Germany might appear to be homogeneous, but its diverse culture will surprise you. Germany has been heavily involved in two world wars. After the second World War ended, it was left in chaos. Since then, however, the war-torn country has turned into a robust economy.
Nowadays, tourists love to visit this technologically advanced country. A trip here will help you if you’re stressed since Germany is beautiful, has great attractions and delicious local cuisines.
Germany also has one of the best roads and one of the cleanest cities you can find in Europe. The Southern border of Germany is shared with France, Switzerland, Czech Republic, and Austria. This part of the country holds the great Bavarian Alps.
Photo: Lake Hintersee in the Bavaria Alps / CC0
On the west, there are several busy cities and the famous Rhine Valley. The east of the country is next to Poland. That’s where Berlin, the capital of Germany, is situated. On the very north, you can find the Baltic and North sea lining the coasts.
Note: German people are friendly and willing to help. However, lately, due to the huge immigration wave from Syria and other Middle East countries, major cities have experienced the rise of the crime rate, especially during holiday seasons.
Germany has numerous cities of interest to visitors; here are just nine of the most famous travel destinations.
They are mostly the larger cities of Germany. Some, such as Berlin and Hamburg, stand like urban islands in more rural landscapes, others, like Düsseldorf and Frankfurt, are part of metropolitan areas together with other cities.
- Berlin – The reunified and reinvigorated capital of Germany; known for its being divided during the Cold War by the Berlin Wall. Today a metropolis of diversity with some of the world’s best clubs, shops, galleries, and restaurants. Due to its long status as a divided city, Berlin also boasts more operas and museums per capita than most other places in the world. The suburb of Potsdam with its Royal-Prussian palaces and gardens shouldn’t be missed when in Berlin.
- Frankfurt – magnificent skyline, financial and transportation hub of Europe, headquarters of the European Central Bank (ECB) and an important trade fair. Small reconstructed center with half-timbered houses, important museums and galleries around the Museumsufer like the Schirn Art Hall, the Städel and the Senckenberg Natural Museum.
- Hamburg – Germany’s second-largest city, with a metropolitan character second only to that of Berlin, famous for its harbor as well as its liberal culture. Don’t miss the bustling nightlife around St. Pauli with the Reeperbahn and its nightclubs and entertainment venues. Historically one of the cities of the Hanseatic League and a leading trade center after that, it remains one of three German “city-states” i.e. a city that is its own Bundesland.
- Munich – Germany’s third-largest city and booming capital of Bavaria is known for the Oktoberfest, the Hofbräuhaus, its manifold cultural offerings including operas, theaters and museums, a vibrant nightlife, many music festivals, its beer gardens, and river surfing, and is the gateway to the Alps.
- Bremen – its old market, the Schnoor, the Böttcherstrasse, the Viertel and the maritime flair of Bremen and its harbor Bremerhaven (which together form the Bundesland of Bremen, the smallest Land in both size and population) are a great urban experience.
- Cologne – founded by the Romans 2000 years ago and known for its huge cathedral (second largest in the world), Romanesque churches, archaeological sites and the lively old town quarter. The Cologne Carnival is a major draw around February.
- Dresden – Once called Elbflorenz (‘Florence on the Elbe’), the Frauenkirche (the finest baroque Cathedral outside Italy, destroyed during the war and rebuilt from 1994 to 2005) and its rebuilt historic Altstadt that was also destroyed during the war. The Zwinger and Residenzschloss museums are unmatched in the world.
- Düsseldorf – Germany’s capital of shopping that also has a wide variety of fascinating new architecture. The “Altstadt” quarter and the Rhine embankments have a vibrant nightlife.
- Nuremberg – a former Reichsstadt with a medieval touch, its old town was partly reconstructed after severe bombing in World War II, including the Gothic Kaiserburg and the major churches, and you can also visit the Nazi party rally grounds, the Documentation Center and Courtroom 600 (the venue of the Nuremberg war crime trials).
Places To Visit
- Bavarian Alps – Germany perhaps at its most clichéd, but also its most beautiful; nice skiing in winter, hiking in summer, and Schloss Neuschwanstein are just the most obvious attractions
Photo: Sunset in Bavaria / CC0
- Black Forest – You are likely to think “cuckoo clock” or cherry pie, and you’d be forgiven, but there is much more to this region than that
- Franconian Switzerland – a favorite with early 19th century poets who gave a name that stuck, this karst region is world renowned for its climbing and has some beautiful caves
- Harz – long forgotten due to German partition running right through it, the Harz is today attracting tourists with superb hiking and the mystic romanticism of the Brocken mountain that is reputed to attract witches (as mentioned in Goethe’s Faust)
- Lake Constance – Germany’s largest lake, the “Swabian Ocean” (as it is jokingly) offers alpine panorama and water activities at the same time
- Middle Rhine Valley – part of the Rhine River is a UNESCO Heritage Site between Bingen/Rüdesheim and Koblenz; the valley is famous for its wines
- East Frisian Islands – among Germany’s most popular summer holiday spots, those largely car-free islands in the Wadden Sea still see less international visitors than they deserve
- North Frisian Islands – calm islands with resorts at the North Sea coast, especially Sylt is known for its posh celebrity guests and the pristine landscape
- Baltic Sea Coast – once the playground for crowned heads, this region is coming into its own again after the Cold War shut much of it off from the wider world.
The Black Forest offers a vibrant and colorful view, while the beaches at the Baltic Sea coast are relaxing escapes.
You can take a flight to get to any of the big cities in Germany. The trains are really cheap and efficient. The S-Bahn (or long distance trains) will take you all over the country and for very little cost. Plus, if you are traveling in a group you can do group tickets which really minimize the cost for everyone.
Busses are also really great. They ran really frequently, were clean and timely. In Munich, you could buy a single public transportation ticket that would let you take any S-Bahn (within city limits), U-Bahn or bus. You would purchase the ticket for how many “rings” of travel you wanted. The city is divided into rings, the more rings on the ticket the more it would cost.
Taxis are plentiful in urban areas and they all have meters. However, if you want to hire a car, you can do it at most towns, airports, and major railway stations. Cars drive on the right side of the road here. Roads are in excellent condition and driving is not hard.
German is used as the official language. It has many dialects which are used by different communities in varying parts of the country. English can help you, though, since it is known by the majority of the population. Because of this, it should not be a challenge to communicate.
Where To Stay
Staying in good hotels in major cities, like Munich and Dresden, can get expensive. If you want to stretch your budget, you can stay at hostels. They are reasonable in price and have a friendly atmosphere.
The official currency is Euro. The currency exchange is available at banks, bureaux de change, post offices, airports, railway stations, ports and major hotels at the official exchange rates. All major international credit cards are widely accepted. Also, ATMs are multiple around the country.
Electricity and Plug Type
In Germany, they use electric sockets and plugs of types C and F, as almost everywhere in Europe. The standard voltage is 230V.
August 22, 2016 12:00 am 3 Comments