Active and healthy through the winter
Ideas for the winter season
Fancy a stroll through a real winter wonderland? Looking for a great place to enjoy a warm, cosy day? Find tips for an active and healty winter experience in NRW!
The most beautiful trails for winter walks
Fancy a stroll through a real winter wonderland? Then get out your warm winter boots! A number of regions such as the Sauerland and the Eifel offer special winter walks for hikers, some of which may even be buried in deep snow. Other paths are cleared quickly to make them more pleasant for a stroll – here the white snow glitters to the left and right of the trail. The premium winter trails around Winterberg are divided into the categories “Cleared”, “Flattened” and “Left to nature”.
www.wintersport-arena.de | www.nationalpark-eifel.de
Explore the countryside around Heisterbach abbey
Narrow forest trails, steep climbs and incomparable views over the Rhine – a tour of the countryside around Königswinter in the Rhein-Sieg region is an unforgettable experience, especially in the cold, clear winter air. Eleven kilometres in length, the tour leads past the ruined Cistercian abbey of Heisterbach, old stone quarries, and the Petersberg with its grand hotel and the foundations of a former church.
Teutoschleife Canyon Blick
On clear winter days, hikers who have conquered the “Canyon Blick” in Münsterland can see the towers of Osnabrück cathedral in the distance. Even if the weather isn’t so good, it is well worth climbing up to the “Lengericher Canyon”, an imposing stone quarry filled with turquoise water that is home to many plant and animal species. The trail is 11 kilometres in length and mostly consists of narrow paths, sometimes with alpacas grazing along the verges.
Follow the trail of cultural history through the "Kurfürstlicher Thiergarten Arnsberg"
A winter walk through the “Kurfürstlicher Thiergarten Arnsberg” is a truly mystical experience. The “Thiergarten” was planned for the Sauerland in around 1670 but was then mainly used as a hunting ground. Nowadays, the trail leads walkers over old bridges and past an oak that is more than 400 years old to a former hunting lodge, castle ruins and the Seufzertal, the so-called “Valley of Sighs” in which plague victims lived long ago. No less than 41 “remnants of the past” can be explored along the 13-kilometre trail, and the silence of the forest absorbs all noise from the nearby city of Arnsberg.
The winter months cast an especially magical light on the castles and fortresses, calling old fairy tales to mind and putting visitors in a reflective mood. A hike along the Bensberger Schlossweg takes walkers past several of these seemingly magical structures in the Bergisches Land. Nine kilometres in length, this trail not only leads past the castles of Benberg and Lerbach, but also to the most glorious lookout points. On clear winter days, you can gaze out over the Rhine valley, and some people claim that you can make out the spires of Cologne cathedral in the distance.
A walk on the moor is particularly impressive in winter. In cool temperatures, vapour rises from the ground and blankets the landscape in a mysterious fog. In the Struffelt nature reserve in the Hohes Venn nature park (Eifel), wooden boardwalks guide walkers on an eleven-kilometre round trip on the moor. The viewing platform on the Dreilägerbach dam offers a unique panorama of the frosty Eifel landscape.
Eifel National Park, a “Dark Sky Park”
In winter it gets dark earlier – but who says you can’t make the most of it? In the Eifel National Park, hikers take advantage of the dark to gaze at the stars. In the wilderness at the heart of the huge national park, the darkness is not polluted by the bright city lights and visitors can see the Milky Way with the naked eye. On clear winter evenings, an excursion to Germany’s first Dark Sky Park is therefore well worth the effort.
Snow shoe hiking
Hikers experience the sheer magic of winter on walks in the deep snow. In order to avoid sinking into the snow in heavy boots, there are special snow shoes with large, flat surfaces that glide comfortably over the deep snow. The Wintersport-Arena Sauerland provides a list of places where you can hire snowshoes, while in the Siegen-Wittgenstein region, hiking guides offer GPS snowshoe tours or torch lit walks through the icy forests.
www.siegerland-wittgenstein-tourismus.de | www.wintersport-arena.de/schneeschuhe
Winter sports in North Rhine-Westphalia
Skiing and tobogganing in the biggest winter sports region north of the Alps
Going skiing needn’t always mean going to the Alps. NRW also offers plenty of opportunities to expend energy outside in winter. Wintersport-Arena Sauerland is in fact the most important winter sports region north of the Alps! Here there are more than 120 pistes for skiers, snowboarders and tobogganers, and two-thirds of them are covered with artificial snow if necessary – provided the temperature is below zero. This has the advantage that the number of snow days is significantly higher compared to pistes that rely solely on natural snow. Consequently winter sports are usually possible from December to March – quite unusual for Germany’s low mountain ranges.
Skiing and tobogganing in the Eifel region
The Wintersport-Arena is indisputably North Rhine-Westphalia’s biggest winter sports region; however, there are also many smaller areas in which skiers will feel at home. The Eifel for example is a great destination for a winter excursion with the whole family. The smaller ski resorts not only offer cheaper lift prices but also marvellous opportunities for tobogganing. There is a toboggan slope with an extra lift for children near the beautiful town of Monschau with its half-timbered houses. There are also several ski lifts and a cross-country ski trail around 60 kilometres in length. In all, the Eifel region is home to around a dozen winter sport resorts with downhill pistes, cross-country ski trails and toboggan slopes.
Winter sports in the Bergisches Land
The Bergisches Land, situated at the gateway to the Ruhr and the great Rhine cities of Cologne and Düsseldorf, also caters to lovers of winter sports. If you can’t decide whether to go downhill skiing, tobogganing or cross-country skiing, the Blockhaus Belmicke resort is perfect for you, because you can do them all. Here you will find downhill pistes with tow lifts, signposted toboggan slopes, and cross-country ski trails of varying lengths; what's more, you can hire the skiing and tobogganing equipment you need. If you are not yet able to ski, you will have no difficulty finding a ski school.
Snow tubes and snowboards
However, it’s also great fun to hurtle down the mountains on so-called snow tubes. Snow tubes are thick, air-filled tyres that turn on their own axis when speeding downhill. The tubes are not allowed on every slope because of the risk of collisions between snow tubers and skiers. However, special slopes and tubes for hire are available for example in Olpe, Medebach, the natural toboggan run in Neuastenburg and in Snow World Züschen.
Neuastenberg is also a paradise for snowboarders: Funpark Postwiese was set up especially for them and is mainly intended for advanced and expert snowboarders; however, there is also an “easy line” for beginners. The floodlights are also switched on several times a week to create a unique atmosphere when you are out on your snowboard.
Winter sports for adrenalin junkies
If traditional winter sports are not enough, you should try snowkiting. However, you must already be an expert skier or snowboarder. This is because snowkiting takes you off the prepared pistes into deep powder snow where the kite – depending on the wind – can pull you through the white landscape at tremendous speed. Anyone who wants to learn this trend sport will find a kite school in Winterberg.
Even faster than snowkiting is a trip in a taxi bobsleigh on the bob run in Winterberg. Three people join an experienced pilot in the bobsleigh and hurtle down the ice channel at up to 130 km/h. The fun is over after just 60 seconds – but your vivid memories of the trip are sure to last a long time.
Along with skiing and winter hikes, ice skating is one of the most popular winter activities in Germany. A lot of towns have their own skating rinks, but it’s much nicer to go skating outside and feel the fresh breeze caress your cheeks. North Rhine-Westphalia's cities in particular offer a number of unusual locations for this sporting activity.
Anyone who prefers natural surroundings will find an unusual ice rink in Zülpich – on the beach! This sounds purely imaginary, but actually exists in the Eifel region; an artificial ice rink with an area of 400 square metres is set up every winter on the shores of Lake Zülpich.
Healthy through the winter
Source of heat: no more cold feet
Winter's no fun when one cold follows another and your hands and feet are always chilly. Luckily you can do something about it! The thermal spa in Bad Salzuflen in the Teutoburg Forest offers a number of therapies to help prevent typical winter illnesses or help you recover from your last bad cold. The open-air inhalatorium, in which up to 600,000 litres a day of salt water trickle down walls made of blackthorn brushwood, is heaven for your air passages, particularly if you have a cold or sore throat.
Winter time is also thermal bath time. There’s nothing better than a revitalizing visit to a swimming pool with thermal water when you want to relax. The many thermal springs and baths in North Rhine-Westphalia offer a wide variety of services and are a great place to enjoy a warm, cosy day. At the thermal baths VitaSol Therme in Bad Salzuflen, for example, you can combine a day in the thermal baths and sauna with a visit to the fitness club for a relaxing break from your everyday routine.
Relax and give yourself a treat – this is something you can do in NRW’s wellness hotels. If you want something really special, the seven "Wellness Stars" are the right place to be. These four and five star hotels offer a wide range of exceptional services to help you relax.