Situated in the heart of Europe, and bordering nine othercountries, Germany is an established and rewarding destination onany tour of the subcontinent. Its land is wide and varied, withturreted castles nestled below snow-capped mountains, lush rivervalleys, dark and mysterious forests, and bustling medievalvillages. This is the land of fairy tales, where farmland minstrelsheaded to Bremen to become musicians, where Sleeping Beauty waswoken and Little Red Riding Hood ventured into the woods.
Despite the beauty and romantic associations of the Germancountryside, most first-time visitors head straight for one of thecountry's famous cities. Germany's big cities each have somethingunique to offer the visitor. Each year millions of litres of beerare consumed in Munich during the city's Oktoberfest, where localsand visitors discover true German revelry and (a word the locals use to describe acomfortable, sociable environment). Berlin promises an abundance ofattractions for sightseeing, from the iconic Brandenburg Gate tothe path of the old Berlin Wall, and the capital's vibrantnightlife is still evocative of its height in the 1920s and 30s, ascharacterised by the songs of Marlene Dietrich, the theatre ofBrecht and the Film Cabaret. Frankfurt is Germany's financialpowerhouse, promising business opportunities and great shopping anddining experiences. Hamburg offers a picturesque urban experience,full of canals, parks and gardens.
Discover the country that gave us Beethoven and Bauhaus, Goetheand Glühwein, Lager and Lederhosen - Germany seldomdisappoints!
Germany remains one of the world's top sightseeingdestinations by virtue of its unique and important historicalattractions, charming medieval buildings, varied and beautifullandscape, and legendary cultural events. The country has played aleading role in world history and many of its attractions, varyingfrom the celebrated to the infamous, are connected to thiscolourful legacy.
The major cities, such as Berlin, Munich andFrankfurt, are attractions in themselves, each jam-packed withhistorical treasures and sites of interest. Dachau and CheckpointCharlie are remnants of more troubled periods, while themagnificent Rhineland and Garmisch-Partenkirchen region offerenough natural splendour to please even the most demanding outdoorenthusiasts. Munich is home to one of the world's biggest parties,the legendary Oktoberfest, while the Romantic Road between Berlinand Frankfurt is a self-drive tourist classic that never fails todelight with its perfectly preserved old towns and villages.
Germany is certainly a year-round destination, although bewarned that the European winters (December to February) can getvery cold. The best way to travel around the country is by train asthe network is comprehensive, very reliable and safe, and decentvalue for money. Another good option is to rent a car and drivebetween attractions on the extensive network of autobahnfreeways.
The Eschenheimer Turm is one of the few remaining towers of themedieval fortifications that once encircled the city of Frankfurt.The 154-foot high (47m) Gothic tower was built as part of themedieval wall which encircled the city in the 15th century, whenapproximately 60 towers surrounded the city. Citizens used to buildhigh walls and watchtowers to protect Frankfurt from danger. Thetower is both the oldest and the most unaltered building in thelargely reconstructed city centre of Frankfurt and it is a strikinglandmark of the city. The tower has eight levels and four smallerside-turrets and looks rather like something out of afairy-tale.
There is a weather vane perched on the very top which is thesubject of a local myth: apparently a convicted poacher shot thevane nine times and so impressed the city authorities that they sethim free. You can clearly see nine bullet holes if you get closeenough to the vane, but it is definitely not still the same onefrom the story. Now a popular tourist attraction in Frankfurt,there is a restaurant and bar at the base of the Eschenheimer Turmthat offers a good place to people-watch in the busy plazasurrounding the tower.
The impressive and symbolic Brandenburg Gate that lay forlornfor so long in the no man's land behind the Berlin Wall, is nowonce again renovated and accessible, along with the newlyreconstructed Pariser Platz that links the gate to the beautifulUnter den Linden Boulevard. The Brandenburg is Berlin's onlyremaining city gate, built of sandstone between 1788 and 1791, with12 Doric columns according to a design by C.G. Langhans. Sixcolumns support a 36-foot (11m) transverse beam, similar to thepropylaeum of the Acropolis in Athens. The massive gate is toppedwith a stunning statue of the Goddess of Victory facing easttowards the city centre, which was added in 1794. The gate isclosed to traffic, as is the adjacent Pariser Platz, a gracioussquare that was once surrounded with beautiful buildings sadlydestroyed in the Second World War. Since the fall of the BerlinWall new buildings have been built to designs closely followingthose of the originals.
It is easy to hire a guide for the area and it is worthwhilebecause the Brandenburg Gate has an intriguing history and aspecial place in the German culture. Hearing about its significanceand past from a local greatly enriches the visit.
The infamous border crossing point in the wall dividing West andEast Berlin has now become a shrine to the wall's memory with theaddition of a museum, Haus am Checkpoint Charlie. For nearly threedecades, between 1961 and 1990, Checkpoint Charlie in theFriedrichstrasse was the only crossing point between East and WestBerlin. While the original metal shed is now on display at theAllied Museum, the soldier's post can be visited, and tourists canbe photographed under the border sign. The museum's permanentexhibition dates back to the building of the Berlin Wall, andcharts the lifespan of the wall, including its erection, itsdemolition and an intriguing collection of objects used to escapeover, under, and through it, and the stories of those escapees whorisked their lives to win their freedom. The museum is alsogenerally concerned with human rights. The Checkpoint CharlieMuseum houses temporary exhibits, and hosts lectures and filmscreenings; check the website for schedules.
The remains of the infamous Berlin Wall have now become thelargest open-air art gallery in the world. The longest section ofthe wall, which has been preserved, stretches from Ostbahnhofstation to the Oberbaumbrucke, and has been given over to graffitiartists from around the world. About 118 artists from 21 countrieshave demonstrated their skills on the 4,318 foot (1,316m) longsection of the wall, and this collection has become a Berlinlandmark and a tourist attraction. Some of the best known paintingsare Dimitri Vrubel's 'Brotherly Kiss' and Gunther Shaefer's'Fatherland'. The gallery is billed as an international memorialfor freedom and the art reflects the idealism and excitement of1989 and 1990 when the wall was pulled down.
Parts of the wall have been or are being restored to reverse thedamage done by time, weather and vandals because some of the oncecolourful murals created in 1989 and 1990 are now very faded. Theimages are restored in most cases by the original artiststhemselves and this ongoing project of restoration is special initself because it keeps the wall alive in the publicimagination.
Since opening in 2001, the Berlin Jewish Museum in Lindenstrassehas gained an international reputation for its significantarchitecture and unique exhibitions that bring history to life. Thebulk of the museum is housed in a windowless and doorlesssteel-clad, silver building, designed by Daniel Libeskind, situatedalongside the yellow Baroque edifice of the Berlin Museum. Thebuilding is remarkable and designed to be intimidating. Visitorsenter the Jewish Museum through the Berlin Museum to explore theexhibition rooms, which are clustered around a main axis void,designed to signify the empty and invisible aspects of Jewishhistory. The whole museum is beautifully designed and theexhibitions can be quite overwhelming emotionally, although this isto be expected for a museum showcasing such tragic history. Thecollection is a good mix between personal stories and mementos andmore formal history; it is also quite interactive. The collectionis extensive and will require at least a few hours to see in itsentirety, particularly as the gardens are also worth a stroll.
One of the most popular art galleries in Berlin is housed in aformer train station. The historic Hamburger Bahnhof, built in 1846at the Tiergarten, was badly damaged during World War II, but hasbeen restored and reopened as an exhibition venue for an extensivecontemporary art collection. The former station now offers 107,639square feet (10,000 sq metres) of space filled with works by thelikes of Andy Warhol, Josephy Beuys and Roy Lichtenstein. The basisof the exhibition is the Marx private collection, but there arechanging exhibitions and good examples of the ItalianTransavanguardia and minimalist art on show too. The gallery holdsregular free guided tours for the public. To find out when theseare being conducted consult the 'events' section of thewebsite.
Potsdamer Platz is the heart and soul of the 'New Berlin', whichhas emerged since the fall of the wall in 1989. The original squarewas once one of the busiest junctions in Europe, with a major trainstation situated on it. However, after damage during the SecondWorld War and being cut through by the divisive wall, it became adecayed wasteland. Since the fall of the wall, however, a buildingboom has been taking place around the Potsdamer Platz. The squarenow plays host to an exciting mix of restaurants, shopping centres,hotels, a casino, theatres and cinemas that draws both Berlinersand tourists seeking good food and recreation.
The focus of the square is the 22-storey Debis Haus, designed byRenzo Piano, featuring an atrium with cathedral-like dimensions,and its neighbouring Potsdamer Platz Arkaden, a shopping mall withan Imax cinema. The Sony Centre is the most recent addition,consisting of seven buildings around a light-flooded arena, whichalso houses Berlin's popular Film Museum. The Kollhoff buildingfeatures a panorama platform, reached by Europe's fastest expresselevator, which offers views of the city.
The Marienplatz is the heart of Munich and the site of its mostimportant historic buildings. The square is dominated by theNeo-Gothic Town Hall featuring its famous Glockenspiel, both builtin the 19th century, although they look authentically Gothic. TheGlockenspiel delights visitors when it chimes the hours every dayat 11am, 12pm and 5pm with its 43 bells, accompanied by movingclockwork figures that display vignettes from Munich's history. TheTown Hall has a tower that can be accessed by a lift and from thetop you get wonderful views of the city.
The centre of the square, once a vibrant farmer's market,features a statue of the Virgin Mary after which Marienplatz wasnamed. Visitors can also explore a toy museum in the Old Town Hallon the square, and the Frauenkirche, Munich's cathedral, datingfrom the 15th century. The square is full of great shops andpleasant outdoor eating areas where you can sit under trees,refuelling, and watch the world pass by. The Marienplatz is still asocial gathering place for locals, just as it has been throughoutits long history, and although it can get a bit crowded it is anun-missable attraction in Munich, and a must for photographers.
Munich's massive Olympiapark complex was constructed for the20th Olympic Games in 1972, but remains a marvel of modernengineering. Its main stadium is like an enormous tent, which canseat close on 70,000 spectators, and is topped by one of thelargest roofs in the world, extending for 720,000 square feet(66,890 sq metres) and made of tinted acrylic glass. The roofcollects rainwater which is used to fill the adjacent Olympic lake.Tent roof tours (with or without an abseiling option) are on offer.Visitors to the site can enjoy a spectacular view from therevolving restaurant and observation terrace which tops the950-foot (290m) high Olympic Tower. Near the tower is the BMWMuseum, which displays the history of Germany's famous automobilemanufacturer and is in itself a popular attraction. Far from beinga remarkable 'white elephant', the Park is still in constant usenot only by tourists but by locals who use it as a lively leisureand recreational centre in the city. On more than 200 days of theyear it is the venue for rock and pop concerts, sports events,exhibitions and trade fairs. Check the website to see what'shappening at the venue during your stay.
About five miles (8km) from the city centre, accessible by tramand bus, is the interesting Schloss Nymphenburg, originally asummer home for Munich aristocracy. The palace has been expanded,altered and fitted with various eccentricities by succeeding ownersover the centuries since building began on it in 1664. Today it isa delight for tourists who revel in exploring the villa andgrounds. Inside there are some interesting frescoes in the mainhall. An arcaded gallery features a collection of 36 provocativepaintings ordered by King Ludwig I showing the most beautiful womenof his day. The surrounding park has some surprises too, with someinteresting pavilions hidden among the English-style gardens. Thereare also collections of Ludwig's elaborate coaches on display, anda porcelain museum. There is information provided in the palace onits history but there are also audio guides available which greatlyenrich the experience. Although you have to pay to enter the palaceyou can wander around the lovely grounds for free.
Munich's art museum houses one of the most important collectionsin Europe on two floors of a large neo-classical building. Roughly700 paintings are on display, featuring the work of many of thegreatest European artists from the 14th to the 18th centuries.Highlights include works by Dutch and Flemish masters, as well asthe Italian masters such as Botticelli, Raphael and Titian. Famousmasterpieces in the permanent collection include Rembrandt's'Self-Portrait' (1629), Raphael's 'The Canigiani Holy Famliy'(1505), Guido Reni's 'The Assumption of the Virgin' (1642), andFrancois Boucher's 'Portrait of the Marquise de Pompadour' (1756).The gallery is massive, consisting of dozens of rooms, and requiresa great deal of time to explore thoroughly. Bags and handbags arenot allowed in the museum but there are storage facilities.Photography is allowed but only without a flash. There is arestaurant at the museum.
There are actually three art museums in the location and you canget a discounted rate if you plan to visit all of them in oneday.
The fairy-tale castle built by King Ludwig II (known as 'MadKing Ludwig' until his death in 1886) has become the trademark ofthe German state of Bavaria, with its Gothic wedding-cake tiers andtowers. Day tours to the castle are available from Munich, orself-drive via Garmisch. From the parking lot there is a steephalf-mile (1km) climb to the castle, but one can ride in ahorse-drawn carriage. The interior of the castle is as extravagantas its outer aspect, particularly the King's apartments, which aredecorated entirely with hand-embroidered silk, elaborate wall andceiling paintings, and carvings. The rooms can only be visited aspart of a guided tour and no photography or filming is allowed inthe castle.
The house where Johan Wolfgang von Goethe, Germany'sworld-famous poet and writer, was born in 1749 is now a shrine tohis memory, preserved as an example of how the well-to-do lived inFrankfurt in the late Baroque era. The house, which is areconstruction because the original was destroyed during the SecondWorld War, consists of two neighbouring half-timbered houses inGrosser Hirschgraben, and is situated next to the Goethe Museum,which contains a huge library of books, documents and graphicsrelating to the poet. Although the appeal of Goethe-Haus isself-evident for those that love his work, even if you are notparticularly interested in Goethe this attraction provides welcomeinsight into 18th-century Frankfurt. All the rooms are beautifullydecorated and furnished and many of the objects have recordedstories and associations from the Goethe family. Unfortunately,there is no wheelchair or baby carriage access to the house.
The well-ordered and interesting Botanical Garden in Frankfurtis administered by the university and is really a beautiful placeto spend a few hours. The gardens are designed to take visitors ona journey through different areas of the plant kingdom, from thehardwood forests of North America to the barren savannah of Africa.The gardens cover more than eight hectares (20 acres) and containmore than 6,000 different botanical species, from exotic rainforestflowers to European weeds. There are many enclosed greenhouses sothere is still lots to see in winter. Aside from admiring theflora, there are fun family activities like miniature golf and boathire to enjoy, as well as a gift shop and cafe. The botanicalgarden is a great attraction for the whole family and if you'retravelling with kids in Frankfurt its a nice break from moretraditional sightseeing. There is a playground in the gardens toamuse little ones.
St Bartholomews Cathedral, or Dom Sankt Bartholomäus, dominatesthe Frankfurt skyline with its imposing 311-foot (95m) spire,contrasting sharply with the modern skyscrapers in the downtownarea. The cathedral was built in the 14th and 15th centuries, andhas seen the crowning of kings and emperors. St Bartholomews hasbeen rebuilt several times, once in 1867 after a fire, and again inthe 1950s following damage suffered in World War II. Thearchitecture is traditional Gothic. The cathedral boasts someartistic treasures and the carvings are particularly striking. Youcan climb the winding spiral stairs to reach the bells in the towerfor some spectacular views. There is a small museum and shopinside. You can get information booklets at the door which arequite informative and tell you a bit about the church's history andthe artefacts on display. As the cathedral is still an active placeof worship it is partially closed to tourists at times forservices.
Tourists are drawn to the German city of Trier for a taste ofancient Rome. Trier is 120 miles (193km) southwest of Frankfurt andwas founded as a colonial capital under Roman Emperor Augustus in16 BC, making it Germany's oldest city. The city became animportant political and cultural centre, and many Roman buildingsand monuments remain to be explored by visitors. In fact, the cityhas at least five UNESCO World Heritage Sites: St Peter'sCathedral, a remarkable 11th-century church holding severalsignificant tombs; The Black Gate (Porta Nigra), the only remainingancient gate into the city, which dates back to about 180 AD; TheImperial Roman Baths, 2,000-year-old ruins of a bath complex oncefrequented by Constantine; the Church of Our Lady, anotherbeautiful old church adjacent to the cathedral; and theAmphitheatre, an enormous ruin dating back to the 2nd century. TheHauptmarkt, or central square, has great markets and is especiallyjolly over the Christmas season when it hosts one of Germany'sfamous Christmas markets.
Trier is also a good starting point for trips into the MoselValley, Germany's main wine-producing region and a good area toexplore if you want to visit vineyards and wine cellars. Anotherpopular excursion from the city is a cruise on the scenic MoselRiver.
The world's oldest warehouse complex, built of red brick withGothic gables and turrets, is a century old and still in use forstoring exotic goods from around the world, like tea, cocoa, silkand oriental carpets. Known as the Speicherstadt in German, thishistoric section of the Free Port between the Deichtorhallen andBaumwall has been turned into a tourist attraction by the additionof an open air theatre, spice museum, miniature exhibition and anold Russian submarine open for exploration as well as a few otherlittle museums and some regular art exhibitions. Another popularattraction in Speicherstadt is the 'Hamburg Dungeon', aninteractive museum showcasing the more unpleasant and gory aspectsof the city's history.
Just wandering through the narrow cobblestone streets andexploring the small waterways lined by old warehouses is fun, andtaking a boat out into the harbour is also a treat. TheSpeicherstadt is illuminated at night by light shows which createan enchanting spectacle, particularly viewed from a boat on aharbour night tour. The harbour has played a huge role in Hamburg'sidentity and history and exploring this area is insightful.
Hamburg's premier art gallery offers the chance to view worksacross the time spectrum from the Middle Ages through to thepresent day. The Kunsthalle's main aim is to educate about art,rather than showcase particular art treasures (although treasuresabound), and exhibitions are constantly changing to introduce newforms of art to the public. The museum now actually occupies twobuildings. The Galerie der Gegenwart, a modern structure, exhibitsthe modern and contemporary art. The famous old building, a featurein its own right, showcases the older works, most of which dateback to the 14th, 16th and 17th centuries. There are several cafesin the gallery, including a bistro with a nice view of theBinnenalster. Seeing everything in this gallery will probably onlytake about two hours if you don't dawdle but there are lovely spotsto sketch and write which may prolong the visit.
The Hamburg Museum gives a detailed description of the city ofHamburg from the 8th through to the 20th centuries. Scale modelshave been used to illustrate the changing shape of the city'sfamous harbour. Exhibits also include reconstructions of varioustypical rooms, such as the hall of a 17th-century merchant's hometo an air raid shelter from World War II. Actual features from oldbuildings have been moved into the museum creating an excitingarchitectural space. The museum is housed in an impressive buildingcrowned by a tower designed to look like a lighthouse and datingback to 1922 when the museum opened. It was built on part of theformer fortifications of the town of Hamburg, details of which canbe found inside. The gorgeous central courtyard has recently beencovered with a glass ceiling and the space is now used forexhibitions, concerts and other events. To see what's on whenyou're visiting check the website.
Hamburg's notorious red light district, to the east of the citycentre in the St Pauli zone, has become one of its greatest touristattractions. The Reeperbahn (Rope Street) is where rope used to beproduced for the ships in the harbour. It is now a half-mile longstreet which, along with its cross-streets, is filled with brightlights and flirtatious prostitutes, crammed with bars andestablishments offering erotic entertainment. The Reeperbahn becamethe neighbourhood where sailors of old were encouraged to seekentertainment after they were banned from invading the city's morerespectable areas in the 19th century. The district also boasts anErotic Art Museum (at Nobistor 10A), which is privately owned andrestricted to persons over 16. The Beatles used to play in a clubin the area which is now a Pizza Hut and there is a tribute to themcalled the Beatlesplatz where there are aluminium silhouettes ofthe band as they looked when they played in Hamburg.
Although the district is extremely popular it will not delighteveryone and you should not visit if you are offended byprostitution. It is better to explore on foot because parking isvery expensive and hard to come by. There is a possibility of pettycrime in the area so travellers should remain vigilant.
The Legoland Discovery Centre is the first indoor Legoland inthe world and provides an interactive journey through a land ofcolour, creativity, learning and play. Kids will love themed areaslike Dragon Quest, Jungle Adventure, Merlin's Apprentice, PrincessPalace and Pirates Splash Battle. There is a fun factory where realLego bricks are made, a 4-D cinema show, opportunities for visitorsto make their own creations, Miniland Berlin, a themed ride, andmuch more all under one roof. This is one of the most funattractions for the whole family in Berlin and endlessly popularwith kids. It's also a great place to celebrate birthdays as thereare special birthday party rooms for hire and all sorts of excitingextras. The park is designed mainly for kids aged between three and10.
Known for its Black Forest cake and cuckoo clocks, the beautifulcity of Freiburg has plenty to offer. The recommended way toexplore the town and surrounds is by bicycle (there are plenty forhire) along more than 93 miles (150km) of bicycle paths. Visitorswill find a wealth of ancient history, some delicious food andwine, and breath-taking natural beauty in Freiburg. The city(really a large town) is known for its university, magnificentcathedral and medieval treasures, and a somewhat bohemian vibe withits street musicians and pavement artists.
The Altstadt (Old City) is picturesque, featuring canals anddozens of historic buildings. A cable car carries passengers onscenic trips up the Schauinsland Mountain from the Stadtgarten toenjoy the view from the mountaintop restaurant. Visitors very muchenjoy the local Black Forest cuisine on offer in Freiburg'srestaurants, and the local wines produced in the region surroundingthe city. The weather in Freiburg is renowned to be sunny and warmcompared to other parts of Germany, and the city takes fulladvantage of this to host several festivals throughout the year.There is a music festival in mid-June each year, followed by a winefestival at the end of June and a wine-tasting festival inmid-August.
One of Berlin's most popular attractions, this unusualexhibition recounts the history of the German capital city from itsfoundation until the fall of the Wall in 1989. The Story of Berlinis divided into 25 themed rooms and pays attention to the feelings,thoughts and living conditions of common Berliners. The museum isimpressively well designed and compelling with modern multimediatechnology in every room and a good mix of historical fact and morepersonal, anecdotal detail. History buffs may be disappointed thatthe exhibits don't go into more detail but the museum covers about800 years of history and is understandably superficial in somerespects. Its strength is the recreation of atmosphere and mood indifferent eras and its visual representation of each period. One ofits main attractions is the nuclear bunker that was built duringthe Cold War in the 1970s and the admission price includes a guidedtour through this nuclear bomb shelter. Guided tours are availableevery hour, starting in the foyer.
Founded by the Romans as a mercantile centre on the northernedge of the Black Forest, Pforzheim, at the confluence of the Wurm,Enz and Nagold Rivers, is today the centre for traditionaljewellery and clock-making in Germany. The town is home to thefascinating Technisches Museum, commemorating the important roletime-keeping has played in Pforzheim's history. The museum featuresa reconstruction of a clock-making studio in the 19th century,among other things. Jewellery is also important in the town and theSchmuckmuseum collection features pieces dating from the 3rdcentury BC through to modern times. Pforzheim also has aninteresting Alpine Garden which has 100,000 or more varieties ofhigh-altitude plants growing in a natural setting beside the WurmRiver.
Tragically, about a quarter of Pforzheim's population was killedin air raids during World War II and up to 80 percent of itsbuildings destroyed so today it looks much more modern than onewould expect for an ancient settlement. Visitors can still see somecharming 1950s buildings from the rebuilding project though andsome historic structures have survived. The town's involvement inthe war is interesting, particularly for military history buffs. Ona lighter note, the famous rock band Fool's Garden originated inthe town.
Another charming village in the Black Forest, Triberg has a lotto offer visitors and is something of a cultural centre. The truespirit of the Black Forest is brought to life in theSchwarzwald-Museum of Triberg, which documents the old traditionsand lifestyle of this unique region, with displays of costumes,handcrafts (including clocks, naturally) and furnishings. It alsoboasts Europe's biggest barrel organ collection. Another ofTriberg's most interesting attractions is the pilgrimage churchcalled Maria in the Fir, an 18th-century, Baroque church.
Nearby Gutach, a popular excursion from Triberg, containsoriginal Black Forest homes up to four centuries old at theFreilchtmuseum Schwarzwalder. An exceptional waterfall at Gutach,one of Germany's highest waterfalls, drops down the mountainside inseven stages, accessible by a lovely walking trail. South ofTriberg, a huge variety of elaborate Black Forest clocks are ondisplay at the German Clock Museum, to be found at Gerwigstrasse inthe village of Furtwangen. The Baden Black Forest Railway, whichruns through spectacular mountain and forest scenery, winds andtunnels through the area around the town.
Said to be one of the most beautiful squares in Europe, theGendarmenmarkt is certainly one of the most impressive in Berlin,created as a marketplace in the 17th century. During World War IImost of the buildings surrounding the square were destroyed, buthave since been reconstructed and returned to their former glory.The square is dominated by the beautiful Konzerthaus (concerthouse), which is home to the Berlin Symphony Orchestra, and aspecial place to catch a performance. The other famous buildings onthe square are the twin churches of Deutscher Dom and FranzosischerDom, identical German and French cathedrals, which are well worth avisit.
The square stays busy even in winter, when Gendarmenmarkt ishost to Berlin's best Christmas market and various concerts.Surrounding the plaza are a number of cafes and restaurants wherevisitors can rest their feet and get a good view of passers-by. Itis a popular area for locals to enjoy their lunch breaks. There areusually musicians performing in the square as well which adds tothe atmosphere. The Gendarmenmarkt is also really lovely at night,when the buildings are illuminated.
Schloss Charlottenburg is the largest and oldest palace inBerlin. The 18th-century Baroque structure was originallyconstructed as the summer home for Sophie Charlotte, the wife ofElector Frederick III who became the first Prussian king. Thesplendid interiors are festooned with art masterpieces, includingthe largest collection of 18th-century French paintings anywhereoutside of France. The surrounding gardens contain a mausoleum,pavilion and the Belvedere, which houses the porcelain museum. Forcenturies the best artists, architects and landscapers werecommissioned to improve and enrich the palace and it shows. Thegardens are lovely and just as worthwhile in their own way as thepalace itself. Like many attractions in Berlin, the CharlottenburgPalace was badly damaged in World War II but has since beenreconstructed.
Although it is a fairly long walk from the train station it isworth doing if you can manage it because your first view of thepalace over the lake is really striking.
The Berlin Cathedral was built between 1895 and 1905 and is amagnificent basilica that stands on the site of several earlierstructures. It is the largest church in the city and is an activeProtestant church that holds services, concerts and tours as wellas a number of other events. Inside, the crypt contains over 80sarcophagi of Prussian royals, while other areas of interest arethe pulpit, the organ, and the stained glass windows. Visitors canclimb the dome, which is decorated with intricate mosaics. Thecathedral has a gift shop with books, CDs, and other souvenirsavailable. The cathedral is closed to tourists during religiousservices and visitors are asked to be respectful in the place ofworship at all times. Guided tours are available and there aregood-quality audio guides in multiple languages for hire.
The huge Pergamon Museum has three main departments: theAntiquity Collection, the Islamic Art Museum, and the Middle EastMuseum, that house parts of reconstructed monumental buildingstransported from excavation sites in foreign lands, or faithfulreplicas thereof. The Antiquity Collection contains the PergamonAltar from the second century BC, as well as the Market Gate ofMiletus from Roman antiquity. The main attraction in the IslamicArt Museum is the Mshatta façade originating from a Jordaniandesert palace. The Middle East Museum houses the Ishtar Gare andthe Procession Way of Babylon, as well as the throne room façade ofNebuchadnezzar II.
This museum is consistently ranked by visitors as one of the topattractions in Berlin and it is extremely special to visit all theancient sites preserved in its halls. Everything feels enormous andalthough many of the exhibits feature reconstructions rather thanoriginals everything feels extremely authentic. There is a freeaudio guide available which is hugely informative.
Situated on the south bank of the river Main, the Liebieghauswas built in 1896 for Czech Baron Heinrich Liebieg, but today isthe home of Frankfurt's Museum of Sculpture. The building itself isgorgeous and castle-like and adds a great deal to the atmosphereand appeal of this interesting museum. Exhibits include sculpturesfrom ancient times, covering art from Sumeria, Egypt, Greece andRome as well as more modern Baroque, Rococo and Renaissanceexamples. A range of Asian pieces also feature in the collection aswell as a few works by world-renowned artists. There are about5,000 pieces in the collection and the museum feels intimate and isusually less crowded than other big art museums in Frankfurt. TheLiebieghaus also puts up some great temporary exhibits showcasingmodern sculptors - check the website to see what is currently onshow. Labels and tours are in multiple languages and there areaudio guides available. The cafe outside in the courtyard ischarming.
The Historical Museum (Historisches Museum) has many permanentexhibitions featuring objects and works of art ranging from theMiddle Ages to the present day. The museum's changing exhibitionscover a range of themes such as cultural history, art history andgeneral history. Collections feature examples of gold and silvercrockery and jewellery; pottery and porcelain; paintings andphotographs; and scaled-down models of the Altstadt (Frankfurt oldtown) at various periods of its development. The museum is usefulfor giving visitors an idea of what Frankfurt looked like beforethe damage of World War II when it was quite a different city insome regards.
The Children's Museum, which lies adjacent to the HistoricalMuseum, features a variety of special offers and exhibitions foryoungsters of all ages. The museum has recently undergone extensiverenovations and has been greatly improved.
Frankfurt's most important art gallery is the Städel Gallerywhich contains a fantastic collection of most European schools ofpainting. The first floor features the works of German painters ofthe 19th and 20th centuries, as well as famous FrenchImpressionists such as Renoir and Monet. The second floor offersvisitors the pleasure of viewing an outstanding collection ofFlemish primitives, 17th-century Dutch artists, and 16th-centuryGerman masters such as Dürer, Grünewald, Memling, Elsheimer, andmany others. One of the most impressive paintings is Jan van Eyck's'Madonna' (1433). The gallery also puts up regular temporaryexhibitions of very high quality and it is worth checking thewebsite to see what's on during your visit. The gallery has arestaurant, a coffee shop and a bookstore which has a selection ofgreat gifts. This gallery is consistently ranked very highly as anattraction in Frankfurt by tourists.
The Frankfurt Zoo, located in Ostend, was almost completelydestroyed in World War II, with only 20 animals surviving. It wasrebuilt in the early 1950s and since then has grown to includeseveral innovative new sections such as the highly popular Big CatJungle, and the Exotarium which houses fish, insects, reptiles andpenguins, all kept in their natural surroundings. The Frankfurt Zoois home to more than 3,200 animals, from about 600 species, and isrenowned for keeping them in environments that closely resembletheir own natural habitats. A major draw card for the zoo and oneof its most unique features is Grzimek House which is home tonocturnal animals who think it's night-time during the day. Otherpopular animals include the tigers, rhinos, lions, crocodiles andhippos, among many others. The zoo has a reputation for being oneof the most attractive, pleasant and popular zoos in Europe. Awayfrom the fauna there are two restaurants as well as a terrace toenjoy in the summer months.
The symbolic heart of Stuttgart, the Schlossplatz or PalaceSquare, is a popular meeting point for locals and travellers alike,with the beautifully Baroque New Palace providing a majesticbackdrop. The former residence of kings, the New Palace was builtbetween 1746 and 1806 and is now a base for the state government ofBaden- Wurttemberg. If the New Palace feels a bit French it'sbecause the Duke Carl Eugen of Wurttemberg wanted to create aVersailles in Stuttgart. The König Wilhelm Jubilee Column, risingin the fore, was erected in 1841 in honour of King Wilhelm's silverjubilee (25 years of reign). The statue of Concordia, the Romangoddess of harmony at the pinnacle, was added in 1863. The twofountains were built at the same time, with the eight cherubs eachrepresenting one of Wurttemberg's rivers.
There's always something going on in the square. It is a popularhangout for locals and there is usually a musician or two busking.Those lucky enough to visit over the Christmas season should makesure to visit the Christmas market at the Schlossplatz.
It is possible to catch the hop-on hop-off tour bus from thesquare, which is a popular starting point for explorations of thecity.
Built between 1838 and 1843 under King Wilhelm I ofWuerttemberg, the Old State Gallery in Stuttgart features aprestigious range of paintings, drawings, sculptures, watercoloursand prints from the 14th to the 19th centuries, with Jerg Ratgeb,Canaletto, Memling and Rembrandt taking centre stage. Connected tothe Old State Gallery, on the same level, is the New State Gallery,dedicated to the art of the 20th century. Looking at importantschools within various art movements like Fauvism, GermanExpressionism, Die Brucke and Cubism, the New State Galleryincludes works by masters such as Picasso, Beckmann, Schlemmer,Beuys, Kiefer and Klee. A common criticism of this otherwise verypopular gallery is that there isn't much seating available in theactual exhibition rooms, but if you need a break the museum has arestaurant and a cafe that serves lovely light meals andrefreshments. There is also a gift shop.
Centrally located, Kunstmuseum Stuttgart is a work of art initself. Its modern cuboid design transforms from a glass hexahedronduring the day to reveal a colourful skeletal interior when lit upat night. Opened in 2005, the Kunstmuseum Stuttgart is renowned forits prestigious collection of work by Otto Dix, the famous Germanartist remembered for his realistic depictions of Weimar societyand the brutality of war. The colourful and abstract art of WilliBaumeister and the mixed media work of contemporary artist DieterRoth are also on display at the Kunstmuseum Stuttgart, along withever-changing international exhibitions. Don't miss the museum shopand bookshop, or have a light snack at the onsite restaurant.
Opened shortly before the start of the Football World Cup inGermany, the impressive Mercedes-Benz Museum is housed in a slick,contemporary building, an icon of modern architecture. With anexhibition space of almost 182,986 square feet (17,000m/sq),filling seven levels, the museum takes visitors on a chronologicaljourney through the history of the Mercedes automobile, combiningworld events occurring at the same time as Benz breakthroughs anddisplaying more than 160 different vehicles from racing cars andconcept cars to the pope mobile and airplane engines. Automobileaficionados will be in heaven but even for non-petrol heads thereis a lot to see in this world-class museum which covers a lot ofinteresting history through the lens of the automobile. Visitorstake the elevator to the top of the building and then wind theirway down chronologically on a spiral until they reach the groundand the present day. There is a museum shop, a restaurant and acafe/bar to be enjoyed on the premises. An audio guide isavailable.
Europe's only combined zoological and botanical garden, theWilhelma Zoo never fails to leave a lasting impression on thehearts and minds of all who explore it. Initially built as aMoorish garden for King Wilhelm I in the 19th century, thebeautiful botanical garden is extraordinary all year round.Countless exotic plants, a range of climatic biospheres inmagnificent greenhouses, a petting zoo, insect exhibit, aquariumwith crocodile hall, modern ape house, bear facilities, walk-inbird flight facility and wild animal enclosures are some of theexhilarating sights to be enjoyed. The Wilhelma Zoo is home toabout 8,000 animals, including polar bears and elephants, and 5,000different species of plants. The gardens are also interspersed withlovely historic buildings. Ideal for children and adults, there area host of ice cream stands, cafeterias and playgrounds to keep thewhole family entertained for the entire day. The covered walkwaysmake it possible to visit even when the weather is bad.
Sitting on one of the largest mineral water reserves in Europe,the inhabitants of Stuttgart have been enjoying its liquid vitalityfor more than two millennia and the famous mineral baths ofStuttgart are a major tourist attraction for the city. Nineteennatural springs pump something like 22 million litres of mineralwater into Stuttgart on a daily basis so there is no shortage ofthis resource. Relaxing in a hot, steamy mineral bath is a good wayto spend some of your down time and the water is thought to helpwith skin ailments and respiratory and heart problems; of course,relaxation brings with it a swathe of health benefits as well. DasLeuze, Mineralbad Cannstatt and Mineral Bath Berg all feature hotand cold mineral baths, saunas, hot tubs and swimming pools. DasLeuze is geared toward families with its playground, children'spool and bright colours, while Mineralbad Cannstatt caters more foradults looking for a haven of relaxation. Mineral Bath Berg is a1950s gem, its iron-rich waters recognised by the state as a'heilbad' for its medicinal properties.
Be warned that generally the Germans don't see a need forclothing of any kind at these establishments so some nudity shouldbe anticipated.
The Porsche Museum in Stuttgart is a retrospective of more than75 years of Porsche engineering and memorabilia. Porsche is boththe smallest independent German automaker and the world's mostprofitable automaker. This museum is extremely popular with petrolheads but will also interest those who are not obsessed with carsas there is a lot to entertain and inform visitors. Although thereused to be a much smaller Porsche Museum, the company wanted aninspiring place in which to display their corporate history andbuilt and inaugurated an extraordinary building which opened to thepublic in 2009. The new Porsche Museum, which has become a citylandmark, displays all the historical and contemporary knowledgeabout the Porsche brand as well as housing a collection of about 80cars as well as a number of smaller exhibits. They also put upregular special exhibitions and you can check for details on thesetemporary treats on their website. The museum offers free audioguides which are available in numerous languages and there is aspecial version for children.
Boasting more than 30 million objects throughout its geological,paleontological and zoological collections, the Museum of Nature inBerlin is the biggest of its kind in Germany and one of the fivelargest in the world. Children of all ages, and adults, will enjoydiscovering the extensive treasures of this incredible museum andlearning while they wander around the exhibition halls, which takeup a massive 71,000 square feet (6,600sq/m). Apart from theever-popular dinosaur skeleton exhibit, highlights include sectionson evolution, domestic animals, the cosmos and solar systems,minerals and much more. There are also temporary exhibitions onshow - check the website for details on what is being exhibitedcurrently. The museum is very well-organised with labels inmultiple languages and audio tapes available in about 10 languages.They also organise activities and holiday schools for enquiringyoung minds. It is easily one of the most popular attractions iftravelling in Berlin with children. It is a traditional museum butthere is lots of interactive stuff to keep little ones amused.
Children and families love nothing more than trips to the zoo orthe aquarium, and Berlin's stunning Zoo-Aquarium combines both. Thefacility is one of the most popular zoos in Europe, entertainingmillions of visitors each year. It offers visitors the opportunityto marvel at some spectacular animals, and with immensebiodiversity children of all ages will love getting a close look ateverything from rhinos to sharks to monkeys to penguins to pandas.Feedings take place daily at half-hour intervals between 10.30amand 4pm; for details on the feeding times of specific animals checkthe website. You can also take specialised thematic tours likeSouth America, Asia, Africa, and Animals of the Bible. The zoo andaquarium often put on special tours for events during the year,like Halloween, Easter and Christmas, so keep a look out for theseif you're travelling in Berlin with kids.
The world's largest inner-city park, Tiergarten, adjoins the zooand a visit is pleasantly combined with a stroll or a picnic inthese beautiful gardens.
One of the biggest natural history museums in Germany and housedin a building which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, theSenckenberg Museum of Natural History in Frankfurt featuresextensive exhibits showcasing biodiversity and the evolution of theplanet and of life on earth. A popular attraction of the museum isthe fascinating palaeontology exhibit which features fossils thatdate back over 50 million years; dinosaurs simply never go out offashion with kids. There is also a huge collection of stuffedanimals on display.
Children of all ages, and adults, will love exploring thisfascinating museum and learning about the solar system and theevolution of life. Some of the labels and descriptions are only inGerman which is a disadvantage. Despite this, the museum isconsistently rated highly as an attraction in Frankfurt by visitorsand it is one of the best places to bring kids in the city. Thereis a nice museum cafe on the top floor where you can getrefreshments and light meals.
The capital of the Rhineland, Mainz is a bustling city with acurious but exciting mixture of medieval architecture and gleamingoffice blocks. The city is over 2,000 years old and mixes the oldand the new with alacrity. The Dom und Diözesanmuseum dominates theskyline in the centre of town, and St Stephen's Church, with itsoriginal Chagall stained-glass windows, is a popular attraction inthe Old Town, as is the Schillerplatz square. The Kaiserstraßeboasts an attractive pedestrian boulevard and church. The city iscompact enough to enjoy walking tours around town or along theRhine.
Mainz is also the birthplace of Johannes Gutenberg, inventor ofthe printing press, making books a popular souvenir from the city.The museum dedicated to Gutenberg is a highlight if you areinterested in the revolution sparked by the printed word. Themuseum includes a working replica of Gutenberg's printing press andis housed in a beautiful old building. Mainz is close enough toFrankfurt for a quick day trip and one only needs a few hours tostroll around the historic Old Town and enjoy one of the city'sgreat restaurants or cafes. Equally, Mainz could occupy travellersfor a whole holiday.
Bonn is dominated by the Rheinische Friedrich Wilhem University,with a student population of about 25,000. The city has severalbeautiful churches, including the Kreuzbergkirche, Doppelkirche,and Das Bonner Münster Basilica, and other interesting buildingsranging from medieval to modern. Bonn also has many museums,including art museums, history museums, and a zoological museum. Onnice days, visitors can enjoy spending a few hours in the Arboretumor Botanical Garden, or any of the other pleasant parks in Bonn.There is also an extinct volcano to climb on the border withWachtberg and Rhineland-Palatinate. The city is small enough toexplore on foot, but there is an excellent public transportsystem.
Despite these pleasant and worthwhile attractions, Bonn is mostwidely known as the birthplace of Ludwig van Beethoven, and thereare many attractions in Bonn relating to the famous composer. TheBeethoven House, located at Bonngasse 20 in the house he was bornin, has the world's largest collection of Beethoven artefacts andmemorabilia, including several of his pianos and a collection ofbusts. Nearby is the chamber music hall (Kammermusiksaal), wherethere are regular performances of Beethoven's works.
The Deutches Museum is a great stop for families exploringMunich. It is the world's largest technology and science museum,with roughly 28,000 artefacts on display in exhibits dedicated tothemes like Energy, Transport, Natural Science, Communications,Musical Instruments and New Technologies. The museum is located ona small island in the Isar River, with additional facilitiesoutside of Munich and in Bonn.
There is a section especially dedicated to children which iscalled Kid's Kingdom and features 1,000 fun, interactive activitiesincluding things like a giant guitar to be played, enormousbuilding blocks, and a fire department. It is aimed at kids agedthree to eight and all children must be accompanied by an adult.For the grown-ups there is a wealth of interesting information andexhibitions on topics like astronomy, chemistry, pharmaceutics,electricity, computers, microelectronics, hydraulic engineering andastronautics. The museum is designed to be accessible andentertaining and even those who have little understanding oftechnology and science should be enthralled.
Occupying an abandoned movie theatre, the Allied Museum islocated on the former US Army Europe's Berlin Brigade headquarters,and houses exhibits and displays detailing the history of theAllied forces in Germany in World War II and up until 1994.Three-quarters of the museum's collection was entrusted to Germanyby the Allied forces when they departed after nearly 50 years ofoccupation. The museum's collections include all kinds of militarymemorabilia: airplanes and motor vehicles, weapons, uniforms,documents and files, photos and other artefacts, including theoriginal Checkpoint Charlie shed.
The permanent collection has three main sections. The end of thewar and the famous Berlin Airlift are covered in the exhibition onthe years 1945 to 1950. An outdoor exhibition featuring largeartefacts like planes and sections of the Berlin wall illustratesthe history of West Berlin as an island in the Soviet zone. Apermanent exhibition on the years between 1951 and 1994 coversGermany's experience of the Cold War. The museum also organisesperiodic events like lectures and film screenings, as well asspecial, temporary exhibitions - check the website for specificdates.
The Reichstag is one of Berlin's most famous buildings. The seatof Germany's parliament since 1894, the building has had a volatilehistory, being damaged in World War II, wrapped in a sheet byconceptual artist Christo in 1995, and massively reconstructed inthe late 1990s. The reconstruction saw the building gutted, leavingonly the facade, and the addition of a glass-domed atrium thatprovides panoramic views of Berlin. The views from the dome arestunning and it is well worth the visit.
Note that although entrance is free the rooftop terrace and domeof the Reichstag are closed to visitors without pre-booking. Thereis an Arts and Architecture tour or a general tour of the Reichstag(if Parliament is not in session) available and you must contactthe Reichstag directly and request a visit. Although the office ishelpful there are thousands of people making this request so makesure you plan in advance (six months as a guideline) to avoiddisappointment. There are free audio tapes available in a number oflanguages. There is also a rooftop restaurant which is very popularbut for this too you will need a reservation.
The magnificent castle at Hohenzollern is perched on a hilltop31 miles (50km) outside of Stuttgart. The current structure wasbuilt in the 15th century, although mention of a castle on the sitedates back to 1267. The second Hohenzollern Castle, which standsproud today, was constructed in 1454 to be bigger and more heavilyfortified than before. During the Thirty Years War, it was used asa fortress, changing hands between several families. Since themaintenance of the building was neglected, it dilapidated andturned into ruins by the beginning of the 19th century, only to berenovated and rejuvenated from 1850 onwards. The castle isincredible, with a fairy-tale neo-Gothic facade set againstspectacular panoramic views of the surrounding countryside of theBlack Forest. It is widely acknowledged as a triumph of19th-century military architecture and its many towers are one ofits most striking features. The castle hosts a number ofattractions and events, including an open-air cinema, museum, andseasonal Christmas market.
Although you may find yourself inundated by cuckoo clockseverywhere you look in the Black Forest, the German Clock Museum'slarge collection of timepieces is the most comprehensive of itskind in the world, and offers over 8,000 examples of clocks whichhave been collected over the last 150 years. Cuckoo clocks havebeen made in the Black Forest region since the early 18th century,and much of their development occurred there. It is remarkable howmuch you can learn about the region's history and culture bybrowsing through the clocks, which have come to define the BlackForest in the global imagination. The museum doesn't only exhibitlocal clocks though, it has many pieces from overseas. One of thehighlights is an electrical clock made by Alexander Bain in Londonin about 1845.
Mapping the advances in the craft of clock-making is veryinteresting and while some of the pieces are very beautiful othersare remarkable because they are so original; for instance, there isan ingenious alarm clock designed for a deaf couple in 1942 whichuses a flashing light instead of a bell. Tours are conducted byappointment, and there are English guidebooks available.
In the middle of Hamburg is an oasis of green lawns and trees,with colourful flowers and fountains providing a lovely backdrop torelax in. You can stroll around the Japanese garden and enjoy thetropical flower collections and teahouse. It is easy to find apretty spot to have a picnic or read a book as the gardens areextensive and full of little nooks. Children will enjoy the rangeof attractions including playgrounds, pony rides, miniature golf,and a roller rink and ice skating rink. There are also concerts andtheatrical performances on a regular basis - check the website fordetails on what will be happening during your visit. In the summermonths there are evening concerts with light shows at the fountainswhich are wonderful to attend. The park is also beautiful in autumnand spring though, when the colours are spectacular. As the park isright in the heart of Hamburg it is very easy to access as an areato allow the kids to blow off some steam and for the whole familyto take a break from the city and traditional sightseeing. Ifyou're looking for an open area to do some jogging or walkingPlanten un Blomen is ideal.
St Michaelis began as a humble little church, which was extendedin 1600. In 1647 construction began on the grand building thatstands today as possibly Hamburg's most recognisable landmark. Likemany important buildings in Germany, the church suffered majordamage in World War II. Michaeliskirche offers tours of the 270foot (82m) tower; the crypt, which contains the bodies of JohannMattheson and Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach; and an interestingpresentation on the history of Hamburg including a film. The towerhas a magnificent viewing platform which can be reached either byelevator or by climbing the 452 steps. The advantage of taking thesteps is that you get to see the bells and the famous clockmachinery on your way up, but it is quite a climb.
As the church is still an active place of worship it is closedto visitors during services and events and at all times touristsare expected to show respect. There is a small chapel on the sidethat is almost always open for prayer and contemplation.
Train enthusiasts will love Miniature Wonderland in Hamburg, butso will almost everybody else. With more than 4,000 square metresof floor space, there is much to see with tiny models of variousregions, both local and international. The largest of its kind inthe world and the most visited permanent exhibit in NorthernGermany, there are 900 trains with 12,000 carriages, as well as300,000 lights, 200,000 trees and 200,000 human figures. Sectionsinclude Southern Germany and the Austrian Alps, Hamburg and theCoast, America, Scandinavia, and Switzerland. There is so muchdetail in the model world that you can examine it for hours andnever get bored - some of the scenarios are very amusing and thelittle people are portrayed doing all sorts of things.
The place is very popular for people of all ages and it can geta bit crowded inside, especially in the peak summer months. It isbest to book your ticket in advance online to avoid waiting.
The largest city in the Black Forest region of Germany,Freudenstadt is a great place to start a holiday in the BlackForest, and a popular base from which to explore the stunningregion. The town is known for its sunny, warm weather, meaningvisitors can enjoy its many outdoor attractions. One of these isthe lovely central town square which is home to the largestmarketplace in Germany and a great place to do some holidayshopping. Most buildings in Freudenstadt were flattened in WorldWar II. However, there are still several interesting sites,including the Stadtkirche, which dates back to the 17th century.Visitors to Freudenstadt also enjoy the many good restaurants whichserve up tasty local cuisine.
While a holiday in Freudenstadt is worthwhile and the cityattracts many people in its own right, most visitors come to enjoythe surrounding region, which boasts some of the best skiing,hiking and camping in the Black Forest. The Parkwald, Germany'slargest nature reserve, is nearby, and has many miles of hikingtrails. Fruedenstadt is conveniently situated on the SchwarzwaldHochstrasse highway, which stretches to Baden-Baden and meanderspast many quaint shops and cafes, as well as popular skislopes.
A popular starting point for the Romantic Road, Würzburg isnestled in a picturesque location in the heart of the Franconianwine region, with rolling hills, pretty vineyards, and manybeautiful buildings. The town is famous for its '100 churches', andthe Residential Palace (a UNESCO World Heritage Site). Otherattractions include the Alte Mainbrucke, an old pedestrian bridgewhich provides great views of the river, the castle and thecityscape in general, a wonderful vantage point from which to takephotographs and also a spot where you can hire a boat to take acruise down the river. The castle, called the Marienburg Fortress,dates back to the 12th century and boasts lovely gardens as well ashousing a museum and restaurant. The Saint Kilian Cathedral, one ofthe largest Romanesque churches in Germany, is also worth avisit.
Far from being a sleepy historical town, Würzburg is home tosome 50,000 students who keep the nightlife jumping. A number ofexcellent German restaurants and colourful wine festivals add tothe appeal. Located at the very northern tip of Bavaria on the MainRiver, Würzburg is linked to cities like Frankfurt, Hamburg andMunich by train and makes an excellent excursion or weekend trip,even if you don't take the Romantic Road south.
Known as the best-preserved medieval town in Germany, Rothenburgob der Tauber (or just Rothenburg) is an absolute must-see foranyone travelling on the Romantic Road. The 13th-century fortifiedwalls are undamaged, and encircle a quaint city centre with anumber of interesting buildings and museums. For the best view ofthe city, head to the top of the tower at the historic Town Hall.You can also walk along the old walls which is a great way to firstorientate yourself in the city and see many of the most attractivebuildings. There is a Medieval Crime Museum in Rothenburg which isvery popular with visitors and one of the top activities is theNight Watchman's Tour which is a fun way to explore. St Jacob'sChurch is also a must for those interested in medieval art andarchitecture. The wood carvings and stained glass in this wonderfulold church date back to between 1300 and 1500 and are trulyremarkable. The town's walled garden, the Burggarten, is a lovelyplace to stroll, relax or picnic and affords stunning views of thecityscape as well.
Rothenburg's only negative is its popularity, which sees itoften completely overrun by Romantic Road tourists, particularlyduring the peak tourist season.
A less-crowded alternative to Rothenburg, Dinkelsbühl is anotherscenic medieval town on the Romantic Road. Surrounded by 16 towersalong its fortified 10th-century walls, the town centre is linedwith picturesque 16th-century houses and churches and a few goodhistorical museums. A lovely way to see the city is on an eveningtour led by the town's night watchman. The cobbled streets are adelight to explore and another great way to familiarise yourselfwith the place is by taking a stroll along the perimeter of thefortified old town. There is a nice little park to relax in if theweather is good, and bicycles can be hired.
The town museum in the town hall (which also happens to be thetourist bureau) gives a good overview of the town's long history.One of the main highlights of a visit to Dinkelsbühl is the massive15th-century St George Church where entry is free and a quick climbup the tower will afford amazing views over the town. In fact, thewhole village is a photographer's dream. No visit to Dinkelsbühl iscomplete without sampling the locally-made gingerbread, a townspecialty.
The largest city along the Romantic Road, Augsburg is also amongthe oldest cities in Germany with a history stretching back 2,000years. It was established as a Roman trading post and garrison campin 15 BC and the city has been an important site for religion,politics and the military throughout its life. Augsburg has manyinteresting buildings, including several ornately decoratedchurches and Baroque houses. Some of the city's most impressive oldarchitecture includes the 9th-century cathedral, the Town Hallbuilt in 1620, the Perlachturm bell tower built in 989, and theSchaezlerpalais which is a mansion dating back to 1765.
Other popular tourist attractions in Augsburg include theAugsburger Puppet Theatre and Museum, the Augsburg Zoo, and thebotanical garden. Augsburg is also known for its traditional Germanrestaurants, and is a popular stop both on the Romantic Road and onjourneys to the Bavarian Alps in the south. This ancient city ispicturesque and atmospheric and its popularity with visitorsseeking out Germany's ancient history and bygone folk traditionsnever wanes; it is also a modern city with all the desiredamenities and some good shopping opportunities and greathotels.
The playground of Europe's royalty and aristocracy in the early1800s, Germany's famed holiday resort town of Baden-Baden, in theheart of the Black Forest, still draws thousands of tourists whocome to relax in the waters and gamble in the casino.
With a name that means 'Bathing Bathing', it's not hard to workout the prime attraction of the town. The Friedrichsbad bathhousehas been the scene of much pampering for more than 120 years. Thoseseeking rest and recuperation on holiday still enjoy its steamymarble confines, soaking in mineral water in the nude. Male andfemale facilities remain separate, and the roughly three-hourbathing routine follows a strict regimen of showers, hot-airblasts, steam baths and massages.
Nearby are the equally famous Baths of Caracalla, which featureindoor and outdoor waterfalls, swimming pools and hot tubs. Thecomplex houses a 2,000-year-old Roman bath, once used by theEmperor Caracalla.
The Baden-Baden casino was built in the 1850s in the style ofthe Palace of Versailles, and is worth seeing while on holiday,even for those who do not gamble. Baden-Baden is also home toseveral art museums, a concert hall, and the Castle Hohenbaden.
German Phrase Book
|auf wiedersehen||goodbye||alf vay-ders-hen|
|mein Name ist...||my name is...||mine naam isst...|
|wieviel ist...?||how much is...?||vie-feel isst...?|
|wo ist...?||where is...?||vo isst...?|
|sprechen sie Englisch?||do you speak English?||spre-chen see Englisch?|
|ich verstehe nicht||I dont understand||each verst nicht|
|ein, zwei, drei, vier, fünf||one, two, three, four, five||ine, zveye, dry, feer, funf|
|ich benötige einen doktor||I need a doctor||each be-neu-t-ga ean dok-tor|
Germany has very changeable weather. Extremes in temperature arerare but visitors should be aware that the weather changes fast andthere can be rain at any time of year. The seasons are alsoslightly unpredictable in that the weather is not the same fromyear to year. There is a variation in climate according to regionin Germany. The coastal regions have a temperate climate with warmsummers and mild, cloudy winters. Inland, the climate is morecontinental with warmer summers and colder winters. The alpine andupland regions have cooler weather and more rain.
In spring (March to May), the weather is at its mostunpredictable and can bring rain, sun or wind, but it is a prettytime of year to visit Germany. Summer (June to August), is warm andgenerally sunny but it is also the season with the most rainfalland humidity. Autumn (September to November), usually begins verypleasantly but becomes grey and misty later in the season. Winter(December to February), is cold and temperatures can drop wellbelow freezing at night. Snow usually falls in December, Januaryand February.
The best time to visit Germany really depends on whatyou are planning to see and do. Each season has its own charms. Thepeak tourist season is summer so everything tends to be a bit moreexpensive and crowded.
This unique restaurant serves food in completely dark rooms byblind waiters. The idea is that diners will concentrate more on thetaste of the food if other senses are deprived, and it seems theyare right. The unseen food is delicious and the unusual sensationof eating in the dark is novel and fun, with plenty of giggling inthe restaurant.
One of the latest 'in' places to dine in Berlin is theDachgarten in the rooftop dome of the new futuristic Parliamentbuilding (the Reichstag). From the dome, in the historic centre ofBerlin, there are amazing views across the city. The menu isdelightful too, including healthy traditional cuisine like thelight fish and venison dishes. Reservations are vital unless youwish to join a long queue, and your best bet of getting a table isat breakfast.
An elegant and opulent dining experience, Heising serves uphigh-quality French cuisine. All meals are served on KPM porcelainand beautifully presented. The restaurant is open daily for supper,from 7pm. Reservations are recommended.
Haveli is consistently rated very highly by tourists and is agreat option for those seeking out good-value Indian food. Therestaurant is family-run, the portions extremely generous, and thefood delicious.
Emulating a Paris bistro the Weinhaus Huth is an interestingdining venue not because of its décor or a particularly outstandingmenu, but because the building which houses it is the only originalstanding building left on the Potsdamer Platz, having survived theravages of war and the demolition of the Berlin Wall. It is nowsurrounded by the shining new Sony centre and draws touristinterest. Highlights on the menu include tarte flambee and freshoysters.
You cannot beat the thin base pizzas that keep customersflocking to this lively restaurant in Charlottenberg. The XIIApostel is trendy and popular because of its novel idea of offering12 pizza varieties, one named for each apostle of Jesus Christ. Thebiggest and tastiest is reputedly the Judas. The décor is flashyItalian Renaissance and the atmosphere is usually busy andbustling.
This historic establishment off Alexanderplatz should be on anyvisitor's sightseeing list not only for its hearty German comfortfood (like Eisbein, potato dumplings, suckling pig and red cabbage)and tankards of beer, but also because it is the oldest restaurantin Berlin, documented as far back as 1525. The name, Zur LetztenInstanz, was inspired by a nearby courthouse and means 'withoutfurther appeal'. Napoleon is said to have dined here. Therestaurant is open Monday to Saturday, 12pm to 1am.
Traditionally a popular if not fashionable spot to dine afterthe theatre, Ganymed has been around for decades serving good foodin generous portions, gamely continuing to do business in EastBerlin throughout the Cold War years. There are two formal diningrooms, one overlooking the Spree. Examples of menu highlights aregoose liver terrine, Eisbein, schnitzels, mussels in Choron sauceand pheasant breast wrapped in Black Forest ham.
This huge, wood-panelled old apple wine tavern is a classic thatproduces hearty German dishes, which are better than the many othersimilar taverns in the popular Sachsenhausen area. Dishes like thepork shoulder with sauerkraut, and liver dumpling can be enjoyedwith a slow glass of apfelwien, or a choice of beer or cider. Thereis also a Menu of the Week with a special dish of the day each day.The atmosphere is fun, boisterous and crowded. Seating is atcommunal tables with a mix of locals and visiting Germanbusinessmen. Open daily from 11am until midnight.
Erno's is one of the best restaurants in town and something of aFrankfurt culinary institution offering classic French cuisine suchas lobster broth, quail spit and fresh fish dishes. There is anexcellent wine list to make the meal even more memorable, as wellas some sensational desserts. Erno's is a chic gourmet rendezvousthat is always busy, so reservations are essential. Closedweekends.
This upmarket restaurant is presided over by chef Werner Döpfnerwho serves contemporary dishes in a candlelit setting. MaingauStuben is famous for its fresh fish and game meat that is carved atthe table, and the cellar is full of rare German wines. ClosedMonday. No lunch Saturday, and no dinner Sunday.
This stately Michelin-starred restaurant is very conscious ofupholding the high standard of the five-star hotel that itcomplements. It is an ideal venue for a special occasion with aquiet and sophisticated atmosphere, elegant furnishings, attentiveservice and high quality food that is beautifully prepared andpresented. The menu offers international fare that is light andFrench-inspired with delicacies such as quails in champagne andgrape sauce. Open Monday to Friday. Reservations required.
Located in the Westend, the Alte Kanzlei is one of thoserestaurants that evokes a deep sense of history, and the mahoganywooden interior coupled with the crisp linen tablecloths and finesilverware creates a sophisticated, yet romantic ambience.Established in 1974, this classic Italian eatery specialises inserving authentic Italian fare from the region of Calabria. Themenu changes daily, but highlights include the spaghetti withprawns and lobster sauce or the veal fillet in pepper crust servedwith a chive sauce. Open Monday to Friday for lunch and dinner.Saturday dinner only. Closed Sundays. Reservations essential.
Located on the first floor of the Old Opera House, there's noneed to guess where this restaurant gets its name. With awonderfully historic and ornate décor and exciting and traditionalcuisine, this restaurant has become one of Frankfurt's mostpopular. Diners can sample delicious Asian fare such as theTeriyaki from Yellowfin tuna on fried vegetables with Asian eggnoodles or a traditional German Milchkalbrücken wiener schnitzelserved with fried potatoes or potato salad and fresh leaf salad.Open daily for lunch and dinner. Reservations recommended.
One of Frankfurt's favourite Indian eateries, Jewel of Indiaprepares traditional Indian cuisine and does not disappoint. Thewarm interior with burnt orange and yellow tapestries adorning thewalls, juxtaposed by the cream linen tablecloths creates a warm andcosy dining environment. With favourites such as the Chicken mangocurry, Rogan Josh and lamb Vindaloo, lovers of classic Indiancuisine will find themselves returning again and again. Open Mondayto Friday for lunch and dinner, and Saturday and Sunday dinneronly. Reservations recommended.
This Spanish eatery has earned a reputation as one ofFrankfurt's most popular restaurants with both young and old. Theterrace affords patrons the opportunity to dine and the friendly waitstaff are attentive andhelpful. The tapas served here is delicious! Try the Spanishomelette for breakfast or the tagliatelle with mozzarella and parmaham for a heartier meal. Open daily for lunch and dinner.
For breath-taking views of Munich, the ideally situated andaptly-named Café Glockenspiel overlooks the famous Glockenspielclock. With friendly and efficient wait staff and delicious,wholesome fare, the café is one of the most frequented in Munichand is a popular meeting place for locals and tourists alike and agreat location to enjoy a spot of people watching either over ameal, sunny breakfast, coffee or after work drinks. Open daily forbreakfast, lunch and dinner. Bookings recommended.
A popular beer garden that sees locals mingling withinternational visitors, Hirschgarten is the largest open-airrestaurant in Munich featuring hunting lodges and lakes and is anideal location for tourists to mingle with the locals over a coupleof pints. Start off with potato, marjoram and bacon soup followedby prime boiled beef with fresh horseradish and salted boiledpotatoes, or the mouth-watering roast venison from the haunch witha mushroom and cream sauce, Swabian egg pasta and lingonberries.For something sweet try caramelised pancake slices with raisins andapple sauce. Open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner; 9am tomidnight. The beer garden is open from 11am until midnight.
Serving some of Schwabing's finest haute cuisine, and boastingone of Munich's best chefs, the exterior of this restaurant ismisleading, but step inside and you are magically transported intoanother world where fine wines and décor are accentuated withtantalisingly tasty and attractive dishes. The menus can coverthree to eight courses and are offered for lunch and dinner. Trythe terrine of duck liver with braised figs and roasted duckbreast, or the medallion of young venison saddle with red cabbageand semolina dumpling, and let your taste buds be thrilled by thechocolate soufflé with marinated port wine figs and vanilla-brittleice cream. Perfection! Open Tuesday to Saturday for lunch anddinner. Reservations essential.
Beer has been swilled at this world-famous tavern site in thecentre of Munich since it became a royal brewery in 1605. Equallyfamous is the Bavarian jollity and conviviality, known as'gemuchtlikheid', which has emanated directly from the Hofbrauhausin Munich along with the beer which flows freely there each day,served by robust rosy-cheeked young women clad in Bavarian dress inlitre-sized beer steins. The cheerful atmosphere that reignsconstantly in the establishment's different halls is helped alongby the foot-tapping strains of traditional Bavarian 'oom-pah' bandsand drinking songs. When the beer becomes too much, soak it up witha delicious salty pretzel or a German speciality from the menu,such as liver dumplings, potato soup or a variety of delicioussausages.
Gasthof Weichandhof is less of a tourist destination and more ofa local favourite. Situated in an old farmhouse near the autobahn,the restaurant serves traditional Bavarian cuisine like porkknuckles, suckling pig, and strudels. The atmosphere is alwayslively, and there's a quaint vine-covered terrace open duringsummer months. Gasthof Weichandhof is open Sunday to Friday from11am to midnight, and Saturday from 5pm to midnight. Reservationsare recommended.
The unit of currency is the Euro (EUR), divided into 100 cents.ATMs and exchange bureaux are widely available. The major creditcards are widely accepted in large shops, hotels and restaurants,although Germans themselves prefer to carry cash. The quickest andmost convenient way to change money is to obtain cash from one ofthe ATMs that are ubiquitous features on all German streets. Banksare closed on weekends, but exchange bureaux at airports and mainrailway stations are open daily.
German is the official language. English is also widelyspoken and understood.
230 volts, 50Hz. European-style two-pin plugs arestandard.
US citizens must have a passport that is valid for three monthsafter the period of intended stay in Germany. A visa is notrequired for stays of up to 90 days within a 180 day period.
British passports endorsed 'British Citizen','British Subject' (containing a Certificate of Entitlement to theRight of Abode issued by the United Kingdom), and 'British OverseasTerritories Citizen' issued by Gibraltar, only need to be valid forperiod of intended stay in Germany. All other endorsements requireat least three months validity beyond the period of intended stayin Germany.
A visa is not required for passports endorsed'British Citizen', 'British Subject' (containing a Certificate ofEntitlement to the Right of Abode issued by the United Kingdom),and 'British Overseas Territories Citizen' issued by Gibraltar. Novisa is required for stays of up to 90 days within a 190 day periodfor holders of passports with any other endorsement.
Holders of identity cards issued by Gibraltarauthorities, and endorsed 'Validated for EU travel purposes underthe authority of the United Kingdom', do not require a visa tovisit Germany.
Canadian citizens must have a passport that is valid for threemonths beyond the period of intended stay in Germany. A visa is notrequired for stays of up to 90 days within a 180 day period.
Australian citizens must have a passport that is valid for threemonths beyond the period of intended stay in Germany. A visa is notrequired for stays of up to 90 days within a 180 day period.
South African citizens must have a passport that is valid forthree months beyond the intended period of stay, and a validSchengen visa, to enter Germany. Note that Temporary passports willnot be recognised.
Irish citizens must have a passport that is valid on arrival inGermany. A visa is not required.
US citizens must have a passport that is valid for three monthsafter the period of intended stay in Germany. A visa is notrequired for stays of up to 90 days within a 180 day period.
New Zealand citizens must have a passport that is valid forthree months beyond the period of intended stay in Germany. A visais not required for stays of up to 90 days within a 180 dayperiod.
The borderless region known as the Schengen Area includes thefollowing countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark,Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy,Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Norway,Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, andSwitzerland. All these countries issue a standard Schengen visathat has a multiple entry option, and which allows the holder totravel freely within the borders of all the aforementionedcountries. Additionally, non-EEA members require proof of (i)onward or return tickets, (ii) the necessary travel documentationfor their next destination, and (iii) sufficient funds to supportthemselves while in Germany. Note that citizens of Australia,Canada, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, Switzerland, and the USA areexempt from the requirement to hold onward tickets.
It is highly recommended that your passport has at least sixmonths validity remaining after your intended date of departurefrom your travel destination. Immigration officials often applydifferent rules to those stated by travel agents and officialsources.
There are no serious health risks for visitors to Germany and novaccinations are required. The German health service is excellent.There is a reciprocal health agreement with the UK and most EUcountries, whose citizens are entitled to free medical and dentaltreatment on presentation of a European Health Insurance Card(EHIC). Nationals of other countries should take out medicalinsurance.
German law stipulates that all prices, menus and bills includeboth tax and a service charge, so tipping is not necessary inrestaurants. Cleaning staff, hairdressers, taxi drivers etc.appreciate small tips.
A visit to Germany should be trouble free, but take normalprecautions to avoid mugging, bag-snatching and pick-pocketing,especially at airports, railway stations and markets in the largecities.
Visitors are not required to carry their passports with them atall times in Germany, but carrying some form of identification isadvised. Smoking in public places such as bars and restaurants isillegal.
In Germany, business is conducted in a very formal manner. Aconservative, formal dress code is the norm. Punctuality is vitalat all meetings and it is considered rude to be late. Germans lovetitles: men are referred to as 'Herr' and women as 'Frau', followedby their last names, until otherwise specified. Meetings are oftenpurely business and may not occur over lunches, which are generallymore social. Shaking hands at the beginning and end of the meetingis common. The exchange of business cards is also common but thereis no accompanying ritual. Decisions are often made behind closeddoors. Business hours are generally 9am to 6pm Monday to Friday,with an hour taken over lunch.
The international access code for Germany is +49. Telephonenumbers in Germany can range from four to nine digits. There aresurcharges on international calls made from hotels; it is oftencheaper to use public telephone boxes in post offices, which usephone cards, or to purchase a local SIM card. Free wifi isavailable in most hotels, cafes, restaurants and similarestablishments.
Passengers arriving from non-EU countries, over the age of 17,can enter Germany without paying duty on the following items: 200cigarettes or 100 cigarillos or 50 cigars or 250g smoking tobacco.4 litres of wine and 16 litres of beer and 1 litre of spirits over22 percent volume or 2 litres of spirits under 22 percent volume.Other goods to the value of €430 for travellers arriving by air orsea, and €300 for travellers arriving by land.
German National Tourist Board, Frankfurt: +49 (0)69 751 903 orwww.germany-tourism.de
German Embassy, Washington DC, United States: +1 202 2984000.
German Embassy, London, United Kingdom: +44 20 7824 1300.
German Embassy, Ottawa, Canada: +1 613 232 1101.
German Embassy, Pretoria, South Africa: +27 (0)12 427 8900.
German Embassy, Canberra, Australia: +61 (0)2 6270 1911.
German Embassy, Dublin, Ireland: +353 (0)1 269 3011.
German Embassy, Wellington, New Zealand: +64 (0)4 473 6063.
United States Embassy, Berlin: +49 (0)30 83050.
British Embassy, Berlin: +49 (0)30 20 4570.
Canadian Embassy, Berlin: +49 (0)30 203 120.
South African Embassy, Berlin: +49 (0)30 220 730.
Australian Embassy, Berlin: +49 (0)30 880 0880.
Irish Embassy, Berlin: +49 (0)30 220 720.
New Zealand Embassy, Berlin: +49 (0)30 206 210.
The name Berchtesgaden is most closely associated with AdolfHitler's country house, but it is in fact a delightful Bavarianalpine village with ancient winding streets and a medievalmarketplace, popular as an excursion from Munich. Hitler's holidayhouse, the Berghof, is actually at Obersalzberg about half a mile(2km) up the Kehlstein Mountain. Afternoon bus tours to theFuhrer's playground can be undertaken from the tourist office inthe village, but there is little to see besides some undergroundbunkers, which are open to the public. Most tourists, however, dodelight in visiting the Kehlsteinhaus (or Eagle's Nest), aremarkable building perched precariously atop the mountain,originally commissioned by Martin Bormann as a 50th birthdaypresent for Hitler (although the notorious Nazi leader seldomvisited it because of his fear of heights). Today it is the site ofan excellent Bavarian restaurant and provides breath-taking viewsat the end of a stunning winding mountain road.
The town of Berchtesgaden itself has some interestingattractions, besides its 16th-century architecture and enticinginns. There is a small wood-carving museum at Schloss Aldelsheimwhich can be viewed on a guided tour. Wood sculptures, Renaissancefurniture and some art works are worth seeing at the KoniglichesSchloss, which was originally an Augustinian monastery. The mostfun to be had, however, is in the salt mines to the east of thetown, which offer guided tours. Visitors wear protective clothingand ride on wagons to the mine, then explore the mine on foot andride miner's slides, finishing with a trip on the salt lake ferry.The mine has been in operation since 1517. Berchtesgarten alsoboasts a world-class ice-skating rink, the Eisstadion, which issought after by winter sports enthusiasts in the winter months,along with the skiing opportunities in the surrounding area.
About 10 miles (16km) to the northwest of Munich on theStuttgart Autobahn is the town of Dachau. Once a quiet artists'community, it became the site of the first notorious Nazi 'deathcamp', where thousands of perceived enemies of the Third Reich wereimprisoned, starved, and killed between 1933 and 1945. The camp hasnow been turned into a memorial museum to the prisoners (67,000were liberated alive by the US Army on April 28, 1945). The museumcontains three memorial chapels. The Lagerstrasse, the main camproad, still exists, lined with poplar trees, but only two of theoriginal 32 barracks that lined it remain, having been rebuilt toillustrate the conditions endured by the prisoners. The originalkitchen, laundry and shower block is now a museum containingexhibits, photographs and documents depicting the persecution ofJews and other prisoners. The exhibitions are often very personaland include the accounts and stories of prisoners. The memorial isa sobering experience, and may not be suitable for youngchildren.
One of the most beautiful lakes in the Bavarian Alps, Chiemseeboasts two islands and is lined with resorts. A popular weekendexcursion in Germany, it can be reached by train from Munich in anhour, or by road via the A8 Autobahn. Visitors can take a steamercruise around the lake from Prien on the west shore to explore theislands in the lake. The scenery is breathtaking and in summerthere is great swimming and sailing to enjoy. Even in winter thelake is beautiful, and much less crowded.
Frauenchiemsee is the smaller island and the site of a quaintfishing village with some colourful traditional customs, and aBenedictine nunnery known for its liqueur. The larger island,Herrenchiemsee, bears one of King Ludwig's famous fairy-talecastles. This one was never completed, but was intended to be areplica of the palace of Versailles. The centre of the palace stillstands, complete with a splendid hall of mirrors and surrounded bygardens and woodland. It is an extremely popular tourist attractionwith its gaudy splendour and picturesque location.
The historic university town of Heidelberg, about 55 miles(89km) south of Frankfurt, is billed as a city of music andromance. It is one of the few German cities that escaped relativelyunscathed from air raids during World War II, and still hasnumerous buildings from the Middle Ages and Renaissance to explore,including some beautiful historical churches. The university wasestablished in 1386, and features some picturesque buildings on itscampuses. A good way to enjoy scenic views of Heidelberg is alongthe Philosopher's Walk, a path alongside the Heiligenberg, so namedbecause university professors would walk along the path when theyneeded to think.
The city is built along the banks of the Neckar River, and has avibrant atmosphere thanks to its large student population,particularly in the student quarter with its narrow streets andlively inns. The modern part of the city, around the Bismarckplatz,has some good hotels and restaurants, and enticing shopping plazas.The weather in Heidelberg is famously sunny and warm compared tomuch of Germany, and this is a major draw for the millions oftourists who visit each year.
This quaint town on the steep Elbe hillside was once a fishingvillage favoured by retired ship captains. Today it has becomepopular with locals as a weekend excursion from Hamburg. Foreignvisitors also throng the narrow alleys between picturesque housespacked together on the cliffside. The village offers an abundanceof cafes and restaurants where patrons can relax and watch shipssteaming in and out of the harbour, and there are more than half adozen pretty parks in which to spend a few hours on a nice day. Thestunning views from the river-facing portions of Blankenese haveresulted in many beautiful homes and hotels being built on thesteep hillside, much of which is inaccessible to cars and has tinypedestrian-only streets which are very charming - there are also4,864 stairs. There are two lighthouses on Blankenese. Otherattractions include a Roman garden, a doll museum and numerousparks and walking trails.
There is a ferry service to Blankenese from StPauli-Landungsbrucken in Hamburg's Free Port and the Blankenesewaterfront is serviced by various other water shuttles as well.There are many buoys in the river to help guide all sizes ofwatercraft, since this part of the river has many sandbars and issubject to tidal shifts.
The island of Sylt is Germany's most northern point, lying offthe northwestern coast in the North Sea. The island boasts somelovely sandy beaches and stunning views, and its main town,Westerland, has become a popular seaside resort. Other sought-aftervillages are Kampen and Wenningstedt-Braderup. In recent years Sylthas become the seaside destination of choice for the German richand famous and celebrity spotting is a regular activity for sometourists. The island has miles of bicycle paths meandering throughpine forests and is a popular place for horse riding too.
Sylt offers plenty of entertainment for tourists, includingshops, spas and exclusive restaurants. There are also a number ofgolf courses. The Ellenbogen Nature Reserve is a lovely area forwalking and there are two lighthouses to explore as well aswonderful dunes. Although most visitors come to enjoy the beachesand outdoor activities in pretty Sylt, other popular touristattractions include the Sylt Aquarium, which is a good place totake children, and the small but historically interesting SaintSeverin Church. Sylt is easy to get to and trains arrive severaltimes a day from Hamburg. The island is connected to the mainlandby the six-mile (10km) Hindenburgdamm Bridge.
Hameln, the famous town of the Pied Piper tale told to childrenaround the world, is a popular tourist destination in Lower Saxony,northern Germany, lying beside the River Weser. The old town centrehas been reconstructed with several Renaissance buildings, and somewood-frame historic buildings, all adding to the fairy-taleatmosphere that brings alive the legend of the piper who offered torid the town of rats, and ended up stealing all the children. Ashort musical version of the story is performed each Wednesday inthe old town between May and September at about 4.30pm, and thePied Piper himself conducts tours around the town.
Most of the tourist attractions in Hameln are close together, soit's easy to see everything on foot, before enjoying a meal at oneof the town's many cafes and beer gardens. The main attraction ofthe village is its old-world fairy-tale appeal and the feeling thatyou have stepped back in time. Hameln also hosts a popularChristmas market from late November through December which is agreat place to do some shopping for those back home. The town insituated in beautiful mountainous scenery, on the river, and is agreat base for excursions out into the countryside.
Lübeck lies 41 miles (66km) northeast of Hamburg, close to theBaltic coast. Not only is this historic town the home of a coupleof noted Nobel Prize winners, but as a living monument to thewealthy Hanseatic merchants of the 13th century it sports somearchitectural treasures that have ensured its status as a UNESCOWorld Heritage Site. The town's famous sons are Willy Brandt, theWest German chancellor who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1971, andThomas Mann, whose novel Buddenbrooks won the Nobel Prize forLiterature in 1929. As far as the architecture goes, the town isknown for its steeples and spires, high-gabled houses, strongtowers and massive gates.
The town is also billed as the world capital of marzipan, havingbeen the spot where this delightful confection was first devised(there is a legend attached, of course). Samples of marzipan arefreely available in Lübeck, along with tastes of wine from theregion. There are also some great cafes and restaurants to enjoy inthis beautiful town which feels quite unlike any other. If you onlyhave time for a quick visit spend a few hours strolling the LübeckAltstadt (Old Town) where many of the most striking buildings aregathered.
The Fairy-Tale Road follows a meandering 370-mile (595km) routethat traces the path of famous storytellers the Brothers Grimm.Many people don't realise that the Brothers Grimm didn't simplyinvent their famous stories, but recorded and collected locallegends and folk tales from their homeland near Frankfurt. Betweencharming villages and well-preserved medieval towns, Germany'sFairy-Tale Road wanders through lush forests and 'gingerbread'houses that inspired the worlds of well-loved characters likeSleeping Beauty, Little Red Riding Hood and Hansel and Gretel.
Starting in the town of Hanau, where Jakob and Wilhelm Grimmwere born, visitors can explore attractions like the Brothers Grimmmonument in the town square, the Puppet Museum at Williamsbad, theMarienkirche where Jakob was married, and the Phillippsruhe Palace,which hosts performances of the fairy-tales (though mostly inGerman).
The next town on the journey is Steinau, where the brothersspent their youth; and Marburg, a university town where they beganto research local legends for their collection. Further on the townof Kassel is home to the Brothers Grimm Museum. Nearby Baunatal wasthe home of Dorothea Viehmann, who told the Brothers Grimm manystories, and visitors can have a beer in the Knallhüt brewery,which occupies the building she was born in.
From there the Fairy-Tale Road follows the Weser River toHameln, the famous town of the Pied Piper. In nearby Bad Oeynhausentravellers will find the Fairy-Tale Museum. The road ends in thetown of Bremen, home of both the mythical Little Nienburg Girl andthe very real Rathaus, a vibrant marketplace filled with townmusicians and the famous Ratskeller Restaurant.
Wiesbaden is arguably Germany's most favoured spa resort and itlies about 25 miles (40km) west of Frankfurt in a valley betweenthe Rhine River and Taunus Mountains. This charming and ancienttown makes for the perfect excursion from Frankfurt. The town hasbeen a spa resort since the time of the ancient Romans, with its 26hot springs averaging temperatures of around 122°F (50°C).
Besides being known for its luxurious spa hotels, Wiesbaden isalso a cultural centre, its events being concentrated around themajor Kurhaus concert hall complex. The complex includes a casinoand restaurant, conference and exhibition facilities. There aremany quality restaurants in the village and Wilhelmstrasse is agood starting point for explorations of the town because it is thebest shopping street and boasts some striking architecturallandmarks. A walking tour is a nice way to take in the historicaland cultural attractions of Wiesbaden. Another great activity is avisit to the Greek Orthodox Church on the hill which has beautifulviews and can be reached by the Nerobergbahn, a water-powered trainwhich has been running since the late 1800s. There are alsoobstacle courses, a swimming pool and a cafe on the top of thehill.