A total of 16 areas are officially designated as National Parks in Germany. They are therefore considered regions that enjoy special protection from human interference and environmental pollution.
Let me show you the beauty of the national parks in Germany and help you find the right one for you to visit.
Black Forest National Park
We start our list of the best National Parks in Germany with the Black Forest National Park. It is the first national park in Baden-Württemberg and was founded in 2014. The area of the park lies between the Black Forest High Road and the Murg Valley.
The mixed mountain forests that grow here consist of spruce, beech and fir. The landscape is shaped by the mountain ranges of the Black Forest, by the highest mountain in the northern Black Forest, the Hornisgrinde and the Hoher Ochsenkopf.
Embark on a journey of discovery through untouched nature. Roe deer, red deer and black woodpecker live here alongside rare species of insects, amphibians and dragonflies.
If you feel a little exhausted after the hike, the best way to relax is in one of the thermal baths in Baden-Württemberg. Many of them are in the Black Forest.
Special sights and attractions around the Black Forest National Park:
– the adventure pool in Sasbachwalden
– the Triberg Waterfalls
– the Ruhestein National Park Centre
Western Pomeranian Lagoon Area National Park
This beautiful national park with its landscapes and unique beaches is located on the Baltic Sea coast in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.
The area of the park extends along the coast and in the hinterland between Ahrenshoop and the Baltic Sea resort of Zingst.
Western Pomeranian Lagoon Area National Park is the third largest national park in all of Germany. Here trees grow right up to the water and, deformed by the wind, offer a bizarrely beautiful spectacle.
A special feature of the Bodden landscape is the Windwatt. This is not determined by the ebb and flow, but is influenced by the wind.
They are important resting and feeding places for migratory birds.
Popular sights and excursion destinations in and around the Western Pomerania Lagoon Area National Park:
Walk to the western beach of Darss
Excursion to the Hanseatic city of Stralsund
Kellerwald-Edersee National Park
The Kellerwald-Edersee National Park is in Hesse, Germany. The Edersee is one of the most beautiful German bathing lakes and delimits the park with its southern shore.
So you can combine your next vacation with children in the popular travel region directly with a visit to the national park.
Explore the diverse landscape by bike or on foot. The landscape is characterized by mountains and beech forests.
You will also find other forest types such as dry oak forest and hillside forests with precious deciduous trees. Many animals also find their habitat here. In 2007, a wild cat was found for the first time in 60 years.
Popular sights and excursion destinations around the Kellerwald-Edersee National Park:
- Visit to the “Tree Top Walk” at the Edersee
- Visit to the Eder dam
- Ride on the Edersee summer toboggan run
- Visit to the Wild Animal Park Edersee, one of the most beautiful animal parks in Hesse
- The Edersee is one of the most beautiful lakes in Hesse
Harz National Park
We continue our list of the best National Parks in Germany wiht Harz National Park. The largest forest national park extends around the Brocken between Lower Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt.
The landscape of the national park is characterized by spruce and beech forests and many moors. There have always been many myths and stories about the Brocken and the sometimes bizarre rocky landscape.
One more reason, then, for you to set out on your own and find out whether one or the other witch might drop by the Brocken on Walpurgis Night.
The excellent Harzer-Hexen-Stieg hiking trail also runs through the Harz Mountains.
Further highlights await you around the Brocken. I recommend you a visit to the Harz treetop path or the “Brockenblick” toboggan lift.
Other sights in and around the Harz National Park:
- Skiing on the Brocken
- Ride on the Burgberg cable car
- Visit to the house of nature
Jasmund National Park
With around 3,000 hectares, the Jasmund National Park on the island of Rügen is the smallest national park in Germany.
The area of the park is north of the town of Sassnitz and also includes the famous Rügen chalk cliffs and the Königsstuhl viewpoint.
From here you can enjoy a unique view over the coast of Rügen.
It is not for nothing that the chalk cliffs are among the most romantic places in Germany.
Most of the park is covered with dense beech forests, some of these forests have been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2011.
Go on long hikes through the region or explore the national park from above. From the treetop path in the Rügen Natural Heritage Center you have a perfect view of the area.
Bavarian Forest National Park
We continue our list of the best National Parks in German with the Bavarian Forest National Park. It is the first national park to be established in Germany.
The Bavarian Forest National Park was founded in 1970. After an expansion in 1997, it now covers 24,250 hectares and, together with the neighboring Bohemian Forest, is the largest contiguous forest area in Central Europe.
The national park is now an important tourist magnet for the region on the Czech border and is perfect for an active holiday.
You can hike through endless forests here. Marvel at waterfalls in Bavaria and enjoy nature to the fullest.
What is special about the Bavarian Forest National Park are the spruce-rich high-lying forests and some primeval forest remains.
Because of a bark beetle plague in the 1990s, many forest areas have been destroyed and offer a bizarre picture in the otherwise densely forested area. Hikes over the mountains of the Bavarian Forest, the Great Falkenstein, Lusen and the Great Rachel.
Another special feature of the region are raised bogs and bog lakes.
Rare animals such as lynxes, wildcats, beavers and otters also live here, and every now and then a moose from the Czech Republic strays into the Bavarian part of the forest area.
Popular sights in and around the Bavarian Forest National Park:
- Visit to one of the best German treetop paths, the treetop path in the Bavarian Forest
- A tour along the ice age educational trail
- Bike ride on one of the 200 kilometers of marked bike paths
Schleswig-Holstein Wadden Sea National Park
The nearest German national park can be found along the Schleswig-Holstein North Sea coast.
Together with the national parks Hamburgisches Wattenmeer and Niedersächsisches Wattenmeer they form the German Wadden Sea. The national park in Schleswig-Holstein has existed since 1985.
Just like in the other parts of the German Wadden Sea you will find the typical inhabitants of the North Sea here. In addition, a particularly large number of porpoises and shelducks live here.
With an area of 4410 square kilometers, the region is the largest national park in all of Germany. The region is not only popular with active holidaymakers looking for relaxation, but also with bathers from all over Germany who spend their holidays here.
The fact that the North Sea coast is so popular is of course also due to the many beautiful beaches that you can find here.
Popular sights in and around the Schleswig-Holstein Wadden Sea National Park:
- Mudflat walks
- Friedrichskoog seal station
- Kniepsand on Amrum
Saxon Switzerland National Park
Saxon Switzerland – the German part of the Elbe Sandstone Mountains – has been a national park since 1990.
It is the only rock national park in Germany and has been a popular hiking region for many years. One of the most beautiful German hiking trails, the Malerweg leads through Saxon Switzerland.
Particularly well known are the Bastei and the Bastei Bridge, which is a popular vantage point for hikers and walkers.
In addition, the rugged rocks and their formations are a popular climbing area for professionals and amateurs.
Popular excursions in and around the Saxon Switzerland National Park:
- Visit to the largest rock fortress in Europe, the Königstein Fortress
- Experience the natural spectacle of the Lichtenhain waterfall
- Visit Hohenstein Castle
Berchtesgaden National Park
The Berchtesgadener Land and the Berchtesgaden National Park, which you can find at the very tip of Germany around the Königssee, present themselves like the picture-book perfect Alpine landscape.
This is a real German natural wonder and, due to its location in the middle of the mountains, looks more like a Norwegian fjord.
The Berchtesgaden National Park has existed since 1978. It is above all a popular destination for hiking tourists. You can explore the romantic landscape on around 400 kilometers of widely branched paths.
Many artists already knew about the beauty of the mountains, especially the painters and poets of the Romantic era used Berchtesgaden and the Watzmann mountain as motifs for their art.
Popular sights in and around the Berchtesgaden National Park:
- Drive across the Königssee and to the Church of St. Bartolomäi
- Visit to the Obersalzberg Documentation Center
- Skiing in the Berchtesgadener Land
Lower Saxony Wadden Sea National Park
The part of the German Wadden Sea that is part of the Lower Saxony Wadden Sea National Park stretches from the mouth of the Elbe across the East Frisian Islands to the border with the Netherlands.
It covers an area of around 345,800 hectares and, like the other two national parks in the German Wadden Sea, protects sandbanks, salt marshes, beaches, dunes, lugworms, seals and seals.
The Lower Saxony Wadden Sea has been a protected national park since 1986 and is also a popular holiday region in Germany.
Regardless of whether you are spending your summer vacation on one of the East Frisian Islands or whether you are exploring the coast of mainland Germany by bike, you are guaranteed to find the perfect place for your vacation in Germany here.
Popular sights in the Lower Saxony Wadden Sea National Park:
- The tallest lighthouse in Germany, the Campen lighthouse
- Visit to one of the best German adventure pools “Ocean Wave” in the north
- Fun for the whole family, even when the weather is bad: Visit the Wilhelmshaven Aquarium or the North Sea Aquarium on Borkum
Lower Oder Valley National Park
The closest national park in Germany is located in the extreme east of Germany, on the border with Poland.
The Lower Oder Valley has been a designated national park since 1995 and is part of the Lower Oder Valley International Park, which stretches across German and Polish territory between Mieszkowice and Stettin an der Oder.
What is special about the Lower Oder Valley National Park are the polder areas.
Following the Dutch example, the river areas will be extensively dyked. High winter dikes protect the surrounding villages from flooding, while the lower summer dikes are opened every November. In this way, the water of the Oder can flow unhindered and use the entire width of the river valley.
In winter and spring the polder areas are flooded, when the water recedes in April the remaining water is pumped out and the summer dikes are closed again.
Thanks to this technology, there is virtually no risk of flooding for the city of Szczecin and the areas can be used for agriculture in summer. In addition, the flooded meadows are a popular resting place for many migratory birds in winter.
You can also observe white storks, kingfishers and the very rare black stork here.
The most popular sights in and around the Lower Oder Valley National Park include:
- A visit to the ruins of Stolpe Castle
- Sightseeing of the city of Schwedt, the Berlischky-Palvion or the Jewish ritual bath
- A bike ride through the National Park
Müritz National Park
The next national park is also in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and includes two sub-areas with a total size of 322 square kilometers.
The sub-area Müritz includes the eastern hinterland of the Müritz with Feisnecksee, Rederangsee, Specker See and Wotzerfitzsee.
The second sub-area Serrahn is located in the transition between the Mecklenburg Lake District and the Feldberg Lake District.
The Müritz National Park is particularly popular with cyclists and hikers, because the entire national park has a large network of cycling and hiking trails, including rest areas.
In addition, a national park bus line including bicycle transport runs from May to October.
A popular destination is the Käfflingsberg Tower, one of the most popular view points in Germany.
Popular sights and activities in and around the Müritz National Park:
- Visit to Malchow Monastery, a former monastery in Germany
- Visit to the Müritzeum, a museum and nature experience center
- Sailing or canoeing on the Mecklenburg Lake District
Hunsrueck-Hochwald National Park
It is the youngest of the 16 German national parks and was only founded in 2015.
It covers an area of around 10,100 hectares and is located in the low mountain range of the Hunsrück in the states of Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland.
Under the motto “Let nature be nature”, the renaturation of the landscape has been the focus since the national park was officially founded.
For example, spruces that were planted here by humans are to be replaced by native plants and moors are to be irrigated again.
Especially the wild cat, which occurs here in greater numbers than anywhere else in Europe, black stork and black woodpecker can be found here.
In the “jungle of tomorrow” you can of course already experience a lot today.
Not far from the popular German wine regions on the Moselle and Rhine, you can hike or see the remains of a Celtic fortification in the Otzenhausen Celtic Park.
Popular sights in and around the Hunsrück-Hochwald National Park:
- Visit to the summer toboggan run in Erbeskopf
- Wildlife enclosure in Wildenburg
- Visit to the German Gem Museum in Idar-Oberstein
Hainich National Park
The approximately 7500 hectare park is best known for its treetop path, which lets you walk up into the treetops.
The next national park on our list is in Thuringia between Eisenach, Mühlhausen/Thuringia and Bad Langensalza.
Since 2011, the park has been part of the UNESCO World Natural Heritage Beech Forests and Old Beech Forests. The aim of the national park is that a Central European primeval forest is created here again.
The entire national park is well developed for tourism and has well-signposted hiking and biking trails, as well as rest areas. There are a variety of sights around the national park that you can explore on your next holiday in Germany.
Only a few kilometers away from the Hainichen National Park you will also find the historically significant Wartburg.
It was here that Martin Luther translated the Bible into German and the Wartburg Festival – the first aspirations towards a democratic nation – was celebrated here.
Popular sights and excursion destinations around the Hainich National Park:
- Walk along the treetop path
- Hiking in the Dragon Gorge
- Visit to the “automobile world eisenach” museum
Hamburg Wadden Sea National Park
The last part of the German Wadden Sea, which is advertised as a national park in the Elbe estuary and, despite the distance, belongs to Hamburg.
The Hamburg Wadden Sea National Park was founded in 1990. It consists mainly of sandy and mixed mudflats.
It also includes the inhabited island of Neuwerk, which also belongs to Hamburg, and the dune islands of Scharhörn and Nigehern.
Popular sights in and around the Hamburgisches Wattenmeer National Park:
- Mudflat walks
- Animal sightings
- Visit to the National Park House Neuwerk
Eifel National Park, Germany
The 11,000 hectare national park in North Rhine-Westphalia has existed since 2004.
More than 2000 endangered animal and plant species find an undisturbed and natural home here. These animals also include the shy wild cat and the rare black stork.
Around 240 kilometers of trails run through the park, so you can go on long hikes there, some of the trails are also approved for cyclists and horse riders.
The image of the Eifel National Park is characterized by dense deciduous forests, species-rich meadows and many small streams.
The park also includes Lake Urft and the dam. The wilderness trail is ideal as a little break in between.
You can hike this hiking trail in four daily stages and it will take you straight through the national park. On this hike you will encounter all the scenic features of the Eifel National Park – from deep forests, over flowering meadows and past rushing streams.
Sights in and around the Eifel National Park:
- Visit to the Vogelsang IP – Internationaler Platz, the former Nazi order castle
- Visit to Mariawald Abbey
- Day trip to the imperial city of Aachen
16 Best National Parks in Germany
- Black Forest National Park
- Western Pomeranian Lagoon Area National Park
- Kellerwald-Edersee National Park
- Harz National Park
- Jasmund National Park
- Bavarian Forest National Park
- Schleswig-Holstein Wadden Sea National Park
- Saxon Switzerland National Park
- Berchtesgaden National Park
- Lower Saxony Wadden Sea National Park
- Lower Oder Valley National Park
- Müritz National Park
- Hunsrueck-Hochwald National Park
- Hainich National Park
- Hamburg Wadden Sea National Park
- Eifel National Park