Unwind and reconnect to nature in Germany

Switch off and tune into Germany’s primeval landscapes and UNESCO World Heritage Sites...

© GNTB / Francesco Carovillano 

© GNTB / Francesco Carovillano 

Route Inspiration: Viking Cities and Sea Breezes

© GNTB / Francesco Carovillano 

© GNTB / Francesco Carovillano 

From teeming wildlife on the Wadden Sea to Viking settlement remains, handsome Hanseatic towns and rejuvenated docklands, northern Germany’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites offer incredible diversity of nature, history and culture.

Sit back and view the revitalised port of Hamburg from a cruise boat. Feel the wind in your hair as you cycle between and through the great Hanseatic towns of Lübeck, Wismar and Stralsund. Ramble along cobbled medieval streets.

Gaze up at grand merchant houses. Duck down alleyways. Peer into artisan workshops and potter through an array of fascinating museums. Escape into the countryside and amble along the white cliffs of Jasmund, an island National Park.

Get up close with nature in the ancient beech woodland of Hainich and live in the moment. Travel back to slower times and discover the Vikings at Hedeby and Danevirke near the Danish border.

© GNTB / Francesco Carovillano 

© GNTB / Francesco Carovillano 

© GNTB / Francesco Carovillano 

© GNTB / Francesco Carovillano 

© GNTB / Francesco Carovillano 

© GNTB / Francesco Carovillano 

Viking Cities & Sea Breezes in Germany

© GNTB / Florian Trykowski 

© GNTB / Florian Trykowski 

Days 1-2: Speicherstadt, Kontorhaus, Chilehaus of Hamburg

In the world’s biggest warehouse district, you’ll find a moated castle, Miniatur Wunderland and a plethora of museums. Relax and view Speicherstadt from the water on a cruise boat – with its maze of canals, marina basins and river harbour.

Chill in the turn-of-the-century Kontorhaus District with its speciality shops, restaurants and chic cafés. Don’t miss the colossal 1920s Expressionist Chilehaus, narrowing to a sharp point like the brow of a ship.

© GNTB / Loïc Lagarde 

© GNTB / Loïc Lagarde 

Day 3: Archaeological Complex of Hedeby and Danevirke

Step back into the 1st and early 2nd Millennia CE and discover an ancient trading town. The archaeological site, south of Flensburg on the Danish border, has traces of earthworks, walls and ditches, cemeteries, buildings, even a harbour. Visit the museum of archaeological finds and a reconstructed settlement, where Viking history comes to life.

© WFB Bremen/Melanka Helms-Jacobs 

© WFB Bremen/Melanka Helms-Jacobs 

Day 4: Town hall, Roland statue in Bremen

The great stone statue of Roland stands centre stage in the airy Market Square of Bremen. The legendary Carolingian hero, who fought Moorish invaders in the Middle Ages, became a symbol of Hanseatic freedom and trading rights. Behind him stands the town hall’s grandly ornate exterior. Check out the interior with its marbled lobby and gilded art nouveau chamber.

© GNTB / Francesco Carovillano 

© GNTB / Francesco Carovillano 

Day 5: Wadden Sea

The German Wadden Sea is a wild and exposed place of mudflats, sandbanks, barrier islands and salt marshes. Take a guided walk or more leisurely horse and carriage tour of the intertidal islands and feast on scores of migratory birds and marine life from tiny snails and shrimps to seals and porpoises.

© Adobe Stock/JFL Photography 

© Adobe Stock/JFL Photography 

Day 6: Hanseatic Town of Lübeck

From the soaring twin-towered gateway of Holstentor to the grand gabled merchant houses and cosier artisan buildings and alleyways of the old town, Lübeck is the Queen of Germany’s Hanseatic towns. Don’t miss the opulent town hall, the old salt storehouses and the birds-eye view of the water-bound old quarter from St Peter’s Church.

© Adobe Stock/Sina Ettmer 

© Adobe Stock/Sina Ettmer 

Days 7-8: Historic Stralsund, Wismar

Overlooking the bridge to Rügen Island, famous for its white chalk cliffs, Stralsund is a handsome historic town with eye-catching Hanseatic redbrick architecture. Seek out the 13th century town hall, Gothic and Renaissance merchant houses.

In Wismar, grab a tasty fish sandwich from the old harbour. Stroll along cobbled streets of colourful houses beside the canals and the wealthy front-gabled merchant houses on the Grube. Explore the fascinating Hanseatic history of Wismar at the World Heritage House.

© Lookphotos/Heinz Wohner 

© Lookphotos/Heinz Wohner 

Days 9-11: Germany’s Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests including Jasmund National Park

White chalk cliffs contrast dark beech woodlands and the speckled blue of the Baltic Sea, captured by Romantic painter, Caspar David Friedrich. Königsstuhl is the high point, figuratively and literally alongside Victoria Viewpoint and Jasmund Visitor Centre. A coastal hinterland of woodland springs, streams and mires only add to the romance of this coastline.

Discover ancient beech woodlands and ramble over boardwalks, listen out for woodpeckers and look out for wildcats in this otherworldly forest with its understory of wild orchids and mushrooms.

Route Inspiration: Body, Mind and Soul

© GNTB / Florian Trykowski 

© GNTB / Florian Trykowski 

From the Rhine to Lake Constance enjoy quiet contemplation in medieval cathedrals, abbeys and monasteries.

Hike to the Pilgrimage Church of Wies in Bavaria and nourish body and soul. Take to the waters in the UNESCO-listed restorative spa resorts.

Canoe on Lake Constance and visit Bronze Age reconstructed prehistoric pile dwellings or an island monastery.

Explore the Wellness Route and combine a wide range of UNESCO World Heritage Sites offering relaxation and recuperation.

© GNTB / Marcus Pioro 

© GNTB / Marcus Pioro 

© GNTB / Marcus Pioro 

© GNTB / Marcus Pioro 

© GNTB / Marcus Pioro 

© GNTB / Marcus Pioro 

Mind, Body & Soul UNESCO-inspired Route

© Baden-Baden Kur & Tourismus GmbH 

© Baden-Baden Kur & Tourismus GmbH 

Days 1-4: Great Spa Towns of Europe

Germany claims three of Europe’s World Heritage spa towns.

Bad Ems, the spa on the river, ticks all the boxes for relaxation with its riverside walks, parks, 15 mineral springs and the magnificent Ems Thermal Spa complex with a sauna floating on the river.

Centuries-old Botenlauben Castle stands sentry over Bavaria’s Bad Kissingen. Visit KissSalis Therme with its thermal baths complex and indoor and outdoor pools. Join an evening performance at the grand concert hall of Regentenbau and admire its gorgeous Rococo and Art Nouveau interior.

Baden-Baden (so good they named it twice) sits on the River Oos in the Black Forest. Established as a fashionable spa in the 19th century, the town oozes elegance. Check out the 1824 Kurhaus spa complex, amble along the river promenade and have a flutter in the Versailles-inspired casino, its Trinkhalle decorated with frescoes and a mineral-water fountain.

© GNTB / Bettina Dittmann Fotodesign 

© GNTB / Bettina Dittmann Fotodesign 

Day 5: Lorsch Abbey

The religious complex of Lorsch Abbey in Hesse impresses from the get-go as it compels you through its beautiful 1,200-year-old gatehouse. Check out the Carolingian frescoes in the King’s Hall inside the gatehouse. Amble through the ruined abbey and grounds and feel the long hand of history. 

© GNTB / Francesco Carovillano 

© GNTB / Francesco Carovillano 

Day 6: Speyer Cathedral

Speyer Cathedral in southwest Germany, close to the Rhine, boasts one of the best examples of Romanesque architecture in Europe, and the largest. Take in the four towers, two domes and gallery encircling the whole building, and be awed by the sheer scale of the basilica. One of the most important ecclesiastic centres of the Holy Roman Empire, it was the burial place of German emperors for around three-hundred years. Admire its Italianate sculptures and impressive crypt with eight medieval emperors resting in its vault.

© GNTB / Florian Trykowski 

© GNTB / Florian Trykowski 

Day 7: Maulbronn Monastery Complex

The Cistercian monastery is one of the best-preserved medieval monastic complexes in northern and central Europe. Explore its fortified walls, complex of buildings erected between the 12th and 16th centuries, Romanesque church and Gothic cloisters. Just as impressive is the monastery's sophisticated water-management system with its elaborate network of drains, canals and reservoirs.

© GNTB / Loïc Lagarde 

© GNTB / Loïc Lagarde 

Day 8: Monastic Island of Reichenau

Tucked into a corner of Lake Constance, you’ll find the monastic island of Reichenau, a place for quiet contemplation. Explore the island’s three medieval churches: St Mary and Marcus, St Peter and St Paul, and St George with its wealth of ecclesiastic art. Admire the Ottonian murals of St George and the magnificent organ and Romanesque paintings of St Peter and St Paul.

© GNTB / Francesco Carovillano 

© GNTB / Francesco Carovillano 

Day 9: Prehistoric Pile Dwellings, Unteruhldingen

Under the murky waters of Lake Constance at Unteruhldingen, divers discovered the remains of prehistoric raised stilt houses. Amble along the elevated boardwalks to the nearby open-air museum to see the reconstructed pile dwellings with their thatched roofs and rows of wooden stilts. Inside the dwellings, demonstrations of handicrafts and exhibits recreate the lives of the Stone Age pile dwellers.

© Tourismusverband Pfaffenwinkel 

© Tourismusverband Pfaffenwinkel 

Days 10-11: Pilgrimage Church of Wies

The sumptuous 18th century oval church is dripping in gold, every surface filled with statues and painted with frescos, and stuccowork. Its pièce-de-resistance is the magnificent trompe l’oeil ceiling, appearing to open up a luminous sky. Prayers at the statue of Jesus have claims of healing, making Wies Church a popular pilgrimage destination through the foothills of the soul-restoring Alps.

Route Inspiration: Getting Active

© GNTB / Florian Trykowski 

© GNTB / Florian Trykowski 

Not only do you have the chance to visit some of Germany’s most beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Sites in eastern Germany, you can keep fit while doing it.

Grab two wheels to pedal around bicycle-friendly Berlin and regal Potsdam close by. End the day with a swim in one of the lakes. Jump on a train to hike through the primeval Grumsin Forest in Brandenburg, the Garden Kingdom of Dessau-Wörlitz and Muskauer Park.

This Active Route is ideal for making the most of eastern Germany’s natural and cultural heritage, while ensuring you switch off from the usual daily demands.

© Adobe Stock/Silver 

© Adobe Stock/Silver 

© Adobe Stock/Silver 

© Adobe Stock/Silver 

© Adobe Stock/Silver 

© Adobe Stock/Silver 

Getting active in UNESCO-inspired Germany

© GNTB / Dagmar Schwelle 

© GNTB / Dagmar Schwelle 

Day 1: Berlin Museum Island

The small island on the Spree packs in five world-class museums, a complex of spectacular neoclassical buildings. Visit the collection of Romantic, Impressionist and early Modernist art in the elegant, colonnaded Alte Nationalgalerie. The neoclassical architecture of the Altes Museum will wow you with its eighteen columns and rotunda and its collection of Roman and Greek artefacts. Feast on the displays of Egyptian artwork and prehistoric archaeology in the Neues Museum. Pergamonmuseum thrills with its Babylonian and Persian antiquities and superb Roman and Greek art collections, while the waterside Bode-museum is crammed with sculptures and Byzantine art.

© Shutterstock

© Shutterstock

Day 2: Berlin Modernism Housing Estates

From the ‘White City’ of Reinickendorf to the ‘Paintbox Estate’ of Falkenberg Garden City in Bohnsdorf, explore the best of Berlin’s innovative subsidized housing schemes that took in social, economic and cultural factors in the planning stage. The housing blocks combine quality with aesthetically pleasing urban planning, garden design and architecture typical of early 20th century Modernism.

© GNTB / Julia Nimke 

© GNTB / Julia Nimke 

Days 3-4: Palaces and parks, Potsdam and Berlin

Created in the 18th and 19th centuries, Potsdam is a maze of magnificent palaces, gardens and parklands. Don’t miss the Sanssouci Palace and parkland, summer residence of Frederick the Great, the New Palace and the English Gardens surrounding the neoclassical Charlottenburg Palace.

© Adobe Stock/Lawiesen 

© Adobe Stock/Lawiesen 

Days 5-6: Germany’s Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests

The primeval beech forests of Germany are ethereal places of moss, lichen and wetlands, a hidden world of flora and fauna. Along with the ancient beech woodlands of Hainich, Kellerwald-Edersee, Jasmund and Müritz, comprising the World Heritage Site, Grumsin Forest in the Schorfheide-Chorin Biosphere Reserve of Brandenburg is one of the last old-growth forests surviving in Europe. 

© GNTB / Francesco Carovillano 

© GNTB / Francesco Carovillano 

Days 7-9: Bauhaus sites in Weimar, Dessau and Bernau

Between the two World Wars in Germany, a revolution took place in art, design and architecture, first in Weimar, then in Dessau. The great innovators of the Bauhaus School, including Kandinsky, launched the Modern Movement which had a massive influence on 20th century’s architecture. The Bauhaus School embraced emerging materials and building techniques, becoming an important symbol of modern technology and innovation. Today you can visit six sites including the ADGB Trade Union School in Bernau, the iconic Bauhaus Dessau building and the Haus am Horn in Weimar.

© Kulturstiftung Dessau-Wörlitz/Michael Deutsch 

© Kulturstiftung Dessau-Wörlitz/Michael Deutsch 

Day 10: Garden Kingdom of Dessau-Wörlitz

The romantic Garden Kingdom of Dessau-Wörlitz in Saxony-Anhalt showcases gorgeous landscape design and planning from the Age of Enlightenment. It’s the combination of elegant buildings, English-style landscaped parks and gardens that makes it special. Prince Leopold III, studying the architecture of classical Italy and the landscape gardens of England on several tours, created a little piece of paradise in his small principality close to the Elbe and Mulde rivers. Explore the 18th century castles, country houses and landscaped parks and gardens of this splendid World Heritage Site.

© Shutterstock

© Shutterstock

Day 11: Muskauer Park

The joint Polish-German Park, straddling the Neisse River, the border between the two countries, was conjured up by Prince Hermann von Pückler-Muskau in the 19th century. The prince turned his back on gardens stocked with exotic planting to use local plants that blended with the surrounding rural landscapes. Tucked into the park, you’ll find a reconstructed castle, bridges and an arboretum.

What are you waiting for?

Head over to the official Germany website now to start planning your perfect UNESCO-inspired wellness trip.

© Lookphotos/Heinz Wohner 

© Lookphotos/Heinz Wohner