Germany's best outdoor adventures
Germany’s culturally diverse and thriving cities have long been ideal for a quick break. But as restrictions ease and flight connections ramp up, today’s travelers are keen to get away from the crowds, breathe fresh air and get lost in nature.
And Germany delivers in abundance. Whether it’s a quick train ride from Berlin for a day spent relaxing lakeside or a week hiking through jagged peaks in Bavaria, these amazing escapes will help make any German trip truly memorable.
Just a 30 minute ride on the S-Bahn from the center of Berlin, Schlachtensee provides the easiest of city escapes. This deep lake is perfect for cooling off on hot summer days, with plenty of handy beaches along its banks for lazy picnics and time spent chilling out. The paths through the woodland which surrounds also make it a great spot for a short hike, with red squirrels darting through the elm trees. When the weather cools off, fewer visitors make the trip south west of the city, all the better to enjoy the forest’s beautiful autumn colors in peace and quiet.
The car-free island of Hiddensee is a little piece of paradise in the Baltic Sea. Just west of Rugen, the largest island in Germany, it’s best explored on two wheels. Hire a bike and take a slow ride along its quiet paths and lanes and it’s hard not to feel as if you’ve escaped the real world. There’s a strong camping culture here, with a focus on spending time outdoors, while the vibe created by the artists and writers who decamped here in the mid 20th century is inescapable. The island is home to a number of small, tented cinemas, perfect for catching a movie after a day spent hanging out at the beach or walking its well signposted trails.
While this beautiful corner of southern Bavaria is renowned for the spectacular Neuschwanstein Castle, its natural landscape, miles of hiking routes and numerous spa hotels are what make it a standout destination for a post-pandemic break. In summer, the walking here is glorious, following paths along the valleys and on to the tops of jagged peaks, while in winter the icy weather attracts winter sports fanatics. There are climbing huts for more experienced hikers, although after time spent in the mountains, you’ll want to seek out a spa in Bad Bayersoien for some well earned downtime.
The rural heart of Germany, the Thuringian Forest is home to sleepy villages, winding back roads and rolling hills covered in pine trees and picturesque meadows. This is a place to come and slow down, whether by foot along the long distance Rennsteig Trail or simply driving through some of the country’s most bucolic scenery. Come during the warmer months to maximize time spent outdoors breathing in the fresh air and enjoying the sense of space that comes from being miles from the nearest major city.
Eifel National Park
Close to the borders with Belgium and the Netherlands, Eifel National Park has largely been left to run wild, with timber felling and farming coming to an end in 2004. The result is a forest that has returned to its original state, with 2,300 endangered plant and animal species, including rare black storks and wild cats. The park is just 65 kilometers from Cologne, making it an easy day trip for those on a city break keen to spend time lost in nature. Take to the walking trails, spend time bird watching or breathe in the clean air while looking out across the region’s lakes and rivers.