Located in western-central Europe and spread across approximately 221,843 square miles, Germany includes a total of 16 states. It has the highest population in the European Union with inhabitants ranging up to 81 million.
While traveling around Germany, you will experience an eclectic mix of old world charm and modernity. From multi-ethnic cities like Berlin, Munich and Frankfurt to the oldest cities offering historic flavor like Cologne and Heidelberg. Germany is a beautiful blend of old and new. To experience both the old and new world at one place, Dusseldorf features futuristic architecture, the longest bar in the world, numerous museums and conventional breweries. It is also one of the richest cities of Germany.
The most popular cities to visit in Germany are Berlin, Hamburg, and Dusseldorf, but the country gets even more charming and enthralling when the picturesque towns like Wurzburg and Bamberg are added to your itinerary.
WHEN TO VISIT
If beer, longer days, and sunshine interest you, then the best time to visit Germany is between May to October, where the temperatures hover between 60-80 degrees. During this time of the year you will also get a chance to attend many of its festivals as during the start of summer. Munich sees a lot of excitement when the Oktoberfest takes place, starting from the late September and ending in early October.
During the fall and winter, most of the travelers have gone back home and you have the advantage to see and experience Germany without too many tourists. Winter is easy on the pocket and also gives you enough opportunities to ski around, mainly on the Bavarian Alps. If you choose to go during the winter be sure to bring plenty of warm clothing as the temperatures can be very cold.
Wurzburg, in the northwest of Bavaria, located on the banks of the Main River and surrounded by beautiful hills. Drink wine. If you are a wine lover, you will love its vineyards and wine tasting tours. Don’t miss the wine fairs that take place with Wuzburger Weindorf, the biggest festival of all, on market square. Experience history. Visit the Residence Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and see the Marienberg Fortress which is known for its architecture.
Munich is worth a visit for its beautiful churches, royal buildings and excellent museums. Christmas markets in Munich are a time when the city streets are filled with cinnamon fragrant treats, gleaming lights, singing choirs and wooden chalets. This is the biggest Christmas market in Europe and so don’t miss it! There is also month long beer party conducted in Munich that you may have heard of called Oktoberfest.
Berlin is known for its greenery as at least one third of the city is covered with forests, lakes, rivers, gardens and parks. The city has gone through the worst seen division in history after the World War II when Germany was divided into East Germany and West Germany and consequently Berlin was divided into East Berlin and West Berlin till its unification in 1990. The city houses more number of museums than the 175 rainy days in the city. The city flows with art, culture and history as well as a rich political past. Apart from this, it is also a city with legendary underground fashion houses and nightclubs. If you are an electronic music fan you are sure to catch some of the best DJs in the world playing shows in Berlin. Go around Kastanianallee to find a variety of vintage boutiques and street art. Street artists such as Banksy and other notable artists have created street are pieces here in Berlin.
Hamburg is the second-largest city of Germany. The city known for its huge ports, next only to London and New York, it has some amazing things to offer travelers. The harbor of the city is over 100 years old and you can enjoy it in many ways like taking a boat tour, a stroll, or by having dinner with views of the port.
Cologne: Visit the many diversified museums of Cologne or hop on a boat tour on the Rhine. Cologne provides you with many places of interest, including gothic cathedrals and city hall. If architecture and history fascinate you, make sure to visit Cologne during your Germany vacation. Also do not forget to taste the Kolsch Beer!
Heidelberg is a gem, housing the oldest and most popular university in Germany. It has a lively feel of students, historic buildings, and a scenic river called Neckar. The statues and fountains in the gardens are a must-see. Other popular attractions that include the Bonsai Museum, the Old Bridge, and Heidelberg Palace.
Visit Wurzburg, in the northwest of Bavaria, located on the banks of the Main River and surrounded by beautiful hills. Drink wine. If you are a wine lover, you will love its vineyards and wine tasting tours. Don’t miss the wine fairs that take place with Wuzburger Weindorf, the biggest festival of all, on market square. Experience history. Visit the Residence Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and see the Marienberg Fortress which is known for its architecture.
Walk Bremen. This walkable, long and narrow city is lined with numerous cafes, pubs, museums, and beautiful architecture. Make sure to check out the Focke Art Museum, City Hall, Town Square, and Schnoorviertel which houses the oldest district art galleries and restaurants.
Enjoy the scenic Black Forest route by going through the Black forests, located along the southwest border near Austria. You can take one of the most beautiful rail journeys between the Konstanz and Offenburg.
Drink the Beer! Germany has so many breweries and many of them of local to their region. Looking for an unusual beer? Try a smoked beer, it’s like drinking liquid bacon.
Go to Schwerin, which is the smallest city in Germany. It is located amid a whole host of lakes with the Scholss (Castle) as its center of attraction. This small city is overflowing with unique attractions, cafes and pubs. Schwerin is a sure-shot delight if you are a hardcore history buff or foodie.
Keep an eye out for possible dangers in areas around train stations and streets close to red light areas.
Don’t just visit the popular Neuschwanstein Castle, there are a plenty of other castles to awe over. Visit the Hohenzollern Castle that boasts the treasures and the crown of Prussian Kings. You can also visit Schwerin Castle which sits on an island in the Schwerin lake. This castle was once a home to grand dukes of Mecklenburg for many centuries but is now a museum and a college for kindergarten teachers.
Hotels and Restaurants
- You will pay for water at restaurants or café’s just like any other beverage. You will be asked for still or carbonated water (with gas), but if you ask for tap water, it is considered being cheap unlike other countries like France, where tap water is available at restaurants, free of charge.
- The service for a multiple course meal is slower than other countries like the U.S.
- Most of the time bread, butter, rolls, and table settings will be added as a separate charge.
- Round up the bill to nearest Euro or leave extra 5% or 10%. It is considered rude to leave it at the table, instead, give it to the wait staff when you pay the bill.
Cash is the popular way to pay. Carry cash when you are out for shopping, at restaurants, and traveling via taxi or public transport. This does not mean you cannot transact through the credit card, you can still pay your hotel bill, train tickets, and flight tickets with your credit card.
- ATMs provide you with the official exchange rates along with the convenience of 24 hour accessibility. Check with your bank to make sure there are no additional international fees will be added.
Getting around germany
It is quite easy to travel around in Germany with the German Railway and Domestic air travel via German Wings, Air Berlin and Ryanair. When traveling between bigger cities, air travel is cheaper than the train. With the well-maintained highway systems (auto-bahn), traveling via your own car is the best bet that allows you to explore the country at your own pace.
Top Places to Visit
Hop the museums in Berlin
Berlin’s museum island has five huge museums you can visit. In fact it is so large of a collection UNESCO has made it a world heritage site. If you plan to visit a lot of museums purchase the Berlin Museum Pass to save money.
Visit the picturesque towns
There are so many picturesque towns in Germany it would take quite the trip to visit them all. Some of the favorites of travelers are Bamburg, Nuremburg, Passau, and Breman.
Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate
The gate stands 26 meters high and was modeled after the Acropolis in Athens. It was built in 1791 for King Frederick William II. At night it is lit up beautifully and totally takes on a different feel than during the day.
A true representation of gothic architecture is the Cologne Cathedral. Construction started in the Middle Ages in 1248 and took over 600 years to complete!
Visit the castles!
It seems like there is a castle on every large hill in Germany overlooking the valleys. There’s no shortage of them that is for sure. The best area to see these majestic castles is Bavaria and but if you want you can do the whole “romantic road” which is a 220 mile stretch of road starting in Wurzburg and stretches down to Fussen.
Munich’s main central square. Here you can find stunning architecture.During Christmas time there is a very popular Christmas Market located here.