With so many must see things in Germany, you may find yourself struggling to pick.
Wine-lovers will enjoy discovering some of Europe’s lesser-known wine regions in Franconia and Baden, while foodies will adore comforting dishes such as apple strudel. History buffs, culture vultures and architecture addicts will be entranced by cities like Berlin, Cologne and Potsdam, while those who love the feel of the wind in their hair and fresh air in their lungs can’t miss out on a hike through the black forest.
Here are some of the best things to see and do in Germany, no matter what kind of holiday you’re looking for.
Cultural Events & Popular Festivals
Germany’s traditional festivals are as ancient as they are eccentric. Kaltenberg is a medieval festival, Asparagusfest in Schwetzingen celebrates the harvest, while Munich’s Oktoberfest is the biggest beer event in the world.
You may associate carnivals more with Venice than Germany, but Cologne has embraced the idea with a huge parade on Rose Monday, as well as plenty of other street parties over a two-week period.
Berlin’s Berinale is the biggest film festival in the world, while Wurstmarkt is the world’s biggest wine festival.
The fragrant smell of gingerbread and steaming glühwein (mulled wine), the sound of Silent Night and twinkling trees… the majority of traditions we associate with Christmas actually started in Germany and you can find them all at the many Christmas markets up and down the country.
Nuremberg is one of the most famous, while Stuttgart is ideal for families with its skating rink and Grimm’s fairy tale figures. To really embrace the Christmas spirit head to the Konstanz Market which is framed by vistas of the snow-capped Alps.
Germany was divided into hundreds of fiefdoms until it was united and it has the castles and palaces to prove it. Think curvaceous turrets and soaring spires, austere battlements and precisely manicured gardens.
Schloss Neuschwanstein is a wedding cake castle perched on a hilltop in Bavaria, Berlin’s Charlottenburg Palace is a trove of artistic booty including huge hordes of precious porcelain while Schwetzingen has enchanting gardens where peacocks roam freely.
A driving holiday along Germany’s Beer and Castle route does is every bit as great as it sounds! Plan your own trip with our handy guide.
Popular beaches in Germany
The south of Germany is peppered with idyllic lakes but if you’re looking for sunbathing and swathes of white sand, the north coast is the place to be as it’s home to the most popular beaches in Germany.
Pack a picnic and explore Sylt Island’s 40 km of coast by bicycle. Characterised by thatched cottages, historic lighthouses and winding lanes, this is one of the most traditional and genteel resorts in the country.
Ahlbeck Beach on Usedom Island is scattered with strandkörbe (traditional wooden benches with stripy sun covers) giving it a charming, nostalgic air, while the only way to reach Langeoog Beach is by horse-drawn carriage as there are no cars on Langeoog Island.
In a country as large and diverse as Germany, a tour can be a great way to get under the skin of the culture and provide a focus for your trip.
A must visit is the Black Forest, a deep, dark landscape that occasionally reveals waterfalls and sturdy timbered farmhouses. Try exploring it by van or hike the Westweg trail, which runs the length of the forest from Pforzheim to Basel.
The Danube River is the mighty artery that flows through the whole country. Explore the Danube Cultural Route, which mostly passes through Bavaria, to see beautiful wetlands and sights such as Regensburg Old Town, which has Unesco status for its medieval bridges and gothic spires.
Petrol heads will love the Mercedes Benz factory tour, while an eagle’s nest tour will take you to a beautiful mountain tea house originally built for Adolph Hitler.