Mountains, cliffs, mud baths: Germany is so beautiful: You must have seen these 7 spots in the south
There is a lot of pent-up demand for vacations: nevertheless, many Germans prefer not to travel to other countries this summer for safety reasons. They don’t have to either, because what our homeland has to offer is phenomenal. A foray through lesser-known spots in the south of the country.
Most people associate southern Germany with Bavaria, Lake Constance, Neuschwanstein Castle or the Alps. But the southern part of Germany has much more to offer – great things in several federal states.
How much, the Cologne publishing house Könemann has with a 700-page illustrated book “ Culture and Landscape: the South” reissued. The expedition through the south of the country is a travel bible, historical atlas, nature guide, picture book, local history, encyclopedia and flip book in XXL size all at the same time. We were inspired by the compendium and present seven lesser-known spots in the south. Dream vacation in your own country!
1. Saarland: Forests, meadows, wild cats and wonderful cities
Little area, but the most hours of sunshine and a natural paradise par excellence: Saarland is often underestimated as a holiday destination because of its mining history – coal mining only ended in 2012. Meanwhile, the region in the border triangle has a multifaceted nature. The forest share alone is more than 60 percent. 100 nature reserves offer habitats for rare animal and plant species such as Konik wild horses in the Beeden biotope or wild orchids in the Bliesgau UNESCO biosphere reserve.
Located in the southwest of Saarland, the area stretches along the border to France and Rhineland-Palatinate: floodplain landscapes, orchards, beech forests, orchid meadows and dry grassland. The endangered little owl feels at home here, as do 40 different species of mammals, including wild cats.
If you are interested in culture as well as hiking in nature, you can visit one of the 200 castles and palaces in the small federal state or the residential towns of Blieskastel and Ottweiler, which are spared from the crowds of tourists.
2. Franconian Switzerland: rocks, caves, rivers, mountains, castles, beer
If you can’t immediately scoff at Upper Franconia on your mental map, imagine the region between the cities of Bamberg, Bayreuth and Nuremberg. The center of Franconia, so to speak. Wild nature rules here – with primeval forests, rugged Jura rocks, karst landscapes, caves and grottos as well as the wild and romantic valley of the Pegnitz. Adventurers and explorers get their money’s worth in Franconian Switzerland, also known as the Franconian Jura.
Be it hiking on the karst hiking trail, climbing on the more than 800 climbing rocks in the region, canoeing on the Pegnitz, visiting the Devil’s Cave, the largest show cave in the Franconian underworld or one of the many castles along the Castle Road. Beer connoisseurs are drawn to Forchheim, where 46 beer cellars offer the finest art of brewing to try out.
Tüchersfeld offers the most atmospheric introduction to the area. A typical small village, towered over by an imposing rock castle and whose Franconian Switzerland Museum conveys interesting facts about culture and nature – concentrated and exciting. More of this awaits in Hersbruck, an insider tip for fans of half-timbered houses.
Book tip (ad)
“Germany – Culture and Landscape: The South” has been published by Könemann Verlag.
3. Swabian Baths Road: 180 kilometers, 7 thermal baths, 4 Kneipp baths and 3 mud baths
Wellness in Upper Swabia: The 180 km long Schwäbische Bäderstraße is considered the dream route among campers that keeps you beautiful, fit and healthy – with pleasantly warm thermal water, extremely healthy natural moor and the holistic teachings of Pastor Sebastian Kneipp. But the spas are also easy to reach for cyclists on the spa cycle path. On average, there is a temple of well-being every 20 kilometers. On the route from Überlingen on Lake Constance to Bad Wörishofen in the Allgäu, you only have to follow the characteristic signpost, a baroque onion tower with a water wave.
Nine towns are connected by the Bäderstraße, including the idyllic Bad Saulgau with its sulphurous thermal springs, the historic town center with half-timbered houses and the Siessen monastery. The Moorheilbad Bad Waldsee is idyllically situated between two natural lakes. Bad Buchau shines with a wetland settlement that is part of the Unesco World Heritage Site. Bad Wurzach is considered to be one of the largest moor landscapes in Central Europe. And in Bad Wörishofen you can relax in the Südsee-Therme under palm trees.
4. Northern Upper Palatinate: Tirschenreuth, Teichpfanne and largest church crypt
When it comes to the Upper Palatinate, Regensburg is usually mentioned. Sure, it’s the only big city and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. But between the many castles and palaces in the Upper Palatinate, such as the castle ruins of Kallmünz, Leuchtenberg and Wolfstein or Friedrichsburg Castle, there are also charming small towns. Tirschenreuth, for example.
For centuries the place has been surrounded by 4000 ponds, the Tirschenreuther Teichpfanne, in which carp, tench and pike are caught. The best view of the many shiny patches of water is from the “Himmelsleiter” viewing platform. From here you can also see Waldsassen to the north. Its basilica is one of the most magnificent baroque churches in southern Germany and also houses one of the largest monastery crypts in Germany.
5. Between Inn and Isar: The unknown side of Lower Bavaria
The hills between the Bavarian rivers Isar and Inn have also been known as “Lower Bavarian Tuscany” for a number of years. This is what East Bavarian tourism marketing advertises with and apart from the temperature, there are actually a number of similarities. Rolling hills, vast fields, small villages, isolated farms and historic towns. Lesser-known places include Dingolfing and Landau an der Isar, both popular with cyclists and nature fans who also want a bit of culture.
Dingolfing became rich in the Middle Ages thanks to its textile trade, which is still evident in many buildings such as the ducal castle and enchanting inner courtyards. Founded in 1224, Landau an der Isar is a typical Wittelsbach town, one of the oldest towns in Lower Bavaria and lies on both sides of the river. A natural phenomenon lies between the towns along the family-friendly Isar cycle path: the growing rock of Usterling, the largest stone channel in Bavaria.
The bizarre karst formation is covered with moss and looks like the buttress roots of a rainforest giant. It has expanded over the past 5000 years to a length of 40 meters and a height of five meters. The reason for this is the lime deposits from an overlying spring. The magically beautiful place is one of the most beautiful geotopes in Bavaria. Already 500 years ago it exerted a magical attraction on people. The spring, which runs over the rock, was considered healing water for eye diseases and was used as baptismal water – which is why the stone is also called “St. John’s Rock”, after John the Baptist.
6. Bad Reichenhall: From the city straight to the mountains
At the south-eastern tip of Bavaria, the Berchtesgaden Alps rise majestically into the sky and there is white gold underground. Over the centuries, the salt from the primeval sea has made Bad Reichenhall the center of salt production in Europe. The brine springs with a salt content of 26 percent are located directly below the town and supply the medicinal alpine brine. In the city of 18,000, which is only 25 kilometers away from Salzburg, there are so many different attractions that the vacation days fly by.
From the barefoot path to the underground tunnel system of the Old Saline via the “Juhasz” department store, which has been voted Germany’s most beautiful fashion store. Up to a hike to the Höllenbachalm, a bike tour on the Mozart bike path or to take off with the oldest original large cabin cable car in the world to the Predigtstuhl. Bad Reichenhall’s local mountain is 1583 meters high and offers a fantastic panorama: Watzmann massif, central high Alps, Chiemsee, Munich. And with good visibility even to the Great Arber in the Bavarian Forest. Those who like it more comfortable can breathe in the healthy brine in the graduation house in the spa park and then bask in the warm water of the Rupertus Therme.
7. Kraichgau: In the land of a thousand hills
The lovely Kraichgau stretches out between the Odenwald and the Black Forest in the north-west of Baden-Württemberg. Villages with half-timbered houses, old city gates, fountains and broom inns – hidden in between are vineyards and meadow orchards. The villages have names like Kürnbach, Odenheim, Heidelsheim or Obererdingen, which most Germans have never heard of. This also makes the self-proclaimed “Baden Tuscany” a destination where comfort and tranquility still dominate.
The many ravines that have formed in the soft loess soil of the area over the centuries fit in well with this. The twelve meter deepest ravine – the gallows – is located in Oberöwisheim and has an exciting history. Hiking to the highest elevations of the Kraichgau is also possible for families with small children, as they are a maximum of 300 meters high. The highest peak is the 333 meter high Burgberg. Steinsberg Castle near Sinsheim is enthroned on the old volcano – visible from afar.
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