Hiking in Germany
When you think of embarking on a hiking holiday, you probably think of the Austria or Scotland. Germany perhaps would not be the first place that comes to mind. We have recently uncovered that Germany may be a hidden gem for expert hikers in the know. That’s why we think it’s time hiking in Germany was put on the beginner and intermediate hikers map.
Germany is everything you can imagine and more, with whimsical castles, fairytale meadows and snow-capped mountains. The hiking trails are an amazing way to get to see some of these incredible sites! Many of the best and most famous hiking trails in Germany are epic multi-day treks that give you the chance to really explore this beautiful country, from following the Baltic coastline to winding your way along the River Rhine. But for those who can’t quite face 10 days of trekking or fancy spending some time in a medieval town, then most of the trails can be done in shorter stints.
For those with kids or for those who just need to burn off the beer and schnitzel, there are also many short and easy nature rambles which are just as incredible, getting the chance to walk under waterfalls and around mirrored lakes.
These 10 best hiking trails and areas, will have any casual rambler to expert hiker booking their next trip to Germany, but good luck deciding which trail to take on first!
Obviously the summer in Germany is the perfect time of year to head out on a hike, whether that be by the sea or in the mountains. The average temperatures in the Black Forest in the summer are between 23 and 25-degree Celsius which is ideal for exploring the great outdoors. Although in the height of summer it may be a little too hot, so a cool down in the sea or the lake may be in order. The summer is also the best time of year to go hiking in the Bavarian Alps as there is less chance of snow and temperature are a comfortable 15 degrees celsius.
The winter in Germany is pretty cold, with average temperatures of 5-degree celsius, with strong chances of snow and lots of rain, but it is also a magical time visit, emphasising its fairytale feel. If you wrap up warm and have the right gear and a cosy place to relax on an evening, then winter is a beautiful time to head on your hiking adventure.
Whether you travel in summer or winter, you need to make sure you taking packing for your adventure, seriously! Ridestore will make sure you have all the best high tech clothing from waterproof jackets and pants to light and breathable summer gear.
Are you ready to learn more about hiking in Germany? Let’s dive right in!
Hiking In Germany - Quick Find Navigation
Best Hiking Trails In Germany
Trail Length: 223km
Difficulty: Easy/ Intermediate
Best For: Scenic photography
On the outskirts of Hamburg is the famous Heidschnuckenweg Trail (aka Moorland Sheep Trail in English) in the Lueneburg Heath. This is a 14 stage trail that can take around 10 days to complete if you choose to do the whole route, although if you are time conscious you can of course just pick a few stages. For the avid hikers and if you have the stamina, the whole trail will be a great sense of achievement, but as the heath is relatively flat, you do not need to be an expert.
This has been voted one of the most scenic trails in Germany because of its mystical vibe; along the way, you will pass pine forests, juniper groves and medieval churches. You can hike the summit of Wilseder Berg, which although is not a steep ascent, the view from the top is worth the extra effort to tackle the incline.
Try do this hike in August or September where the heath will be at its full bloom and is truly magical.
The Rheinsteig Trail
Trail Length: 320km
Best For: Those who want to explore more of Germany
The Rheinsteig trail will take you on an epic German adventure, experiencing all of what Germany has to offer from fairytale lands to vineyards. Done in total, starting from Bonn to Wiesbaden, the trail takes around 3 weeks to complete but can be broken down into 21 sections. This 320 km trail follows the Rhine river the whole way and will be your guide, taking you up steep cliffs, through fields and medieval towns. On an evening, you should take your time to explore the restored towns that truly look like something out of a fairytale, and make sure to look out for the old castles in the distance. You may also need to refuel in one of the many wineries along the way, which we think is essential to endure the distance.
You can actually spend the night at some of the wine estates along the way, so you can get an amazing evening meal, a beautiful hotel and great wine. A spot of luxury to motivate you.
Malerweg Hiking Trail
Trail Length: 112km
Best For: Those who miss the Alps in the summer
For beauty alone, this has got to be one of the best hiking trails in Germany. It is located in the Elbe Sandstone Mountains, which are incredibly rare natural rock formations that have left pillars of rock standing on their own- imagine something from Avatar. Due to the nature of the land, it is an experts hike which demands some challenging sections of climbing up steep steps and ladders and even crawling through natural holes in the rocks. The hiking trail will take you around 8 to 9 days, but of course, can be done in 8 different sections, so if you are short on time, make sure to do the section with the Bastei rock formation and visit the local spa town to refuel.
Book accommodation that provides luggage transfer and food, to make your life a little easier as you embark on your hike each day.
Trail Length: 10km
Best For: Waterfall lovers
The stunning Wasserfallsteig trail is in the famous Black Forest, encountering within just 10 short kilometres, waterfalls, meadows, hills and forests. This is a short and easy loop for day hikers wanting to experience some of the most awesome waterfalls in Germany; the Urach and the Güterstein waterfalls will make the worst photographers take amazing shots. This is a perfect hike to do in the summer, as you are shaded by the forestation but also you can cool off in the crystal clear waters along the way. Sounds like the perfect day trip to us!
The Alb Thermen in Bad Urasch is a natural thermal spa nearby to let you unwind and soothe any tired muscle.
The Rennsteig Trail
Trail Length: 170km
Best For: Those who love German history
The Rennsteig trail dates back to over 700 years ago, so people from all over the world come to experience a piece of German history, whilst being introduced to the natural beauty the country has to offer. It is a ridge walk that ventures through the Thuringian Forest, Highland and Franconian Forest. Over 6 stages you will encounter all the different elements of Germany’s beauty, with incredible natural fauna, forests and rolling hills. You must be fit enough to maintain walking long-distance across 170 km, but each evening you will be able to relax and try the indulgent German cuisine at the chalets and huts that cater to the walkers.
Stop off at the Drachenschlucht which is a deep and narrow gorge you can walk through as part of a tour.
Trail Length: Approx. 5km
Best For: Families with children
Located in the Bavarian Alps, there is one of the most impressive gorges and a must-see destination in Germany. The Partnach Gorge is 800 metres long and 80 metres high creating a long, winding and steeped wall passage way with fresh gushing water making its way through. It is an easy hike, taking only a couple of hours at the most, starting with a leisurely 25-minute walk from the old Olympic Stadium. Once you are at the gorge, you are fully immersed in its natural beauty, with a path carved into the rock at its base, running under waterfalls and through tunnels. An easy hike that can be enjoyed and appreciated by everyone.
If you have the time (8-9 hours) and the stamina, you can carry on further to the Zugspitze glacier, which is Germany’s highest mountain.
Trail Length: 18km
Best For: Watersports lovers
Schluchsee is a beautiful reservoir in the Black Forest surrounded by stunning scenery and some epic trails to explore the area. There are plenty of trails to choose from, some easy and some long, so you can choose depending on your vibe. If you have the time, you should embark on the 18km circuit around the lake itself, which will allow you to fully immerse yourself in the beauty of the Black Forest. In the summer you may find you work up a little bit of sweat, so cool down in the lake which remains a very cool temperature all year round. After a long day of adventure, base yourself in the Schluchsee town and experience some traditional Germany culture.
Try some of the watersports on offer in the lake, such as sailing and paddleboarding.
Trail Length: 400km
Best For: Those looking for a beach break
The Baltic East Coast hiking trail is an epic 400km route from Luchbeck to Ahlbeck, following the shoreline. Across 15 stages you will come across fields, seaside towns and pine forests. This hike is obviously a great way to explore more of Germany’s coastline and as expected has totally mesmerising views looking out to the sea. One of the best things about this trail is the chance to stay in a different seaside town each night and eat some of the freshest fish. You can also cool down on an evening in the sea and relax at a beach bar. Who said hiking had to be hard work?
Visit the Gespensterwald forest which is a spooky, mysterious and interesting area to explore along the way.
Berchtesgaden National Park
Trail Length: 8km
Best For: National park enthusiasts
Berchtesgaden National Park is in South Germany on the Austrian border in the Bavarian Alps. It is a National Park to protect the insane amount of wildlife, forests, lakes and mountains of the region. There are many trails and hikes to choose from in the area, all just as incredible as the next but there are a few stand outs. One, in particular, is the trail that takes you to the Obersee lake, which can be done in just a few hours but make sure to take your time as the views are not to be missed. You start by taking a boat to Königssee to the start of the 8km trail, which has some steep ascents and narrow paths for a bit of adventure. On the way, you will pass the Röthbach Falls, (Germany’s highest waterfall) and eventually reach the incredible Obersee lake, with its impressive mirrored effect.
Head up and out on this hike early because its beauty draws many tourists and locals later in the day.
Trail Length: 16.8km
Best For: Tyrol lovers
The Allgäu Alps are on the border with the Tyrolean Alps in Austria, obviously making it a great place for skiing in the winter and hiking the steep peaks in the summer. There are hundreds of hikes to choose from, but there is one that can be done in 1-2 days, which showcases the best of snow-capped peaks, glacial lakes and alpine fauna. Over the two days, you will pass the Traualpsee, Vilalpsee and Schrecksee and reach 2000m in elevation, exposing awesome views of the mountain range. On the stopover, you can stay in the rustic-style Landsberger Hut, which is a great chance to meet other fellow hikers and eat hearty traditional meals at altitude.
After the trek, head to one of the nearby ski resorts for a bit of atmosphere and mountain biking.
We apologise for bombarding you with an incredible and irresistible list of hiking trails in Germany, making your decision on which one to choose first, an impossible task. But we believe hiking in Germany is the best way to explore the country as you get to experience all the hidden gems that the regular city tourists will never see. The real Germany is up in the mountains, the medieval villages and in the forests- just like in fairytales. Pack your map and tie-up your hiking boots, because you’re going on a German adventure.
Hey Riders, note from your gal Angelica here. All information was correct at the time of writing through research and extensive knowledge and experience. However, things change during different periods in the season and some websites offer out of date information and links may change.
Maybe you have some better information to offer or any addendum or changes to make, in which case, feel free to email me on firstname.lastname@example.org, and we can consider adding them in! Let me know. . .