Barefoot Park – Germany’s Quirkiest Attraction?

Barefoot park path, Germany

Have you ever heard of a Barefoot Park (Barfußpark in German)?

I hadn’t until I spotted it on my attractions in the Black Forest map.  Although it is primarily geared towards families, my curiosity was peaked. I knew I had to go and see for myself just exactly it was all about.

Barefoot park sign in Germany

Map of the Barefoot Park path in Dornstetten-Hallwangen, in the Black Forest.

We choose to go to the Barefoot Park in Dornstetten-Hallwangen, located near Freudenstadt in the Black Forest.  It consists of a 2.5km walking path through forest and meadows, to be walked in bare feet, a water adventure park area and walking paths consisting of a variety of materials including sand, mulch, rocks and even glass.  There would also be balancing challenges along the way.  Surprisingly admission was free!

Barefoot park waterpark in Germany

One of the activities in the water activities part of Barefoot Park.

The water adventure park was first on the list.  This did not consist of rides, but different activities, including jumping on this thing to make water come out.  The water adventure park concluded with this:

Barefoot park water in Germany

Wading through muddy water at Barefoot Park.  I was determined to do all the obstacles presented to me, but this was my least favorite.

Barefoot parks have been popping up all over Europe in the last 20 years or so.  There is already more than 100 of them and they are especially popular in Germany and Austria.  The idea of the park is to be a kid again.  Child love to run around barefoot, and feel the different textures under their feet and it’s one way that adults can recapture the feeling of being a kid again.

Barefoot park rock path in Germany

One of the many rock paths we walked over at Barefoot Park.

Thankfully there was only one of these paths:

Barefoot park glass path, Germany

I was a bit concerned about walking on the glass path, but fortunately all the edges were rounded so that you couldn’t cut yourself on it. It actually felt like a foot massage.

Walking barefoot is considered to be very healthy as it trains the muscles in your feet to work properly so that you don’t end up with flat feet or other deformities.  It also protects your back, knees and hips since it restores your natural gait, which may be interrupted with footwear.  It can even help prevent varicose veins and stimulates the body to stay warm.  I may just start walking barefoot everywhere I go!

Barefoot park glass path, Germany

Walking barefoot through the forest was very relaxing.

There are health risks to walking barefoot though including the most obvious one of cutting yourself on something, or stepping on a poisonous plant or insect.  There are also the more grotesque risks of being infected by a parasite or a hookworm.  (Glad I didn’t know that as I walked through the muddy water pictured above.)

Barefoot park balancing challenges, Germany

J.P. on one of the many balancing challenges found in Barefoot Park.

There were also many balancing challenges along the way.  The one pictured above was an easy one, but the one below – not so much:

Barefoot park balance challenge, Germany

A little wobbly on one of the balance challenges.

And a few tips for going to a Barefoot Park:

  • wear shorts or pants that you can roll up to the knee
  • bring a towel to dry your feet when you are finished (there will be a cleaning station)
  • wear clothing that you don’t mind getting dirty, in case you fall
  • don’t wear really nice shoes, as your feet will still not be 100% clean, even after washing them
Barefoot park mud challenge, Germany

One of the last challenges – wading through past ankle deep mud.

Perhaps now some of my above suggestions make more sense.  Wading through the mud was kind of icky at first, but it did feel oddly soothing after a couple of minutes.  I was also entertained by two girls having a “who can stand in the mud the longest” competition.  I wasn’t sticking around to see who the winner would be.

Barefoot park Mud Slide, Germany

And the funnest part? The mud slide. Although the potential for slipping was rather high – fortunately we didn’t.

I really enjoyed my first time in Barefoot Park and I did feel like a kid again.  J.P. (my German fiance)  wasn’t so sure about going, but he also really enjoyed it.  It was silly, quirky and we had a lot of laughs. All of the kids we saw were having a great time and seemed to really excited to there so I would also highly recommend this for children – really the intended audience, but aren’t we all kids at heart?

Have you been to a Barefoot Park?

What were your impressions?  If you haven’t been, would you go to one?

More info:

Barfußpark inDornstetten-Hallwangen (German language only)

 

 

Comments

  1. says

    What a great post. I love ti that you will try just about anything. Personally, I’ll walk along a beach barefoot and that’s it, but the mud slide looks very interesting. Pebbles, gravel and glass??? Hmmmm, I don’t think so.

  2. Laurel says

    @Inka – Thanks, it’s funny, I actually thought about you as I was writing this and thought I couldn’t see Inka doing this :). My feet did feel very soft after all the mud though, although it would have wrecked a pedicure.

  3. says

    That’s a cool idea actually! I love walking bare feet and I’m sure I’d enjoy it. As long as there are no snakes around!

  4. Laurel says

    @Zhu – I thought it was too, but had never heard of anything like that. There’s a couple in France as well. Not so many snakes in Germany so nothing to worry about :).

  5. Sabrina says

    I love this! I have never heard of a barefoot park, but so wanna go now. I need to research if there is one close to anywhere we’re travelling this summer :) I miss walking barefoot by the way. I Germany I used to kick of my shoes if we went to a park and just enjoy walking in the grass. Here in Texas? The grass – even if kept green from constant watering – is not soft and nice. It kind of feels like hay. Plus, I heard that there is the occasional scorpion in backyards in our area. Not very promising!

  6. says

    I have never heard of a Barefoot Park but this looks totally fun! I would definitely like to visit one.

    I grew up in Southern California and spent most of my life barefoot so this would be sending me back to my youth. They are really touting up the benefits of walking barefoot. My husband just bought a pair of walking shoes that simulates being barefoot. I thought it was a gimmick but guess not :)

  7. Laurel says

    @Sabrina – Don’t think I would want to do this if there were scorpions, but in Germany it’s perfect. There’s quite a few in Germany so hope you can make it one. We had so much fun!

    @Debbie – There really is something about walking around barefoot that makes you feel young. I know that there’s a trend to even run barefoot. I’ve seen those special shoes as well and am tempted to get a pair.

  8. says

    This sounds really fun but I’m sure it would never work in the U.S. All it would take is one person to step on something and require stitches, and then you’d have a million-dollar lawsuit on your hands. I don’t see how they can guarantee visitors’ safety!

  9. Laurel says

    @Scott – I love that Germans don’t sue nearly as often as Americans do and I think if you do get hurt it’s at your own risk, but come to think of it I didn’t see any “enter at your own risk” signs either. From what I’ve seen, it’s just a different mentality.

  10. Laurel says

    @The Travel Chica – I agree and this was silly, but we couldn’t stop laughing. It’s nice to feel like a kid again sometimes.

    @Peter – Thanks for letting me know. I have now fixed the link.

  11. says

    I’ve never heard of these! Next time I am in Germany (which is hopefully very, very soon), I will have to go to a Barfußpark, thanks for the great suggestion. I think the mudslide will be my favorite!

  12. Grace says

    It looks really fun…but I really have this thing where I cannot walk barefoot on dirt or anywhere public. I suddenly become a psychotic germaphobe.

  13. says

    This is interesting. I have not heard of this before, but after reading your post, I would give it a try. Good suggestions at the conclusion. Always best to listen to the voice of experience. Nice photos, too. Thanks for sharing.

  14. says

    Laurel, What an interesting park. The rounded glass sounded cool, I think that challenge bridge would have been tough and I’m with you, the deep water wouldn’t have been my choice either.

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