Berlin, Hamburg, Munich, Frankfurt; Germany has an incredible number of amazing cities located within its borders and as such the vast majority of tourists head to these hubs of activity.
An amazingly diverse country with lots going for it, Germany also has a lot of beautiful national parks which are definitely worth visiting. While they are probably not the first thing that springs to mind when you think of the country, the diverse landscapes and pristine protected environments will surely entice you back time and time again such is their natural beauty. From the sprawling Black Forest to the North Sea coasts; here are the most beautiful national parks in Germany.
The wild and wonderful Harz National Park is a delight for nature lovers looking to explore an untamed and untouched part of the world. Similar in some respects to the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea, this park was formerly part of the border between East and West Germany which helped to preserve its ecosystem, leaving it to flourish. Coated almost entirely in forest, the park also contains part of the Harz Mountain range which is home to the elusive lynx and red deer. The bizarre racoon dog can also be sighted at times in this biodiversity hotspot.
Located on the western border with Belgium, this national park was heavily deforested at one point due to rampant charcoal production. Now, efforts are being made to repopulate the park with native trees species in an attempt to return it to its original ecosystem. Other remnants of the past also remain; due to the anti-personnel mines sown during the Second World War parts of the park that remain dangerous are off-bounds to visitors. However with over 240 kilometers of trails and paths for hikers and cyclists to explore, this huge park offers visitors the chance to really immerse themselves in nature. Interspersed around the forests and hills are delightful rivers and lakes that only add to the scenic feel of Eifel National Park.
With ancient beech forests and lovely verdant hills dating back millennia, Kellerwald-Edersee National Park is steeped in history. While Lake Edersee with its stunningly blue waters provides the focal point to the park, the plethora of paths that snake their way into the forest will transport you to hidden gems scattered among the overgrowth. Rock formations dating back to the last ice age slowly merge and transition into lush meadows before shrubs and saplings turn into full-blown forests. On the lake water sport enthusiasts make the most of its pristine waters as sun worshipers lounge on the beaches surrounding it, basking in the sun. Hikers should head into the woods for a chance to see animals endemic to the area such as wild boar, bats and a multitude of different bird types.
Hugging the Baltic coast, no other national park in Germany is quite like this one. Its rugged charm and unkempt coastline make for a distinctive and strangely beautiful landscape. With the cold waters lapping at the shore and large waves crashing against the cliffs, Western Pomerania Lagoon Area National Park leaves you with a sense of awe at the sheer power of nature before your eyes. Beaches slowly rise away from the Baltic before changing into scraggy woodland that looks as if it will be blown away in the fierce winds. Off the coast, islands rise up dramatically among the sea spray and birds cry dramatically overhead in the wild and untamed park. Needless to say, visiting this unique ecosystem is a memorable experience. Red deer and wild boar meander their way through the forests and each year over 30,000 migrating cranes descend upon the park to rest up before continuing on their epic journey.
Stretching as far as the eye can see with the sun glinting off of the water, it is not immediately clear where the mudflats and sand banks end and the North Sea begins. Located near Hamburg in the north of the country, the park contains three islands which along with the expansive mudflats make up most of the area. Picturesque and wild, the natural beauty on show is stunning and a great way to experience it is to take a boat trip on the cold northern waters. An important breeding area for various bird species, you will be amazed at the huge numbers of birds that call the area their home. Seals too can be spotted frolicking in the waters or basking in the sun on a sandbank. History lovers should head to the island of Neuwerk for an interesting look into the past. Here, you will find an old fortified tower that dates back to the days of the powerful and influential Hanseatic League that used to rule surrounding area.
A biodiversity hotspot comprising endless forests, deep lakes and lofty mountains; it is easy to see why Bavarian Forest was the first national park to be founded in Germany. The untouched and untamed wildlife on display makes for a lovely visit and there are a plethora of paths and trails for visitors to delight in. Wandering through the ancient forests feels like stepping into a fairytale such is the magical ambiance that the woodlands give off. While the vast majority of the park is covered in forest, at times various rocky peaks break through the canopy and calm lakes emerge from between the still and silent woods, giving off a sense of tranquillity.
With delightful rolling hills covered in verdant forest, the pristine environment in the Black Forest National Park is what attracts visitors to the area. The lush foliage’s beautiful shades of different greens, yellows and reds form a mosaic of colors before your eyes. Crystal clear streams and babbling brooks cut through the forest and reflect the cloud-filled sky above; to visit this park is to step into a serene and peaceful natural world full of color and life. Perfectly preserved and protected, the ecosystem has remained unchanged for centuries and as such is lovely to visit as it gives off a feeling of timeliness. With numerous trails hidden among the ancient trees, lose yourself in the wild and slowly make your way along the paths. A great place to head towards is the impressive Allerheiligen waterfalls; pouring down the hillside the cascades appropriately feel as if they have always been there.
Similar in appearance to the White Cliffs of Dover in the United Kingdom, this park’s main feature are the dazzling white cliff faces that look out over the Baltic Sea. Reaching up to a height of 117 meters (384 feet), these startlingly brilliant cliffs have beautiful beech forests growing atop of them which make for some delightful walks and cycle rides. The Jasmund National Park Walking Trail is particularly worth exploring as it will take you through a variety of diverse ecosystems as well as along the tops of the cliffs. The dramatic landscape needs to be seen to be believed and an unforgettable way to view the park is to take to the waters. With the perfect blue waves below you and the white cliffs reflecting off of the surface and the green trees peering over the edge, this dreamlike scenery will remain forever in your mind.
Located in the far east of the country on the border with the Czech Republic, this amazing park is simply stunning to visit. Its rocky landscapes, diverse ecosystems and plunging canyons are marvelous to explore and visitors to Saxon Switzerland National Park will love all of the amazing sights on show. For a great view over the park, visitors should head to Carolafelsen where they will be greeted with panoramic views of the ravines and forests down below. A number of spectacular views abound in the park and with over 100 kilometers of trails to wander along; you will often have the lovely environment to yourself. Climbers too will adore Saxon Switzerland as the geological formations and rocky outcrops provide dramatic and varied climbing.
Now that we’ve seen the north, east and west of Germany, it’s time to head South to Berchtesgaden National Park. At its heart lies Konigssee, a huge lake that is ringed by beautiful grey snow-topped mountains. The towering mountains of the Alps are stunning to behold as they dominate the park with their riveting features. Below the grey of the rock face, a sea of dark green trees coat the lower altitude mountains for as far as the eye can see. Picture-perfect, you will find that each landscape you come across is more breathtaking than the last; such is the incredible scenery on show. Head to one of the mountain lodges and gaze out over the valleys while eating a hearty lunch. Alternatively take to the mountain trails for a close up look at the flora and fauna that help make the area so charming. Unrivalled and unsurpassed in Germany, head to Berchtesgaden for the best of the national parks.
Map of National Parks in Germany