Is travelling to Germany on your bucket list?
If you are planning to go to Germany, does your visit include a trip to the countryside?
If not, you should seriously re-think your itinerary. The German countryside is full of awesome and unique places including the cutest medieval towns, magnificent castles, forests, rolling hills and the majestic Bavarian Alps.
There are many good reasons why you will love the German countryside. Read on to learn which are the five most important ones.
Germany is home to a huge number of fairytale medieval towns
Across Germany, there is no shortage of small historic towns that will make you feel like you have just stepped out of a time machine.
There are in fact so many, trying to name them all would become a never ending story.
The most picturesque of them all is often said to be Rothenburg ob der Tauber, and once you have visited, you will understand why.
But when you head into the countryside, you will not have to look far to find some awesome hidden gems filled to the prim with half-timbered houses and narrow winding cobble-stoned streets that are equally beautiful.
There are more than 20,000 castles in Germany
The German countryside is dotted with historic castles. How many there are exactly is actually a mystery as there is no single place where this information is kept. But official sources keep repeating it is more than 20,000.
Just imagine that!
Many of them still completely intact, others are only ruins. Either way, you can visit a whole lot of them and those that are still intact are often homes to museums, restaurants and even hotels.
Which of the German castles are the most beautiful and worthwhile to visit is again fairly suggestive but some of the best known – and indeed most stunning – include those listed below.
Burg Eltz, nestled on a hilltop in the deep Eltz forest close to the Mosel river, is one of the most visited castles in Germany. It is still owned by the same family which already inhabited the castle in the 12th century. Part of the castle is open to visitors from April to October.
Perhaps the internationally most famous is Neuschwanstein Castle in the Bavarian Alps south of Munich. It was built by orders of Bavarian King Ludwig II in the mid-1800s and later on was used by Walt Disney a model for his Sleeping Beauty castle.
Hohenzollern Castle perched on top of Mount Hohenzollern in Swabia around 50 kilometres from Stuttgart is one of the most impressive neo-Gothic castles in Germany. The structure was built from around 1850 by orders of King Frederick William IV and to this day remains the home of the royal Hohenzollern family. It is the third castle built on the site with the first going back to the early 11th century. After its destruction in 1423, a second castle was built from 1454 but later left to decay. Hohenzollern Castle is open to visitors.
Wartburg Castle in Thuringia which once was the refuge of Martin Luther after his excommunication and where he translated the bible into German. Today, you can stay at the Wartburg Castle hotel and on the four weekends preceding Christmas Day there is a beautiful historic Christmas Market on the grounds of the castle.
Castle Schönburg (my personal favourite). Nestled high above the Rhine river in the UNESCO World Heritage Middle Rhine Valley, the origins of the castle go back to the early 900s. Since a few decades the castle is operating as a hotel, offering 27 rooms and suites, an on-site restaurant and a beautiful garden overlooking the river.
Germany has created many marvelous scenic roads covering any topic you can think of
Germany is home to a number of scenic routes that crisscross the country. Some are not even 100 kilometres long whilst some stretch over several hundred or even more than thousand kilometres.
Germany’s scenic routes offer a large variety of attractions including cultural heritages, breathtaking landscapes and culinary experiences.
The famous Castle Road, spanning some 1,200 kilometres from Mannheim through to Prague in Poland will lead you along 70 castles and royal palaces.
Also quite famous in Germany is the Romantic Road, stretching over 400 kilometres from Würzburg to Füssen along beautiful landscape and many small historic towns including Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Dinkelsbühl, Nördlingen, Schwangau and many more.
The German Fairytale Route was created back in the 1970s to bring to life the stories of the Brothers Grimm. It stretches over 600 kilometres along places where the two brothers lived and most importantly those places that inspired their stories.
Finally, a number of culinary roads exist including the Baden Asparagus Route stretching over 100 kilometres from Schwetzingen (the asparagus capital of the world) to Scherzheim. Along the way you will find countless asparagus fields and the small towns along the route are well-known for their various asparagus festivals and serving the best asparagus dishes during the season (from mid-April to mid-June).
Meanwhile, the Allgäu Cheese Route leads you through the beautiful alpine foothills of the Allgäu for round about 150 kilometres. Along the route, you will find numerous dairies open to visitors for tours and cheese tasting.
If you want to know more about the scenic roads, where they are and what you can do along the various stretches, I suggest to visit the Germany Travel website for more information. There you will find a list of all currently existing scenic roads across Germany.
Germany is home to many nature parks and nature areas offering exciting leisure activities
They might be small in comparison to the huge national parks in other parts of the world, notably the US, Canada and Australia, but Germany counts more than 90 nature parks (Naturparks in German).
Below, I am listing just few of them to highlight the large diversity of these areas. To learn more, on the Germany Travel website you will also find a list of German nature and national parks
The largest and perhaps internationally most known is the enchanting Black Forest, a lush green area at the foothills of the Bavarian Alps. The area is home to many idyllic valleys, small lakes and streams deep lush green forests and off course the famous Black Forest cake and cuckoo clocks.
The Berchtesgarden national park is located at the southern tip of Bavaria and comprises one of Germany’s most beautiful lakes, the Königssee (literally the Kings Lake). The landscape here is just breathtaking and the area is very popular for hiking with more than 400 kilometres of hiking paths.
On the northern coast bordering the North Sea you will find one of the most amazing spectacles of nature. The so-called Wattenmeer (Wadden Sea) during low tide is turning into muddy ocean floor and you can walk the area off the coast and between the various islands. Whilst it is a lot of fun, a hike over the Wadden Sea can quickly become dangerous when you stay to long out and the water returns which can be very quickly due to currents and water canals filling up almost instantly and blocking the way back to the shore. For that reason, it is strongly advised you only hike with a guide. Since 2009, the Wadden Sea is a UNESCO national heritage site and a large part of the area including a stretch of 280 miles from the Netherlands to Germany and Denmark was given National Park status, meaning it is a protected area.
Spreewald, just a short drive from Berlin lures visitors with its many canals weaving their way through thick forests. Boat tours on the canals are indeed very popular and along the tour your guide (and rower) will provide you with many facts about the area and the boat tours come with gherkins (for which the area is famous), sandwiches or coffee and cake.
Germany is home to a large (and still rising) number of charming country hotels
Never before has there been a larger number of small, often family-led gorgeous country hotels offering luxury accommodation, excellent food and wellness.
It is literally impossible to list them all so if you are planning to pay a visit to the German countryside just go ahead and search for country hotels (Landhotels in German) and you will come up with a huge selection.
Have you been to the German countryside yet or are you planning a trip? Let me know about your experiences.