What once served as tracks connecting mountain villages now attract hikers and other tourists – at least those with a head for heights and a sense of adventure.
If you want to make a hike in the great outdoors a little more daring, then why not plan your next route around one of Germany's many via ferrata. These dedicated trails – which feature a series of iron ladders, pegs and steel cables – are a great introduction to the world of rock climbing, because on many of the routes there is no need for complicated ropes and safety techniques. Germany's via ferrata, known as klettersteige, range from simple rocky trails for families to overhanging paths at dizzying heights for more experienced climbers. All difficulty levels are catered for so you're sure to find something to suit.
From easy to extreme
The Schützensteig via ferrata is a fantastic beginner's route that rewards you with beautiful views of Lake Königssee and includes the Flying Fox zip wire for a bonus adventure. Those with a little more experience might like to try the mountain route to the Schärtenspitze peak in Berchtesgadener Land, which provides spectacular views of what remains of the Blaueis glacier. If you're looking to reach the summit of Mount Zugspitze, you'll need to tackle the challenging route through Höllental, or 'hell valley'. But via ferrata aren't just found in the Alps: in the Ruhr valley, for example, the Monte Thysso guides you through a disused steelworks. There are also routes in Saxon Switzerland and by the Romantic Rhine in Boppard, where the Mittelrhein-Klettersteig offers fabulous panoramic views and tricky climbs. Ultimately, if you have steady feet, a head for heights and a dash of courage, you will love the sense of accomplishment that comes from climbing a via ferrata. You'll find more information here.