The diversity of Germany’s natural landscape
Germany’s landscape is so diverse that it attracts millions of nature lovers every year. The coastal areas in the North are protected habitats for numerous plants and animals, and the country is home to some stunning national parks and forests. In my series of blogs about Germany’s beautiful nature, I’d like to introduce you to a variety of areas, and show you what’s so special about them.
Nature can be great therapy
Forest bathing – a new trend, and so easy to do
How many times have you found yourself walking through a forest, maybe just chatting, and without noticing the beauty around you? Don’t get me wrong, I love chatting to my family and friends when I’m walking though nature, and it’s usually a good time to have a deep conversation. However, a new trend is developing – forest bathing. In my blog, discover what it is, and why it’s so good for our health.
Connect to nature with mindfulness
Leave everyday life behind
It’s common knowledge that nature has a positive effect on our health – both mentally and physically. Recently, the new trend of forest bathing is popping up all over the media. Don’t worry, you won’t get wet, and you don’t need a swimming costume to do this activity. It simply means taking a mindful walk in a forest, and reconnecting with nature. Consciously listening to the birds singing, touching the trees and plants, observing the light and shadow, and smelling the wonderful, earthy air is what scientists call forest bathing. You simply leave everyday life behind and switch off. Immersing yourself in nature and fully connecting with all the senses means you can focus on the here and now.
How the aroma from trees benefits our wellbeing
Japanese doctors prescribe forest bathing to reduce stress
Japanese scientists have proven that shinrin-yoku (forest bathing) has a positive effect on our health. In Japan, doctors regularly advise patients who are living in towns and cities to spend time in a forest. They have even developed designated forest bathing therapy zones.
Plants and trees emit a substance called phytoncide to help them protect themselves from disease. Phytoncide generally means the aroma of the forest. It is believed that walking mindfully through a forest can also make our immune system stronger by producing antibodies, which make the body more resilient against disease. It can also lower blood pressure and the green colour in plants can have a calming effect on our mood. Even spending a short amount of time in nature can have a positive effect on our wellbeing. It can reduce the symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress.
Germany’s nature could be your answer to good health
Forests and national parks in Germany – ideal for forest bathing
Why not enjoy a healthy walk in one of Germany’s many forests and national parks? Most areas have well-signposted walking trails, which are easy to follow using a map, or an app on your smartphone. Wellness and spa hotels offer guided walks around mindfulness, meditation and forest bathing, where guests can also learn about different breathing techniques. I’ve recently been to the Black Forest (Glottertal valley), and enjoyed a family walk through the forest. My son enjoyed collecting sticks, stones and flowers, and we all felt completely relaxed and calm. It may sound so simple, but being surrounded by nature really does have a positive impact.
Here’s a list of some of Germany’s most popular forest areas:
Jasmund national park
Jasmund national park is Germany’s smallest national park; covering an area of only 3,003 hectares. It’s located in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, on the island of Rügen, which is popular for its 118m white cliffs (a bit like the white cliffs of Dover). The national park mainly consists of beech trees, and is a protected habitat for various plants, and birds like the kingfisher, sea eagle, and the swallow.
This stunning forest is located in the Vorpommersche Boddenlandschaft national park, in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, on the Baltic Sea. It’s the largest forest in Germany that is surrounded by a beach. During the period of the GDR, people would collect resin from the pine trees.
Müritz is a UNESCO world heritage site, and located in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. Here, you’ll get the opportunity to see osprey and sea eagles. The area is well-known for its many lakes, and beech trees – making it perfect for walking and cycling.
The Berchtesgaden national park is situated on Königsee Lake in Bavaria. It covers an area of 20,804 hectares, and is a protected habitat for rare plants and animals. It’s home to hundreds of birds, and animals like marmots, snow hares, snow mice, as well as many other species. The area is ideal for walking and hiking, and if you’re interested in history, you might like Kehlsteinhaus, which is situated on the summit of Kehlstein Mountain (1,834m). It’s a Third-Reich building that was also known as Hitler’s Eagle Nest. You’ll also find a restaurant there. Find information about walking routes here.
Founded in 1970, the Bavarian Forest is Germany’s first national park; covering an area of 24,217 hectares. It is linked to the Bohemian Forest in the Czech Republic, and creates the largest coherent forest area in Europe.
You’ll find rare species like lynx, wood grouse, peregrine, wild cat, black stork, honey buzzards and otters. The area is perfect for anyone who enjoys outdoor activities, or has an interest in discovering the beautiful spa towns in the Czech Republic like Karlsbad or Marienbad. Hotels in this area offer a range of healing, medical treatments using the natural springs. The Bavarian Forest offers plenty of things to do with children, and you’ll find a variety of family-friendly hotels. I can recommend the Ulrichshof hotel, which is perfect for families. Read my blog about our stay here. You can find information about walking trails here.
The Harz low mountain range is located in Sachsen-Anhalt and Lower Saxony; close to Hanover, Magdeburg and Göttingen. It covers an area measuring 24,759 hectares, with Brocken being the highest mountain (1,142m) in the range. You’ll find beech and pine trees, lush meadows, rocks and streams in this stunning area. Find walking trails here.
Saxon Switzerland national park was founded in 1990; covering an of 9,350 hectares around the Elbe Sandstone Mountains. It’s located close to Dresden and the Czech border. The area is home to rare species like owls, hawks, kingfishers, black storks, various types of woodpeckers, sixteen types of bat, the common viper and grass snakes. It’s perfect for anyone who enjoys walking and hiking. Find walking routes here.
The Eifel national park was founded in 2004, and is the first national park located in the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia. The area covers around 10,700 hectares, and is well-known for its beautiful beech trees. It is bordered to the northwest by the Rur reservoir, and includes the Urft dam and the former Vogelsang military training area. You can find information about walking in the Eifel National Park here.
The Kellerwald Edersee national park is a UNESCO world heritage site, and covers an area of over 5,724 hectares. It’s located close to the Sauerland region, and the cities of Paderborn, Dortmund, Kassel and Frankfurt. Beech and oak trees, plants like arnica, different varieties of clove and herbs, devil’s claw, as well as rare birds, beetles, butterflies, mice and rare animals can be found in this stunning area. It’s perfect for those who enjoy walking and cycling. Find more information about routes here.
Embrace the great outdoors – Discover why nature benefits our mental health