When it comes to German city breaks, there are some that pop up time and time again. Berlin is always super popular, as are Hamburg and Munich. But, if you’re looking for a fantastic break in Germany that’s a little off the beaten track, I’ve got the perfect option for you!
Allow me to introduce you to an area known in German as die Bergischen Drei, or the Bergisch Three as we would call it in English. When you learn that “Berg” is the German word for mountain, it will give you an idea about the landscape of this area! Be sure you pack your hiking boots and bring your bike, as this is definitely a holiday for people who love to get active on their trips away!
Take a trip to the Bergischen Drei: Wuppertal, Remscheid and Solingen
The three cities that make up the Bergischen Drei are Wuppertal, Remscheid, and Solingen. The three cities can be found in a cluster together approximately a half hour’s drive from Düsseldorf, one of Germany’s largest cities and the state capital of North Rhine-Westphalia. The three cities are found in quite rugged and mountainous land, so they’re ideal for bikers and hikers. In fact, there is a network of cycle paths that stretches to over 300 kilometres throughout the three cities – and it’s still growing! Don’t worry if you’re not a huge mountain bike enthusiast, as over half of the track is actually on flat land or follows the course of a former railway track – there won’t be any super steep gradients on that route! But, of course, there’s lots of other exciting activities for you to partake in while you’re here, rather than staying active and on your feet all day. Each of the cities has their own charm and attractions to boast, but they are all certainly worth a visit when you’re in the area. Be sure you don’t write them off!
Wuppertal is the largest of the three cities in the Bergischen Drei collection. The city, which is actually Germany’s greenest, is probably your best option for starting off your visit here, as there are up to 4,500 attractions and architectural monuments to behold in the city. Among these is the suspension railway, which is undoubtedly the city’s best tourist attraction. It was opened in 1901 as a track for the monorail. It’s suspended between eight and 12 feet above the ground, and it was given protected status in 1997. Today it serves as a tourist attraction, and as an important transport link too. It’s a comfortable and enjoyable way to see the landscape of the area, and also to travel from the north east of the city down to the south west.
One of the city’s prettiest spots is the old town – or Altstadt as its known in German. There area surrounding Friedrichstraße features all sorts of beautiful old townhouses and leafy little squares that you can explore to your heart’s content. If your feet are getting a bit achy, simply sit down at one of the many cosy cafés or get stuck into some awesome food – the Hans im Glück is a burger chain that’s very popular in Germany and I can definitely recommend it myself!
Another lovely thing to do in Wuppertal is to visit the zoo – it’s found in a huge, sprawling parkland with a large population of mature trees. Perfect for nature lovers if you ask me! If the zoo isn’t your thing, be sure you come here anyway. Bring a picnic, set out a blanket on the ground, and I can guarantee you’ll have a splendid time on your stay. The highlight of your trip here will be the penguin area of the zoo, if you do choose to visit. It has a 15 metre tunnel for the penguins to swim around in, and as the tunnel is made of acrylic glass you’ll get to see these magnificent birds in action. The zoo is a stop on the suspension rail, so you will definitely be able to reach it from the city.
Remscheid is the smallest of the three cities in the Bergischen Drei area, but that in no way means it’s less worthy of visiting. It’s the highest of the cities in the area, meaning it can be quite hilly in some areas. Its nickname is even the Maritime City on the Mountain, which is taken from the fact that it’s so hilly, and it’s found on the west banks of the Wupper River. So, you can expect that the city will be a great option for touring the waterways of Germany and getting active. The town is a picture perfect example of old time German charm. The town square is a romantic and ideal Instagram backdrop, and the cobbled alleyways are always super cute to wander through after your delicious dinner in one of the town’s many eateries. You should try out some traditional German food while you’re in the area. It’s such a delicious delicacy. Bratwust is a must, of course, and you can’t go back home having not had some German beer. There are so many types!
The city has a very strong history in manufacturing. There are lots of natural resources of wood, iron ore, and water power in the area. The city had an excellent reputation in the past for designing and manufacturing tools, for mechanical engineering, and for steel forming. You can still come and visit the strong history in the German Tool Museum. There couldn’t have been a better place to put it than in Remscheid!
But it’s not just manufacturing that put Remscheid on the map. How many of us have had an X-ray throughout our life? We have a man from Remscheid to thank for this technology that helps us diagnose broken bones. Wilhelm Röntgen, the man who discovered x-rays, was born in the area of Lennep. His former residence has now been turned into the German X-Ray Museum, or Röntgen Museum as the locals call it. The former villa itself is also a fantastic example of the local Berg house style of architecture which I mentioned in my previous article about the Bergisches Land!
The last of the cities in the Bergischen Drei is Solingen. You can easily reach Solingen from the city of Remscheid thanks to the Müngsten Viaduct. Germany’s highest railway viaduct connects the two cities together, and shortens the railway route between them to a very manageable eight kilometres. Under the bridge is also a wonder to see. There are lots of activities in the park below! And, if you’re travelling here with a large family, you’ll be delighted to know that the park is free to enter. The kids will love the crazy golf area, and the picnic benches are perfectly placed to allow you the most idyllic views of the viaduct.
When you’re in Solingen I definitely recommend you visit the Rüdenstein Café. I’ve already spoken about the wonderful German food you can experience when you’re here, but there’s something else you should sample too, and definitely if you have a sweet tooth. Kaffeetafel is a kind of afternoon tea where coffee is served from a Dröppelmina, a specific type of pot. You can opt in for the full shebang with coffee from the Dröppelmina, bread rolls with (or without) raisins, cheese, jams and butter, and a whole other assortment of other delicious foods starting from just €15.50 per person. A delectable choice for some refreshment after a day of hiking around the area!
A fantastic day out you can do from Solingen is a trip to Castle Burg. One of the most famous Originally built in the 12th Century, the castle saw many successions of power and feuds between local ruling houses. The castle fell during the gruelling sieges of the Thirty Years’ War and was ultimately left to decay. In 1882, an architect named Gerhard August Fischer proposed a complete reconstruction of the castle, basing the design off the original plans of the fortress. Today it’s one of the largest castles in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia and one of the prettiest by far.
The Bergischen Drei – three cities, endless opportunities!