Located in the heart of Europe, Germany today maintains the continent’s most powerful economy. However it is probably best known for its World War II history and the country’s even more recent times when it was split into East and West; everybody knows about the Berlin Wall, which came down less than 30 years ago. There’s a load of culture, natural beauty, and much older history to discover in this large European nation.
You’ll find much of this in Bavaria, southern Germany, where you can soak up the Bavarian Alps, explore some truly charming medieval towns, and get involved in the infamous Oktoberfest. In the north, you can explore beaches and old port towns from the Hanseatic period. Berlin wows with its famous clubs and huge museums, as does Frankfurt with its skyscraper-laden cityscape. Then there’s everything in between, offering a chance to really get into the nitty-gritty of Germany. Here’s a look at the best places to visit in Germany:
First Thing First, Berlin
Exciting and vibrant, Berlin is the capital of Germany. It’s the center for all that is hip in art, fashion, music, and design. Berlin is teeming with amazing architecture, art galleries, museums, and restaurants. You can also find some of the wildest clubs in Berlin and many quirky activites off the tourist track. Take a stroll down Unter den Linden, where you’ll find museums, the cathedral, opera house, and the Brandenburg Gate. The Gate was impassable during the days of the Berlin Wall and now symbolizes German reunification.
Cologne's Cathedral (Kölner Dom) is one of Germany's most important architectural monuments and the third tallest cathedral in the world. It took over 600 years to construct this Gothic masterpiece. When it was finally finished in 1880, it was still true to the original plans from 1248.
When Cologne was leveled by bombings in World War II, the Cathedral was the only building that survived. Standing tall in an otherwise flattened city, some said it was divine intervention. A more realistic explanation is that the cathedral was a point of orientation for the pilots.
In any case, the cathedral still stands next to the city's train station and beckons visitors from around the globe.
Drive in Autobahn
Germany’s famous toll-free Autobahn highway snakes its way across the entire country, attracting petrol-heads and anyone who fancies exploring the country efficiently. Parts of the highway have no speed limit, but be careful not to let that inner speed demon loose and always drive carefully – check out the rules of the road before you go. Watch out for the phrase bei Nässe on road signs, indicating that a speed limit applies when the road is wet – other areas may have enforced speed restrictions to help reduce noise pollution. Caution is a must, but if you’re planning on hitting several German cities during your holiday, this can be one of the quickest and most fun ways to travel.
If you like to take a beautiful landscape with your camera, then this place is one of the most photographed building in Germany, Neuschwanstein Castle, is also one of Europe’s most popular tourist destinations. Nestled among the breathtaking beauty of the Bavarian Alps near the town of Fussen, this fairy-tale castle served as the inspiration behind Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty Castle.
Constructed in the late 1800s, Neuschwanstein Castle was never built for defense purposes as most castles. Instead, this castle was created as a fanciful retreat King Ludwig II of Bavaria who had a reputation for abiding in daydreams instead of reality.
Black Forest - Schwarzwald
If you imagine Germany with rolling hills, small villages, and lush forests, visit the Schwarzwald (Black Forest), where you can experience it all. The vast expanse of hills, valleys, and forests stretches from the posh spa town Baden-Baden to the Swiss border, covering an area of 4,600 square miles.
Walking, biking, or driving — there are many scenic routes that will lead you to tiny villages, such as Freiburg with its long red sausage, wineries, and old-world monasteries.
Two of the most recommended tours are the Wine Road and the German Clock Road, which traces the history of the cuckoo clock. For Christmas, visit Gengenbach which becomes the world's largest advent calendar house.
The Romantic Road
The Romantic Road is Germany's best scenic route. It leads you through a region that boasts quintessential German scenery and culture, castles, charming medieval towns surrounded by walls, half-timbered houses, historic hotels, and restaurants that offer hearty German food and great beer.
Highlights along the Romantic Road: the picturesque Rothenburg ob der Tauber, the best-preserved medieval town in Germany, and the end point at castle Neuschwanstein.
The last one is my favorite place.