Monthly Archives: July 2023

Owning Pets in Germany Dog Tax Pet Insurance Regulations

Owning Pets in Germany: Everything You Need to Know

Moving to a foreign country can be a tough experience but having the companionship of your furry friend makes things much easier. Expats who have recently relocated and want to live with their pets in Germany need to become familiar with the laws, taxes, and regulations surrounding pet ownership.

In this blog article, we will delve into all the legal requirements to have pets in Germany, including registration, microchipping, and mandatory vaccinations.

Whether you’re considering bringing your furry friend from your home country or adopting, keep reading to find out everything you need to know!

Laws

When it comes to owning pets in Germany, there are a few laws that every expat should know. These regulations are in place to ensure the wellbeing and safety of animals, as well as the peace of mind for their owners. One crucial law requires pet owners to register their furry companions with the local authorities within two weeks of arriving in Germany. This helps keep track of pets in the community and in their safe return if they ever go missing. Additionally, Germany mandates microchipping for dogs, which provides a permanent form of identification.

Dog Puppy in Woods Forest

Taxes

Dog Pet Money Taxes

Now, let’s talk about everyone’s favorite topic: taxes! Just like with any other aspect of life in Germany, owning pets in Germany is not exempt from taxes. In most areas of the country, pet owners are required to pay a “Hundesteuer” or dog tax. This tax helps fund various local services, such as maintaining public spaces and implementing pet-related initiatives (for example, dog waste bins). The amount you’ll need to pay depends on factors such as the number of pets you have and the specific regulations set by your municipality.

Now, let’s talk about everyone’s favorite topic: taxes! Just like with any other aspect of life in Germany, owning pets in Germany is not exempt from taxes. In most areas of the country, pet owners are required to pay a “Hundesteuer” or dog tax. This tax helps fund various local services, such as maintaining public spaces and implementing pet-related initiatives (for example, dog waste bins). The amount you’ll need to pay depends on factors such as the number of pets you have and the specific regulations set by your municipality.

Dog Pet Money Taxes

Vaccinations

In Germany, there are some mandatory vaccinations that all pets should receive. These vaccinations are essential for safeguarding the health of your pet and preventing the spread of infectious diseases. Dogs and cats must receive specific vaccinations as mandated by local regulations. Register your pet with a local veterinary surgery to stay up-to-date with vaccinations, this way you not only protect your pet but also contribute to the overall well-being of the pet community in Germany.

Pet Medical Care Veterinarian

Pet Insurance

Pet Insurance Claim Form How to insure your dog in Germany

Pet insurance can provide valuable peace of mind when owning pets in Germany. While it is not a legal requirement, considering pet health insurance is highly recommended. Just like humans, pets can face unexpected illnesses, accidents, or medical emergencies that can become a financial burden. Pet insurance helps cover veterinary expenses, ensuring that your pet receives the necessary care without draining your wallet. Another thing to keep in mind: pet liability insurance. Damage or injury inflicted by your pet can’t always be prevented, and having liability insurance covering your pet is actually mandatory in some German states.

It’s important to explore different insurance options, comparing coverage, premiums, and exclusions to find a policy that suits your needs. If you need assistance in choosing the best insurance option for your pet, you can contact our partners at MW Expat Solution Services.

Pet insurance can provide valuable peace of mind when owning pets in Germany. While it is not a legal requirement, considering pet insurance is highly recommended. Just like humans, pets can face unexpected illnesses, accidents, or medical emergencies that can become a financial burden. Pet insurance helps cover veterinary expenses, ensuring that your pet receives the necessary care without draining your wallet. It’s important to explore different insurance options, comparing coverage, premiums, and exclusions to find a policy that suits your needs. If you need assistance in choosing the best insurance option for your pet, you can contact our partners at MW Expat Solution Services.

Pet Insurance Claim Form How to insure your dog in Germany

Legislation on dangerous dogs

Germany has specific legislation in place regarding dangerous dogs to ensure public safety. The country recognizes certain dog breeds as potentially dangerous, and owners of these breeds must adhere to additional regulations. These regulations typically include mandatory liability insurance, strict leash requirements in public spaces, and the obligation to muzzle the dog in certain situations. The goal of this legislation is to prevent incidents and promote responsible ownership.

Additionally, the following breeds are prohibited in Germany and therefore cannot be imported into the country: pit bull terrier, American Staffordshire terrier, Staffordshire bull terrier and bull terrier.

Dogs Prohibited Dangerous Dogs Restrictions

Bringing your pet to Germany

Travel Carrier bringing your pet abroad with you

When planning to bring your pet to Germany, it’s crucial to prepare well in advance as the process can take up to six months. Keep in mind that you can bring a maximum of five pets; anything beyond that falls under commercial pet trade regulations. If you’re moving to Germany from within the EU, there are specific requirements to follow. Your pet must have a valid rabies vaccination administered within the last 12 months but more than 30 days prior to entry. Additionally, your pet should have an identifier, such as a microchip or tattoo, and an EU “pet passport” containing relevant details, including vaccination confirmation and microchip information.

For pet owners from outside the EU, there are extra obligations. These include a blood test to verify the effectiveness of the rabies vaccination (conducted at least three months before entry and 30 days after immunization) and a certificate of health from your veterinarian.

When planning to bring your pet to Germany, it’s crucial to prepare well in advance as the process can take up to six months. Keep in mind that you can bring a maximum of five pets; anything beyond that falls under commercial pet trade regulations. If you’re moving to Germany from within the EU, there are specific requirements to follow. Your pet must have a valid rabies vaccination administered within the last 12 months but more than 30 days prior to entry. Additionally, your pet should have an identifier, such as a microchip or tattoo, and an EU “pet passport” containing relevant details, including vaccination confirmation and microchip information.

For pet owners from outside the EU, there are extra obligations. These include a blood test to verify the effectiveness of the rabies vaccination (conducted at least three months before entry and 30 days after immunization) and a certificate of health from your veterinarian.

Travel Carrier bringing your pet abroad with you

This is all you need to know if you want to own a pet in Germany. Moving to Germany with your pet can be a wonderful experience, but it requires careful planning and preparation. Start the process well in advance to ensure that you have all the necessary paperwork and that your pet is prepared for the journey. If you follow these rules, you will have the best of times with your best friend. Enjoy!

Fragomen 4 Best Expat Cities in Germany

The 4 Best Expat Cities in Germany

Are you considering a move to Europe and want to know the best expat cities in Germany? We have prepared a short guide in terms of immigration requirements and timelines to help you with the decision.

The processing time for immigration applications can vary depending on a variety of factors, such as the type of application, the volume of applications being processed, and the workload of the specific immigration office responsible for processing the application.

In general, the processing time for immigration applications can range from several weeks to several months.

Additionally, factors such as the completeness and accuracy of the application materials can also affect processing times, so it is important to ensure that all necessary documents and information are provided in a timely and thorough manner.

Here’s some insight into what to expect in Germany.

№1. Berlin 

Immigration authorities in Berlin are famous for efficiency, good communication and providing the documents on time. Due to existing online services, it is easy to get an appointment. In case you have a question, immigration offices answer quickly. This might be due to the business service team that exists only in Berlin and facilitates the smooth functioning of document management.

It currently takes 8-14 weeks to get an appointment in Berlin. Current processing time for a work and residence permit card from the date of documents submission is around 4-12 weeks.

Brandenburg Gate Berlin
Stuttgart New Castle Neues Schloss

№2. Stuttgart surroundings

Stuttgart itself is a problematic place to get immigration documents, but immigration offices in its surroundings are perfect examples of fast and efficient work, which is why this area still makes our list of the best expat cities in Germany. Such cities as Sindelfingen or Fellbach are just 15-30 minutes away from Stuttgart by train and are known for their fast work.

The immigration authorities are responsive to inquiries and the processing time for a residence permit ranges from 6-14 weeks.

№2. Stuttgart surroundings

Stuttgart itself is a problematic place to get immigration documents, but immigration offices in its surroundings are perfect examples of fast and efficient work, which is why this area still makes our list of the best expat cities in Germany. Such cities as Sindelfingen or Fellbach are just 15-30 minutes away from Stuttgart by train and are known for their fast work.

The immigration authorities are responsive to inquiries and the processing time for a residence permit ranges from 6-14 weeks.

Stuttgart New Castle Neues Schloss

№3. Nuremberg surroundings

As in many other large cities, the immigration authority in Nuremberg has relatively long processing times, which often extend to over 6 months or more. Inquiries about the status often go unanswered due to the high workload.

A good alternative to Nuremberg is the city of Erlangen. It is 16 minutes away from Nuremberg with a regional express train. Immigration offices in Erlangen processes applications relatively quickly, within 2-8 weeks.

The surrounding area, Erlangen-Höchstadt, is also a good option. Appointments can usually be made within a few days after application submission.

Nürnberg Nuremberg Old Town Altstadt
Frankfurt City View Skyline

№4 Frankfurt am Main surroundings

Immigration authorities in Frankfurt are currently dealing with 15,000 ongoing cases; 6,700 of these applications are work permit applications, e.g., EU Blue Card and other kinds of work permit for qualified professionals. Immigration offices receive around 400 new applications each day where they are capable of processing 350 per day only. Considering the situation in Ukraine, it is expected that more war refugees will arrive in Germany in the next weeks and months.

№4 Frankfurt am Main surroundings

Immigration authorities in Frankfurt are currently dealing with 15,000 ongoing cases; 6,700 of these applications are work permit applications, e.g., EU Blue Card and other kinds of work permit for qualified professionals. Immigration offices receive around 400 new applications each day where they are capable of processing 350 per day only. Considering the situation in Ukraine, it is expected that more war refugees will arrive in Germany in the next weeks and months.

Frankfurt City View Skyline

The processing times in Frankfurt am Main are above average compared to most other German cities. Thus, it makes sense to take up residence in one of the surrounding cities.

A good example is Offenbach, which is 15 minutes away by train from Frankfurt. The immigration authorities there respond to queries within a few days and allocate appointments within a few weeks of the application submission, making it a great addition to our list of best expat cities in Germany.

Bad Homburg is another example, which is around 25 minutes outside of Frankfurt.

About 30-40 minutes away, but still a good alternative to Frankfurt, is the city of Mainz. The processing times here are around 4-12 weeks.

Choosing the right city for your expat experience in Germany is essential for a smooth immigration process. While each city has its own unique characteristics and challenges, considering factors like processing times, efficiency of immigration authorities, and proximity to major cities can greatly influence your decision. By assessing these aspects, you can make an informed choice and embark on your journey with confidence.

Fragomen offers English-speaking Immigration Law services. They are the largest exclusive immigration and visa service provider in the world. With a team of German and English-speaking experts, as well as an additional 19 language capabilities, they are ready to serve clients from all backgrounds and nationalities. Whether you are driven by lifestyle reasons or looking for new opportunities, Fragomen is here to provide comprehensive solutions and a smooth immigration experience for you and your family throughout the world’s 170 countries.

Fragomen 5 Best Expat Cities in Austria

The 5 Best Expat Cities in Austria

Are you considering a move to Austria? We are sharing the five best expat cities in Austria along with the latest updates in terms of immigration requirements and timelines.

Dreaming of experiencing the picturesque landscapes, rich culture, and high quality of life? We’re here to guide you through the immigration process and help you discover the best places for expats in the country.

№1. Innsbruck (Tyrol)

Nestled in the heart of Tyrol, Innsbruck captures the essence of Austria’s natural beauty and charm. But what sets this city apart is its efficient immigration offices, renowned for their streamlined processes, excellent communication, and relatively short processing times. If you’re worried about the bureaucracy involved in obtaining your immigration documents, fear not! In Innsbruck, appointments are granted with impressive swiftness, usually within 1-2 days of reaching out to schedule one. Once you’ve filed your application, the processing times typically range from 4 to 8 weeks, ensuring you’ll be ready to embark on your Austrian adventure in no time.

Innsbruck Austria City View
Schwaz Austria view from the mountain

№2. Schwaz (Tyrol)

Another gem in Tyrol, Schwaz boasts not only breathtaking scenery but also immigration offices that prioritize efficiency, open communication, and prompt updates on your case status. Much like Innsbruck, you’ll find it easy to engage directly with the officers at the immigration authority, giving you peace of mind throughout the application process. With processing times aligning closely with those in Innsbruck—around 4 to 8 weeks—you’ll soon be savoring the tranquil beauty of Schwaz, knowing that your paperwork is in good hands.

№2. Schwaz (Tyrol)

Another gem in Tyrol, Schwaz boasts not only breathtaking scenery but also immigration offices that prioritize efficiency, open communication, and prompt updates on your case status. Much like Innsbruck, you’ll find it easy to engage directly with the officers at the immigration authority, giving you peace of mind throughout the application process. With processing times aligning closely with those in Innsbruck—around 4 to 8 weeks—you’ll soon be savoring the tranquil beauty of Schwaz, knowing that your paperwork is in good hands.

Schwaz Austria view from the mountain

№3. Graz (Styria)

Graz, the capital of Styria, has witnessed a remarkable transformation in its immigration authority over the past few years. Today, it stands as one of the most efficient places to file residence permit applications in Austria. With processing times averaging between 5 and 7 weeks, the authorities in Graz understand the importance of timely decision-making.

However, it’s worth noting that there is one potential drawback for candidates wishing to relocate with dependents. Dependent permits in Graz are typically approved only after the principal applicant’s application has been processed and the principal has commenced work in Austria. This is important to know for anyone planning to relocate with their family.

Graz Austria sunrise view over the city
Vöcklabruck Austria view of the church tower in spring

№4. Vöcklabruck (Upper Austria) 

If you’re seeking a more intimate expat experience, Vöcklabruck in Upper Austria might be your ideal destination. With immigration authorities handling a lower caseload compared to larger cities, they can devote more attention to each application, ensuring efficient and timely processing. Furthermore, the direct contact you can establish with the caseworker at the immigration authority is a significant advantage, allowing for quick and effective communication.

Expect your application to be processed relatively swiftly, usually within 4 to 8 weeks, meaning you’ll soon be embracing the warm hospitality and serene beauty of Vöcklabruck.

№4. Vöcklabruck (Upper Austria) 

If you’re seeking a more intimate expat experience, Vöcklabruck in Upper Austria might be your ideal destination. With immigration authorities handling a lower caseload compared to larger cities, they can devote more attention to each application, ensuring efficient and timely processing. Furthermore, the direct contact you can establish with the caseworker at the immigration authority is a significant advantage, allowing for quick and effective communication.

Expect your application to be processed relatively swiftly, usually within 4 to 8 weeks, meaning you’ll soon be embracing the warm hospitality and serene beauty of Vöcklabruck.

Vöcklabruck Austria view of the church tower in spring

№5. Vienna

Vienna, the vibrant capital of Austria, has long been renowned for its cultural offerings and historical significance. However, when it came to immigration processes, it fell behind other cities due to its previously notorious long processing times.

Vienna view of a city square and a horse-drawn carriage

The immigration authority in Vienna has taken significant steps to address these concerns, striving to upgrade its image and improve its efficiency. While not yet achieving the remarkable processing times of its counterparts, Vienna has made impressive strides, making the application process faster and more accessible. With processing times now ranging from 8 to 12 weeks, it won’t be long before Vienna earns a spot among the top four cities for expats in Austria.

№5. Vienna

Vienna, the vibrant capital of Austria, has long been renowned for its cultural offerings and historical significance. However, when it came to immigration processes, it fell behind other cities due to its previously notorious long processing times.

The immigration authority in Vienna has taken significant steps to address these concerns, striving to upgrade its image and improve its efficiency. While not yet achieving the remarkable processing times of its counterparts, Vienna has made impressive strides, making the application process faster and more accessible. With processing times now ranging from 8 to 12 weeks, it won’t be long before Vienna earns a spot among the top four cities for expats in Austria.

Vienna view of a city square and a horse-drawn carriage

With this overview of the best expat cities in Austria, you’re well-equipped to make informed decisions and start your immigration journey with confidence.

Innsbruck and Schwaz offer seamless processes, scenic splendor, and efficient communication, making them ideal choices for those craving an alpine paradise. Graz presents abundant opportunities for growth, though the dependent permit procedure may require additional consideration. If you desire a more intimate experience, Vöcklabruck’s personal touch and prompt processing times will not disappoint. Finally, Vienna, the cultural powerhouse, has made significant strides in streamlining its immigration procedures, promising a brighter future for expats seeking to call this majestic city their home.

Embrace the beauty, embrace the opportunities, and embark on your Austrian adventure! The best expat cities in Austria are waiting to welcome you with open arms.

Fragomen offers English-speaking Immigration Law services. They are the largest exclusive immigration and visa service provider in the world. With a team of German and English-speaking experts, as well as an additional 19 language capabilities, they are ready to serve clients from all backgrounds and nationalities. Whether you are driven by lifestyle reasons or looking for new opportunities, Fragomen is here to provide comprehensive solutions and a smooth immigration experience for you and your family throughout the world’s 170 countries.

Best Expat Cities in Switzerland

The 4 Best Expat Cities in Switzerland

If you’re considering a move to Europe, let us tell you about the best expat cities in Switzerland.

Eager to immerse yourself in the country’s breathtaking landscapes, renowned quality of life, and thriving economy? Look no further! We’ll be delving into the Swiss immigration landscape, providing you with valuable insights into the requirements and timelines of various cities.

№1. Bern

The capital of Switzerland is surprisingly not the city with the highest number of international companies, as is the case for most other countries. Bern is still a political and cultural centre of Switzerland and is home to several industries and federal organisations.

This makes Bern the 5th most populous city in Switzerland (behind Zurich, Geneva, Basel and Lausanne) with an expat population of around 34%.

The immigration authorities in the canton of Bern have quick processing times, streamlined processes and are easily accessible for any queries. They are well known for their friendliness and willingness to help.

It is no surprise that processing times are fast in Bern, and applications are handled within approximately 2-4 weeks from the document submission stage.

Bern Switzerland Aerial View best expat cities in Switzerland

№2. Zug

Nestled in the canton of Zug lies a hidden gem for expats. Renowned for its robust pharmaceutical industry, Zug’s cantonal immigration authorities have honed their processes to cater to the influx of applications from highly skilled individuals. Their responsiveness and straightforward approach make for a seamless experience, allowing expats to navigate the immigration journey with ease.

Queries and concerns are met with exceptional responsiveness, ensuring expats feel supported throughout the application process. The processing time for a residence permit in Zug averages approximately 4 weeks, enabling expats to swiftly establish their new lives in this hub of efficiency and innovation.

Zug Switzerland Aerial View
Zug Switzerland Aerial View

№2. Zug

Nestled in the canton of Zug lies a hidden gem for expats. Renowned for its robust pharmaceutical industry, Zug’s cantonal immigration authorities have honed their processes to cater to the influx of applications from highly skilled individuals. Their responsiveness and straightforward approach make for a seamless experience, allowing expats to navigate the immigration journey with ease.

Queries and concerns are met with exceptional responsiveness, ensuring expats feel supported throughout the application process. The processing time for a residence permit in Zug averages approximately 4 weeks, enabling expats to swiftly establish their new lives in this hub of efficiency and innovation.

№3. Geneva

Geneva, a true melting pot of cultures, stands proudly as one of the most international cities in the world, with an expat population comprising around 45% of its total inhabitants. With a rich history and stunning lakeside setting, Geneva has long been a sought-after destination for those seeking to settle in Switzerland.

However, with such popularity comes administrative challenges. The migration office in Geneva grapples with an incredible influx of work and residence requests daily.

Consequently, processing times in Geneva are generally above average compared to other cantons, with a minimum waiting period of 8 weeks for work permit applications. It’s important to note that the high volume of requests may lead to less responsiveness from the authorities, and phone lines can often be busy.

While efforts have been made to streamline services and move processes online, the pace remains slower for most types of applications, particularly for non-EU nationals. Patience and planning are key when navigating Geneva’s administrative landscape, ensuring a smoother transition into this vibrant international city.

View over Lac Léman and the Jet d'Eau in Geneva, Switzerland

№3. Geneva

Geneva, a true melting pot of cultures, stands proudly as one of the most international cities in the world, with an expat population comprising around 45% of its total inhabitants. With a rich history and stunning lakeside setting, Geneva has long been a sought-after destination for those seeking to settle in Switzerland.

However, with such popularity comes administrative challenges. The migration office in Geneva grapples with an incredible influx of work and residence requests daily.

View over Lac Léman and the Jet d'Eau in Geneva, Switzerland

Consequently, processing times in Geneva are generally above average compared to other cantons, with a minimum waiting period of 8 weeks for work permit applications. It’s important to note that the high volume of requests may lead to less responsiveness from the authorities, and phone lines can often be busy.

While efforts have been made to streamline services and move processes online, the pace remains slower for most types of applications, particularly for non-EU nationals. Patience and planning are key when navigating Geneva’s administrative landscape, ensuring a smoother transition into this vibrant international city.

№4. Zurich 

Zurich, the bustling economic heart of Switzerland, reigns supreme as the most populous city in the country, with approximately 1.5 million residents, of whom 25% are expats. The city’s vibrant lifestyle, world-class amenities, and excellent job opportunities continue to draw individuals from all corners of the globe.

From an immigration standpoint, Zurich’s authorities strive for efficiency, diligently following streamlined processes.

However, due to the high demand for work and residence permits, the labor market authority tends to exercise stricter requirements for non-EU nationals, resulting in a more intricate application process. The same applies to family reunion requests, which often necessitate document compliance, legalizations, and filings through the Swiss Embassy abroad. Consequently, processing times can range from 6 to 8 weeks.

The sheer volume of permit card requests may lead to additional delays, extending processing times to up to 2 months, even for EU nationals. Despite these challenges, Zurich’s allure remains unwavering, offering a rewarding expat experience for those willing to navigate the administrative landscape.

Zurich City Guide Things to Do
Zurich City Guide Things to Do

№4. Zurich 

Zurich, the bustling economic heart of Switzerland, reigns supreme as the most populous city in the country, with approximately 1.5 million residents, of whom 25% are expats. The city’s vibrant lifestyle, world-class amenities, and excellent job opportunities continue to draw individuals from all corners of the globe.

From an immigration standpoint, Zurich’s authorities strive for efficiency, diligently following streamlined processes.

However, due to the high demand for work and residence permits, the labor market authority tends to exercise stricter requirements for non-EU nationals, resulting in a more intricate application process. The same applies to family reunion requests, which often necessitate document compliance, legalizations, and filings through the Swiss Embassy abroad. Consequently, processing times can range from 6 to 8 weeks.

The sheer volume of permit card requests may lead to additional delays, extending processing times to up to 2 months, even for EU nationals. Despite these challenges, Zurich’s allure remains unwavering, offering a rewarding expat experience for those willing to navigate the administrative landscape.

With a comprehensive overview of the best expat cities in Switzerland, you’re equipped with essential knowledge to embark on your Swiss adventure. Bern, with its streamlined processes and friendliness, welcomes expats with open arms. Zug’s efficiency and innovation provide a seamless transition into Swiss life. Geneva, while posing administrative challenges, offers an unparalleled international flair. Finally, Zurich, the economic powerhouse, rewards those who navigate its processes with incredible opportunities.

Embrace the beauty, embrace the opportunities, and embark on your Swiss adventure! The best expat cities in Switzerland are ready to embrace you with their unique charm and exceptional quality of life.

Fragomen offers English-speaking Immigration Law services. They are the largest exclusive immigration and visa service provider in the world. With a team of German and English-speaking experts, as well as an additional 19 language capabilities, they are ready to serve clients from all backgrounds and nationalities. Whether you are driven by lifestyle reasons or looking for new opportunities, Fragomen is here to provide comprehensive solutions and a smooth immigration experience for you and your family throughout the world’s 170 countries.

National Parks in Germany

Germany, Austria and Switzerland are some of the best countries in the world to disconnect from the stress-inducing pace of our daily lives and engage with nature. In addition to their breath-taking landscapes and wide variety of fauna and flora, Germany, Austria and Switzerland have 16, 6 and 1 national parks (respectively), which are undoubtedly hidden gems of nature. In case you didn’t know, national parks are protected areas by the state to focus on the protection and preservation of the environment and its wildlife.

Luckily, we can enjoy spending time in these marvelous places untouched by human intervention. Here are the top 10 national parks in the DACH region that you cannot miss:

1. Black Forest National Park (Germany)

It should come as no surprise that the Black Forest region in Germany is well-known worldwide, attracting thousands of visitors each year. One only has to look out over this area to witness the endless wonders it has to offer. The 10.000-hectare Black Forest National Park (Nationalpark Schwarzwald) is located in the state of Baden-Northern Württemberg in southwest Germany.

There, you can explore this natural reserve’s lush green forests, lakes, valleys and waterfalls on foot or by bicycle, as well as its spectacular mountain views in the heights. Additionally, there are many sporting activities option for all ages, including hiking or rafting.

The entrance to this national park is free!

Exact address: Schwarzwaldhochstraße 2, 77889 Seebach, Germany.

If you want to find out more about the Black Forest National Park, check out their official webpage.

2. Berchtesgaden National Park (Germany)

If you’re looking for heart-stopping scenic views, you don’t need to look any further. Located in the German Alps, more precisely in the Berchtesgadener Land, this national park will blow your mind. In 1990, UNESCO declared the Berchtesgaden National Park as a biosphere reserve, and we have no doubts as to why. The atmosphere is beyond magical: gloomy forests, picturesque valleys, steep cliffs and glaciers will make you feel like you’re in the lungs of the Earth.

In addition to its hiking trails and the many activities and services it provides, this national park offers exhibitions and educational programs where visitors can learn about environmental protection first-hand.

The entrance to this national park is free (there is only a small parking fee).

Exact address: 83486 Ramsau bei Berchtesgaden, Germany.

Do not hesitate to check out further information here.

3. Bavarian Forest National Park (Germany)

The Bavarian Forest National Park, located in the Eastern Bavarian Forest, was founded as Germany’s first national park on October 7, 1970. Along with the bordering Czech Bohemian Forest, it forms the largest continuous area of forest in Europe, making it a must-visit destination. Its awe-inspiring scenery of pristine valleys, hills, forests and summits won’t let you down.

On top of that, the Bavarian Forest National Park offers many sporting activities, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing being the most popular ones during the winter season. Moreover, there are several BBQ areas, playgrounds and visitor facilities that will make your visit more pleasant.

The entrance to this national park is free (there is a parking fee of 5 euros per day).

Exact address: Nationalparkverwaltung Bayerischer Wald*,* Freyunger Straße 2 94481, Grafenau, Germany.

If you want to find out more about the Bavarian Forest National Park, check out their official webpage.

4. Kellerwald-Edersee National Park (Germany)

The Kellerwald-Edersee National Park will leave you speechless with its extensive beech forests. In fact, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2011 known as “Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and Other Regions of Europe”. Located in the north of Hesse, Frankfurt and Wiesbaden being the closest cities, it impresses nature lovers with the Edersee lake and a beautiful low mountain range landscape.

Those who explore the area will discover idyllic stream valleys, deep gorges, old trees and rare flowers. In addition to hiking circuits, people can enjoy swimming, canoeing and sailing in the lake during summer.

This national park has a free access!

Exact address: Nationalpark Kellerwald-Edersee, 34537 Bad Wildungen, Hesse, Germany.

Find out more about the Kellerwald-Edersee National Park here.

5. Müritz National Park (Germany)

The Müritz national park lies mid-way between Berlin and Rostock and to the east of Lake Müritz, the largest lake in the Mecklenburg Lake District. It offers visitors more than 100 lakes, ancient beech forests, mysterious moors, swamps and meadows. With 47 hiking routes, 12 bike pathways, and 2 water trekking trails, the sizable national park can be explored in a variety of ways. A visit to the old town of Waren, steamboat trips and canoeing are highly recommended. Animal lovers can make use of the observation posts in the eastern part of the park to spot cranes, osprays, eagles and even red deer.

The entrance to this national park is free!

Exact address: Kargower Str. 12, 17192 Kargow, Germany.

If you wish to find out more about this national park, check out their official webpage.

6. Eifel National Park (Germany)

Located between North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland Palatinate and eastern Belgium, the Eifel National Park extends over an area of 110 square kilometres. It is famous for its grand beech and gnarled oak woods, dark blue lakes and rivers, wide dams and mountain ranges.

In addition to exploring the area, you should visit the Hirschley viewpoint, which provides a view 180 metters above the Rustausee reservoir.

Moreover, if you enjoy astronomy, this is the right place for you: the Eifel National Park offers the “Dark Sky Park”, where you can watch the starts very well thanks to the clear and unclouded air of the national park.

The entrance fee is 8 euros per person, but there are different offers depending on your personal situation.

Exact address: Urftseestr. 34, 54937 Schleiden-Gemünd, Germany.

Check out their official webpage to find out more information about this national park.

7. Hainich National Park (Germany)

The Hainich National Park in Thuringia, located between Bad Langensalza and Eisenach, stands out for its wild beech forests. Being the largest continuous expanse of mixed deciduous woodland in Europe, this national park was once a military zone.

Visitors can explore this old woodland in a variety of ways. A sleigh ride is strongly suggested in the winter, while the well-marked hiking routes or the 44-meter-high Thiemsburg treetop trail are ideal during the rest of the year.

Another well-liked attraction is Hütscheroda Wildcat Village, where guests can watch the animals or observe the Rhön Alps, Wartburg Castle and Thuringian Forest.

The entrance fee is 8 euros for adults, but there are different group and individual offers that might be suitable for you.

Exact address: Marktkirche 9, 99947 Bad Langensalza, Germany.

Find out more about the Hainich National Park here.

8. Jasmund National Park (Germany)

The Jasmund National Park lies on the Jasmund peninsula, in the northeast of Rügen island in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. It is especially famous for being home to the largest chalk cliffs in Germany, reaching heights of up to 177 metres, and ancient beech forests. In fact, in 2011 UNESCO listed the Jasmund beech forest as a World Heritage Site.

A multi-kilometer hiking track that leads directly to the impressively rough coastline and provides breathtaking views of the white cliffs, lush forests, and the sea is available for visitors to explore on foot or by bike.

The entrance fee is 6 euros for adults, but there are also some reduced admission prices available.

Exact address: Stubbenkammer 2a, 18546 Sassnitz, Germany.

Do not hesitate to check out further information on their official webpage.

9. Hohe Tauern National Park (Austria)

The Hohe Tauern, located between Carinthia, Tirol and Salzburg, is the biggest and oldest national park in Austria. It offers the most breathtaking high mountain sceneries, as well as Austria’s largest glacier, Pasterze, and Europe’s tallest waterfalls, the Krimml falls. Visitors can participate in themed trails and ranger-led trip that encourage them to explore the cultural and natural treasures of the area. Additionally, its educational programs offer an understanding of the distinctive flora and fauna of this natural reserve in the Alps.

The entrance to this national park is free!

Exact address: Kirchpl. 2, 9971 Matrei in Osttirol, Austria.

If you want to find out more about the Hohe Tauern National Park, check out their official webpage.

10. The Swiss National Park (Switzerland)

The Swiss National Park is the only national park in Switzerland. It is located in the Western Rhaetian Alps and is part of the is part of the worldwide UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. The park features a variety of picturesque landscapes, including stunning rivers running through deep valleys, high mountains, fauna, and thick and expansive forests.

Bike riding and camping are prohibited in the park, but the excellent hiking makes up for this. In addition to the 21 walking routes in the national park, you can trek through alpine meadows, climb a mountain or saunter in a forest.

This national park has a free access!

Exact address: Swiss National Park, Runatsch 124, Chastè Planta-Wildenberg, 7530 Zernez, Switzerland.

Check out their official webpage to find out further information about the Swiss national park.

All in all, we believe that these national parks are great places to spend a weekend getaway or even a lovely day trip with family and friends. Expats should see the wonders that Germany, Austria and Switzerland have to offer!