It may be surprising, but we can count 16 national parks in Germany.  In addition to the more than 1 million hectares of territory, there are also 98 nature parks and 14 reserves - with countless smaller parks. No matter where you go, no matter which province you choose, it is almost certain that you can include a national park in your program.

The Black Forest and the Saxon Switzerland National Park are also popular among travellers.

Poland is in the lead with 23 national parks, followed by Germany (in Central Europe). On the third step of the podium is Romania, with its 14 national parks. 10 protected areas were created in Hungary, 9 in Slovakia, and only 6 in Austria.

Map - Where are Germany's national parks?

If you look at the map above, you can see that compared to the size of the country, the area of ​​national parks is insignificant. This is misleading, as it does not appear that if all the protected areas are added to the parks, 25% of the country will be green.

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Map of the 16 national parks of Germany | Source: Wikipedia

List of the national parks of Germany

Germany's largest national park is the Schleswig-Holstein Wadden Sea National Park. Here is the list of parks:

Germany's National Parks Province Capital Berlin distance (km) Area (hectare)
Schleswig-Holstein Watt-Sea Schleswig-Holstein Tönning 441 500
Lower Saxon Wadden Sea Lower Saxony Wilhelmshaven 345 000
Western Pomerania Lagoons Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Born a. Darß 78 600
Müritz Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Hohenzieritz 32 200
Harz Lower Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt Wernigerode 24 732
Bavarian Forest Bavaria Grafenau 24 850
Berchtesgaden Bavaria Berchtesgaden 20 804
Hamburg Wadden Sea National Park Hamburg Hamburg 13 750
Eifel North Rhine-Westphalia Schleiden 10 770
Lower Oder Valley Brandenburg Schwedt/Oder 10 323
Hunsrück-Hochwald Rhineland-Palatinate, Saarland Birkenfeld 10 230
Black Forest (Schwarzwald) Baden-Württemberg Seebach 10 062
Saxon Switzerland Saxony Bad Schandau 9 350
Kellerwald-Edersee Hessen Bad Wildungen 7 688
Hainich Thuringia Bad Langensalza 7 513
Jasmund Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Sassnitz 3 070

#1 Schleswig-Holstein Wadden Sea

The country's largest national park can be found next to the Danish border, in the Wadden Sea area at the northern end of the country. The centre of the region of more than 440,000 hectares is Tönning (in the province of Schleswig-Holstein).

  • German name: Schleswig-Holsteiner Wattenmeer Nationalpark
  • Province: Schleswig-Holstein
  • Park's centre: Tönning
  • Nearest big city: Hamburg

Here the rivers Elbe, Weser and Ems flow into the Black Sea. The interesting thing about the park is that two-thirds of its surface is covered by water, while one-third is marshland. Only 2-3% of the park can be explored on foot. The area got its name from the Dutch word "wad", which means mud.

There are 3 parks at the Wadden Sea: Schleswig-Holstein, Lower Saxony, and Hamburg.

#2 Lower Saxony Wadden Sea

We also visit the Wadden Sea, but this time in Lower Saxony. The sea is 500 km long and forms the largest tidal flat in the world. The park mainly consists of mudflats, salt marshes and small islands.

  • German name: Niedersächsisches Wattenmeer Nationalpark
  • Province: Lower Saxony
  • Park's centre: Wilhelmshaven
  • Nearest big city: Bremen

#3 Hamburg Wadden Sea

After the previous two parks of the Wadden Sea, we already know that the third park in Hamburg is also a similar marshy and watery area. Its centres is Hamburg.

  • German name: Hamburgisches Wattenmeer Nationalpark
  • Province: Hamburg
  • Park's centre: Hamburg
  • Nearest big city: Hamburg

#4 Pre-Pomeranian Lagoon Region

The Pre-Pomeranian Lagoon Region includes numerous peninsulas, islands and coastal regions. We are in the northern part of Germany on the shores of the Baltic Sea. The centre of the park is Born a. Darß.

  • German name: Nationalpark Vompommersche Boddenlandschaft
  • Province: Mecklenburg-Vorpommern
  • Park's centre: Born a. Darß
  • Nearest big city: Berlin

The national park is characterized by very shallow water with unique coastal fauna. Its parts are famous for being the resting splace of thousands of cranes and geese. Its area is 805 km2.

#5 Müritz

We are in the northeastern part of the country, where the Müritz National Park is next in line. The region, which has a total of 130 lakes, and got its name from Lake Müritz. Besides the lakes, you also find beech forests and rivers.

  • German name: Nationalpark Müritz
  • Province: Mecklenburg-Vorpommern
  • Park's centre: Hohenzieritz
  • Nearest big city: Berlin

The Müritz nature area is an important breeding ground for endangered and extinct large birds, making it an ideal destination for nature lovers and bird watchers.

#6 Harz Mountains

The provinces of Lower Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt share the Harz National Park. It got its name from the Harz Mountains, covering only 10%. 95% of the area is covered by forest (mainly spruce and beech), while the rest is marshland, granite rocks and streams. It's an exciting region suitable for hiking. Its highest point is the 1,141-meter Brocken peak.

  • German name: Nationalpark Harz
  • Province: Lower Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt
  • Park's centre: Wernigerode
  • Nearest big city: Hannover

#7 Bavarian Forest

One of the interesting things about the Bavarian Forest Park is that it was the first national park established in 1970. It is also worth knowing that together with the Czech park called Sumava, the two form the largest protected area in Europe.

  • German name: Bayerisch Wald Nationalpark
  • Province: Bavaria
  • Park's centre: Grafenau
  • Nearest big city: Munich

#8 Berchtesgaden

Without a doubt, Berchtesgaden is one of the most beautiful parks in the German countryside. The 208 km² area is located in Bavaria. Here you can discover more famous attractions such as the 470-meter-high Röthbach waterfall, the Wimbachklamm gorge, or the Königssee lake.

Berchtesgaden National Park
  • German name: Nationalpark Berchtesgaden
  • Province: Bavaria
  • Park's centre: Berchtesgaden
  • Nearest big city: Munich
  • Nearest nig city on the Austrian side: Salzburg

We recommend the park to those more attracted to mountains and hiking, as you will walk between the peaks of the Alps. The Austrian province of Salzburg is only a few kilometres away. The area includes the Berchtesgaden Alps, the highest point of which is in Austria (the 2,941-meter Hochkön), while the highest point of the park is the 2,713-meter Watzmann.

#9 Eifel Mountains

The Eifel National Park is a 110-square-kilometre nature reserve on the western border of Germany. You are in the province of North Rhine-Westphalia, next to Belgium, at the reservoir of Lake Rur. The young park was founded only in 2004.

  • German name: Nationalpark Eifel
  • Province: North Rhine-Westphalia
  • Park's centre: Schleiden
  • Nearest big city: Cologne

Beech forest area with a fairly rich wildlife population (e.g. wild cats, deer, owls and other birds). Its flora is also diverse, so from spring to autumn, it is an exciting destination for lovers of hiking or cycling.

#10 Lower Oder Valley

The park is in northern part of Germany next to Poland at the border. The 10,000-hectare area in Brandenburg was created next to the Oder River.

  • German name: Nationalpark Unteres Odertal
  • Province: Brandenburg
  • Park's centre: Schwedt/Oder
  • Nearest big city: Berlin

Flooded, watery area with rich flora and fauna. Hikers can choose from roughly 200 km of marked tourist trails. Don't expect big mountains, but the landscape is ideal for cycling and walking.

#11 Hunsrück-Hochwald

The park covers an area of ​​about 10,000 hectares of forest and fields. Located in the Hunsrück highlands, in the western part of the country. The area is diverse, with excursions and hiking being the number one program.

  • German name: Nationalpark Hunsrück-Hochwald
  • Provinces: Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland
  • Park's centre: Birkenfeld
  • Nearest big city: Frankfurt

#12 Black Forests

The 10,000-hectare protected park was established in the 6,000 km2 within the Black Forest area. This is one of Germany's most popular and exotic regions, in the province of Baden-Württemberg, which borders Switzerland and France.

Black Forest National Park, Germany
  • German name: Nationalpark Schwarzwald
  • Province: Baden-Württemberg
  • Park's centre: Seebach
  • Nearest big city: Stuttgart

It is worth knowing that the park does not encompass the entire Black Forest - as it stretches between Baden-Baden and Baiersbronn. Its highest point is the 1493 meters high Feldberg. You can mainly explore waterfalls, rivers, smaller lakes and gorges.

Read more: Black Forest's Top 30 Attractions

#13 Saxon Switzerland

Saxon Switzerland is one of the most unique regions in Europe. The area shared with the Czech Republic (called Czech Switzerland on the Czech side) is known for its special sandstone cliffs and natural maze-gorge systems.

Saxon Switzerland National Park, Germany
  • German name: Nationalpark Sächsische Schweiz
  • Province: Saxony
  • Park's centre: Bad Schandau
  • Nearest big city: Dresden

On the German side of the park, you can discover attractions such as the famous Bastei Bridge, Königstein Castle, Schrammsteine, and Schwedenlöcher. About 40% of the park is covered by dense forest. Do not expect high mountains; the highest point is only 556 meters.

#14 Kellerwald-Edersee

The Kellerwald-Edersee National Park is located in the province of Hesse, the centre of which is Bad Wildungen. The park was formed on the south side of Edersee lake. Don't expect huge mountains here, either. We recommend it to lovers of walking.

  • German name: Nationalpark Kellerwald-Edersee
  • Province: Hesse
  • Park's centre: Bad Wildungen
  • Nearest big city: Frankfurt

#15 Hainich

The Hainich park, called Germany's jungle, is almost in the middle of the country. Although Hainich is one of the smallest protected areas, it is home to Germany's largest contiguous deciduous forest. The 75 km2 park is the only national park in the province of Thuringia.

  • German name: Nationalpark Hainich
  • Province: Thuringia
  • Park's centre: Bad Langensalza
  • Nearest big city: Leipzig

#16 Jasmund

You should travel all the way to the coast to Germany's smallest national park. The park is located on the Jasmund peninsula of the same name in the Baltic Sea. Perhaps the best-known sights of the 30 km2 area are its 160-meter-high cliffs.

  • German name: Nationalpark Jasmund
  • Province: Mecklenburg-Vorpommern
  • Park's centre: Sassnitz
  • Nearest big city: Berlin

Nature parks in Germany

Let's also say a few words about nature parks since a total of 98 protected areas fall under this classification. It is worth knowing that these parks are not simply located in national parks. We are talking about areas that are protected and independent from their "bigger brothers".

List of Nature Parks in Germany | Source: Wikipedia

The smallest regions are only 100-200 hectares, while the largest reaches around 4,000 hectares (in the southern part of the Black Forest). As you can see on the map above, it is not uncommon for these areas to share some territory. At least you can travel from one to the other without too much trouble.

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