I don’t know what it is, but Germany has a very different feel to it than England and Paris, a bit less refined and a bit more rugged. From the mountainous terrain and forests to the excessive beer and meat, Germany has a flavor all its own!
Germany knows how to do castles, that’s for sure
I don’t think there is a European castle more iconic than Neuschwanstein with its white stone towers and walls seeming to grow from the rocky hillside. It was built in the 1800s by King Ludwig II, and two hundred years later still leaves us breathless winter, autumn, spring, and summer.
This red sandstone ruin was built in the 1200s with the classic Romanticist style overlooking a river-carved valley and a charming town. It was sacked and destroyed in the War of the Grand Alliance by the French in the late 17th century, which is commemorated still with fireworks several times a year. It never got a break because later it was struck by lightning…twice!
Built at nearly 3000 feet above sea level, this castle is known to rise above the clouds. At the same time, it overlooks a lush, green valley. Construction began in the early 11th century as a well-fortified castle. It was destroyed in 1423 and rebuilt in 1454 bigger and better, though it fell to ruin in the early 19th century. Finally Crown Prince Frederick William of Prussia reconstructed it by 1850 in the Neo-Gothic style, and it has since stood strong and well-maintained for the residents and future tourists.
Comparatively, this is a smaller castle that calmly sits atop a cliff on the Swabian Alps with a spectacular view of green mountains and valleys. Built in the 1840s in the Gothic Revival style, it contains a chapel, garden, and a courtyard which can be rented out for events for those interested.
This mountain jewel is unique for two reasons: it has remained unharmed by war and has remained within the same family for its entire 850-year history. It was built in the 1100s and has since steadfastly stood through change of all sorts, housing the descending blood of its original patrons for 33 generations.
- Unter der Linden is the most famous boulevard, named for the Linden trees that line it. It’s surrounded by museums and ends with the Brandenberg Gate at the end.
- Berlin Wall that once separated East and West Germany during the Cold War now stands as a memorial to honor the past and remember exactly what we as a people are capable of, good and bad. (I think every traveler should be able to take a solemn, silent moment for history.)
- East Side Gallery is open air and contains 101 large-scale pictures to represent the joy at the end of the Cold War.
- Holocaust Memorial, placed in the stretch that was once called the “death strip,” is to remember the Jewish victims to the Nazi genocide in WWII. Large grey cement blocks that resemble grave markers, 2711 strong, of varying heights leaves the visitors sober and contemplative.
- Hackescher Markt is a charming market with high-end fashion label shops, quaint restaurants and cafes, and interconnecting courtyards located in Mitte, a borough in the mid to northwestern part of Berlin.
- Christmas Markt, if you’re there for the season, in a number of locations, are markets full of little food stalls, shops, colorful lights, and possibly a ride or two.
- Oberbaumbrücke is a famous bridge in Berlin. Great for photo ops!
- Television Tower: this has got to be one of my favorites. This is a tower in the center of the city, 365 meters tall (1197.5 feet), with a revolving sphere with a deck for viewing and another level with a restaurant for snack, drinks, and meals. It makes a complete circle every 60 minutes to avoid motion sickness. It’s a wonderful way to view the whole city.
Dresden is split into Altstadt (Old Town) and Neustadt (New Town), which is rather ironic because, in WWII, Altstadt was completely destroyed and had to be rebuilt, thus now newer than the new town!
- Fürstenzug, on Augustrusstraβe, is a wall painted with the procession of the rulers of Saxony in the 1870s. It’s made of 25,000 tiles and 102 meters long (335 feet), containing 35 kings and 58 other characters who are unnamed, poor suckers.
- Frauenkirche “Church of Our Lady” that you’ll find in Dresden is not the one you would have found 100 years ago. As part of the Altstadt, the original was destroyed in WWII and reconstruction only just finished in 2005. Now…well…let’s just say they did a good job. It’s also free for those of us who wish to gawk, though it is 8 Euros to go up into the tower for a 360 degree view of the city.
- Zwinger was a palace also in Altstadt, and since it full reconstruction, the complex is now a museum and holds a fine collection in its gallery.
- Kunsthofpassage is a fanciful series of buildings and courtyards in Neustadt. The “Courtyard of Elements” is a wonderful spot with colorful building, whimsical craftsmanship and singing pipes! Each courtyard is different and enjoyable in its own right, and don’t forget the delightful shops and pleasant little cafes!
- Semper Opera House has some power house vocals, but if you aren’t really into opera or simply don’t speak the German language, the architecture on the outside is pretty spectacular too!
- Neues Rathaus is the New Town Hall, an architectural glory for us newbies to gawk at, which includes the Glockenspiel, a very unique clock tower. This is all located in the Marienplatz, a courtyard in the smack dab middle of the city. You know, we might as well own our inner American tourist, right?
- Frauenkirche, just like Dresden, there’s one in Munich. This one has a bold orange-red roof and minimal adornments on the domed front facade towers. Inside, as a church dedicated to the Virgin Mary, dove-white walls and columns dominate the space in addition to the gold-highlighted ceiling and rich wood pews.
- Viktualienmarkt is a daily food market in the center of the city with 140 stalls brimming with regular and exotic foods. Stop for lunch or to restock your food supplies, maybe try something new.
- Hofbräuhaus München is one of Munich’s oldest breweries. Germany is quite famous for its beer and Munich is a city plum-full of beer houses and gardens.
- Hohenschwangau Castle, Neuschwanstein Castle, and Linderhof Palace are all located about an hour and a half to the southwest of the city, the first two are minutes apart by car, an hour to walk. Linderhof Palace is an hour by car due to the mountains, but the drive is worth it for the beautiful views along the way.
- BMW Welt and Museum is a stop to make for those fans of motorized vehicles and those of modern architecture. This destination has the old, the new, and the shiny, with some funky shaped buildings in between!
Cologne Cathedral in Cologne, Germany
As the seat of the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Cologne, this cathedral is an awe-inspiring World Heritage site. Built from 1248 to 1473, it actually remained incomplete until 1880. Its Gothic architecture lines reach for the heavens in a silvery gold, even the interior seems to impose height on its occupants.
Love Lock Bridge in Frankfurt, Germany
The Eisernersteg Bridge, following a trend that started in France, is a spot where couples go with their names written in permanent ink/paint on locks, which they then lock onto any point of the bridge and keep the key(s). This is suppose to symbolize a long and lasting relationship between the pair.
The Black Forest in the Southwestern part of Germany
Home to beautiful falls, charming little towns hidden among the pines and firs, surrounded by mountains…This is a stop to make for any outdoors-man or woman who likes a hike and nature’s finest secrets.
Almbach Gorge in Berchtesgaden
This is a 13.6 mile (22 km) hike established in 1894 when 29 bridges had to be built to navigate the terrain.
Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany
This is a beer festival, though there are plenty of activities and food options beyond this, of course. Dress up, turn your hair into an up-do, explore the amusement park rides, the bold colored tents, and drink in the liquid gold!
Sometimes an amusement park is just what a traveler needs. Rollercoasters, fair food, and a perfect sunny day!
Baden-Baden Thermal Baths near the Black Forest
Just think! After days and weeks of walking, possibly carrying a nice-sized backpack, a spa sounds pretty nice. Sinking into a hot bath and doing absolutely nothing. No planning, prepping for the next leg of your trip, no editing photos, writing posts, no social media, no well-meaning family back home. Simply heat soaking into your bones, soothing muscles, and softening smog-damaged skin. Maybe a massage later on in the day…
Germany has 1500 different kinds of beer, 1300 breweries, and is the 2nd biggest consumer of the drink in the world!
Home to 300 kinds, including the Bavarian Pretzel (Bres’n)
German sausage is what everyone remembers, with 1000 kinds, including the popular street food Currywurst with a spicy sauce.
Black Forest Cake
This is 3-layered chocolate cake with additional layers of whipped cream and cherries. I’m not sure if I’m craving it or developing a toothache just looking at it…
This is roasted ham often served with sauerkraut, potatoes, and vegetables.
Everyone loves donuts! The locals must not find the hole in the middle necessary, instead finding fillings to replace the lack. How unfortunate..? Not.
This is pork, veal, or chicken breaded and fried in thin slices. It tends to be a cheap street food and quite amazing.
This is the German version of Mac & Cheese with egg noodles, sauteed onions, and some assortment of German cheese.
So that’s all I’ve got for you, but there’s plenty more to be sure! I hope this helped your bucket list/trip planning (possibly overloaded it!), and I wish you the best of luck!