Worth a Trip: Sauerland

Soest is considered the gateway to the Sauerland, a hilly forested region popular as an easy getaway for nature-craving Ruhrgebiet residents and hill-craving Dutch tourists. There are a few museums and castles sprinkled about, but the Sauerland’s primary appeal lies in the outdoors. Thousands of kilometres of marked hiking trails weave through the terrain, mostly through beech and fir forest, spread across four nature parks. Cyclists and mountain bikers can pick their favourites from dozens of routes. In winter some of the steeper slopes around Winterberg come alive with downhill skiers.

The Sauerland is also home to the world's first hostel, which is now part of the museum at Burg Altena, a fairy-tale medieval castle in the town of the same name.

The Sauerland is best explored with your own wheels; you can get loads of info from the regional tourist office website (www.sauerland.com).