The Wadden Sea ecosystem, where the seabed blends seamlessly into the horizon, has so much more to offer than just the mud flats, which are dried out and flooded to the rhythm of the ebb and flow of the tide. Salt marshes, dunes and beaches also add to the stunning landscape of the Wadden Sea UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site, which includes the Schleswig-Holstein and Lower Saxony Wadden Sea National Parks. This exceptional natural environment is home to more than 10,000 species of flora and fauna. Here, you can experience the mud flats up close by taking your pick from no end of activities in, on and along them. What better way to broaden your own horizons?
The Wadden Sea within the North Sea is the world's largest system of tidal flats and one of the last remaining areas in Europe where natural processes occur largely undisturbed by man. Guided tours of the flats provide a fascinating insight into the Wadden Sea's role as a habitat. When the tide is out, it is possible to walk on the seabed, moving from island to island and hearing the expert tour guides talk about the animals and plants that call the national parks home. You can even hop on your bike and explore the vast world of the Wadden Sea as you pedal along the embankments. Keen birdwatchers and photographers should ideally visit during the spring and autumn, when the Wadden Sea becomes a popular resting spot for millions of migratory birds. There's no better time to admire our feathered friends and capture some spectacular shots.
There are many information centres along the coast, so you can learn all about the Wadden Sea's ecosystem whatever the weather. At the Multimar Wattforum National Park Centre in the quaint harbour village of Tönning, there's an interactive exhibition featuring lots of aquariums and themed events are held here too. Cuxhaven and Wilhelmshaven are home to further national park centres.
You can get to the Schleswig-Holstein Wadden Sea National Park via Hamburg, where you can take regional trains to destinations such as Husum, Niebüll and Westerland on the island of Sylt.
If you want to visit the Lower Saxony Wadden Sea National Park, you'll need to come via Norddeich Mole, Cuxhaven, Wilhelmshaven or the Norden and Sande train stations.
You can find the best train route here or on the DB Navigator app.
Top tip: Make sure you enter your exact starting and finishing points when searching for a route.
For example: Stephensonstrasse 1, Frankfurt am Main to Dithmarscher Strasse 6, Tönning.
You can also find international super saver fares on the Deutsche Bahn website.
Getting around the local area
Both national parks have excellent cycle paths and cycle hire points, so you'll have plenty of opportunity to explore by bike (standard and electric models are available). Buses and ferries are the best way to get about once you're on the islands or in the coastal resorts. There are no cars on many of the islands in the Lower Saxony Wadden Sea National Park, leaving you to enjoy nature in peace without having to worry about traffic and busy roads.
You can find out more about getting around in the local area here:
Lower Saxony Wadden Sea
Schleswig-Holstein Wadden Sea
Black Forest National Park and
The two nature parks in the Black Forest promise unforgettable experiences surrounded by nature and a stunning cultural landscape. The national park is a little bit on the wilder side, with perfectly intact habitats that provide undisrupted homes for native flora and fauna.
Thuringian Forest Biosphere Reserve and
The oldest and best-known hiking trail in Germany, the Rennsteig, covers almost 170 km through the region in the centre of Germany, linking the Thuringian Forest Nature Parks and UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. It sure does pay to be well connected!