Your personal guide to planning a nature itinerary for your next German vacation.
As post-pandemic travel recovers, terms like over-tourism, zero-carbon travel and sustainable tourism have seen a greater interest by tourists of all likes. Threats to the conservation of local habitats and visible consequences of over-tourism have pushed globetrotters to engage in opportunities that sustain local livelihoods and offer key experiences that are worthwhile. With a constant demand for a rise in sustainable policies in travel and active work towards prioritizing health measures, wellness, nature and outdoor travel has set a strong foot in the industry.
If these items tick your list, Germany’s bespoke charm will offer a terrific destination for a post-pandemic holiday. Presenting itself as a paradise, the country’s idyllic setting between the Alps, Northern European Plains and the Baltic offer some of the most visually spectacular and varied landscapes suited for every type of vacationer.
Hiking in the Upper Black Forest. Photo Courtesy: © GNTB/German National Tourist Office, India
In the middle of powdery soft white sand of the Baltic shore, bathe in the warm sun at the Achterwasser Lagoon and the Szczecin Lagoon in the extreme north-east end of the country. On the offshore island of Helgoland, spot large colonies of grey seals across a relatively bare beach with a small tourist crowd. Strike a chord with nature with slow wooden-cottage style of living in the Black Forest where glacial lakes at Schluchsee shock the body with freezing temperatures to recharge it for a day of adventure. In northern Hesse, Norwegian fjord-like meanders cusp the horizon, framing shimmery blue waters and misty skies for mountain bikers, trekkers and campers. Activities like surfing, sailing, diving and fishing keep one company at Lake Edersee.
Forget the idea that dark skies are visible only from isolated deserts and pack camping gear for stargazing parks across the country. The idea of making galactic discoveries by scouring outer space attracts hobby astronomers and tourists alike. 70 kilometres west of Berlin, Westhavelland—Germany’s first star park—offers photography and astronomy tours to witness a starry night in full glory. Eifel Nature Park, located southwest of Cologne, and the Winkl-Moosalm region in the Chiemgau Alps also offer lavish accommodation for nocturnal gazing.
Vistas of high mountains, pristine rivers and magnificent landforms dot Germany. Embracing nature is easy when you’re surrounded by ideals of slow living in untouched lands.
If you wish to fully immerse yourself like a local, the best tip is to rent a bicycle and embark on a long bike path that passes through old historic towns with castles, spa towns and natural reserves. One such route is the 500-kilometre-long Römer-Lippe-Route which can be covered in six days. Revel in the Roman glory and trace their ancient footsteps with exciting stops along the way. Alternatively, circumnavigate the country’s lowlands through a 250-kilometre loop that tours the coal, wind and water reserves. For a culture fix, pedal along the scenic Thuringian City Chain and you will be rewarded with 14 UNESCO World Heritage Sites along the way on top of picturesque vineyards and traditional trading towns.
When in Germany, allow yourself to heal with nature by slowly taking in the enchantment of the undulated landscapes. Bathe in isolated lagoons, cross shallow rivers barefoot or soak in the natural hot springs. In the Pulvermaar natural pool, volcanic craters brim with refreshing crystal clear waters. All across the Rhineland, birdsongs and a concert of dragonflies give company to sole travellers. Further down south in Bavaria, lake Constance offers a dip with the view of alps, while wild swimmers flock to Geroldsau waterfall in the state of Baden-Württemberg. Here, temp your senses in the summer as rhododendrons roar with blooms of red and turn the region into a divine haven.
Peddle along to soak in the majestic Wartburg Castle, a UNESCO Heritage Site. Photo Courtesy: © GNTB/German National Tourist Office, India
Finally, let your guards down in protected parks. 16 national parks sparsed across the country, house rustic landscapes with impressive endemic wildlife and flora. Check out Hainich National Park, a former military exclusion zone and a current UNESCO World Heritage region for a taste of vacation in deciduous forests. At the northernmost tip, head to the world’s largest contiguous mudflat landscape to peek into the astounding animal world—look out for grey seals or porpoises, starfish, snails and mussels in this part of The Schleswig-Holstein Wadden Sea National Park.
Germany is a fantastic destination for travellers wishing to embrace nature and slow it down. For more information on cycling tours, hiking trails, curated experiences, camping, astronomy and more, visit www.germany.travel/de
This feature also appeared in National Geographic Traveller India
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