Germany things to see and do

Tourist offices

German National Tourist Office in the UK

PO Box 2695, London, W1A 3TN, United Kingdom
Tel: (020) 7317 0908.
www.germany-tourism.co.uk

German National Tourist Office in the USA

122 East 42nd Street, Suite 2000, New York, NY, 10168, United States
Tel: (212) 661 7200.
www.cometogermany.com

Things to see and do

Cologne Christmas Market

The run-up to Christmas sees the towns and cities of the nation come alive with traditional street markets, and nowhere more so than in Cologne (Köln). Toys, gingerbread and handmade items are among the countless festive items on sale, while warming glühwein (mulled wine) forms an integral part of the experience.

Neuschwanstein Castle

The archetypal fairytale palace, world-famous Neuschwanstein stands among Alpine foothills in Bavaria. It’s the most elaborate of King Ludwig II’s castles, with much of its design inspired by Wagnerian operas. And if you think the outside looks dramatic, wait until you see the gilded decor and furnishings that a visit to the interior serves up.

Oktoberfest

Munich’s wildly eulogised festival is a 16-day celebration of Bavarian culture, with top billing generally afforded to its beer and food. If you’re planning a visit, be aware that despite its name, the majority of the festival always falls in late September. The festival was first held in 1810.

Bavarian Alps

Forming a long natural divide along the Austrian border, the Bavarian Alps are a strikingly attractive sight. Outdoor enthusiasts will be in their element, with skiing, hiking and canoeing options aplenty, and a selection of top-notch spas catering for those more intent on relaxation. They’re easily reachable from Munich.

Black Forest

No part of the German countryside is as storied as the Black Forest: a dense, green mountain range in the southwest. As well as its photogenic beauty and sky-high peaks, the forest is also home to a large number of small character-rich towns.

Christmas markets

The run-up to Christmas sees the towns and cities of the nation come alive with traditional street markets. Toys, gingerbread and handmade items are among the items sold, while warming glühwein (mulled wine) forms an integral part of the experience.

Cycle the Romantic Road

Germany has more than 200 long-distance cycle ways to choose from, giving options to cyclists everywhere from riverside paths and pretty towns to major cities and mountain-bike trails. The 350km (220 miles) Romantic Road, stretching from Wurzburg (near Frankfurt) to the Austrian border, is arguably the most picturesque bike route of the lot.

Dresden

WWII left Dresden in a sorrowful state of ruin, but the city has recovered sufficiently to become a spirited and arty (not to mention handsome) destination. Of most note is the resurrected Frauenkirche church, destroyed by firebombing but rebuilt to wonderful effect.

Essen

The European Capital of Culture for 2010 was once best known as being a mining town, but has since grown into a multicultural example of modern Germany, with often remarkable examples of how industrial infrastructure can be repurposed to artistic effect. A fitting place to try and understand what makes the country tick in the 21st century.

Frankfurt

Frankfurt am Main is best known as a financial centre (its gleaming office-block skyline has been coined 'Mainhattan') but there's much to draw cultural tourists too. Its historic core dates back to medieval times, and several attractive landmark buildings remain.

Hamburg

This northern port city is another with rich pickings for tourists. It's the second largest metropolis in the country and, as a result, a colourful, cosmopolitan place to visit. Retrace the steps of The Beatles on the Reeperbahn, or dive into the wealth of heritage sites.

Heidelberg

Boasting a glorious woodland setting on the broad Neckar River, Heidelberg draws large numbers of visitors with its mixture of historical attractions and annual events. The town has a history of drawing academics, and is famed for its riverside Philosophers' Walk (Philosophenweg).

Moselle Valley Vineyards

Getting to know the world-famous wineries of the Moselle Valley in the southwest is a rewarding way to take rural Germany at a slow pace. The culture's traditional, the scenery's grandly evocative, and the white wine itself is well worthy of extensive acquaintance.

The Rhine

The Rhine (spelt Rhein in German) is one of the longest rivers in Europe, and one of its most impressive to boot. Take a cruise from Koblenz past fairytale castles, pretty villages and the imposing Lorelei Rock, legendary home of a siren said to have lured boatmen to their demise.

Walk the Rennsteig

The size and scope of the country - with its mountain ranges, tidal shores and mighty forests - makes Germany a hikers' paradise. The historical ridge walk known as the Rennsteig leads for some 170 km (106 miles) through forests and highlands in the centre of the country, and combines rich culture with even richer scenery.

Watch a football match

Germany's love affair with football finds reaches its pinnacle at the Allianz Arena, home of Bayern Munich. Snare a ticket and watch one of the continent’s top teams in action – other lively options include Hamburg, Bayer Leverkusen, Hertha Berlin, Schalke 04 and Werder Bremen. Many of the stadia are new, having been built for the 2006 World Cup.

Weimar

A must for culture vultures. The southern 1,000-year-old town of Weimar has been home to many great men, including Goethe, Luther, Bach, Liszt, Wagner and Schiller. An important creative centre of the past, the city experienced its golden age in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Edited by Jane Duru
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