If Germany is not yet featuring on your European travel bucket list, we’ve got news for you – you’d better bump one of those other destinations, because Deutschland is where it’s at! Here are 10 very good reasons to get excited about travelling to Germany this year:
If Berlin was a person it would be an alluring femme fatale in an overall and workman’s boots who can quote Herman Hesse, whistle Mendelssohn and swear like a sailor. This city is equal parts grit and glamour – bursting at the seams with amazing architecture, cutting-edge culture, a vibrant culinary scene and a palpable sense of history. It the 20th century alone, Berlin staged a revolution, hosted the Nazi headquarters, survived continuous bombing (in part), split in two and reunited as the world looked on. Berlin is a city that has fully acknowledged its gruesome history and has thrown open the gates to welcome an inspiring collection of artists and innovators. It’s no wonder then that visitors from across the globe flock here to experience it all!
Dresden, as a city, is the epitome of elegant restoration. Standing on the banks of the Elbe, you’ll be treated to an inimitable city silhouette that includes striking spires, domes and towers attached to ornate Baroque palaces and churches that were painstakingly rebuilt after the controversial Allied bombings in 1945. The historic old town is compact and easily explored on foot, which makes it a tourist’s delight. One of the best ways to get the lay of the land is to simply follow your nose, get a little lost and drink in the sights and sounds of the city along the way.
Known as ‘the gateway to the world’, Hamburg is home to Germany’s biggest port and renowned for its illustrious maritime history that dates back all the way to the Middle Ages. In the 1800s and 1900s, this international trade post brought the city great wealth, and in the 21st century it continues to infuse the city with a vibrant energy that extends to its architecture, cuisine and culture.
4. Black Forest
Germany’s Schwarzwald (Black Forest) takes its name from the dense canopy of evergreens that creates the slightly sinister atmosphere that first inspired the story of Hansel and Gretel. Stretching from the spa town of Baden-Baden to the border of Switzerland, and Lake Constance to the mighty Rhine river, this sweeping expanse of tree-covered hills and valleys is perfect place to suspend your disbelief and remember how to believe in magic. A mere twenty minute walk from most populated areas like Freiburg, St Blasien and Triberg will put you smack-dab in die middle of the unspoiled countryside, where dairy cows are the only creatures likely to cross your path.
The unofficial capital of Southern Germany, Munich is equally adored by history buffs and travellers who enjoy a thigh-slapping good time with blokes clad in Lederhosen. Here you’ll find bustling beer halls and trendy street cafes, as well as renowned art galleries and interactive museums. Oh, and the annual Oktoberfest of course! Munich has a wonderful, walkable city centre that retains the air of a small town but also offers a great variety of world-class sights. It’s one of those cities that simultaneously astounds with it rich history and delights with its range of contemporary pastimes and modern-day adventures.
Heidelberg was named the UNESCO City of Literature in 2014, and with good reason – after all, this is the famous university town that inspired the works of Mark Twain, early 19th-century poets like Goethe, as well as the English painter William Turner, who painted some of his revered landscapes here. These days, Heidelberg is perhaps best known for its stunning riverside setting, vibrant student energy, historic Altstadt and the half-ruined castle that overlooks the city from a nearby hilltop.
The small monastic town of Andechs is located in Bavaria and best-known as the home of the Andechs Abbey, a Benedictine monastery where beer has been brewed since the early 1400s! One of the best-kept secrets in Germany, this little gem of a town is a great place to sit back with a pint of Bavaria’s finest, watch the world go by and get a real feel of small-town life in this beautiful region.
Ulm is city on the edge of Bavaria in the south German state of Baden-Württemberg. Founded in medieval times, the town on the banks of the Danube is home to the highest church steeple in the world and also the birthplace of Albert Einstein! Visitors can look forward to a good eyeful of the impressive 14th century Ulmer Münster cathedral, a vibrant Fishermen’s Quarter, a great selection of museums (including one on bread culture!), as well as a bustling Christmas market come December.
9. Rhine Valley
The romantic Rhine Valley between Rüdesheim and Koblenz is a place of dramatic contrast, where slate mountains give way to splendid hilltop strongholds and meticulously planted vineyards that yield some of Europe’s most prized vintages. Here, the river is nearly always thick with barge traffic and the railways buzzing with trains bringing visitors who come to sample Rhine Valley wines, explore the Oberes Mittelrheintal UNESCO World Heritage Site along the river, and traverse the famous castles built by local robber barons who extorted toll from merchant ships during the 1700s.
Related: Read more about the Rhine Valley and German wines that are produced there.
Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site outside of Munich is a sobering reminder of the horrors of war. While a visit to this particular German destination is by no means a fun-filled outing, it is an eye-opening experience that drives home the full extent of the atrocities that were committed under the rule of the Third Reich. It is a boon to Germany that the country does not shy away from this part of their history, but rather invites visitors to join them in paying their respects to those who passed as a result of misguided nationalism and to learn from the mistakes that mar their history.
We simply cannot get enough of this gorgeous, tenacious country! If you want to see these and other incredible travel destinations in Europe, go here.