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Located on the bank of the River Leine, Hannover is small and humble despite being one of Germany's wealthier cities. It's best known for hosting annual commercial expositions such as the Hannover Fair, and the more raucous Oktoberfest Hannover, the second largest in the world.
Although a substantial portion of the city was destroyed by Allied bombers during World War II, Hannover has retained its sense of history and charm, evident in its medieval attractions and distinctive timbered buildings. Complete with world-class shopping centres, wonderful museums and churches, and a love of all things beer related, Hannover has plenty to offer the intrepid traveller.
Located in the Anderten district of Hannover is the European Cheese Centre, which sees itself as the premier cheese boutique on the continent. There are eight areas, each representing a cheese-producing region of Europe, as well as a central marketplace where foodies can enjoy cheese and wine tastings.
The Royal Gardens at Herrenhausen exemplify the manicured French Baroque style of landscaping. Sculpted topiaries dot the symmetrical lawns of the Great Garden, which also contains the famous Grotto featuring colourful mosaics by artist Niki de Saint Phalle. The Berggarten houses exotic plants and a conservatory, and the Welfgarten surrounds the impressive Welfenschloss Castle.
An integrated transport system means that visitors to the city can experience all Hannover has to offer with comparative ease, and the Red Thread - a three mile (4km) red line painted onto the road, tracing the city's most famous attractions - gives tourists something of a sightseeing treasure map.
With a fairly mild, temperate climate and seasons that seem to merge one into the other, Hannover is a year-round travel destination. The weather in Hannover can be rather changeable and any day in any season can be rainy or sunny, warm or cold, gusty or calm. Rain is possible all year but the summer months of July and August are the wettest. Afternoon thunderstorms are very common at this time of year but they tend to blow over fast and most of the day can still be pleasantly sunny. January, February and March are usually the driest months in Hannover and the rainfall could be said to rise with the temperature. Many argue that Hannover is at its best in the summer months, when the city can see as much as seven hours of sunshine per day and enjoys an average temperature of 70°F (21ºC). Spring and autumn can also be lovely seasons in Hannover and if the weather is mild enough the beer gardens sometimes stay open well into autumn. In the winter months, between November and March, the average temperatures drop as low as 30°F (-1°C).
Hannover has an excellent public transportation network, made up of buses, trams, and a subway. Day tickets are available and are good value for travellers planning to take more than two trips. The Hannover Card, issued by the tourist office, provides free rides on public transportation as well as discounts for museums and other attractions. Taxis are expensive, but large vehicles for seven to nine people are available by phone and can be cost effective for groups. Like many cities in Europe, Hannover is a bicycle and pedestrian-friendly metropolis, with bike lanes on many roads and a large pedestrianised area in the city centre.
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