Sports & Outdoors

Take a hike in North Rhine-Westphalia

North Rhine-Westphalia in Germany is just a four-hour drive away from Le Shuttle in Calais and packed with beautiful hiking trails.

Grab your hiking boots and let us take you on a tour of one of Europe’s hidden gems. This region is full of stunning scenery, studded with hundreds of leafy, beautiful hiking trails.

The four-hour drive from Le Shuttle is about the same travel time as a flight, once you’ve factored in check-in times and the rest (handily though there are no baggage fees when you travel with us.) So if you’re driving from London to Germany for example, Le Shuttle is perfect for bringing all the walking gear you need.

Monschau

Where in Germany: North Rhine-Westphalia
Drive from Calais: 351.4km / 3h 46m

Monschau’s cobbled streets, surrounded by colourful timber-framed houses and shops

If you’re looking for a picture-postcard slice of pretty, look no further than Monschau. It’s a beautiful small town in the Eifel region, just over the Belgian border, where it can feel like you’ve travelled back in time. Head to the Altstadt (the Old Town) to get lost in its cobbled streets, surrounded by colourful timber-framed houses and shops (spoilers: it’s also a magical place to visit at Christmas).

There’s plenty to see here, some of it more unusual than others. Take the ‘world's largest festival of indoor sand sculptures’ for example, the Sandskulpturen Monschau, where you can marvel at more than a million kilos of incredible sand sculptures.

Foodies are also in for a treat with the chance to visit a 120 year-old mustard mill, famous for its delicious Moutard de Montjoie, but there’s plenty here to love just strolling around the sights and sounds of this olde-worlde town.

The Eifel Tour

Where in Germany: North Rhine-Westphalia
Drive from Calais: 359.2km / 3h 52m

Germany is a country blessed with wonderfully scenic landscapes and the Eifel National Park is one of its crown jewels. It nestles on the western edge of the country between the border of Belgium and the Rur Lake and it’s easy to see why it’s a mecca for hikers. According to the experts there are 3,599 hiking trails, 250 long distance hiking trails, 27 pilgrim trails and more, all waiting to be explored here.

Among its forests of beech trees there have been sightings of wildcats, red deer, eagle owls and other wildlife. There are wilderness trails through remote parts of the park as well as cycle paths (bike rack, anyone?) and history buffs can visit a WWII military training ground that offers guided tours. Stargazers will be happy too as the Eifel is a designated Dark Sky Park, so on a clear night at the right time of year you can enjoy an amazing view of the Milky Way.

If you hanker for some extra peace and quiet during your trip we’d definitely recommend a boat trip on the Rursee lake to soak up the views of the Eifel national park. Although if watersports are your thing the region has a few gems - the waterpark at Freizeitbad GochNess or try the waterskiing, boarding and surfing at Wasserski Langenfeld.

Teutoburg Forest

Where in Germany: North Rhine-Westphalia
Drive from Calais: 555km / 5h 48m

Beautiful sandstone formations in the Teutoburg Forest in Germany

If you’ve ever enjoyed the opening act of Gladiator, when Russell Crowe leads the Roman soldiers in the forest against the German hordes, then you’ll love this spot. The Teutoberg Forest is a range of forested hills in North Rhine-Westphalia, famous for a major Roman defeat just over 2000 years ago: the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest.

There’s plenty more here than history though: you’ll love the pretty towns like Paderborn, Bad Salzuflen, Blomberg nearby, with their half-timbered house and medieval ruins. Perhaps bring back a bottle of the local speciality alcohol Steinhäger, which is a gin-like grain spirit flavoured with juniper berries. There are no baggage limits travelling with us, so make the most of it!

Bergisches Land

Where in Germany: North Rhine-Westphalia
Drive from Calais: 438km / 4h 23m

Autumn leaves on the lake in Bergisches Land, Germany

Bergisches Land is to be found just east of Cologne, and it’s a promised land for hikers (and cyclists) full of pretty villages and scenery. In fact cyclists are well-served by a number of newly-opened bike paths using old rail lines.

Meanwhile walkers can take the Bergisher Weg (Bergisch Trail) all the way south to Königswinter near Bonn. There’s also the Bergischer Panoramasteig (Bergisch Panorama Trail), which is a circular route around the region. Try Bergische Streifzüge (Bergisch Wanderings) for plenty of themed half and full-day hike routes full of local attractions and history.

Neandertal

Where in Germany: North Rhine-Westphalia
Drive from Calais: 419km / 4h 19m

Make sure you check out this piece of mankind’s shared history. The Neander Valley, just east of Düsseldorf, is where the fossils were found in the 19th century that led to our discovery of the Homo Neanderthalensis race. The original valley was quarried for limestone, but there’s now a beautiful landscaped garden on the site and the great Neanderthal Museum is well worth a visit, telling the story of mankind over the last four million years.

Winterberg

Where in Germany: North Rhine-Westphalia
Drive from Calais: 539km / 5h 47m

Highland cattle at sunset in Winterburg, Germany

Winterberg is a small, pretty town in North Rhine-Westphalia that’s hugely popular all year-round with lovers of the outdoors. It’s home to snowsports fans in the winter but it’s also a huge draw for hikers, who are keen to set foot on the highest peaks of the Sauerland mountain range. Try the 50 miles of the popular Winterberg Hochtour (Winterberg High-Altitude Trail) and enjoy the breathtaking (literally) valleys and chocolate-box pretty villages along the way.

So the next time you’re looking to blow away the cobwebs with a blast of fresh air and exercise (plus the odd bit of shopping), why not book yourself a trip to North Rhine-Westphalia?