Germany’s Highlight: Eifel National Park
When the cold dark days of winter are finally behind us, something magical happens. The sun shines a little more, flowers and trees start to bloom and everyone seems to have a spring in their step. If you want to experience the magic of a European spring, head to Eifel National Park.
Eifel National Park is an area within the larger Hohes-Venn Eifel Nature Park. It spans 110 square kilometers complete with gorgeous trails and bright blue lakes, wild animals in their natural habitat and even stargazing.
The perfect family day trip
On a beautiful spring day with kids suffering from winter-long cabin fever, families can pile into the station wagon and take a two-and-a-half-hour drive north to Eifel National Park. The park has one of the best family (and stroller friendly) hikes in the area. Wilder Weg is just 1.6 kilometers, so it can accommodate the tiniest of legs. This trail is filled with 10 hands-on exhibits that will teach kiddos all about nature, animals and the environment.
If you need a break from the elements, you can head to the National Park Center, where the new Dreams of Wilderness exhibit is located. This exhibit was designed for children to not only learn about the natural world around them but interact with it as well. This exhibit plays on most of the senses, including sniffing plant fragrances, listening to animal calls and touching stuffed models.
The seasoned hiker’s dream trail
Eifel National Park is home to the Wilderness Trail, a 32-mile four-day hike that moves through every terrain possible. You’ll walk along rushing rivers, through meadows filled with flowers and dense lush forests. There is no shortage of lookout points, giving you panoramic breathtaking views of the park. This area is a certified refuge for wild cats, so there’s a good chance you’ll spot a few furry felines along the way. The park offers hiking packages that can include accommodations, maps, guides and luggage transports.
Park after dark
The park was designated an “International Dark Sky Park” by the International Dark Sky Association, a first for Germany. To receive this, an area has to have an exceptional nocturnal environment to see the stars and be protected from light pollution. Very rarely in life do you have the opportunity to gaze up at the sky and see hundreds of luminous balls of gas and a handful of planets with the naked eye. Guided tours are offered and are family-friendly with discounted rates for children. The tours are hosted by astronomy experts and you’ll be able to gaze at the stars through high powered telescopes. If you’re a photography nerd with a wide-angle lens, this is a tour you can’t pass up.
All too often, we are distracted by big-tourism, racing towards places like Paris, Rome and London. Very rarely do we equate getting lost in the woods with seeing the Eifel Tower but a trip to Eifel National Park will quickly change your mind. Whether it’s a stroll through the forest with the family or camping out to see the night sky light up with hues of purple and blue, visiting one of Europe’s most beautiful national parks is one to add to the bucket list.
Good to know:
The park is accessible by public transportation. Taking the train to Kall or Heimbach will lead you to shuttle buses that go to the park. If you’re driving, the park is accessible from the A1, A44, E42 and A27. Large signposts will show you when to exit and lead you to the gates and parking.
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