Germany is a country in Western Europe that is alive with a deep history and breathtaking views, its unique culture and vibrant cities make for an ideal place to road trip across. From the Northern Baltic Sea to the forests and Alps in the South, there are endless amounts of things to do within the country. Along the winding rivers there are thousands of castles on top of green hills that dot the horizon and give character to this picturesque nation. The country is alive with a combination of charming villages and busy metropolitan, making it a fantastic destination for lovers of culture, food, nature, and architecture.
The temperature in Germany varies throughout season and geographical location. While the North is often rainy and cold throughout the year beginning in May and during the summer months it is very warm and sunny. However, more southern areas near the Alps such as Munich have more snow and rain than other areas but also experience dry downhill heat because of the mountains. In all seasons there are many outdoor activities to enjoy whether it be skiing, skating, hiking, swimming, kayaking or canoeing. Yet, my favorite season to visit Germany in is the spring when the cherry blossom trees are starting to bloom along the rivers that run throughout country.
The guide to eating German cuisine is enjoying various forms of starches, pork, desserts, and butter. Butter is literally in every food, which makes it delicious and not very healthy. But on a vacation, eating habits are thrown out of the window and travelers need to try the different traditional dishes from the north and south. The northern section of food has more of a Nordic influence. Popular foods include many items pan-fried with butter such as Bratkartoffeln (potato slices), and Pannfisch (fish). There is a lot of seafood in the diet of northerners as well as green beans and white asparagus. Bavarian cuisine in the south is known for schnitzel, spaetzle, and beets. Spaetzel is little dumplings that are sometimes fried and they are served with cheese. Schnitzel is either pork or veil hammered flat, breaded, and then deep fried. However, it is possible to order most traditional German food from anywhere in the country, including sausage and sauerkraut. These are sold on almost every street in cities along with Donner Kebabs. Many cultures have impacted German food and the Donner Kebab is no expectation. Using Turkish roasted meat served in a fresh pita, it has become a stable in Germany. When it comes to dining with German people the most important rule while raising a glass and saying cheers is to look everyone directly in the eyes. If you do not this, it can be seen as incredibly rude and it is better to not offended people in the country you are visiting.
When it comes to exploring Germany, the best way to see the obscure towns and quickly travel to different places is by car. Even though there are excellent transportation systems across the country, nothing beats the adventure of driving across rolling hills in the countryside to visit castle ruins and villages. Before embarking on a road trip, brush up on driving standard and practicing parking in really small spaces. These are essential skills to road tripping in Europe. The list of places to visit focuses on the Western half of the country, when driving from the south to the north these are towns and cities that all tourists should visit Germany.
Beginning in Munich, which is known for being a lively city filled with culture, art, and innovation this is a destination that every tourist should get to know. Being the third largest city in Germany, the southern metropolitan is filled with a unique mix of architecture, which attributes to its traditional German character. During World War II many of the buildings were destroyed, and in post war reconstruction several ruins of the historic ruins have been rebuilt with modern designs. However, there are century-old buildings that are still intact that line cobble streets that feed into pedestrian squares. The Bavarian capital is the perfect setting for the internationally known festival of Oktoberfest. The celebration takes place in the city center at famous beer halls such as Hofbräuhaus, founded in 1589. In September and October, people from around the world come to drink beer and participate in Bavarian culture by enjoying its cuisine and dressing in traditional style clothing. Another well-known event that takes place Germany during the month of December is the Christkindlmarkt. This Christmas market happens across the city in different squares and is a cultural event that sells Christmas goods. Even though this event takes place in many German cities, Munich is home to one of the most famous markets.
Travelling to the heart of Bavarian culture, nearly touching the Austrian border is the small village of Garmisch-Partenkirchen. This is one of the most difficult words in German to pronounce; however it is one of the prettiest areas in the entire country. Completely surrounded by mountains and rolling hills, this quaint little town is styled after traditional German architecture. The cobblestone streets and downtown center made for pedestrians makes for a fantastic place to enjoy a beer on the outdoor patio of a restaurant. This little city is the perfect hub for a variety of outdoor activities such as skiing, ice skating and hiking. However, the absolute must-see near this town is the Zugspitze Mountain, which is a 2,962 m summit and is the highest peak in Germany. The top of the mountain is covered in snow and below it lays a sea of mountaintops under a crystal blue sky. Standing at the top admiring the nature below, is one of the most incredible experiences in the world.
Only a few hours west, on Bodensee Lake is the tiny coastal town of Lindau. The old village on an island should be on the list of places to visit for everyone due to its natural beauty. It is a peaceful area to visit with calm lake water surrounding the town and Swiss Alps as its backdrop. The architecture in the island is a combination of quaint and Gothic design that gives the area charm. This pedestrian city has some of the best gelato in the country and is a perfect place to go to feel relaxed.
The university town of Heidelberg is a short stop away from Lindau, it has a diverse amount of nature, history and an old fortress on the top of the city. Nicknamed the ‘romantic town’ because of the famous collection of poets who lived there, Heidelberg is known for being a hub of knowledge and education. In 1386 Heidelberg University was founded and has flourished into a scientific center. Filled with schools and cafes this town is bursting with student life. Overlooking the city with red roofs is the Heidelberg Castle, which is a mix of Gothic and Renaissance architectural styles. Many cities are near Heidelberg such as Stuttgard, Frankfurt, and Colonge making this a great place to stop either for a long time or as a destination to break up driving.
Far in the North, the colourful city of Hamburg sits on the Elbe River and is a major transportation hub. The metropolitan has a coastal vibe as it has more bridges than any other city in the world that cross over hundreds of canals. Within the city there are many different districts and some of them are covered in beautiful graffiti artwork. The urban art is a backdrop to new modern restaurants, cafes, and shops. Architecturally there are only a few skyscrapers as the city holds onto its charm between the new and the old town. Some of the unique buildings in the city are the Elbphilharmonie concert hall, St. Michael’s Church, and the Chilehaus. Economically Hamburg is known for its shipping ports; however educationally it is recognized for its different universities and thriving institutes specializing in sciences. All year long different festivals take place in Hamburg; one of the best events is the Cherry Blossom Festival. During the month of may annually the Japanese culture within Hamburg hosts an event to celebrate the coming together of both cultures. The most spectacular event is the firework display, to view this take a boat, kayak or canoe to the main harbor and watch in awe as the sky illuminates with colours that reflect off of the water. It is an absolutely breathtaking experience to watch fireworks on the water. When getting around the city, it is possible to take a boat taxi throughout the harbor. However the most fun way is to rent a bike for a day and ride throughout the districts and see the busy markets and cafes. This city is one of my favourite places to visit in the world, many travellers skip it and decide to see Berlin instead but Hamburg is so incredible that no one should miss experiencing it.
The final spot to visit for anyone who is road tripping across Germany should visit is the town of Timmendorfer Strand. This is one of the best-kept tourism secrets from international visitors; it sits on the Baltic coast along 6 kilometers of beach. This town is incredible unique as it has interesting Japanese style architecture beside the water and is filled with little boutique shops and fantastic restaurants.
No matter where you travel in Germany you will not be disappointed with the scenery. The country has so much to offer tourists in terms of culture and nature; it is a green and efficient country that strives to provide excellent hospitality to visitors. Everyone should get to know the historic country of Germany and discover its unknown beauty.