Swap Oktoberfests for nature fests all year around in Germany, with walking holidays in Germany opening up the likes of the Black Forest, elevated Alpine trails, the Rhine and Moselle rivers or the lesser-known Malerweg Trail. Cycling holidays in Germany are a great way to take in some of the country’s historical cities, such as the Elbe Cycle Path through Hamburg, Dresden or the Rhine Cycle Path, where every day along the way is also a bierfest anyway.
Where to go
One of our most popular cycling holidays in Germany is along part of the Rhine Cycle Path between Strasbourg, France and Mainz. Also known as the EuroVelo 15 route, this section follows UNESCO protected riverside paths, where majestic medieval castles cling to cliffs, and vineyards ripen royally. The Rheinsteig is also one of our top walking holidays in Germany, a 320km walking trail that hovers above the great river, allowing you to enjoy its twists, turns, ravines and, vitally, Rieslings.
Malerweg means ‘painters’ way’ and it’s named after the 18th century artists from the nearby Dresden Academy of Fine Arts who immortalised its landscapes in their work. This 115km walking trail leads you through the Elbe Sandstone Mountains, with walkers usually taking on either the north or south section, but nearly always coming back to complete the trail.
The Black Forest
One of the most iconic walking holidays in Germany, the Black Forest always lives up to expectations, especially when you include a trek up to Feldberg, the Schwarzwald’s highest peak at 1,493m. As well as proffering the most exquisite walking trails, with tranquil forests and secret waterfalls, keen wild swimmers should always have swimwear to hand, with the likes of Schluchsee and Titisee lakes beckoning along the way. With Black Forest Cake for afters, of course.
The German Alps
One of the most accessible ways to hike the German Alps is on the Lechweg Trail, a long-distance 125km waymarked way following the Lech River through Austria and Germany. Walk through lower Alpine valleys in Austria’s Lechtal Nature Park and complete your adventure in Germany’s Bavarian alpine region of Allgäu.
Things to do
- Germany has one of Europe’s cheapest and most efficient train services and one of its best-kept secrets is that young people up to the age of 14 travel free with the national rail operator, Deutsche Bahn, when travelling with adults.
- Germany boasts plenty of friendly rather than feisty cycle routes, such as Lake Constance, which kisses the shores of Germany, Austria and Switzerland, the Rhine and Elbe Cycle Paths where you can also rent e-bikes, and the wild and windy Baltic Coast.
- Germany tours are all about having a ‘guten Appetit’, with food taking centre stage just about everwhere you go. Kaffee und kuchen is a classic, pack your pannier with deli deliciousness from local butchers (metzgerei) and seek out Black Forest local markets for smoked hams, pastries and cakes.
- Explore the northern Baltic coast, which is very popular with families seeking cycling holidays in Germany. With sandy beaches, pine forests and Hanseatic towns of Lübeck and Stralsund topping and tailing this trail, the Baltic is breezy and beautiful.
Responsible travel tips
- Germans often put native English speakers to shame as their English is so good, but do learn a few words before you go. It’s really worth a try, especially as Germany gifted us many words that apply to the outdoors, rucksack being one and wanderlust another. Prost is the most important word in many places of course.
- Germany has also gifted us with some of Europe’s most extensive hiking and cycling trails, all brilliantly maintained. Let’s show respect for these as their guests by always practising the principles of Leave No Trace.
- Germany has been well ahead of the sustainable and responsible travel movement compared with other countries around the world. It has also put barrier-free and accessible tourism at the heart of its inclusive vision, with its tourist board supporting people with physical and learning disabilities in an impressive way.
- Recycling and being waste conscious is part of the German DNA and, for example, most supermarkets have a scheme whereby you can claim back money for plastic and glass bottles.
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