Surprise choice for an EcoHoliday – Germany
I am constantly surprised at the holiday destinations that had never occurred to me are so much more interesting and varied than I had ever imagined.
Take Germany for instance: when was the last time you heard someone say, “I’ve just come back from an holiday in Germany”,
- never mind an EcoHoliday -, not very often would be my guess.
However, when you look at what Germany has to offer, I think you’ll be quite surprised at the diversity of attractions and activities it has to offer.
Yes. We know from German folklore (think Hansel and Gretel, and Little Red Riding Hood) that the forest, or wald, was an important part of life in Germany’s past. With forest still covering 31 per cent of the country – almost three times as much as the UK – the nation is deeply green.
It is also way ahead in terms of “green” issues. Germany recycles three-fifths of domestic waste compared to about one-fifth in the UK; there are now only 160 landfill sites in Germany, compared with 50,000 in the early Seventies.
Image by Bert Kaufmann via Flickr
If you are choosing the nation at the heart of Europe initially for its environmentally friendly credentials, you are in for a treat in terms of the green and open spaces it offers. Germany has one-third more people than Britain, but the population density is lower and more rural and is an amazing choice for an EcoHoliday.
WHERE TO START?
Image by Wolfgang Staudt via Flickr
For a taste of Germany’s unspoilt rural landscapes visit a national park. There are 14 of them, each displaying outstanding natural beauty. Together they illustrate the country’s immense diversity.
The Harz national park in Germany’s interior is centred around the granite massif of Brocken, the highest peak in the north of the country. Until 1989 a large chunk of the region was inaccessible in East Germany. Now all 247sq km are criss-crossed with paths from which you can see wild boar, red deer and birds.
Nearby towns were built by princes after silver deposits were found. Half-timbered houses and castles such as Wernigerode, complete with fairy-tale turrets, abound. From Wernigerode you can take the Harzer Schmalspurbahnen, Europe’s largest narrow-gauge steam railway, to the former East German listening post at the summit of the Brocken.
Image by extranoise via Flickr
Yes. Germany has an extensive river and canal network, and an inland cruise provides an excellent and green way of seeing Germany’s many landscapes in comfort.
This is a dream of an Ecoholiday.
The grandest waterway is the Rhine. Rising in the Swiss Alps, it travels for 1,320km, forming boundaries with Switzerland and France for some stretches, and passing castles and vineyards and more built-up areas.
I WANT TO DO MY OWN THING ON WATER
There are many options for chartering motor boats and houseboats, or hiring canoes. The Elbe flows from the Sudeten mountains through areas of wild beauty to the calmer environs of Baroque Dresden, Germany’s “Florence”. The city’s highlights include the Frauenkirche cathedral, built in the 1700s, flattened during the Second World War, and painstakingly reconstructed to dominate, once again.
SOMETHING MORE ACTIVE?
Germany has more than 150 long-distance cycle routes. From mountain-biking to family-friendly routes, plan your own trip or book a package with accommodation and luggage transfer.
Image by jgull85 via Flickr
The Tour de Fries is a 250km circuit in Ostfriesland on the North Sea. The flat tracks make it suitable for small children and the circuit travels through the Wattenmeer National Park and Unesco biosphere reserve, with its wetlands and dunes.
If off-roading is more your thing, the “green rooftop” cycle route has a 450km network of mountain bike paths in the Bavarian Forest. Routes run on unsurfaced tracks through dense forest. Climbs can be tough, but you will be rewarded with spectacular vistas at the top.
ENOUGH ACTIVITY: I NEED TO UNWIND (GREENLY)
There are more than 350 health and spa resorts in Germany, usually with “bad” (bath) in the name. Their healing waters and pure air have long attracted German folk for rest and recuperation.
Baden-Baden, at the western edge of the Black Forest, is one of the Bundesliga of spas, and was considered extravagant enough to be the base for the wives and girlfriends of the England football squad in the 2006 World Cup. The town has a casino, racecourse and designer shops but you will also find elegant 19th-century pump rooms, and bath houses where you can take the famous thermal spring waters.
More at… www.independent.co.uk
I am planning on doing various articles on EcoHoliday destinations, if anybody has any interesting experiences or suggestions to share, please comment below.