Glorious routes of varying categories, hiking friendly accommodations, idyllic and diverse landscapes and a network of trails with excellent way-markers: unpacking your hiking boots in Germany is sure to put a smile on your face.
Forests, meadows, vineyards, mudflats - this is the land of hiking Germany
Close your eyes and let yourself be acoustically enchanted by the diverse impressions on your journey through Germany!
Forests, meadows, vineyards, mudflats … the network of trails in the hiking country of Germany covers an incredible 300,000 kilometers. Conni Karcher from Schwarzwald Tourismus shares that hikers will find a particularly wide variety of landscapes on the Westweg, an elevated trail in the Black Forest.
OST Westweg, Black Forest: Diversity
Woman: There are moors, high moors, heath landscapes, grinde landscapes. You pass through the national park, through protected forests, coniferous forests, gorges and even through orchards and vineyards. What I personally find most impressive are the Murg valley with the hay hut valleys, the Blindensee nature reserve with its many great boardwalks and the Feldberg with its 360-degree panoramic view.
The Brocken is to the Harz what the Feldberg is to the Black Forest. Andreas Lehmberg from the Harzer Tourismusverband explains that hikers encounter more than just mountain mysticism and witch stories on the Harzer Hexenstieg, or the Witch’s Trail, which is one of the most popular long-distance hiking trails.
OST Harzer Hexenstieg
Man: The Brocken is a highlight because you can travel up there in the steam trains. Then we have the Bode Valley, which is really spectacular. It is called the Grand Canyon of the Harz, where you go over the Devil’s Bridge, where the Bode flows thunderously below you and you have the real character of a gorge, which you usually only get in high mountains.
In addition to the Grand Canyon of the Harz, visitors can also hike along the Great Barrier Reef of the Lahn Valley. Master stonemason Wolfgang Höler shares that a trip to the former quarry in Villmar, Hesse, is like a short trip Down Under, thanks to an Australian researcher.
OST Hesse: Lahn
Man: It is all thanks to this Australian geologist who saw the deposits here and said: “It’s so interesting here. You have to do something, because the same creatures that build the Great Barrier Reef back home have been here since the Devonian period in the Paleozoic era.” Those were the first suggestions that drove us to action: we polished the wall and opened it to the public.
Completely different animals await guests in the Lüneburg Heath in Lower Saxony. Guido Neumann from Hamburg Tourismus recommends a hike on the Heidschnuckenweg, especially when the heath is in bloom in August and September.
Man: There are sheep called Heidschnucke on the heath, a type of sheep that graze there. It is very picturesque. There are even actual shepherds who move across the heath with the flocks of Heidschnucke. Sometimes you can come across a flock on your walk. Since it is now also a tourist attraction, shepherds can usually be seen along the trail.
Hikers also encounter sheep along the dikes on Lower Saxony’s North Sea coast and on signposted mudflat trails between the Schleswig-Holstein mudflat islands. Around Sylt, Amrum and Föhr, hikers can expect bay mud instead of forest soil, tidal creeks rather than streams and all kinds of sea creatures instead of deer, according to Philipp Queiser from Schleswig-Holstein Tourismus.
OST Schleswig-Holstein: Mudflat hiking
Man: There is a lot to discover in the mudflats. Of course, lugworms, mussels or other small animals, crabs, fish and seals. The grey seal, native to the Wadden Sea, is Germany’s largest predator! But there are also birds such as gannets, oystercatchers, eider ducks, gulls, terns, sandpipers. The Wadden Sea is also home to more than a thousand different ferns and flowering plants, and anyone who has ever experienced a sunrise on the Wadden Sea can correctly describe it as a magical moment.
Hikers experience magical moments and solitary expanses with nature as a sole companion in the Uckermark Lakes Nature Park. Patrick Kastner from Reiseland Brandenburg shares that the Uckermärker Landrunde quality hiking trail begins in Brenzlau.
OST Brandenburg: Uckermärker Landrunde
Man: This is an extremely sparsely populated area, ideal for relaxation and experiencing nature. You should definitely book accommodation in advance and also take a packed lunch, because not every location has restaurants and accommodation. But that’s just the beauty of the Uckermark: that you can truly experience open spaces and nature . It is an extremely beautiful trail.
That’s what painters like Caspar David Friedrich, Ludwig Richter and Bernardo Bellotto thought when they came to Saxon Switzerland. Veronika Hiebl from the Tourismus Marketing Gesellschaft Sachsen explains that the most famous painting scenes are now commemorated by 14 display boards along the Malerweg, which is the king of hiking trails in the Sandstone Mountains.
OST Saxony: Malerweg
Woman: This story begins as far back as the mid-18th century, with the first important landscape painter to dedicate himself to these rocky worlds in Saxon Switzerland: Johann Alexander Thiele. The art academy in Dresden was also founded during this period. As a result, some of Europe’s best painters came to the region and soon a favorite path for painters crystallized, which still fascinates visitors today as much as the painters of that time.
But not only are the beautiful landscapes fascinating. Silke Dames from Tourismus NRW shares that the Baldeney Trail around Lake Baldeney near Essen offers lots of ups and downs, great panoramic views and a whole lot of industrial romance.
OST Baldeney Trail, Essen, North Rhine-Westphalia
Woman: You pass by the Villa Hügel, a residence of the Krupps, the old Kupferdreh train station or relics of industrial culture, an old conveyer frame. And if the 600 meters of altitude are too strenuous, you can take a shortcut, for example, aboard a boat of the Baldeney white fleet from one shore to another. You don’t have to hike up and down the entire 30 kilometers.
The 180-kilometer hike across the UNESCO Rhön Biosphere Reserve takes a full nine days. Katharina Happel from Rhön Tourismus explains that the Hochrhöner trail runs from Bad Kissingen in Bavaria through unspoiled landscapes in Hesse all the way to Thuringia.
OST Rhön: The Hochrhöner trail
Woman: On the moors, for example, where you are guided by plank paths through the mystical landscape. It is a very open landscape on the Black Moor. On the Red Moor, on the other hand, there are plenty of birch trees, making for a very different moor experience. There are mountain lakes that are very pristine, and in addition, we have a lot of hikers’ cabins in the Rhön.
The Thuringian Forest is also known for its rustic huts, which is where the trail finally ends. Thuringian hiking expert Katja Bauroth shares that the Rennsteig, the oldest long-distance hiking trail in Germany, is only a few kilometers north of Bad Salzungen.
OST Bauroth, Thuringia: The Rennsteig trail
Woman: The Rennsteig is a beautiful, long hiking trail that can also be completed in several stages. What is so special about it is that it is on a ridge, which means that you always have great views. In particular, the pristine nature of the forest there is very special. A stop for refreshments is also recommended. There are amazing huts, where you should definitely try the Thuringian bratwurst.
I’m not sure if the Bratwurst is what makes the Rennsteig the most frequented long-distance hiking trail in Germany: it has around 100,000 hikers per year.