There's always something happening in Germany! Discover the colorful history of the castles and palaces, explore the fascinating museums and fun-packed amusement parks or delve into the modern fantasy worlds of musicals and variety shows. At Germany's theme parks you can have the time of your life. Take your pick from the best roller coaster in the world, a flying carousel with spectacular sea views or breathtaking stunt shows packed with movie-style action. An amazing array of animals welcome visitors to zoos in Germany - a tropical atmosphere beside the Rhine, giraffes on the North Sea coast, dolphins in the South and pandas in Berlin. If you’re in the mood for some water fun, enjoy relaxing jacuzzis, children's pools with water fountains and fabulous flume rides. The exciting fun pools throughout Germany are always a refreshing experience.
Enjoy the outstanding cuisine at the many excellent regional and international restaurants. And you really mustn't miss the popular wine and beer festivals and the German Christmas markets with their festive but serene atmosphere. Discover the diversity of Germany on one of the 150 scenic routes running through the German holiday regions. Enjoy the countryside, culture and culinary delights on offer. Visit castles, palaces and gardens and 37 UNESCO World Heritage sites along the way. Or soak up the vibrant modern-day life in Germany's towns and cities.
Dürer and Beuys, Cranach and Nolde, Caspar David Friedrich and Neo Rauch - all the great names in the fine arts have their place in Germany. Ranging from the Old Masters, the Impressionists and Expressionists to icons of modern and post-modern art, Germany plays a key role in the international art world.
Virtuosos of Color
Old masters from Germany have decisively influenced European history of art. With paintbrush, drawing pencil or wooden gouge, they created masterpieces of unrivalled beauty. Even today the magic of the artistry of Albrecht Dürer, Lucas Cranach or Caspar David Friedrich is still very much alive: in churches, castles and magnificent museums.
Art & Avantgarde
Progressive artists have always coined life in the cities but very often also in the rural districts. Inspired by nature, the work of painters, draughtsman and sculptors receives fresh impetus. Extraordinary forms of representations occur in many places in connection with the avant-garde engagement of numerous patrons.
Worpswede: Artist’s Village
"Global Village of Art" is the well-deserved accolade of Worpswede. Already more than a century ago painters like Heinrich Vogler, Otto Modersohn and Paula Modersohn-Becker fell prey to the charm of the little village in the north of Bremen. The poet Rainer Maria Rilke sojourned in the artist's village and in the eerie scenery of the surrounding "devil's moor". Seven museums illustrate the Worpswede art-history, above all the former Vogler mansion Barkenhoff. The historical Modersohn house, also, has a fantastic collection of paintings.
Murnau: The Blue Rider
"Blue Land" is what Franz Marc called the region around Murnau, marked by lakes and mountain peaks. Thus, the name for the second important school of expressionism was coined. Besides Marc there were Wassily Kandinsky, Gabriele Münter, Alexej Jawlensky and Otto Müller who created their famous contrast paintings since 1908 under the influence of the folk culture and landscape of that region. The Schlossmuseum houses the most important permanent exhibition of Münter paintings worldwide. The Münterhaus shows amongst other exhibits, furniture and walls painted on by Kandinsky and Münter.
Two unique museums form the cultural nucleus of Böttcherstraße, with the construction of which the coffee merchant and patron Ludwig Roselius realized his life's dream in 1922. His private collection contains paintings by Riemenschneider and Cranach. The museum is housed behind an artfully styled façade of the seemingly mediaeval alley just like the Paula Modersohn-Becker Museum, the first museum worldwide honoring the work of a female artist. Furthermore there are galleries and arts and crafts workshops in the alley.
Art has many facets in Leipzig. The city owns one of the oldest, biggest and most precious bourgeois art collections in Germany. It was started as early as 1848 with about a hundred masterpieces of contemporary art of that era. The purpose built construction, which housed the collection in 1858, was sadly destroyed during the war. In 2004 the Museum of Fine Arts obtained a new home in a new construction on Sachsenplatz. Today it owns almost 5000 paintings and sculptures from the late Middle Ages to the present including a collection of the Leipzig school founded after 1945 with painters like Bernhard Heisig, Werner Tübke and Wolfgang Mattheuer as well as important pieces by their successors of the New Leipzig school (e.g. Neo Rauch und Daniel Richter).
The commitment of the Sparkasse Leipzig concentrates exclusively on regional art after WWII. Its substantial collection has found a home in the annex of the renovated Sparkasse building from 1914. The Leipzig Cotton Mill has become another location for art. More than 80 artists of the New Leipzig School work on the former factory premises and there are dozens of internationally respected galleries.
The variety of cultural wealth in Hamburg is considerably enhanced by a dense avant-garde scene with their own initiatives and locations. Currently there are about 40 of these unusual venues, from artists' homes to multifunctional locations. They are distributed all over town, from Altona to Elmsbüttel to Bergedorf. A stroll along the Outer and Inner Alster rivers is just as exciting culturally speaking because impressive architecture of several epochs line the embankment on both sides.
No other field of creative work has such a long-lasting impact on our environment, our day-to-day existence and our quality of life as the way in which we design buildings.
You'll need to take a deep breath before embarking on an architectural tour of Germany. The world's leading architects – from AJS to Zumthor – have designed environments that compel us to look at things in new ways. Bold yet light of touch, monumental but stylized, and so often knowingly referential, they challenge the beholder but also reward you with fresh perspectives.
Germany has a rare depth and diversity of architectural heritage. A great swathe of the world's finest buildings can be found within its borders.
Playful and tongue-in-cheek, unconventional and visionary: Germany's designers pull out all the stops when it comes to color and form.
If the design is good, you should barely notice it's there. Or at least this is the case when design changes from being purely about the way a product looks to being a process in itself. A process in which objects are adapted and improved based on the needs and expectations of people and the environment. Design is no longer just about having a good look, but about serving a function, providing a solution and fitting into a system. Paradoxically, design should stand out by not standing out. In Germany you can discover a world of design, brands, studios and universities – all of which shape our lives and our futures.
Germany is a fashion mecca. This has been the case for around 100 years, but never with such a diverse, daring and fresh face, nor as young yet timeless as today.
The extent to which Germany – and Berlin in particular – has established itself in global fashion, is borne out by its more than 40 fashion academies and exhibitions, including Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, Bread & Butter at Berlin's Tempelhof airport, and competitions such as createurope for international newcomers. See for yourself when you next visit and discover why Karl Lagerfeld is right when he says "You can't escape fashion. Even when fashion becomes out of fashion, it's fashion."
Abbeys & Churches
Countless striking and beautiful churches and abbeys that represent every architectural style can be found throughout Germany. They include architectural gems such as Cologne Cathedral, designated a World Heritage site by UNESCO, Wieskirche Pilgrimage Church, abbeys in Andechs, Ettal and Weltenburg, and the 'heath churches'.
In the High Middle Ages, religious faith and the Church were central to the way people thought, and religion had a much greater influence than it does today. As they are nowadays, the priests and monks in the churches and monasteries were responsible for saving souls. The surviving convents and monasteries reveal much about the history of abbeys, provost ships and monastic orders. Many of these abbeys and churches now offer a range of services and events for anyone who is interested, maintaining their traditional role as everyday meeting places for people of all ages.
Visitors can wander around the cloisters, relax in the monastery gardens and admire majestic religious architecture.
The Erfurt treasure and the Jewish Museum in Berlin are just two of the best known sites, but today many places in Germany bear testimony to the long history of Jewish life in the country.
Jews have been living in the lands that now make up Germany for almost 2,000 years. During this time, they have experienced both tolerance and anti-Semitic violence, the latter reaching its peak during the Holocaust. By no means were all traces of Jewish life destroyed in the Nazi period, there are still synagogues, ritual baths and modern community centers that not only remind us of history, they also tell us about the life of Jews in Germany today.
One decade to mark half a millennium. In the ten years between 2008 and 2017, exhibitions, festivals and concerts across Germany are celebrating the anniversary of Luther nailing his 95 theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg.
Although there is no historical proof of this happening, it was an event that changed the world – and this great anniversary in 2017 will be marked in fitting style, not just in Wittenberg and Eisleben but across the country. Germany is paying tribute to one of its greatest sons with an entire decade devoted to Martin Luther: monk, professor and church reformer.
Follow in the footsteps of Martin Luther throughout Germany and embark on a fascinating journey to the great distant age of the Reformation.
Whether it's a museum built by one of Germany's big car manufacturers or a private collection, all over Germany there are places where you can learn more about the story of the car.
Explore the huge interactive exhibitions, see the vehicles that have become icons and trace the history of automotive engineering, from the production of the very first car through to the present day. Collections compiled with tremendous affection and dedication on display at a number of car and motorbike museums are sure to make your visit to Germany an unforgettable experience.
There's so much more to find out about the fascinating history of automotive engineering in Germany, from legendary models with cult status to rare historical vehicles.
Oktoberfest: Fun on tap
There simply aren't enough superlatives to describe Munich's world-famous Oktoberfest. Held on the Wies’n fairground from the middle of September to the beginning of October, the festival is opened with the traditional cry of "O'zapft is" (the barrel is tapped). Year after year the Oktoberfest attracts millions of visitors from all over the world to the Theresienwiese. Beer tents and fairground rides as far as the eye can see guarantee an exuberant atmosphere for a whole two weeks. Experience the real Germany of traditional music and costumes, wurst, pretzels, and an inexhaustible supply of the finest beer in the world.
Formula 1: Battling for pole position
The number one motorsport event in the world makes an annual stop at Hockenheimring, attracting thousands of visitors. Out of all the racing series, Formula 1 is the most demanding, both in terms of the constructors' financial muscle and technological capabilities, and the drivers' racing skills. On 18 different circuits around the world, points are up for grabs that could later bring both a driver and his team the coveted world championship title. Every year the German Grand Prix in Hockenheim attracts around 120,000 fans. Every driver has his own particular techniques for tackling the circuit, and as the race unfolds, you'll find it hard to keep your eyes off the almost 4.5-km long track with all its hairpin bends and chicanes. Automobile enthusiasts should also pay a visit to Hockenheimring's Motorsport Museum, where they can see all kinds of other racing cars.
Rhine in Flames: Fireworks on the Rhine
When 2,000 red Bengal lights bathe the famous sights of the Rhine and the riverside promenades between Bonn and Linz in a festive glow on the first Saturday in May, the illusion of the "Rhine in Flames" is created. On land or on board one of the 60 cruise boats, the spectacular firework event in Linz, Remagen, Bad Honnef and Bonn captivates tens of thousands of people every year. The Rhine is transformed by a frenzy of fireworks, and there is also a kaleidoscopic program of entertainment and other events.
Stuttgart Beer Festival: Germany's second largest beer festival
In terms of size, the Stuttgart Beer Festival is second-only to the Oktoberfest in Munich. It takes place at the end of September every year in the area around the 24 meter high fruit column and originated in 1818 as a harvest festival following a famine. The festival provides two weeks of fun with oompah bands in traditional costume inside the marquees and fairground attractions such as the Ferris wheel, loop-the-loop rollercoasters and the old-fashioned chairoplane merry-go-rounds outside. Attracting more than 5 million visitors every year, the event is a firm favorite with the public.
6-day cycle race: Six days of sport, music and entertainment
Every year this renowned 6-day cycle race attracts over 125,000 spectators to the AWD Dome in Bremen. Alongside spectacular races with top international cyclists there is a whole host of music and entertainment at the event. At Bremen's 6-day cycle race you can watch breakneck races unfold before your very eyes, with competitors reaching speeds of up to 70km/h. The fun doesn't stop there though – a fantastic mix of sport, music and entertainment awaits all visitors to the AWD Dome.
Museum Embankment Festival: Frankfurt's biggest festival
Held every year, the Museum Embankment Festival is one of the top events in Frankfurt's festival calendar. Concentrated around the Eiserner Steg footbridge, the festivities stretch for eight kilometers on both side of the River Main, and if you think it's just about museums, get ready for a big surprise. 10 museums on the "Schaumainkai" museum embankment hold special events and one-off exhibitions, while visitors are also treated to a packed program of cultural events, with everything from stage productions and performances to cabaret and live music. It's also well worth catching the spectacular dragon boat race.
Four Hills Tournament: Ski jumping from Oberstdorf to Bischofshofen
Garmisch-Partenkirchen is the second of four towns which host the ski jumping world championships known as the Four Hills Tournament. The venue for the event, which traditionally takes place on New Year’s Day, is the Olympic Ski Stadium. The brainchild of ski enthusiasts from Innsbruck and Partenkirchen, the Four Hills Tournament was brought to life in 1949, and has since become one of the most popular events in the professional winter sports program. Kicking off in Oberstdorf, the championships then move on to the New Year ski jumping competition in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. Innsbruck is up next, while the fourth and final leg takes place in Bischofshofen.
Documenta art exhibition: Perspectives on contemporary art
Since 1955, Kassel has provided the setting for the world's most important exhibition of contemporary art. New exhibition concepts are showcased alongside current trends that are moving the modern art scene. For 100 days Kassel becomes the focus of the international art world. Alternating exhibition curators present their perspectives on cutting-edge contemporary art, and how its movements, philosophies and theories mirror modern-day society. It only takes place every five years, so don't miss it.
Rock am Ring: The legendary festival at the Nürburgring
Germany's biggest rock festival is also one of the biggest in Europe. Every year, thousands of young people and adults flock to the Nürburgring for the event. Artists such as INXS and Alanis Morissette have appeared here, and old favorites such as Green Day and The Prodigy also pop up at the Nürburgring fairly regularly. Held for the first time in 1985, the festival was supposed to be a one-off. However, due to its popularity, the organizers decided to make it an annual event. And the thousands of visitors that travel to the Nürburgring every year with caravans and everything but the kitchen sink prove that, after 20 years, Rock am Ring is as popular as ever with people of all ages.
Motorcycle Grand Prix: Close enough to smell the burning rubber The Sachsenring racetrack is one of the most challenging Grand Prix circuits, and every summer it is the venue for the one of the hottest races of the season. The track holds a magical appeal for all motorsport fans, and the only way to do proper justice to the MotoGP is to experience it live. Year after year this action-packed, high-speed spectacle offers a host of fabulous experiences. The area around the racetrack becomes a party zone during the event, with a funfair on Ankerberg hill featuring bungee jumping, rides, marquees, shows, concerts and open-air discos. On the pit tours and at the traditional charity football match, you can even see the stars of the motorcycle world close up a few days before the race gets underway.
"Fasching", "Fastnacht" or "Karneval" are all terms used to describe carnival, an ancient tradition which is celebrated all over Germany but particularly in the Rhineland and in the strongly Catholic regions of Germany. Mainz, Cologne, Düsseldorf and Bonn are hotbeds of carnival fun. In southern Germany the traditional Alemannic Fasnet is celebrated. The "fifth season" begins on 11 November and ends on Ash Wednesday. Carnival season reaches its climax in the week from "schmutziger Donnerstag" (literally: "dirty Thursday") to Ash Wednesday. There are major street processions on the Monday of that week, known as Rosenmontag or Carnival Monday. People dress up in humorous costumes or in traditional dress and masks, and join in processions and street festivals. The tradition stems back to the ancient custom of driving out winter.
Between spring and autumn there are lots of fairs and festivals throughout the whole of Germany. Held on traditional festival grounds or in the city centers themselves, some last for a weekend while others last for a whole week. Entertainment includes a range of fairground stalls, carousels, rollercoasters, Ferris wheels and ghost trains. Food stalls offer snacks and sweet treats. There is often live music on open-air stages or in marquees. The Kirchweih or Kirmes (also known as Kerb, Kirb, Kier, Kerwe, Kerwa or Kerms) is a town fair that has its origins in a religious festival to celebrate the consecration of a Christian church. In rural areas the Kirchweih is still an important village institution. There are processions, and young men from the local area erect the maypole-like Kirchweihbaum.
Wine festivals are held in many of Germany's wine-growing regions between May and November. Particularly along the Rhine and the Moselle, in Baden, Palatinate and along the river Main, wine-growers' cooperatives and representatives of wine-growing estates set up their stalls in public spaces and sell their wines by the glass. Local specialties are also served. The festivals usually also involve live music and, in many places, the crowning of the Wine Queen.
Christmas markets are held in many towns and cities from the end of November to Christmas. Their unique ambience is guaranteed to put visitors in the festive spirit. Interspersed with the stalls selling Christmas decorations, candles, jeweler, toys and other Christmas gifts are food stands where you can buy typical specialties such as mulled wine, spiced bread, gingerbread, hot chestnuts and roasted almonds.
Visitors of all ages will love going to theme parks, water parks, castles, museums and fun pools, getting close to nature in the national parks, and engaging in active pursuits such as cycling, swimming and walking.
Attractions that all ages can enjoy are a feature of family holidays in Germany. Particularly popular with young and old are the theme parks such as Europa-Park and Phantasialand with their white-knuckle rollercoasters and fairytale themed lands. For a playtime that's larger-than-life visit Playmobil-FunPark, Legoland® and Ravensburger Spielland Go on a fascinating journey through the ages at medieval castles and fairytale palaces – from famous Schloss Neuschwanstein to the longest castle in Europe at Burghausen. Historical insights can also be gained at a multitude of museums. Interactive exhibitions, covering more modern subjects such as technology and art, educate and entertain in equal measure. Many are geared specifically to a younger audience.
Families can come face to face with all manner of exotic and indigenous animals at more than 800 zoos and wildlife parks in Germany. No ape enclosure anywhere is bigger than the one at Leipzig Zoo, while Berlin's zoo has the world's greatest number of species. Families can experience even more of the natural world at close quarters in Germany's nature reserves and national parks. Unique landscapes from the Lower Saxony Wadden Sea to the Bavarian Forest are ideal for families to discover together. Walking, Cycling and water sports come top of the list for family fun. The many excellent cycle routes, some of which cover long-distances, are great for holidays with the kids. Gentle gradients, flexible distances and fascinating sights and attractions on the wayside are what make the Ruhr Valley Cycle Route, the Mecklenburg Lakes Cycle Route and others like them so popular. Kids will also love the water-based activities – just part of the fantastic entertainment on offer along the North Sea and Baltic coasts and by Germany's multitude of lakes. Should the weather prove unsuitable for outdoor activities, any number of swimming pools offer a genuine alternative.
The wide choice of holiday activities is matched by a wide choice of accommodation. There's everything from holiday homes, farm stays and campsites to family hotels, baby-friendly hotels and youth hostels.
In Germany, every region has its own local cuisine with typical specialties. Eating out in Germany covers a whole gamut of possibilities, from traditional German fare to Michelin-starred, award-winning gourmet restaurants. International cuisine is also very popular. Every major town has a wide range of Italian, Asian, Indian or Greek restaurants. Snack bars stay open late at night serving inexpensive food (pizza, doner kebabs, wok dishes, sausage and french fries) to eat in or take away.
Out of over 1200 breweries, from the North Sea to the Alps, flow 5000 different kinds of beer on tap. A meal is also as versatile as the beer in Germany. Whether fresh fish from the traditional Hamburg fish market, or potatoes, the apples of the earth - which have been served either as salt potatoes, stewed potatoes or as potato-cakes since the 18th century - nothing more could be missing from a menu. However, what would Germany be without sausage - with plenty of mustard - prepared plain-boiled, boiled with spices, raw or as bratwurst?
For breakfast or at snack time, one of 300 healthy kinds of bread and fine pastries, made famous by German bakers, await you. You can also drink natural mineral water again and again. It bubbles here from 550 sources. The true connoisseur praises the German wine, some dry and some sweeter, but always smooth and filigree like nowhere else in the world. Undoubtedly, before a drop of wine moistens the tongue, the eye already delights in the pleasures of the festive table.
The black beer, served in an elegant tulip glass, is starting to regain its former popularity. This very old beer is mainly brewed in the regions of the former East Germany - in Thuringia and Saxony, as well as in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. An unbroken tradition, however, is enjoyed by the Rauchbier (smoked beer) which is brewed in Bamberg. It has a unique ham flavor because the malt that is used is dried over an open fire.
Weihenstephan, the world's oldest brewery, is located in Freising, a town near Munich. As early as 1040 monks were brewing beer in Weihenstephan. But for special occasions the dukes of Bavaria ordered Bock beer (strong beer) from Einbeck near Hannover. Even today it's the tradition in Munich to open the strong beer season with a specially brewed Doppelbock (extra strong beer).
Extremely light, on the other hand, is the Berliner Weiße (a lager) which is sweetened with woodruff or raspberry syrup. It glows either green or red in a stemmed ball-shaped glass. However, if you want something less intoxicating - why not take a "Radler" or "Alster Wasser" (types of shandy in the south and north respectively)? This is a fifty-fifty combination of beer and lemonade. It is deliciously refreshing and guarantees you can drink more.
German beer, however, is still brewed as the law has stipulated since 1516: from malt, water, hops and yeast - and nothing else!
Fish is best eaten in the region it comes from: on the coasts of Germany as well as near the many unpolluted rivers and lakes inland.
A stroll through the traditional fish market in Hamburg-Altona with its cheeky merchants will make you want to try the products of the region. You might fancy some fish in a bread roll, Finkenwerder plaice, lobscouse with rollmops (a type of pickled herring) or Hamburg eel soup with dried fruit in ham stock.
The coast means smoked Kiel sprats with scrambled eggs on the Baltic Sea and Helgoland lobster soup on the North Sea. It also means Mecklenburg eel soup and Holstein mussel soup. You will find plaice with bacon and shrimps far inland and young matjes herring with onions and mild cream sauce is served even in the Alps.
People in the Spreewald, a forest area around Berlin, enjoy their fish in an aromatic stock made from root vegetables and refined with sour cream. You should also try to experience the way Rhinelanders prepare mussels - cooked in white wine and served with Westphalian pumpernickel. Red crayfish and black morels garnish the Leipziger Allerlei (Leipzig stew).
Generations of cooks have improved the potato soup. In Berlin it is served with bacon and spicy sausages, in the Palatinate with celery and cream.
A special dish is a potato cake with bacon - a recipe from the Sauerland. Or the ubiquitous potato salad garnished with a pair of Frankfurters. In the Rhineland it is eaten cold with mayonnaise, in Baden-Württemberg lukewarm with vinaigrette and onions.
But the real destiny for this miracle tuber is to be served as an essential side dish. It comes with varying spices as potato fritters and sautéed potatoes, boiled and fried as a gratin and in stews, and it can be served in foil. But possibly the most enjoyable way to eat potatoes is to boil them in their skin, peel them and add just pepper, salt and curd cheese.
Each region is proud of its own special sausage. There is no rival to the Thüringer Rotwurst (red sausage from Thuringia) and the grilled sausage spiced with marjoram. People from Kassel just love their liver sausage, and the Swabians would die for a black sausage spiced with thyme, cloves and nutmeg.
The people from Nuremberg are in dispute with those from Regensburg as to who first invented the finger-size grilled sausage. But one thing is certain: the curry sausage was invented in Berlin - thin slices, garnished with ketchup and dusted with a thin layer of curry powder.
Brawn from Hesse stands comparison with the Bavarian jellied white or black meat sausage. And an air-dried Westphalian soft smoked sausage is always a match for pork Bauernseufzer (hard air-dried sausage which has to be heated) from Franconia.
Each region is proud of its own specialties. The smooth loaf from Franconia and the crusty bread from the Black Forest come in a perfect round. The short bread from Paderborn, the dark Holsteiner Katenbrot (baked in a tin) and the Schwarzbrot from Oldenburg are rectangular. All three are deliciously filling and contain a lot of roughage.
All German breads boast an abundance of vitamins, mineral salts, protein and carbohydrates. It does not matter whether they are baked from light wheat flour like the mild Kasseler or from rye flour like the slightly sour tasting country loaves from Berlin, Mecklenburg and Thuringia.
Wine & Dine
German wine does not grow next to olive trees and cork-oaks. It grows on the same degree of latitude as Newfoundland. The difference is that it is nursed by the warm climate of the Gulf Stream. This results in wines with fruity acidity and a wide range of wonderful scents. There is no copyright for it as it cannot be copied.
You will find a true paradise for the wine connoisseur when you travel the Rhine route from Lake Constance in the south to north of Bonn. People drink solid Gutedel, powerful Rulander, which today is called Grauer Burgunder and in the sunny Kaiserstuhl region fruity Weißherbst (rosé wine). The fertile Rhineland-Palatinate tempts not only with Rivaner, but also with full-flavored Morio, Muskat, Kerner and Scheurebe. Rheinhessen's Silvaner offers more than just Liebfraumilch - the white wines range from mild to spicy and elegant.
Additionally red wine is cultivated between Landau and Mainz. Mainly smooth Portugieser but powerful Dornfelder as well. The volcanic and slate soil of the northern part of the Ahr region mainly yields the fruity Spätburgunder.
Enzian is much more fitting with a hearty snack in the south. Just as a Kirschwasser (cherry schnapps) is served with ham in the Black Forest and in Berlin a Doppelkorn (corn schnapps) with knuckle of pork, sauerkraut and mashed peas.
Just as with food, the preference for high-proof spirits depends on the region. In general schnapps means a clear liquid. But in the northern and eastern part of the country grain is mostly distilled, whereas in the south fruits from the orchards of the Rhine valley and the Lake Constance area are distilled to obtain fruit-flavored spirits and the berries from the Black Forest are used to create fine, scented spirits.
Schnapps is the generic term for all spirits that warm you up and make you feel good. No matter whether they are clear or colored, bitter or sweet. Schnapps is always appropriate - as an aperitif, an after-dinner drink or simply when you feel like it.
Cologne Cathedral: The pinnacle of Gothic architecture
A masterpiece of Gothic architecture, Cologne Cathedral is one of the finest church buildings in the Christian world. Gargantuan proportions and craftsmanship of unparalleled quality have made the cathedral a defining example of the Gothic style. Cologne's mighty cathedral towers are just a stone's throw from the banks of the Rhine. Modeled on a French design and built entirely in a high-Gothic style, it is Cologne's most famous landmark and one of the largest cathedrals in Germany. Its steep, vaulted ceilings are supported by more than one hundred pillars and light streams in through a multitude of stained-glass windows. The cathedral's most sacred treasure and the most important reliquary in the western world is the Shrine of the Three Magi, a magnificent gilded sarcophagus thought to hold the remains of the Three Wise Men. More than 500 steps lead up the south tower, which offers a breathtaking panoramic view of the city.
Neuschwanstein Castle and Hohenschwangau Castle: Spectacular castles in a stunning setting
King Ludwig II's world-famous castles stand proudly against the spectacular backdrop of the Alps. Neuschwanstein, his fairytale castle, is the most-visited building in Germany, and was designed to resemble a medieval German knight's castle. The "fairytale" king's castle has an audacious and other-worldly feel. A tribute to Wagner's operas and German heroic legends, Neuschwanstein is a testament to the ideals and yearnings of King Ludwig II. Neo-Gothic Hohenschwangau Castle meanwhile has a romantic and welcoming appearance and was the former summer residence of the royal family. The magnificent alpine backdrop is straight out of a picture book, with lush green meadows and dark forests.
Brandenburg Gate: Symbol of German unity
No other landmark better symbolizes German history than Berlin's signature attraction. When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, thousands of East and West Germans celebrated the opening of the borders and reunification of Germany in its shadow. The Brandenburg Gate has a magical appeal for all visitors to Berlin, from heads of state to tourists. Formerly a symbol of the division of the city and the world into two power bases, Brandenburg Gate is Berlin's signature attraction – no other landmark is a more potent reminder of recent German history. The sandstone gate was modeled on the Propylea, the gateway to the Acropolis in Athens. It is crowned by a quadriga, a bronze sculpture of the goddess of victory riding a four-horse chariot. When Germany was divided the gate stood isolated in the middle of a restricted area by the Berlin Wall. These days it is a popular site for festivals, events and demonstrations.
Mainau and Reichenau Island on Lake Constance: Glorious flowers and Benedictine art
These two islands are surrounded by the emerald-green waters of Lake Constance. Reichenau Island is well-known for its abbey of the same name, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Mainau's reputation as an "island of flowers" is due to its stunning range of parks and gardens. The islands of Reichenau and Mainau are set against the backdrop of the Alps. Reichenau Abbey, a UNESCO World Heritage site, illustrates the religious and cultural role played by the abbey in the Middle Ages. The monks' illuminations are famous around the world. A riot of vibrant blooms with lush tropical and subtropical vegetation is the abiding memory of a trip to Mainau, the flower island. With thousands of different colors, shapes and fragrances, it is a unique experience for the senses.
Zollverein Coal Mine: Masterpiece of industrial culture
Its distinctive tower has become an icon of the Ruhr area. The former colliery is widely regarded as a masterpiece of technical design and stands as a unique witness to the era of coal and steel. One of the most impressive features is the way in which Bauhaus design principles have been implemented in an industrial context. Once the world's biggest and most modern coal mine, the Zollverein mine was the last in Essen to close down. This extraordinary industrial monument and UNESCO World Heritage site is a prestigious example of the development of heavy industry in Germany. Guided tours provide a first-hand view of coal mining between the colossal machines and conveyor belts. Today this industrial complex is also an important center of culture and design in the Ruhr area.
The palaces and gardens of Potsdam: Paradise of the Prussian rulers
Over a period of more than three centuries, the rulers of Brandenburg and Prussia commissioned the finest artists of the age to create a stunning ensemble of palaces and parks for the royal city of Potsdam. Sanssouci Palace and Park are the best-known and most beautiful of these. Five expansive parks, countless palaces, temples, churches and summer residences form a unique Arcadian landscape on the banks of the Havel river. The highlight of this ensemble created by Frederick the Great and his descendants is Sanssouci Palace. Characterized by its baroque and rococo architecture, this playful, extensive one-story summer residence overlooks six vineyard terraces. The largest 18th century building in Sanssouci Park is the New Palace, a triple-winged baroque residence decorated with more than 400 sandstone statues. Other highlights include Charlottenhof Palace and the Orangery as well as the Marble Palace and Cecilienhof House in the New Gardens.
Hamburg's Port: Gateway to the world
An impressive labyrinth of canals, basins, quays and bridges, Hamburg's port is one of the foremost sea freight centers in the world, and – with its harbor tours, promenade and fish market – it is also the city's number one attraction. The wide blue yonder, fresh sea breezes and the call of distant shores ... Hamburg's port was once the departure point for huge passenger ships destined for faraway lands. Impressive luxury cruise ships still dock here from time to time, but it is now better known as one of the world's leading see freight centers, and the bridge between continental Europe and overseas. Harbor tours start from the Landungsbrücken jetties, the arrival and departure points for Hamburg's waterways. A walk along the harbor promenade leads past fish stands and souvenir stalls to the two museum ships Cap San Diego and Rickmer Rickmers. At the end is the fish auction hall, where Hamburg's famous fish market takes place in the early hours of Sunday morning.
Chalk Cliffs: Interplay of colors in a romantic setting
The dazzling white chalk cliffs on the coast of the Jasmund peninsula are Rügen's most famous landmark – towering cliffs with a sheer drop down to the sea. Their white chalky layers are a dramatic contrast with the green of the beech forests and the turquoise of the sea. More than 15 kilometers of coastline have snow-white chalk cliffs rising up to 120 meters from the turquoise-blue sea below. Their awesome majesty inspired many 19th-century writers and artists, including the Romantic painter Caspar David Friedrich. A trail runs across the top of the cliffs to the most spectacular viewpoints along the coast, the most famous of which is the "Königsstuhl" (King's Seat).
Church of Our Lady: Architectural splendor hides a turbulent past
Dresden's most famous attraction is a masterpiece of baroque architecture. The destruction and rebuilding of the Church of Our Lady symbolizes the history of the city like no other building. For more than two centuries the dome of the Church of Our Lady was the defining feature of Dresden's skyline. After falling victim to the intense bombing raids of 1945, its remarkable ruins became a powerful reminder of the destructive effects of war. Following its reconstruction, which was supported by donations from all over the world, the building is now a symbol for reconciliation and peace. Fragile, elegant and beautiful beyond compare, the Church of Our Lady has reclaimed its rightful place in Dresden's panorama along the river Elbe. With its marbled pillars and delicately painted balustrades the chancel looks as good as new, while the huge stone dome is once again the dominating feature of the cityscape.
Bamberg - UNESCO World Heritage Site: Magnificent architecture steeped in a thousand years of history
One thousand years of history have shaped the Franconian imperial and Episcopal town of Bamberg, leaving behind many valuable architectural monuments such as medieval churches and baroque town houses. The magic of the past hangs like a veil over the town. Bamberg's fascinating historical townscape has developed over more than a 1,000 years. At the center of this world heritage town is the largest preserved old quarter in Europe. Around 2,400 listed buildings and the centuries-old garden quarter make up the town's unique cultural heritage. The façades of its buildings are richly decorated in fascinating detail with spectacular ornamentation.
Berlin Museum Island: An island at the heart of the city
Situated in the heart of the city, the famous Berlin Museum Island is one of the most important museum complexes in the world. The complex comprises five museums of international prominence, archaeological collections and 19th century art. This collection of museums was designated a site of UNESCO World Heritage in 1999. Berlin Museum Island is a unique educational infrastructure, representing 100 years of museum architecture in the center of Berlin. Between 1830 and 1930, a “temple city of the arts” was created on an area less than one square kilometer, spanning more than 6,000 years of cultural and human history. The starting point for the “island of treasures” was the completion in 1830 of the Old Museum designed by Karl Friedrich Schinkel. This is the oldest of Berlin's museum buildings and the place where King Friedrich Wilhelm III made art treasures available for public viewing for the first time. Berlin Museum Island and its five large exhibition buildings have evolved over time to become a synthesis of the arts, set in impressive surroundings.
Green Vault: Treasure chamber of the Electors and Kings of Saxony
The famous Green Vault in Dresden – founded in around 1560 by Elector Augustus – is Europe's richest, most magnificent treasure chamber museum. Since it reopened in 2006, visitors to the Royal Palace can once again admire the collected treasures of the Electors and Kings of Saxony in an even more splendid setting. The "secret repository" comprising seven rooms was established in around 1550. It is thought to have become known as the Green Vault after 1572 because of the malachite green on some of the architectural elements. The collection here includes masterpieces of jeweler and goldsmithery, exquisite amber and ivory treasures, jeweled vessels and elaborate bronze statuettes. The New Green Vault is on the first floor of the west wing; the Historical Green Vault is on the ground floor. The priceless treasures in the historical rooms are displayed on wall consoles and ornamental tables, allowing visitors to experience the splendors of the treasure chamber, in itself a baroque work of art, at close quarters.
Munich Art Quarter: Masterpieces from every artistic period
The Munich Art Quarter is situated in the Maxvorstadt quarter, which is home to almost all of the city's important art museums and galleries. Visitors can admire masterpieces from every artistic period and take a journey through the history of art. Looking at a work of art should always be a sensuous experience, and that's certainly what you get in the Munich Art Quarter. The three Pinakothek galleries (Alte Pinakothek, Neue Pinakothek, Pinakothek der Moderne), together with the Glyptothek museum of Greek and Roman sculptures, the Collection of Antiquities, Lenbach House and the Schack Gallery, form a unique art complex covering works ranging from ancient times and through the late Middle Ages to the present day. Scheduled to open in autumn 2008, the Brandhorst Museum will showcase the extensive collection of Udo and Annette Brandhorst. In addition to the large museums, twelve galleries have opened their doors here over the years, making this a true paradise for art lovers.
Museum of Fine Arts: A vibrant center for contemporary art
Now in a new home on Sachsenplatz square, the Museum of Fine Arts in Leipzig is one of the oldest and foremost civil collections in Germany. It is also a vibrant center for contemporary art. A large part of the collection at the Museum of Fine Arts is made up of items that have been donated or bequeathed by art-loving citizens, many of whom were merchants or intellectuals. Due to their commitment, Leipzig now has a wealth of art treasures that are in a class of their own. During a guided tour of the museum visitors also find out about the families whose former collections they are admiring. The collection of paintings and sculptures covers an exhibition space of around 5,000m² across four floors. There is also an area for temporary exhibitions.
Deutsches Museum: A Mecca for anyone interested in science and technology
The Deutsches Museum in Munich is a mecca for anyone interested in science and technology. It was founded on the initiative of Oskar von Miller (1855-1934) at the beginning of the 20th century and is one of the world's most important technology museums. Covering a total area of almost 60,000m², the Deutsches Museum has an extensive and highly interesting collection of exhibits from the worlds of science and technology: from experiments that visitors can start themselves at the push of a button and presentations about cars, airplanes or space travel to a replica mine and much more besides. The children's world also has plenty to keep budding young scientists occupied. The museum covers everything from a prehistoric stone axe to an InterCity Express train (transport), and from a pocket sun dial (astronomical instruments) to the scanning tunnel microscope (nanotechnology).
Neuschwanstein Castle: A legend set against a scenic mountain backdrop
Legendary Neuschwanstein Castle, the fairytale castle built by King Ludwig II of Bavaria, is perched on a steep cliff with the Bavarian, Lechtal and Allgäu Alps as a panoramic backdrop. Its architecture and interior furnishings are a prime example of the romantic historicism and eclecticism of the 19th century. It was King Ludwig II (1845-1886), King of Bavaria from 1864 to 1886, that commissioned the fairytale castle of Neuschwanstein set against this scenic mountain backdrop in 1869. He ordered it to be built "in the true style of the old German knights' castles". The architects Eduard Riedel and Georg Dollmann built the castle according to the King's wishes; the plans were based on stage sets designed by the Munich scene painter Christian Jank. However, Ludwig was only able to reside in the neo-Romanesque and neo-Gothic fantasy castle with its battlements, gables, turrets, drawbridges and snow-white walls for a short period after 1880. When seeing the king's castle for the first time, it feels like you are being transported into a magical fairytale world. Today, Neuschwanstein Castle is one of the most frequently visited castles in Europe.
Goethe National Museum: Many museums in one
The establishment of the Goethe National Museums in 1885 originated from a request in the will of the last of Goethe's grandchildren transferring ownership of his estate – Goethe's house and garden and the writer's collections – to the grand ducal family. Goethe's house takes pride of place in the museum ensemble put together by Carl Alexander. The whole group comprises 22 public museums perpetuating the memory of the great German author. The main component is Goethe's house and garden on Frauenplan which documents his literary and scientific achievements. Goethe lived here from 1792 until his death in 1832 with his wife Christiane Vulpius and his son August. The house remained in the possession of the family after Goethe's death until his grandson Walter opened it as the Goethe National Museum in 1885.
Städel Institute of Art and Municipal Art Gallery: At the heart of Frankfurt's museum mile
The Städel Institute of Art is one of Germany's most important and well known art museums. This highlight at the heart of Frankfurt's museum mile is simply a must for any visitor to Frankfurt. The Städel Institute of Art was founded in 1816 by the Frankfurt banker and tradesman Johann Friedrich Städel as a public gallery and art school. It also incorporates the Municipal Art Gallery, which was founded by the city of Frankfurt in 1907. Today, the Städel houses significant European works of art covering 700 years including illustrious paintings from various periods from the early 14th century, late Gothic, Renaissance and baroque to Goethe's time, and from the 19th century through to the present day. With its incredible diversity, the collection is a wonderful opportunity to explore the world of art: in addition to the well-known favorites, there's always something new to discover.
Jewish Museum, Berlin: A center for German Jewish history and culture
Opened in Berlin in 2001, Europe's largest Jewish Museum is one of the most striking examples of contemporary architecture. The sparkling, triumphant, steel-clad structure is a symbolic memorial in its own right. The museum presents the history of Jews in Germany from the Middle Ages to the present. The remarkable museum building created by the architect Daniel Libeskind is also a monument to the life of the Jewish people, its design based on half a Star of David. The extravagant structure sets a new benchmark, for the relationship between the museum collections and the architecture is unique. The construction of the Jewish Museum has seen the creation of a building full of metaphor, a true cause for contemplation. The exhibition gives visitors an insight into the fateful lives of the Jews, full of tolerance yet also persecution, of great accomplishments and wretched injustice. They saw both significant progress and tragic regression and ostracism.
Senckenberg Research Institute and Natural History Museum: A dinosaur with cult status
Senckenberg Natural History Museum in Frankfurt am Main is considered the largest natural history museum in Germany, with a number of remarkable exhibits from the worlds of biology and geology. Its dinosaur skeleton has attained cult status, especially amongst children. Built alongside the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University in 1904-1907, Senckenberg Natural History Museum offers a fascinating blend of top international research, education and culture. The research collection is one of the biggest in Europe, providing a first-rate natural history experience. The museum presents four billion years of Earth history and the diversity of life with a number of impressive exhibits: dinosaurs, anacondas, fossils from the Messel Pit Fossil Site, whales, elephants and marine creatures. Visitors can also "tour" evolution, geological history and the rainforest. This acclaimed natural history museum attracts around half a million visitors of all ages every year.
Bavarian Forest National Park
Together with the Bohemian Forest National Park adjoining it to the east, the Bavarian Forest National Park is the largest unbroken area of protected forest in central Europe.
More than 300km of clearly marked footpaths, almost 200km of cycle routes and some 80km of cross-country ski trails offer visitors plenty of opportunities to appreciate the beauty of the national park for themselves both in summer and in winter. There is a lot to discover on a journey through this unspoiled highland region, 95 per cent of which is covered by forest, from mysterious moorland and crystal-clear mountain streams to Lake Rachelsee, the national park's only glacial lake.
Berchtesgaden National Park
Guided or independent walks through the national park region are the best way to discover this magnificent landscape, which includes striking cliffs, scree slopes, Alpine meadows and expanses of mountain pine and green alder.
A trip to Lake Königssee is also a definite must. This fjord-like Alpine lake lies between Mount Watzmann, the 'Sea of Rocks' and the Hagen mountains. The lake's excellent water quality is just one example of the unspoiled nature of the national park. The region's varied scenery is complemented by the diverse local wildlife. With a bit of luck, you can encounter Alpine species such as ibex, marmots, eagles, mountain hares and Alpine salamanders in the wild – and you may even catch a glimpse of the increasingly rare golden eagle.
Keen botanists will also be in their element, with flowers such as dragon's mouth, rock jasmine and dwarf alpenrose.
Eifel National Park
The Eifel National Park is located in North Rhine-Westphalia, in the northern part of the Eifel region. Not only does it fill the gap that existed in the network of national parks in western Germany until recently, it is also the first conservation area to protect upland beech forests on acidic soil that are exposed to an Atlantic climate.
Forests that once used to produce timber are now being transformed into wild, unspoiled woodland. The park also provides a vital habitat for more than 230 endangered plant and animal species. Wildcats hunt for mice in the large expanses of forest, and beavers build their lodges in the clean water of the streams. Numerous types of bat and the kingfisher also enjoy the peace and tranquility of the national park, as do the yellow wild narcissi that delight nature lovers with their magnificent floral display in the spring.
Hainich National Park
Hainich National Park– the largest unbroken area of mixed deciduous forest in Europe – lies in Thuringia, in the eastern part of central Germany, between the spa resort of Bad Langensalza and Eisenach, home of Wartburg Castle. The bio diverse woodland habitat features an unusually high proportion of dead wood, ideal conditions for numerous organisms such as fungi, mosses, lichen and insects.
On forest walks and guided tours visitors may well encounter rare animals such as wildcats, black storks and protected bat species, e.g. Bechstein's bat. The 'Wildcat children's forest' is an attraction aimed specially at the youngest guests. A treetop trail, several hundred meters long, takes visitors across the 'roof' of the forest at a height of 44 meters.
Themed trails, for example in Brunstal, circular walks and ridge trails like the Rennsteig are great ways to explore the region's stunning landscapes. Historical towns with a rich heritage, such as the spa resort Bad Langensalza, Mühlhausen, are not just of interest to the culturally-minded. The Rennsteig trail features attractions of cultural and historical significance, for example the 1,000-year-old Mendicants' Oak and some ancient stone crosses.
Hamburg Wadden Sea National Park
Three islands on the coast of Lower Saxony, off Cuxhaven and just beyond the Elbe estuary, are the focal points of the Hamburg Wadden Sea National Park, the smallest of the three Wadden Sea parks. They are the lush, green island of Neuwerk (population approx. 40), the dune island of Scharhörn and the artificial island of Nigehörn.
On fascinating excursions through the mudflats, visitors can search for amber and see large colonies of little, common, sandwich and Arctic terns. In addition to the marvelous natural sights of the wetlands, the region also offers many cultural attractions. The history of Neuwerk Island is particularly intriguing; with records linking it to the city of Hamburg going back as far as 1299.
Harz National Park
Extending across two northern federal states, Lower Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt, the Harz National Park offers unforgettable scenery and exciting leisure activities.
The Goethe Trail and the Witches' Trail take you through legendary forests, across mysterious moors and along unspoiled streams. The region's undisputed highlight is Mount Brocken, northern Germany's highest mountain at 1,142 meters. Its peak is often only visible in outline as it is frequently shrouded in mist, a natural spectacle that gave rise to legends of witches – and to the annual Walpurgis Night celebrations. Other attractions include the Brockenbahn steam railway, the 100-year-old Brocken garden and guided walks with a park ranger. The network of the Harz narrow-gauge railway covers a total of 130km, which includes Germany's highest train station on top of Mount Brocken.
Jasmund National Park
Jasmund National Park is situated in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, in the far north-east of Germany. Its most spectacular feature is without doubt the Königsstuhl chalk cliffs, immortalized by the painter Caspar David Friedrich. The national park also contains beech forests dating back to the 13th century, which grow on the chalky Stubnitz plateau, formed during the Ice Age.
The impressive chalk cliffs are made up of a combination of active and inactive cliffs that illustrate the dynamics of the coastal erosion typical of this region. As well as white chalk for writing, observant visitors can spot ice-age sediments and fossils on the beach. A range of walks, cycle routes, excursions and seminars offer a variety of ways to explore the region's beautiful woodlands, such as the Southeast Rügen biosphere reserve.
Kellerwald-Edersee National Park
The Kellerwald-Edersee National Park in Hessen offers nature at its very best, an unspoiled paradise created through decades of dedicated conservation and forestry work. Here, there are no roads, settlements or railway lines. Instead, the region has more than 50 hills covered in a 'sea of beeches', interspersed with idyllic valley glades and meandering crystal-clear streams. Rock and boulder fields left over from the last ice age, surrounded by large-leaved limes and oaks, some of which are almost 1,000 years old, dank gorges with ash and mountain elm, orchid-filled meadows and carpets of cheddar pinks all combine to make up the national park's remarkable scenery. A wide range of fascinating guided tours, walks and cycle routes through the national park are available.
Lower Saxony Wadden Sea National Park
Situated in Lower Saxony, in the top north-western corner of Germany, the national park invites visitors on a journey to explore the remarkable wetlands along the North Sea coast. Visitors can experience magnificent natural spectacles and amazing landscapes, such as the region's characteristic salt marshes, the steep sandy dunes near Dangast and the 'floating bog' near Sehestedt, Germany's last remaining outer dike bog. A great diversity of flora and fauna flourishes in the temperate environment of the mudflats.
Müritz National Park Müritz National Park in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania is a stunningly beautiful region with countless lakes. It is also an important breeding ground for rare and endangered large birds – ideal for nature lovers and ornithologists. The chance of seeing rare animals close up, such as the endangered white-tailed eagle, pairs of ospreys in Federow and cranes, makes any excursion along the numerous cycle and walking trails a voyage of discovery.
Lower Oder Valley National Park
The Lower Oder Valley National Park, located in Brandenburg, in the north-east of Germany, is home to many species of wildlife. In addition to scarce and protected birds such as the white-tailed eagle, black stork and aquatic warbler, visitors may also be able to spot the rare beaver building dams. More than 40 types of fish and 50 different species of mammals complete this diverse range of wildlife. Due to its special significance as resting and wintering grounds for many bird species, the national park attracts hosts of visitors every year. The sight of more than 13,000 cranes descending to their migration roosts in the Oder Valley is an unforgettable experience.
Saxon Switzerland National Park
Located in Saxony, Germany's most easterly federal state, Saxon Switzerland National Park offers bizarre eroded rock formations dating from the Cretaceous period, a fascinating landscape that is the only one of its kind in central Europe. The park is characterized by sandstone cliffs, deeply carved valleys, table mountains and gorges – a truly remarkable landscape. Visitors can catch a glimpse of rare animals such as eagle owls, otters and dormice.
Schleswig-Holstein Wadden Sea National Park
Located in Schleswig Holstein, in the far north of Germany, the coastal mudflats are one of the most fascinating natural habitats in the world. These wetlands consist of a strip of land between the high and low water marks that is covered at high tide and accessible when the tide recedes. Here, visitors can experience an unspoiled natural landscape of dunes, beaches and salt marshes. Of special interest are the 'Halligen', small islands unprotected by dykes that disappear beneath the waves during storms and spring tides.
Western-Pomeranian Boddenlandschaft National Park
Situated in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, in the far north-east of Germany, the Western-Pomeranian Boddenlandschaft National Park is a remarkable landscape consisting of cliffs and dunes, spits and lagoons. It gets its name from the 'Bodden' – shallow bays cut off from the Baltic containing a mixture of salt water and fresh water – that can be explored on boat tours. A variety of guided and independent walks introduce visitors to the national park's fascinating coastline and woodland, which includes Osterwald forest on the Zingst peninsula and Darss Forest, the largest unbroken area of woodland in the park. The trails through Osterwald forest lead to splendid vantage points, such as Pramort and Hohe Düne, and across important historical salt marshes.
Berlin: Political and cultural capital with a turbulent history
Once the capital of Prussia and leading cultural center of the 1920s, today the new capital of Germany is characterized by its dazzling modernity and breathtaking architecture. Berlin is reinventing itself once again. Few cities have been shaped to such an extent by history and undergone as much major transformation as Berlin.
Cologne: The art capital on the Rhine
The cityscape of Cologne has been shaped by 2,000 years of cultural history and a combination of Roman, medieval and modern influences. The famous landmark at the heart of the city, Cologne Cathedral, is a meeting place for people from all over the world.
Dresden: City of art and culture on the Elbe
Priceless art treasures, buildings of mesmerizing beauty and classical music ensembles of world renown amidst the charming Elbe landscape are the hallmarks of Dresden, the capital of the state of Saxony.
Düsseldorf: Fashion capital and center of culture on the Rhine
Düsseldorf is a vibrant, modern city on the Rhine - elegant, welcoming and cosmopolitan with a typically light-hearted Rhenish attitude. Fashion, culture and lifestyle are its signatures.
Frankfurt: City of contrasts
Frankfurt, "city of contrasts", has the tallest building in Europe, the famous Zeil shopping street and an internationally renowned trade fair center. The picturesque Römerberg square is lined with historical timber-framed buildings.
Hamburg: Gateway to the world
Hamburg has it all: a wonderful location on the Elbe and Alster rivers, lively nightlife in St. Pauli, captivating musicals, unforgettable theatre, the "Michel" and the harbor. Hamburg is also loved for its culture.
Heidelberg: Romantic town on the River Neckar
Heidelberg's famous castle and its picturesque old quarter have inspired artists, poets, writers and composers for centuries. The German Romantics were primarily responsible for giving Heidelberg its iconic status.
Munich: Bavaria's glittering capital
Munich, the modern metropolis on the banks of the river Isar, is a dream city come true, deep in the south of Germany. With its uniquely laid-back attitude and tolerant cosmopolitan outlook, Munich is always worth a visit!
Nuremberg: Vibrant medieval town
A fascinating symbiosis of modern metropolis with a population of half a million, and medieval center, dominated by the majestic medieval Kaiserburg Castle. Nuremberg is a vibrant city with a warm, welcoming atmosphere.
Stuttgart: Multifaceted city
Surrounded by rolling hills, forests and vineyards at the heart of the Neckar valley, this regional capital has an unforgettable setting and a wealth of architectural styles that give it a charm of its own.
Below are only a few of the many restaurants all over Germany.
The 300 year old timber-framed building in the middle of Baden-Baden's pedestrianized old quarter is home to a cozy restaurant serving freshly cooked, typical Badensian dishes from a regularly changing menu.
Restaurant Alde Gott
The Alde Gott is one of southern Germany's top restaurants. It has excellent regional wines and wines from other countries. The elegant and highly regarded country house restaurant is idyllically located amid the vineyards of Baden-Baden.
Restaurant Aigner and Restaurant Altes Zollhaus
Enjoy regional specialties in a cozy setting at Restaurant Aigner on Gendarmenmarkt or the Altes Zollhaus in Mitte district.
The Hotel Adlon Kempinski is a wonderful blend of the glamorous past and the vibrant present. The first-floor French restaurant has views over the Brandenburg Gate and provides an elegant setting within which to enjoy the haute cuisine, fine wines and impeccable service. The Quarre, another restaurant in Hotel Adlon, offers views of the Brandenburg Gate as well as the Pariser Platz.
This venerable building in the old town alongside the Rhine houses a traditional restaurant consisting of several dining rooms, serving classical and Rhenish cuisine.
"Zur Tant" and "Hütter's Piccolo" restaurants
This is a listed, half-timbered building in an exposed location on the banks of the Rhine has panoramic views and a terrace. The bistro offers good homemade cooking, while the restaurant menu features a tempting range of gourmet cuisine.
There is a different menu every day, offering all the Italian classics and an excellent wine list.
The restaurant is set in an impressive Art Nouveau villa with 15th century origins just outside Darmstadt. Light, freshly prepared food with dishes based on regional products and created with French finesse.
The restaurant and café by the "Blaues Wunder", the suspension bridge over the Elbe, is a pearl of Saxon gastronomy. Inside, Art Nouveau elements, dark wood, leather furniture and fabulous chandeliers evoke intentional associations with France. The cooking is a fusion of modern and traditional. Specialties such as Saxon Sauerbraten (marinated braised beef) and other hearty dishes feature on the menu alongside traditional German dishes complemented with seasonal specialties. The café also has its own patisserie which makes a range of delicious cakes.
Restaurant Caroussel at Hotel Bülow Residenz
Top-quality light, modern cooking. The restaurant is one of the best in Saxony.
Düsseldorf is the birthplace of altbier. No visitor should leave Düsseldorf without having visited one of the well-known brewpubs in the old quarter.
Long-time holder of three Michelin stars, Jean-Claude Bourgueil celebrates French cuisine at "Im Schiffchen” in Kaiserswerth. With its historical town center, idyllic lanes and squares, Kaiserswerth on the northern bank of the Rhine provides the perfect, picturesque setting for Bourgueil's creations.
Elegantly appointed country-house-style restaurant set in a traditional timber-framed building. Carefully prepared regional dishes and an extensive choice of fine wines.
An elegant restaurant in the old town with a lovely courtyard beer garden. Attentive service combined with first-class regional and international cooking.
Adolf Wagner In this Sachsenhausen restaurant, typical regional specialties such as Handkäs or Schneegestöber (specially prepared Camembert) are served along with Äppler, the local cider. The Wagner has a long tradition, and the decor is appropriately rustic.
The Tigerpalast is an international variety theatre with a restaurant - the Tiger Restaurant - that serves light, seasonal, Mediterranean cuisine. The restaurant has been awarded a Michelin star in the international Michelin guide.
A traditional Baden country inn with dark rooms and a large central bar. The service is friendly and the menu contains Badensian specialties.
Zirbelstube L'Art de Vivre Restaurant
Stylishly appointed dining rooms create an elegantly rustic ambience in which gourmets can indulge in fine French and Mediterranean cuisine.
In the family-run Biedermeier Restaurant, Mediterranean cooking is combined with traditional German pub classics. An excellent wine list which red-wine lovers in particular will enjoy.
Bavarian and Mediterranean cuisine, café with homemade cakes, large sun terrace with covered walkways and view of the Wetterstein Mountains, right in the pedestrianized area.
Restaurant in the Grandhotel Sonnenbichl
The "Blauer Salon" is the hotel's gourmet restaurant. Seasonal international dishes created to the head chef's own recipes and a fine wine list, served up in a stylish ambience.
The informal atmosphere of the old, carefully renovated warehouse, the stylish decor and modern touches create a distinctive atmosphere where guests immediately feel at home. The first-floor restaurant affords fabulous views of the Elbe, Hamburg's harbor, cranes, dock 11 and the Blohm & Voss shipyard.
The small Seven Seas gourmet restaurant is a gem. With its simple yet sophisticated design, it provides the setting in which guests can enjoy the fine things in life. It is not just the impressive views of the Elbe, but also the exclusive atmosphere and the impeccable gourmet cuisine that make eating in this classy restaurant such a pleasure.
Broyhan Haus Hannover
Broyhan Haus is in the heart of the old quarter. Whether in the “Deele”, the “Schänke”, the “Urbock-Keller” or “Omas gute Stube”, every room in Broyhan Haus is friendly and welcoming. Beer and typical regional specialties are always on the menu.
Top-notch German cuisine made only from the finest ingredients is served up in the maze of little interconnecting rooms. The food is matched by a wine list containing a selection of the best wines.
On the twelfth floor of the Print Media Academy, guests in the stylish penthouse-floor restaurant run by star chef Manfred Schwarz have the whole of Heidelberg at their feet. The innovative overall concept of the cooking, the service, the décor and the location are excellent, as is the use of the freshest top-quality ingredients combined in exciting new ways and subtly fashioned into gourmet dishes with a regional twist.
Tasteful elegance, fine 19th century wood marquetry, plush seating, silver candelabras and the discreet splendor of the fresh flowers transport guests into another world. Modern cuisine.
The Backstube is one of Kassel's finest beer gardens. Once a bakery, within these historic walls you can now enjoy some of the finest beers. The snack menu features a range of homemade specialties. The bars and restaurants in the Wehlheide district have been an insider's tip for years.
A city center restaurant offering Italian cuisine and an excellent wine list.
A modern restaurant offering a range of international dishes. Dining in the conservatory or fireside lounge is a particularly enjoyable experience.
"Zum Hirschen" Restaurant in Lüneburghaus
This delightful little gourmet restaurant is situated on the first floor of Lüneburghaus in the old town. The restaurant's evening menu features gourmet cuisine and traditional regional dishes. Extensive wine list.
Auerbachs Keller is the authentic historical cellar restaurant featured in "Faust", the drama by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Today it is still the same as it has been for generations - both before and after Goethe's time. The menu on offer in the various rooms always features a "set meal from Saxony", a "small set meal", a "large set meal" and a choice of dishes prepared using the freshest seasonal ingredients.
This is an elegant, fully glazed gourmet restaurant right next door to the main entrance to the Gewandhaus concert hall. It serves modern and classic gourmet dishes, always perfectly prepared.
Enjoy a range of fine and inspired Italian cuisine in an elegant atmosphere. Indulge your taste buds with seasonal specialties and fresh produce in a variety of creative dishes. Game fish is a particular specialty of the house. The mouth-watering menu is accompanied by a selection of exquisite wines.
Doblers Restaurant L'Epi d'Or
You'll recognize the L’Epi d’Or by its timber frames and bull's-eye window panes - a restaurant that harks back to the time when Mannheim was renowned for its Badensian and Alsatian hospitality. First-rate dining and a range of tempting culinary delights in a relaxed atmosphere.
"Die Schwemme" restaurant in the Augustiner Bräuhaus
The only establishment of its kind in the city. When you've had enough of fine sauces and tender chicken breasts, try some hearty roast pork with dumplings and sauerkraut.
Germany has no end of shopping opportunities. Every major town has its own shopping street, and there are also shopping malls on the outskirts of the urban centers providing plenty more opportunity to indulge in some retail therapy.
Lots of companies that manufacture branded goods have their own factory outlet on site. The range includes porcelain, crystal, high-street fashion, designer fashion, household goods, shoes and much more. The goods are usually end-of-season overstocks and shoppers can save 25% to 50%, or sometimes even more.
It's a good idea to make sure you have an accurate map. The manufacturers' sales outlets are often out of town, or located in industrial parks. Generally, the only forms of payment accepted are cash or EC cards, and goods cannot be exchanged or returned. The precise addresses are listed in bargain-hunters' guides ("Schnäppchenführer") which are available from book shops. Designer outlet centers have several different stores selling last season's collections, end-of-range lines, seconds and overstocks at prices between 10 and 70 per cent off. These centers are usually located in industrial parks located within easy reach of several major towns and cities.
Flea markets are popular in Germany. Clothes, books, household equipment, furniture, antiques and any number of other second hand goods are jumbled together on open-air stalls. Customers and stall-holders haggle over prices. Flea markets are not just for bargain hunters; they are also popular with casual visitors for their unique atmosphere. Most flea markets are held on Saturdays.
Popular souvenirs from Germany include the Black Forest cuckoo clock, beer tankards from Bavaria, Meissen porcelain, wood carvings from the Erzgebirge Mountains and Steiff teddy bears. Other tourist destinations also have their own souvenirs with references to local tradition and culture.
Centers and Streets
The busiest shopping street in Germany is Zeil in Frankfurt. In Munich, the pedestrian area extends between Stachus (Karlsplatz) and Marienplatz (Kaufingerstrasse/Neuhauserstrasse). Cologne's classic shopping streets are Hohe Strasse and Schildergasse, while in Düsseldorf you should head for Königsallee. In Hamburg, Mönckebergstrasse has an impressive range of shops. Berlin's 3.5 kilometer Kurfürstendamm or "Ku'damm", as it is known, is famed all over the world for its shops, bars and restaurants. Shopping centers bring together stores from a range of different sectors to offer a vast choice of goods under one roof. They are usually located on the edges of major conurbations or on greenfield sites. The Main-Taunus-Zentrum (MTZ) to the west of Frankfurt is Germany's oldest shopping mall and has more than 100 stores. With almost 200 shops, Centro Oberhausen in the Ruhr area is one of Germany's largest shopping malls.
KaDeWe Department Store Berlin: Tradition and zeitgeist
KaDeWe is one of Germany's pioneering department stores. As early as 1907, it provided its customers with a staggering range of goods across five huge floors. The allure of the finest quality goods is as strong today as it ever was. The food hall on the top floor is legendary. Continental Europe's largest department store stocks a range of 1,800 brands – from international designer labels via jeweler, cosmetics and lifestyle goods, right through to its best-known consumer magnet, the exquisite gastronomic paradise of its food hall. Refined palates will find it hard to choose between around 33,000 delicacies from all corners of the world.
Munich City Center: Joie de vivre and shopping heaven
The Fünf Höfe (five courtyards) are in a class of their own when it comes to fashion, literature, lifestyle and cafés. This pedestrianized shopping center between Odeonsplatz square and Marienplatz square is the perfect combination of consumerism, art and culture. Between Kardinal Faulhaber Strasse, Theatinerstrasse and Salvatorstrasse you'll only find the finer things in life: the latest trends from prestigious designers and the most audacious trendsetters alongside stunning footwear and bags, accessories for the home from Manufactum, books and cosmetics. In the yellow building in the Dienerstrasse, just a stone's throw away, is "Alois Dallmayr", Munich's number one delicatessen.
Frankfurt City Center: An international city you can explore on foot
Frankfurt's shopping is as varied as its cityscape. The skyscraper-dominated skyline contrasts with historical Römerberg square by the town hall, while the nearby Braubachstrasse is popular with lovers of art and antiques. The town center and the neighboring shopping streets are all within walking distance. The shopping boulevard of "Zeil" is characterized by its huge department stores, selling a stunning array of international brand goods, cosmetics and fashions under one roof. Nestling between are boutiques, jeweler shops, shoe stores and electronics emporiums. Goethestrasse is lined with international designer-label shops, and Kleine Bockenheimerstrasse is affectionately known as the "Fressgass“ (literally: "Glutton Lane"), because of its long-established delicatessens.
Cologne City Center: In the shadows of the cathedral
The Hohe Strasse has been the talk of the town since 1967 – it's 1km of pedestrianized shopping heaven that starts at the cathedral. And the 15,000 shoppers per hour who grace the Schildergasse simply cannot be wrong. Huge department stores, fashion houses, shoe emporiums, book stores, consumer electronics, smaller bargain boutiques nestling among unexpectedly exquisite shops, fast-food joints or trendy street cafes – the vibrant mix you'd expect to find in any pedestrianized area. And as soon as this area ends, the next shopping area begins – the Neumarkt center which is famously adorned with an ice cream cone on its roof!
Hamburg's Mönckebergstrasse: The Hanseatic city's main shopping street
In the heart of this Hanseatic city you can shop for the latest goods among the historical façades of the palatial shopping arcades or in state-of-the-art buildings. Europe's largest sports shop, the world's biggest electronics store, and the largest shoe store in Europe are sure to whet your shopping appetite. Along the "Mö", as the people of Hamburg like to call their favorite shopping street, the old merchant's villas are now home to a wide variety of huge department stores. Ever since it was built at the beginning of the 20th century, this magnificent boulevard between the main train station and the town hall has embodied the economic power of the Hanseatic city and today welcomes visitors from all over the world.
"Königsallee" in Düsseldorf: The last word in labels, looks and luxury
Düsseldorf has been setting trends since the days of the Electors in the 18th century. The modern era kicked off in 1949 with a street fashion show on the Königsallee, also affectionately known as the "Kö”. This was then followed by the huge fashion and footwear trade shows that made the city a hotbed of international design. Several times a year the world's most prestigious fashion designers congregate in this city on the Rhine. Shortly afterwards their collections are showcased in the elegant window displays of the "Kö". Stroll around and enjoy the exclusive ambience of this renowned boulevard with its exquisite designer-label boutiques and shopping arcades, stopping off for a delicious treat in one of the cafés.
Stuttgart City Center: Königstrasse, Mercedes and Porsche
The Königstrasse (King Street), is a fitting name for Stuttgart's premier shopping boulevard. Mercedes-Benz and Porsche are the most prestigious names to originate from Stuttgart, a city synonymous with the car industry. The Königstrasse (King Street) is characterized on the one hand by department stores, fashion chains and specialist shops, and on the other by cafés, street musicians and the serene palace square. Get the full Porsche experience on a tour of the factory situated in the Zuffenhausen suburb. The car with the star also has something for the tourist with its high-tech Mercedes-Benz museum that tells the story of automobile history.
Heidelberg Old Town: Style and tradition in the side-streets
In the Hauptstrasse that runs parallel to the Neckar River, there is more than one kilometer of shopping heaven between Bismarckplatz and the Karlstor arch, with enchanting side-streets, historical surroundings and modern living. This is where the heart of the old town beats. A pleasant stroll along more than a kilometer of shops. Rummage around in antique shops and second-hand book stores, visit an art gallery or browse through bookshops. Be inspired by trendy, young boutiques, track down designer labels or explore the department stores. Sniff out the Christmas atmosphere of the Käthe Wohlfahrt shop or buy yourself a cuckoo clock, and top it all off with a glass of Heidelberg wine in one of the student bars.
Bremen's Schnoor District: Authentic shopping
The Church of St. John dominates the romantic narrow streets and small town houses. The oldest district in this Hanseatic city, once occupied by fisherman and artisans, is today home to artists, galleries and a vibrant array of shops and restaurants. The proprietors of these small shops, bars and restaurants have given them an exquisite, original and fiercely individual feel. Bremen specialties include aromatic teas and hand-painted crockery. You can also find high-quality leather goods, fashion – both elegant and all-weather, quirky tin ornaments and Christmas decorations all year round.
Discover Germany by Bike
Millions of visitors to Germany have already discovered that exploring the country by bike can be both relaxing and exciting. You can find a selection of the most beautiful long-distance bicycle routes and regions.
Germany is a traveler's paradise with its romantic forests, picturesque hill and mountain landscapes, and tranquilly embedded seas. From hikes along tidal shores to trips through the low mountain regions all the way to mountain-top tours, everything is possible. The proximity to nature, the countryside and the people allows the hiker to experience Germany intensively. Numerous trails lead through the most beautiful natural landscapes which can be divided into several stages for hiking trips. Along many of these routes are hotels and inns that provide specialized accommodations for hikers. Many trip-organizers offer comfortable "hiking without luggage" packages. Youth groups can frequently choose from various camps, leisure activities, adventurous hiking trips and youth educational programs.
German winter sports areas have a lot to offer: alpine skiing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing, toboggans, curling, tours on the sledge, hiking etc. Thanks to the good infrastructure, the winter sports areas are easy to reach. The excellent local services make the winter sports areas very accessible. Germany has over 300 winter sports towns and a few among them are internationally well-known.
Bundesliga football in Germany: A unique experience
The Bundesliga, Germany's thrilling, two-tiered national football league, has a huge and dedicated following. Thousands upon thousands of German fans - and visitors from abroad - descend on towns and cities throughout "Destination Germany" to watch breathtaking football action and enjoy the electric atmosphere in Germany's state-of-the-art stadiums. As a result of the 2006 FIFA World Cup™, the Bundesliga now boasts the most modern stadiums in the world. Whether newly built or modernized for the tournament, these temples to football - which are also found outside the World Cup host cities - herald yet another dramatic rise in comfort and safety standards. Factor in the emotional rollercoaster-ride that is Bundesliga football, and you've got the perfect mix for any football fan.