Treading lightly in Germany's forests

From the depths of the Black Forest to the canals of Berlin’s Spreewald, leave nothing but light footprints when you explore Germany’s diverse natural environments.


Hikers in the Black Forest.

Image: ©Juergen Wackenhut

With over 35 percent of the country declared protected natural landscape, Germany’s forests are the original eco-tourism spot for outdoor adventure enthusiasts and can help unlock the secret to sustainable travel. They invite you to slow down, breathe deeply and reconnect with nature. So, lace up your boots and tread lightly, as we discover what’s on offer in Germany’s most beautiful forests.

The Black Forest is around 2,320 square miles of forest, mountains, rivers and lakes.

Image: ©Michael Neumann/GNTB

Black Forest

Sweeping across southwest Germany, the Black Forest invites travelers to lose themselves in its alluring depths. Come for the hiking and stay a little longer to soak in this famous forest’s healing mineral spas. In Baden-Baden, the beautiful Friedrichsbad Roman bath has enticed travelers for almost 150 years, including Mark Twain who wrote, “after 10 minutes at Friedrichsbad you forget time, after 20 minutes you forget the world". The invigorating 17 step clothing-free bathing ritual will leave you rejuvenated and ready for another day of hiking.

Palais Therme, a 175-year-old thermal spa in the north of the Black Forest.

Image: ©Palais Therme.

©The Black Forest's famous natural mineral springs means it is home to many spas, such as the Balinea Therme.

Image: ©Balinea Therme.

Palais Thermal in Bad Wildbad and Balinea Thermal spa in Bad Bellingen are two more of the Black Forest’s healing mineral spas.


Charming architecture and rolling hills typical of a Bavarian village.

Image: ©Francesco Carovillano/GNTB

Bavarian Forest

Bavaria is a paradise for mountain bikers. The immense Bavarian Forest is home to over 124 miles of dedicated cycling trails that wind through bubbling streams, glacial lakes, dense forest and mountain peaks with magnificent panoramas.

There’s something for all abilities, so whether you opt for pedal power or electric powered e-bikes, don’t miss this adventure playground. For the ultimate experience, the Genuss-Radwanderweg is an 86-mile loop trail through the highlights of the Bavarian Forest.

The Bavarian Forest's Baumwipfelpfad - a treetop walk that extends 82 feet high, giving superb views of the forest.

Image: ©Francesco Carovillano/GNTB

Hintersee Lake, among the most picturesque vistas in Germany.

Image: ©Francois Thierens/GNTB

Zauberwald and Hintersee, Bavaria

The German word Zauberwald translates to ‘magic forest’, and this forest hidden in a southern pocket of the country certainly lives up to its name. Hiking alongside a crystal-clear stream, you’ll pass moss covered boulders and trees, alpine flower fields, wooden huts serving Bavarian beer and depictions of artworks from 19th century artists who put this romantic destination on the map. Emerging at Hintersee Lake, the spectacular view of the two towering mountain peaks creates a postcard-worthy backdrop. This pristine environment is the ultimate reminder of why we need to protect our beautiful planet.

Riding alongside Hintersee reminds us of the need to protect the planet.

Image: ©Günter Standl/GNTB

Hintersee, with the Bavarian Alps looming in the background.

Image: ©Pratik Agrawal


Teutoburg Forest, North Rhine-Westphalia

Referred to as “Germany’s healing garden” thanks to its gentle rolling hills, dense coniferous trees, and spacious meadows, Teutoburg Forest nature reserve in North Rhine-Westphalia invites you to slow down and breathe in the fresh forest air. The town of Bad Meinberg is home to an array of spas, health resorts and yoga retreats and makes a great base to connect to the forest’s relaxing rhythm.

A stream near Bad Meinberg, a town famous for its wellness facilities.

Image: ©Daniel Splisser

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A small restaurant in Lübbenau, upper Spreewald.

Image: ©Anna Nowak/GNTB

Spreewald, Brandenburg

Just south of Berlin, Spreewald feels like a world away from the buzzing cosmopolitan capital. Comprised of an intricate system of narrow canals weaving their way between quaint villages, centuries old cottages and dense forest, this is “where the forest is reflected in the water”. Rent a kayak or canoe and let your imagination play navigator. If you’re running low on energy, pull up at one of the canal-side vendors selling beer and gherkins, the local delicacy. You can also experience the traditions and customs of the Sorbian people, who are at home in the Spreewald region. Especially in the summer months, visitors can experience festivals and fairs, which offer a glimpse into the Sorbian way of life.

Spreewald is about 60 miles southeast of Berlin.

Image: ©Pratik Agrawal

The forest offers a slower pace to the hectic frenzy of the German capital.

Image: ©

The Canopy Walk in Hainich National Park leads right through the crowns of mighty deciduous trees and above the treetops.

Image: ©Thomas Stephan/GNTB

Hainich National Park, Thuringia

Get a bird's eye view as you explore Hainich National Park from the 144-foot-high canopy boardwalk. Meandering through the treetops of one of Germany’s ancient Beech forests, this 1,771-foot-long pathway will elevate your every sense and reward you with incredible views over the forest canopy. Hainich near Erfurt is also home to the wildcat village of Hütscheroda, where you can catch a glimpse of this elusive forest-dwelling predator while helping protect its future.

The National Park Center at Hainich National Park has an interactive, underground exhibition that teaches about life below the Earth's surface.

Image: ©KTL Tour und Tourismus Bad Langensalza GmbH/GNTB

Arrived’s top tips for traveling sustainably in Germany

The age of the ‘smart traveler’ has well and truly arrived. With the average vacationer now aware of the impact of their travel decisions in an environmental and ethical sense, countries are shifting towards providing opportunities for the conscious traveler.

Ricarda Lindner, the Regional Manager The Americas of the German National Tourist Office says: “We are seeing an increased awareness among international guests for environmentally and climate-friendly travel and sustainability. They are looking for untouched nature, authentic, regional products, climate-friendly travel options and responsible hosts."

“They are looking for untouched nature, authentic, regional products, climate-friendly travel options and responsible hosts.”

“In Germany there is regional and seasonal food, authentic products, and materials from the region, living customs and traditional festivals, intact nature and beautiful traditional communities with their unique historic buildings. There are also 124,000 miles of hiking trails and 12,400 miles of bike paths, so we offer a very good infrastructure for active tourists.”

Image: ©Melvin van der Kooij

1. With a well-connected rail network powered by 100 percent green energy, train travel is certainly the best way to explore Germany.

Image: ©Mylene Larnaud

2. Many small towns and cities in Germany have a weekly farmers' market, so pop in and stock up on local cheeses, sausages, and fresh produce, reducing travel and supporting small business.

Image: ©Knut Pflaumer/GNTB

3. Dining at family-run local restaurants is a great way to sample regional dishes prepared with carefully selected seasonal products.

Image: ©Andreas Hub/FrankenTourismus/Bamberg TKS

4. Germans love to celebrate, so there’s bound to be an event or festival happening during your visit. Don’t be afraid to get involved and share a beer with the locals and learn more about local customs and history.

Image: ©Angel Barnes

5. With a rich arts and crafts scene in small German towns and villages, shopping at local markets and independent stores is a great way to find authentic and unique souvenirs and gifts.

Image: ©Francesco Caravillano/GNTB

6. You can find more than 3,000 certified establishments and eateries throughout Germany, that have made sustainability their guiding principle.

On Germany Travel's website you can find accommodation ranging from EcoCamping to luxury hotels and restaurants, which use fresh, locally sourced ingredients and renewable energy.

With so much diversity, it pays to do your research before you travel. Check out for more sustainable travel advice and itineraries.


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