Country guides Europe
Germany Travel Guide
Emerging from a troubled 20th-century history like a BMW with a re-tuned engine, Germany is now one of the most stable and progressive countries in the world. The country is home to forests, river valleys, mountains, historic towns, and unique culinary experiences. Visitors can also enjoy a diverse range of cultural riches, several truly cosmopolitan cities, a famous beer and wine industry, and 44 UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Most foreign visitors to Germany choose to visit vibrant Berlin or cheerful Munich, but there are a wealth of other prime tourist destinations as well. Several themed tourist routes take in the gorgeous countryside featuring notable cultural assets such as Germany's wine routes, historic castles, the famous Black Forest and more. The capital lies in the east and is home to the Brandenburg Gate, Germany's most iconic landmark. Tourists can stroll past the historic Berlin Wall and admire the world's largest open-air art gallery. To the west sits Cologne Cathedral, a prime example of gothic architecture. The north of the country houses the bridges and canals of Hamburg as well as the resorts of the North Sea. Bavaria and the world's favourite beer festival, Oktoberfest, attract visitors to the south.
For those seeking high culture, Germany abounds with jazz clubs, concert halls and art galleries (such as Berlin's Gemaldegalerie). For a more sobering and poignant experience tourists can visit the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site.
With something to offer everyone, from independent backpackers to discerning older travellers, family vacationers and everyone in between, Germany is a sure bet for an unforgettable European holiday.
Best time to visit Germany
There is no bad time of year to visit Germany as each season has its own charms and drawbacks. Spring (March - May) is a lovely time of year, full of warm days and a blooming countryside. Summer (June - August) is magnificent, with resplendent sunshine and long days, although this is high tourist season, and so airfares and accommodation prices are at their highest and queues for tourist attractions are long. Autumn (September - November) is great for festivals, including Oktoberfest; while in winter (December - February), airfares and accommodation prices plummet and Germany's famous Christmas Festivals provide warmth and cheer to stave off the snowy temperatures.
What to see in Germany
-The Cologne Cathedral is a sombre, imposing Gothic masterpiece that will leave an indelible impression on any visitor.
-The historic Brandenburg Gate is not just a great tourist site, but the very symbol of Germany's proud cultural heritage.
-The awesome size and grandeur of the Renaissance-era Heidelberg Castle is not to be missed.
-The Porta Nigra ('Black Gate') in Trier is a Roman structure dating back to the year 180 AD.
What to do in Germany
-Get your drinking arm in shape and take on stein after stein of local brew at Oktoberfest, the world's most beloved beer festival.
-Travel deep into the Bavarian mountains and visit the fairy-tale castle of Neuschwanstein.
-Rent a car and take on the Romantic Road, a suitably-named route that takes in the best of Bavaria, from rolling vineyards to medieval towns and historic castles.
-Go hiking, walking or biking through the Black Forest, and reward yourself afterwards with a piece of traditional black forest cake.
Getting to Germany
There are ample direct cheap flights to Germany available from a variety of British and American cities. Flights are cheapest in winter, late-autumn and early-spring, and far more expensive in summer, which is the chief tourist season.
Buddenbrooks by Thomas Mann, The Reader by Bernhard Schlink, Absolute Friends by John le Carre, and The Bridge of the Golden Horn by Emine Sevgi Ozdamar.
Rammstein, Wir Sind Helden, Tokio Hotel, and Nicolaus A. Huber.
Run Lola Run (1998), The Reader (2008), Wings of Desire (1987), and Goodbye Lenin (2003).
Germany is world-famous for its beer and wine, with an inexhaustible selection of local brews and blends for tourists to try out.
Wursts (sausages) of various description are popular, as are kartoffels (crispy potato pancakes), sauerkraut (a cabbage-based side dish) and bretzeln (pretzels).
What to buy
Cuckoo clocks, chocolate and Bavarian beer mugs.
What to pack
When packing for Germany, tourists should bear in mind that German weather can be highly changeable. Make sure you pack clothes for all eventualities: a good coat, an effective raincoat, and some lightweight clothes for when the sun is out.
What's on in Germany
Bavaria's Oktoberfest (September/October) is the world's favourite beer-based cultural festival, drawing about six million visitors every year. The Berlin International Film Festival (October) is one of the industry's most highly respected festivals, with the world's best new cinema competing for the coveted Gold and Silver Bear awards. Berlin's Christmas Markets offer traditional German Christmas food and handicrafts.
Did you know?
-Every day, more than 300 different kinds of bread are prepared in bakeries across Germany.
-There are more football fan clubs in Germany than in any other country.
-70 percent of Germany's highways have no speed limit.
A final word
Whether you're looking for fun and trendy cities, gorgeous countryside or significant cultural sights, Germany has it all; it is one of the most versatile tourist destinations in Europe.