Discover Germany's top hiking trails and cycling tracks (German National Tourist Office)

Germany's top hikes and cycle trails

Want a trip that's both good for your health and a feast for the eyes? Look no further than Germany for heart-pumping hikes and rewarding cycle trails

Whether you're an avid hiker or keen cyclist, Germany has it all. With routes running through historical sites, breathtaking natural parks, past roaring rivers and luscious valleys, Germany has more than 50 hiking trails and over 200 long-distance cycling routes for you to enjoy.

The routes cater to a range of fitness levels and no matter what your wanderlust craves, there is something here for everyone. With clearly marked routes, you can disconnect from the world and leave your mobile phone at home – you won't need the GPS.

Lace up those walking boots!

For those who have itchy feet, here are our five most exhilarating hikes on easy-to-follow trails:

1. Rheinsteig

Difficulty rating: 3/5
Length: 320km/198 miles
Route: Wiesbaden to Bonn

Running from the Rheingau region to the Siebengebirge hills, this trail follows the majestic Middle Rhine and includes views of countless castles, stately homes, cliffs and vineyards, which have helped to shape this beautifully rustic landscape. Keeping clear of the bustling built-up areas, the Rheinsteig trail allows walkers to fully immerse themselves in nature.

Combine this trail with the Rhein-Burgen-Wanderweg (Rhine Castles Trail) to see even more of the historic and romantic Rhine.

2. Goldsteig

Difficulty rating: 4/5
Length: 660km/410 miles
Route: Marktredwitz to Passau

Heading through low mountain ranges, a national park and five nature reserves, the Goldsteig trail follows an old trading route from the river Danube to Bohemia. The walk is littered with small lakes and offers views of one of Germany's surviving unspoilt river landscapes, the Ilz. The trail leads you from the wildly romantic ruins of Weissenstein Castle to the impressive Falkenberg Castle with its spectacular natural foundations.

After passing through Oberviechtach, the trail forks, offering the choice of two routes. For the more physically fit, the northern route leads through the Bavarian National Forest and along craggy mountain peaks, offering spectacular views. The southern route offers the charms of glorious alpine panoramas, while being easier on the legs. With dazzling geological sights and panoramic vistas, the Goldsteig provides everything that a hiker could want.

3. Rennsteig

Difficulty rating: 3/5
Length: 168km/104 miles
Route: Hörschel to Blankenstein

Germany's oldest and most famous long-distance hiking trail once served as a border; the 18th century boundary stones still adorn this magnificent trail. With parts of the trail inaccessible until quite recently, there is an abundance of undisturbed wildlife, along the easy-to-follow, well-marked route. The high-level path rarely drops below 500 metres and offers astounding views.

When hiking through the Ebertswiese nature reserve watch out for the Spitter stream, which cascades into a stunning waterfall.

4. Harz Witches Trail

Difficulty rating: 2/5
Length: 94km/58 miles
Route: Osterode to Thale

Veiled in intrigue, myth and mystery, the Harz Trail passes through Germany's classic, fairytale countryside. The eerie Mount Brocken gives rise to the tales of witches and sorcery. Often shrouded in mist, hikers can trek up or around this spectacular peak. The ore mines that litter the trail help to explain the region's cultural history and dramatic geological landscape.

This picturesque trail weaves through enchanted forests, medieval towns, mountain meadows bursting with colour, unspoiled valleys, along babbling brooks and past  jagged rocks – everything you'd expect from a fairytale setting. For those captivated by mystery, there's even a unicorn cave...

With a plethora of wildlife also in the area, trekkers may be lucky enough to spot a wildcat or a lynx.

5. Westweg

Difficulty rating: 3/5
Length: 280km/173 miles
Route: Pforzheim to Basle

This hilly walk takes you along moor and woodlands, descending with the River Murg Valley before ascending past the Schwarzenbach Dam to the breathtaking Black Forest. The trail passes the expansive Titisee lake before forking off to either the Herzogenhorn and Hochkopf peaks, or over Mount Feldberg and Mount Belchen, Germany's tallest peaks outside the Alps. These all provide spectacular views of lush deep valleys, with the trail ending across the border in Switzerland. Hike past beautiful cirque lakes, plunging gorges and through Germany's largest and oldest nature conservation area.

Find more information on hiking in Germany and more trails online.

Get on your bike!

Walking is not the only way to enjoy the breathtaking natural landscape that Germany has to offer. Littered with crumbling castles, small villages and traditional part-timbered buildings, there are plenty of ways for cyclists to enjoy the country's fascinating cycling trails. Suitable for all fitness, the varied trails are all well-marked and most are found away from traffic-filled roads.

Here are our favourite routes for cycling enthusiasts:

1. Die Pur

Difficulty rating:  4/5
Length: Two circular tours, one of 40km/24 miles and the other 50km/31 miles
Route: Circuits around the St Ingbert countryside, in the Saarland region

Originally used for mountain bike marathons, these circuits have been adapted to serve for mountain bike enthusiasts of all levels, from novices to seasoned riders. Perfect for those that enjoy narrow winding paths that provide the ideal conditions even in wet weather, the route encompasses spectacular natural monuments, red sandstone formations sculpted by nature and unspoilt mixed forest. But be warned steep ascents along the track will have your thighs burning.

2. Berlin Wall Trail

Difficulty rating: 2/5
Length: 160km/99 miles
Route: Follows the course of the former GDR border fortifications encircling Berlin

Travel along this historic landmark trail for a ride filled with remnants of Germany's modern history. Marked by watchtowers, museums and memorial sites, parts of the city's iconic wall can still be seen from the saddle. Passing through Berlin, the route provides a diverse experience for the rider, from city vistas steeped with history to stretches of serene natural beauty.

3. Baltic Coast Cycle Route

Difficulty rating: 3/5
Length: 1,095km/680 miles
Route: Flensburg to Ahlbeck/Usedom

With the roaring sea as your companion for the length of this ride, you will never feel lonely (although you may feel slightly windswept). This beautiful coastal landscape boasts some spectacular sights, including the remarkable chalk cliffs of Rügen, idyllic white sand beaches and dramatic coastlines. The route takes you through forests to exquisite peninsulas, islands and seafront villages. The terrain is mostly flat coastal tracks, making it a pleasant and enjoyable ride.

4. Moselle Cycle Route

Difficulty rating: 2/5
Length: 250km/155 miles
Route: Perl to Koblenz

Moselle cycle route encaptures everything that you would hope for from a German bike tour: picturesque vineyards, romantic towns and rolling green hillsides. The trail starts in Perl and progresses to Trier, Germany's oldest town, where history enthusiasts can revel in ancient Roman sites.

Indulge in some wine tasting and ride past medieval castles as you make your way along the Moselle river.

5. Elbe Cycle Route

Difficulty rating:  2/5
860km/534 miles
Route: Schöna/Bad Schandau to Cuxhaven/Brunsbüttel

Germany's most popular cycling route follows the Elbe river from the Czech Republic border, taking you north through the Saxon Switzerland National Park up to the North Sea coast. Travelling through a diverse landscape, including the largest expanse of unbroken natural woodland in Central Europe, Dresden's Semper Opera House and Hanseatic towns, the route is steeped with an exhilarating history and panoramic vistas.

Find more information on cycling in Germany and more routes online.

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