reasons to travel to germany
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I’m sometimes asked why I visit Germany so often, and the reason is simple: I just love Germany! Contrary to a common perception of Germany as being somewhat staid, the country is very diverse, both geographically and culturally, and it’s this great diversity that I find so appealing. There are countless interesting places to visit in Germany; from the sandy beaches of its North Sea islands to vibrant cities like Berlin and Hamburg, picturesque medieval towns, the Rhine Valley with its vineyards and castles, and the majestic Alps in the south, Germany is a multi-faceted destination that never ceases to amaze. Add to that a centuries-old cultural legacy, friendly, hospitable people and fantastic food and wines (and beer!), and you get a plethora of reasons to visit Germany.

reasons to visit germany
A colourful street in Berlin.

Memories of Germany

I first visited Germany about thirty years ago, when, as a teenager, I embarked on an unforgettable Rhine River road trip, starting in the Netherlands and following the river past cities like Cologne, Bonn, Heidelburg and Freiburg. Since that first trip, I’ve done this route a few more times by car, train and boat (it never gets boring)!

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The Rhine Valley is full of imposing castles and charming towns. This is the Stolzenfels Castle in the UNESCO Heritage listed Upper Middle Rhine Valley.
Heidelberg

My second trip followed a year later, in 1991: I went on a road trip to explore East Germany. The Berlin Wall had fallen and the reunification of West- and East Germany was starting to gain momentum. It was a remarkable trip in which I visited cities like Jena, Weimar, Erfurt, Eisenach and Dresden. It was an extraordinary time, when the pothole-filled roads were packed with rickety Trabants, the towns were covered in soot and Soviet soldiers still patrolled the region.

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The statues of Goethe and Schiller stand tall outside the National Theater of Weimar. They are two of Weimar’s most famous residents and these days, visitors can see their former homes and museums dedicated to their work. The theater played an important role in German history. The first German constitution, also known as the Weimar Constitution – revolutionary in its day for championing women’s rights, universal suffrage, education and promoting democratic values – was created here in 1919. The semi-circular window was also where the German flag was hoisted for the very first time.

Yet, change was all around and the excitement of the people was tangible. I vividly remember sitting in a square in Jena, surrounded by dilapidated buildings and being served a West German beer by a visibly proud café owner. Or my stay at the historic Wartburg Castle (where Martin Luther once stayed and now a UNESCO World Heritage site), which was hastily being converted into a hotel – I was perhaps one of the first guests there and had the entire castle to myself!

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Wartburg Castle is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Ten reasons to visit Germany

Since then, I’ve travelled to Germany many times – it’s less than a two-hour drive or train ride from my home in Amsterdam – often for a city break but I’ve also done numerous road trips throughout the country. I’ve racked up many more fabulous memories of Germany and I can’t wait to return and see more of the country. If you’re wondering why you should consider Germany as your next holiday destination, here are ten great reasons (including ideas for where to go in Germany):

1. It’s so easy to get around

Lying in the heart of Europe, Germany has one of the most extensive road and rail networks in the world. With its famous autobahn and efficient ICE high-speed trains, it’s incredibly easy to explore Germany by car or train.

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Germany has a fantastic high-speed rail network.

2. Scenic road trips

I love going on a road trip in Germany and there are many routes to choose from. The Rhine River route from Cologne via Koblenz to Freiburg (at the edge of the Black Forest in southern Germany) is one of my favourites. In this land of the Riesling, you’ll pass many castles, picturesque medieval towns and mile after mile of vineyards. Make sure to stop at towns such as Rüdesheim, Bacharach and St. Goarshausen.

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Castles and vineyards galore in the Rhine Valley.
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Pfalzgrafenstein Castle on Pfalz island in the Rhine River.
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The Deutsches Eck monument at the confluence of the Rhine and Moselle Rivers in Koblenz.

From Koblenz, another route that’s absolutely gorgeous follows the Moselle River. This region of forested hills, vineyards and quaint villages is perfect for great food, wines and leisurely hikes.

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Cochem is a lovely town on the banks of the Moselle River.

One other route I’ve driven several times follows Highway 4 from Eisenach (the birthplace of Bach) past historic cities such as Gotha, Erfurt (with its incredibly preserved medieval centre), Weimar (the home of Goethe and Schiller) and Dresden, and ends at Görlitz at the Polish border.

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Domplatz or Cathedral Square in Erfurt.

Another stunning Germany road trip is the Romantic Road. Starting in Würzburg, the 400km route passes charming towns, verdant forests and dozens of historic monuments, and ends at the world-famous Neuschwanstein Castle.

One route that’s high on my list is the German Alpine Road which skirts the northern flanks of the Alps. This 450km route passes incredible Alpine scenery, glistening lakes and beautiful castles.

Talking about castles, there’s also a Castle Road! This 1,200km-long route stretches from Mannheim right into the Czech Republic and passes many medieval castles, palaces, abbeys and historic towns.

If you’re a fan of Bauhaus architecture, you’ll love discovering the Bauhaus locations in Germany while you explore places like Weimar, Erfurt, Dessau, Dornburg and Berlin.

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The Bauhaus Academy in Dessau.

3. Vibrant cities

I’m a big fan of Germany city breaks! Berlin, the capital of cool, in itself represents one solid reason to visit Germany, but other cities like Hamburg, Munich, Cologne, Leipzig and Dresden are great destinations too. They offer a broad array of attractions and sights to keep visitors occupied for at least several days.

The Berliner Dom or Cathedral.
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The Rathaus (City Hall) in Hamburg.
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Dresden at twilight.
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Cologne waterfront.

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When you stroll around any of the cities, keep on the lookout for great street art. Street art in Germany is absolutely amazing!

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A mural in Leipzig depicting the fall of the Berlin Wall.
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The iconic ‘Kiss’ mural at the East Side Gallery, a famous attraction in Berlin.

4. Nature – islands to forests, lakes and mountains

Germany is home to an incredibly diverse array of natural attractions. The country counts no less than 106 nature parks, 16 national parks and 16 UNESCO Biosphere parks! In the north, the Wadden Sea islands such as Amrum and Baltrum offer expansive dunes, sandy beaches and colourful fishing villages. Another nature park in the north is the Bourtanger Moor-Bargerveen International Nature Park which extends from the Dutch province of Drenthe and continues into Lower Saxony, and consists of wild moorlands and sandy dunes.

In the south, you’ll find one of Germany’s largest nature parks: Altmühl Valley Nature Park. Located in Bavaria, this 3,000 square kilometer nature park is home to numerous hiking and cycling paths, the Danube Gorge and the oldest brewery in the world!

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Gorgeous fall colours of the Altmühl Valley Nature Park.

Also in the south, you’ll find the Berchtesgaden National Park, the only German national park in the Alps, and the world-famous Black Forest.

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A green meadow at the edge of the Black Forest.
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The jagged peaks of the Zugspitze, Germany’s highest mountain.

5. Historical attractions

Germany’s long and often tempestuous history provides the backdrop for an enormous variety of historical attractions: from the castles of King Ludwig and centuries-old monasteries, to the Reichstag in Berlin and the industrial legacy represented by the Völklingen Ironworks. There are more than 40 UNESCO World Heritage sites in Germany, making it a haven for history and culture enthusiasts.

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The famous Neuschwanstein Castle.
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The iconic Frauenkirsche in Dresden.

6. Amazing museums

Through the centuries, German artists have played an important role in art movements, classical and modern music, design and architecture. This rich history comes to life in its more than 6,000 museums.

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The gallery of statues and busts at the Old Masters Gallery in Dresden.

The Museum Island in Berlin – with its eight world-class museums is itself a UNESCO World Heritage site – is perhaps the most famous but there are numerous museums across Germany dedicated to art, WWII, technology, architecture, design, the automotive industry, and even breadmaking!

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For a different kind of museum experience, visit the Miniatur Wunderland in Hamburg, a wondrous place!

Read about my visit to Miniatur Wunderland.

7. Charming medieval towns

This is one of my favourite reasons to visit Germany! There’s no shortage of fairytale-like medieval towns and villages in Germany. It’s simply a joy to stroll around these towns and soak up the delightful atmosphere.

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Monschau is a gorgeous medieval town near the border with Belgium and the Netherlands.

Some of my favourite medieval towns in Germany include Tübingen, Monschau, Bamberg, Erfurt, Marburg, Alsfeld and Rothenburg ob der Tauber.

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The Old Town Hall (Altes Rathaus) in Bamberg.
Rothenburg ob der Tauber.
Tübingen

Read about things to do in Tubingen and a stroll around Erfurt.

8. From operas to Oktoberfest

Germany’s culture is incredibly diverse and this is best showcased in its many opera houses, concert halls and festivals across the country. Fans of ‘high culture’ will be spoiled for choice at the opera houses of Dresden, Berlin, Bayreuth or Munich, and the philharmonic halls of Hamburg or Berlin.

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The stunning ceiling of the Semper Opera House in Dresden.

Germany’s diversity is also reflected in its festivals. Germans love them and this is evident by the countless number of festivals held in the country throughout the year. Oktoberfest in Munich is the most famous festival but there are many other music, art, wine, beer and food festivals to experience.

Some of the best German festivals worthy of any bucket list include the annual Karneval in Cologne (perhaps the most colourful and boisterous), the Asparagus festival (Spargelfest) in Schwetzingen (I love asparagus!), Reeperbahn music festival in Hamburg, and the Medieval Festival in Selb. If you love sausages and wine, you shouldn’t miss the Wurstmarkt, held every September in Bad Dürkheim!

Asparagus and wine, a classic combination!

During the holiday season, Germany puts on a fabulous array of Christmas Markets that never fail to get everyone into a festive mood! The markets are absolutely magical with lots of opportunities to try different foods, buy Christmas ornaments and of course sip on delicious glühwein! Some of the best Christmas Markets can be found in Munich, Nuremberg and Dresden.

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A stall at the Christmas Market in Munich.
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Fun rides and the Christmas pyramid at the Striezelmarkt in Dresden.

Read more about the Christmas markets in Dresden.

9. Wellness spas and health resorts

Germany also has a long tradition in wellness – Germans frequently visit a health resort or wellness spa to relax and recharge. These can be found across the country, from the islands to lakeside locations or up in the mountains. So, if you’re looking to slow down and rejuvenate, while feeling pampered in beautiful natural surroundings, there’s a wide choice of health resorts and spas to choose from.

10. Food, beer and wine!

You didn’t think I would leave these out did you? 😉 Germany isn’t widely known for its culinary prowess. Ask anyone about German food and they’ll probably say sausages, dumplings and potatoes. This may have been true fifty years ago but these days, that’s another misconception.

Though absolutely yummy, German food is much more than just sausages and potatoes.

Nowadays, Germany counts more than 300 Michelin-starred restaurants! But you don’t need to go high-end to enjoy German cuisine. Across the board, Germany has truly elevated the quality and depth of its culinary offerings, making it a terrific foodie destination. From the beer halls to vaulted restaurants and street stalls, there are many places to experience wholesome German cuisine.

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The Altmarktkeller vault restaurant in Dresden.

Germany is perhaps most well-known for its beer, of which there are thousands of varieties, but as you explore the country, you’ll get to know its diverse wine offerings beyond Riesling and Gewürztraminer in the country’s wine regions.

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Beer-tasting at the Weltenburg Abbey.
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Riesling from the Schloss Vollrads in Rheingau, Germany.

There you have it: ten great reasons to travel to Germany! Though, to be honest, this list barely scratches the surface of what this amazing destination has to offer to visitors. I guess the best thing to do is to visit Germany yourself and discover its many facets!

Note: this post was brought to you in partnership with the German National Tourist Board for the Duitsland Dichtbij campaign. All views mentioned above, including my unbridled enthusiasm, are mine.

4 Responses

  • What a great list for Germany! It’s been on our bucket list for a long time and we’ll be sure to follow along with what you have here. Thank you!

  • Wish I could read this post a bit earlier. I just came back from there but I didn’t visit the places mentioned in this post.

    But I make sure I will visit all the places next time. Thanks for the post. Lovely country

  • Hi Zenaida,
    It’s these many facets which I find so appealing. And one aspect that I’ve seen develop, especially in the past 10-odd years, is indeed the cuisine. It’s been really cool to witness this evolution but I hope traditional fare remains the way it is – I absolutely love it! 🙂

    Cheers,
    Keith

  • Hi Keith, glad you like the many different facets of Germany. Yes, it is quite amazing what this country has to offer in terms of natural wonders and especially cultural offers. Food culture, in particular, has evolved tremendously in the past years to embrace dishes from all over the world. So much so, in fact, that it is almost difficult to find good traditional fare. On the other hand, there has been a proliferation of excellent small breweries and wineries. Greetings from Berlin! Zenaida

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