Castle ruins above the barren hills. Wide rivers bustling with boats and barges. Vineyards so steep you wonder how they’re harvested. Such is the scenery found along German highways. And for just one day of the year, some of the country’s most picturesque stretches of road can be enjoyed at a much slower pace.
Auto-free days are locally organized initiatives in which all motorized vehicles are banned from certain sections of highways. Cyclists, in-line skaters, hikers and other nature lovers come out in force to savor the surroundings they’re more used to passing by in a blur of speed. Road closures last from mid-morning to early evening and can stretch from 15 to 50 miles or more. They are generally organized on Sundays or public holidays from spring on into the autumn months. No costs are associated with taking part in these events.