Germany’s showcasing her great outdoors this year in a global campaign, Holidays in the Heart of Nature, promoting getting to know and enjoy her 130-plus national landscapes, embracing 16 national parks, 15 UNESCO biosphere reserves and 104 nature parks.
According to Petra Hedorfer, CEO of the German National Tourist Bureau (GNTB), “ some 2.6 million Europeans traveled to Germany in 2014 alone for nature vacations, exploring on foot or horseback, by bike or boat, protected natural sites that make up more than one-third of our country.” Of course Germany’s top visitor market comes from EU countries, with the Netherlands heading that list and the overall growth from Europe in 2015 was a blazing 11.1 percent. However, last year the U.S. held its position as the most important non-European source market, with 5.6 million overnight stays, a big jump of 8.2 percent over the previous year. All these numbers add up, resulting in Germany logging in 79.7 international overnight stays in 2015, its sixth record-breaking year in a row.
Hedorfer obviously has her eye on the fact that today’s U.S. traveler has gone more adventurous and active, and she wants travel planners to be aware that Germany has more than 100,000 miles of walking trails, almost 45,000 miles of biking routes and 350 islands to explore. To promote its great outdoors, the GNTB has developed engaging, extensive and useful planning content focused on Germany’s national natural landscapes, which can be found at germany.travel/nature and germany.travel.enjoy.
- Bliesgau UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, in the south-eastern corner of the Saarland, the Gersheim district is known for its orchids, hosting 30 of Germany’s 60 indigenous varieties. Guided tours of the orchid meadows run from early May to early July.
- In the Black Forest National Park, visitors can join one of the ranger tours along the circular Lothar trail, to the Allerheiligen waterfalls, the Wild Lake or Mount Hornisgrinde.
- Elbe Riverside UNESCO Biosphere Reserve mixes unspoiled riverside scenery and cultural heritage along the mighty Elbe as it makes its way through five states all the way to the North Sea. Visitors get up close to the flora and fauna on guided kayak tours.
These Heart of Nature vacations—of equal appeal to adventure aficianados and romantics, culture buffs and wellness worshipers—mix easily with the GNTB’s promotion of Scenic Routes (germany.travel/scenic-routes). Again, which to choose among 150 options?
Well, clients could start by considering the 300-mile-long Upper Swabian Baroque Route, which runs from Ulm on the Danube to Friedrichshafen on Lake Constance, a path to follow while marveling over its stunning Baroque castles, palaces, abbeys and Churches. This 300-mile route has been on the tourism map for 50 years, and in honor of that anniversary, June 18 is the date on which churches and castles will stage a special program called the Long Night of the Baroque.
The German Alpine Road is the grande dame of the German scenic routes; it runs along 279-miles of a winding panoramic tour through the magnificent mountain scenery of Southern Bavaria; from Lindau on Lake Constance to Berchtesgaden on Lake Konigssee. Along the route, nature and culture lovers will find plenty of things to enjoy, including lots for those seeking recreation and outdoor sports.
Going indoors, this is going to be the year to visit the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart as it celebrates its 10th anniversary of guiding visitors through nine levels, with paths intertwined in the shape of a double helix and following a fascinating time-line in automobile history stretching from 1886 to the present. Along the way visitors gape at and wish for any one of 160 car models, or perhaps plan to rent a contemporary Mercedes, attach some bikes to the rear, a picnic basket in the well, and take off on a Holiday in the Heart of Nature along a Scenic Route through Germany. For more information, visit germany.travel/en/germany/about-us/the-gntb/the-gntb.html.