4 reasons you should visit Germany this summer
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The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we look at travel. Even though limited options have started to open up again, for many, exotic, long-haul trips will not be happening this year. Instead, it’s the destinations closer to home that are dominating holiday planning.
Whilst Spain, Italy and Greece are the obvious and traditional places for summer holidays, there are many other options you should consider — including Germany.
It’s both easy to get to there, with regular flights from the U.K. to Berlin, Hamburg, Hannover, Cologne, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Munich, Stuttgart and a few other airports with British Airways, Lufthansa, Ryanair and EasyJet, and easy to get around. Germany has a good domestic rail network with high-speed trains connecting all major cities, domestic flights and, of course, the famous Autobahn — the motorway without a speed limit.
So here are four reasons why Germany should be on your summer holiday wish list.
1. Neuschwanstein castle
When it comes to castles, it probably doesn’t get dreamier than Neuschwanstein, one of Germany’s most famous attractions. Built in the 19th century, the castle was commissioned by King Ludwig II of Bavaria in honour of Richard Wagner, the famous German composer. With 1.5 million visitors each year, it is one of Europe’s most popular tourist attractions and is so magical looking that Walt Disney used it as the inspiration for Sleeping Beauty’s Castle in Disneyland. It’s worth noting that visitor numbers are currently being restricted and you can only see the castle with a guided tour.
Though Neuschwanstein is the most famous castle in Germany, there is no shortage of other, equally picturesque castles and monasteries — particularly those nestled in the more mountainous southern states of Bavaria and Baden Württemberg.
2. From mountains to beaches
Typically, the Alps are associated with Austria, Switzerland, Italy and France — and winter sports. The mountain range stretches into southern Germany, however, and provides a great setting for a range of summer activities. With walks, hiking, swimming in stunning lakes and more adrenaline-fuelled sports such as gliding and paragliding there’s no shortage of ways to enjoy the Alps in the sunshine.
Combine a trip to the mountains with a stop in Munich, the capital of Bavaria, for some culture (and beer) as well as some castle hopping — you’ll be sure to come home with some glorious pictures and even better memories.
Read more: 15 of the most beautiful villages in Spain
Now, to the beach — something else you might not associate with Germany. To the north of the country, there is a coastline and beaches on the North and Baltic Sea. The island of Sylt is a favourite of the rich and famous in Germany but there are accommodation options there to suit everyone’s budget. As well as the beaches, there are plenty of outdoor activities ranging from surfing to cycling to golf, and the island is the perfect stop to relax and enjoy the slightly rough sea and landscape. Should it rain, the Sylter Heimatmuseum and aquarium are good places to spend the day. Combined with a visit to Hamburg or Berlin, the coast makes a perfect getaway for a weekend or longer trip.
3. Rhine and wine
In the western part of Germany, one of the longest rivers in Europe, the Rhine, runs through valleys well known for their wines and riverside villages and castles. In fact, the Rhine Gorge, running between Mannheim and Koblenz, has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Rhineland-Palatinate area accounts for six of Germany’s 13 wine regions with over 150,000 acres of vineyards. It produces 70% of German wines — mostly whites including Riesling, Silvaner and Müller-Thurgau. I highly recommend taking a boat trip on the Rhine and stopping to visit one of the many vineyards lining the river.
In addition to the above towns, Worms and Mainz, along the Rhine, are worth visiting for their cathedrals, museums and natural beauty while Wiesbaden is a spa town for those seeking to relax and recharge.
Read more: The best coastal staycations in the UK
Berlin should be top of any list of places to see in Germany. It combines history with modern architecture and has blossomed and been heavily invested in since the German reunification in 1990 when it became the capital again.
Whilst you’ll want to see all the attractions you’ll have heard of — the Brandenburg Gate, Reichstag, the remainder of the Berlin Wall, Checkpoint Charlie and a boat trip on the River Spree — it’s worth venturing beyond those main tourist areas. Berlin “Mitte” (the city’s central borough) is home to many of the city’s renowned art galleries and cultural institutions. Museum Island should be on your list, too, given its proximity to the Reichstag, Brandenburg Gate and many other well-known sights.
Friedrichshain and Kreuzberg are two neighbourhoods a bit more off the beaten track (and you’ll need to get a taxi or public transportation there) but well worth a visit — whether that’s for the bars, restaurants or some of the well-known Berlin clubs such as the legendarily exclusive Berghain.
Berlin isn’t the only major city in Germany worth visiting though. Given the history of the country, the main cities all have different characters and claims to fame, and others worth a grip include Cologne, Hamburg and Dresden.
You might previously only have thought of Berlin and Oktoberfest when considering Germany but there are many other facets to the country that make it worth a visit. Its rich culture and history combined with varied landscapes and attractions, as well as decent infrastructure to move around, make it a fantastic, lesser-known summer hot spot.
Featured photo by DEA/M.BORCHI/Getty Images
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