Castle Hiking in Germany 15 Castles You Must See
German castles are magical attractions – especially if they are accompanied by a beautiful hike. We have picked out 15 castles that you should definitely hike!
Whether in Saxony, in Bavaria or at the Mosel – Germany is a castle country! Our Top-15 "Knight castles Connect cultural and hiking excursion in one:
Castle Hohenzollern – Swabian Alb
Today’s castle complex of Hohenzollern Castle on the edge of the Swabian Alb, was built in the 19. century by both branches of the House of Hohenzollern and has since been privately owned. She is enthroned on an 855 meter high elevation. Spectacular is the panoramic view over the Swabian Mountains. In the treasury you can find Prussian royal crowns as well as memorabilia of Frederick the Great and other personalities of German history. The castle restaurant is an excellent place to stop for a bite to eat after a tour of the castle.
With just under 7 kilometers and a duration of about 2.5 hours, the Hohenzollern-Runde is perfect if you want to hike to the castle on foot. We will start in the center of Zimmern, through the center of Weidenbach, further in direction Hechingen-Boll. After ca. 4 kilometers of the hike you reach the stately castle, before it goes back again via Wessingen. If you like to get on your bike, you should definitely take a look at the Hohenzollern cycle path. This trail leads from Esslingen via the Schonbuch Nature Park first through the foothills of the Alb, across the southwestern Alb, the Danube valley and the Hegau region to Lake Constance. 188 kilometers are to be mastered. You should plan about 13.5 hours for the whole route.
Kriebstein Castle – Saxony
The medieval castle Kriebstein is located in the center of the city triangle Dresden – Chemnitz – Leipzig and is considered the most beautiful knight’s castle in Saxony. As a tower castle with a circular rampart, the castle towers over Kriebstein on the river Zschopau and was built in the 14th century. The castle was built in the 16th century as a residence and manor house. The highlight is the residential tower from the cellar to the historically preserved attic, the castle chapel with valuable paintings from 1440 and the "Kriebsteinzimmer" with decorative wall paintings. With an extensive permanent exhibition and changing special exhibitions in the museum of Kriebstein Castle, you can explore the 600-year history of the structure. A detour to the castle cafe "Zum Hungerturm" worthwhile.
On a 20-kilometer hike around the Kriebstein Dam, you can also explore the beautiful water landscapes, the lonely footbridges and the old knight’s castle. You should plan at least one whole day for it.
Eltz Castle in the Eifel
Rich in myths and events is the 850 year old castle Eltz, which is surrounded on three sides by the Elzbach. It has survived all wars unscathed and has been owned by a single family since it was built. The greatest attraction of this knight’s castle is its architecture: residential towers between eight and 35 meters high, oriels, roofs, half-timbering and spires distinguish the castle Eltz. The armory and treasury is considered one of the most important in Europe – rich in porcelain, jewelry, ivory and gold. The knights’ hall with its heavy ceiling and the original coat of arms frieze is the best place to get an impression of life in the Middle Ages. Between 1961 and 1995, Eltz Castle even adorned the 500-DM bill.
Eltz Castle is located in the middle of an attractive hiking area – the "Eltzer Burgpanorama" dream trail. Just under 13 kilometers and a duration of 4 hours make for a great hike. Great views, plateaus of the Moselplateu and quiet floodplain landscapes are waiting along the way to the cultural monument – the castle Eltz. More info + GPS data:
Wartburg Eisenach – Thuringia
Wartburg Castle was the first German castle to be included in the UNESCO World Heritage List and offers 1000 years of history. In addition to the impressive banquet hall in the castle’s palace, the art collection spanning eight centuries, the famous paintings by Lucas Cranachs, the castle offers something to discover every step of the way through its historic rooms. If you are in the mood for Thuringian sausage or dumplings, you will find what you are looking for in the Wartburg inn, in the castle cafe, in the Landgrafenstube or on the Wartburg terrace.
If you want to go on a beautiful hike through Thuringia and, of course, see Eisenach’s landmark – Wartburg Castle – you should go on the circular tour of the Thuringian Forest, up to the Rennsteig and through the narrow Dragon Gorge. On the almost 14-kilometer-long route, you have another great view of the castle from the Hohe Sonne, the highest point of the tour. You should plan about 4.5 hours.
Stahleck Castle, Bacharach – Rhineland-Palatinate
On top of a hill and surrounded by a moat that used to be filled with water, lies the 11th century castle of Eltz. Stahleck Castle, built in the 16th century. During the Thirty Years War it was heavily damaged before it was rebuilt at the end of the 17th century. The castle was completely destroyed at the end of the 19th century. Reconstruction in the 20s and major renovation in the 60s made it shine anew. A special family vacation or also excursion for school classes is offered by the youth hostel located there. The Knights’ Hall can even host celebrations. Even without an overnight stay, the inner courtyard is freely accessible and offers an unparalleled panorama of the Rhine.
With its view over the vineyards and the Rhine Valley, Stahleck Castle is a worthwhile destination for hikers. Hiking tip: the Stahlberg loop with a route length of 12.7 kilometers and a duration of about 4 hours.
Castle ruins Wegelnburg – Palatinate
The highest castle in the Palatinate is the ruin of Wegelnburg, which is situated at 572 meters above sea level on a ridge. In the 12. and 13. Built in the 16th century, the castle still offers impressive sights such as remains of the gates, buildings, rock chambers and ring walls – as well as a magnificent panoramic view stretching across the expanses of the Palatinate Forest Biosphere Reserve. The currently ongoing renovations at Wengelnburg Castle are expected to be completed by the end of 2020. If you are already there, make a detour to the ruins of Fleckenstein, which lies just over the Palatinate border in France. Also worth seeing!
If you want to see even more castles in the region on a hike, you should tackle the 31-kilometer-long German-French Castle Trail, which crosses national borders. Hikers will find as many as seven castles on this winding trail. At best you take two days for it and let the view of the Krappenfelsen or the ruin Lowenstein glide over the adjacent region.
Herzberg Castle – Harz Mountains
49 kilometers to the southwest of the Harz Mountains lies Herzberg Castle. The special feature of this stately home is that it was built on the solid foundation walls of a castle from the 11th century. Two upper floors made of half-timbering rest in the 17th century. Four wings with 180 rooms enclose an almost 60-meter-long inner courtyard.
Hikers and speleologists will get their money’s worth further east: in the Unicorn Cave, there are prehistoric remains of humans and bears to this day. If that is too scary for you, you can take the circular route from Herzberg up to the Knollenturm, with a stop at Herzberg Castle and back through the Siebertal valley. Route length: 23 kilometers, duration: 5.5 hours.
Ruin Falkenstein, Pfronten – Allgau
Germany’s highest castle is enthroned at 1267 meters in the Allgau region, on the edge of a vertical rock face above the Vilstal valley. The accessibility of the castle was improved in 2005 with the construction of a small viewing platform. Here you have an unforgettable panoramic view over the foothills of the Alps to Neuschwanstein Castle.
Really fun is the 18-kilometer hiking tour "Konigstraum" from the Haus des Gastes in Pfronten, for which you need about 6 hours. More info:
Stargard Castle – Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania
Germany’s northernmost hilltop castle was built 750 years ago south of the town of Neubrandenburg and takes visitors on a journey back in time to the Middle Ages. Eleven well-preserved brick buildings with a prominent keep, a museum, a root and herb garden, and a cafe are waiting to be explored. Since 2001 you can even get married in the chapel on the 90 meter high hill.
Hikers especially appreciate the castle hiking trail with its 28 kilometers and an estimated duration of seven hours. This trail, past crystal-clear lakes and impressive scenery, connects Burg Stargard with the Old Castle of Penzlin.
Lowenburg in Kassel – Hesse
Embedded in the mountain park above the castle Wilhelmshohe you can find the end of the 17. Lowenburg Castle, built at the end of the 19th century. Beside the princely living quarters you can find an armory and a neo-gothic castle chapel. The museum features changing exhibitions of works of art. In the immediate vicinity of the castle you can also stroll through a castle garden, a vineyard, a tuning ground and a zoo.
Bergpark Wilhelmshohe is a great place to take a two-hour hike and see Kassel’s landmark – Hercules – and the water features.
Reichsburg Cochem, Mosel – Rhineland-Palatinate
High above the Moselle rises the striking Reichsburg Cochem with its incomparable outline. In 1868, the Berlin merchant Louis Frederic Jaques Ravene bought the building, had it restored and rebuilt in neo-Gothic style. Inside the castle you can discover impressively designed interiors, a knight’s hall, a dining room, hunting rooms or the bower. In the castle tavern, you can make yourself comfortable after a tour of the stronghold – or you can let your gaze wander while enjoying refreshments on the panorama terrace.
On the seventeen kilometer Cochemer Ritterrunde, which branches off from the Moselsteig, hikers can enjoy the view of the Reichsburg several times. Tip: From the viewing balcony of the Wakelei you can even see the ruins of the Winneburg castle.
Coburg, Upper Franconia – Bavaria
One of the best preserved castles in Germany is the Veste Coburg, also known as the "Franconian Crown" called. Already around 1225 the Veste Coburg was mentioned for the first time. 160 meters above the old town and with a great view, the castle also houses an extraordinary art collection. Veste Coburg is especially significant in connection with the Reformation – it was the place of residence for Martin Luther, who worked and lived here for five months. Directly at the foot of the Veste you can treat yourself after the visit to a traditional Franconian meal in the castle tavern in a medieval atmosphere.
If you feel like a hike, you should take a closer look at the Luther Trail of 35 kilometers. Through the Thuringian Forest you can admire two castles with history, the Veste Heldburg and the Veste Coburg.
Pyrmont Castle, Eifel – Rhineland-Palatinate
The castle, which was mentioned for the first time in 1225, stands with its round tower on a slate rock in the Eifel region. From 1963 to 1967 the castle was rebuilt by two architects with the aim of harmoniously combining the different eras. In the main castle on the upper floor, you can book several rooms and suites for an overnight stay. Celebrations, conferences or fairytale castle weddings can also be held at Pyrmont Castle.
Next to the castle, the Pyrmont Rock Climb is probably the main attraction for hikers. On the Moselle Dream Trail, adventurous paths wind their way along steep rock faces, but also wide-open fields and views. On the approximately 11.5 kilometer long route, you can then examine the medieval castle and the idyllic waterfalls at the Pyrmont mill.
Nuremberg Imperial Castle – Bavaria
The landmark of Nuremberg used to be one of the most important places in the empire. The castle was almost completely destroyed in the Second World War. The chapel building, the parlor and the ceiling of the emperor’s chamber as well as the wall paneling remained undamaged and can be visited. The Kemenate, where today also the Kaiserburg Museum is located, could be restored true to original.
The castle garden is an excellent place for a hike. The gardens, which are open to the public, offer great views of the landscape and in spring a true splendor of blossoms.
Meersburg Castle – Lake Constance
High above Lake Constance waits "the Meersburg" at. Today it is the oldest inhabited castle in Germany and one of the main attractions at Lake Constance. 30 rooms, a torture chamber, the castle dungeon, the knight’s hall and many other medieval highlights can be discovered here. Afterwards you can enjoy your piece of cake with a view of Lake Constance in the castle cafe.
The path along the shore of Lake Constance from Hagnau to Meersbur is beautiful. On the ten-kilometer hike along the Hohenweg, you will reach the castle after about two-thirds of the way.
For those who want to go directly to the castle now, here is a little hint. Due to the current Corona regulations and visitor restrictions, you must always reserve and purchase tickets for tours inside the castles online in advance. Information can be found on the websites of the individual castles.