In terms of side trips, we visited other large metropolitan areas such as Leipzig and Frankfurt. It was a solid introduction to Germany, however, this time around we wanted to focus on smaller locales with a specific focus on German culture and traditions. With this in mind our first destination was Spreewald, a quaint German town surrounded by forests and divided by canals.
Mastering The Art Of Slow Travel in Germany
The first thing I noticed upon our arrival was the slower pace of life. Highways and busy city streets were replaced by country roads. Outside of our hotel window we spotted more deer and insects than we did people. After shaking off our jet-lag it was time to delve into the cultural activities on offer. Our first stop was the Freilandmuseum Lehde, an open-air living museum that felt as though we were stepping back in time. Many of the well preserved homes from the 19th century (and earlier) offered a sobering reality as to what life was like centuries ago prior to modern amenities.
Featuring low ceilings functionally designed to preserve heat, I found myself having to duck at times in order to avoid banging my head. Families used to huddle up at night in close quarters with generations rubbing elbows together. It wasn’t uncommon for husband and wife to be sharing a bed with elderly parents or even a child. The concept of theme rooms simply didn’t exist. Bedroom, kitchen and living room were all combined into a room. Functionality and practicality over creative design. I couldn’t help but feel thankful for many of the modern conveniences we enjoy today.
German Open Air Museum
As we continued to tour the premises one of my favorite sections were the outdoor games. Old familiar favorites, such as the potato sack race, were on display. Even as a cumbersome 30 something year old I enjoyed hopping around like a kid again. Things became somewhat more challenging when it came time to try stilt-walking. Trying to get both feet on the foot rests proved more difficult than I expected. After nearly twisting my ankle I finally gave up.
Overall, the visit to this cultural museum was an immersive experience that allowed us to step back in time for over an hour. I left with a greater appreciation of how times have changed rapidly in recent decades/centuries. I can only wonder, sometime in the not too distant future, when relics of my childhood may be on display in an open-air museum.
German Pickle Museum
After wandering back to our hotel it was time to visit the Gurkenmuseum. Now I’ve been to several food museums over the years, however, I’ve yet to encounter anything quite as quirky as a museum dedicated solely to the production of pickles. One might think such a niche museum would be boring; it was anything but. On the walls were photos of ladies who had been championed ‘cucumber queen’ from years past. Each one of them vying for the top recipe of the year. The winner, was fortunate enough to have her recipe used and produced locally until the next champion was crowned. With several samples on offer we couldn’t wait to do a taste test. I naturally selected the winning recipe first and enjoyed the deliciously sweet taste of the pickles. My favorite one though was a more salty and sour mixture featuring mustard which made Audrey scrunch up her face.
Punting In Germany
On our second day we awoke to spot a deer outside of our lodge window. In many ways, it was an auspicious precursor to what would be an entire morning dedicated to exploring the plethora of canals by punt.
What exactly is punting you say?
A punt is a flat-bottomed boat featuring a square-cut bow, designed specifically for navigating shallow rivers. It is propelled by a pole, typically 4 to 5 meters long. As we sat down and relaxed taking in all of the wildlife, forests and isolated traditionally built German homes we passed on the canals, I couldn’t help but marvel at the technique and stamina of our punter guide. With graceful skill he pushed our boat down the shallow river bed. At one point in time these punts were used to transport animals, and today mail is delivered to homes on tiny islands. I was almost tempted to give it a try, however, my previous experiences doing such things as standup paddleboarding in Finland made me think twice given my lack of coordination on the water. Instead I gladly captured as many photos and video clips as possible.
When it came time to leave Spreewald I felt the urge to stay longer. The bustle of cities can be enticing but the lure of peace, quiet and nature seems to be calling my name more often these days.
Here are more photos from our time spent in Spreewald:
Gorgeous flowers we noticed at the open-air museum featuring German traditions and culture in Spreewald, Germany.
Traditional Germany pottery on a table in Spreewald, Germany.
A barrel of hay located in the Spree Forest, Germany
Delicious German schnitzel and mashed potatoes for dinner in Spreewald, Germany.
A pedestrian bridge we encountered while punting in Spreewald, Germany.
An alternative to punting is to go kayaking down the canals in the Spree Forest.
A delicious plate of wild game goulash, cranberries, whipped cream and mashed potatoes in Spreewald, Germany.
How To Enjoy Slow Travel And Germany
Germany is a land of contrasts, where the bustling cities coexist with the picturesque countryside, offering a myriad of opportunities to explore and appreciate. While the cities tend to be the primary destination for tourists, the rural areas are also worth exploring. Slow travel in Germany’s countryside is an excellent way to escape the urban crowds and experience the beauty of nature, history, and culture. Here are some tips on how to enjoy slow rural travel in Germany in greater detail.
- Plan Ahead: Planning is key when it comes to slow travel. Before setting off, research the areas you want to visit and the activities you want to do. This will help you make the most of your time and ensure that you don’t miss out on any must-see destinations or events. Consider using travel blogs or guidebooks to find out more about the areas you plan to visit.
- Rent a Car: Renting a car is one of the best ways to explore the German countryside. Public transportation can be unreliable, and a car gives you the flexibility to move at your own pace and stop at any point of interest. Rental cars are readily available in Germany and are relatively affordable, making it a viable option for most travelers.
- Stay in Local Accommodations: Staying in local accommodations such as guesthouses, bed and breakfasts, or farm stays is a great way to immerse yourself in the local culture. These options offer a more authentic experience than staying in hotels or resorts, and you will have the chance to connect with locals and learn about their way of life.
- Take Time to Explore: Slow travel is all about taking the time to appreciate your surroundings. Take leisurely walks, hike or bike through scenic routes, stop at local shops and restaurants, and immerse yourself in the local culture. Take the opportunity to learn about the region’s history, culture, and traditions.
- Visit Local Attractions: Germany’s rural areas have many hidden gems, including historic sites, museums, and natural wonders. Make sure to visit these attractions and take the time to learn about their significance. Some popular destinations include the Black Forest, Bavarian Alps, Rhine Valley, and the Moselle Valley.
- Attend Local Festivals and Events: Rural areas in Germany often have festivals and events that celebrate local culture, food, and traditions. Attending these events can fully immerse you in the local culture and give you a chance to try local specialties. Some popular festivals include Oktoberfest, Christmas markets, and wine festivals.
- Try Local Cuisine: German cuisine is rich and varied, and each region has its own unique dishes and specialties. Take the opportunity to try local cuisine and indulge in the flavors of the countryside. Some popular dishes include schnitzel, sausages, pretzels, and black forest cake.
- Engage with Locals: The people of rural Germany are warm and friendly, and engaging with them can enhance your travel experience. Strike up a conversation with locals, ask for recommendations, and learn about their way of life. You may even get the chance to participate in local traditions or customs.
Slow rural travel in Germany offers a unique and rewarding experience. By planning ahead, renting a car, staying in local accommodations, taking time to explore, visiting local attractions, attending festivals and events, trying local cuisine, and engaging with locals, you can fully immerse yourself in the beauty of the countryside and make lasting memories. Slow travel allows you to take a break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and appreciate the little things that make travel so rewarding.
30 Scenic Places To Visit and Relax In Germany
Germany, with its rolling hills, picturesque villages, and vast forests, is a perfect destination for travelers who want to experience slow-paced rural travel. Away from the hustle and bustle of big cities, rural Germany offers travelers a chance to unwind and experience a simpler way of life. Here are 30 rural places in Germany where you can relax and enjoy slow-paced travel:
- The Black Forest: A vast forested region in southwestern Germany known for its scenic drives, charming villages, and world-famous cuckoo clocks.
- The Bavarian Alps: A mountainous region in southern Germany that is home to fairy-tale castles, alpine lakes, and breathtaking vistas.
- Spreewald: A beautiful region in eastern Germany, famous for its unique system of canals and its traditional pickles.
- Lüneburger Heide: A heathland region in northern Germany that is home to quaint towns, historic churches, and a variety of wildlife.
- The Moselle Valley: A scenic region in western Germany that is famous for its picturesque vineyards, charming villages, and world-class wines.
- The Eifel: A rugged mountain region in western Germany known for its natural beauty, historic castles, and volcanic lakes.
- The Harz Mountains: A mountain range in central Germany that is famous for its scenic drives, traditional villages, and historic mines.
- Mecklenburg Lake District: A vast network of lakes and waterways in northern Germany that is perfect for boating, fishing, and cycling.
- The Romantic Road: A scenic route that winds through picturesque villages and historic towns in southern Germany, including Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Würzburg, and Augsburg.
- The German Wine Route: A 50-mile long scenic route that winds through some of Germany’s best wine-growing regions, including the Pfalz and Rheinhessen.
- Hunsrück: A hilly region in western Germany known for its picturesque villages, historic castles, and scenic hiking trails.
- The Taunus: A mountain range in central Germany that is known for its scenic drives, traditional spa towns, and historic castles.
- The Altmühltal: A beautiful river valley in southern Germany that is perfect for hiking, cycling, and kayaking.
- The Weserbergland: A hilly region in northern Germany that is home to historic towns, scenic drives, and a variety of outdoor activities.
- The Thuringian Forest: A mountainous region in central Germany that is known for its scenic drives, traditional villages, and historic castles.
- The Franconian Switzerland: A scenic region in northern Bavaria that is perfect for hiking, cycling, and rock climbing.
- The Odenwald: A mountain range in southwestern Germany that is known for its scenic drives, traditional villages, and historic castles.
- The Rhön: A mountainous region in central Germany that is perfect for hiking, cycling, and winter sports.
- The Saale-Unstrut Wine Region: A scenic region in eastern Germany that is famous for its historic vineyards, traditional villages, and beautiful countryside.
- The Upper Palatinate: A picturesque region in eastern Germany that is home to traditional villages, historic castles, and a variety of outdoor activities.
- The Allgäu: A mountainous region in southern Germany that is known for its scenic drives, traditional spa towns, and winter sports.
- The Saxon Switzerland: A scenic region in eastern Germany that is perfect for hiking, cycling, and rock climbing.
- The Upper Rhine Valley: A beautiful region in southwestern Germany that is home to scenic drives and traditional wine villages.
- Lüneburger Heide: This stunning heath landscape in Lower Saxony is perfect for hiking, cycling, and horseback riding.
- Rhön Mountains: Located in Hesse, the Rhön Mountains are a beautiful natural area with plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities.
- Mecklenburg Lake District: This picturesque region in northern Germany is full of lakes, forests, and charming small towns.
- Allgäu: This region in Bavaria is known for its stunning alpine scenery and charming villages, and is perfect for hiking, skiing, and relaxing.
- Müritz National Park: Located in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Müritz National Park is a beautiful wilderness area with forests, lakes, and abundant wildlife.
- Bavarian Forest: This national park in Bavaria is home to ancient forests, rugged mountains, and scenic lakes, and is perfect for hiking and nature watching.
- Teutoburg Forest: This forested range in North Rhine-Westphalia is a beautiful natural area with plenty of hiking and cycling trails.
These are just a few examples of the many beautiful rural areas in Germany that are perfect for slow-paced travel and relaxation. Each region has its own unique charms and attractions, so be sure to explore and discover your own favorite spots!
I visited Spreewald as part of the #JoinGermanTradition campaign organized by the German National Tourism Board.