Germany has had a rich culture of hiking for literally hundreds of years, and after reading this list you’ll find it easy to see why. With a vast variety of scenery, as well as good infrastructure and well-maintained trails, you’ll find yourself getting lost in the wonder of this beautiful country, even if not getting lost on the trail itself!
If this is your first time in Germany then you are in for a real treat! Outside of hiking, there are many things to do across the country so why not combine your trip with some of the other best things to do in Germany?
If you’re unsure about German culture and are worried you’re going to insult someone by not tipping, then read our definitive guide on whether or not to tip in Germany!
Partnach Gorge – 4.8km (or 46km for a longer adventure)
Although only a short hike, this incredible adventure packs in a lot in the one-and-a-half hours that you will be walking. Located just a short walk (or an even shorter drive) from the picturesque Bavarian town of Garmisch Partenkirchen, this popular hike will amaze you with its rugged rock faces and turquoise waters.
Once you arrive at the entrance to the gorge, you will have to pay a small fee of around 6 Euros before entering, but I promise you that the experience is more than worth it! You will find yourself following a beautiful river as it flows easily through the water-carved path. You will dive deep into the gorge, with the giant rock walls towering above you on either side and the pathway tucked neatly against the rock.
Although the path is separate from the river, there are the occasional mini-waterfalls falling from above and so I recommend wearing shoes and clothes that you are comfortable getting a little wet. Be sure to explore the many caves that are dotted along the route!
Once you reach the end of the gorge you then have a few options, most people will turn around here and dive deep into the gorge again, following the same route back that they walked in. Another option is to follow a less-trafficked and slightly more strenuous route via Vordergraseck. This route is perfect for those wanting to add a little extra distance on their hike and enjoy the beautiful flora surrounding them.
The final option takes a little more planning and is only recommended to the most ardent of hikers. This is to continue upwards to Zugspitze, the tallest mountain in Germany. This hike usually takes around 8-10 hours, but you will be rewarded with incredible views of the Bavarian mountains. I highly recommend continuing on to complete this hike, but please be advised that it is very strenuous and people often complete it as part of a two-day adventure, with many mountain huts being available along the way.
Painter’s Way – 110km
As you may have guessed from the name, this incredible multi-day hike takes you across some of the most beautiful scenery in the country. Also known as the ‘Saxon Switzerland’, this incredible hike gained popularity amongst many aspiring and well-established painters in the 19th century. Not an artist? Don’t worry, because along this hike you will discover how Mother Nature uses Germany as her canvas, painting the way with lush greenery, incredible mountains, and awe-inspiring rock formations.
Starting and finishing in the cute town of Pirna, a short train ride away from Dresden, this circular route weaves and carves its way through the region’s forests, guiding you through many historical sites along the way. If you’re new to multiday hikes and are worried about what it may entail, then this is possibly the best first one to try. This hike wanders through many small towns and villages, meaning you don’t have to bring all your food or camp along the way. This also gives you the option of just completing single legs of the journey and taking a bus back to your start point.
If you have the time, and the energy however, I highly recommend completing the entire circuit of this hike, as each section offers spectacular and unique views of the area. Along the way, you may even recognise some of the filming locations for Chronicles of Narnia.
The trail is very well marked and you can pick up detailed maps from any tourist information centre, so what are you waiting for? Slide on your hiking boots and go out to explore this insanely beautiful area.
Goethe Way to summit Brocken – 16km
As the tallest mountain (1,141m/3743ft) in Harz National Park, this incredible journey will follow the footsteps of hikers and poets dating back to as early as 1800. First head to the National Park Visitor Centre in Torfhaus, this will give you invaluable information on the Harz National Park as well as detailed hiking maps of the area. There are many to choose from, but this one is by far my favourite!
Named after the famous poet of the same name, this incredible trail will take you through vast woodlands before heading up to the Brocken, a mountain with stunning views of the National Park. Along this walk, you will encounter large spruce forests, as well as ancient willows and a huge array of animals! Make sure to check the weather before heading up, as it can change quickly and can add hours onto the already strenuous hike.
Wasserfallsteig – 13.7km
So you’ve come to Germany and want to experience some waterfalls? Well, this area, complete with several trails will not disappoint! Each trail is clearly marked and easy to follow and is even equipped with difficulty level and distance. Due to the many different routes to take, many of which are on level ground, this hike is perfect for fit families wanting to get their teens out and about.
Following a small stream and encountering not one, but two incredible waterfalls, the main Wasserfallsteig trail is the one I’d suggest to head down. This trail will take you through jungle-like scenery, breathtaking views of the surrounding areas, and two equally inspiring waterfalls.
Situated close to the inaccurately named town of Bad Urach, near Stuttgart, this hike will guide you through a world of contrasts. From dense forests, to open meadows, deep valleys to high hills. As an added bonus, this hike is a circular route, meaning you can park your car at the entrance and can return to it at the end of the day without ever walking the same path twice.
Rheinsteig Trail – 320km
Known to be one of the oldest hiking trails in Germany, this incredible long-distance hike will take you through unparalleled scenery, many cute local towns, and several castles and palaces. With the perfect balance between getting lost in nature and inspiring human history, you will not be disappointed in embarking on this awesome hike.
Leading from Bonn to Koblenz, you will be hiking through forest, rock trails, and even several vineyards to tickle your tastebuds. This will make winding down in the evening after a long day of hiking that much easier. This hike can also be done in individual sections, so don’t be put off by the long distance.
Much of the hike was originally used to connect historic towns and so you can easily explore a small stretch before taking a bus back to your accommodation or vehicle. Either way, I highly recommend doing at least some stretch of this awesome journey, with some highlights including the Rheinsteig King’s Stage, the neverending wineries, and any of the several castles and palaces en route.
Schluchsee Loop – 17.21km
This leisurely hike will take you around the largest lake in the black forest, providing spectacular views of the water from every angle. This hike is easily accessible by public transport, starting and finishing in the town of Schluchsee, and is a fantastic springboard for anyone wanting to see the incredible beauty that the black forest has to offer.
This hike meanders around the large lake through lush forests, along secluded beaches, and up and over some fantastic viewpoints. As this hike follows the path of the water the entire way, it is a perfect hike for those wanting to take their canine friends along for an adventure!
Hochuferwerg from Sassnitz to Lohme – 12km or 26km
Having been voted the most beautiful hike in Germany several times over the last 30 years, it is no wonder that this beautiful trail makes it onto our list. This stretch of coast runs along the Baltic Sea and provides epic views of the white chalk cliffs of Rügen. The rugged cliffs, adorned with dense forests are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and are located in Jasmund National Park.
There are a couple of options to explore these incredible shores, one being the 12km section between Sassnitz and Lohme, with a shuttle being easily caught back to your start point. Another option is to loop back on a different trail, offering equally stunning, but slightly different views of the area. This hike will bring you through the forests and over the cliffs for around 26km, so make sure you are well-prepared before embarking on this glorious adventure!
Luther Trail – 16km or a total of 410km
Named after Martin Luther, a man who is known to be one of the major catalysts of one of the most prominent religious revolts in Germany; this trail follows the intriguing history of this man and the religious movements of the 16th century.
As a scenic route in its own right, this hike is one for those wanting to explore Germany’s eclectic nature, whilst also learning a lot about its religious history. This long-distance hike will take you to the doors of many Lutheran churches and monuments as well as historic towns which host a vast array of interesting museums.
If the entire 410km isn’t your thing, I recommend doing the shorter stretch from Schmalkalden to Tambach-Dietharz. This 16km leg will take you through beautiful forests, historic sites, and even ends at a water fountain rumoured to be able to heal injuries and sickness.
Busses run often between the towns on weekdays but make sure you know which one you are aiming for if you are setting out to complete this leg of the famous historical hike!
So there you have it, from grand mountains to lush forests, there really is so much to explore in this large European landscape. Make sure to check the weather and visit Tourist Information Centres to ensure the trail you choose is open when you visit!
If you’re on a hiking adventure around Europe, why not head over to the incredibly beautiful Lake District, known around the world to hikers seeking the most gorgeous views?