Our globe-trotting journalist, Kristian Harrison, sheds light on some of his favourite places to visit in Germany!
Boasting a vast variety of incredible scenery, Germany encompasses a little of everything. From the beautiful valleys of the Rhine and Mosel rivers to the majestic mountains of the Bavarian Alps, the awesome shorelines of Lake Constance, and the magnificent cities such as Berlin and Munich, there’s something nice to see at every turn. Thanks to the superb network of highways (autobahns) and railways that crisscross this central European country, Germany’s cities and towns, big and small, are easy to access. Here’s a selection of a few places you might want to visit:
No matter where you want to go in Germany, it’s worth spending at least a few days in Berlin. The country’s capital is undoubtedly one of the most dynamic and vibrant cities in Europe, as popular for its superb dining experiences as it is for its shopping and entertainment.
Berlin is also considered one of Europe’s top cultural destinations, home to numerous excellent art galleries and museums just waiting to be explored. Some of the best of which are located on Museum Island, a must-see destination that alone can take days to explore.
And after these attractions have closed, fun things to do at night include enjoying concerts by the renowned Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, perhaps taking in a performance by Berlin Opera, or simply wandering the always-interesting avenues and boulevards in the Mitte District, where you’ll find famous landmarks such as the Brandenburg Gate and the remains of the Berlin Wall.
Koblenz & the Rhine Valley
If you do partake in a river cruise down the Rhine, you will at some point find yourself docked in the beautiful city of Koblenz. However you arrive, though, be sure to make your first stop the magnificent Deutsches Eck, or German Corner. It’s here you’ll witness one of the most incredible natural phenomena in the country – the meeting of the Rhine and Mosel rivers, overlooked by the huge Memorial to German Unity, an impressive equestrian statue of King Wilhelm I.
Watching these two mighty rivers meet is a sight to behold. If you time it right, you can even enjoy a summer evening classical music concert at the same time. Great views of the German Corner and the two rivers can also be enjoyed by taking the Koblenz cable car up to spectacular Ehrenbreitstein Fortress.
The capital of the state of Bavaria, the home of Oktoberfest and one of Germany’s largest cities, Munich owes much of its popularity as a tourism destination to its location on the outer edge of the beautiful Bavarian Alps. Although not one of Germany’s oldest cities – its roots can be traced back to a settlement of monks pre-dating its official founding in 1158 – Munich has played a major role in shaping the country’s cultural and political make-up.
The city’s rapid growth saw it develop into an important centre for religion, arts and trade. These days, no visitor can fail to notice the city’s many surviving churches, including the iconic cathedral and Munich’s most recognised building, the Frauenkirche.
Another reason Munich has attained a place as one of Germany’s most popular tourist destinations is its historic city centre. It’s a delight to explore on foot, especially if visiting the city’s large open square, the Marienplatz. Here, you can explore delightful old architecture dating all the way back to medieval times, including the Old and New Town Halls.
The Black Forest
The beautiful Black Forest with its dark, densely-wooded hills is one of the most visited upland regions in all of Europe. Situated in the south-western corner of Germany and extending 160km from Pforzheim in the north to Waldshut on the High Rhine in the south, it’s a hiker’s heaven.
On the west side, it descends steeply to the Rhine, crossed by lush valleys, while on the east, it slopes more gently down to the upper Neckar and Danube valleys. Popular spots include Germany’s oldest ski area at Todtnau, the magnificent spa facilities of Baden-Baden, and the attractive resort of Bad Liebenzell.
The quaint old town of Füssen, situated between the Ammergau and Allgäu Alps and a popular alpine resort and winter sports centre, is a good base from which to explore nearby Neuschwanstein Castle, one of Europe’s most famous (and picturesque) royal castles.
King Ludwig II of Bavaria built this many-towered and battlement-covered fantasy fortress – the inspiration for Walt Disney’s famous theme park castles – from 1869-86. A variety of tour options are offered, including guided tours of the sumptuous interior taking in the Throne Room, the Singers’ Hall... and some of the country’s most spectacular views.
Hohenzollern Castle is one of the most impressive and beautiful castles in Germany. Perched on the top of a hill, you can see its silhouette against the skyline as you approach from any direction.
One of the most intriguing things about the castle is the catacombs, or underground caves, where ammunition and gunpowder was stored. You can walk through this maze of caves and marvel at the effort it took to create them. The castle is also where the legend of the ‘white lady’ started – a ghost of a woman in white has been seen several times by various people.