Easy Hiking and Riesling in the Palatinate

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Hiking in Germany

 Hiking and Riesling in the Palatinate

"Location of the Palatinate in the Rhineland-Palatinate map in Germany"

Courtesy of Wikipedia

There are certainly regions in Germany with a higher profile than the Palatinate – even the natives of this part of southwestern Germany would probably accept that without objections. The Palatinate’s problem is that it is a little “stashed away” at some distance from the busy transport routes that link Germany’s main economic regions.

Opportunities of first encountering the Palatinate by just “passing through” are therefore rare: you must actively, positively want to visit the place, and many people simply do not know enough about the Palatinate to make such a commitment. Even in Germany, many people know little about the Palatinate.   

What do they know?

– That this is the region where the former Chancellor Helmut Kohl comes from, the engineer of Germany’s reunification;

– That its local culinary specialty is the terrifyingly labeled Saumagen (the “sow’s stomach”);

– And, that the Palatinate once produced a bunch of world-beating soccer players (the local team provided the backbone of Germany’s legendary world-cup winning team from 1954).

The average foreigner, meanwhile, will know a great deal less than that. Most Anglo-Saxons would probably be hard pressed to show it on a map of Germany, if they have heard about it at all.

This is their loss, not the Palatinate’s, because the region is a great place to visit. For hikers in particular, it is very nearly perfect.

"Wacheneim hiking trail in the Palatinate"

Just consider this: The Palatinate is pastoral. Unlike in many other German hiking areas, your hikes will rarely be disturbed by the whooshing noises of approaching fast-speed trains or the constant murmur of a near-by autobahn – but never lonely or isolated, and public transport facilities are generally good to excellent.

The area is large enough for a broad variety of easy hiking experiences. There are three major trails, each with its own character, and small enough for you to travel from one trail to the other within little more than an hour, still leaving you the time to get some serious hiking done on your “travel days”.

The trails themselves provide some sportive challenges without ever becoming too demanding (in the evenings, you will be tired but not exhausted).

"A street in the town centre of Wachenhiem in the Palatinate"

The villages through which you will pass are generally well-kept and pretty while some of the medium-sized towns along your way (and a little off it) are full of magnificent buildings from the region’s long and distinguished history.

What more could an “easy hiker” possibly want?

And if that is not enough to convince you:

The Palatinate enjoys the warmest as well as the driest climate in Germany and – perhaps most importantly for hikers – it is one of the few German regions where the weather is actually quite reliable.

Most of the rain during the high hiking season (between April and October) falls in the form of sudden downpours, and while it is true that you will have to run for cover, and quickly, if you are caught in one of those, you always have the assurance that it will all be over in 15 or 20 minutes and that the skies will be as blue again as they were before, no matter how bad things may look. (We were actually caught twice in three days – which is, we were told, way more than par for the course – and on both times, the storms went as quickly as they had come.)

The east of the region is particularly favoured by the weather – through a combination of deep valleys, distant mountain ranges and near-by slopes that maximize the number of sunlight hours, obstruct rain clouds and ensure the inflow of warm air from the Mediterranean.

"A bottle of Riesling for hikers in the Palatinate"

This is why you can find plants over here that normally do not easily flourish north of the Alps – such as almond trees, fig trees and, of course, wines, the region’s no. 1 industry. 

The Palatinate produces 250 million litres of wine annually, enough to provide every inhabitant with half a liter every day of the year.(That might go a long way in explaining why the locals are always so friendly.)

Wachenheim Trail

Our trip, which featured stages on all three main hiking trails of the Palatinate started here, on the Pfälzer Weinsteig (the Palatine Wine Trail), with a 10 km walk from Wachenheim to Deidesheim.

"hiking trail markings to follow in the Wachenheim trail in the Palatinate"

The trail is excellently marked: simply follow the signs on the road behind Wachenheim train station …

"Wachenheim Castle near Bad Duerkheim in the Palatinate"

… initially to Wachenheim Castle, one of the area’s most famous landmarks, a mighty fortress from the 12th century that was destroyed in 1471, partly rebuilt and finally blown to bits (by the French) in 1689.

"View of vineyards from Wachenheim hiking trail near Bad Duerkheim in the Palatinate"

The trail will then guide you past vineyards on the left and hilly slopes on your right …

"into the forest of Wachenheim hiking trail in the Palatinate"

… straight into the Palatine Forest. Just follow the trail markers from here and leave the Weinsteig when you reach the outskirts of Deidesheim.

Deidesheim

Leave some time in your schedule to explore the place, one of the most picturesque villages along the entire trail, before returning by train. (More pictures from Deidesheim to follow some time soon.)

"In Deidesheim in the Palatinate"

Both Wachenheim and Deidesheim are stops on the very busy train line between Freinsheim and Neustadt (2 trains per hour), which is itself very conveniently interconnected with the suburban train networks of the near-by industrial cities of Mannheim and Ludwigshafen (where you can find the HQs of companies such a SAP and BASF).

You can reach Wachenheim from Mannheim in less than one hour – making this short hike the perfect one-day excursion for stressed-out executives who are looking for a breath of clean air in between two long days of business meetings.

More coming soon from our trip to the Palatinate!

If you want to get to know the Rhineland-Palatinate better, you can LIKE Romantic Germany on Facebook or visit their website Hiking in Romantic Germany.

24 comments to Easy Hiking and Riesling in the Palatinate

  • Glad you got some inspiration for some hikes in Germany, Heather. For our hikes in the Palatinate region, we were sponsored by the tourism board, so basically didn’t have to look for our accommodations. They also suggested the hiking trails to hike in each town we visited. They are easy hikes and very scenic. Thanks for dropping by.

  • Heather

    Thank you so much for this information! We want to hike in Germany but have no idea where to start until now! Did the Romantic Germany tourism board put these ideas together for you (and you found your own place to stay and bus schedules etc) or did you do one of their holiday packages?

  • Kathleen @ Green Global Travel

    As an avid hiker, who loves off-the-beaten-path destinations I am quite excited I came across your post! We are planning a Europe trip right now and Palatinate may have just made it onto our itinerary! Cheers!

  • I like Wachenheim Castle and… Riesling makes me think of the vineyards near Heidelberg.

  • Beautiful. And at the end of the hike, a lovely bottle of riesling awaits. You wouldn’t have to ask me twice!
    Thanks for introducing me to the Palatinate. Never heard of it before.

  • what a beautiful trail- love the vines and vineyards around. The greenery is so pretty too- I’ve never seen anything like that.

  • This sounds great. I love your blog for these little detailed nuggets. Plus sow’s stomach…you can’t go wrong! :)

  • Really lovely sounding. I’m glad you shared this. Now I know where to go!

  • Haha, the hotel who hosted us actually packed this bottle of wine in the picnic bag they prepared for our 12-Km hike. If we did, we’d probably take more than the 4 hours we set for the hike.

  • Gorgeous! When I think of Germany this is exactly what comes to mind. I want to go right now. :)

  • Pretty awesome that you were rewarded with a bottle of wine for the hike:)

  • That will be our next target destination, Christine. We love Bavaria and hope to do more hikes there.

  • This looks like a lovely place to hike. I am not that familiar with the Rhineland area in terms of hiking, since I reside in Bavaria. Thanks for sharing this.

  • You are absolutely spot on about the map, Jeremy. Will add that in.

  • Jeremy Branham

    Great area! No, I had never heard of this area but enjoyed the history lesson. I am sure they enjoyed hosting you so you could share a little more about the Palatinate region. I love the hike and the views and look forward to reading about the other two hikes. Since you didn’t post it on a map (and I am too lazy to look it up), where is this region located?

  • What a lovely place to hike. You have forests, castles, and charming villages plus a cute cat.

  • I have never heard of this area and a combination of a quaint town, a wine trail and a castle fortress and this place looks like a winner. Beautiful photos!

  • Sign me up for a hike in the Palatinate. Such pretty towns, scenery, a little riesling, and a cafe like the one in your photo — sounds just right for me.

  • Jeff Titelius

    So many wonderful places to visit my friend and your photos capture the scenic landscapes and quaint villages quite beautifully!! thx for this amazing tour thru the Palatinate!!

  • Hiking and wine – an unbeatable combination!

  • This was our first hiking trip to the Palatinate and we were very impressed not only with the towns we got to visit along the way but most importantly how great the hiking trails are, well sign-posted and very scenic.

  • I’m sold! Looks like a beautiful region and one I would love to explore. I find there is a lot of Germany most people don’t know about. I’m looking forward to reading more about your adventure.

  • This sounds like a lovely spot and I can see why the tourism folks of the area are keen to get the word out. I like the fact that it sounds quieter than most places in Germany, and the fact that local Riesling would likely be on a cafe menu once I stopped has terrific appeal. Hiking in generally great weather is also a big bonus. I can d0 15-20 minute downpours but hate slogging all day in that kind of rain!

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