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SIX PLACES FOR WATERY FUN

SPLASH OUT

Neckar Käpt'n, Flussschifffahrt von Stuttgart nach Marbach
Go with the flow: it’s summer!

BW Story

Go with the flow: it’s summer!

Here in SouthWest Germany, we love summer. And, since our region is the sunniest in Germany, summer is perfect for spending time on our lakes and rivers. We are proud of the cleanliness and quality of our waters: they are safe, as well as fun, for all the family. But, they provide even more. Just gazing at water soothes our senses; the sound of splashing reduces stress. We feel calmer and happier! And, wherever you are in SouthWest Germany, you are never far from a place to swim or get out in a boat. Explore rivers and islands; try paddle boarding; go birdwatching in the marshes; savour the views on a classy river cruise; discover secret spots where Mother Nature rules. Here are six of our favourite places. 

Go with the flow: it’s summer!

Enjoy the Neckar

1. Heilbronn

Enjoy the Neckar

(one hour north of Stuttgart)

Flowing through the historic town of Heilbronn, the River Neckar is an oasis of green. On the riverbank, order a coffee from the stall on the beach (yes, there are beaches on the river!). Rent an SUP (Stand Up Paddle Board), a pedalo/paddle boat or a motorboat and get out on the water. For something funky, rent an inflatable boat, complete with mini BBQ and sound system on board! For sheer relaxation, the beer garden has its own lawn for sunbathing. Stretch out under the weeping willows and plane trees; kick back in a deck chair; look across to the nature reserve with its ancient oxbow lake.

*Our summer tip* 
Get a different perspective. On a guided canoe tour, learn about Heilbronn’s rich history, as you paddle gently along the Neckar.

Heilbronn: The place to be in summer is on the Neckar. With a cup of coffee, of course! | © TMBW, Düpper

The Bird Island

2. Mannheim

The Bird Island

(two hours northwest of Stuttgart)

Straddling the famous River Rhine, Mannheim is SouthWest Germany’s third largest city. But it has a big surprise: a secret island, called the Reissinsel. A century ago, Carl Reiss, a local industrialist, turned its 100 ha / 250 acres into a bird sanctuary. From July to February, locals and visitors are allowed to walk through what is a protected habitat for rare species. For the remaining four months of the year, the island is closed, so that birds may breed in peace. From the car park, a 4.3-km / 3-mile circular path takes in lush green meadows and gnarled old trees. Woodpeckers tap at bark; geese and ducks snooze; the undergrowth rustles mysteriously; frogs hop across the path. Beyond the bushes, you can glimpse barges on the busy Rhine. This island is set on a tributary; so near to modern life, yet it feels so far away.

*Our summer tip*  
Spot wild grapes growing there, ancestors of the modern wine grape! | © TMBW, Richter

visit-mannheim.de/en

Mannheim: Even in the middle of the city, wildlife feels safe on the peaceful Reissinsel Island, a nature reserve on the busy Rhine.

Paddle on the Danube

3. Ulm

Paddle on the Danube

(1,5 hours southeast of Stuttgart)

The Danube is one of the world’s great rivers. And in the beautiful, ancient city of Ulm, getting out on the water is a way of life. Canoeing has long been popular, but recent years have seen a surge in Stand Up Paddle Boarding (SUP). Both provide lovely views of the Minster, with the world’s tallest church spire (161.5 m / 530 ft). Past the greenery of the riverbank are the roofs of the Fischerviertel, the charming old Fishermen's Quarter, with its half-timbered houses and footbridges. All that is on the left side of the Danube. On the opposite bank is Neu-Ulm, or New Ulm, whose architecture dates mainly from the 19th century. 

*Our summer tip*  
To hear stories of the city’s rich heritage, join up with a guided SUP tour; then go out again on your own and explore!

tourismus.ulm.de/en

Ulm: Summer is a great time to explore the old city on a SUP tour along the Danube. | © TMBW, Mende

Taubergiessen Nature Reserve

4. Rust

Taubergiessen Nature Reserve

(2 hours southwest of Stuttgart)

Rust is home to Europa-Park, one of the world’s best theme parks. Not far from the rides and entertainment is Taubergiessen, one of Europe’s most important nature reserves. Along the mighty River Rhine, its 1,700 ha/ 4,200 acres are one of Germany’s last wilderness wetlands. Learn about the rich biodiversity on a two-hour tour aboard a traditional, flat-bottomed punt. As you glide through the jungle-like landscape, expert guides point out kingfishers and orioles, marsh beavers, dragonflies and coots. The guides use a long paddle to propel and steer, as their fishermen ancestors have done for centuries. So, apart from birdsong, all is still and quiet. These unforgettable tours run from April to October.

*Our summer tip*  
Be sure to visit the meadow, where rare orchids bloom in summer. | © TMBW, Georg Lengler

schwarzwald-tourismus.info

Taubergiessen: The best way to get up close to wildlife in this watery nature reserve is on a traditional punt with an expert guide. | © TMBW, Georg Lengler

Federsee Lake

5. Bad Buchau

Federsee Lake

(2 hours southeast of Stuttgart)

The Federsee Lake is vast, covering 3,000 ha / 7,500 acres. Think reed beds and water meadows, bogs and moorland, all carefully conserved. This watery world is home to more than 270 bird species, 600 butterfly species, 10 types of rare orchids and 700 types of plants. This is also an important way station for birds on their migratory journeys. No wonder nature lovers come here. As they stroll along nature trails, follow the wooden boardwalks and climb up observation towers, they spot rare species and add to life lists. Unique in Europe is the 1.4-km / 1-mile-long wooden walkway that leads to the reserve from the small town of Bad Buchau, an hour north of Lake Constance.

*Our summer tip* 
NABU, the German Association for Nature Conservation, runs excellent guided walks.

tourism-bw.com/experience

Federsee Lake: Boardwalks provide easy access to this wilderness, where plants, animals and birds thrive. | © TMBW, Dietmar Denger

Neckar-Käpt'n cruises

6. Stuttgart

Neckar-Käpt'n cruises

The River Neckar has much to offer: locks and vineyards, lush forests and grassy meadows. And the best way to see these is on a small Neckar-Käpt'n cruise boat. Running regularly throughout the day, most trips start and finish by the Wilhelma Zoo in Bad Cannstatt, a Stuttgart suburb. The classic excursion is the 6-hour round trip from Stuttgart to Marbach. The Marbach to Besigheim route includes views of the spectacular Felsengärten cliffs, near Besigheim. As for the hospitality on board, that includes regional dishes and produce, wines from the vineyards you pass and ice cream for the children. The latest addition to the fleet is Electra, an electric boat that reflects the eco-friendly attitudes of SouthWest Germany.

*Our summer tip*  
Book for a memorable themed event, from wine tasting and sunset cruises to live music, dancing and pirate trips for kids!

neckar-kaeptn.de/en

Stuttgart to Marbach: aboard the MS Wilhelma, passengers cruise in comfort along the Neckar. | © TMBW, Udo Bernhard