A medley of forests, wild animals, castles and art
You’d be forgiven for not having heard of Siegen-Wittgenstein. North West Germany is a hidden gem offering beautiful forests, art, wild animals and castles
Germany is known for many things: beer, big cities and brezels! However, it’s easy to forget that this vast country has a wealth of beautiful landscapes that make it the ideal activities-based holiday destination. Deep in Germany’s north-west region is a district called Siegen-Wittgenstein that’s beautiful enough to rival the Black Forest! With an abundance of cultural events, rare wildlife and stunning, centuries-old castles, Siegen-Wittgenstein offers a unique break from city life. Read on to find out more about this fairytale-like district that’s perfect for exploring with the family!
Despite the region being relatively remote, you can access Siegerland Wittgenstein via three different airports in Germany. The closest airport is Cologne-Bonn (an hour and a half drive away) which can be reached directly from London, Bristol, Manchester and Edinburgh. On any month, you can find flights from Manchester, Bristol and London for under £30, while flights from Edinburgh tend to be at least £100.
The second closest airport is Dortmund in North Rhine Westphalia, a smaller airport which only has direct flights from London airports Luton, Stansted and Gatwick. Again, return flights can be well under £50 if you book in advance.
Next, a car journey from Dusseldorf Airport, also in NRW will only take you just under two hours to reach by car. You can get flights from the UK’s main aforementioned airports, and also from Cardiff, Birmingham, Southampton, Glasgow, Newcastle and Leeds. Flights from Leeds can be found for just under £60 if you book in advance and for Newcastle, £90.
It’s easy to get the authentic German experience in one of the many traditional, half-timber hotels in this region’s towns. These guesthouses are particularly charming in the winter when the snow falls!
Scour through Hotels.com and you’ll find a small selection of stays in these Medieval-age farmhouses that range from 3-star guesthouses to 5-star resorts.
However, if you want to see this region on a budget, then check out Airbnb where there is more selection and you can even have an entire home on your own for a weekend stay.
One of Europe’s best hiking trails can be found in the German state of North-Rhine Westphalia (NRW). Set in the high-altitude planes of the Siegerland-Wittgenstein region and the Sauerland, the Rothaar trail stretches for 154 along a beautiful and varied landscape.
You’ll find some beautiful surprises on the Rothaar trail, like the Kyrill trail. Named after a destructive and deadly 2007 windstorm, the Kyrill trail is 1,000-metre path where visitors can climb ladders and bridges to reach uprooted and fallen trees.
Along the Rothaar trail, you will find forest sofas and benches, shelters and forest loungers – it’s a great place to tuck into a picnic with the family. The Rothaar trail is home to an annual marathon and half-marathon in October which sees over 1,000 runners trevail and climb through the trail.
The Land of Springs
Along the highest point of the Rothaar trail, on a ridge of the Rothaarbirge mountains, you will find the source of three rivers. Visitors can take a drink of natural water in the Land of Springs, and see where the Sieg River rises along forest trails, wooden bridges and stone steps. This truly serene environment can be reached by parking your car on Eisenstr. Road then taking a plank bridge. It’s the perfect place to sit at a table and enjoy a picnic!
Wild Bison and Llamas
Famous hiking path includes Rothaarsteig that begins at Germany’s Sauerland, a rural and hilly stretch the north-west of the country where the buffalo roam! Well, wild bison to be exact.The endangered species was reintroduced to the country’s forests from 2011 in Rothaar. Today, you can pay them a visit to Wisent Welt.
Visitors to the nature reserve are able to see the herd living peacefully and without fear of destruction to their habitat. For visitors who are not able to hike for long periods of time, a second herd can be seen from the other of side of a fence in the park’s 20-hectare enclosure. You can also With stunning views of a varied landscape, deep forests and a chance to come up close with these magnificent animals, the Wisent Welt is definitely worth a visit!
In the search of the perfect family day out? If you’ve already seen Wisent Welt then head to the Abenteuerdorf Wittgenstein centre where you can set off on a hike with South American llamas! With hiking trails and trekking tours lasting from one hour to several days, you can really get up and close with these furry creatures.
When you travel through Siegen-Wittgenstein, you will spot a few castles too! Keep reading to learn about this region’s enchanting architecture.
Aside from deeply shrouded forests and wild animals, this region in the North West of Germany is known for its centuries-old palaces and castles.
Upper and Lower Castles in Siegen: The town of Siegen no more than two palaces. The lower palace was once home to the area’s royal Protestant lineage who lived in former principality of Nassau-Siegen and was later converted for use by the University of Siegen in 2016.
The upper castle predates the 13th century and was home to the counts of Nassau-Siegen in 1607 and the King of Cologne. The castle today has an extensive exhibition space. Exibitions include one on the region’s history, a mineral collection and Baroque artwork. However, the castle is worth visiting for access to its beautiful 19th-century period rooms, ornate pottery and glass objects and even a “torture chamber”!
Come to Siegen’supper palace during the summer and you will find a range of events including classical music concerts and theare during the Siegener Sommerfestival.
Ginsburg Castle in Hilchenbach: Situated on the Rothaarsteig, Ginsburg Castle was once used as a base by the Dutch King William to gather his army in the liberation of the Netherlands. This 12-century castle may not look as regal today, but it’s worth a visit to climb the high tower and peer over out the stunning hilled landscape while you hike here.
Schloss Berleburg in Bad Berleburg: This sprawling residence has been inhabited by the same family for the past 750 years. This castle is open for tours, however, and you can be led around its beautiful rooms including a ballroom, great hall and some of the private chambers. Come here during the festive season and you can even take a tour of the castle’s Christmas trees.
The green heart of Germany’s west
As one of Germany’s most densely forested regions, it’s fair to say that nature lovers will be in heaven here! With easy reach from many cities, it’s the perfect place to be for anyone looking to combine a city break with some quality time getting back in touch with nature.
This is of course one of the many hidden gems that I’ll be sharing with you during my spotlight on North Rhine-Westphalia this week, so be sure to keep checking back for even more inspiration!