Travel Germany and Berlin between Christmas Markets and Castles

We travel to Germany, a beautiful country embedded in the heart of Europe with a rich history and culture. It has beautiful castles, ancient towns, quiet villages, and romantic rivers. Germany is also home to traditional festivals, and good food.

What to see in Germany: Ideas for an Itinerary

The main cities in Germany

Berlin is one of the major tourist destinations in Germany. The German Parliament (Reichstag) was re-designed by the British architect Norman Foster. The Brandenburg Gate, the symbol of the German unity is close to where the Berlin Wall was until 1989. You can take a walk along part of the Berlin wall, from the Brandenburg Gate. The glitzy Potsdamer Platz is a modern landmark for the city. There is the Berlin Museum (Mauermuseum) at Checkpoint Charlie.

In the city of Dresden, the beautiful Florence of the Elbe will also give you a break in East Germany. You can also admire the city of Weimar, where they lived many great characters. It includes Goethe, Luther, Bach, Liszt, Wagner, and Schiller. This is an important cultural center of the past, which got known for its golden age in the 18th and 19th centuries. Then enjoy the relaxed atmosphere of Frankfurt am Main.

In particular, the historic district of Römer contrasts with that of the modern city. Today it gets known as Mainhattan for its skyscrapers and for financial power.

In northern Germany, you can go to Hamburg. It is a port city full of ballrooms, strip clubs, bars and other entertainment zones. In southern Germany, do not miss the city of Munich and the beautiful area of Bavaria. You can also visit the romantic Germany of the university towns. Freiburg is the gateway to the famous Black Forest. It is home to a gothic cathedral with a magnificent tower.

Heidelberg, on the River Neckar, has the oldest university town in Germany. Heidelberg is home to the ruins of the famous Heidelberg Castle. It has Gothic and Renaissance style. The Heidelberg University, which dates back to 1386, is also the third oldest in Europe.

Finally, admire the architectural heritage of the city of Bamberg in northern Bavaria. There is Goslar, in Lower Saxony, and the small jewel of the port of Lübeck, to the north, on the Baltic Sea coast.

The natural beauties of Germany

Visit the island of Mainau, with its historic buildings and its multicolored roofs. It is on the north shore of Lake Constance on the border with Austria and Switzerland. The area enchants visitors holiday at any time of the year. This island is famous for its flowers.

One of the best places to visit in Germany is the romantic river valley of the Rhine between Koblenz and Rüdesheim. This is a panoramic area with beautiful views. It is one of the most interesting from the historical and landscape point of view in the whole country. You can ride it by car along the Rhine or by a cruise along the river. Cruises last for two hours, all day, or in the evening, and in that case, they include dinner, that is not expensive. Through this tour, you can see fabulous castles, quaint villages as well as the hills and valleys of the area.

It is worth visiting the Castle Marksburg on the Rhine. The Liebenstein Castle is the best in the Rhine area where you can even sleep, and the Maus Castle dates from 1353. In particular, you can cruise on the Rhine from the city of Koblenz. Its remarkable fortifications face the mouth of the Moselle River, to Bingen.

Take a train or drive east of Freiburg, in the spectacular Hochschwarzwald countryside. The High Black Forest is a famous winter sports area in winter. There are nature walks, boat trips, and hiking trails in summer. The Black Forest is a region known for its landscapes and forests, as well as for its cuckoo clocks. Known for witches, wolves, and so on, it is definitely a beautiful area to visit in the spring or summer.

Other attractions of Germany

Head to the south of Bavaria near Füssen, near the Austrian border, to see the Neuschwanstein Castle. This building was the model for the fairy tale of Sleeping Beauty, what you find in Disneyland, to be honest. The castle is in the south-west of Bavaria, near Hohenschwangau. Although not completely finished, it is still intact, and it is magnificent. In fact, Germany will let you enter the world of fairy tales.

At Hessen in fact, you will find the Red Cappuccetto house. While in Reinhardswald you will find the wonderful Sababurg Castle. It is a castle-hotel, which inspired Grimm brothers to write The Sleeping Beauty. Saalburg is a Roman settlement reconstructed near Bad Homburg. It is in the wooded hills north of Frankfurt am Main. You can also admire jewels, sculptures and many other treasures in the restored Grünes Gewölbe. There is a museum of precious crown jewelry collected by the royal family over the centuries. It is one of the largest collections of this kind in Europe and is now protected by UNESCO.

Take a break at the baroque Frauenkirche, the Lutheran-Lutheran cathedral in Dresden. It got destroyed in the bombing in February 1945 and then rebuilt and is a moving symbol of the past. In Germany, Gothic architecture is striking. In this respect, the Cologne Cathedral is one of the most visited monuments in the country. It is in the same town, approximately one hour north of Koblenz. It is interesting to note that, in fact, it was the tallest building in the world in 1880. And the Eiffel Tower took its place.

Berlin Travel Tips

Berlin Hop-on Hop-off Bus is the most convenient way to see and explore the city in the shortest time.

Berlin Pass gives free access to more than 50 museums, attractions, and transport.

The Television Tower is the city's most scenic spot, from where you can see Berlin at 360 ° day or night.

DDR Museum is one of the most visited museums in Berlin.

In Hop-on hop-off + Cruise, discover the city by the scenic bus or through a beautiful cruise on the Spree River.

On a deck bridge cruise, a 3 hour and a half boat tour covers 23 km and 63 bridges to discover Berlin from the water.

In Checkpoint Charlie, visit the famous checkpoint between East Berlin and West Berlin.

In Panoramapunkt, climb the fastest elevator in Europe on the skyscraper. From there admire the city while drinking coffee.

Evening Cruise to end your day with a relaxing 3-hour boat trip through Berlin's center at sunset.

Take a bus tour in Potsdam to admire the famous Castle and Sanssouci Palace.

Germany Useful information

When and how to go to Germany

Germany is an excellent destination all year round, although weather conditions are unpredictable. The best time to visit this country is in the summer, in the months of June and September. Another suitable time for a trip to Germany is during Christmas holidays.

Most people visit it between May and September (high season) when sunny days are more likely. Lots of activities are possible this season, especially trekking, cycling, and swimming. The other seasons (March to May and October to early November) are less crowded (low season). Usually, in April and May, the climate can be mild and sunny.

Between November and the beginning of March, the days tend to be dry. The temperature often falls below zero. On this season, interesting trips are those to the ski areas in the Bavarian Alps. After arriving in Munich it is easy to reach other destinations using German trains.

Driving in Germany

Driving in Germany can be a delight as the scenery is beautiful and the roads are well maintained. On German highways, there are no speed limits, even if the recommended speed is 130 km/h. The basic speed limit is 50 km/h in urban areas and 100 km/h elsewhere. If you exceed these limits, you can get fined yourself with German roadside speed cameras. Fines will arrive within 2-3 months of the offense. Children under the age of 12 are not allowed to sit on the front seat of a car. They have to use car seats certified by the German Government.

In Germany, a driver may get forced to undergo a blood test. The alcohol limit is 0.5 milligrams of alcohol per milliliter of blood. Those who exceed this limit will get fined. To pass it, two small beers, a quarter of a liter of wine or a spiral will suffice. German law expects all cars to have a first-aid kit with them. It is usually difficult to find a place to park during work hours.

Rounded signs with red and blue borders and inside an "X" mean no stopping. Motorists can not overtake a bus signaling with the arrow approaching one of its stops. Once the bus is stationary you can go. Driving on snowy roads is only permitted if the car gets equipped with winter tires. The use of normal tires may result in a fine and loss of insurance coverage in the event of an accident.

Documents, Currency, Telephone, etc.

Since Germany is part of the EU, thanks to the Schengen rules there are no border controls. Make sure the children traveling with you each have their own identity card or passport. Carry the health card with you. In case of need, you can get treated free of charge by the local Health Service, or you can pay but then get reimbursed. Since Germany is part of the Euro area, the official currency used is the Euro.

The credit cards get accepted almost everywhere. While the banks are open from Monday to Friday at 8.30-16.30. There is no problem using your mobile phone, as long as your phone has international roaming. To connect to the Internet, you can use Internet cafes, which are quite common. The voltage in Germany is 230 V, but the plugs have only two holes. So if your plug requires three you need a two-way adapter.

Where to eat and sleep in Germany

Tips for meals

50% of all places to eat out in Germany are gasthof or gasthaus. They are family-run and are comparable to taverns or pubs. You can go there for a drink, or to look for local food. Food quality differs from place to place. Restaurants in business areas often offer cheap specials of the day. It is a good way to sample local dishes. Almost all butchers prepare a sandwich, and some even meals, if you ask for it.

The quality and freshness of foods are generally high. If the restaurant gets crowded, it may be necessary to share a table with other people. In that case, you may ask: "Ist Hier noch frei?" (Is this chair free?). If they answer "Bitte!" (please) that means you can sit down. People may wish you "Guten Appetit" and "Auf Wiedersehen" (goodbye) when you leave. Germans consider dinner a social event, so do not expect a quick service. Many drinks, including beer, get served by volume.

A restaurant can offer 0.2 (null-zwei), 0.3 (null-drei) or 0.5 (null-fünf) liter portions. Water is not free in restaurants. If you ask Wasser, you will get served mineral water with bubbles and no ice. If you ask stilles Wasser, they will bring you natural water. From time to time, a basket of bread will get put on the table. The bread and appetizers, in fact, are only a tribute to the finest restaurants.

Do not leave money on the table, but always pay to the cashier. In most restaurants and cafes, the tip is optional. Service is usually included in the price of a meal or a drink. Yet, it is customary to round the bill up to the nearest digit and give the rest to the waiter. Most restaurants do not accept credit cards, so make sure you have enough money before you sit for food.

Tasting German cuisine

German cuisine has its typical dish made of meat with some form of potato and salsa. It gets accompanied by vegetables or salad. Germany has a wide range of flavors and most of the world's culinary styles. There's German, Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Polish, Indian, Italian, French, Spanish, Greek and Turkish. Dishes show a great variety and often include large portions of meat and bread. Potatoes are the basic food, and each region has its favorite way of preparing it. Some Germans eat potatoes with pears, bacon, and beans.

There is a special soup called Pichelsteiner, made with three types of meat and potatoes. Berlin Germans eat potatoes with bacon and spicy sausage. The sauerbraten is a large roast pork, beef, calf that is popular throughout Germany. It gets seasoned in different ways depending on the region. In the Rhine area, it gets flavored with raisins but is usually cooked with a variety of spices, salt, and vinegar. The fruit is often combined (instead of the vegetable)with meat dishes to add a sweet and sour taste.

All over Germany, sweets with apples are very popular. Canederli, or gnocchi, can go with many meals, especially in the north. You will also find many stalls and small shops that sell wurstel and fries. A typical German variant is a sausage covered with spiced ketchup. It gets sprinkled with curry powder.

The Germans have a tradition of the sandwich. Bakeries and butchers sell takeaway foods that compete with the fast food chains. McDonald's, Burger King and Pizza Hut are common in most cities. The Döner Kebab is lamb or chicken stuffed in bread. Although considered Turkish, it is actually a specialty that originated in Germany.

Tips for an overnight stay in Germany

If you want to stay in a hotel, you will find plenty of cheap accommodation in Germany, including in Berlin. Rates are generally lower than in other European cities. Provided it is not during a high season or trade fairs. Some hotels in big cities offer lower rates if you stay overnight for a weekend. So it is worth knowing well before booking. Bed & Breakfasts are an interesting low-cost alternative to hotels and guesthouses.

Instead of a hotel, visitors can stay in a private room in a friendly and welcoming environment. In this type of accommodation, visitors get a good service with a lot of local knowledge. You can get useful tips and information about the surroundings. Through contacts with hosts, the Bed & Breakfast allows you to know the country and its people. Finally, hostels provide a simple and cheap accommodation. They are great places to meet other travelers. In Germany, there are two versions like youth hostels and independent hostels.

More than 600 hostels are throughout Germany in large cities as well as in the countryside. They not only host individual travelers, but also young people. Independent private hostels are an interesting alternative. They are about sixty and are in big cities such as Berlin, Munich, Dresden, and Hamburg. Only a few, are in the countryside. Especially small ones are often places where you can feel at home. There is no need to be a member of some organization to be able to sleep there.

Germany travel tips

East Berlin and East Germany

Visiting Berlin is a bit like doing a history lesson. It is possible to visit the remains of the wall that split up a few years ago. Although the wall came down in 1989, it is still possible to see fragments of stones and bricks. In the capital, there are miles of parks and lakes within the confines of the city, which today has a relaxed look. But East Berlin is the tip of the "East Germany" iceberg.

For example, visit the beautiful city of Dresden, with its Old Town (Altstadt). It got reconstructed by a cumulus of rubble and is a symbol of rebirth and victory over war. It will give you an even clearer view of East Germany. You can compare to the western part of the country, which has always been "free". Dresden is today considered an important cultural and economic center. The city is on the banks of the Elbe River, with the mountains surrounding it on three sides. It should not be surprising, then, that it is a classic tourist destination.

It gets visited by people from all over the world and should be at the top of your list of places to see. Inter alia, the nearby town of Weimar is a legend of German culture. Leipzig has links to art, culture, and literature dating back to the Middle Ages. Dresden itself is the Venice of the North with excellent value for money. Moreover, this is actually the most modern part of Germany. Here buildings, highways, city centers, stations, railways, and facades have all got restructured.

Bavaria and Oktoberfest

Bavaria, in the south-east of Germany, is a first class holiday destination at any time of the year. It has its unique variety of attractions, beautiful scenery and unspoiled nature. Its romantic castles and medium-sized towns are worth it. It has its breweries, traditional festivals, excellent cuisine, and hospitality. With a pleasant climate, its cosmopolitan "capital" in Munich. The latter is the third largest city in Germany, damaged during World War II and rebuilt.

The city has several important art museums. It includes the Alte Pinakothek, the Neue Pinakothek, and the Pinakothek der Moderne. It also has a lively nightlife. Other famous tourist attractions are the English Garden (Englischer Garten). There is the Deutsches Museum and the Rathaus-Glockenspiel. It has a clock decorated with moving figures at the top of the town hall. Other famous buildings in Munich are the Frauenkirche (the Cathedral). Olympiaturm is a radio and TV tower.

The most famous attraction in Munich is the Oktoberfest, a 16-day beer festival. It is advisable to visit the city in those days. You can have a taste of what it has to offer during this holiday period. It falls during the last week of September and the first week of October. You will be getting lots of beer on the plug, carnivals and rides, parades and much more. The cities rich in history and traditions are Nuremberg, Regensburg, and Passau.

We recommend the famous "Romantic Road". It is a 350 km historical, naturalistic and gastronomic itinerary that runs from Würzburg to Füssen. From the River Main to the Alps, it winds through landscapes, towns, castles, and forts. In the Bavarian Alps, you can finally go skiing. In Garmisch, you can reach the Zugspitze (2964 m) summit with a rack train. Skiing and biking are also in the Bayerischer Wald (Bavarian Forest). It is a national park that includes the largest wooded area in Central Europe.

The concentration camps

There are the famous concentration camps dating to the Nazi Germany. Concentration camps were born in 1933, shortly after Hitler took power. Since then around 15,000 concentration camps got created in Europe. Extermination camps are common in Poland. Since 1965, the camp of Dachau, near Munich, has transformed into a commemorative site. You can visit the prison, the two crematorium furnaces, and the famous gas chambers. A library of 14000 volumes collects written testimonies of survivors. The concentration camp of Buchenwald is one of the largest in the country. It is near the city of Weimar.