Prepare for a roller coaster of feasts, treats and temptations as you take in Germany's soul-stirring scenery, spirit-lifting culture, big-city beauties, romantic palaces and half-timbered towns.
Pleasures of Civilisation
You'll encounter history in towns where streets were laid out long before Columbus set sail and in castles that loom above prim, half-timbered villages where flower boxes billow with crimson geraniums. The great cities – Berlin, Munich, Hamburg and Leipzig among them – come in more flavours than a jar of jelly beans but will all wow you with a cultural kaleidoscope that spans the arc from art museums and high-brow opera to naughty cabaret and underground clubs. And wherever you go, Romanesque, Gothic and baroque classics rub rafters with architectural creations from modern masters like Daniel Libeskind, David Chipperfield and Frank Gehry.
Few countries have had as much impact on the world as Germany, which has given us the printing press, the automobile, aspirin and MP3 technology. This is the birthplace of Martin Luther, Albert Einstein and Karl Marx, of Goethe, Beethoven, the Brothers Grimm and other heavyweights who, each in their own way, have left their mark on human history.
As you travel the country, you'll have plenty of brushes with genius, but Germany's storybook landscapes will likely leave an even bigger imprint on your memories. There's something undeniably artistic in the way the scenery unfolds – the corrugated, dune-fringed coasts of the north, the moody forests, romantic river valleys and vast vineyards of central Germany's backbone, and the off-the-charts splendour of the Alps, carved into rugged glory by glaciers and the elements. All are integral parts of a magical natural matrix that's bound to give your camera batteries a workout. As much fun as it may be to rev up the engines on the autobahn, getting off the highway lets you soak up the epic scenery that makes each delicious, slow, winding mile so precious.
Eating well is as important to a memorable journey as captivating scenery and great architecture. And you'll quickly discover that German food is so much more than sausages and pretzels, schnitzel and roast pork accompanied by big mugs of foamy beer. Beyond the clichés awaits a a cornucopia of regional and seasonal palate teasers. Share the German peoples' obsession with white asparagus in springtime, chanterelle mushrooms in summer and game in autumn. Indulge in Black Forest cake, doner kebab, Spaetzle or Michelin-starred haute cuisine. Sample not just famous beer but also world-class wines, most notably the noble Riesling, while exploring ancient cellars. Experiencing the country through its food and drink will add a rich layer to your memories (and possibly your belly!).
Top 20 free things to do in Berlin
Berlin may be one of the best-value cities in Europe but for tourists those euros can start to add up after days of museum-hopping and nights of clubbing. Save your cents by taking in some of the city’s many freebies...
Need to know
Europe’s top 10 scenic rail journeys
Give thanks to the engineers who built railways across Europe's most difficult terrain, their hard work has translated into some of the world's most picturesque journeys – in Scandinavia along icy rivers to fjords, in...
Walpurgisnacht: celebrate the arrival of spring with witches and warlocks in Germany
'Walpurgis Night' by alinnman...