Ehepaar überquert einen Baumstamm, © Tourismus NRW e.V.

Inside tips on hiking in NRW

Scenic hikes, unusual options, group tours or hiking with a twist: the best tips for hiking in North Rhine-Westphalia

Need help to plan your ideal hiking holiday? We have inside tips on scenic hikes, unusual options, group tours and hiking with a twist.

The traditional favourites: “Top Trails of Germany” in NRW

The Hermannshöhen (Hermann Heights) Trail

The Hermannshöhen (Hermann Heights) is one of four hiking trails in NRW listed among the 15 “Top Trails of Germany”. It is actually a combination of two individual hiking trails – the Hermannsweg (Hermann Trail) and Eggeweg (Egge Trail). This network of ridge walks is steeped in a century of tradition, and its trails pass a number of interesting sights, including the Externsteine sandstone pillars near Horn-Bad Meinberg.

Eifelsteig (Eifel Trail)

The Eifelsteig Trail stands out for the sheer variety of its paths through the unique natural habitats of the Eifel. It crosses NRW’s only national park, takes in the deep-blue maars of the Volcanic Eifel and passes through the isolated Rurtal valley and the High Fens moorland. It too is one of the “Top Trails of Germany” and it has received the “premium trail” seal of quality from the German Institute of Hiking.

Rothaarsteig (Rothaar Trail)

Considered as the flagship hiking trail in Sauerland, the Rothaarsteig (Rothaar Trail) is one of the most beautiful upland trails in Europe. This “path of the senses” runs along a wide variety of natural trails. Another of the “Top Trails of Germany”, it has been awarded the “Premiumweg” seal of quality.

Rheinsteig Trail

The fourth of NRW’s “Top Trails of Germany” which has also received the hiking seal of quality is the Rheinsteig trail. Known as the “Grand Canyon of Romanticism”, it lives up to its name with breath-taking views of the Rhine and its cultural landmarks. Some of its routes take hikers off the beaten track for a different kind of experience. This quartet of traditional trails has something for everyone, from seasoned hikers to recreational walkers and young families. All routes are well-signposted and it is easy to plan short excursions or day-trips.

Inside tips for unusual hiking routes

Viadukt Wanderweg (Viaduct Rambling Route)

The Viaduct Hiking Trail in the Paderborner Land region is not exactly new, but it is not very well-known all the same. Railway enthusiasts in particular will appreciate Altenbeken, which not only has a 044-series museum steam engine in the centre of town, but also a towering railway viaduct. At night, its arches are illuminated to transform the structure into an imposing work of lightart. The 29 kilometre-long Viaduct Hiking Trail is the best way to soak in the railway-themed atmosphere of the town. All along the route, hikers can catch amazing views of the viaduct, Europe’s largest stone railway viaduct.

Narzissenroute (Wild Daffodils Route)

Spring is the time when admirers of nature and colourful blooms should hike the “Wild Daffodils Route” in the Eifel. Each year around Easter, the wild flowers transform parts of the national park into a sea of yellow. The just under 12-kilometre circuit starts and ends in the pretty Eifel town of Monschau, which is well worth a visit in its own right


Walking among European bison at Wisent-Welt

A very special nature experience also awaits hikers on the Rothaarsteig trail in Siegerland-Wittgenstein. This is the roaming ground of European bison, the continent’s largest land mammal, which has just recently been reintroduced into the wild. They are the only animals of their species living in the wild in Western Europe. Visitors can see them up close at Wisent-Wildnis – a 20-hectare natural wilderness that is home to a small group of European bison. The remaining wild population has been roaming a 10,000 hectare area since 2013, and hikers are highly unlikely to encounter any of the animals here.

Hopping off the railbus to hike in the Ruhr Area

For a very different experience, hikers can combine their walk with a ride on the Ruhrtalbahn railbus. The journey begins on the nostalgic railway line, and hikers can hop off at different stations to explore on foot the attractions of the Ruhr Area, such as the ruins of Hardenstein Castle and the old Nachtigall (Nightingale) and Theresia mines.


Hiking with a twist

Hiking for health and vitality on VitalWanderWelt themed trails

Would-be hikers who are cautious about their health are also well catered for in NRW. The VitalWanderWelt tours in the Teutoburg Forest combine hikes on themed trails to the region’s health resorts with active, preventive or therapeutic offers. Unique in Germany, this programme is primarily suited to guests suffering from heart and circulatory problems, tinnitus or stress, or who are overweight. Participants are accompanied by physiotherapists or specially trained hiking guides, who demonstrate stretching or relaxation exercises at particularly scenic points along the route. Hikers are also linked with a doctor on the trail at all times thanks to the use of telemedicine.


Yoga-themed hiking trails

The Teutoburg Forest and other regions offer activities that combine yoga with hiking. In Bad Meinberg and its environs, for example, there are three yoga hiking trails with opportunities to practise yoga at locations with panoramic viewpoints. A board at each stop demonstrates a simple exercise for beginners. The routes also take in beautiful landscapes and interesting sights, such as the baroque spa gardens, the Norderteich bird sanctuary and nature reserve, and the moorland from which the healing Bad Meinberg sulphur mud is sourced. Those who would like to delve deeper into the world of yoga can choose from an option that is unique in Europe: Bad Meinberg is home to Haus Yoga Vidya, the largest seminar and training centre of its type outside of India. Its programme includes guided yoga-themed hikes.

www.vitalwanderwelt.de/yoga-wandern | www.yoga-vidya.de

Hiking in the company of animals

Animal companions can provide a great excuse to dawdle along a hiking route. Donkeys, llamas, alpacas and similar animals have a relaxing presence, and this far-from-everyday experience provides an excellent talking point later on. Several regions in NRW have special tours with animals.

www.dereselbauer.de | www.alpakas-des-westens.de | www.alpakas-am-teuto.de | www.sauerland.com

Ranger-led tours in the Eifel and on the Rothaarsteig

Those who wish to know more about the nature and background of the region they are visiting can join a ranger-led tour on the Rothaarsteig (Rothaar Trail) and in the Eifel mountains. These tours are free-of-charge in the Eifel National Park; on the Rothaar Trail, children and the under 18s do not have to pay.

www.nationalpark-eifel.de | www.rothaarsteig.de/ranger

Companionship in groups: hiking weeks and hiking festivals

Bergische Wanderwoche hiking event

Visitors who would prefer not to hike solo have many opportunities to join up with like-minded walkers. The Bergische Wanderwoche hiking event, which was held for the first time in 2014, provides one such opportunity. Over one week in late May/early June, a number of guided hikes are organised in the Bergisches Wanderland walking region, including its two long-distance trails and the “Streifzüge” – a collection of themed wandering routes. One of the routes is designed to be fully accessible.


Latroper Wanderfestival

Also in Sauerland, the Latroper Wanderfestival (Latrop Hiking Festival) has been taking place on the Rothaarsteig (Rothaar Trail) since 2013. This two-day event includes guided hiking tours and an extensive fringe programme in and around the Sauerland resort. Highlights include a night-time walk with a crime thriller reading, an early-morning hike with light breakfast, and special walks with themes like herb foraging and healthy living.


Extra touches to enhance the hiking experience

Audio trails on the Rothaarsteig

Hikers who prefer to set out alone but who would still like to learn more about their surroundings can use a service provided by the biological field stations of Upper Sauerland and Siegerland-Wittgenstein. Ten Audiowege (audio trails) on the Rothaarsteig (Rothaar Trail) give visitors insight into the local natural environment. The audio files are available in German, English and Dutch.


Cyclist- and hiker-friendly railway stations in the Eifel

The Eifel region has an initiative that caters for hikers without a car. As part of the Rad- und Wanderbahnhöfe pilot project, the districts of Euskirchen and Düren have developed facilities for cyclists and hikers at 19 railway stations and halts in the North Eifel region, including information terminals, benches, bike racks and air pumps. A simple and standardised system of markers and signs has also been introduced to ensure that visitors can easily set out on an established cycle or hiking trail from a participating railway station.



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Images and videos

Lass Dich inspirieren: Dein NRW in Bildern

Beim Haldenwandern im Ruhrgebiet wartet auf den Gipfeln Kunst auf die Wanderer, wie hier der Tetraeder in Bottrop
Wanderung während der Narzissenblüte im Eifeler Naturpark Hohes Venn, © Naturpark Hohes Venn
Die Herde der Wisent-Wildnis, © Wisent Welt Wittgenstein
Baumlehre im Nationalpark Eifel, © Nationalpark Eifel - Nationalparkverwaltung

Travel Packages

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More hiking trails in NRW

Kupferroute Bank an der Gedenkstätte, © Birgit Engelen

Copper Trail

wood figures at the Upland Trail, © Tourist-Information Willingen

Upland Trail

Kindelsbergpfad Fernblicke, © Natalie Glatter www.wandermagazin.de

Kindelsberg Trail

Blick vom Hermannsdenkmal, © Teutoburger Wald Tourismus - OWL GmbH

Hermann Heights Trail

Skulpturenpfade im Kreis Mettmann Kunstwege, © Stadt Heiligenhaus

Trails of art in Neanderland

Medebach Mountain Trail, © Touristik-Gesellschaft Medebach mbH

Medebach Mountain Trail

Winterberg High-Altitude Trail, © Ferienwelt Winterberg

Winterberg High-Altitude Trail

Roman Canal Hiking Trail - aqueduct Mechernich, © Natalie Glatter, Wandermagazin

Roman Canal Hiking Trail

panoramic views at the Bestwig Panorama Trail, © Reinhard Schmidtmann

Bestwig Panorama Trail

Extertal Burg Sternberg, © Gemeinde Extertal

Hanseatic Trail

Auf dem Rundweg können Wanderer die Blicke schweifen lassen, © Sauerland Höhenflug

Düdinghausen Geological Trail

Hängebrücke bei Kühhude am Rothaarsteig, © Rothaarsteigverein e.V. Björn Hänssler

Rothaar Trail

River Sieg Nature Trail, © RadRegionRheinland e.V.

River Sieg Nature Trail

Paradise for hikers - the Eifel Trail, © Archiv Eifel Tourismus

Eifel Trail

the landscape on Brilon Ridge Trail, © Brilon Wirtschaft und Tourismus GmbH

Brilon Ridge Trail

break at the Ahrsteig, © www.ahrtal.de

Ahrsteig Trail

Sonnenuntergänge in der wie unberührt wirkenden Natur sind besonders beeindruckend, © Foto Oliver Franke / Tourismus NRW e.V.

Via Adrina – The “Panoramic Path”

Auf Rangertouren lernen Wanderer viel Wissenswertes über die Natur in der Eifel, © NationalparkEifel

Wilderness Trail

Sauerland High-Flyer - the view at the range of mountains, © Sauerland Höhenflug

Sauerland High-Flyer

Die Rundwege des Wittgensteiner Schieferpfades führen oft durch Wälder, © Foto Oliver Franke / Tourismus NRW e.V.

Wittgenstein Slate Trail

Der Landweg ist einer der Bergischen Streifzüge, © Das Bergische GmbH

Bergisch Wanderings

Rambler at the Viaduct Hiking Trail, © Gemeinde Altenbeken

Viaduct Hiking Trail

Bergisch Trail, © Das Bergische gGmbH

Bergisch Trail

Kleine Brücken führen den Bödefelder Hollenpfad über die Bäche, © Tourismus Schmallenberger Sauerland / K.-P. Kappest

Bödefelder Hollenpfad

Old tree at the Hermann Trail, © OWL Marketing GmbH,S. Westermann

Hermann Trail

Upper Sauerland Ridge Trail, © Ferienwelt Winterberg

Upper Sauerland Ridge Trail

fog at the Ehmsen trail, © Julian Stratenschulte

Ehmsen Trail

two people enjoy the scenery at the Egge trail, © Teutoburger Wald Tourismus

Egge Trail

Canyon at the Teuto-Circuits hiking trails, © Rudolf Schubert


Kleine Dörfer liegen auf dem Weg, © Uwe Völkner - Fotoagentur FOX

Way of St. James

The river at the Neanderland Steig trail, © Kreis Mettmann Martina Chardin

Neanderland Steig Trail

Rheinsteig hiking trail, © Tourismus NRW e.V.

Rheinsteig hiking trail