The Lake District was created by an Act of the Bavarian Parliament (Landtag) in 1970 with the aim of transferring excess water from the rather "wet" Old Bavaria to the rather "dry" Franconia and as a secondary purpose for tourism, recreation and to boost the local economy. It would take several years until all lakes had reached their desired size and water level. The Lake District comprises 7 lakes and several “waters”. The total combined surface area of the lakes is about 20 km².
- 1 Great Brombach Lake (Großer Brombachsee). 8.7 km²
- 2 Small Brombach Lake (Kleiner Brombachsee). 2.5 km²
- 3 Igelsbach Lake (Igelsbachsee). 90 hectares (220 acres).
- 4 Altmühl Lake (Altmühlsee) (near Gunzenhausen). 4.5 km²
- 5 Roth Lake (Rothsee). 2.2 km²
- 6 Hahnenkammsee (Hahnenkammsee). 23 hectares (57 acres).
- 7 Dennenloher Lake (Dennenloher See). 22 hectares (54 acres).
The Franconian Lake District is comparable in size and infrastructure to the Upper Bavarian Lake District: the Altmühlsee, for example, is the same size as the Königssee, and the Große Brombachsee has the same area as the Tegernsee.
The biggest lake of the district is the Great Brombach Lake, a storage lake of about 12.7 km², with about 17.5 km (10.9 mi) of shoreline. Its depth is about 32 m. The scenic Small Brombach Lake is situated in the Brombach and Igelsbach valley. Full beaches and the activity on the water show the highly attractive nature of the recreational Small Brombach Lake. With its 2.5 km², the lake invites to people to go swimming, surfing, sailing, fishing, and boating.
The biggest European Trimaran passenger ship, "MS Brombachsee", crosses the Lake daily. The coastline is unspoiled; there are bike paths and hiking trails around the lake. Four recreational establishments and 1,000 sailboat berths make this an ideal surf and sailing destination. A great viewpoint is the Two-Lake-Place in Enderndorf am See.
The Altmühl Lake, situated in the broad valley of the Altmühl, sits between single villages and meadows. It was created as the first lake in the lake district and has a length of 4 km (2.5 mi) and an area of roughly 4.5 km². The ship "Gunzenhausen" crosses the lake.
The Roth lake, which is 2.2 km², is divided into a economic part and a swimming area. Surfing and sailing are possible in most parts. In the north western corner there is a large nature reserve. The Roth Lake also has three recreational areas.
- Cities, towns and villages
While the region is comparatively rural there are a few train lines and buses run under the VGN Verkehrserbund (meaning you can get one ticket for both train and bus) can get you all the way to the lake or your lodgings.
If you're arriving from further away, Nuremberg is the most likely point to change trains and the closest city with ICE service.
- 1 Roth station. Served by and regional trains this can be your entry-point into the region
- 2 Bahnhof Allersberg (Rothsee). A station on the Nuremberg-Ingolstadt high speed line served by regional trains. While it is right next to federal highway A9 and thus conveniently reachable by car, it is basically in the middle of nowhere and you'll need to take a bus or taxi to your final destination or take a bike with you to make much use of this station going into the area. The train serving it was rededicated "S5" with the December 2020 schedule change, but this "S-Bahn" line only serves this stop and Nuremberg main station
- 3 Bahnhof Hilpoltstein.
- 4 Bahnhof Pleinfeld.
- 5 Langlau station.
- 6 Bahnhof Gunzenhausen. Even served by the occasional IC train and some heritage trains from Nördlingen on weekends as well as regular regional trains from Würzburg/Ansbach and onwards to Pleinfeld
- 7 Muhr am See station.
An easy way to get into the region is to follow the Main-Danube Canal (which has bike paths along its banks) right until you get to Hilpoltstein and then heading on towards the Rothsee.
Autobahn A6 (Nuremberg–Heilbronn), exits Roth, Schwabach-West or Ansbach, or A9 (Nuremberg–Munich), exits Allersberg, Hilpoltstein or Greding; B2 from Augsburg, or B13 from Ingolstadt or Ansbach.
- 1 Burgruine Hilpoltstein.
- 2 Schloss Altenmuhr.
- 3 Infozentrum „Seenland – Wasser für Franken“ (Info center), ☏ . Daily 10:00-16:00. An info center on the hydrological background of the lakes as well as the villages and mills "swallowed" by the water free.
- Sailing and kite or windsurfing: freely accessible slipways, sailing harbors and boat berths; specially designated banks for surfers
- 1 Wakeboard and water ski, Zeltwiese Absberg, Badehalbinsel am Kleinen Brombachsee, 91720 Absberg, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Beginner courses every weekend during times of warm weather. Opened in 2016 and still being extended, this brings additional water sport fun to the region. Online booking and courses available.
- Fishing: eel, carp, tench, pike, pikeperch, catfish or lake trout are part of the lakes stock, fishing permits are available at the tourist information offices and other issuing points
The Franconian Lake District offers cyclists a variety of options. Both regional cycle paths (1500 km in total) and long-distance cycle paths lead through the region. Many landlords in the Franconian Lake District have adapted to the special wishes and needs of cycling holidaymakers and are certified as bike-friendly accommodations according to the guidelines of the Bavarian Hotel and Restaurant Association. Cyclists are very welcome here and can also rent a room for just one night. In some cases, there are also additional offers especially for cyclists.
Bike paths surround the small and large Brombachsee and Igelsbachsee Franconian Lake District Path, a cycle path that connects the three largest lakes. It is 66 km long and leads from Ornbau am Altmühlsee to Allersberg an den Rothsee, over the Brombachsee (variation when returning by train: Muhr am See to Roth).
- Altmühlsee: a circular route with a length of 12 km and 10 different cycle paths in the surrounding area between 18 and 42 km; *Storchenradwanderweg: "on the way with the stork in the Altmühltal" there are many stork nests along the route with 10 information boards about the white stork and its natural habitat.
- Großer Brombachsee, Igelbachsee and Rothsee: easy to get around by bike (short and flat stretches)
- Brombachsee to Altmühlsee: 11 km distance
- Tour to the European watershed: 32 km through the Hilpoltstein area
Tore-Türme-Schlösser-Radweg, a cultural tour through the Franconian Lake District past historical monuments from Roman times, the Middle Ages and the Baroque
Long-distance cycle paths
- Limes cycle path - from the Rhine to the Danube
- Altmühlweg and Altmühltal-Radweg - from Rothenburg ob der Tauber to Kelheim
- Burgenstrasse cycle path
- SandAchse cycle path (180 km - Bamberg to Weißenburg)
Bicycles are available for hire at numerous locations. 7-speed bikes cost, for example, 2 hours €4, 4 hours €7, a whole day €9.
Hikers will find over 1,500 km of marked hiking trails here, leading, for example, to the Spalter cherry and hops country, into the Weißenburg city and Mönchswald or around the lakes. The ridge of the Hahnenkamm around the Hahnenkammsee is also a particularly attractive hiking area.
- Circular hiking trail “Fränkisches Seenland Rundwanderweg” near Pleinfeld - the hiking trail leads through the surroundings of the small town on Brombachsee and provides 19 km of interesting insights into the nature of the lake district
- "All-Hi-Ro" trail on the Rothsee: connects Allersberg, Hilpoltstein and Roth with each other, the 31-km tour can also be hiked in several stages to see the sights along the way such as the castle in Hilpoltstein, Schloss Ratibor in Roth or the baroque Allersberg to visit
Mühlenweg from Hilpoltstein to Roth. It leads past 17 different mills Sandbockelweg near Pleinfeld. Children can test their senses at various stations, relax on talking benches or make themselves comfortable in the tent.
- Altmühltal-Panoramaweg: also begins in the Franconian Lake District and leads from Gunzenhausen for 200 km to Kelheim in the Altmühltal Nature Park.
- IVV hiking weeks Spalt - hikers can choose between two guided tours of 10 or 20 kilometers (there is also an IVV hiking trail about 10 kilometers long in Muhr am See)
In the Franconian Lake District, Nordic walkers will find signposted Nordic walking routes for all levels. Guided tours are offered, for beginners and advanced skiers (for example from the Seehof beach hotel in Langlau, Absberg or Haundorf).
- Gunzenhausen: In the footsteps of the Romans through the Burgstallwald with panels on gymnastics and technology
- Roth: Five routes from 2.7 to 12 km, mainly on natural soil, 2 routes are even illuminated at night
- Gap: six routes of different skill levels
- Pleinfeld: Nordic walking park on the eastern shore of the Brombach lake
To the north of the Altmühlsee lies the Merkendorfer Krautland, which is known for its centuries-long cultivation of cabbage. There are many dishes with Merkendorfer sauerkraut in the restaurants around the town of Merkendorf.
- 1 Zeltwiese Absberg camping, Zeltwiese Absberg, Badehalbinsel am Kleinen Brombachsee, 91720 Absberg, ☏ (M-F 09:00-17:00), ✉ email@example.com.
- Weißenburg in Bayern, 21 km southeast of Gunzenhausen
- Ansbach, 28 km northwest of Gunzenhausen
- Nuremberg, 30 km north of Roth
- Dinkelsbühl, 35 km west of Gunzenhausen