James Bedford

Northern Germany

Head to Germany's north because you love the water. From the posh pleasures of Sylt in the west, to the fabled Baltic heritage of historic towns like Lübeck, Wismar, Stralsund and Greifswald, you can sense the legacy of the Hanseatic League in beautiful old quarters created with iconic black and red bricks.

Even inland there is water. Mecklenburg's lakes are a maze of places to paddle. But really, most visitors will be happiest right at the edge of the sea. There are beaches everywhere, and while the temperatures aren't tropical, the drama of the sea crashing onto the white sand is irresistible.

Then there's Hamburg, a city with a love of life that ignites its fabled clubs, where proximity to the water has brought the city both wealth and vigour through the centuries. It's well on its way to being one of Europe's coolest cities.

Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Northern Germany.