The Pfalz Holiday Region
Germany's Garden of Eden
The Pfalz, the southernmost part of the Rhineland-Palatinate, is a veritable Garden of Eden. Fruits such as almonds, figs and kiwis thrive here thanks to a climate that is exceptionally mild. This is a land of superlatives: with more than 150 million vines, the Pfalz has the largest uninterrupted wine-growing area in Rhineland-Palatinate. In Bad Dürkheim, you will find not only the biggest wine barrel in the world but also the biggest wine festival, the Bad Dürkheim Wurstmarkt. The Pfalz also has plenty to offer in the way of historical interest. Speyer's cathedral, for instance, is a UNESCO world heritage site.
Note by the Executive Editor
Frankfurt-Hahn Airport is 145 km away from the Pfalz region (1:30 hours driving time by car to Speyer). Buses run from the airport to the region's town of Ludwigshafen.
The Pfalz holiday region is divided into the four major tourist areas. These tourist areas provide you with many opportunities for exciting day excursions. For example: with 75 Palatinate museums; two dozen particularly noteworthy fortresses, castles, and churches; 16 adventure parks, 8 golf courses, and 30 other attractions, there should be something there for every taste.
It's hard to say what makes the charm of the vacationland surrounding the German Wine Route. Is it the Mediterranean flair of the area in which 1,800 hours of sunshine per year allow even figs, kiwis, and lemons to mature? Or is it the vicinity to France, which ensures that the typical savoir vivre is particular pronounced here? Perhaps it is the enchanting atmosphere of the sleepy little villages tucked away between the rolling vineyard-covered hills. In any case, the creator looked fondly on this stretch of land. Whether you are bicycling between the vineyards, hiking from a hut in the Palatinate Forest to a winegrowing village, strolling through the narrow streets of the old sector in town, or enjoying a wine-inspired wellness day in spa towns such as Bad Dürkheim and Bad Bergzabern, the range of possibilities for rest and recreation seems endless.
There is also no shortage of destinations for adventure tours since the area is teeming with stones bearing witness to the eventful history of the Pfalz. You can find anything from the remains of Roman settlements to fortresses, ruins, and castles. The hospitality sector offers something for every taste, from family-friendly apartments at a winery estate to luxurious hotels, from star-studded topnotch restaurants to inns offering local fare and cozy wine taverns.
In the middle of the sea of vineyards lie two cities: the busy university town of Landau with its zoo and many interesting art deco buildings, and Neustadt an der Weinstrasse where the annual crowning of the German Wine Queen takes place and the Hambach Castle, the 'cradle of German democracy' is situated. Both cities are influenced by their surrounding wine villages and festivals are held here like everywhere else along the German Wine Route. With over 200 festivals every year — some folksy, some elegant — there are plenty of opportunities to get to know the land and its people.
There is much that is unique about this landscape in the heart of the Palatinate. The Palatinate Forest spreads over 180,000 hectares, the largest continuous stretch of forestland in Germany. Here is a true nature and hiking paradise in which even lynxes have become reacclimatized. Since 1992, the Palatinate Forest Nature Reserve, together with the Northern Vosges Mountains in the Alsace, has constituted a crossborder biosphere reserve. Man and nature harmoniously live side by side here. 12,000 km of well-marked hiking trails promise pure relaxation. Also unique to Germany is the tight network of over 100 huts that make stopping for refreshments into a memorable experience. Fortresses, ruins, pristine landscapes, sleepy villages and forlorn farms make this giant forestland with its wide-open valleys to a popular vacationland. Old and young, sports enthusiasts and families all feel equally at home here.
For a change of pace from the rural setting, there are three cities with many cultural attractions and shopping venues: the duchy city of Zweibrücken whose emblems are the rose and the horse, and which lies in close proximity to the interesting village of Hornbach with its monastery; the university town of Kaiserslautern with the largest dinosaur exhibition in Europe located on the grounds of the garden show (Kaiserslautern is one of twelve venues hosting the 2006 soccer world championship); and finally the conference and trade fair city of Pirmasens, formerly the hub of shoe manufacturing and still today, with its neighbouring towns of Hauenstein and Rodalben, a good destination for inexpensive shoe shopping.
The many attractions of the Palatinate Forest Nature Reserve include, for example, the largest red sandstone cliffs in Europe. Rock climbers can wish for nothing more interesting than these spectacular climbing rocks, steeped in fables and legends. The romantic notion of knights in shining armour is alive today in the many fortress ruins, several of which host medieval festivals during the summer months. The Biosphere House in Fischbach provides information on the interaction between man and his environment as well as a spectacular nature adventure: visitors can walk in the treetops 30 m above the ground and then descend via a giant slide — not a daily experience to be sure!
It's easy to fall in love with this landscape, with its rolling hills, fields and meadows, little forest groves, and pristine creeks and rivers. The stress of daily life and hectic city living are miles away from here because the Kusel Musicians' Land and the countryside surrounding the Donnersberg mountain, the highest in the Pfalz at 687 m, are like refuges for people seeking rest and relaxation. Little wonder that the Celts felt right at home on the sprawling mesa atop the Donnersberg.
The Celtic village and the Celtic garden in Steinbach particularly incite visitors to discover that era. Primordial nature accompanies hikers, cyclists, and riders on the stroll through history. Romantic trails pass through forests, fields and meadows, while rare types of orchids bloom at the bottom of quiet valleys and vineyards cling to the sunny slopes of the Alsenz and Zeller Valleys. Everywhere you look, fortress ruins and other cultural monuments attest to the region's colourful history. There is something to be found here for every taste, whether you prefer a vacation on a farm or staying at a four-star hotel. And there is plenty for our little guests to discover and enjoy as well.
Not a single mountain but rather a series of hills mark the features of the neighbouring Palatinate Mountains. The rugged beauty of this area continues to enchant visitors to this day, but the inhabitants of the district capital of Kusel and its surroundings didn't always have it easy. And because a particular musical tradition had developed here, they crossed the lands as travelling musicians during the winter months. Where they got to and how they lived in the Kusel Musicians' Land is the object of the Musicians' Land Museum. It is only one of many little museums that prove that the people here hold their traditions dear. Opportunities for resting harried souls are plentiful: hiking, cycling, canoeing ... and if you are looking for something out of the ordinary, simply rent a railway trolley and pedal your way through the picturesque Glan Valley along the old railway line. The locals are particularly proud of their fresh regional products. Pretty farmyard stores, distilleries, and restaurants featuring local fare invite visitors on a discovery trip for palate and gums.
The plains of the Rhine River virtually cry out for cycling: the landscape features a multitude of well-maintained field and cycling paths. Between them, there are individual farms and quaint villages with half-timbered houses, and the occasional stretch of woodland. The land lives from agriculture since the fertile soils ensure a cornucopia of culinary pleasures. 80 different vegetables alone ripen here, potatoes mature much faster than elsewhere in Germany thanks to the southern climate, and white asparagus is a much sought-after delicacy in spring. Creative cooks will find everything they need for fresh food preparation, visitors can buy as much as the trunks of their cars will hold at farms and street stalls.
Germany's first tobacco plants were cultivated in the district of Germersheim in 1573 and tobacco barns belong to the landscape to this day. And when visitors cycle along the tobacco paths in the Southern Palatinate, they may even encounter storks in the adjacent fields. This vegetable paradise is flanked by the Rhine River, which not only delivers fresh ingredients for delicious fish dishes, but also a landscape of incomparable beauty: the meadowlands with their luscious vegetation, enticing excavation ponds, and the dreamy arms of the old Rhine. Decide for yourself whether you would rather go swimming, sailing, canoeing, or simply lie in the sun — all are possible and what gives this sun-drenched region its southern flair. It is for good reason that one of the most popular local recreation areas in the Rhine-Palatinate district is called 'The Blue Adriatic'.
Speyer, the over 2000 year-old free imperial city, enchants through its combination of living history and buoyant present. In addition to other cultural monuments, Speyer is home to a UNESCO world cultural heritage site, the mighty Speyer Cathedral with its holy roman emperors' tombs, founded in 1030 by the Salier Conrad II. Maximilianstrasse, Speyer's promenade, exudes much of the Palatinate way of life with its almost Mediterranean-style flair, the lively comings and goings in its cafés and shops, and the graceful charm of its Baroque houses. This is the perfect place to get in the mood for a bicycle tour along the river, an excursion to the Wine Route, or a cycling trip past the fortified city of Germersheim down to the French border.
The Pfalz holiday region has put all the benefits of the grapevine to use and has developed a holistic programme to promote well-being, called wellVINess. Products associated with grapes are combined with traditional medicine and oriental therapies using wine and wellness to combat the stress of everyday life.
WellVINess is based on healthy food and drink, so the programme is based on light, Mediterranean food, using top-quality vineyard products. Treatments are also all grape-related, such as the healing power of vineyard mud or WellVINess elixir.
Many of the regions excellent wellness hotels offer wellVINess holiday packages in the categories wellVINess Active, wellVINess Beauty, wellVINess Body, wellVINess Food and wellVINess Spa.
Horse-riding tours are some of the best ways to experience the natural beauty of the Pfalz, with its bizarre rock shapes, magnificent old castle ruins and valleys of lush, rolling meadows. A number of riding centres have formed an association offering coordinated programmes and tours. These quality-assured centres promise trouble free holidays and have excellent facilities for both horses and riders. They offer a welcoming, friendly environment for horses and riders, excellent service, good food and pleasant accommodation — exactly what you need for a relaxed riding tour.
- Donnersberg (Kirchheimbolanden)
- Donnersberg (Thunder Mountain) is the highest point in the Pfalz holiday region. You will be amazed at the abundant variety of excursions offered. Tracks from the past bring history alive. Then again, advanced eco-projects are proof that the future has already begun. On your holidays in the Donnersberg area you can expect to experience exciting and eventful days. You can appreciate the natural beauty of Donnersberg all year round, whether per bike, on foot or from the air. For the sportsmen and women there are well kept golf courses and excellent tennis courts. Autumn is harvest time for the delicious grapes grown here in two wine-growing areas. How nice that one can enjoy the wine whatever the season! ... read more in the Donnersberg (Kirchheimbolanden) Travel Guide
- Whenever football fans hear the name Kaiserslautern, they immediately think of the ‘rote Teufel’ (Red Devils) and of highly-charged home matches at Fritz-Walter stadium. Kaiserslautern is a town that celebrates its love of football. It is a lively student town with a number of friendly pubs lining the streets of its ‘old town’. It is also a cultural capital whose lively alternative scene attracts people from all over the Palatinate region. Nature and culture go hand in hand in Kaiserslautern. Surrounded by secluded woods, Kaiserslautern is the lively heart of the Palatinate Forest (Pfälzer Wald). ... read more in the Kaiserslautern Travel Guide
- Pirmasens is the focal point of a region that has a scenic charm unmatched in central Europe. It is surrounded by huge tracts of forest and the town is the ‘Gateway to the Naturpark Pfälzerwald (Palatinate Forest Nature Reserve)’ — the biggest coherent forest of Europe. Vibrant urban living combined with a closeness to nature make the town a great holiday destination for families, budding explorers, people looking for a relaxing breaks, history fans, culture vultures and sports enthusiasts. Pirmasens close location to France make it an ideal holiday destination that has the right balance of everything you expect from a relaxing yet fascinating holiday. ... read more in the Pirmasens Travel Guide
- Medieval Speyer was already one of the most popular centres of trade and industry on the Upper Rhine during the Middle Ages. Right up to the present day, Speyer's competitive retail industry continues to be attractive to the surrounding communities on the right and left banks of the Rhine. The historical city centre is a charming setting for a colourful, bustling pedestrian zone, which invites you to stroll, take in the sights, shop and enjoy the city at your leisure. Fig trees stand out against the warm yellow tones of the buildings, and rose covered courtyards mesmerise you with the splashing of their fountains. In Speyer, you will discover a piece of Italy and miles and miles of history. At the end of Speyer’s picturesque Maximilianstrasse towers the majestic ‘Kaiserdom’ cathedral. Not far from here, you can experience the age of technology. In Speyer, you do not have to go far to take a leap through the centuries. ... read more in the Speyer Travel Guide
- Südliche Weinstrasse (Southern Wine Route)
- This place is enchanted — a magical blend of airy light and panoramas that quickens the senses and ignites the imagination. It is not hard to tell that people here have an aesthetic vein — just look at the facades, the splendid gardens, the magnificent courtyards. The Südliche Weinstraße (Southern Wine Route) does not just sound good, it tastes good, too. For connoisseurs and sommeliers, the wines from the Südliche Weinstraße are like striking gold. The gates of the vineyards are wide open, the restaurants and wine taverns beckon. Be it for a simple meal in one of the countless wine taverns or at the exquisitely laid table of one of the many talented cordon bleu chefs. ... read more in the Südliche Weinstrasse (Southern Wine Route) Travel Guide
- Bergbauerlebniswelt Imsbach
- The history of mining on the southern face of Mount Donnersberg goes back to the 14th century. Discover the world of mining at the Weisse Grube and Maria visitor mines and the Palatinate Mining Museum in Imsbach.
- Biosphärenhaus Pfälzer Wald
- The biosphere centre is a place to explore, play and be amazed. One highlight is the treetop walk — 18 metres above the ground, through the branches to the lookout platform 35 metres up.
- Burg Lichtenberg
- Lichtenberg Castle escaped destruction and has sat in splendour above the town of Kusel for more than eight centuries. Today it is home to a primeval history museum with numerous fossils.
- Burg Nanstein
- Landstuhl's main landmark is perched high on Schlossberg hill — follow in the footsteps of its founder, Emperor Barbarossa, and also Franz von Sickingen.
- Dahner Felsenland
- Dahn cliff country and the Palatinate Forest are known for their dramatic rock formations. The bestknown are the Maiden's Leap in the centre of Dahn, the twin rock needles Bride and Bridegroom and the Devil's Table.
- Deutsche Weinstraße
- Since 1936 the German Wine Gate has symbolised the importance of winegrowing on the Southern Wine Route. The German Wine Route events centre in Bockenheim was opened in 1995 to complement the Wine Gate in Schweigen.
- Deutsches Schuhmuseum
- The museum on the original production site illustrates the influence of the footwear industry on the lives of local people.
- Diamond-cutting techniques and the history of the region's diamond industry are on show at the Diamond Cutting Museum. Faithful replicas of the 35 biggest diamonds in the world.
- Dürkheimer Riesenfass
- The world's biggest wine barrel (capacity 1.7 million litres) has never been filled with wine – it is actually a wine tavern and restaurant.
- Film- und Fototechnik-Museum
- With more than 4,000 exhibits, the German Film and Photography Museum has one of the most comprehensive collections of film, photographic and television equipment.
- The medieval town wall surrounds a cluster of delightful buildings that have been lovingly restored. A stroll around the town is the perfect way to appreciate the charms of this architectural ensemble.
- The remains of the fortifications around Germersheim still convey a sense of the enormous scale of the town's former defences. Guided tours illustrate the history of the fortress.
- Hambacher Schloss
- Taking its cue from the Hambach Festival of 1832, the multimedia exhibition ‘A festival for freedom’ at Hambach Castle illustrates the history of freedom and democracy in Germany. Castle restaurant, viewing terrace.
- Enormous Hardenburg Castle is one of the largest castle ruins in Rhineland-Palatinate. Founded in 1205, it is 180 metres long and 90 metres wide.
- Holiday Park
- Hassloch has one of the biggest theme parks in Europe. Expedition GeForce, which has the world's steepest roller coaster descent, is just one of the many attractions.
- Keltendorf Steinbach
- Discover a late-Celtic lowland village and learn Celtic crafts at this reconstructed Celtic settlement.
- Reichsburg Trifels
- The most impressive royal fortress of the Hohenstaufen era sits in splendour on Sonnenberg hill, the highest of the three conical fortified hills above Annweiler. Richard the Lionheart was imprisoned here.
- Reptiles have existed for over 300 million years. Germany's largest reptile zoo offers visitors an amazing experience of the exotic world of reptiles and amphibians.
- ‘Europe's Rose Garden’ is Zweibrücken's signature attraction. It has over 60,000 roses (more than 2,000 different varieties).
- Schloss Villa Ludwigshöhe
- ‘A villa in the Italian style, for the summer months and in the mildest part of the kingdom’ — Villa Ludwigshöhe was a dream come true for King Ludwig I.
- Max Slevogt, the German Impressionist painter, lived on the Neukastell estate from 1898 onwards. Large wall and ceiling paintings in the music room and the library.
- The Gerstfeldhöhe system of tunnels was the largest project begun in the Siegfried Line military underground building programme. Display panels illustrate the planning, construction and use of the underground bunkers.
There is always something happening — whether it is art, music, wine festivals or a host of other activities. The Events Finder gives you an overview about what is on, where and when. Here you can search for events and festivals in the region.
Here you have direct access to the online accommodation reservation service of the Tourist Board of Rhineland-Palatinate. No other hotel reservation system on the Internet offers you such a broad and comprehensive list of accommodation in Germany's Rhineland-Palatinate regions. You can list accommodation, search accommodation, contact accommodation establishments and make online reservations.
Buses run from the airport to the region's town of Ludwigshafen.
Bus routes and timetables: