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Situated in the heart of Central Europe and bordering nine other countries, Germany is an established and rewarding tourist destination. Its sweeping land is varied, with turreted castles and medieval villages tucked below snow-capped mountains, and amid lush river valleys and dark and mysterious forests. It is also a place of fairytales, where minstrels first regaled audiences with such fantastical tales as Sleeping Beauty and Little Red Riding Hood.
Despite the beauty and romance of the German countryside, most first-time visitors head straight for one of the country's famous cities. Each year, millions of litres of beer are consumed in Munich during the city's Oktoberfest, where locals and visitors discover true German revelry and gemutlichkeit, while Berlin promises an abundance of sightseeing opportunities, such as the iconic Brandenburg Gate, the ruins of the Berlin Wall and a truly wild and exotic nightlife. Frankfurt is Germany's financial powerhouse, promising business opportunities and great shopping and dining experiences, while Hamburg is more of a picturesque urban experience, full of canals, parks and gardens.
Germany seldom disappoints, which can be expected from a country that gave us Beethoven and Bauhaus, Goethe and Glühwein, Lager and Lederhosen.
Germany remains one of the world's top sightseeing destinations by virtue of its unique and important historical attractions, charming medieval buildings, beautiful landscape and legendary cultural events. The country has played a leading role in world history and many of its sightseeing attractions - commemorating the celebrated to the infamous - are connected to this storied legacy.
The major cities such as Berlin, Munich and Frankfurt are attractions in themselves, each jam-packed with historical treasures and sites of interest. Dachau and Checkpoint Charlie are remnants of more tragic periods, while the magnificent Rhineland and Garmisch-Partenkirchen regions offer enough natural splendour to please even the most demanding outdoor enthusiasts. Munich is home to one of the world's biggest parties, the legendary Oktoberfest, while the Romantic Road between Berlin and Frankfurt is a self-drive tourist classic that never fails to delight with its perfectly preserved old towns and villages.
Germany is certainly a year-round destination, although tourists should be warned that the European winters (December to February) can get bitterly cold. The best way to travel around the country is by train as the network is comprehensive, reliable and safe, and decent value for money. Another good option is to rent a car and drive between attractions on the extensive network of autobahn freeways.
The Eschenheimer Turm is one of the few remaining towers of Frankfurt's medieval fortifications. The 154-foot high (47m) Gothic tower was built in the 15th century, one of approximately 60 towers surrounding the city. The tower is both the oldest and the most unaltered building in the largely reconstructed city centre and is a striking Frankfurt landmark. The tower has eight levels and four smaller side-turrets, looking like something out of a fairytale. Now a popular tourist attraction in Frankfurt, there is a restaurant and bar at the base of the Eschenheimer Turm that offers a good place to relax and unwind after a day of seeing the sites.
The Brandenburg Gate is impressive and symbolic, built with sandstone in 1791 and consisting of 12 massive Doric columns. The massive gate is topped with a stunning statue of the Goddess of Victory facing east towards the city centre, which was added in 1794. The gate is closed to traffic, as is the adjacent Pariser Platz, a square at the end of the beautiful Unter den Linden Boulevard. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, new buildings have been built to designs closely following those destroyed in WWII. It's easy and worthwhile to hire a guide for the area because the Brandenburg Gate has an intriguing history and a special place in the German culture.
The infamous border crossing point in the Berlin Wall dividing West and East Berlin has now become something of a shrine, with the addition of a museum: the Checkpoint Charlie Museum. While the original metal shed is now on display at the Allied Museum, the soldier's post can be visited and tourists can be photographed under the border sign. The museum's permanent exhibition charts the lifespan of the wall, displays objects used to get under, over or through the wall, as well as the stories of those defectors who risked their lives to win their freedom. It hosts lectures and film screenings, and also houses temporary exhibits focusing on general human rights.
The remains of the Berlin Wall have now become the largest open-air art gallery in the world. The longest section is given over to graffiti artists from around the world, demonstrating their skills on the 4,318 foot (1,316m) concrete canvas and turning it into a Berlin landmark. Some of the best known paintings are Dimitri Vrubel's Brotherly Kiss and Gunther Shaefer's Fatherland. The gallery is billed as an international memorial for freedom, the art reflecting the idealism and excitement of the time when the wall was pulled down in 1989.
The Berlin Jewish Museum in Lindenstrasse has gained an international reputation for its significant architecture and unique exhibitions. The bulk of the museum is housed in an intimidating windowless and doorless building situated alongside the yellow Baroque edifice of the Berlin Museum. Visitors enter through the Berlin Museum to explore exhibition rooms clustered around a main axis void, designed to signify the empty and invisible aspects of Jewish history. The museum and its displays are beautifully designed and can be emotionally overwhelming, mixing personal stories, interactive exhibits and mementos with more formal and informative history.
One of the most popular galleries in Berlin, the historic Hamburger Bahnhof in the central Tiergarten district, exhibits an extensive contemporary art collection. Built in 1846 but badly damaged during World War II, this former train station offers 107,639 square feet (10,000 sq metres) of space filled with works by the likes of Andy Warhol, Joseph Beuys and Roy Lichtenstein. The permanent display is the Marx private collection, but there are changing exhibitions and good examples of transavanguardia and minimalism. The gallery holds regular free guided tours for the public, with times displayed on the website.
Potsdamer Platz is the heart and soul of the 'New Berlin', emerging with the fall of the Wall in 1989. The square now contains an exciting mix of restaurants, hotels, a casino, theatres and cinemas, drawing Berliners and tourists seeking culinary delights and memorable recreation. The focus of the square is the 22-storey Debis Haus designed by Renzo Piano, featuring an atrium with cathedral-like dimensions. The Kollhoff building features a panorama platform offering gorgeous panorama of the city, reached by Europe's fastest express elevator. The Sony Store is the most recent addition, consisting of eight buildings around a light-flooded arena, which also houses Berlin's popular Film Museum.
The Marienplatz is the heart of Munich and the site of its most important historic buildings. The square is dominated by the Gothic Revival Town Hall featuring its famous glockenspiel, both built in the 19th century. The glockenspiel delights visitors when its 43 bells chime daily at 11am, 12pm and 5pm, accompanied by moving figures displaying vignettes from Munich's history. The centre of the square features a statue of the Virgin Mary, while visitors can also explore a toy museum and the Frauenkirche, Munich's cathedral dating from the 15th century. The square is full of great shops and pleasant outdoor eating areas to relax and refuel.
Munich's massive Olympiapark was constructed for the 1972 Olympic Games but remains a marvel of modern engineering. Its main stadium is crowned with one of the largest roofs in the world, extending 720,000 square feet (66,890 sq metres) and made of tinted acrylic glass. It's designed to collect rainwater used to fill the adjacent Olympic lake. Visitors to the site can enjoy a spectacular view from the revolving restaurant and observation terrace topping the 950-foot (290m) high Olympic Tower. Near the tower is the BMW Museum, which displays the history of Germany's famous automobile manufacturer, while Olympiapark often hosts concerts, sports events and exhibitions.
Originally a summer home for Munich aristocracy, Schloss Nymphenburg lies five miles (8km) from the city centre. The palace has been expanded, altered and fitted with various eccentricities over the centuries since its construction in 1664. There's a collection of royal coaches on display, a porcelain museum and an arcaded gallery, featuring a collection of 36 provocative paintings ordered by King Ludwig I showing the most beautiful women of his day. The surrounding park has some surprises too, with some interesting pavilions hidden among the English-style gardens. There is information provided in the palace on its history but there are also audio guides available which greatly enrich the experience.
One of the oldest galleries on the planet, the Alte Pinakothek houses two of the most important collections in Europe. Roughly 700 paintings are on display, featuring the work of many Old Masters from the 14th to the 18th centuries. Highlights include works by Dutch and Flemish masters, as well as Italian giants such as Botticelli, Raphael and Titian. Famous masterpieces in the permanent collection include Rembrandt's Self-Portrait (1629), Raphael's The Canigiani Holy Family (1505), Guido Reni's The Assumption of the Virgin (1642) and François Boucher's Portrait of the Marquise de Pompadour (1756). There are actually three art museums in this beautiful neoclassical building and discounted rates are available to see all three in one day.
Neuschwanstein Castle was built by Mad King Ludwig II and has become a Bavarian trademark, with its pale Gothic facade rising from a green hill. Day tours from Munich travel to the castle and visitors also drive from Garmisch. From the parking lot there is a steep half-mile (1km) climb to the fairytale fortress, with indulgent guests preferring a horse-drawn carriage ride to the gates. The interior is extravagant, particularly the king's apartments, which are decorated entirely with hand-embroidered silk, carvings and elaborate wall and ceiling paintings. The rooms can only be visited as part of a guided tour and no photography or filming is allowed in the castle.
The birthplace of Germany's iconic poet and writer, Goethe-Haus is now a shrine to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's memory and preserved as an example of how the well-to-do lived in Frankfurt in the late Baroque era. The house, which is a reconstruction because the original was destroyed during World War II, consists of two neighbouring half-timbered houses in Grosser Hirschgraben and is situated next to the Goethe Museum, which contains a huge library of books, documents and graphics. Even if you aren't particularly interested in the writer, Goethe-Haus provides welcome insight into 18th-century Frankfurt. All the rooms are beautifully decorated and furnished, and many of the artefacts have recorded stories and associations from the Goethe family.
The well-ordered and interesting Botanical Garden in Frankfurt is administered by the university and is a beautiful place to while away a few hours. The gardens are designed to take visitors on a journey through different areas of the plant kingdom, from the hardwood forests of North America to the vast savannahs of Africa. The gardens cover more than eight hectares (20 acres) and contain more than 6,000 different botanical species, from exotic rainforest flowers to European weeds. There is a playground in the gardens to amuse little ones, as well as miniature golf and a cafe.
St Bartholomew's Cathedral dominates the Frankfurt skyline with its imposing 311-foot (95m) spire, contrasting sharply with the modern skyscrapers in the downtown area. The cathedral was built in the 14th and 15th centuries, and has seen the crowning of kings and emperors. The architecture is traditional Gothic, with an interior boasting artistic treasures and striking carvings. The winding spiral stairs leading to the tower bells make for some spectacular views, with informative booklets educating guests on its history and the artefacts down below. As the cathedral is still an active place of worship, it's partially closed to tourists at times for services.
Tourists are drawn to Germany's oldest city of Trier for a taste of ancient Rome, founded as a colonial capital under Emperor Augustus in 16 BC. The city became an important political and cultural centre, and many Roman buildings and monuments remain to be explored by visitors. The city has at least five UNESCO World Heritage Sites: St Peter's Cathedral, a remarkable 11th-century church holding several significant tombs; The Black Gate, dating back to around 180 AD; 2,000-year-old ruins of an Imperial Roman bath complex once frequented by Constantine; the Church of Our Lady, another beautiful church adjacent to the cathedral; and the Amphitheatre, dating back to the 2nd century. Nearby, the Mosel Valley is Germany's main wine region, filled with vineyards and cellars, while many love to embark on cruises down the scenic Mosel River.
The world's oldest warehouse complex, built of red brick with Gothic gables and turrets, is a century old and still in use for storing exotic goods from around the world, like tea, cocoa, silk and oriental carpets. Known as the Speicherstadt in German, this historic section of the Free Port between the Deichtorhallen and Baumwall has been turned into a tourist attraction by the addition of an open air theatre, spice museum, miniature exhibition and an old Russian submarine open for exploration as well as a few other little museums and some regular art exhibitions. Another popular attraction in Speicherstadt is the 'Hamburg Dungeon', an interactive museum showcasing the more unpleasant and gory aspects of the city's history.
Just wandering through the narrow cobblestone streets and exploring the small waterways lined by old warehouses is fun, and taking a boat out into the harbour is also a treat. The Speicherstadt is illuminated at night by light shows which create an enchanting spectacle, particularly viewed from a boat on a harbour night tour. The harbour has played a huge role in Hamburg's identity and history and exploring this area is insightful.
Hamburg's premier art gallery offers the chance to view works from the Middle Ages through to the present day. The Kunsthalle's main aim is to educate the public rather than showcase particular art treasures, with exhibitions constantly changing to introduce new art forms. The museum now actually occupies two buildings: the Galerie der Gegenwart, a modern structure exhibiting contemporary art, while the famous old building showcases the older works, most dating back to the 14th, 16th and 17th centuries.
The Hamburg Museum gives a detailed description of the city of Hamburg from the 8th through to the 20th centuries. Scale models have been used to illustrate the changing shape of the city's famous harbour. Exhibits include reconstructions of various typical rooms, such as the hall of a 17th-century merchant's home to an air raid shelter from World War II. Actual features from old buildings have been moved into the museum creating an exciting architectural space. The museum is crowned by a tower designed to look like a lighthouse and dating back to 1922 when the museum opened. The gorgeous central courtyard is covered with a glass ceiling and the space is now used for exhibitions and concerts.
The Legoland Discovery Centre is the first indoor Legoland in the world and provides an interactive journey through a land of creativity, learning and play. Kids will love themed areas ranging from dinosaurs to ninjas. There is a fun factory where Lego bricks are made, a 4D cinema show and even miniature Berlin sights made from Lego. Consistently rated as one of the best family attractions in Berlin, it's also a great place to celebrate birthdays as there are special party rooms for hire and all sorts of exciting perks. The park is designed mainly for kids aged between three and 10.
Known for its Black Forest cake and cuckoo clocks, the gorgeous city of Freiburg has plenty to offer. The recommended way to explore the town and surrounds is on two wheels along the more than 93 miles (150km) of bicycle paths. More of a large town, Freiburg is known for its university, magnificent cathedral and medieval treasures, and a somewhat bohemian vibe with street musicians and pavement artists. The Altstadt (Old City) features canals and dozens of historic buildings. A cable car carries passengers on scenic trips up the Schauinsland Mountain from the Stadtgarten, affording views from the mountaintop restaurant.
The local Black Forest cuisine is usually a big hit, as is the local wine. The weather in Freiburg is sunny and warm compared to other parts of Germany, and the city takes full advantage of this to host several festivals throughout the year, including a music festival in mid-June each year, a wine festival at the end of June and another in mid-August.
The Story of Berlin is an interactive exhibition recounting the history of the German capital from its foundation until the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. It's divided into 25 themed rooms and pays attention to the feelings, thoughts and living conditions of common Berliners, excelling in recreating the atmosphere, mood and aesthetic of different periods. The museum is modern and impressively designed, with a compelling mix of historical analysis and more personal, anecdotal material. One of its main attractions is the nuclear bunker built during the Cold War in the 1970s, and admission price includes an audio tour of it.
Pforzheim is today the centre for traditional jewellery and clock-making in Germany. The town is home to the fascinating Technisches Museum, commemorating the important role time-keeping has played in Pforzheim's history, and featuring a reconstruction of a clock-making studio in the 19th century, among other things. Jewellery is important too, and the Schmuckmuseum collection features pieces dating back to the 3rd century BC. There's also an interesting Alpine Garden which has 100,000 or more varieties of high-altitude plants growing in a natural setting beside the Wurm River. Up to 80 percent of Pforzheim's buildings were destroyed in World War II, meaning it looks much more modern than one would expect for a settlement founded by the ancient Roman.
Triberg is a charming village in the Black Forest, with the region's true spirit brought to life in the Schwarzwald-Museum of Triberg. It documents the old traditions and lifestyle of this unique area with exhibits of costumes, handcrafts and furnishings. Another of Triberg's more intriguing attractions is the Baroque pilgrimage church called Maria in the Fir from the 18th century. Nearby Gutach contains original Black Forest homes up to four centuries old, while one of Germany's highest waterfalls runs down the mountainside in seven stages, accessible by a lovely walking trail. Further south, a huge variety of elaborate clocks are on display at the German Clock Museum in Furtwangen, while the Baden Black Forest Railway runs through spectacular mountain and forest scenery.
Said to be one of the most beautiful squares in Europe, the Gendarmenmarkt in Berlin was created as a marketplace in the 17th century. During World War II most of the buildings surrounding the square were destroyed, but have since been reconstructed and returned to their former glory. The square is dominated by the beautiful concert house, a special place to catch a performance and home to the Berlin Symphony Orchestra, while other notable buildings are the twin churches of Deutscher Dom and Franzosischer Dom, identical German and French cathedrals. The Gendarmenmarkt stays busy even in winter, playing host to Berlin's best Christmas market and various concerts.
Schloss Charlottenburg is the largest and oldest palace in Berlin. The 18th-century Baroque structure was originally constructed as the summer home for Sophie Charlotte, the wife of Elector Frederick III who became the first Prussian king. The splendid interiors are festooned with masterpieces of art, including the largest collection of 18th-century French paintings anywhere outside of France. The surrounding gardens contain a mausoleum, pavilion and the Belvedere, which houses the porcelain museum. For centuries the best artists, architects and landscapers were commissioned to improve and enrich the palace, while the gardens are also lovely.
The magnificent basilica of the Berlin Cathedral was finished in 1905, standing on the site of several earlier structures. The largest church in the city, the structure holds active services, concerts and tours. Visitors love the organ, the stained glass windows and the intricate mosaics decorating the dome. The cathedral's crypt contains over 80 sarcophagi of Purssian royals, with both tours and audio guides on offer.
Considered one of the best attractions in Berlin, the huge Pergamon Museum has three main departments: the Antiquity Collection, the Islamic Art Museum and the Middle East Museum. They house parts or replicas of reconstructed monumental buildings transported from excavation sites in foreign lands. The Antiquity Collection contains the Pergamon Altar from the second century BC, as well as the Market Gate of Miletus from Roman antiquity. The main attraction in the Islamic Art Museum is the Mshatta façade originating from a Jordanian desert palace. The Middle East Museum houses the Ishtar Gate and the Procession Way of Babylon, as well as the throne room façade of Nebuchadnezzar II.
Built for a baron in 1896, the Liebieghaus is today home to Frankfurt's Museum of Sculpture. It almost looks like a castle, with its beauty and majesty adding to a medieval atmosphere. Exhibits cover ancient times from Sumeria and Egypt to Greece and Rome, as well as Baroque, Rococo and Renaissance periods. There are some 5,000 pieces in the collection, but the museum somehow still feels intimate and is usually less crowded than other big art institutions in Frankfurt. The Liebieghaus also puts up some great temporary exhibits showcasing modern sculptors, while tours and audio guides are both available.
The Historical Museum has many permanent exhibitions featuring objects and works of art ranging from the Middle Ages to the present day. The museum's changing exhibitions cover a range of themes such as cultural history, art history and general history. Collections feature examples of gold and silver crockery and jewellery; pottery and porcelain; paintings and photographs; and scaled-down models of the Altstadt (Frankfurt old town) at various periods of development. The museum is useful for giving visitors an idea of how different Frankfurt looked before the damage of World War II. The Children's Museum, which lies adjacent to the Historical Museum, features a variety of special offers and exhibitions for youngsters of all ages.
Frankfurt's most important art gallery is the Städel Gallery, which contains a fantastic collection of many European schools of painting and a revolving calendar of high-quality temporary exhibitions. The first floor features the works of German painters of the 19th and 20th centuries, as well as famous French Impressionists such as Renoir and Monet. The second floor offers an outstanding collection of Flemish Primitives, 17th-century Dutch artists and 16th-century German masters such as Dürer, Grünewald, Memling and Elsheimer, with one of the most prized paintings being Jan van Eyck's Madonna (1433).
Located in Ostend and almost completely destroyed in World War II, the Frankfurt Zoo has grown to become one of the most popular in Europe. It's home to more than 3,200 animals from about 600 species, and is renowned for keeping them in environments that closely resemble their own natural habitats. A major drawcard for the zoo and one of its most unique features is Grzimek House, which is home to nocturnal animals. Other popular animals include tigers, penguins, rhinos, lions, crocodiles and hippos, as well as a vast collection of fish, insects and reptiles.
The Palace Square is the symbolic heart of Stuttgart, set against the backdrop of the beautiful Baroque New Palace. Once the residence of kings, it was built between 1746 and 1806 and is now a base for the state government. If the New Palace feels a bit French it's because the Duke Carl Eugen of Wurttemberg wanted to create a Versailles in Stuttgart. The striking König Wilhelm Jubilee Column was erected in 1841 to honour King Wilhelm's silver jubilee, while the statue of Concordia, the Roman goddess of harmony, was added in 1863. The two fountains were built at the same time, with the eight cherubs each representing one of Wurttemberg's rivers. It's possible to catch the hop-on hop-off tour bus from the square, which is a popular starting point for explorations of the city.
Built between 1838 and 1843 under King Wilhelm I of Wuerttemberg, the Old State Gallery in Stuttgart features a prestigious range of paintings, drawings, sculptures and prints from the 14th to the 19th centuries, with Ratgeb, Canaletto, Memling and Rembrandt taking centre stage. On the same floor is the New State Gallery, dedicated to the art of the 20th century. Looking at important schools within various art movements such as Fauvism, German Expressionism, Die Brucke and Cubism, the New State Gallery includes works by masters such as Picasso, Beckmann, Beuys, Kiefer and Klee.
Centrally located, Kunstmuseum Stuttgart is a work of art in itself. Its modern cuboid design transforms from a glass hexahedron during the day to reveal a colourful skeletal interior when lit up at night. Opened in 2005, the Kunstmuseum Stuttgart is renowned for its prestigious collection of work by Otto Dix, the famous German artist remembered for his ruthless depictions of Weimar society and brutality of war. The colourful and abstract art of Willi Baumeister and the mixed media work of contemporary artist Dieter Roth are also on display, along with ever-changing international exhibitions.
The impressive Mercedes-Benz Museum is housed in a slick, contemporary building, an icon of modern architecture. With an exhibition space filling seven storeys, it takes visitors on a chronological journey through the history of the Mercedes automobile; combining world events occurring at the same time as Karl Benz's breakthroughs and displaying more than 160 different vehicles, from racers and concept cars to aircraft engines and the popemobile. Automobile aficionados will be in heaven but even non-petrolheads will be intrigued. Visitors take the elevator to the top of the building and then wind their way down chronologically on a spiral until they reach the ground and the present day.
Initially a 19th-century Moorish garden for King Wilhelm I, the beauty of the Wilhelma Zoological and Botanical Garden never fails to leave a lasting impression. It has a concerted dedication to conservation and teaching, supporting initiatives to reintroduce animals back into the wild and holding regular educational tours to inform and enthuse. There are countless exotic plants, a range of biospheres in magnificent greenhouses and an aquarium, all interspersed with lovely historic buildings. The zoo takes care of some 8,000 animals, including crocodiles, apes, polar bears and even elephants, all living among 5,000 different plant species. It survives as Europe's only combined zoological and botanical garden.
Sitting on one of the largest mineral water reserves in Europe, the Mineral Baths of Stuttgart have been luring residents with its liquid vitality for more than two millennia. Relaxing in a hot, steamy mineral bath is a good way to spend some downtime, and the water is thought to help with skin ailments, respiratory issues and heart problems. Das Leuze, Mineralbad Cannstatt and Mineral Bath Berg all feature hot and cold mineral baths, saunas, hot tubs and swimming pools. Das Leuze is geared toward families with its playground, children's pool and bright colours, while Mineralbad Cannstatt caters more for adults looking for a haven of tranquillity. Mineral Bath Berg is a 1950s gem, its iron-rich waters recognised by the state as a heilbad for its medicinal properties.
The Porsche Museum in Stuttgart covers more than 75 years of Porsche engineering and memorabilia. Extremely popular with petrolheads, it also interests those not obsessed with cars as there's loads of entertaining and informative exhibits and designs. The Porsche Museum, which has become a city landmark, displays all the historical and contemporary knowledge about the Porsche brand as well as housing a collection of about 80 cars as well as a number of smaller exhibits. They also put up regular special exhibitions and you can check for details on these temporary treats on their website.
Boasting more than 30 million objects throughout its geological, paleontological and zoological collections, the Museum of Natural History in Berlin is the biggest of its kind in Germany and one of the five largest in the world. Visitors enjoy discovering extensive treasures and learning while they wander the exhibition halls, which take up a massive 71,000 square feet (6,600sq/m). Apart from the ever-popular dinosaur exhibit, highlights include sections on evolution, domestic animals, the cosmos and solar systems, minerals and more. The museum is well organised, with labels in multiple languages and audio tapes available in about 10 languages.
Children and families love nothing more than trips to the zoo or the aquarium, and Berlin's stunning Zoo-Aquarium combines both with a large focus on conservation and responsible enclosures. The facility is one of the most popular in Europe, entertaining millions of visitors each year with its immense biodiversity from rhinos and pandas to sharks and penguins. Thematic tours such as South America, Asia and Africa are on offer, while there are often special events during the year celebrating Halloween, Easter and Christmas which kids will love. The world's largest inner-city park, Tiergarten adjoins the zoo and a visit is pleasantly combined with a stroll or picnic through these beautiful gardens.
One of the biggest natural history museums in Germany and housed in a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Senckenberg Museum of Natural History features extensive exhibits on the biodiversity and evolution of life on Earth. A popular attraction of the museum is the fascinating palaeontology exhibit which features fossils that date back over 50 million years. Adults and children alike will love exploring this fascinating museum, learning about the solar system and discovering the evolution of life.
The capital of the Rhineland, Mainz is a bustling city with a curious but exciting mixture of medieval architecture and gleaming office blocks. The city is over 2,000 years old and mixes the old and the new with alacrity. The Dom und Diözesanmuseum dominates the skyline in the centre of town, and St Stephen's Church, with its original Chagall stained-glass windows, is a popular attraction in the Old Town, as is the Schillerplatz square. The city is compact enough to enjoy walking tours around town or along the Rhine, with the Kaiserstraße boasting an attractive pedestrian boulevard and church.
Mainz is also the birthplace of Johannes Gutenberg, inventor of the printing press, making books a popular souvenir from the city. The museum dedicated to Gutenberg is a highlight for those interested in the revolution sparked by the printed word. The museum includes a working replica of Gutenberg's printing press and is housed in a beautiful old building.
The birthplace of Beethoven and one of the oldest cities in Germany, Bonn is a journey through time. There are numerous fascinating sites from the medieval to the modern, from the galleries and museums on Museum Mile to its several beautiful churches, two of which date back to the 11th century. On sunny days, visitors can enjoy spending a few hours in the Arboretum, Botanical Garden or any of the other pleasant parks in Bonn, while the adventurous love climbing the extinct volcano on the border of Wachtberg and Rhineland-Palatinate. The Beethoven House owns the world's largest collection of artefacts and memorabilia, including several of his pianos, while the chamber music hall hosts regular performances of his works.
The Deutsches Museum sits on a small island in the Isar River and is the world's largest technology and science museum, perfect for families exploring Munich. There are some 28,000 artefacts on display, with exhibitions dedicated to themes such as energy, transport, natural sciences communications, music instruments and technology, as well as astronomy, chemistry, electricity, hydraulic engineering and astronautics. There is also a section dedicated to children aged three to eight called Kids Kingdom, featuring hundreds of fun, interactive activities such as a playable giant guitar, enormous building blocks and a fire department. The museum is designed to be accessible and entertaining, even for those who aren't necessarily interested in technology and science.
Occupying an abandoned movie theatre, this museum displays the history of the Allied forces in Germany during World War II and their peacetime presence until 1994. The Allied Museum's collections include all kinds of military memorabilia: airplanes, motor vehicles, weapons, uniforms, documents, photos and other artefacts, including the original Checkpoint Charlie shed. One section focuses on the years 1945 to 1950, covering the end of the war and the Berlin Airlift, while another explores Germany's Cold War experience between 1951 and 1994, featuring large pieces of the Berlin Wall illustrating the history of West Berlin as an island in the Soviet zone. The museum also organises periodic events such as lectures, film screening and special exhibitions.
The Reichstag is one of Berlin's most famous buildings and the seat of Germany's parliament since 1894. Enduring a volatile history, its 1999 renovation saw the building gutted, leaving only the facade and the addition of a glass-domed atrium providing stunning panoramas of Berlin. Tours are on offer but visits are done by contacting the Reichstag beforehand. Although the office is helpful there are thousands of people making this request so advance planning is required to avoid disappointment. There are free audio tapes available in a number of languages.
The magnificent castle at Hohenzollern is perched on a hilltop 31 miles (50km) outside of Stuttgart. The current structure was built in the 15th century, although mention of a castle on the site dates back to 1267. The second Hohenzollern Castle was constructed in 1454 to be bigger and more heavily fortified than before. During the Thirty Years War, it was used as a fortress, changing hands between several families. The castle is incredible, with a fairytale Gothic Revival facade set against spectacular panoramic views of the surrounding Black Forest countryside. It's widely acknowledged as a triumph of 19th-century military architecture and its many towers are some of its most striking features.
The German Clock Museum's massive collection of timepieces is the most comprehensive in the world, offering over 8,000 examples of clocks which have been collected over the last 150 years. Cuckoo clocks have been made in the Black Forest since the early 18th century, with much of the region's history, culture and development mirrored in its clock-making past. Mapping the advances of clock-making is quite intriguing and while some of the pieces are beautiful, others are remarkable for their originality; there is an ingenious alarm clock designed for a deaf couple which uses a flashing light instead of a bell.
In the middle of Hamburg is an oasis of green lawns and trees, with colourful flowers and fountains providing a lovely backdrop to relax in. Visitors stroll around the Japanese garden and enjoy the tropical flower collections and teahouse, while children will enjoy its playgrounds, pony rides, miniature golf and ice skating rink. In summer, there are evening concerts and plays, with wonderful light shows at the fountains, but the park is beautiful in autumn and spring too, when the colours are spectacular. Right in the heart of Hamburg, it's easy to access and ideal for blowing off some steam and taking a break from the traditional sightseeing.
St Michaelis began as a humble church in 1647, eventually expanding to become the grand building which today is one of Hamburg's most recognisable landmarks. Visitors can take tours of the 270 foot (82m) tower; the crypt, which contains the bodies of Johann Mattheson and Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach; and view an interesting presentation on the history of Hamburg. The tower has a magnificent viewing platform, reached either by elevator or by climbing the 452 steps that climb past the bells and the famous clock machinery.
Train enthusiasts will love Miniatur Wunderland in Hamburg but so will almost everybody else. With more than 4,000 square metres of floor space, there is much to see with tiny models based on various regions, both local and international. The largest of its kind in the world and the most visited permanent exhibit in Northern Germany, there are 900 trains with 12,000 carriages, as well as 300,000 lights, 200,000 trees and 200,000 human figures. Sections include Southern Germany and the Austrian Alps, Hamburg, the Coast, America, Scandinavia and Switzerland.
The largest city in the Black Forest region of Germany, Freudenstadt is a popular base from which to explore the stunning surroundings. Known for its sunny weather, the city lures visitors with its many outdoor attractions, such as the largest marketplace in Germany and the Parkwald, the country's biggest nature reserve. There are also interesting historical sites, mainly the Stadtkirche, which dates back to the 17th century. Visitors to Freudenstadt also enjoy the many good restaurants serving up tasty local cuisine. But most visitors holiday in Freudenstadt to enjoy some of the best skiing, hiking and camping in the Black Forest. Freudenstadt is conveniently situated on the Schwarzwald Hochstrasse highway, which stretches to Baden-Baden and meanders past many quaint shops, cafes and popular ski slopes.
A popular starting point for the Romantic Road, Würzburg is nestled in a picturesque location in the heart of the Franconian wine region, with rolling hills, pretty vineyards. Famous for its 100 churches and the Residential Palace, the city's architecture is composed heavily of baroque and rococo pieces and are best viewed from the Alte Mainbrucke, an old pedestrian bridge. The 12th-century Marienburg Fortress sports lovely gardens and a museum, while travellers adore the Würzburger Cathedral, one of the largest Romanesque churches in Germany. Würzburg is far from quiet and sleepy, with a student population maintaining a vibrant nightlife, and colourful wine festivals adding to the appeal.
Known as the best-preserved medieval town in Germany, Rothenburg is an absolute must see for anyone travelling on the Romantic Road. The 13th-century fortified walls are undamaged, encircling a quaint city centre with a number of charming buildings and fascinating museums. The stunning views from the top of the Town Hall tower or exploring the old walls are great ways to gauge the look and feel of this fairytale cityscape. The Medieval Crime Museum is a popular excursion with visitors, while the Lutheran church of St Jakob is also a must for those interested in medieval art and architecture, its wood carvings and stained glass windows dating back to the 14th century. After a day out on the ramparts, the town's walled garden is a lovely place to stroll, relax or picnic.
A less-crowded alternative to Rothenburg, Dinkelsbühl is a scenic medieval town on the Romantic Road. Surrounded by 16 towers along fortified 10th-century walls, the town centre is lined with picturesque 16th-century houses, churches and a few enthralling historical museums. Leisurely strolls or bike rides along the perimeter of the fortified old town are great ways to get to grips with its charming secrets. One of the main highlights of Dinkelsbühl is the massive 15th-century Parish Church of Saint George, where entry is free and a quick climb up the tower affords amazing views. And lastly, no visit to Dinkelsbühl is complete without sampling the gingerbread, a local speciality.
The largest city along the Romantic Road, picturesque and traditional Augsburg is also among the oldest cities in Germany with a history stretching back 2,000 years. It boasts many interesting buildings, including several ornately decorated churches and Baroque houses. Some of the city's most impressive old architecture includes the 9th-century cathedral, the 1620 town hall, the Perlachturm bell tower built in 989, and the Schaezlerpalais, which is a mansion dating back to 1765. Other popular tourist attractions in Augsburg include the Puppet Theatre and Museum, the zoo and the botanical garden. Known for its traditional German restaurants, it's a popular stop both on the Romantic Road and on journeys to the Bavarian Alps in the south.
The playground of Europe's royalty and aristocracy in the early 1800s, Baden-Baden sits in the heart of the Black Forest. The mineral waters of the Friedrichsbad bathhouse is perfect for those seeking rest and recuperation in its steamy marble confines. Male and female facilities remain separate, and the roughly three-hour bathing routine follows a strict regimen of hot-air blasts, steam baths and massages. Nearby are the equally famous Baths of Caracalla, which feature indoor and outdoor waterfalls, swimming pools and hot tubs, and a 2,000-year-old Roman bath. Its magnificent casino was built in the 1850s in the style of the Palace of Versailles, while the area is also home to several 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 don't 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 are rare but visitors should be aware that the weather changes fast and there can be rain at any time of year. The seasons are also slightly unpredictable in that the weather is not the same from year to year. There is a variation in climate according to region in Germany. The coastal regions have a temperate climate with warm summers and mild, cloudy winters. Inland, the climate is more continental with warmer summers and colder winters. The alpine and upland regions have cooler weather and more rain.
In spring (March to May), the weather is at its most unpredictable and can bring rain, sun or wind, but it is a pretty time of year to visit Germany. Summer (June to August), is warm and generally sunny but it is also the season with the most rainfall and humidity. Autumn (September to November), usually begins very pleasantly but becomes grey and misty later in the season. Winter (December to February), is cold and temperatures can drop well below freezing at night. Snow usually falls in December, January and February.
The best time to visit Germany really depends on what you are planning to see and do. Each season has its own charms. The peak tourist season is summer so everything tends to be a bit more expensive and crowded.
This unique restaurant serves food in completely dark rooms by blind waiters. The idea is that diners will concentrate more on the taste of the food if other senses are deprived, and it seems they are right. The unseen food is delicious and the unusual sensation of eating in the dark is novel and fun, with plenty of giggling in the restaurant.
One of the trendier places to dine in Berlin is the Dachgarten in the rooftop dome of the Reichstag. From the dome in the historic centre of Berlin, there are amazing views across the city. The menu is delightful too, including healthy traditional cuisine like the light fish and venison dishes. Reservations are vital unless you wish to join a long queue, and your best bet of getting a table is at breakfast.
An elegant and opulent dining experience, Heising serves up high-quality French cuisine. All meals are served on KPM porcelain and beautifully presented, from salmon tartare with fresh mango to guinea fowl with truffle essence. The restaurant is open daily for supper, from 7pm. Reservations are recommended.
Haveli is consistently rated very highly by tourists and is a great option for those seeking out delicious Indian food at good value. It serves anything from homemade cream cheese paneer to an array of saags, kormas and vindaloos. The restaurant is family-run, the portions extremely generous and the food delicious.
Emulating a Paris bistro, the Weinhaus Huth is an interesting dining venue not just because of its charming décor or outstanding menu. It's actually the only original building left on the Potsdamer Platz, having survived the ravages of war and the demolition of the Berlin Wall. Highlights on the menu include tarte flambee and fresh oysters.
You cannot beat the thin base pizzas that keep customers flocking to this lively restaurant in Charlottenberg. The XII Apostel is trendy and popular because of its novel idea of offering 12 pizza varieties, one named for each apostle of Jesus Christ. The biggest and tastiest is reputedly the Judas. The décor is flashy Italian Renaissance and the atmosphere is usually busy and bustling.
Zur Letzten Instanz is an historic establishment off Alexanderplatz providing hearty German comfort food such as Eisbein, potato dumplings, suckling pig, cabbage and tankards of beer. It's also the oldest restaurant in Berlin, documented as far back as 1525, and has enjoyed such esteemed patronage as Napoleon Bonaparte himself. The name was inspired by a nearby courthouse and means 'without further appeal'. The restaurant is open Monday to Saturday, 12pm to 1am.
Traditionally a popular and fashionable spot to dine after the theatre, Ganymed has been around for decades serving good food in generous portions, gamely continuing to do business in East Berlin throughout the Cold War years. There are two formal dining rooms, with one overlooking the Spree. Examples of menu highlights are goose liver terrine, Eisbein, schnitzels, mussels in Choron sauce and pheasant breast wrapped in Black Forest ham.
This huge, wood-panelled old apple-wine tavern produces hearty German dishes, like many of the other establishments in the popular Sachsenhausen area. Dishes like the pork shoulder and liver dumpling can be enjoyed with a slow glass of apfelwein or a choice of beer or cider. There are daily specials, complimented by an atmosphere of communal tables that is fun, boisterous and crowded. Open daily from 11am until midnight.
Erno's Bistro is one of the best restaurants in town and something of a Frankfurt culinary institution, offering classic French cuisine such as lobster broth, quail spit and fresh fish dishes. There is an excellent wine list to make the meal even more memorable, as well as some sensational desserts. Erno's is a chic gourmet rendezvous that is always busy, so reservations are essential. It's closed on weekends.
This upmarket restaurant is presided over by chef Werner Döpfner who serves contemporary dishes in a candlelit setting. Maingau Stuben is famous for its fresh fish and game meat that is carved at the table, and the cellar is full of rare German wines. Closed Monday. No lunch Saturday and no dinner Sunday.
This stately Michelin-starred restaurant is very conscious of upholding the high standard of its accompanying five-star hotel. It's an ideal venue for a special occasion with a quiet and sophisticated atmosphere, elegant furnishings, attentive service and high quality food that is beautifully prepared and presented. The menu offers international fare that is light and French-inspired, with delicacies such as quails in champagne and grape sauce. Open Monday to Friday. Reservations required.
Located in the Westend, the Alte Kanzlei is one of those restaurants that evokes a deep sense of history, and the mahogany wooden interior coupled with the crisp linen tablecloths and fine silverware creates a sophisticated yet romantic ambience. Established in 1974, this classic Italian eatery specialises in serving authentic Italian fare from the region of Calabria. The menu changes daily, but highlights include the spaghetti with prawns and lobster sauce or the veal fillet in pepper crust served with 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 no need to guess where this restaurant gets its name. With wonderfully historic and ornate décor, as well as exciting and traditional cuisine, Opera has become one of Frankfurt's most popular restaurants. Diners can sample delicious Asian fare such as the teriyaki from yellowfin tuna on fried vegetables with Asian egg noodles or a traditional German Milchkalbrücken wiener schnitzel served with fried potatoes or potato salad. Open daily for lunch and dinner. Reservations recommended.
One of Frankfurt's favourite Indian eateries, Jewel of India prepares traditional Indian cuisine and does not disappoint. The warm interior with burnt orange and yellow tapestries adorning the walls, juxtaposed by the cream linen tablecloths creates a warm and cosy dining environment. With favourites such as the Chicken mango curry, Rogan Josh and lamb Vindaloo, lovers of classic Indian cuisine will find themselves returning time and again. Open Monday to Friday for lunch and dinner, and Saturday and Sunday dinner only. Reservations recommended.
For breathtaking views over Munich, the ideally situated and aptly-named Café Glockenspiel overlooks the famous Rathaus-Glockenspiel. With friendly and efficient staff and delicious wholesome fare, the café is one of the most frequented in Munich and is a popular meeting place for locals and tourists alike, whether it's sunny breakfast, coffee or after work drinks. Open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Bookings recommended.
Hirschgarten is the largest open-air restaurant in Munich and serves as an ideal location for tourists to mingle with locals over a couple of pints. Start off with potato, marjoram and bacon soup followed by prime boiled beef with fresh horseradish and salted boiled potatoes, or the mouth-watering roast venison from the haunch with a mushroom and cream sauce, Swabian egg pasta and lingonberries. For something sweet, try caramelised pancake slices with raisins and applesauce. Open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner; 9am to midnight. The beer garden is open from 11am until midnight.
Serving some of Schwabing's finest haute cuisine, step inside to discover a world where fine décor is accentuated with world-class dishes and a comprehensive wine list. The menus can cover three to eight courses and are offered for lunch and dinner. Try the terrine of duck liver with braised figs and roasted duck breast, or the medallion of young venison saddle with red cabbage and semolina dumpling, and let your taste buds be thrilled by the chocolate soufflé with marinated port wine figs and vanilla-brittle ice cream. Open Tuesday to Saturday for lunch and dinner. Reservations essential.
Beer has been swilled at this world-renowned tavern site in the centre of Munich since it became a royal brewery in 1605. Equally famous is the Bavarian jollity and friendliness known as Gemuchtlikheid, complemented by robust rosy-cheeked young women clad in traditional dress serving litre-sized beer steins. The cheerful atmosphere that reigns constantly in the establishment's different halls is helped along by the foot-tapping strains of traditional Bavarian Oompah bands and drinking songs. Soak up the beer with a delicious salty pretzel or a German speciality from the menu, such as liver dumplings, potato soup or a variety of delicious sausages.
Gasthof Weichandhof is less of a tourist destination and more of a local favourite. Situated in an old farmhouse near the autobahn, the restaurant serves traditional Bavarian cuisine like pork knuckles, suckling pig and strudels. The atmosphere is always lively and there's a quaint vine-covered terrace open during summer months. Gasthof Weichandhof is open Sunday to Friday from 11am to midnight, and Saturday from 5pm to midnight. Reservations are recommended.
The unit of currency is the Euro (EUR), divided into 100 cents. ATMs and exchange bureaux are widely available. The major credit cards are widely accepted in large shops, hotels and restaurants. The quickest and most convenient way to change money is to obtain cash from one of the ATMs that are ubiquitous features on all German streets. Banks are closed on weekends, but exchange bureaux at airports and main railway stations are open daily.
German is the official language. English is also widely spoken and understood.
230 volts, 50Hz. European-style two-pin plugs are standard.
US nationals: US citizens must have a passport that is valid for three months after the period of intended stay in Germany. A visa is not required for stays of up to 90 days within a 180 day period.
UK nationals: British passports endorsed 'British Citizen', 'British Subject' (containing a Certificate of Entitlement to the Right of Abode issued by the United Kingdom), and 'British Overseas Territories Citizen' issued by Gibraltar, only need to be valid for period of intended stay in Germany. All other endorsements require at least three months validity beyond the period of intended stay in Germany.
UK nationals: A visa is not required for passports endorsed 'British Citizen', 'British Subject' (containing a Certificate of Entitlement to the Right of Abode issued by the United Kingdom), and 'British Overseas Territories Citizen' issued by Gibraltar. No visa is required for stays of up to 90 days within a 180 day period for holders of passports with any other endorsement.
UK nationals: Holders of identity cards issued by Gibraltar authorities, and endorsed 'Validated for EU travel purposes under the authority of the United Kingdom', do not require a visa to visit Germany.
CA nationals: Canadian citizens must have a passport that is valid for three months beyond the period of intended stay in Germany. A visa is not required for stays of up to 90 days within a 180 day period.
AU nationals: Australian citizens must have a passport that is valid for three months beyond the period of intended stay in Germany. A visa is not required for stays of up to 90 days within a 180 day period.
ZA nationals: South African citizens must have a passport that is valid for three months beyond the intended period of stay, and a valid Schengen visa, to enter Germany. Note that Temporary passports will not be recognised.
IR nationals: Irish citizens must have a passport that is valid on arrival in Germany. A visa is not required.
NZ nationals: New Zealand citizens must have a passport that is valid for three months beyond the period of intended stay in Germany. A visa is not required for stays of up to 90 days within a 180 day period.
The borderless region known as the Schengen Area includes the following 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, and Switzerland. All these countries issue a standard Schengen visa that has a multiple entry option, and which allows the holder to travel freely within the borders of all the aforementioned countries. Additionally, non-EEA members require proof of (i) onward or return tickets, (ii) the necessary travel documentation for their next destination, and (iii) sufficient funds to support themselves while in Germany. Note that citizens of Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, Switzerland, and the USA are exempt from the requirement to hold onward tickets.
It is highly recommended that your passport has at least six months validity remaining after your intended date of departure from your travel destination. Immigration officials often apply different rules to those stated by travel agents and official sources.
There are no serious health risks for visitors to Germany and no vaccinations are required. The German health service is excellent and there is a reciprocal health agreement with most EU countries, whose citizens are entitled to free medical and dental treatment on presentation of a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). After Brexit, the Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) replaced the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) for UK citizens. The GHIC allows UK citizens access to state healthcare during visits to the EU. The GHIC is not valid in Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland, nor is it an alternative to travel insurance. Nationals of other countries should take out travel insurance.
German law stipulates that all prices, menus and bills include both tax and a service charge, so tipping is not necessary in restaurants. Cleaning staff, hairdressers, taxi drivers and other menial services appreciate small tips.
A visit to Germany should be trouble free, but take normal precautions to avoid mugging, bag-snatching and pick-pocketing, especially at airports, railway stations and markets in the large cities.
Visitors are not required to carry their passports with them at all times in Germany, but carrying some form of identification is advised. Smoking in public places such as bars and restaurants is illegal.
In Germany, business is conducted in a formal manner, with a conservative and formal dress code being the norm. Punctuality is vital at all meetings and it's considered rude to be late. Germans use titles often, with men referred to as 'Herr' and women as 'Frau', followed by their last names.
Meetings are often purely business and may not occur over lunches, which are generally more social. Shaking hands at the beginning and end of the meeting is common. Business hours are generally 9am to 6pm Monday to Friday, with an hour taken over lunch.
The international access code for Germany is +49. Travellers will find it easy to use a local SIM card, Skype, WhatsApp or similar apps. Free WiFi is available in most hotels, cafes and restaurants.
Passengers arriving from EU countries can enter Germany without paying duty on 800 cigarettes or 400g cigarillos or 200 cigars or 1kg tobacco; 90 litres of still wine; 110 litres of beer; and 10 litres of alcohol stronger than 20 percent or 20 litres of fortified wine, sparkling wine or other liqueurs up to 22 percent.
Passengers arriving from non-EU countries, over the age of 17, can enter Germany without paying duty on 200 cigarettes or 100 cigarillos or 50 cigars or 250g smoking tobacco; 4 litres of wine and 16 litres of beer and 1 litre of spirits over 22 percent volume; or 2 litres of spirits under 22 percent volume. Other goods to the value of €430 for travellers arriving by air or sea, and €300 for travellers arriving by land.
German National Tourist Board, Frankfurt: +49 (0)69 751 903 or www.germany-tourism.de
German Embassy, Washington DC, United States: +1 202 298 4000.
German Embassy, London, United Kingdom: +44 20 7824 1300.
German Embassy, Ottawa, Canada: +1 613 232 1101.
German Embassy, Canberra, Australia: +61 (0)2 6270 1911.
German Embassy, Pretoria, South Africa: +27 (0)12 427 8900.
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.
Australian Embassy, Berlin: +49 (0)30 880 0880.
South African Embassy, Berlin: +49 (0)30 220 730.
Irish Embassy, Berlin: +49 (0)30 220 720.
New Zealand Embassy, Berlin: +49 (0)30 206 210.
A popular excursion from Munich, Berchtesgaden is perhaps best known for the Eagle's Nest (Kehlsteinhaus), the mountaintop fortress commissioned as a 50th birthday present for Adolf Hitler. It's now an excellent Bavarian eatery, offering breathtaking mountain views. The town itself is a delightful alpine village of winding streets, medieval markets and 16-century architecture. There are a couple of woodcarving museums, with one housed in an old Augustinian monastery. Visitors are enticed to the nearby salt mines of 1517, where they ride on wagons, explore on foot or enjoy the salt lake ferry trip. Berchtesgarten also boasts a world-class ice-skating rink sought after by winter sports enthusiasts, along with plenty of skiing opportunities in the surrounding areas.
Dachau is the site of the first notorious Nazi death camp, where thousands were imprisoned, starved and killed between 1933 and 1945. The camp has now been turned into a museum, containing three memorial chapels. The main camp road still exists, lined with poplar trees. But only two of the original 32 barracks remain, having been rebuilt to illustrate the horrific conditions. The original kitchen, laundry and shower block now contains exhibits, photographs and documents depicting the persecution of Jews and other enemies of the Third Reich. The exhibitions are often personal and include the accounts and stories of prisoners. The memorial is a sobering, sombre experience and may not be suitable for young children.
One of the most beautiful lakes in the Bavarian Alps, Chiemsee boasts two islands and is lined with resorts. A popular weekend excursion in Germany, it can be reached by train from Munich in an hour, or by road via the A8 Autobahn. Visitors can take a steamer cruise around the lake from Prien on the west shore to explore the islands in the lake. The scenery is breathtaking and in summer there is great swimming and sailing to enjoy. Frauenchiemsee is the smaller island and the site of a quaint fishing village with some colourful traditional customs, and a Benedictine nunnery known for its liqueur. The larger island, Herrenchiemsee, bears one of King Ludwig's famous fairytale castles intended to replicate the Palace of Versailles. The centre of the palace still stands, complete with a splendid hall of mirrors and surrounded by gardens and woodland.
A popular route for holidays in Germany, the Romantic Road is a modern concept encapsulating the region's typically Bavarian atmosphere and culture. Guided by multilingual signposts, it's an ideal route for seeing fairytale castles and charming German villages, with the route so popular that the best sites tend to be overrun with tourists in peak summer months. It starts in Wurzburg, a town famous for its wineries and gourmet restaurants. Visitors should be sure to see the Residence Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. From there, the road goes to Rothenburg ob der Tauber and Dinkelsbühl, two of the best-preserved medieval towns in Germany, and the 1,000-year-old Castle Hotel Colmberg. The 2,000-year-old town of Augsburg features beautiful buildings and traditional Bavarian eateries. Pfaffenwinkel and Neuschwanstein are key stops on the route, famous for their churches, castles and pretty rolling countryside.
The historic university town of Heidelberg is a city of music and romance along the Neckar River. One of the few German cities that escaped relatively unscathed from World War II, it boasts numerous Medieval and Renaissance buildings, including some beautiful historical churches and university structures from 1386. A good way to enjoy scenic views of Heidelberg is along the Philosopher's Walk, a path alongside the Heiligenberg. A vibrant atmosphere permeates Heidelberg, particularly in the student quarter with its narrow streets and lively pubs. The weather in Heidelberg is famously sunny and warm compared to much of Germany, and this is a major draw for the millions of tourists who visit each year.
The quaint and affluent town of Blankenese sits upon the banks of the Elbe River, adored for its pre-war villas, gorgeous hotels and stunning views. Visitors explore narrow alleys between picturesque houses, enjoying an abundance of cafes and restaurants from where patrons can gaze down at the ships cruising in and out of the harbour. Pedestrian streets and nearly 5,000 stairs crisscross the charming hillside, while there is also a Roman garden, two lighthouses and more than half a dozen peaceful parks and walking trails.
The island of Sylt boasts some lovely sandy beaches and stunning views, and its main town, Westerland, has become a popular seaside resort. In recent years, it has become the seaside destination of choice for the rich and famous of Germany, with celebrities regularly spotted on its shores. Sylt offers plenty of entertainment for tourists, including shops, spas and exclusive restaurants, with miles of bicycle paths in pine forests, horse riding trails and golf courses. The Ellenbogen Nature Reserve is lovely for walks, with two lighthouses set against wonderful dunes. Although most visitors come to enjoy the beaches and outdoor activities, other popular attractions include the Sylt Aquarium, and the small but historically interesting Lutheran Church of St Severin. Sylt is easy to get to and trains arrive several times a day from Hamburg, with the island connected to the mainland by the six-mile (10km) Hindenburgdamm Bridge.
Hameln is the setting of the Pied Piper fairytale, the old town centre filled with reconstructed Renaissance buildings and wood-frame houses bringing the legend to life. Set beside the River Wester in amid beautiful mountain scenery, it's a popular tourist destination in northern Germany. Most of the tourist attractions in Hameln are close together, so it's easy to see everything on foot, before enjoying a meal at one of the town's many cafes and beer gardens. Hameln also hosts a popular Christmas market from late November through December which is a great place to do some shopping for those back home.
Not only was Lübeck home to Nobel Prize winners Willy Brandt and Thomas Mann, it's also a living monument to the wealthy Hanseatic merchants of the 13th century. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Lübeck's architecture consists one of steeples, spires and high-gabled houses, strong towers, massive gates and a lovely Old Town. The town is also popular for its marzipan, with locals adamant that their hometown is where the delightful confection was first devised. Samples are freely available in Lübeck, along with the tastes of the region's fine wines. There are also some great cafes and restaurants to enjoy in this beautiful town which feels quite unlike any other.
Germany's top winter sports destination, Garmisch-Partenkirchen retains the charm of the older Partenkirchen. The pride of the city is the still-running Olympic Ice Stadium and the larger Olympic Ski Stadium. Picturesque and scenic, it's also popular in warmer seasons for hiking and mountain climbing.
There are more than 450 shops in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, including trendy boutiques, sports equipment outlets and craft stores while restaurants and bars found among charming German architecture gives an old-world atmosphere.
Apart from the majesty and beauty of some of Germany's highest mountain peaks, Garmisch-Partenkirchen is also very near to the Partnach Gorge, where the Partnach River surges through a narrow gap between high limestone cliffs, and The King's House, with its alpine botanical garden.
Garmisch-Partenkirchen is not the best for novices, but intermediate and advanced skiers will find plenty to enjoy with both classic and glacial runs in the area. There are about four black pistes, 25 red pistes, 10 blue pistes and three green pistes, as well as a few ski runs above 2,500 metres, meaning snow is assured throughout the season.
The German Fairy Tale Road follows a meandering 370-mile (595km) route through charming villages and gingerbread houses, lush forests and well-preserved medieval towns. It traces the path of the Brothers Grimm, famous storytellers who collected the folktales which inspired characters such as Sleeping Beauty, Little Red Riding Hood, and Hansel and Gretel.
Starting in their birthplace of Hanau, visitors explore attractions like the Brothers Grimm National Monument in the town square, the Puppet Museum at Williamsbad, the Marienkirche and the Philippsruhe Palace. Further on, the town of Kassel is home to the Brothers Grimm Museum. From there, it's on to Hameln, the famous town of the Pied Piper, and the Fairy Tale Museum in nearby Bad Oeynhausen. The road ends in the town of Bremen, home of both the mythical Little Nienburg Girl and the very real Rathaus, a vibrant marketplace filled with town musicians and the famous Ratskeller Restaurant.
Situated in a valley between the Rhine River and Taunus Mountains, charming Wiesbaden is arguably Germany's favourite spa resort. Once enjoyed by the Ancient Romans, it offers 26 springs averaging around 105°F (41°C). Wiesbaden is also a cultural centre, its events focusing around the major Kurhaus concert hall complex. A walking tour is a great way to take in the historical and cultural attractions of Wiesbaden, with Wilhelmstraße replete with enticing boutiques and striking architectural landmarks. Another great activity is to catch the view from the Greek Orthodox Church on the hill, reached by the Nerobergbahn, a water-powered train which has been running since the late 1800s.
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