Germany is a big country, and although it doesn’t top the list of popular tourist destinations in Europe, there’s plenty here for visitors to see and do. Here are some of the attractions of Germany.
When you talk about history in Germany, the bulk of what you’re talking about is related to World War II and the years that followed when the country was divided. Of course, there’s more to German history than that, but World War II historic sights are still the majority of the historic attractions you’ll see in travel guides. What makes these sights even more powerful is that this history isn’t so far in the past.
There are also castles in Germany that remind visitors of a bygone era. The most famous of these is Neuschwanstein Castle, which served as the model for Disney’s castle. Neuschwanstein is an easy day trip from either Munich or Salzburg (in nearby Austria). A particularly popular tourist route is known as the “Romantic Road,” which connects several picturesque historical towns in the southern part of the country.
Germany’s rich cultural history includes world-famous contributions to the music and art worlds, as well as one of the best-known parties on the planet.
German composers like Beethoven, Bach, Wagner, and Brahms are household names, while Albrecht Durer is probably the most well-known German painter. After its musical history, Germany has perhaps contributed most to the fields of philosophy and literature. Many of us grew up reading fairy tales by the Brothers Grimm, and depending on what you studied in school you may have read the works of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Bertolt Brecht, Immanuel Kant, Friedrich Nietzsche, or Karl Marx.
These cultural threads run through modern Germany, where artists and thinkers continue to add ideas, music, books, paintings and more to the country’s cultural lexicon. There are art galleries and museums in most of the major German cities where you can satisfy your “culture vulture” cravings, but don’t limit yourself to the exhibits of long-dead artists. Check out the work of modern artists in cities like Berlin, where art seems to be everywhere.
Munich’s Oktoberfest has become famous enough that it’s celebrated in cities all over the world – and some elements of the original celebration have taken on bachelor party-esque qualities. Still, there’s nothing quite like seeing the festivities in Munich, especially if you consider how long they’ve been marking the occasion.
And while German food is often the brunt of culinary jokes, there’s more to it than sausage, sauerkraut, and huge steins of beer. Not that there’s anything wrong with that combination.
As mentioned earlier, Germany is a huge country. What this means for visitors is that there is a wide variety of landscapes to enjoy – and it may take a few visits to see them all.
Germany’s northern location means that some people are surprised that the country has a coastline at all – let alone beach destinations – but during the summer months, the northern border of Germany along both the North Sea and the Baltic Sea is a popular spot for Germans on their own holidays. Water attractions aren’t limited to the seas, however – famous rivers like the Rhine and Danube cut through the country, and there are lots of lakes that serve as weekend retreats for city-dwelling Germans.
The Black Forest in the southwestern part of Germany is a popular vacation destination thanks to its natural beauty and charming towns. Germans love their hot springs, and there are two towns with natural hot springs (Aachen and Wiesbaden) that are beloved by locals as well as travelers in need of a bit of relaxation.
photo by Edward Dalmulder