and multiple German champion in kitesurfing. And together with father and trainer Erwin he runs a surfing school on the Brombachsee. If the competition calendar permits, the 27-year-old leads the courses himself, also including windsurfing and stand-up paddling. Other suppliers also rely on wind and waves.
Those who find kiting too hard – from a technical wind perspective – and feel the same about surfing and sailing, they can try their luck on water skis. The Brombachsee Wakepark on the Absberg Peninsula offers the best conditions for this. It consists of a practice facility and was expanded in 2019 by a 600-metre-long round lift. With ten features, beginners and advanced users alike can find exactly the thrill they are looking for.
Especially with water sports courses, one day is not enough. So it’s good that there is plenty of accommodation in the area. Luxury on the water: overnight guests at the “Floating Village Brombachsee”. Since 2018, there have been 19 floating, comfortable holiday homes at the Ramsberg port. More down-to-earth nature-lovers are spoilt for choice at “Forest camping on the Großer Brombachsee” between safari tents, circus wagons, glamping barrels as well as trolls and pods, small huts with a great deal of flair.
Beachside in Franconia
No matter where you stay: in the daytime, most are drawn by the Altmühl, Großer or Kleiner Brombachsee or one of the four significantly smaller lakes in the Franconian Lake District. No wonder: most of the water bodies, which were excavated from Franconian soil between 1970 and 2000 as part of a mammoth project, have excellent water quality.
Dozens of bathing areas offer uninterrupted splashing and swimming fun. Some places even have sun loungers in the sand, for example at the Igelsbachsee leisure complex near Enderndorf. Some four kilometres away in Allmannsdorf, the popular open-air bar “Sand & Sofa” has been open since 2020.
The Franconian water cycle
The Franconian water cycle trail is a good way to get to know all the lakes and rivers – plus many historic places (Ansbach, Beilngries) and castles (Hilpoltstein, Abenberg). If you are fit enough, you can cycle the entire 460-kilometre trail. You can also choose smaller sections.
The lake tour connects the Igelsbachsee, the towns of Spalt (tip: the HopfenBierGut Museum) and Roth (including a detour to the Rothsee), it also leads past the Dennenloher Lake and around the Altmühlsee to Gunzenhausen. At the water playground there, children can get wet at the Walder Altmühl thanks to wooden and suspension bridges, stepping stones and Kneipp lifts.
So much splashing around makes you hungry. Fortunately, kiosks, cafés and beer gardens await nearby. The “Fish Weeks in the Franconian Lake District” held in many places in the spring certainly sound more promising from a culinary point of view, with char, carp and other fish specialities in many variations.
Altmühltal: going with the flow
The most beautiful way to get to know the nearly 3,000 square kilometre Nature Park Altmühltal, which starts at Gunzenhausen, is by canoe. Good to know: the Altmühl flows very slowly and is therefore ideal for beginners and families with children. The stretch between Dollnstein and Eichstätt is a prime example of the 150 kilometres of river to Kelheim, thanks to rocky slopes with typical juniper and rough grassland vegetation.
The many fossils are also typical of the Altmühltal valley. In the quarry on Blumenberg above the town of Eichstätt, amateur archaeologists can try their luck themselves. The fruits of stone tapping can be marvelled at in the Jura Museum on the slope opposite: an original archaeopteryx, made in Altmühltal.
Or maybe Pegnitz and Regnitz?
The Pegnitz, Regnitz and Main Valleys, among others, prove that other valleys also contain cultural and natural treasures. The most beautiful section on the Main is probably between the ruins of Karlsburg and Wertheim. Cyclists should consider stopping there. It is not for nothing that the “Liebliches Taubertal – der Klassiker” cycle trail is one of Germany’s most popular routes.
One reason for this is probably the kitsch backdrop of woods, meadows, water and vineyards. Another reason, which also applies to the hiking trail running along a similar route: the enormous accumulation of historic monasteries, gardens, castles and towns.
“A walk through Taubertal is a walk through German history, a walk through the old Empire”, a common quote says. Although this probably dates from a time when even Florian Gruber's great-great-grandfather was not yet born, it is still relevant. Anyone who passes through the Tauber in Rothenburg ob der Tauber will confirm this.