7 impressive mountains in Germany to see

7 impressive mountains in Germany to see

From low mountain ranges shrugged into the landscape to the highest mountain of them all, mountains in Germany have something to offer for every kind of wanderer seeking a great view. 

Does Germany have mountains?

The sheer size of Germany means that the country’s geographical landscape has it all. From the low, flat windswept beaches of its limited coastline in the north to the Alpine peaks along its border with Switzerland.

To find anything steeper than a big hill you’ll have to head south, but not for that long, with the Harz mountains of Lower Saxony and Saxony Anhalt being the furthest north in the country that are worth writing home about. Things get more impressive the further south you go, peaking with the Alps in Bavaria.

Mountains in Germany map

Here is a topographical map of Germany’s mountains to give you a better sense of the geographical landscape of the country.


Image credit: Bardocz Peter /

The 4 most stunning mountains in Germany

Rolling, craggy, majestic, tranquil and whistling, German mountains don't just make for magnificent walking spots; they are steeped in the culture and history of the country. Here are four of our favourite mountains in Germany. 

Zugspitze - The highest mountain in Germany

At 2.962 metres above sea level, the Zugspitze is the highest peak of the Wetterstein Mountains and the highest mountain peak in Germany. Located on the border with Austria, the southwestern parts of the mountain range spill over into the neighbouring country, but the peak lies just within the federal republic.

This mountain is home to diverse flora and fauna, including sheep that have taken up residence on the mountain since the 16th century, one of Germany’s most-loved animals, the marmot, and a Romantic’s favourite, the Alpine forget-me-not. 

The Zugspitze also boasts three of Germany’s five glaciers, the Höllentalferner, and the Southern and the Northern Schneeferner. However, these natural wonders are threatened by climate change, with all three having lost between 5 and 10 hectares since 2006. 

Climbing the Zugspitze right to its peak is not for the faint of heart. The feat was accomplished by Josef Naus in 1820, though several local people are said to have preceded him around 50 years prior. It is possible to hike up to the highest point in Germany during the summer without a professional guide… but you can also go in the cable car.


Image credit: Andreas Hermanspann /

The Watzmann

With the Zugspitze spilling over into Austria, the Watzmann is Germany’s highest mountain entirely within the country’s borders and is part of the Berchtesgaden Alps mountain range. 

The highest of its three peaks sits at 2.651 metres above sea level, with the mountain range including a further five lower peaks. Three of these are poetically named to create a little mountain family out of the Watzmann range, with the Watzmannfrau, Kleiner Watzmann and Watzmann Kinder peaks all sitting just below the main peak.

A walk around and up the Watzmann will reward you with some of the most impressive views in Germany. At the mountain range’s eastern base, you can stop by St. Bartholomew’s church, which lies on the banks of the Königsee with the Watzmann just behind, a scene which has made it one of the most photographed landscapes in Germany. These are views which have long inspired art, with Caspar David Friedrich's 1824-25 painting Der Watzmann most famously paying homage to the range’s majestic surroundings.

Brocken - The most famous mountain in Germany

Brocken, also known as Blocksberg, is the most famous mountain in Germany, located in the Harz Mountains National Park in Saxony-Anhalt and steeped in history. Brocken’s summit sits 1.141 metres above mean sea level and is covered in heavy snow for the majority of the year. According to Goethe’s Faust and Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow, its summit is also haunted by the infamous Brockengespenst (Brocken spectre), who casts a long, menacing shadow across visitors on the snowy landscape.

There’s even more to be found at the summit of Brocken, which hosts the world’s first-ever TV tower. Built in 1935 by the postal service of the German Empire, the tower sent out the first ever public live TV broadcast in Germany, showing the Olympic Games in Berlin in 1936. The broadcasting mast’s ability to reach far and wide meant it was also adopted as a Stasi listening station after WWII, with a building nearby now housing a museum and visitor centre for the Harz National Park.


Image credit: Kotenko Oleksandr/

Elbe Sandstone Mountains in Sächsische Schweiz

Located far east of Dresden and close to the border with Czechia, the Elbe Sandstone Mountains in Sächsische Schweiz can be a bit of a palaver to get to due to their poor connection to public transport, but once you’re there you’ll know it was worth the journey. These mountains are fairytale-like - but the Grimm kind, not the Disney kind - great sepulchral grey stones with firs shooting out of their oblong peaks.

One of the main motivations for a walk in these German mountains and surrounding national parks is to cross the Basteibrüke, a 194-metre high bridge which crosses the Elbe River and was constructed as recently as 1851. This is largely because the great stone bridge makes for such a good lookout point on the mountain walkway. 

Their presence in German literature and art of the 19th century also makes a day out to the Elbe mountains a great choice of culture vultures. So much did it capture the imagination of landscape painters of the Romantic period, that one of its paths earned the name Mahlerweg (Painters’ Path). These crags also informed the landscape of perhaps the most famous German painting, David Friedrich’s Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog.

The peaks around Basteibrücke also inspired the second most important von Goethe, August, to admit that he had not inherited his father’s literary talents. “[T]he crags of the Lilienstein, Königstein and Pffafenstein stand scenically together and the eye takes in a sweeping view that can never be described in words,” he wrote in 1819. 

Other mountain ranges in Germany

The aforementioned peaks are all highlights of German mountains but are just one part of the sprawling ranges and national parks that the country has to offer.

The Alps in Germany

Europe’s most famous mountain range, The Alps, also splays into Germany. The Bavarian Alps are part of the wider group of northern Limestone Alps and line the southern parts of the state. The aforementioned Zugspitze is the highest peak of the range of Alps in Germany.

The Allgäu and Berchtesgaden Alps are also part of the Alps ranges in the federal republic, characterised by snowy peaks, rolling green fields, unusual rock formations and Alpine villages nestled among valleys. 

These beautiful Alpine scenes are also the side of Germany which was exploited by the Nazi Party to communicate propaganda of returning to a “traditional” vision of the country, with Hitler’s infamous holiday home, Berghof, once situated on the Obersalzburg slope in Berchtesgaden.


Image credit: Max.T /

The Harz Mountains

Brocken is the most famous peak of the German Harz mountains, but there is plenty more to see in this national park. If you make a trip, expect a verdant tapestry of birch and beech trees. Under their branches European wildcats pad along with mites, woodlice and roundworms beneath their paws, black storks and woodpeckers soaring above.

The Harz mountains have also long been a major site of industry in Germany. During the Nazi period, the region housed armaments factories, where those imprisoned by the dictatorship were often forced to work. In the postwar era, the region's connection with industry, and particularly mining, continued, with many villages and towns surrounding the mountains largely economically dependent on mines. The dwindling mining industry has now been eclipsed by the woodworking industries.

All that said, the Harz mountains are still an excellent place to go if you would like to spend some time in nature. The region is home to many spa towns, cross-country skiing runs and Nordic walking trails alongside the forest’s flowing streams.

The Black Forest

When people outside of Germany think of the German forest, the Schwarzwald is probably what they have in mind. The largest mountain range in Baden-Württemberg, the Black Forest neatly stretches across the state, bordering France in the west and Switzerland in the south.

Don’t let the name put you off: Germany’s Black Forest is far from the Little Red Riding Hood horror setting it connotes, with verdant firs and deciduous trees it is one of the most popular places to go hiking in Germany. But if you do choose to take a stroll through these far-reaching woodlands, keep your wits about you, bears have been sighted in the Schwarzwald before and are thought to be making a comeback in the region.


Image credit: Funny Solution Studio /

Scale these German mountains

Now it's time to get outside and see Germany's most impressive mountains for yourself. Got any more ranges to add to our list? Let us know in the comments below!

Thumb image credit: elxeneize /

Olivia Logan


Olivia Logan

Editor for Germany at IamExpat Media. Olivia first came to Germany in 2013 to work as an Au Pair. Since studying English Literature and German in Scotland, Freiburg and Berlin...

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