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The Westerwald is a beautiful low mountain range in Germany. It encompasses the border triangle of North Rhine-Westphalia, Hesse and Rhineland-Palatinate, and belongs to all three federal states, geographically speaking, as a result. Usually, the four rivers of the Sieg in the north, the Dill in the east, the Lahn in the south and the Rhine in the west are defined as its external borders. The Westerwald is very well connected and offers a variety of wonderful cultural, historical, natural and sporting attractions for tourists and locals alike.
What makes these mountain ranges in Germany special
Low mountain ranges, called “Mittelgebirge” in German, are mountain ranges that do not exceed a certain height (the tree line or about 1,200 to 2,000 metres) and whose highest elevations did not come into contact with glaciers during the last ice age. In addition, these kinds of massifs must have a certain height difference between the highest point and the foot of the mountain, in order to distinguish them from a landscape that’s simply hilly. The Westerwald meets all these requirements. Germany’s numerous Mittelgebirge begin with the Harz Mountains, in the middle of the country or thereabouts, and extend far to the south until the high mountains of the Alps join them. The Westerwald is part of the Rhenish Massif in the west of Germany and has its highest elevation, known as the Fuchskaute, at around 657 metres. From here, you can enjoy a fantastic view of your surroundings. That said, some other heights of these low mountain ranges also reach and exceed the 600-metre mark. In addition, the Westerwald, like all hills in Germany, offers a healthy mild, stimulating climate that stimulates the metabolism and is considered to have a healing effect on many illnesses.
Seven regions on the map
The area can be divided up in different ways. For example, people talk of the High Westerwald, the Upper Westerwald and the Lower Westerwald. The High Westerwald gained its name as early as 1786. In line with this structure, the main difference between the three regions is their heights. A further subdivision which is of particular interest to travellers comes in the form of the seven regions of the Westerwald, which we depict on these pages. The smallest regions here are the Southern Westerwald and the Kannenbäckerland in the northwest.
The natural diversity of the region is impressive. In many places in the Westerwald/Naturregion Sieg you can still find traces of local social reformer Friedrich-Wilhelm Raiffeisen. In the Hessischer Westerwald you can see Greifenstein Castle and grand half-timbered buildings. The Kroppacher Schweiz has delightful little paths and romantic views, as well as seven idyllic lakes on the Westerwälder Seenplatte. Would you like to reach new heights? Then take a walk to Fuchskaute (657 m), the highest point in the Westerwald, with fantastic views of the Hoher Westerwald. The Kannenbäckerland is known around the world for its grey-blue, salt-glazed clay jugs. The Gelbach Valley in the Südlicher Westerwald is an inviting area for hiking, while Montabaur boasts a yellow castle presiding on a hill over the town. The Naturpark Rhein-Westerwald attracts visitors to the wonderful Wied Valley.
The Westerwald is one of the most famous mountains in Germany. This is certainly also due to the fact that the area was already inhabited as far back as the Celtic period. It has also been a magnet for various peoples over the centuries and, especially in recent times, tourism has developed to an increasing extent, albeit without getting out of hand. The excellent air is clear, with numerous spas and wellness facilities drawing benefit from this. In addition, green valleys and dense forests are broken up by various watercourses and bodies of water. Gentle and steep hills and mountains mean you’ll never get bored here.
German Mountains: discover the Westerwald
Countless possibilities for active holidaymakers
The best way to explore the extensive mountains on foot is to set off on one the many hiking trails that open up the area. The WesterwaldSteig is particularly popular. Created in 2008, it has been accredited as a quality trail, and stretches over 235 kilometres and offers more highlights than you can count. But cyclists will also get their money's worth, as will Nordic walkers on one of the many smaller trails or, in winter, skiers and cross-country skiers. Numerous rivers flow through the Westerwald and create a wonderful atmosphere. If that weren’t enough, there are several lakes and ponds to discover, too. Everywhere you go, there are all kinds of sports activities, no matter whether you prefer thermal baths and swimming pools, golf, horse riding, cycling or mountain biking. This attractive region can also be explored from the air, for example by paragliding, parachuting or gliding. Last but not least, taking a canoe trip down one of the rivers is a great way to explore the beauty of nature. Whether you come in spring, summer, autumn or winter: the Westerwald is a pleasure in every season.
Cultural and culinary highlights
People interested in history will also get their money’s worth in this varied mountains and hills of this landscape. All the peoples who settled here have left their traces of their settlements, not least the miners of the recent past. You can visit countless museums and churches, forges and Roman watchtowers, along with a handful of castles on one of the numerous mountains, plus various mines and industrial monuments, too. There is also a stalactite cave near Breitscheid. If you visit the Westerwald and stop for a bite to eat in one of the many rustic restaurants, you should listen carefully to the Wällern or Basaltköppen, as the inhabitants are also called, because they speak a special dialect. Plus, travellers should definitely try out the Westerwald’s local cuisine, too. It is simple but very tasty, based on potatoes, various types of cabbage and turnips – and best washed down with an easily-drinkable beer.
Getting around speedily
It is easy to get to Germany’s Westerwald Mittelgebirge. Three motorways connect to the area and numerous main roads run in all directions. In addition, there are good transport connections by train and bus and the Siegerland airport is also located in the High Westerwald. Larger airports can be found in Cologne/Bonn and Rhine/Main, and Koblenz also has a port for inland ferries.
- Explore the Westerwald/Naturregion Sieg landscape region
- Find out more about the Hessischer Westerwald landscape region
- Learn more about the Hachenburger Westerwald / Westerwälder Seenplatte
- Read about the Hoher Westerwald / Wäller Land landscape region
- Visit the website of the Kannenbäckerland
- Read more about the Südlicher Westerwald landscape region
- Visit us online: Naturpark Rhein-Westerwald