• Green Traveller

Local Attractions in Germany

As part of our Green Traveller's Guide to Germany, we select some of the best natural sites and cultural places in this beautiful country

Germany's numerous protected landscapes – its biospheres and national parks, its nature reserves and bird sanctuaries – are a wonderful way to discover the country's unique and various natural habitats and get up close to its abundant wildlife, many species of which you won't find anywhere else in the world.


We have chosen a handful of our favourite natural sites across the country, from family-friendly nature discovery centres and treetop trails to spectacular rock formations. But of course it's not all meadows and mudflats: nestling within the protected landscapes are some of the country's best-loved towns and cities, so we have found spas, monasteries and even a medieval brewery – still in operation – to satisfy those seeking some culture on holiday.

Treetop Trail in Hainich National Park

The huge, triangular-shaped expanse of ancient beech woodland – a national park since 1997 – is the heart of Germany and is one of the best places in the country to learn about forest conservation and sustainability. There some incredible wildlife species to discover – amongst them 15 species of bat, 7 types or woodpecker (who knew there were so many!), and serveral types of wildcats. One of the highlights of the national park is the treetop trail, a 3km-long raised pathway that snakes its way through the tree canopy, offering visitors some fantastic views over the treetops and opportunities to discover more about the surrounding environment from the various learning stations dotted along the route.


The Bastei Rocks, Germany

Tourists have been flocking to this stunning, jagged rock formation in Saxon Switzerland National Park for over 200 years, and it's not hard to see why. Known as the 'City of Stone', the rocks rise up nearly 200 metres above the river Elbe, giving visitors breathtaking panoramic vistas down the meandering river, out across the green fields and the national park's tiny villages beyond. You can explore the site via the network of bridges (originally wooden ropebridges; now, thankfully, constructed in stone) and there are plenty of walking paths at ground level for those who'd rather keep feet firmly on terra firma.


Discovering the natural habitats of the Biosphere Reserve of Bliesgau

The Biosphere Reserve of Bliesgau in Saarland's southeastern corner is home to some of Germany's rarest species of wildlife and plants. The combination of rich chalky grasslands, orchards, wetlands, and dense beech forests means that some of Germany's rarest species thrive in the area. The national park is home to half of Germany's orchid species, as well as other rare plants such as the Maiden Pink, and over 60 different types of grass.


Müritzeum Nature Discovery Centre

The Müritzeum is a brilliantly interactive nature discovery centre which delves deep into the natural world of the surrounding Müritz National Park, famous for its hundreds of lakes and huge swathes of pristine forest. From birds and underwater life to forest management and conservation, the centre touches on all aspects of local flora and fauna. At the centre is the aquarium, home to a 27-year old carp – the centre's oldest resident – and dozens of other freshwater species found in the nearby lakes. The huge exhibition space has a rotating programme of exhibits, including seasons in the national park and an exploration of the landscape from a bird's eye view; the 'Forest Room' has a replica 1000-year old oak tree. There's an outside playground for kids, a restaurant and gift shop. mueritzeum.de


Ettal Abbey, Germany

Nestling in the foothills of the Bavarian Alps in Germany's remote southeast corner, this Benedictine monastery remains one of the region's most important abbeys. Despite a fairly turbulent history, including a fire which destroyed the monastery in the 16th century (it was subsequently rebuilt), Ettal remains a working monastery to this day. Though much of the site is not open to the public, visitors can still wander around the beautifiul courtyards and grounds, and marvel at the impressive basilica (open year-round) -– at some 25 metres across, the stucco'd dome is visible for miles around. The Ettal Brewery, established at the monastery in 1609, is still going strong: the popular Ettal beer, created by the monks using a special blend of local malt and hops and water straight from the Alps, is available to buy at the monastery or in local shops in the town.


Spreewald Therme, Burg, Germany

There is a variety of pools at this wellness centre and spa in the UNESCO biosphere reserve of Spreewald, with thermal baths and a wellness centre, as well as saunas and steams rooms. The spa water comes from an impressive depth of 1, 300 metres below the centre, the mineral-rich water guanateed to make you feel beautifully pampered. There's an on site hotel for those wishing to extend their stay – guests get free entry to the spa centre and discounted treatments.