The German countryside is as diverse as it is wonderful: from the North German Lowlands framed by the North and Baltic Sea to the idyllic scenes of Bavaria in the south, where the Alps jut up dramatically over verdant valleys, wide plains, and sprawling mountain lakes. Water landscapes and floodplain forests are rich with local flora and fauna and are the perfect destination for a day-long wander with a loved one or your family. Those who feel at home in nature will feel even more at home at one of Germany’s state-of-the-art nature hotels.
Where to stay at a nature hotel in Germany? Important destinations at a glance:
Wadden Sea National Park: Unique water wonderland and the North Sea
© Rackmers-Hof Hotel garni Referred to by some as the “German Ocean,” the North Sea is as capital R romantic as one finds in Germany and perhaps anywhere — rough waters, boundless low skies, long quiet beaches, it’s no wonder this special coastline as served as inspiration for the likes of Caspar David Friedrich. The UNESCO World Heritage-protected Wadden Sea National Park covers a third of the total area of the German state Schleswig Holstein, which straddles the coastline, and consists of the world’s most extensive contiguous mudflat landscape. The seascape hosts all from dunes and perfect beaches to salt marshes and is a choice location for those looking to get in touch with nature in a special way — a stay at a nature hotel in the area will even further enhance your experience in this wonderful and unique place. On the island Föhr or Sylt off the North Sea peninsula, the nature hotels often come equipped with special Finnish saunas, hyper-modern amenities, and a traditional old-Germany flair. The Wadden Sea, the intertidal zone making up the southern part of the North Sea, is home to more than 3,000 animal species as well as special migratory birds, making it a beautiful spot for bird-watching walks, cycling over the dikes, swimming off the beaches, and trying to spot the 6,000 yearly harbor porpoises who visit annually.
Saxon Switzerland: Old-world beauty
Not widely known by non-Germans, Saxon Switzerland is a real hidden gem. Located in eastern Saxony, south of Dresden and where Germany borders Poland and the Czech Republic, this beautiful chunk of land hosts the country’s largest adjacent pond area and is home to myriad animal and plant species, including the endangered white stork, kingfisher, white-tailed eagle, and otters. The area is beholden to its natural beauty, replete with dense forests, flowing rivers like the mighty Elbe, the Elbe Sandstone Mountains, and the long chain of sparkling lakes and ponds. This region is best experienced on horseback, on slow walks, with a swim in clear water, or in a rowboat on one the many rivers that flows through the varied and breathtaking terrain. Outside of slow wandering, those more adventurous nature-lovers can try out some of the 700 summits suitable for rock climbing, the 400 kilometers of hiking trails, or a trek or bike ride up to the famous Bastei Bridge. Staying at a nature hotel out in the country in the thick of it ensures you’ll feel all the mysticism and laid-back energy of this holiday paradise, whether in a castle-like establishment with a romantic interior or in a lavish wellness-oriented nature hotel resort with multiple pools and spa centers. Saxon Switzerland also boasts a special culture and cuisine because of its proximity to the border and its long history; make sure to try the Upper Lusatian favorite, cream puffs and check out some of the local museums which shed light on the regional history as well as life in the former GDR.
Bavarian Alps: Natural excursions with an Alpine view
© Panoramahotel Oberjoch Natural excursions and mountain landscapes go hand in hand. Head to the Bavarian Alps for nature at its greatest — from the peaceful and majestic Lake Constance to patently beautiful mountain town of Berchtesgaden, a nature hotel in the Bavarian Alps promises to keep you in touch with the natural in all seasons. In the winter, take advantage of the choice location nearby the best skiing in Germany or hang out all day in the infrared cabin and steam room; in the summer months, wander around the picturesque and undeveloped Forggensee, go for a hike in the Ammer Mountains, or rent an e-bike from your nature hotel and take a ride up to the Allgäu Alps. Germany’s southernmost region has something to offer all visitors — if even just the magnificent views, of which there are plenty. In the west, Allgäu, which sits on the southwestern border with Austria, radiates a particularly old-timey charm, staying true to traditional Bavarian cultures and customs, while also keeping up with the times and maintaining a modern feel, especially within the nature hotels. On Tegernsee, find a generally slower pace — with not much else to do but take in the views, swim or sail, and enjoy delicious food and drink on the shore. For some true Alpine beauty, head east to Berchtesgaden for landscapes straight from a postcard.
Germany’s Northeast Coast: The dreamy Baltic
© Bayside There’s hardly anything more relaxing and restorative than a trip to Germany’s Baltic Sea — one made by Europeans for the same reason for as long as anyone can remember. The Baltic Coast landscapes are something special; the sand is so fine and white that is sometimes exported to other beaches in Germany. In other words, this is the kind of sand you want in your socks. Beyond the sand is the brilliant, light blue sea until it softly meets the edge of the sky. A nature hotel right on the sea or tucked in on the island Usedom promises a blissful stay amid unforgettable scenery — radiating a classic seaside style, the hotels boast spacious rooms with light furnishings and massive windows and sun-soaked balconies. The perfect destination for a romantic excursion into nature, bring your loved one along for long walks on the pristine beach, long sits in the Strandkorb (classic East German beach chair), and long dinners of Schnitzel and pilsner. The best is that you can do all this without leaving the comfort of your nature hotel with its first-rate dining options and onsite relaxation zones.
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