Current travel possibilities are limited, so I am more or less stuck in Germany at the moment. For recreation, I usually go to areas with landscapes similar to the Highlands in Scotland or Scandinavian fjell and hike there for some days to weeks.

Are you aware of any regions with comparable landscapes in Germany? Of course differences between the regions in questions are big, so also regions with a similar general impression (broad valleys, few trees, few people...) are welcome, just like suggestions about regions with only remote similarities.

Let's assume that there are no effective travel restrictions inside Germany anymore. Regions with hiking possibilities are preffered. Multi-day-hikes with a tent are also interesting for me, so if camping possibilites are present, it would even be better.


2 Answers 2


similar to the Highlands in Scotland or Scandinavian fjell

Not in Germany.

Although they share some similarities at a first glance, Scotland and Scandinavia have become two quite different landscapes due to a different history of human impact.

In Scotland (and other hilly areas in the British-Irish isles), well over 99% of the original forest was removed by humans (historically the British Empire needed wood and today recovery is inhibited by a powerful sheep-and-nostalgia lobby, not only in Scotland but also in England and Wales, to the degree that the barren Lake District was declared a — cultural, not natural! — World Heritage Site), and extremely little of the Caledonian Forest remains. German (and more broadly Central European) culture has historically and presently have a much higher valuation of ecology and a love of forest. Many areas that were cleared have been reforested (in some areas with poor-quality monoculture Norway Spruce forests, in other areas with more healthy mixed forests). I don't think any of the German Mittelgebirge have large deforested areas of land left (with droughts, storms, and plagues, there appears to be a large risk that clear-cut areas will return in coming years, though, but the ground is different and it will not look like the uplands of the British-Irish isles).

The Scandinavian mountains is very different because much it is naturally above the tree line (almost none of Scotland is above the tree line), and many areas below the tree line have either restored or recovered their mixed forests due to a (much) lower density of sheep (compared to Scotland). In Germany, you will only find tundra landscapes in the higher regions of the Bavarian Alps, but it's not like Scandinavia. The mountains are steeper and busier, the valleys are deeper and narrower, opportunities for hiking off-trail are limited or absent, and you can only sleep in official accommodation, which may not be open in Summer 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic (classical mountain hut accommodation may involve many people sleeping side by side in a single huge bed, not a good situation for slowing down the spread of a contagious disease). The vegetation in the Alps is also quite different from Scandinavia. Small pockets with moors or berries do exist in the Alps, so you may find spots that remind of Scandinavia, but I don't know the Bavarian Alps well enough to recommend any in particular.

If you can tolerate forests, there are many opportunities in German Mittelgebirge such as Erzgebirge, Spessart, or Schwarzwald. They are much more densely populated than the Scandinavian mountains, and if all Germans can vacation only domestically they may get even busier than usual, as they're not famous enough to draw a large crowd of international tourists as far as I'm aware. Fortunately, the density of trails is very high so it's quite possible to hike all day without meeting people (it helps if you go mid-week, off-season, in poor weather) but you will still be close to civilisation.

(If someone is in the reverse situation, located in Great Britain and seeking naturally forested hills: the only ones I've found during my time there was northern Exmoor, which I found very beautiful and reminded me of hills in Germany.)

  • Clear-cut areas e.g. by storm where I am (Hesse) are often covered within a very few years by bramble thickets of maybe 2 m height - so they may still not be the kind of open landscape OP is looking for. Commented May 10, 2020 at 21:11
  • @cbeleitesunhappywithSX Indeed they aren't. The aim is usually to restore the forest, not to turn it into sheep grazing land.
    – gerrit
    Commented May 11, 2020 at 8:31

In addition to @gerrit's answer:

  • If you can dispense with elevation (and in consequence also with valleys) but look for open landscapes, there are some moors, e.g. the Hohe Venn at the Belgian border or also heaths, e.g. Lüneburger Heide or Colbitzer Heide.
    Disclaimer: I don't know them since I'm more a hills and forest person.

  • Up in the Mittelgebirge are a number of tiny moors - but they may be too small to suit you, e.g. Breungeshainer Moor aka Breungeshainer Heide (Vogelsberg), Rotes Moor (Rhön), Kühnhaide (Erzgebirge) (though there I'd say that maybe more moors are just across the border on the Czech side). (Never heard of them? That's how tiny they are...)

  • If you are looking for wide valleys with mostly open landscape then the farmlands in the lower regions of the Mittelgebirge may be suitable. They'll usually also not be that famous, so fewer people.

Few people: if you avoid the famous regions (Sächsische Schweiz), hiking trails (like Rennsteig) and hills that should be quite doable. Right now however, I meet more people also in my not-so-famous region than usual because of Corona Kurzarbeit and school closures. And in particular when I was biking in the nearby Ried on a nice weekday afternoon last week, I had to "slalom" around bird watchers and walkers/hikers/bikers. In other words, right now you also may want to avoid the only locally famous places.

  • 2
    Actually, Hohe Venn is very good and reminded me a lot of Scandinavia, more so than any other landscape I've seen in Germany or its neighbouring countries. I've been there twice, once in spring (before I had lived in Sweden) and once in winter with some snow (after I had lived in Sweden). However, it's not in Germany (and I fear it may become quite busy). If accessible, it may do to treat a case of Scandivania Fernweh with a day (it's too small for more than a day) of Hochmoor.
    – gerrit
    Commented May 11, 2020 at 8:32

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