Interested in Backpacking/camping in Germany...recs/helps?

  • vindog

    Posts: 1440

    Dec 20, 2013 10:19 PM GMT

    Hi all...


    I'm potentially looking to do some backpacking through Germany. I really would like to do more camping/hiking (maybe biking?) in outdoor areas with less large city stops. Alps? other?


    Any ideas?
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Dec 21, 2013 12:12 AM GMT
    I stayed at Bavaria for half a year and would definitely recommend going there to backpack. The nature is some of the finest in Europe and the people are very friendly there. You can also get quite easily around the more rural areas with the train, as the connections are pretty decent. I also went to Obersalzberg which is the mountain where the Eagle's Nest is located and you have all the bunkers/vacation home (not eagle's nest) of Hitler and the nazi's. Very cool stuff.

    If you don't speak german, language might be a problem though. Not a lot of locals speak english.
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    Dec 21, 2013 5:27 PM GMT
    You kidding? When I was over there, everyone I came across said, "Oh, yes, I speak a little English," and then proceeded to speak with better dictation and grammar than any English person I've met!

    Heh, that's not as much of a joke as it may sound: many Germans between 15 - 40 years old, particularly as you get closer to the larger towns and cities, will speak English. Further away in farm country, you'll need to know the basics in order to at least be polite, and to purchase necessary goods (food, beer, additional camping gear, beer, etc). I wish I had spent more time backpacking and hiking locally, but living there I remained mostly local when I wasn't driving down to the Alps for weekend skiing and snowboarding. If so, I'd be able to offer some useful advice.

    Other than that, all I can really do is say I spent half a decade in Baveria, which is south-east German state. In particular I lived near Bamberg, which is a rather large town, but not so urban as Frankfurt or the other cities. It has a very traditional feel to it, but you're likely to encounter distinctly German atmosphere in any town you visit. Do make sure to visit every brauhaus you come across though--each one brews and serves distinctive beer that encapsulates the very essence of the town or village it was brewed in--plus, every little experience matters!

    Anywho, again, sorry there isn't any real information here. Just figured I'd share a story and experience, maybe someone will get something from it.
  • conservativej...

    Posts: 2465

    Dec 22, 2013 3:56 AM GMT
    Check out the Haute Rout. Takes 12 to 15 days. You can Google it and find more info. It begins in Chamonix, France and on the second or third day you will cross into Switzerland. From there you will ultimately end up in Zermatt near the Italian border.

    I have hiked this route or sections of this rout perhaps a dozen times over the last 40 years. You will see Mont Blanc and the Matterhorn. You can rough it or stay in various lodges and mini-hotels along the way.

    I myself am north of Zurich and have found that once you learn the various well traveled trails you can spend a summer hiking in the north of Switzerland. Obviously, hiking becomes rough as you move into September and early October.

    Good luck. It's a very long haul over into Germany when on foot. Best to begin in the Basel region.
  • vindog

    Posts: 1440

    Dec 24, 2013 11:49 PM GMT
    Thanks for the recommendations/comments, guys.

    Have you all actually camped in the woods, or are there only established campgrounds?
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    Dec 25, 2013 2:33 AM GMT
    Generally, land is privately owned and "wild" camping, therefore, illegal. Germans are also generally strict about rules, so I'd advise against it.

    On the plus side, camping is very popular in the country, and you'll find long lists of camp sites with facilities. camping.info has a pretty big list.

    As for locations, the Alps are absolutely spectacular. In addition, the whole mountain range is criss-crossed by well-maintained long-distance trails, most of them with facilities and amenities along the way. Check viaalpina.com.

    It would be a shame if you stayed in the Alps the whole time, though. Germany is absolutely beautiful, and a few train trips to other regions are a must. Your probably want to take the train North into the Rhine Valley, and maybe add a few days at the North Sea camp sites, where you might hike on the tidal flats.

    The mountains on the border to the Czech Republic (Saxony on the German side) are also spectacular and dotted with ancient castles. Bavaria is full of medieval cities. Of interest are also the Baltic Coast, the Black Forest, and more places than I can list here.

    As far as the people are concerned: make sure you know some rudimentary phrases in German, especially "Do you speak English?" ("Sprechen Sie Englisch?") Germans sometimes react poorly when addressed directly in English. Credit card payments are more common, but you shouldn't count on being able to pay everywhere with a credit card.

    Also, make sure you pull up a weather forecast often. Weather is quite unpredictable in Germany, as the Atlantic Ocean and the Siberian landmass battle for meteorological supremacy over the country. The South-West generally has the best weather, the North-East is the coldest, and the North-West the rainiest.