By Ashley Dobson
Germany has a great deal of fascinating cities to explore, but you are missing out on some of the country’s most awe-inspiring sights if you don’t venture out into the wild.
There are 16 national parks in Germany, each one with its own distinctive identity and each one uniquely beautiful. Whether hiking trails, discovering a new lake or following the path of a historical figure, Germany’s national parks offer a fun place to spend your weekends.
All 16 parks are worth checking out during your time in Germany, but here’s our list of the five you should make a priority.
Eifel National Park
Eifel National Park is the perfect choice for history buffs. The park encompasses a former World War II training ground. Some parts of the park are still not open to the public because of the Glasmine 43 mines that still exist near the dam of the Urft Reservoir. Even if you are feeling super adventurous, the areas of the park that were sown with glass mines are fenced off and entering them is strictly forbidden.
About 150 miles of paths are open to visitors of Eifel National Park. On these paths, you can see the park’s native animal and plant species. It is home to more 7,100 of them. The park also offers frequent, free guided tours with a trained ranger. Information about these tours, as well as other events, are available at the Eifel National Park Forestry Office.
Eifel National Park is about a four-hour drive from Stuttgart.
Black Forest National Park
The towns in the Black Forest area may be best known for cuckoo clocks and cake, but Black Forest National Park is full of its own treasures. The park stretches between Baden-Baden and Freudenstadt and provides views over the Rhine Valley and France.
There are three suggested hiking paths inside the park: the Lynx path, the wilderness path and the Lotharpfad. The Lynx path allows you to see the forest from the perspective of the mighty cat. The wilderness path shows off the power of nature, and the Lotharpfad takes you through the path of the 1999 storm “Lothar.” This national park is also home to gorgeous waterfalls.
You can take either a day trip or spend a weekend camping inside the park in a permitted area. The Black Forest National Park is about one and a half hours by car from Stuttgart.
Kellerwald-Edersee National Park
Kellerwald-Edersee National Park is for true nature lovers. It is a Luzulo-beech forest. While there is small-animal life in this park, the trees are the highlight. There is even a walkway built up at the top of the trees, called the Baumkronenweg am Edersee, that allows you to experience the park from all angles.
Kellerwald-Edersee National Park is about a four-hour drive from Stuttgart.
Berchtesgaden National Park
Berchtesgaden National Park is the only alpine national park in Germany, and the views are unbelievably stunning. It is located in the southeast of Bavaria on the border with Austria and is dotted with gorgeous lakes and towering mountains. In the center of the park is the famous Lake Koenigssee, which features St. Bartholomew’s Church, a Roman Catholic pilgrimage church, at its shore. Many visitors to the park are completing the pilgrimage of St. Bartholomew.
Berchtesgaden is also home to two of Germany’s five glaciers. It is the perfect choice for hikers or photographers looking to capture some of the best views in the country.
Berchtesgaden National Park is about a four-hour drive from Stuttgart.
Jasmund National Park
Jasmund National Park is a nature reserve near the Baltic Sea. It is famous for containing the largest chalk cliffs in Germany, known as the “Koenigsstuhl,” meaning “king’s chair” in German.
It is the smallest national park in Germany but one of the most unique. It is home to many rare plants and animals. Bird watchers come from all over to try to spot some of the rare birds nesting in the area.
Jasmund is about a nine-hour drive from Stuttgart, but the views and the experience are worth it.