The trade fair city of Frankfurt am Main in Hesse is a banking and trading metropolis and the most important transport hub in the Federal Republic. The city’s skyline has earned it the nickname »Mainhattan«. Frankfurt was almost completely destroyed in 1944. The Römer, the town hall and the coronation site of the German emperors since 1562, was rebuilt true to the original. Other sights include Goethe’s birthplace, St. Paul’s Church, the zoo, the opera, the palm garden, the southern districts of Sachsenhausen and Höchst, and the exhibition grounds. A visit to the Senckenberg Natural History Museum is also worthwhile. Art lovers are familiar with the Städelsches Kunstinstitut and Städtische Galerie as well as the Schirn exhibition hall.
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The Odenwald with its rolling hills is a wonderful hiking area with a network of hiking trails covering a total of 10,000 km. The Odenwald is located in parts of southern Hesse, in Lower Franconia in Bavaria and in Baden-Württemberg. Tourist excursion routes are the Nibelungenstrasse and the Siegfriedstrasse. Those who travel to this area should visit Erbach (baroque castle, medieval watchtower), Michelstadt (half-timbered town hall, basilica), the holiday resort of Lindenfels and the Bad König spa. Excursions to the UNESCO Geopark Bergstraße-Odenwald and the UNESCO World Heritage Abbey of Lorsch are worthwhile. Winter sports enthusiasts will find cross-country ski trails and downhill slopes in the Odenwald.
Potsdam, the Brandenburg state capital, has three large beautiful parks, the New Garden with Marble Palace and Cecilienhof Palace (known from the Potsdam Agreement), Babelsberg (English parks by Prince Pückler-Muskau with Schinkel Palace) and of course Sanssouci, designed according to plans by Friedrich of the great was built by the architect Knobelsdorff. Even more magnificent and larger than the actual castle is the guest house of “Alter Fritz”, who is buried in the castle garden right next to the castle. Paintings by numerous old masters are on display in the art gallery next to the castle. These cultural landscapes are part of the UNESCO World Heritage. The city itself, especially the Dutch Quarter, the Weaver Quarter and the Russian Colony Alexandrowka, are worth seeing.
Saxony’s capital, Dresden, has a lot to offer. With over half a million inhabitants, it is one of the largest cities in eastern Germany. Its splendor goes mainly to the reign of Augustus the Strong and his son Augustus III. back in the 17th and 18th centuries. The Zwinger is probably the most famous building in the city. The many magnificent buildings such as the Catholic Court Church (High Baroque), the Frauenkirche, the Schlosskirche and the Semperoper earned the city the reputation of »Florence on the Elbe«. The former baroque splendor of the city sank in the bombing of World War II. The ruins of the Frauenkirche were a reminder of the horrors of war. In the meantime, it has been rebuilt according to old plans with donations and state subsidies and can be visited. From the new viewing platform of the Frauenkirche, visitors have a panoramic view of the entire city. The beautifully restored Semperoper, the Castle Church, the Green Vault and the rich treasury of the Saxon princes bear witness to the glory of the past. Art connoisseurs should not miss to visit the picture gallery in the Zwinger, in which many excellent works of art by old masters are exhibited. The residential palace has reopened after extensive restoration. The Dresden Philharmonic, the Staatskapelle and the Kreuzchor are world famous. Steamboat trips on the Elbe to Pillnitz Castle are popular.
In Saxony, not far from Dresden on the Elbe, lies the thousand-year-old city of Meissen. The oldest porcelain manufactory in Europe is located here. Even today, the precious services are made in the traditional Meissen patterns. Visitors can convince themselves of the craftsmanship of the porcelain painters in a demonstration workshop. The beauty of the city and the closed historic cityscape impress. Cathedral, Albrechtsburg Castle and Bishop’s Castle tower high above the city. Winegrowing has been practiced in the area around Meissen for centuries.
Northwest of Dresden and Meissen in Saxony lies Leipzig, a city of music and publishing. Many publishers are based in Leipzig. The spring book fair attracts interested people to the traditional trade fair city every year. Richard Wagner was born here, Mendelssohn was for many years conductor of the Gewandhaus Orchestra, which is still renowned today, and Bach was cantor of the Thomaskirche from 1723 to 1750, which, like the town hall from the 16th century, was restored in accordance with the style. Johann Sebastian Bach’s church choir still exists today and the Thomaner are highly regarded internationally. The old university (1407), the famous Auerbachs-Keller and the Kaffeebaum, the city’s best-known coffee house, are other tourist attractions.
The German part of the Elbe Sandstone Mountains known as Saxon Switzerland (the Czech part is known as Bohemian Switzerland) stretches southeast of Dresden in Saxony. The spectacular sandstone formations give hikers and climbers many fields of activity. Popular excursion destinations are the Bastei with the Rathen rock stage (natural stage with summer theater performances), Königstein Fortress, the Schrammsteine and the Kuhstall.
The cosmopolitan city of Berlin is the largest city in Germany, the capital and the seat of government. The Berlin Wall has almost completely disappeared. Entire sections are now in museums. In the eastern part of Berlin are the former working-class districts of Mitte, Pankow, Prenzlauer Berg and Friedrichshain, which provided Erwin Piscator and Bertold Brecht with material and inspiration for their plays. In West Berlin there are the traditional working-class districts of Wedding, Neukölln and Kreuzberg, which are known for trendy pubs and multicultural people. The green West Berlin districts of Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf and Steglitz-Zehlendorf have a more middle-class vibe. Berlin is a leading trade fair and congress city. The trade fair and exhibition center is located at the radio tower, the »long Lulatsch«. Berlin is also a cultural stronghold and the location of renowned scientific research institutes and several universities. There are three opera houses, around 135 theaters and stages in all genres and more than 100 cinemas. If you walk along the boulevard Unter den Linden in the direction of the Brandenburg Gate, you will come to the Tiergarten, one of the green lungs of the city, and from there to West Berlin City. The Kurfürstendamm is popularly known as Ku’damm. You can watch the hustle and bustle as you stroll down this 3.5 km long glamorous boulevard of the city with its sidewalk cafes, elegant restaurants, expensive boutiques, street stalls and fast food restaurants. From here you can continue your walk to the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church. The ruins of the neo-Romanesque church, popularly known as the »Hollow Tooth«, was left standing as a memorial to the horrors of World War II. Worth seeing is the KaDeWe, the well-known traditional department store of the west. The famous zoological garden with the aquarium is worth a visit. The Reichstag, which was destroyed in the war, also draws everyone’s attention today because of its striking glass dome. The magnificent Charlottenburg Palace, built in the Baroque and Rococo style, is the former summer residence of the Prussian kings, which was then just outside the gates of Berlin.
Museum visit in East Berlin
East Berlin has a variety of excellent museums. The Museum Island, which lies in a fork in the Spree, is particularly recommended. On it are the Old National Gallery (paintings and sculptures from the 19th century), the Old Museum (Greek art), the New Museum (reopened in 2009 with the collections of the Egyptian Museum and the Museum of Prehistory and Early History) and the Bode Museum ( coin cabinet, sculpture collection, Byzantine art, works from the picture gallery). The approximately 3,300-year-old bust of Egyptian Queen Nefertiti has been on display in the Altes Museum since August 2005. The showpiece of the world-famous Pergamon Museum is the Pergamon Altar, part of a Zeus temple from Asia Minor. The museum has important collections from the Asian-Islamic region. In the Dahlem museums you can visit the collections of non-European art and culture, the Museum of European Cultures, the Ethnological Museum, the Museum of Indian Art and the Museum of East Asian Art. The Berlin Museum documents the history of Berlin. Changing exhibitions take place in the Martin-Gropius-Bau. Nearby are the Berlinische Galerie, a display collection of the Jewish department of the Berlin Museum and a museum on everyday culture of the 20th century.
Heidelberg is the most famous city on the Neckar in Baden-Württemberg and Germany’s oldest university town, overlooked by the ruins of the famous Heidelberg Castle. The residential palace of the Palatinate electors was partly built in the Renaissance style, partly in the Gothic and Baroque style. In the castle you can visit the “Big Wine Barrel”, which holds 220,000 liters, and the Pharmacy Museum. In summer, the serenade concerts and the castle festival with the English-language musical “The Student Prince” in the castle courtyard are particularly popular. The main sights in the city include the Old Bridge over the Neckar, the Church of the Holy Spirit with the market square and town hall and the Hotel Ritter, one of the most beautiful Renaissance buildings in Germany. Heidelberg University enjoys an international reputation. The poets and painters of the Romantic era immortalized Heidelberg in their works. In the alleys of the picturesque old town there are countless cozy wine taverns and student pubs. The former student prison (19th century), a student prison, can be visited. From the Gutenberg, Hornberg and Hirschhorn castles you have a good view of the picturesque landscape and the vineyards of the Neckar valley.
The low mountain range of the Swabian Jura is located in Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria. It is the largest karst landscape in Central Europe and a UNESCO biosphere reserve. It lies between the Black Forest and the Danube, Europe’s second longest river. The Swabian Alb is criss-crossed with castles and monasteries that are well worth seeing. There are also six caves with art from the Ice Age near Ulm, which are part of the UNESCO World Heritage. Tourist attractions are the Hohenzollernburg near Hechingen, the Beuren Abbey and the bear caves. The Swabian Alb is popular with winter and motor sports enthusiasts, hikers and rock climbers.
The Black Forest is located in Baden-Württemberg and is the most visited low mountain range in Germany. Baden-Württemberg has had the Black Forest National Park since 2014, which stretches south from Baden-Baden to north of Bad Peterstal-Griesbach. The Black Forest is known for its wild and romantic mountain forests, gorges and beautiful lakes. In the southern Black Forest are two of the most beautiful lakes, the Titisee and the Schluchsee. His trademarks include the cuckoo clocks and the red Bollenhut as well as the Black Forest cake, fruit schnapps and Black Forest ham. The Black Forest is also known for its mineral springs, whose healing powers were discovered by the Romans. Baden-Baden is the most renowned spa in the Black Forest. The old, picturesque university town of Freiburg is the gateway to the southern Black Forest. The nearby Schauinslandberg can be reached by cable car. Another local recreation destination is Todtnauberg, the highest holiday resort in the Black Forest (1006 m). The highest mountain in the region is the Feldberg, a popular winter sports area. Hikers and mountain bikers also get their money’s worth in the Black Forest.
Nuremberg, the largest city in Franconia in Bavaria, is a modern city whose medieval city center has been preserved. In the old town are two of the most beautiful churches in the city, St. Lorenz (Annunciation by Veit Stoss) and St. Sebald. One of the main sights is the imposing castle, the Kaiserstallung is now a youth hostel. The 5 km long old city wall has 46 towers. The painter lived in the Albrecht Dürer House from 1509 until his death. The Toy Museum, the Fembohaus (Municipal Museum), the Germanic National Museum and the Transport Museum are among the most interesting museums in the city. The Frauenkirche, the town hall and the »Schöne Brunnen« (mechanical clock) are other popular visitor destinations.
Bamberg in Bavaria is an old imperial and episcopal city built on seven hills. The historic old town of Bamberg is part of the UNESCO cultural heritage. The most beautiful sights are the four-towered, imperial cathedral (13th century) with the famous “Bamberg rider”, the royal tombs and the altar by Veit Stoss, as well as the picturesque fishermen’s quarter (“Little Venice”), the Old Residence and the New Residence (art gallery) with the magnificent rose garden and the Michaelsberg monastery.
Opera lovers from all over the world are drawn to the Festspielhaus in Bayreuth in Bavaria in the summer to attend first-class performances of Wagner’s operas. The »Bayreuth Festival« takes place every year between the end of July and August. Wagner fans make pilgrimages to the Villa Wahnfried (today a museum), the Wagner monument and the composer’s tomb in the courtyard gardens. Other attractions include the old and new castles of the former margrave, the margravial opera house (largest baroque stage in Europe and a UNESCO World Heritage Site), the Hermitage (beautiful park) and the town church. The city is a good starting point for excursions to the Fichtelgebirge, the forests of the Upper Palatinate and “Franconian Switzerland”.
The Lower Franconian city of Würzburg is located in attractive surroundings in the Main Valley. It is surrounded by vineyards and is known for its Bocksbeutel wines. Marienberg Fortress is home to the Mainfränkisches Museum Würzburg (the museum’s art collections include the wonderful work of the sculptor and carver Tilman Riemenschneider (1460-1531)) and the Fürstenbaumuseum, which shows the history of the city of Würzburg, as well as the Marienkirche. From the Marienberg Fortress you have a wonderful view of the old Franconian town with its many churches. If you cross the old Main Bridge from the 15th century, the view of the imposing Romanesque cathedral opens up. The Würzburg Residence is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Rothenburg ob der Tauber
Rothenburg ob der Tauber is one of Bavaria’s medieval gems. One can walk around the town on the inner and outer city walls with their more than 30 gates and towers. From here you can enjoy a wonderful view of the beautiful patrician houses. The German Criminal Museum is also worth a visit with its chilling collection of historical torture tools.
The Allgäu is a popular German holiday destination in southwest Bavaria. Holidaymakers will find something worth seeing and experiencing here at any time of the year. Hiking, pilgrimage and cycling trails as well as climbing tours are just as attractive as historic towns with cultural offerings, mountains, lakes and cultural monuments. The castle ruins of Falkenstein near Pfronten, the castle ruins of Eisenberg and Hohenfreyberg in the Ostallgäu and the Allgäu Skyline Park are popular. A highlight in the calendar of events is the annual “Cattle Sheath”, where the cattle are driven down into the valleys at the end of the grazing season.
The world-famous »Oktoberfest« in Munich goes back to the marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig of Bavaria and Princess Therese of Sachsen-Hildburghausen in 1810. It begins every year in September and is called “Wies’n” by the locals. Each of the nine large Munich breweries is represented with a huge beer tent.
With around 1.5 million inhabitants, the Bavarian state capital Munich is the third largest German city and an important art and business metropolis. The 800-year-old city is known for its numerous museums and many Baroque and Renaissance churches. The Frauenkirche is the symbol of Munich. The Old and the New Pinakothek, as well as the Pinakothek der Moderne and the Lenbachhaus are among the most famous museums in the world. The German Museum with a planetarium and a replica mine is also interesting for children. Other sights in the city center are the royal residence with the residence museum and the treasury, the Michaelskirche, the Theatinerkirche and the Asamkirche. On the Marienplatz are the new and the old town hall and the reconstructed Marian column. A stroll through the Viktualienmarkt is also nice. The Olympic area with the 300 m high tower and its tent roof is world famous. When exploring Munich, a visit to a beer cellar is a must, the most famous being the Hofbräuhaus. If you want to escape the hustle and bustle of the big city, you can find peace and quiet in the spacious English Garden. At its heart is the Chinese Tower with one of the typical beer gardens. The Bavarian National Museum and the Haus der Kunst are located near the English Garden. The National Theater (opera), the Residenz Theater and the Schauspielhaus are just some of the many theaters in the city. Nymphenburg Palace has an interesting picture gallery and a porcelain collection worth seeing. Three times a year in the Au, one of the old districts on the Isar, the »Auer Dult« takes place – a flea market with a Ferris wheel, herb stands and »Sticker fish«. Munich owes its popularity not least to its beautiful surroundings. When the weather is nice, the Alps are in sight. Many lakes are located around the city.
The German Alps are in Bavaria, their highest mountain is the Zugspitze. When you think of the German Alps, you think of skiers, hiking breaks in romantic mountain huts and pastures, climbers and paragliders. But if all these activities are too strenuous for you, you don’t have to do without a great Alpine panorama. The German Alpine Road runs 450 kilometers past magnificent mountain scenery from Lindau on Lake Constance to Berchtesgaden on Königssee. Castles, palaces, monasteries, health resorts, mountain peaks, mountain lakes and idyllic villages all want to be discovered in the Alps. The spa town of Bad Reichenhall in Berchtesgadener Land is known for its salt pans and for its brine springs and baths.
Neuschwanstein Castle is located on steep cliffs above Füssen in southern Bavaria. The romantic fairytale castle with its magnificent rooms is perhaps the best-known and most popular attraction in Germany. The tragic life story of the builder and former owner of the castle – Ludwig II, the former King of Bavaria – is fascinating. The Romantic Road, which connects the Main with the Alps, leads past Neuschwanstein Castle.
Bavaria is still the number one holiday destination in Germany. The Bavarian Forest with the first German national park on the Czech border, lovely Franconia in northern Bavaria, the Alps and Upper Bavaria in southern Bavaria and the beautiful Allgäu are extremely popular. Bavaria is divided into four large holiday areas: in the north, Lower, Middle and Upper Franconia, in eastern Bavaria the Bavarian Forest, the Upper Palatinate Forest, the Bavarian Jura and southern Lower Bavaria; in the southwest Bavarian Swabia and the Allgäu and in the south Upper Bavaria with the German Alps. High mountains, lovely river valleys, densely wooded low mountain ranges, lakes and medieval towns make up the charm of this region. Garmisch-Partenkirchen (at the foot of the Zugspitze), Berchtesgaden,
Lake Constance is located in the border area between Germany, Austria, Switzerland and the Principality of Liechtenstein. It also separates the federal states of Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria from one another. There are many water sports and opportunities for excursions on land and water. Lake Constance also has a lot to offer culturally: The prehistoric pile dwellings on Lake Constance are part of UNESCO’s cultural heritage, interesting museums and theaters include Konstanz and Friedrichshafen and the Reichenau monastery on Reichenau Island is also part of UNESCO’s cultural heritage. Of course, the island of Meinau is also worth seeing.
Children’s fun in Germany
There is a large selection of leisure activities for children and young people as well as for families in Germany: Whether zoo, animal park, leisure and adventure parks, high ropes course, city tour, museum, climbing or mountain biking, knight’s castle or fun pool – there is something for every age. The Europa Park in Rust, Legoland Germany and the zoos in Berlin and Hamburg are particularly well known. The overnight stay can also be arranged according to taste: There are farms and family hotels, numerous youth hostels in the most beautiful locations in the country and countless campsites, depending on your wishes, also in the mountains or by the sea with great offers.