Sprawling over 753 sq km between Lübeck to the south and Kiel to the north, the Naturpark Holsteinische Schweiz is the region's largest outdoor playground. Germany’s propensity to label its most scenic areas ‘Swiss’ (the name translates as ‘Holstein Switzerland’) reflects the park’s undulating green hills, golden fields and wildflower-strewn meadows. This verdant landscape is interspersed with a string of some 200 lakes, of which 70 are over one hectare in size.
The park’s three main towns, each in idyllic lakeside settings, are Eutin, famed for its baroque castle amid English-style gardens; the spa resort of Malente; and Plön, on the shores of the park’s largest lake, the Grosser Plöner See.
Plön’s comprehensive Tourist Info Grosser Plöner See can help with accommodation and a wealth of water-based activities from boat trips to fishing, swimming, windsurfing, kayaking and scuba diving. Also in Plön, Naturpark-Haus is a small interpretation centre gives a good overview of the park and its natural history.
Hiking and cycling trails criss-cross the park, as does a well-signed road network. From Eutin, there are trains to Lübeck (€8.55, 30 minutes, at least hourly) and Kiel (€10.15, 45 minutes, at least hourly). Trains between Lübeck also stop at other towns in the park.