For centuries, the epic beauty of German landscapes has inspired artists and writers to the lyrical and profound. The country’s national parks showcase some of its most incredible and diverse open spaces.
These vast and diverse landscapes are protected to varying degrees by 105 natural parks, 15 biosphere reserves and 16 national parks. Germany is a year-round outdoor playground – whatever your dose of adrenaline is, you will find it here.
Here are the best national parks that are worth visiting when traveling to Germany.
Berchtesgaden National Park
Ideal for panoramic views
The Berchtesgaden National Park is located deep in Austria and is surrounded by six high mountains and is a magnificent corner of Bavaria, full of myths and legends. Local lore says that the angels, who were entrusted with the dissemination of miracles on earth, were surprised by God’s command to continue, and they accidentally threw everyone here. These certainly include the Watzmann with 2,713 m height, the second highest mountain in Germany, and the pristine Königssee, probably the most photogenic pond in Germany. The Berchtesgaden National Park was declared a biosphere reserve by UNESCO in 1990. The village of Berchtesgaden is an obvious starting point for hikes through the park.
Off the overcome track, the area has an eerie view – The Eagle’s Nest on the top of the mountain was once a hut built for Hitler and is now a prime destination for gloomy tourism, while the Obersalzberg’s documentary tells of the area’s Nazi past.
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Bavarian Forest National Park
Ideal for quiet walks
The Bavarian Forest on the Czech side of the border, together with the Czech Forest, forms the largest contiguous forest area in Europe. This inspiring landscape of quiet hills and rounded tree-covered peaks is punctuated by rarely disturbed valleys and pristine forests, providing habitat for many species that have long since disappeared from the rest of Central Europe. The extensive terrain is protected as an awesomely wild and remote Bavarian Forest National Park. Despite the incredibly good price-quality ratio, the area attracts few foreign tourists and remains quite traditional.
Black Forest National Park
Ideal for hiking
The Black Forest National Park, an open-air wonderland with heath forests, glacial lakes, deep valleys, mountains and almost untouched coniferous forests, is the Black Forest in its wildest and wildest form. Nature has concentrated in this 100 square kilometer pocket in the Northern Black Forest, between Baden-Baden and Freudenstadt and on the Schwarzwaldstraße, the Murgtal and the Mummelsee. Hiking and cycling trails abound, as well as excursion routes for children.
Saxon Switzerland National Park
ideal for climbing
Saxon Switzerland is surrounded by a unique and unforgettable landscape. It is a surprisingly rough terrain, where nature has turned the porous rock into picturesque columns, uneven cliffs, table mountains and deep valleys. The Elbe flows through a dense forest, past villages and mighty castles on a hill. Not surprisingly, this legendary beauty enjoyed great success with the romantics of the 19th century, including the artist Kaspar David Friedrich. In 1990, about a third of the territory became the only national park in Saxony, the Saxon Switzerland National Park. During a long day trip from Dresden you can discover the sights of the surrounding area, but to really experience the magic of Saxon Switzerland, you should stop for a night and take some pleasant walks. In addition to hiking, it is one of the leading climbing destinations in Germany and offers more than 15,000 routes. Cyclists can follow the beautiful Elbe cycle path.
Yasmund National Park
Perfect for coastal adventures
The wild beauty of the Jasmund National Park, the smallest in Germany, attracted the attention of the whole country at the beginning of the 19th century through the romantic paintings of Caspar David Friedrich. His favorite place was Stubbenkammer, an area in the northern part of the park where jagged rocks of white chalk plunge into a jade-colored sea – one of the most picturesque corners of the Baltic coast. By the way, the 11.5-square-kilometer park is dominated by beautiful beech forests.
By far the most famous of the Stubbenkammer is the Königsstuhl – with 380 feet (117 m) the highest point in Rügen. Fewer people make a short hike east towards Victoria-Zicht, from where you have the best view of the Königsstuhl itself. If you feel in a good mood, an exciting way to get to know the area is a 10 km long hike from Sassnitz along the coast through the old Stubnitz Forest. The path also leads past the magnificent chalk cliffs of the Wissauer Klinken, another famous species painted by Friedrich.
Müritz National Park
Ideal for lakes
The Müritz National Park is an oasis of green and blue, a land of lakes and forests in the middle of the otherwise impregnable agricultural landscape halfway between Berlin and Rostock. The Müritz is widely known as the land of a thousand lakes. Although it is exaggerated, there are more than 100 lakes here, as well as countless ponds, streams and rivers. This quiet park consists of peat and wetlands and is home to a variety of waterfowl, including osprey, white-tailed eagle and cranes. The country road between Neustrelitz and Varena in the west runs through the heart of the park and offers many places where you can stop and admire the beech forests recognized by UNESCO.
Kellerwald-Edersee National Park
Ideal for wildlife observation
The Kellerwald-Edersee National Park, founded in 2004, includes one of the largest preserved beech forests in Central Europe, the Kellerwald, with an area of 57 square kilometers. The Edersee is also located here, a winding reservoir formed by the Ederdamm, which is now a popular vacation spot. The Kellerwald-Edersee National Park was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2011 together with the Hainich National Park in Thuringia and a group of other parks or nature reserves with large beech forests. Animals such as deer, lynx, honeyeaters, eagles, bats and fire salamanders live in the wild in the park, while some can be seen in custody in the wildlife park in the Eder Valley.