If you want to add history and, perhaps, a little magic to your next adventure, I recommend hiking in Germany. Aside from its stunning views and nature, it is also home to some of the most stunning fortresses and ruins in Europe. A few artists even used them for bringing fairy tales to life. Check out these German castle trails that are 100% worth visiting (with or without prince charming!).
1. Neuschwanstein Castle
Did you know that Germany has over 20,000 castles? But if it’s your first time hiking in Germany, I recommend visiting the most breathtaking. One of which is the Neuschwanstein Castle. This beautiful Bavarian castle is atop the Hohenschwangau village and only a 2-hour drive from Munich.
The trail is about 4.7km long and takes about 2 hours to complete, which is relatively short and easy. However, it has a few steep sections, so stay alert at all times. If you come here early, you have enough time (and energy) to explore the castle, cross Mary’s Bridge and see the surrounding forests. One thing to note, though, is that the entrance tickets sell out fast. Also, it is quite famous and can draw a lot of visitors. But that’s expected. After all, everyone wants a sneak peek of Sleeping Beauty’s castle inspiration!
2. Rhine Castle Trail
Hiking in Germany can easily transport you to Medieval times, especially when you’re at the RheinBurgenWeg or Rhine Castle Trail. The long and demanding 200km track starts from Bingen to Remagen. It also has 13 stages, where hikers get to see picturesque views of Rhine Valley and over 15 different castles!
When you decide to come here, it is best to go with a local guide. That way, you can learn more about the history and folklore of the fascinating places you get to visit. En route, you also get to see Andernach, the world’s highest cold-water geyser, or climb Klettersteige.
3. Löwenburg Loop
The best hikes in Germany are those that are challenging and rewarding at the same time. If that sounds like your kind of adventure, then make Löwenburg Loop your next destination. This 12.6km hiking trail starts in Rhöndorf and takes up to 5 hours to complete. The track is best for experienced hikers who can easily take on rough paths, rocky hills and steep ascents.
This loop can be demanding, but adventurers get river views and wildflower fields as rewards. Moreover, you get to pass by two striking castles on the way. The gothic Drachenburg Castle is one of them. Severely damaged during the Second World War and on the brink of demolition, Drachenburg went through extensive restoration in 1995. Visitors have been basking in its Wilhelminian glory since 2010. If you don’t want to go here on foot, you can also reach the castle through the old cog railway or a donkey ride!
Löwenburg Castle is another site you shouldn’t miss. The exterior and castle grounds, which comes with a garden, vineyard, tiltyard and menagerie, will surely bring you the Medieval feels. The inside, however, features a grander Baroque layout. Make sure to stop by its chapel and armoury, which houses 16th and 17th-century weapons and armour.
4. Rennsteig Route
Rennsteig is yet another beautiful trail packed with centuries-old history. The well-marked 169km route starts from Hörschel to Blankenstein and has six stages. Some of its parts remain open during wintertime to cater to winter hikers and cross-country skiers. But the highlight of your adventure would have to be a stop at one of Germany’s best castles, the nearby Wartburg.
Built in the middle ages, Wartburg Castle was once the home of Martin Luther, where he translated the Bible’s New Testament from Greek to German. It is also the first German castle that became a UNESCO World Heritage site. Thousands of travellers visit the site every day, though. So, it is best to come here on weekdays to avoid the crowd.
Outside, you can freely explore the 12th-century structures, which appear to be separate buildings joined together. The guided tour inside lets you see beautiful displays of tapestries, mosaics, musical instruments and silverware. Make sure to find time to explore the stunning Thuringian Forest, too.
5. Albsteig Trail
If you plan to go hiking in Germany, the 365km trail Albsteig is one of your most challenging options. Its 15 stages are quite a feat to complete. But you can opt to divide them into shorter hiking routes. The view from Tuttlingen to Donauwörth, however, is undoubtedly stunning. Plus, you get to go through the Black Forest and see several castles along the way. And Hohenzollern Castle is probably the most notable of them.
Hohenzollern is your castle on the hill, a very steep hill, that is. You can get here via shuttle bus, if you choose not to go on foot, though. Either way, you get to experience the beautiful scenery on your way up. You’ll also see panoramic views of the Swabian Alps once you’re inside the castle. After your visit, you might want to make a quick stop at Stuttgart for some great eats and shopping!
Ready for your German castle adventure? These iconic hikes in Norway are just as exciting.