Imagine walking down a forest path and suddenly being transported into a fairytale-like environment – that is what it is like to visit a bluebell forest. They are a must-see for nature photographers and nature lovers, so be sure to add them to your itinerary if you plan to explore this charming area of Germany in spring.
While the bluebell is a common flower in other European countries like England and France, they are a very rare flower in Germany. There are only three places in Germany that have natural ‘blue forests’ full of actual Atlantic bluebells. And I recently discovered that all of them are really close to the place where I grew up. All of them can be found close to each other in the Juelich-Zuericher Boerde close to the German-Dutch border.
The German Blue Forests are a great alternative to the now popular Hallerbos just south of Brussels. Just like the bluebells there, those in Germany only bloom for a few weeks in spring, so be sure to visit the bluebells forest around the beginning of May. Otherwise, you are bound to miss out on this amazing spectacle of blue and violet hues.
Bluebell Forest No. 1: ‘Forest of the Blue Flowers’ in Dovern/Baal
While the bluebell forest is officially known as nature preserve “Am Hintersten Berg“, it is locally known as the ‘Wald der blauen Blumen’ (‘Forest of the blue flowers’). While this small 400 m x 400 m large forest does not look like much from the outside, it is a real fairytale environment that will take your breath away. As you explore this wonderous place full of violet-blue flowers, it feels like there is magic in the air. While there, you would not be surprised if you were to meet a fairy.
Due to the forest’s location near the town of Hückelhoven, it is very popular amongst locals, but even on the most crowded days, you will not be surrounded by large crowds as you take in the awe-inspiring wildflower displays.
The common bluebell needs a lot of sunlight, so the flowers cannot bloom if the ground is overgrown. After all, they cannot thrive in the shadow. Therefore, blackberry wood is removed in this bluebell forest in Germany.
To reach the bluebells, you have to walk down the field path towards the forest and then venture down the first forest path to the left. You will not see any bluebells at this point, so do not worry that you might be in the wrong forest. Halfway through the forest, you have to go down the path to your right. After a minute you will finally see the first bluebells. Keep walking down the path to reach the main bluebell field of this magical bluebell forest. There are no facilities, but there are some benches near the biggest patch of bluebells.
Blue Forest No. 2: ‘Kellenberger Kamp’ in Barmen
While smaller than the ‘Forest of the Blue Flowers’, this bluebell wood is still worth a trip. Located in the meadows of the river Rur, the scenery feels completely different. In the morning and evening, the river and nearby creek can cause fog, which dramatically alters the atmosphere. And even without fog the light there tends to be different. Therefore, I can only encourage you to visit this bluebell forest in addition to the one near Dovern.
While the walk there is quite short, it is really picturesque as you walk past a castle with a moat and continue onwards down a path surrounded by blooming flowers and trees. You walk past a small watermill, and if you keep an eye on the creek to your left, you might even spot a family of beavers.
Eventually, you will reach a small bridge with an open gate and suddenly all you can see are tiny blue flowers – a truly incredible sight. I think it is one of the best things to see in Germany in spring.
Do not venture too far down the path that goes straight into the woods as you take in the bluebells. The entrance to the area is restricted in spring to protect native birds.
Bluebell Wood No. 3: ‘Gillenbusch’ near Gevenich
‘Gillenbusch’ is the smallest of the three bluebell forests in Germany and is located near Gevenich. The bluebells can be found in a very small forest on a slope, and it is very hard to get close to them. You cannot really see the carpet of blooming bluebells even if you walk on the path above the slope. Therefore, I believe that the other two locations are better if you want to explore a fairytale forest in Germany.
How to get to the Bluebell Forests in Germany
If you plan to explore this area of Germany, it is best to rent a car. Especially, as having a rental car also enables you to visit the daffodil fields in Eifel National Park and the picturesque cities of Monschau and Trier.
There are public transport options, but due to the routes is usually takes ages to get from one spot to another.
How to get to the Forest of the Blue Flowers – Dovern/Baal
By car: The blue forest is located behind some fields, so Google Maps is not entirely reliable. Drive along the ‘Bahnstrasse’ from Baal to Dovern and you will spot the bluebell forest. The forest is on the right side just before you reach Dovern. You have two options when it comes to where to park.
You can opt to drive down the field road. A lot of people park beside a field down said field road. The coordinates of the spot are 51.042669, 6.257394. However, I only recommend parking there if you can see other cars in the area.
Otherwise, you should park on a street in Dovern. Hereby, the best one is ‘Im Weidenfeld, Dovern‘. The road is connected with the forest via another field road, so you can easily walk there.
The GPS coordinates of the bluebell forest are 51.0408178; 6.2633805.
Public transport: To get to the blue forest, you have to take the train to Baal and then take a taxi. Ask the taxi driver to drop you off at the very end of the road ‘Im Weidenfeld ‘ just behind the village sign of Dovern.
How to get to Kellenberger Kamp – Barmen
By car: The Kellenberger Kamp is located between Floßdorf and Barmen, and the best way to get there is to drive towards Schloss Kellenberg (Kellenberg Castle) in Barmen. Park at the area with a stone cross just before you reach the castle and then walk towards the castle. Walk down the path on the left once you reach the castle. You will reach the bluebells in the Rur meadows after around 450m near the Nuland cross (Nulandkreuz). The flowers are down a path on the left, over a bridge.
Public transport: Getting to the bluebells in Kellenberger Kamp is slightly more complicated. You have to take the train from Cologne or Aachento Düren. From there, you have to take the Rurtalbahn train to Linnich. From Linnich onwards, you can take bus link 279 to Barmen and walk the rest of the way.
When to visit the Bluebell Forests
While the leaves of the bluebells become visible in March, it is not until mid-April to the beginning of May that the flowers start to bloom. Over the course of around two weeks, more and more of the 5 to 20 bell-shaped blossoms unfold from a 30 cm long steam. Around a week after the bloom starts, entire patches of the forest have turned into a fairytale environment. Most years, the flower bloom is over by mid-May or late May.
Keep in mind, that it is best to visit the blue forest before the trees start getting leaves. After all, it is the sunlight that makes the bluebells seem blue. The thicker the leaf cover, the more purple the bluebells appear. Generally speaking, sunny days are the best.
The German bluebell forests are more crowded during the weekends and in the evening as that is when people walk their dogs. So try to visit them during the week and early in the morning.
Important Blue Forest Rules
There are a few rules in the German bluebell forest, and it is crucial to adhere to them. They are in place to protect the flowers, and there is no reason to ignore the rules. No photo or view is worth a fine or the destruction of the bluebell woods.
The first thing you should know is that the bluebell is a partially protected flower. Therefore, it is strictly forbidden to destroy or remove any of the flowers. Additionally, all-natural bluebell forests are located in nature reserves, so leaving the paths is strictly forbidden. Stepping on the flowers or the ground around them can easily damage the plants.
If you bring your dog, you have to keep your furry buddy on a short leash. Also keep in mind that all parts of bluebells are poisonous to dogs, so be sure to keep an eye on your dog at all times. Eating bluebells can be deadly.
Bluebell Forests Photography
Take photos with a wide aperture (at least 4.5) to take photos of a single flower to get a blurred-out background. Use a small aperture (16 to 18) when taking photos of a wider field.
Be sure to stay on the paths while taking photos. If you shoot from a low angle, you can make it seem like you are sitting or standing in the flower field without leaving the paths.
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Where to stay
While there are several nearby smaller accommodations, the best options are in the towns of Aachen or Maastricht. Alternatively, you can also opt to stay in Cologne.
Planning a trip soon? Check out these useful websites and resources that I use to plan my own adventures
Have you ever visited a bluebell forest?
Visiting the fairytale-like bluebell forests in Germany is a must-do if you are in the area in May, as the blue woods are a real hidden gem. Exploring them is a magical experience that you should not miss! Especially if you are already in the area to check out the tulip fields in Western Germany. After all, the bluebells and the tulips are in bloom at the same time.
More about Germany
If you are making plans for your next trip to Germany, you might also want to check out these Germany Travel Guides:
Facts about Germany that you have to know
Viewpoints in Munich
Amazing German Christmas Market Food
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