When the weather in Germany gets too warm, you may need a cooler place to visit. Near Reutlingen and Stuttgart in the lovely region of Sonnenbühl you can find some very cool caves and a cliff-hanger castle. The rolling hills and green valleys are a few of the landscape beauties that catch your eye while driving through this part of Germany. Consider visiting these over 6 million-year-old caves with stalactites and stalagmites abounding, or travel nearby to the relatively “young” castle of Schloss Lichtenstein.
Bärenhöhle – Bear Cave
Although the tour was in German, I was able to understand quite a bit and once in a while the tour guide would interject with English stories. We saw a bear skeleton and found out that this once was home to hyenas, a wolf pack and, of course, bears.
One of the interesting details we heard was it took 15 years for the stalactites to grow 2cm, which is hard to believe when you saw how large and thick these dripping, hardened tear drops have become. When we were there, the cave temperature felt heavenly in hot late June.
Nebelhöhle – Fog Cave
Considered a “show” cave of Germany, this cave was first documented as a “site-seeing” structure in 1486. The very long stairway down to the cave is one indicator of the spookiness of it. The Nebelhöhlenfest (on WhitMonday) is celebrated in this cave and is a German holiday after Pentecost to ward off evil spirits.
Little Lichtenstein Castle
Most people stationed in Germany know of Liechtenstein, the country and the castle, but if you live in Baden-Württemberg you’ve probably heard of “Little Lichtenstein.” Commonly referred to as a fairy tale castle, it appears as if it might slide down the cliff. This magical castle is breathtaking.
My family decided to take a little hike through the countryside on a beautiful spring day up to the castle. Unfortunately, my new hiking app was a little off and after an eight-mile hike and wonderful lunch we decided we were ready for a taxi ride back to the car. We got a funny story out of it and saw some amazing views.
There is ample parking right at the castle and far fewer crowds than at the very popular castles in Germany. Parking here would have saved me quite a bit of family angst, but we got a great workout and meal, so “alles gut.” Also good to know: there is a ropes course that looked amazing, but after our arduous hike we decided to shelve that for the next visit.
Our lunch was delightful at the Altes Forsthaus and we timed it perfectly right after the lunch rush and right before coffee and cake time. We were able to sit in one of the towers for an incredible, memorable experience.
Cross-country skiing and hiking trails
Cross-country skiing? Not quite the season this summer, but definitely something to keep in mind for winter. If you are a skier keep Sonnenbühl in mind as it is also considered the cross-country skiing capital of the Baden-Württemberg area.
There are also hiking trails throughout this part of the Swabian Alb, and I used the Wandermap site and link, although I would say be careful of the definitions. I hike quite a bit and the levels were more difficult than I thought. We chose an “advanced” hike but it felt more like a “pro.”
How to get there and important links:
Both of the caves are part of the GeoPark of the Swabian Alb. This wonderful resource has many tours and nature adventures for the most ardent explorer.
Bear Caves – Bärenhöhle: The “Bear Cave” is located in Sonnenbühl-Erpfingen, be sure to check this out on GPS settings because there are several towns that begin with Sonnenbühl, you may find yourself driving around.
The Nebelhöhle – Fog Cave: The Fog Cave is located in Sonnenbühl-Genkingen, near the other caves but is not in the same town.
Getting to Schloss Lichtenstein:
By car, it is approx. 2 hours and 50 minutes from Kaiserslautern, an hour from Stuttgart, and 3 hours from Wiesbaden.
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