It’s no wonder that the country that is heading the green revolution has lots of eco-friendly destinations for the green traveler. From car-free islands, and certified organic hotels, to solar-powered attractions and bio-dynamic souvenirs, here is what Germany has to offer for ecologically responsible travelers.
Carbon-conscious travelers will love the small island of Hideensee, a car-free island in Germany’s Baltic Sea close to Rügen. Leave your car in Schaprode and take a water cab or ferry to Hiddensee, then explore the solitude and natural beauty of the rugged island by foot, bike or horse drawn carriage. There are rustic cabins and cottages on the island and restaurants serving local food. Don’t leave Hiddensee without trying its local treat: Sanddorn (sea-buckthorns), little orange berries that grow on shrubs all over the dunes of Hiddensee. Sanddorn contains 15 times more Vitamin C than an orange, and the berries come in such tasty forms like jams, honey, juices, liquors, and oils.
Hamburg in the North of Germany is on of the greenest cities in the country. Dotted with large public parks, lakes and winding canals, the best way to see the city is by foot, bike, or boat. Several times a year, Hamburg hosts car-free Sundays, with free access to its excellent public transportation system. Hamburg’s new "Hafencity" (harbor city), Europe’s largest urban building project of the 21st century, is a unique example for sustainable architecture and living. At 155 hectares, this city within a city is expected to double the population of downtown Hamburg with thousands of new waterfront apartments, gleaming high-rises, stores, and restaurants. No wonder Hamburg was graced with the title "European Green Capital" in 2011.
A picture perfect town with quiet winding cobble stoned streets, timber-framed houses, rustic wine taverns and Michelin-starred restaurants, Deidesheim along the German Wine Road was one of the first cities in Germany to become a member of the Cittaslow movement: Here, quality of life is king, cultural diversity and traditions are honored, and locals and tourists alike savor life out of the fast lane. And good life starts with good food. Wherever you go, you will find organic, locally grown food in Deidesheim; thanks to the mild and Mediterranean climate of the region, there’s an abundance of exotic fruits such as figs, almonds, lemons, and oranges – a rarity in Germany.
Even the largest city in Germany is for the environmentally conscious; parks and playgrounds are dotting the city, which is best explored by public transportation, foot or bike; weekly farmers' markets and organic stores are abundant (look out for the sign “bio”), among them LPG Biomarkt, Europe’s largest organic supermarket. Eco-friendly hotels range from the luxurious (such as Maritime) to smaller boutique hotels (Mitart). Berlin sightseeing is green too: The Reichstag, traditional seat of the German parliament, runs completely on renewable energy coming from water, wind and solar power. For a carbon-conscious sight seeing tour on the river Spree, board one of the solar powered boats from solarwaterworld.de.
Milk cows, pick vegetables, bake bread; if you don’t mind working a bit during your vacation, a stay at a working farm in Germany is as green as it gets (and teaches your kids where their food comes from). Look for the national certification “Urlaub auf dem Bauernhof" (vacation on a farm). Besides getting up and close with animals, a farm stay offers a great introduction to local traditions, customs and cuisines in Germany. For a good overview of German farms opening their door to travelers, check out the website Landtourismus.de.
One of the greenest places to stay in Germany: Hit the hay in the middle of a wheat field in Bad Kissingen, Bavaria. For two weeks in summer, Germany’s only open-air hotel offers its visitors hay bail beds, a rustic outdoor shower, and fun activities like a corn maize and nightly campfires. The hearty breakfast the next morning comes with homemade jams and granola, organic fruit, and a variety of German breads. Great for families.
Take a deep breath: After a busy day of traveling, a visit to one of Germany’s parks and gardens can be soothing to your soul, whether you are an avid gardener or just looking for some peace and quiet. From palace gardens, and botanical gardens, to urban city parks, here are some of Germany’s best green spots to stroll, play, and relax. And if you love hiking and biking in the great outdoors, check out Germany’s 14 national parks
If you are looking for certified organic hotels ("Biohotels"), that are using environmentally friendly technologies and serve 100% organically produced food, check out the website www.biohotels.info. From wellness hotels, and family-friendly bed and breakfasts, to luxurious eco lodges with vegan cuisine, the website provides a comprehensive list of organic hotels in Germany, Switzerland and Austria.
Looking for organic souvenirs from Germany? Check out Dr. Hauschka's natural skin care for men and women. Dr. Hauschka follows a holistic approach to skin care and only uses organic ingredients, and all their products are free from preservatives. Dr. Hauschka has been creating bio-dynamic cosmetics since 1935 - long before it became a trend.