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Germany wears its riches well: elegant big-city charm, small picture-postcard towns, pagan-inspired harvest festivals, a wealth of art and culture and the perennial pleasures of huge tracts of forest, delightful castles and fine wine and beer are all there for the savoring.
Deep in the heart of Europe, Germany has had a seminal impact on Continental history. From Charlemagne and the Holy Roman Empire to Otto von Bismarck’s German Reich, Nazism and the rise and fall of the Berlin Wall, no other nation has molded Europe the way Germany has. Today Germany is a leading member of the European Union and an important economic force.
Whether you’re are looking to explore the beautiful landscape of the Bavarian Alps, wander through the enchanted halls of Neuschwanstein Castle, or experience the buzz of modern Berlin, Germany has it all! The co-existence of old world charm and modern living make it an ideal destination for American travelers. With a large selection of contemporary hotels, diverse food and drink options and outstanding public transit, there is little else a traveler could desire.
We know know that getting from the castles to the festivals and back to the shop-lined thoroughfares is the fun part, for Germany takes great pride in its routes. The nation boasts 150 official routes known as vacation highways. The most famous is the Romantic Road, a 220-mile journey from Wuerzburg to Füssen that begins at exit A-7 off the Autobahn and dreamily wends past Visit the magical realm of Rothenburg-ob-der-Tauber, the Roman remains in Augsburg and Neuschwanstein, “Mad” King Ludwig II’s unforgettable castle that claims to be the most photographed building in the world. Neuschwanstein was the inspiration for Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty Castle and is an easy day trip from Munich. This stunning structure is the ideal of romantic architecture, and is one of the many fairy tale castles dotted throughout Germany.
“Rhine in Flames” between Spay and Koblenz
The biggest night out on the Rhine takes place every second Saturday in August. “Rhine in Flames” marks its arrival by lighting up the night sky between the Rhine village of Spay and Deutsches Eck in Koblenz where the Rhine and Moselle converge. This stunning pyrotechnic display, featuring colourful fountains, Catherine wheels and crackling comets, has enthralled visitors in their thousands for more than 50 years now.
The home of Bach and Beethoven, Germany boasts around 300 theatres, 130 professional orchestras and 630 art museums with internationally acclaimed collections. Even though German is the primary language, many also speak English, making it easy for non-German speaking visitors to communicate. Thirteen national parks offer a quiet escape from the hustle and bustle of the big city. The only challenge may be choosing whether to explore them by bike, by foot, by boat, or by horseback.
Museum Island (Museumsinsel) in Berlin’s historic heart is home to five world-class museums; this unique ensemble of historic museum buildings, all built under different Prussian kings, is a UNESCO World Heritage site and covers everything from the famous bust of Egyptian Queen Nefertiti to European paintings from the 19th century. Museum Island is home to the Altes Museum, the Alte Nationalgalerie , Bode Museum, Neues Museum, and Pergamon Museum, which is one of the most visited museums in Germany thanks to its monumental reconstructed temples and gates of the ancient world.
As the home of the high performance car, Germany is the place to experience an adrenaline rush. With more than 200 attractions and museums offering car and technology themed activities it is easy to please any car enthusiast. Or…even better, rent a car for a drive on the autobahn, where there is no speed limit! (True story: my dad got lost on the Autobahn. Doesn’t read German and my brother was ahead of him, driving a bit too fast for Dad to keep up in the rental car. HOURS later, he showed up at their house, a bit bedraggled. Moral of the story: don’t lose Dad!)
You may want to try one these beauties…..or maybe your budget runs more to one of MY first cars…
Germany is a beautiful county, at once ancient and modern. (The Romans named the Black Forest for its thick canopy of trees that blocked the sun.)
Inspiration aside, Germany also knows a thing or two about castles and festivals. Inside these historic borders you will find 5,000 castles and palaces dotting the tranquil countryside and 10,000 festivals and fairs held each year, such as Hamburg’s Harbour Anniversary and the Rhineland Karneval.
A Christmas market, also known as Christkindlmarkt, Christkindlesmarkt, Christkindlmarket, and Weihnachtsmarkt, is a street market associated with the celebration of Christmas during the four weeks of Advent. These markets originated in Germany, Austria and Alsace. The history of Christmas markets goes back to the Late Middle Ages in the German speaking part of Europe. Today there are all kinds of Holiday Market tours to choose from, along with many Holiday river cruises. Just pack light and bring an extra suitcase for all the treasures you’ll buy!
Major German Cities~
Berlin – The capital of Germany, which has been enormously affected by an incredible history as well as the dynamic changes since the Wall came down, exerts a very special kind of fascination. No other European metropolis has seen so much change in recent years. Of course, famous sightseeing landmarks like the Brandenburg Gate, Reichstag and East Side Gallery still bear witness to the history of the city – but today Berlin presents itself as a young, dynamic metropolis open to the world right in the heart of Europe, setting new trends in architecture, art and fashion. Discover its diversity – enjoy Berlin!
Bremen–A free-spirited and fiercely independent wind whistles through Bremen’s nooks and crannies. This wind certainly attracted a donkey, a hound, a cat and a cockerel in the Grimm Brother’s tale of ’The Bremen Town Musicians.’ Now the city’s mascots, the four of them headed for Bremen to start a new life as musicians. Their motto is still ringing true today: “We are off to Bremen – you will find something better than death everywhere.” As Germany’s second largest port, Bremen’s link to the sea and its get up and go spirit are undeniable.
Cologne–It’s said that natives of Cologne who are living elsewhere always feel homesick. Visitors to the city will soon understand why. Germany’s oldest metropolis, which, of course, gave its name to Eau de Cologne, offers a mix of magnificent and romantic churches, the latest in modern architecture, busy shopping streets and world-famous museums. And we haven’t even mentioned the carnival!Considered a question of honor to embrace Carnival, all sense of normality disappears during Carnival season in Cologne as the whole city enters the party spirit. Respectable workers ditch their suits for clown costumes and hit the streets to party and dance. At 11.11 am on 11 February the main carnival week is declared officially open with the Women’s Carnival Day. The main event, Rosenmontag, takes place on the Monday when Cologne has its own unique version of parade through the heart of Cologne. Tractors and highly decorated buses take over as the city becomes a sea of color.
Dresden–The historical centre of Dresden is located on the left bank of the Elbe, at the peak of a graceful river bend. Protected for centuries by mighty fortifications, the Saxon capital developed splendour and activity. Even today the buildings from the Renaissance, baroque and 19th century determine the Elbe front and the face of the city. Viewed from the opposite bank or from one of the Elbe bridges Dresden presents itself at first glance as a cultural city of European rank.
In spite of vast destruction during the Second World War, the Old City part of Dresden has preserved or regained fascinating ensembles. The most famous symbol of reconstruction in the city centre is the Dresden Frauenkirche Church, the magnificent baroque dome, which already today dominates the city centre. Many important cultural institutions are situated along the Old City-side of the Elbe banks: from the Old Masters Picture Gallery to the Green Vault, the treasure chamber of the Saxon electors and kings.
Duesseldorf houses “the longest bar in the world,” Germany’s finest shopping boulevard Königsallee, and countless museums, theatres and attractions underscoring the city as a major arts centre. It offers the legendary cheer of the Rhineland with all its quaint traditions in perfect harmony with all the luxuries of a truly cosmopolitan city.Shopping often takes on a festive atmosphere on famous thoroughfares like Düsseldorf’s Konigsallee.
Frankfurt has more to offer than gleaming skyscrapers, European Central Bank and expensive restaurants. Behind its shiny facade are medieval neighborhoods, inviting parks perfect for a picnic and surprisingly healthy outdoor living.
Hamburg–The River Elbe is the lifeblood and Lake Alster is the heart. Life in Hamburg is characterized by the proximity to water. In this beautiful urban environment the visitor finds historic buildings, squares and fountains that are intermingled with hundreds of shops in both Jugend style houses and modern buildings.
Hannover Region–A modern metropolis set among countless idyllic little towns and villages – the Hannover Region is an area full of exciting and alluring contrasts. With its program of major events and top-ranking open-air concerts, the baroque Royal Gardens of Herrenhausen and its top-notch artistic and cultural offerings, Hannover can boast a range of absorbing leisure activities that scarcely any other city can rival. Among the tourist highlights of the area surrounding the state capital are Lake Steinhude, the ridge of the Deister Hills or Marienburg Castle. These attractive destinations can easily be incorporated into a day’s program of great diversity.
Heidelberg–“The city in its setting and entire surroundings may be said to have something ideal.” (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, 1797). Scarcely any other European city has had its praises so often sung as Heidelberg. The mysterious Heidelberg Castle, the picturesque Old Town, and as Goethe himself stated, the perfection of its setting – in the nineteenth century, all of this attracted the German romanticists, who immortalized Heidelberg in poetry, music, and art. Today the charm of Old Heidelberg is combined with a future-oriented and international focus.
Leipzig–Apart from being the hometown of Johann Sebastian Bach and Felix Mendelssohn, Leipzig is also one of Germany’s tourism hot spots, and a centre for commerce and culture. With its rich history, beautiful architecture, a vibrant cultural scene, great shopping and a lively nightlife, Leipzig bids you welcome!
Munich–In Munich exclusive shopping, fashionable streets and monumental buildings co-exist with lederhosen, brass music and rustic beer halls. Visitors can start their day in a simple bar with knuckle of pork and sauerkraut, and end it in a gourmet temple with white linen tablecloths. Moreover, Germany’s most cheerful residents live here. But you have without doubt already discovered that.
Nuremberg–Once you’ve experienced the city’s enchanting historical ambience and seen the mighty Kaiserburg, you’ll never forget them. The beautiful Old Town, which is the epitome of medieval charm, is nestled at the foot of the castle. It’s home to historical buildings, spectacular churches, one of Germany’s largest pedestrian areas and the traditional Hauptmarkt. But Nuremberg is more than just a melting pot of cultural highlights. Bavaria’s second-largest city also offers a wealth of culinary delights, so why not stop off at one of the traditional Bratwursthäuser (sausage restaurants) and try a “3 im Weckla” (Nuremberg grilled sausages in a roll.)
Stuttgart–Embedded between green valleys and rich vineyards, Stuttgart is a true gem. While steeped in century-old tradition, it has been home to the most keen-minded inventors. The automobile, the office photocopier and the brassiere were invented here, to mention only a few. You’ll find a lively mix of people, joined together by the region’s Swabian roots. Come and enjoy the buzz of this young, green metropolis! Home to Porsche–you might just pick up a souvenir to ship home!
The Long and Winding Bike Trail
For those who prefer two wheels to four, long-distance bike routes race across the country. There are more than 200 long-distance bikes routes in Germany set away from busy roads, with some completely car free. Each route has its own name, and signposts keep you headed in the right direction.
We can set up a balanced itinerary, where cycling is just one part of a diverse, exciting vacation experience. Like roaring through the Alps on a train, where you can hop on and off to bike the sections you choose. Most importantly, we’ll arrange all the details so all you have to concentrate on is the road ahead.
The German writer Hermann Hesse wrote, “One never reaches home, but wherever friendly paths intersect the whole world looks like home for a time.” You’ll find the friendliest and most scenic paths intersecting in Germany, with your feet on the pedals and your eyes smiling forward.