The most intense travel experiences are the ones you do on foot. Here we present our insider tips for hundreds of kilometres of long distance walking trails for gourmets and fitness enthusiasts
Get to know the most beautiful parts of the Oberallgäu over more than 200 kilometres: from the hills around Kempten with their meadows, woods and lakes to the mountains of the Nagelfluh range and the peaks of the Allgäu Hauptkamm near Oberstdorf and Hindelang. And back again. Take your passport as this tour crosses national borders. Moderate.
The route has an elevation gain of around 7,500 metres. You can divide the route into eleven sections, but also vary it according to your individual needs. The best starting point is Altusried but you can embark on the trail at any stage. Inns and huts provide accommodation and refreshments along the route.
oberallgaeu.de (only in German)
Walk through the Allgäu in 54 stages. On a network of trails with three long routes. The “Wiesengänger” (Meadow Walkers) route passes through hilly landscape in the west and terraced scenery in the east and in the Unterallgäu region. You walk along easy paths and enjoy lovely views of the Alps: 438 kilometres and 22 stages.
The “Wasserläufer” (Water Seekers) route is full of streams and rivers, small waterfalls and lots of lakes. Its paths are slightly more challenging: 406 kilometres and 26 stages. The “Himmelsstürmer” (Sky Stormers) route is ambitious. It requires fitness and stamina in the mountain landscape and goes through the Alpine peaks: 358 kilometres and 24 stages. The “Himmelsstürmer” route is suitable for experienced hikers with average endurance.
allgaeu.de (only in German)
An attractive mixture: nature, culture and cuisine between Neustadt an der Donau and Passau. 220 kilometres of variety and diversity: romantic river landscapes, charming towns and delicious specialities such as Agnes Bernauer Torte in Straubing or hearty Deggendorfer dumplings. The route can be divided into ten stages, which can be shortened or extended as necessary.
River trips on boats or ferries offer a particularly special experience. Along the way there are plenty of options for refreshments and accommodation. Walkers can quench their thirst with regional beer specialities or even Regensburger Landwein in Kruckenberg! Package deals with luggage transport are available.
donaupanoramaweg.de (only in German)
Bavarian-Swabian Way of St. James
Reflection and mindfulness on the Way of St. James. 140 kilometres of this famous pilgrimage route run through Bavarian Swabia. This section of the pilgrimage trail network begins in Oettingen and crosses the Nördlinger Ries crater and the Lech plains. It passes Holzen Abbey then goes on to Augsburg (six stages). There it splits into an eastern route (via Bad Wörishofen, five stages) and a western route (via Maria Vesperbild near Ziemetshausen and Memmingen, seven stages).
The ultimate destination in both cases is Bad Grönenbach in the Unterallgäu. The routes from Oettingen cover a total of 305 or 345 kilometres. From the Unterallgäu, the Way of St. James carries on to Lake Constance. It is marked with a yellow scallop shell on a blue background.
bayerisch-schwaben.de (only in German)
Explore the Bavarian part of the Spessart: beautiful views, castle ruins, pristine landscapes, palaces and abbeys. Aschaffenburg is the best place to start. From there, Spessartweg 1 (63 kilometres) goes through beech woods past Rothenbuch and on to Lohr, with its old town and the Spessart Museum. Then on to the pilgrimage church of Mariabuchen and to Gemünden, the town of three rivers (Main, Sinn and Saale). This can be done in three or four stages.
Spessartweg 2 (58 kilometres) leads in three stages from the climatic spa of Heigenbrücken to Mespelbrunn, with its famous moated castle and the pilgrimage church of Hessenthal featuring the “Beweinungsgruppe” by Tilmann Riemenschneider. After the Geißhöhe with its panoramic views and the ruins of Henneburg, the route enters Stadtprozelten am Main. Both routes have the distinction of being a “Wanderbares Deutschland” quality walking trail.
spessartweg.de (only in German)
This trail goes through archetypical Franconia. 520 kilometres. From Rennsteig to the Schwäbische Alb. The route (a “Wanderbares Deutschland” quality walking trail) links six Franconian holiday regions and showcases the variety of this region. The starting point is in Untereichenstein on the border with Thüringen, then it heads through the green lushness of the Franconian Forest.
The first highlights are the wildly romantic Höllental and Flößerland of the Wilde Rodach River, followed by the towns of Kronach and Kulmbach. This is followed by the delightful Obermain-Jura region. Beautiful views from the Staffelberg and the architectural masterpiece that is the Basilica of the Fourteen Holy Helpers. Rocks, caves and pretty villages dominate Franconian Switzerland.
The Nuremberg region features castles and small towns while the Nature Park Altmühltal offers bleak Jura mountain scenery and juniper heathland. After passing through the Franconian Lake District, the route ends in Harburg.
frankenweg.de (only in German)
In the heart of Franconia, discover the Steigerwald Forest on a 160 kilometre trail. This is one of Germany’s most valuable deciduous woodland areas. The “Wanderbares Deutschland” quality walking trail begins in Bad Windsheim, heads over the Kehrenberg, Hohen Landsberg and Scheinberg mountains in the south, and through extensive deciduous woodland in the north. It comes to an end on the Michaelsberg, above Bamberg.
The route is divided into nine stages. The trail has 3,360 metres of ascent and 3,653 metres of descent. Along the way there are some charming historic towns (such as the wine town of Iphofen, boasting one of the loveliest market places in all Franconia, or Ebrach with its remarkable abbey church), castles and ruins (including the Stollburg, where Walther von der Vogelweide is said to have been born). The Panoramaweg leads through remote forests and offers wonderful viewpoints along the way with distant vistas.
steigerwaldtourismus.com (only in German)
Up and down for 428 kilometres through Franconia. From the Franconian Forest in the north to the Fichtel Mountains and the Oberpfälzer Steinwald Forest to the east, then veering southwest into Franconian Switzerland and finally heading south towards Nuremberg. From Untereichenstein in the Selbitz Valley to the valley of the Pegnitz near Hersbruck.
This route (a “Wanderbares Deutschland” quality walking trail) takes in striking Franconian peaks like the Schneeberg, the highest summit in the Fichtel Mountains, and the Ochsenkopf. Multi-faceted scenery and nature experiences.
Cultural highlights are also plentiful, such as the famous Margravial Opera House and more in Bayreuth, Pottenstein, with its castle and the Devil’s Cave, and Waldsassen (in neighbouring Oberpfalz) that boasts a celebrated library and the Kappl Sanctuary of the Holy Trinity.
fraenkischer-gebirgsweg.de (only in German)
This “Glass Route” runs for 80 kilometres through the Oberpfälzer Wald, through the natural parkland between Naabtal and the Böhmerwald Forest. Always on the trail of glass manufacture and processing.
This region has a tradition of glass production dating back five hundred years. Conditions were ripe for this industry thanks to a wealth of timber, water power for energy generation and quartz deposits. The trail starts in Georgenberg on the Czech border and circles round past Pleystein, Vohenstrauß and Waidhaus, among others. Some former glass cutting works and other workplaces are open to visitors. Most towns offer refreshments and accommodation. “Luggage-free walking” package deals are available.
660 kilometres of walking pleasure. Feeder paths and linking routes extend this to 2,000 kilometres. The Goldsteig (a “Wanderbares Deutschland” quality walking trail) traverses the harsh yet beautiful low mountain landscape of the Oberpfälzer Wald (Upper Palatinate Forest) and the Bayerischer Wald (Bavarian Forest). From Marktredwitz to Passau. The southern route is moderate and leads from Thanstein over the hills of the Anterior Bavarian Forest with views to the Gäuboden region.
The northern route is more challenging and heads from Thanstein over the thousand-metre peaks of the Bavarian Forest and through the Bavarian Forest National Park. On the way are fascinating places such as castles and palaces, churches, abbeys and museums as well as culinary specialities. Walking package deals and guided walks are available.
Mining history: Erzweg
The Erzweg (a “Wanderbares Deutschland” quality walking trail) that goes from Pegnitz to Kastl combines nature with mining history to create a thrilling hiking experience. The “Ore Trail” features rocky ridges, valleys, gentle hills, streams and rivers. Nestled in the landscape are sites of cultural-historical importance, such as the castle ruins of Lichtenegg, the former mining towns of Amberg and Sulzbach-Rosenberg, the monasteries of Michelfeld and Kastl, and the Baroque Hammerherrenschloss at Theuern.
You can also see traces of the region’s mining history, including the old mines of Leonie, Maffei and Luxemburg and huts like the Maxhütte and Luitpoldhütte. The route can be extended via many connecting walking trails. Information panels at important places. Various package deals are available.
A circular walk through the heart of Bavaria. Thirteen stages and 237 kilometres. This “Wanderbares Deutschland” quality walking trail runs west from Regensburg. From and to Kelheim over the hills and valleys of the rivers Danube, Altmühl, Weißer and Schwarzer Laber, Lauterach, Vils and Naab.
Mediterranean-like karst landscapes alternate with tranquil river scenery. In addition, the route takes in sights such as the Befreiungshalle, Weltenburg Abbey, Fledermaushaus Hohenburg, Klosterburg Kastl, the pilgrimage church of Habsberg and Prunn Castle.
Eighteen “loops” are possible as additional day tours. Modern, seamless waymarking. High percentage of natural paths. Culinary speciality: Juradistl lamb dishes! Walking package deals are available.
Walk 60 kilometres through the Urdonautal valley in five day stages. Numerous rivers have shaped this landscape over millennia. They have created a rich and varied terrain of gentle valley slopes and craggy rocks, juniper heath and alluvial forest as well as the wide Danube.
This “Wanderbares Deutschland” quality walking trail leads from the southern part of the Nature Park Altmühltal near Dollnstein past Wellheim and Rennertshofen through the Wellheim Trockental valley - with limestone grasslands and rocky outcrops rich in butterflies - as far as the Donaumoos bog near Oberhausen and Neuburg an der Donau. The trail lies half way between Munich and Nuremberg. It is easily reached by train. Access via feeder paths from and to various stations.
urdonautalsteig.de (only in German)
The King Ludwig trail
Follow in the footsteps of King Ludwig II through the foothills of the Alps. Over 127 kilometres and six exciting stages, there is plenty of culture and fantastic scenery to enjoy, complete with lakes and panoramic views. From Starnberg, the route goes past Andechs Monastery to the Marienmünster in Dießen am Ammersee. It then goes on to Wessobrunn Abbey and through the Ammerschlucht (Ammer Gorge) to Rottenbuch.
The closing highlights include Wieskirche, the Welfenmünster in Steingaden and the royal castles of Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau. The main route crosses Lake Ammersee by ship, or there is an alternative overland route. The highest point on the trail is the Hohe Peißenberg, at almost a thousand metres. Package deals with luggage transport are available.
pfaffen-winkel.de (only in German)
A real long-distance trail. From Lindau on Lake Constance to Berchtesgaden. Around 360 kilometres. Over mountain ridges and cols, peaks and passes. Past the three royal castles of Hohenschwangau, Neuschwanstein and Linderhof as well as charming mountain villages.
The trail is named after King Maximilian. The son of Ludwig I and father of Ludwig II travelled this route by carriage in 1858, covering some stretches on foot. The Maximiliansweg is almost identical to the European Long Distance Walking Trail E4. Most of it is along Alpine paths. Inaccessible in winter. A total of 22 day stages. The highest point is the Hochplatte in the Ammergau Alps, at over 2,000 metres. The route includes around 20,000 metres of elevation gain.
wildganz.com (only in German)
From Bavaria past Salzburg to Upper Austria, from Lake Chiemsee to the Dachstein. This moderate low mountain route is 230 kilometres long, divided into eighteen day stages. The start/end points are Prien am Chiemsee and Obertraun in the Salzkammergut.
The route is certified with the “Premium Walking Trail” quality seal of the German Hiking Institute. It goes past the lakes of Chiemsee, Königssee and Halstättersee and many historical sites. The highest point is the Hochfelln at 1,662 metres.
Along the way you learn a great deal about salt springs and salt deposits and about the history of salt mining. The up-and-down route includes a total of 10,000 metres of elevation gain. Additional day walks and feeder paths or diversions are possible.
salzalpensteig.com (only in German)