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The Bavarian Forest
The Bavarian Forest, with its neighbor, the Bohemian Forest, makes up the largest range of forested mountains in Central Europe, located in the Southeast of Germany/Southwest of the Czech Republic. The region also contains the largest area of protected landscape in Europe. It spite of its beauty - and exceptionally good value for money - the area is almost completely unknown outside Germany and provides the opportunity to holiday in an area unspoiled by mass tourism as well as providing probably the widest range of activities of any location in Europe.
The Park lies on the Czech Border
The Bavarian Forest National Park lies directly along the border with the Czech Republic and is the oldest and largest National Park in Germany. The area has more than 100 mountains exceeding 1,000 metres. Many long-distance footpaths pass through the area, varying from the long distance footpath stretching from the Baltic to the Adriatic, to old Bavarian-Bohemian trading routes. There are also masses of shorter paths for exploring ancient forests and glacial lakes. Mountain biking is also popular and well provided for - all walking and cycling routes are clearly and frequently signposted with direction and distance. Canoing, archery, tennis, golf and mini-golf are just a few of the other activities available. Children of all ages love the summer toboggan runs. The area is also one of the most reliable for snow in the region, with cold Bohemian winds to preserve the snow rather than the warming Foehn in the Alps. The Arber Mountain regularly hosts Women's World Cup Slalom races. As well as a range of ski runs on the Arber and in the Czech Mountains, there are hundreds of kilometres of cross-country ski trails, snowboarding, tobogganing and snow-shoe walking.
Cultural activities abound in the area. Every weekend in summer there are beer and medieval enactment festivals in towns and villages in the area. There is a rich history of glass making and forestry, small scale mining, beer and schnaps making, cross border trading and smuggling and, as befits an area which for centuries was the border between the Kingdom of Bavaria and the Austro-Hungarian Empire, military conflicts. Places to visit vary from Roman remains to ruined (and complete) castles to relics of the Nazi era and 2nd World War, in both Bavaria and the Czech Republic, as well as many museums.
Major cities and other attractions in the area include UNESCO World Heritage sites Regensburg and Cesky Krumlow, Passau and the Danube (great for boat trips). Prague, Salzburg and Munich can all be visited in a day.
The pretty mountain village of Bayerisch Eisenstein lies directly on the Bavarian-Bohemian border, almost exactly in the center of the European continent. The village is the resort for the Arber Mountain and also has the only railway station in Europe with a national border running through the middle. Guests can stroll across the border into the Czech Republic - and since January 1, 2008, will not even have to show their passports. The village also has a local railway museum, tennis courts, mini golf, sports ground and a large children's adventure playground. There is a supermarket and several other shops in the village and a number of restaurants and cafes. Train and bus links are excellent and many guests avoid using a car completely during their stay. Tap water comes from springs in the forests on the Arber and the air is clear and fresh.
Village of Bayerisch Eisenstein from the top of the Arber mountain
The weather is normally warmer in summer and colder in winter than in the UK. In common with other mountain areas in Central Europe, there is rainfall in summer and snow in winter, but often at night rather than during the day.
Germany is also an ideal destination for families with children, as restaurants and tourist attractions almost all make provision for children of all ages. Entrance fees for swimming pools, adventure parks, etc. are low by UK standards.
View into the Czech Republic from the Bohemian Forest
© Margaret Leach, 2008
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