Central Europe’s largest country
Germany is a federation of 16 states, each with a distinct culture. Lederhosen, beer festivals, world finance and precision engineering are only half the story. If you take time to really explore each region, your itinerary could look like this: Browse a book fair, visit a museum and marvel at the skyscrapers in Frankfurt. Travel south to the Black Forest and beautiful Lake Constance, and go hiking or skiing in the Alps. Take a fast train to Munich in the heart of Bavaria, home of Oktoberfest, majestic castles and cobblestoned villages. Visit Courtroom 600, scene of the Nuremberg trials. Relive a Grimm fairytale with a hike through a dense ancient forest in Thuringia, and travel north to the capital Berlin for elegant clubs, shopping and a peek at the Brandenburg Gate. Head to Hamburg for its harbour and Reeperbahn, and finish your tour in the vineyards of the Rhine Valley.
‘Only here for the beer’ would be a misrepresentation of this diverse country, though nothing much beats a stein of cool, pure Weissbier in a Bavarian beer garden! Go for the vibrant culture, lively nightlife, deep forests, clean mountain air and chocolate-box villages. Germany is renowned for its ‘gemuetlichkeit’ (guest-friendliness).
When to Go?
May to September are the most popular times to visit Germany, though better deals and fair weather can often be found between March-May and October-November. Summers are generally sunny and warm while winter months are characterised by below-freezing temperatures and short days. Germany favours outdoor pursuits like hiking and skiing, so providing you pack the right clothes, it’s enjoyable at any time of year. The German calendar is studded with festivals – Oktoberfest is particularly popular.
How to get there?
Frankfurt International Airport (FRA) is Germany’s largest airport and the country’s main gateway for international flights. There are also major airports in Düsseldorf, Munich, Hamburg, Cologne/Bonn, Stuttgart and two in Berlin – Schönefeld and Tegel. Bremen, Dresden, Erfurt, Hanover, Leipzig, Münster-Osnabrück and Nuremberg have their own smaller airports and budget airlines use outlying airports such as Frankfurt Hahn which is 110km northwest of Frankfurt. Direct flights operate from most UK airports.
City and nature lovers will be equally satisfied in Germany. Edgy Berlin offers world-class museums, shops, restaurants, bars and clubs while Hamburg is popular for its nightclubs, casinos and musicals. Dresden is famous for its art galleries and opera houses, while Cologne’s skyline is dominated by an impressive cathedral. Visit a boisterous beer hall in Munich or take to the outdoors with a visit to the Berchtesgaden, a sprawling alpine resort with snowy peaks and dreamy lakes. Explore the rugged chalk cliffs of Rügen Island or walk on the ocean floor between tides at Sylt.