In these uncertain times, you’ve probably set your sights for your next trip a little closer to home. As one of our closest European neighbours, how about Germany?
I’ve rounded up the best cities to visit, highlighting some lesser-known gems as well as ways to rediscover the cities you might already know. Germany is a lot more than Oktoberfest and luxury cars.
Berlin more than lives up to its reputation. Avoid the tourist traps around Checkpoint Charlie and seek out the overlooked corners of the city’s history. I recommend the Gedenkstätte Deutscher Widerstand, a fascinating and highly personal memorial museum to the domestic German resistance movement during the time of Nazism.
For food, visit the Turkish markets in Kreuzberg and, while you’re there, a trip to Mustafa’s Gemüse-Kebap (vegetable kebab) is a must. It’s the best kebab in Berlin, and the ever-present queue speaks for itself.
After a tiring summer’s day exploring its churches and beer gardens, Munich is the perfect city in which to cool off and relax.
Head to the Englischer Garten on any sunny day and you will see the river Isar’s banks thronged with visitors and locals sunbathing, picnicking, and taking a dip in the rapids. You’ll even spot surfers tackling the endless wave at the Eisbach (Ice Brook).
To really get away from the heat of the city, take a train south to Tegernsee. Nestled in the foothills, this alpine lake has the clearest waters you’ve ever seen.
Germany’s Christmas markets are world-renowned. But while the crowds flock to Cologne, consider stopping in this smaller city a few miles south. The markets are more intimate in Germany’s former capital. The Glühwein is just as good.
For a true ‘winter wonderland’ experience, visit the Christmas market at the top of the Drachenfels, one of the nearby ‘Siebengebirge’ (Seven Peaks). You’ll earn your indulgence after the steep climb, as the grounds of the mock-Medieval folly overlooking the Rhine provides a fairy-tale backdrop.
This one’s the Berlin for people too cool for Berlin. This former East-German industrial city is currently undergoing a revival. The city has established such a reputation amongst creatives that a local author coined the term ‘Hype-zig’ to describe his hometown. Like Berlin, Leipzig is known for its music scene: discover everything from jazz, to rock, to techno in the city’s numerous cellar clubs.
At the same time, Leipzig is reinventing itself as one of Germany’s greenest cities: walk the Promenadenring (a ring of green spaces and parks circling the entire city centre) and swim or paddle in ‘Neuseenland’ (New Lake District), a vast series of interconnected lakes and wetlands newly formed by flooding former open-cast mines.
Weimer is Germany’s Stratford-upon-Avon. This is where German literary heritage was born. Though far smaller than the other cities listed here, Weimar has had a disproportionately large influence on German history and culture.
The city that gave its name to the Weimar Republic has been the home of countless writers, musicians, artists, and philosophers over the years. Most famously, Goethe and Schiller, the leading figures of German classicism and probably the two most famous writers in German history worked and wrote here together.