You just have to fall in love with the Bavarian Forest! More remote and less celebrated than its cousin to the west, the Black Forest, the Bavarian Forest is wedged into the corner of south-eastern Germany where the Danube forms the border with the Czech Republic and Austria. It actually runs continuously across the border and into the Bohemian Forest on the Czech side. The whole area is one of striking unspoiled beauty, much of it untouched by human development for many years.
The Bavarian Forest is an inspiring landscape of peaceful rolling hills and rounded tree-covered peaks, interspersed with little-disturbed valleys and stretches of virgin woodland, providing a habitat for an endless list of species long since vanished from the rest of Central Europe. The region is home to deer, wild boar, fox, otter and countless bird species, and the harsh continental climate, long, snowy winters and substantial differences in altitude provide perfect conditions for eagle owls, Ural owls, ravens, otters, wood grouse, hazel grouse and three-toed woodpeckers. The thick forest, most of it mountain spruce, is criss-crossed by hundreds of kilometres of marked hiking, cycling and cross-country skiing trails, some of which now link up with a similar network across the border.
It’s also home to ruined castles, beautiful churches and offers a seemingly endless list of summer festivals. The philosophy of the Bavarian Forest National Park, which was Germany’s first and makes up a vast unspoiled chunk of the region, is to let nature do very much its own thing, giving it free and unrestricted reign and leaving it entirely to its own devices.
Because it’s such an insider tip, the region has seen few international tourists over the decades, and remains pretty traditional – part of the reason we love it! Traditional German garb, or Tracht, is widely worn, and the cuisine is deliciously hearty German fare.
The Bavarian Forest is home to more than 300 km of clearly marked footpaths, almost 200 km of cycle routes and some 80 km of cross-country ski trails, offering visitors plenty of opportunity to appreciate the beauty of the region for themselves all year round. Whether you’re moving on foot or on your bike, there’s a huge amount to discover on a journey through the unspoilt highland region, 95 per cent of which is covered by forest, from mysterious moorland and crystal-clear mountain streams to Lake Rachelsee, the national park’s only glacial lake. Other attractions include a number of themed trails, trail and the ancient woodlands of Rachel-Falkenstein.
The high point of the region, though –literally – and without a doubt every kid’s favourite visit, is the national park’s treetop walk, a raised wooden pathway that stretches through the forest for just under a mile, keeping the crowns of immense fir, pine, birch and beech trees at eye level, and offering wide-angle perspectives of the ragged Czech mountains in the background.
All this adds up to the largest area of wilderness between the Atlantic and the Urals. It’s a breath of fresh air compared to the more touristy parts of Germany, let alone the Med.
Single Parents on Holiday offer a 1-week break in the Bavarian Forest from 7 to 14 August 2016: The holiday’s 6-day activity programme includes the famous tree-top hike, a boat trip on the River Danube, a horse drawn carriage ride through the forest, swimming in a natural lake and many more fun activities allowing you to enjoy the beauty of the forest whilst the kids are entertained.