There’s a wide range of mountain ranges in Germany, varying from large to small. Whenever you are in the country, you’ll see several mountains to visit.
Some of the fascinating mountains you can visit in Germany include the following:
- Elbe Sandstone Mountains in Bad Schandau
- Zugspitze mountains in Garmisch-Partenkirchen
- Wank Mountain in Garmisch-Partenkirchen.
- Mount Tegelerg in Schwangau
- Merkur Mountain in Baden-Baden
Table of Contents
Map of Famous Mountains in Germany
Check out our map of the best mountains in Germany before learning more about these epic landscapes.
List of the Best Mountains in Germany
Often it’s no surprise to come across a beautiful mountain and an amazing castle on the same day in various places in Germany. Here’s a look at some of the fascinating mountains in Germany.
Also known as Bayerischer Wald in German, The Bavarian Forest is a low range of mountains in Bavaria, Germany. These mountains extend along the Czech border and are continued by the Sumava (Bohemian Forest) on the Czech side.
Geographically the Bohemian Forest and the Bavarian Forest are the same mountain range.
The highest peak is the Großer Arber “Great Arber”, 1456 m. The main river is the Regen, which is formed by the conjunction of White Regen and Black Regen. It leaves the mountains toward the city of Regensburg.
A majority of this range of mountains is occupied and managed by the Bavarian Forest National Park (240 km²). The park was founded in 1970 and was the first national park in Germany.
Black Forest Mountain Range
The Black Forest (Schwarzwald) is a wooded mountain range that’s bordered by the Rhine valley borders to the west and south. It’s found in Baden-Württemberg, southwestern Germany.
The highest peak of the mountain range is the Feldberg, and it has an elevation of 4898 ft. (1,493 m).
The name the Black Forest stemmed from the general dark color of the many pine trees that grow in the region. People believe it’s called the black forest mountains because when on the mountain, the shadows from all the trees make it seem dark.
The Black Forest gateau’s origin is this region.
The Black Forest entails a core of gneiss with a cover of sandstone on top. Glaciers covered it during the last ice age. Remains of this period include several cirques like the Mummelsee.
The Danube, Kinzig, Enz, Neckar, Murg, and Rench are some rivers that originate from the Black Forest. The forest is part of the continental divide between the Black Sea watershed (drained by the Danube) and the Atlantic Ocean watershed (drained by the Rhine).
The Black Forest belongs to several counties; in the north: Pforzheim, Enz, Calw, and Rastatt; in the middle: Ortenaukreis, Freudenstadt and Rottweil. In the south it belongs to Schwarzwald-Baar, Emmendingen, Breisgau-Hochschwarzwald, Waldshu, and Lörrach.
The forest has plenty of firs. Tourism is the primary industry in the region, whereas Swabian and Alemannic are the dialects spoken.
Having suffered immense damage from acid rain, the forest is only a fraction of the size it once was. Some of the scenic hills and high peaks were left bare with primary growth of young firs and shrubs after the 1999 storm Lothar knocked down several mountaintops.
Quick Fact: The highest mountains are the Feldberg at 4,898 ft., the Seebuck at 4751 ft., the Herzogenhorn at 4,642 ft., the Belchen at 4,639 ft., the Schauinsland at 4,212 ft., the Kandel at 4,072 ft., the Blauen at 3,822 ft., and the Hornisgrinde at 3,819 ft.
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Eastern Alps is the name given to the eastern half of the Alps. It’s defined as the area east of the Splügen Pass in Switzerland. North of the Splügen Pass, the Posterior Rhine forms the border. The Liro river and Lake Como form the boundary line south of the Pass
The Eastern Alps include parts of Switzerland, most of Austria and Liechtenstein, and parts of southern Germany, northern Italy, and Slovenia. The eastern borders are the Wienerwald (Vienna Woods) and the Viennese basin, the transition zone to the Carpathian mountains.
The notable part of this alps region in Germany is classified as the Bavarian Alps. Mittenwald is a very popular hiking and skiing destination in Europe. This alps range is shared with the Austrian border.
The Eastern Alps are traditionally divided according to the Alpenvereins-Einteilung (arrangement of the Alpine Club) into several dozen small regions, each assigned to the Northern Calcareous Alps, the Central Eastern Alps, or the Southern Calcareous Alps. Fuller details are given on those pages of the regions they contain.
The highest mountain in the Eastern Alps is Piz Bernina (4052 m) in Switzerland, followed by the Ortler (3905 m) in Italy/South Tyrol and then Großglockner (3798 m) in Austria.
During the Würm glaciation, the Eastern Alps were drier than the Western Alps. The contiguous ice shield ended in the region of the Niedere Tauern in Austria.
This allowed many species to survive the ice age in the Eastern Alps, where they could not survive elsewhere. For that reason, many species of plants are endemic to the Eastern Alps.
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Elbe Sandstone Mountains
The Elbe Sandstone Mountains (German Elbsandsteingebirge, Czech Labské pískovce) is one of the ranges of mountains in Germany. It straddles the border between the states of Saxony (in southeastern Germany) and the Czech Republic.
The name derives from the sandstone which was carved by the river Elbe.
The holiday region of Elbe Sandstone Mountains is located in the Saxon Switzerland National Park. It’s one of Germany’s unique regions of natural beauty and is right on Dresden’s doorstep. Tourists and hikers get to enjoy a picturesque backdrop thanks to the breathtaking rocky landscapes of Elb Sandstone Mountains, trees jutting out from the surrounding forest, and roaring streams in craggy gorges.
Other interesting places include Königstein Fortress, Fort Hohnstein, Fort Stolpen, Weesenstein Castle, and Kuckuckstein Castle.
There are 14,000 climbing routes via which mountain climbers can conquer 1100 free-standing peaks. Visitors can experience the spectacular natural scenes on the asphalt Elb cycle path. Or onboard a steam paddle boat that is part of the world’s oldest fleet of its kind.
E.g., in 1730, the discovery of the first ferrous and sulfurous sources in Bad Schandau caused a brisk demand for this place as a health resort. It led to the construction of swimming baths.
Sandstone is the bedrock from rounded to sharp-edged grains. According to the DIN 4022, the grain’s diameter lies between 0,063 mm to 2 mm. The term sand thus describes a defined grain size interval. A specific mineral constituent doesn’t represent sandstone, unlike most other rocks.
Quartz is generally regarded as the main mineral. The various grains of sand, the components, can also consist of other minerals or rock fragments.
A sandstone whose components consist of more than 90% of quartz grains is called quartz sandstone. If a sandstone component leads, whose diameter exceeds 2 mm, it is called conglomerate sandstone (e.g., Olsbrücker sandstone). Sandstones with portions of grain sizes under 0,063 mm or 0,002 mm are called silty or clayey sandstones.
Genesis of Sandstone
Sandstones are deposits or sedimentary rocks resulting from the solidification of loose sand, the sediment. After Correns, sediments are regarded as-deposited mechanical and chemical decomposition products after transport. This can be by either water, wind, or ice.
The deposit of the sand takes place due to the force of gravity via mechanical sedimentation.
All components of sandstone set off mechanically after transport is called detritus. Characteristic for all sedimentary rocks is the layering. It results from changes in the sedimentation conditions. E.g., the supply of materially different detritus or the change of the grain size of the depositing substances.
The banking observed in sandstone sequences is due to repeated sedimentation interruptions. The emergence of sandstones is possible in different deposit areas.
The deposit of sand can occur within streams, nerved lowlands, or within the muzzle range of rivers (delta levels). It can also happen within the sea range in direct proximity of the coast or on shallows.
The diversity of the deposit areas mentioned with their specific deposit conditions leads to different sandstones, which arrive into the trade with a large sort-variety. The deposits experienced their unmistakable development in the temporal succession of earth-historical procedures,
Layer sequence in the sandstone
The sandstone of this region shapes the landscape, which was the sea bottom millions of years ago. Large rivers rinsed sand and decomposition debris into the Cretaceous sea.
Rough quartz sand, fine marl, and clay sank and solidified themselves layer for layer. A compact sandstone plate developed, up to 600 meters thick and about 600 kilometers wide.
- Bohemian massif
- Lusatian-Saxonian block
- Elbe Sandstone territory
- Rhenish massif
- Prehistoric sea of the Cretaceous period
When the sea left approx 80 million years ago, the mountain forming decay began. At first, bursts developed. The Lusatian granite massif gradually pushed itself onto the sandstone plate from the north.
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Estergebirge is a small mountain range in Bavaria. It is classified either as part of the Bavarian Alps or a larger chain of Northern Limestone Alps.
The range stretches for about 15 kilometers. The valley of river Loisach borders it from the west. Walchensee lake and the valley of river Isar border it from the east. Krottenkopf (2086 m) is the highest mountain in the range, exceeding the 2000 m level.
Prominent peaks are Krottenkopf (2086 m), Bischof (2033 m), Hohe Kisten (1922 m), Hoher Fricken (1940 m). Standing few kilometer away is Simetsberg (1.836 m).
Composed of limestone, the mountain range has a treeline of around 1700 m.
Estergebirge stays relatively calm, with the exception of Wank (1779 m), since is the only peak accessible by cable car. Most mountaineers and tourists are attracted to higher ranges nearby.
These include Karwendel, Wetterstein mountains, and Germany’s highest mountain, Zugspitze massif. The Austrian border runs over the Zugspitze massif.
Estergebirge offers various mountaineering and trekking possibilities in winter and summer.
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The Fichtelgebirge is a mountain range in northeastern Bavaria, Germany. It extends from the valley of the Red Main River to the Czech border. Here, it is continued by the much higher Ore Mountains.
Schneeberg (1053 m) is the highest mountain in the range. The rivers rising from the Fichtelgebirge include the Saxon Saale, the White Main (German: Weißer Main), the Ohře (German: Eger), and the Fichtelnaab, which joins the Waldnaab. Cities on the edge of the mountains include Bayreuth and Hof.
While the mountains slope away to the north and the south, there is a steep slope to the west. That’s where the Red Main forms the boundary of the mountains.
The Fichtelgebirge attracts many tourists during summer and winter. Many come for recreational activities like hiking, skiing, and seeing the large rock formations.
Mid-altitude alps range in the northern part of the Bavarian Alps, the Frankenwald is situated in the Oberfranken district. The range forms the geological connection between the Thuringian Forest and the Fichtelgebirge.
The Frankenwald runs for about 45 kilometers (30 miles) in a north-westerly direction. It is a broad well-wooded plateau descending gently on the eastern and north sides towards the river Saale. It descends more steeply to the Bavarian plain in the west. It attains its highest elevation (794 meters) in the Döbraberg near Schwarzenbach am Wald.
There’s a watershed between the Saale and Main basins, belonging to the systems of the Elbe and Rhine, respectively.
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The Harz is an independent mountain in northern Germany. It straddles the border between the states of Lower Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, and Thuringia. The name Harz derives from a Middle High German word meaning “forest.”
The Harz has a length of 95 km (southeast to northwest) and a width of 35 km. It occupies an area of about 2000 km² and reaches its highest point at the Brocken (1141 m), situated in the German state of Saxony-Anhalt. The Wurmberg (971 m) is the highest peak in Lower Saxony part. Six hundred thousand people live in towns and villages of the Harz mountains.
The Harz is divided into the Upper Harz (Oberharz) in the northwest and the Lower Harz (Unterharz) in the southeast. The Upper Harz has a higher elevation and features fir forests. The Lower Harz gradually descends towards the surrounding land and has deciduous forests mingled with meadows.
The settlement of the Harz began only 1000 years ago. In ancient times dense forests made the region inaccessible. Silver deposits near the town of Goslar were discovered in the year 968. In the following centuries, mines were established throughout the mountains.
The region’s wealth declined after the mines were exhausted in the early 19th century. This made the people had abandoned the town for some time. Prosperity eventually returned with tourism.
Between 1945 and 1990, an international boundary ran through the Harz. The west belonged to the FRG and the east to the GDR. Today the Harz forms a popular tourist destination for summer hiking and winter sports.
The Harz National Park is located in the Harz; it covers the Brocken and surrounding wilderness areas.
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The Hunsrück is a low mountain range found in Rheinland-Pfalz (Rhineland-Palatinate), Germany. It’s bounded by the Moselle (north), Rhine (east), and Nahe (south), river valleys,
The Hunsrück is continued by the Taunus mountains on the eastern side of the Rhine. In the north behind the Moselle, it is continued by the Eifel.
Pfalz is found to the south of the Nahe.
Many of the hills are not higher than 400 m. The highest mountains within the Hunsrück bear names of their own. These are the (Schwarzwälder) Hochwald, the Idarwald, the Soonwald, and the Binger Wald. The highest peak is the Erbeskopf (816 m).
Towns located within the Hunsrück include Simmern, Kirchberg, and Idar-Oberstein, Kastellaun and Morbach. Frankfurt-Hahn Airport, a growing low-fare carrier and cargo airport, is also located within the region.
Slate is mined in Hunsrück, with the climate being characterized by rainy weather.
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Lusatian Mountains (German: Lausitzer Gebirge) is a range of mountains in Europe. It’s on the southeastern border of Germany and the Czech Republic, east of the Elbe River, a continuation of the Erzgebirge, which is west of the Elbe.
The Lusatians themselves are an extension of the Sudeten Mountains of Bohemia and Moravia. These mountains join the Carpathian Mountains. The adjacent portion in southeastern Germany is called Lusatia.
The highest peak is Lužické (Lausche) 793 m. Other notable peaks include Pěnkavčí vrch (Finkenkoppe) 792 m, Jedlová (Tannenberg) 774 m, Klíč (Kleis) 760 m, Hvozd (Hochwald) 750 m and Studenec (Kaltenberg) 736 m.
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The Ore Mountains (Erzgebirge) are a range that covers 150 km of the boundary. They’re found on the border between Germany and the Czech Republic. They extend from the western border of Saxony to the Elbe river.
The western portions of the mountains have the highest peaks. The Klínovec (1244 m) on the Czech side and the Fichtelberg (1214 m) on the German side are the highest mountains in this range. In the west, the mountains are continued by the much lower Bavarian Fichtelgebirge.
In the east, the Elbe Sandstone Mountains on both banks of the Elbe river may be regarded as the easternmost extension of the mountains. East of the Elbe, the mountain chain continues as the Lusatian Mountains. The Ore Mountains slope gently away to the north, where the cities of Zwickau and Chemnitz are located on the foothills. The southern incline is extremely steep.
The Ore Mountains were virtually unsettled during the Middle Ages and covered with dense forests. In the 15th century, the discovery of silver and tin deposits led to the settlement of the mountains and the foundation of cities. The name is derived from the richness of mineral resources.
Segmented Erzgebirge, the name takes Erz from the Tuscan city Arezzo. The city produced such fine metal that its name became the German word for metal. Gebirge are “mountains.” Today the mountains are also a popular winter sports resort.
The Ore Mountains are famous for many Christmas traditions. During the decline of silver and tin deposits, former miners had to look for new ways to feed their families.
Besides lace-making and weaving, they went into wood carving. Nutcrackers, Smoking Men, Pyramids (carousels with figures of the Christmas story or from mining), and Schwibbogen (wooden arcs with candles in the windows, symbolizing the opening of a mine) are just some of many Christmas items of the Ore Mountains.
Seiffen in the East Ore Mountains was a center of the wooden toy industry.
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The Rhön Mountains are a group of low mountains in central Germany. The states Hesse, Bavaria, and Thuringia border each other here. The Fulda River and its valley separate the range of mountains. They are a product of the ancient volcanic activity, from the Vogelsberg Mountain.
These mountains found in German territory are popular tourist destinations. Hikers come for the nearly 6,000 km (3,750 miles) of tracks through the picturesque scenery. Gliding enthusiasts have been drawn to the area since the early 20th century.
More recently, farm stays are flourishing in the region.
Parts of Rhön were declared a Biosphere Reserve in 1991, by UNESCO because of the unique high-altitude ecosystem in the area.
The peaks of the Rhön include:
- Wasserkuppe 950 m (3,110 ft), (hessian Rhön)
- Kreuzberg (mountain) 928 m (3,040 ft) (bavarian Rhön)
- Schwabenhimmel 926 m (3,040 ft) (bavarian Rhön)
- Heidelstein 913 m (3,000 ft) (bavarian Rhön)
- Milseburg 835 m (2,740 ft) (hessian Rhön)
- Feuerberg 832 m (2,730 ft) (bavarian Rhön)
- Ellenbogen 814 m (2,670 ft) (thuringian Rhön)
The Spessart is a hill chain in northwestern Bavaria and southern Hesse, Germany. It is bounded by the main river on three sides, which describes a long curve. Two large cities are located at the foot of the Spessart: Aschaffenburg and Würzburg.
Although the Spessart is a roughly circular hill country, the main ridge extends from the southwest to the northeast. It is continued by the Odenwald in the southwest and by the Rhön in the northeast.
Its highest peak is the Geiersberg (586 m). Apart from the edges, the region is sparsely populated. Two nature parks called Bavarian Spessart, and Hessian Spessart occupy large portions of the hills.
Stretching from eastern Germany to the Czech Republic and Poland, the Sudetes, also called Sudety or Sudeten, is a mountain range in Central Europe. Reaching up to 1,602 m, Sněžka-Śnieżka in Krkonoše/Karkonosze Mountains on the Czech-Polish border is the highest summit of the mountain range.
The Sudetes are divided into:
1. Western Sudetes
– Lusatian Mountains (Germany and the Czech Republic)
– Karkonosze/Krkonoše/Giant Mountains (Poland and the Czech Republic)
– Jizera Mountains (Poland and the Czech Republic)
2. Central Sudetes
3. Eastern Sudetes
In the past ten years, Krkonoše Mountains have had growing tourism for winter sports. Its skiing resorts are becoming an ideal alternative to the Alps.
Some of the famous towns in this area are Zittau (Germany), Karpacz (Poland), Szklarska Poręba (Poland), Špindlerův Mlýn (Czech Republic), Harrachov (Czech Republic)
The name the Sudetes has been derived from Sudeti montes, a Latinization of the name Soudeta ore.
A better etymology perhaps is from Latin sudis, plural sudes, “spines,” which can be used for spiny fish or spiny terrain.
The exact location of the Sudetes is not very clear, as it has varied over the centuries. For example, the name was used before World War II to describe the German province of Sudetenland.
The Germans living there were called Sudeten Germans. They were heavily clustered in Bohemia. Hitler redefined the term to mean the entire mountainous periphery of Czechoslovakia and under that pretext, got his future enemies to concede the Czech defensive border, leaving it helpless. The Germans soon overran Czechoslovakia.
The ancient Sudetenland certainly did not have that meaning. It meant at least the northwest frontier of today’s Czechoslovakia, probably extending to the north. By implication, it was part of the Hercynian Forest mentioned by many ancient authors.
A mountain range in Hesse, Germany, The Taunus composes part of the Rhenish Slate Mountains. It is bounded by the Main, Rhine, and Lahn river valleys.
The mountains are continued by the Hunsrück on the opposite side of the Rhine. The mountains span the Hochtaunuskreis, Rheingau-Taunus, Main-Taunus, and Rhein-Lahn districts.
Not to be confused with the high Feldberg in the Black Forest, the Großer Feldberg (880 m above sea level) is the highest peak. It was also used for the Feldbergrennen hillclimbing contest and rallying stages. The second highest peak is the Kleiner Feldberg, then the Altkönig (798 m), with the late Iron Age hill fort (La-Tène A, ca. 400 BC) remaining near the summit.
The Roman Limes was constructed across the Taunus. The Saalburg, now a restored Roman castellum, houses a museum. The Alamanni settled here following the fall of the Limes (in 259/260 AD).
For this reason, there are some Alemannic cemeteries in the southern foothills of the Taunus (Eschborn). This area became Frankish after the Battle of Tolbiac.
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