The myriad health benefits of spending time in nature have recently been on everyone’s lips. Doctors are increasingly prescribing “spending time outdoors,” and practices such as “forest bathing” (or shinrin-yoku in Japan) are becoming more established.
As a 32% forest- covered nation with several old forest areas, there are more than enough perfect places in Germany to reflect on yourself and to find your way back to nature. In one of these paradisiacal forests you can relax and lighten your spirits on a forest hike.
Wershofen, Palatinate Forest
Let the local forester Peter Wohlleben guide you through the Palatinate Forest
Wershofen is a town deep in the western Palatinate Forest, equidistant from the cities of Koblenz and Cologne. It is not exactly known, but it has been since the publication of the bestseller The Secret Life of Trees From the local forester Peter Wohlleben, nature lovers come here in droves. In the book Wohlleben describes a network of trees that he calls the “Wood Wide Web”. Trees communicate with it and can support each other physically by passing on nutrients through their roots. Those who make a pilgrimage to the area in the forest for which Wohlleben is responsible can take part in lectures and seminars or take a two to three-hour captivating hike (also in English) through the forest with the author himself. The hiking groups in Wohlleben’s Forest Academy are always small, so you can ask Wohlleben all your questions personally. There are also forestry courses available if you want to learn more. You can stay overnight at the Hotel Landgasthaus Pfahl .
Neuschönau, Bavarian Forest
Go for a walk in the Bavarian Forest National Park on the (Treetop Walk)
With 241 km², the Bavarian Forest is the largest continuous forest area in Europe and is located on the German-Czech border. The national park of the same name was the first in Germany and is a natural paradise of glacial lakes, mountains and wild, dense forest in which rare animal species live. There are around 300 km of hiking trails that meander through the tall trees and the park is just a two-and-a-half hour drive from Munich. If you are on a longer trip, spend the night in the city of Neuschönau. It is the starting point for the many hiking trails in the area and the next town on the National Park’s treetop path. The accessible, family-friendly wooden path winds up into the sky and becomes a viewing platform 25 m above beech, fir and spruce trees and offering a panoramic view of Bavaria and the Czech and Slovak mountains in the distance. Spend the night in the Pension Salzsäumer , an old Bavarian country house with rustic suites with a view of the forest, Vichy pattern bed linen and nicely painted wardrobes.
Lauterbach, Hainich National Park
In the last beech forest in Central Europe, wild wild garlic plants cover the ground
The Hainich National Park is home to Europe’s last Central European beech forest and is located in southeast Germany. The primeval forest, which is now carefully protected, was once used by the military for training purposes. The best way to explore the untouched landscape of ash, maple and linden trees is to walk past wild ramsons and orchids in the shade while the woodpeckers knock on the trunks and bats hang from the branches. The hiking trails are well marked and most of them are circular. The 530 meter long treetop path leads you deep into the forest to a 44 meter high observation tower, where you can find information about the flora and fauna of the park. Make the village of Lauterbach to your starting point. It is to the west and has an entrance to the park. The Fehrenbacherhof Naturgästehaus is a family-run guest house in Lauterbach with wooden beamed ceilings and a breakfast made from regional products.
Freiburg im Breisgau, Black Forest
Gentle forest hills and shady valleys with clear lakes await you here
Travel to the medieval university town of Freiburg in Breisgau to venture deep into the Black Forest, which is famous for its rolling hills with pines, firs, beeches and oaks, its shady valleys, quiet lakes, the lush green pastures and clear streams that overlook mossy rocks flow, is known. In this south-western part of Germany you can easily immerse yourself in nature and take part in many tours through the Black Forest National Park on foot, by bike or even by canoe or kayak. Follow the park’s adventure trails or take a guided hike from providers like Black Forest Tours who, along with many local locals, help visitors discover unknown or less-known places in the wild. Check in Apartment-Freiburg-Exclusive one, a modern holiday apartment with marble floors, furniture in “mid-century style” and floor-to-ceiling windows that offer a view of the city and the green landscape.
Rathen, Saxon Switzerland National Park
The Bastei bridge and rock formation in the Saxon Switzerland National Park
Although the Saxon Switzerland National Park is better known for its ancient and mystical rock formations – including the huge Bastei (a 194 meter high monolith over the Elbe) – it also has a misty, deep green forest, which is roamed by luxes and above by falcons and eagles is flown over. Visitors can hike 1,200 km of pine needle scented trails. There are many guided tours, including boat tours on the Elbe. You can reach the park on an easy day trip from Dresden. However, if you would prefer a closer and longer stay, Rathen , a village close to the forest and at the foot of the bastion, is recommended. After an adventurous day outdoors, you can relax in the sauna or steam bath at Hotel Elbiente .