Last Updated: August 5, 2020

Best Hikes In Germany (Castles And Gorges Galore)

With the Alps, more than 20,000 castles and very beautiful nature, Germany has something to offer to everyone. Views of the Rhine are a norm on most trails, as are ancient ruins and even full-sized fortresses that still stand tall today.

Whether you’re looking for an easy trail that will take you to a popular historic site, or a true 15-day backpacking adventure that covers all of above sights, we have something for you! This guide to the best hikes in Germany won’t leave anyone disappointed, since it only covers the best of what this enchanting country has to offer.

Tips For Hiking In Germany

One of the things you should be aware of is that German hunters work together with the farmers to ensure that there’s no overpopulation of animals that could damage the crops. They mostly hunt in the winter – the cold season isn’t as popular with hikers, but you should be pretty careful if you decided to visit Germany when there’s snow on the ground. If you see lots of green SUVs nearby, it would be best to choose a different hike for that particular day.

Also, German farmers usually drive tractors pretty fast down the hiking trails, so keep an ear out for that. You’ll be able to hear them approaching from a mile away – stay off the road and make sure that your kids or pets fo the same.

Forests in Germany don’t really have good cell reception, so definitely tell people that you’re going on a hike and when you’re supposed to be back. You can also use various different hiking apps that use GPS signals to track your location and can send the coordinates to rescue services with a single tap – the Lifeline option from the AllTrails app is probably the best and most popular one.

Zugspitze über Höllental

Zugspitze

Hike Details

  • Trail length: 19.8 kilometers
  • Elevation Change: 2330 meters
  • Hiking Time: 10-11 hours
  • Starting Point: Grainau parking lot
  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Transportation: Car, train, bus to Grainau

Zugspitze über Höllental is a long and strenuous hiking trail that rewards trekkers with magnificent nature views. On average it takes about 10 hours to do the out-and-back trail, with stops for the best sights along the way.

The first thing you should stop for is Höllentalklamm, which translated from German literally means flume of hell. If you choose to enter and walk around the structure, it will cost you about 3 Euros per person. The path is secured throughout the flume, and it is perfectly safe for children.

Continue along the trail and eventually you will reach Josefskapelle – a shrine/chapel surrounded by trees, rocks and rushing streams. It’s worth it to stop here and admire the gorgeous nature, and you can even rest for a little while in the mountain hut right next to the chapel.

After that you will reach the first challenge of the day – a via ferrata that takes you up Riffel Köpfe. You need technical gear for the climb, since the ascent is very steep. After that, the trail continues to reward you with beautiful waterfalls and stunning views of the Zugspitze glacier. Then it’s just one more via ferrata and a short hike and you’ll be at the top of Zugspitze, the nation’s highest summit!


Feldbergsteig

Feldbergsteig

Hike Details

  • Trail length: 12.9 kilometers
  • Elevation Change: 550 meters
  • Hiking Time: 4-5 hours
  • Starting Point: Haus der Natur
  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Transportation: Car, bus

Felbergsteig is a loop hike that’s rated as one of the best trails in the country by the German Hiking Institute. That’s because the trail boasts 77 interesting sights along the way, making the total experience value of the hike very high.

But make no mistake; although it might seem like a short loop, it’s still very difficult. You are met with the first challenge as soon as you start the hike – the strenuous ascent on Panorama Path. Once you’ve made it to the top, you are rewarded with spectacular views of the French Vosges Mountains on the western side and the Swiss Alps on the southern side.

On your way to the Feldberg peak you will also pass by the Bismarck monument, the Feldberg cable car line, Feldberg tower and the Grüblesattel mountain saddle. The descent from the summit takes a completely different route, and it rewards you with even more breathtaking views.

There are lots of places where you can stop along the way to rest or grab a bite – St. Wilhelmer Hütte, Zastler Hütte, and Baldenweger Hütte are just a few. From there it’s just more adventures along the way – narrow paths, small bridges and a farm that’s been around for more than 300 years! Once you’ve passes the banks of Feldsee lake, you’re very close to the end of the trail.


Rotweinwanderweg (Red Wine Trail)

Red Wine Trail

Hike Details

  • Trail length: 38.6 kilometers
  • Elevation Change: 1220 meters
  • Hiking Time: 1-2 days
  • Starting Point: Near Are Castle
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Transportation: Car, bus, train to Altenahr

The Red Wine trail is a great hike for all of you who aren’t strangers to multi-day hikes. The trail itself is moderately difficult and not very technically demanding, but it is pretty long and not everyone can complete it within the day.

Plus, it’s the Red Wine trail – it will take you through many different vineyards and if you’re rushing to do the hike in just one day, you won’t be able to stop and taste those delicious German wines. If you give yourself an extra day to make it through the Ahr Valley, you can even indulge in those extra glasses you probably shouldn’t drink.

The trail starts near the Are Castle or rather the ruins of the ancient fortress. Although it’s nowhere near as impressive as the other magnificent castle this country has to offer, it’s worth it to stop for a while and snap some photos.

This hike is not really difficult or technically demanding – a lot of the trail is actually used by agricultural vehicles, so it’s a well marked and easy to walk path. It also tends to be really busy over the weekends – if you want to avoid crowds, winter is the best time to do this wonderful hike.


Trail To Neuschwanstein Castle

Neuschwanstein Castle

Hike Details

  • Trail length: 4.7 kilometers
  • Elevation Change: 233 meters
  • Hiking Time: 2 hours max
  • Starting Point: Hohenschwangau
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Transportation: To Hohenschwangau: Train to Füssen, bus to Hohenschwangau

Germany has more than 20,000 castles, but few are as breathtaking as Neuschwanstein castle. It’s one of the most famous castles in the world and it gets more than a million visitors every year! Which also means that it’s almost always going to be pretty crowded there, but without a doubt you will enjoy the trail that takes you there. The palace sits above the Hohenschwangau village and offers magnificent views of the area.

The hike to the village is quite short and not very demanding – that’s great because you will have enough energy to roam around the castle and explore as much of it as you can. You will need to purchase tickets when you arrive (or before), and you can choose whether you want to explore the castle on your own or with a guide.

The trail itself is pretty short and not very difficult – it takes about an hour and a half, maybe a little more to reach the castle and get back to Hohenschwangau. It is a bit steep at times and that’s the only reason it’s rated as a moderately difficult trail. Along the way you will pass by a majestic waterfall – cross Mary’s Bridge for spectacular views of the magnificent castle and the gorge.


Schluchtensteig

Schluchsee

Hike Details

  • Trail length: 119 kilometers
  • Elevation Change: Ascent 3,180 meters/ descent 3,290 meters
  • Hiking Time: 6 days/possible in 5
  • Starting Point: Waldshut-Tiengen
  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Transportation: Train, bus, car - some trains pass through Switzerland

The Schluchtensteig hike is a long distance trail through the Southern Black Forest Nature Park. It is divided into six different stages and each of the stages represents a day on the trail. The stages are all around 20 kilometers, which comes down to about 5-6 hours of hiking every day. The entire trail is 119 kilometers long, and is very challenging at times.

Certain parts of the hike are exposed along rocky gorges and surefootedness is an absolute must. Some parts also feature very steep descents, You can do the entire trail without any technical equipment, but you will need lots of food and drink since certain stages don’t offer any refreshments along the way. Additionally, it’s recommended that you bring some sort of rain protection and wear ankle-high hiking boots, in order to be prepared for all different parts of the trail.

The six stages of the Schluchtensteig connects seven different gorges, with some spectacular sights along the way. Wonderful waterfalls, rushing streams, castles, forests, cow pastures, lookout points and via ferratas are all part of the 119-kilometer long trail, so prepare yourself accordingly. Reaching the end of the trail is a very rewarding experience, one you will certainly nostalgically remember for years to come.


The Eifelsteig

Eifelsteig

Hike Details

  • Trail length: 313 kilometers
  • Elevation Change: Ascent 7,633 m / descent 7,667 m
  • Hiking Time: 15 days
  • Starting Point: Kornelimünster
  • Difficulty: Hard/ Individual stages range from easy to hard
  • Transportation: Bus, train, car

The Eifelsteig is another long distance hiking trail for experienced backpackers. And it has its own slogan – just you, the water and the rocks. If that sounds appealing to you, then the 313-kilometer beast of a trail is perfect for you!

This is an adventure for the most daring backpackers, who aren’t scared of a 15-day adventure through Germany’s stunning nature. It will be such a rewarding experience, since you will encounter many different landscapes along the way from rushing rivers to the largest intact highland moor in entire Europe.

The long distance hike is divided into 15 different stages, and you can just do one of the stages if you are not up for a two-week adventure. Individual stages differ in length and difficulty – the shortest and easiest part of the trail is actually the first stage, so it’s perfect for beginners who just want to experience a slice of this heaven. The penultimate stage is actually the longest, as it coves nearly 28 kilometers of the trail in a single day, taking you through forests and valleys to idyllic villages and breathtaking viewpoints.

If you decide to embark upon the two-week adventure, you should know that there are various accommodation options along the way. You can do the entire trail while sleeping in mountain huts, but you will need to bring sufficient food and water since not all stages feature enough refreshments along the way.


Baybach Gorge Dream Loop

Babach Gorge Loop

Hike Details

  • Trail length: 10.5 kilometers
  • Elevation Change: 413 meters
  • Hiking Time: 3-4 hours
  • Starting Point: Heyweiler
  • Difficulty: Moderate/Hard - high fitness level required
  • Transportation: Car, bus

The Baybach Gorge Dream loop is a moderately difficult circuit hike that is rated very highly by the German Hiking Institute. It’s not a very long long hike – you can cover the loop in just some four hours, but you are climbing for 413 meters during the initial ascent.

This trail takes you through the narrow valley of the Baybach stream and past rocky slopes that are covered with moss. You will climb uphill to rocky ridges and through several stunning passages in the gorge. We highly recommend you stop by the Barreterlei lookout point, as it offers some truly spectacular views.

In terms of technical difficulty and equipment, you will only need sturdy hiking shoes and walking poles. The poles make the steep ascents and descents easier and allow you to move slightly faster along the trail. And don’t be fooled by the short length of the trail – you will have to climb over some jagged rocks, pass through a mining tunnel and ultimately ascent on the Hunsrück plateau for the best view of the Baybach valley. Although it’s not a very technically demanding trail, it is only suitable for people with high fitness levels.


Löwenburg Loop from Rhöndorf

Drachenburg

Hike Details

  • Trail length: 12.6 kilometers
  • Elevation Change: 634 meters
  • Hiking Time: 4-5 hours
  • Starting Point: Rhöndorf
  • Difficulty: Moderate/Hard
  • Transportation: Train, bus, car

The Löwenburg Loop is a demanding hiking trail best suited for very fit people. Prior hiking experience is required due to very steep ascents and difficult terrain. The trail starts in Rhöndorf, which is easily accessible by public transport.

One of the best things about this strenuous loop is the amount of different things you will experience along the way. From spectacular river views to fields of wild flowers – the Löwenburg circuit is as rewarding as it is demanding. You will also pass by two ancient castles along the way – the Drachenburg that was built way back in the 12th century and the younger Löwenburg from the 18th century. Both are absolutely spectacular and it is worth it to take some time off the hike to admire the magnificent fortresses.

The rest of the trail varies in difficulty – at times, you’re climbing up steep, rocky hills, and other times you’re casually strolling along a paved path. We also highly recommend climbing to Großer Breiberg – even though the ascent is very demanding, the spectacular views from the top make the entire experience worth it.


Westweg Trail Through Black Forest

Westweg Murg Valley

Hike Details

  • Trail length: 285 kilometers (divided into 12 individual stages)
  • Elevation Change: Approximately 8,000 meters
  • Hiking Time: 13-28 days (depending on weather, detours etc.)
  • Starting Point: Pforzheim
  • Difficulty: Moderate/Hard
  • Transportation: Bus, train, car

The Westweg trail is thought the be the origin of all long-distance hikes in Germany. The 12-stage trail features a total length of 285 kilometers, and it could take you anywhere from two weeks to a month to cover it.

Doing the entire trail will have you climbing a total of 8,000 meters, which is pretty impressive for a hiking trail that’s not even in the Alps! Also, the total elevation gain and the actual length of the trail are not really beginner friendly, so we only recommend this particular hike to experienced and fit hikers.

You will probably love being in the forests, away from all those crowded tourists spots surrounded only by untouched nature. And if you’re not up for spending the night in a tent under the starry sky, no worries – there are plenty of guesthouses, mountain huts and even hotels along each of the trail stages.

The trail actually takes you all the way to Basel, so you will be able to brag that you walked all the way from Germany to Switzerland! And you will have stunning photograph proof, if you bring your favorite camera along for the ride.


Drei Schluchtenweg (Three Gorges Trail)

wutach-gorge

Hike Details

  • Trail length: 9.7 kilometers
  • Elevation Change: 274 meters
  • Hiking Time: 3 hours
  • Starting Point: Drei-Schluchten-Halle Park
  • Difficulty: Easy/Moderate
  • Transportation: To Löffingen: Bus, train, car

Drei Schluchtenweg is a moderately difficult loop trail that’s perfect for all of you who want to experience Germany’s beautiful nature. This trail features serene waterfalls, three spectacular gorges, unique rock formations and a meadow.

The loop trail is not very long, and it shouldn’t take you much more than three hours to complete the entire hike. It’s rated as moderately difficult because certain parts are very rocky and require you to have some prior climbing experience, but beginners should be able to do the hike if they are focused and have proper gear – meaning sturdy hiking shoes that will provide you with enough traction for those steep ascents and descents. Good walking poles should also be helpful.

There’s an inn practically in the middle of the Gauchach gorge where you can stop for refreshments and grab a bite to eat – perfect for getting some of that energy back so you can just power through the rest of the loop!