A visit to Germany is a time of temptations, treats and feasts that vie for attention against its awesome scenery, romantic palaces, quaint and intriguing towns and its culture that lift the spirit, as each city has something to lure all types of travellers. Berlin, the country’s capital is also an entertainment hub aside from being the centre of political life, while cultural attractions are something to look forward to when visiting Frankfurt.There are 19 international airports that serve Germany and its network of public transport system makes going around a breeze.
Weather in Germany could be somewhat unpredictable, but generally the climate is at its best from May until September. Popular times for most visitors are the summer and winter holiday periods. There’s fewer crowd from January until April as the weather is cold, thus prices are lower. High season for Germany is from June to September and picks up again in December. Expect low prices in January through March and enjoy good rates during the shoulder season, which falls on April to May and from October to November. Winter in Germany is very cold, followed by rain especially in the northern region, with average temperature ranging from 2 °C to –5 °C (35.6 °F to 23 °F), while summer is temperate and rainfall is more frequent. Summer temperature averages between 13 °C and 23 °C (55.4 °F and 73.4 °F).
Fly me there
One of the most famous among Germany’s festivals, which is celebrated all over the world, is the annual Oktoberfest in Munich. It’s a fantastic time to sample all types of beer Germany makes. It’s a 16-day celebration that is usually attended by some six million people. It’s a great part of Bavarian culture that had its beginnings in October 1810.The original celebration was to honor the marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig (later King Ludwig I) and Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen.
Today’s version of Oktoberfest has become one huge affair, where, aside from the huge amount of beer served, is also the time when visitors could indulge in a huge amount of German food. The Largest Volksfest or People’s Fair in the world, while replicated in many countries worldwide, still draws a very huge crowd in its home ground, Munich. Over six million people attend the festivities held at the 42-hectare Theresienwiese, with about 72 per cent coming from Bavaria. The rest of the visitors come from all over Europe and countries such as Australia, Brazil, japan, India and the United States.
- The Romantic Road
This is not named as such for nothing. Touring the Romantic Road could mean keeping the (love) fires burning, or rekindling an old flame, or to simply go out for a pleasurable walk to enjoy some of Germany’s wondrous scenic routes. The Romantic Road runs for 400km from Würzburg in Northern Bavaria to Füssen in southern Germany, near the Austrian border. Romantic Road is famous for its celebration of German culture and the beauty of the places along the way. Just imagine seeing little hamlets and chocolate box towns that you can explore, such as Görlitz, a picturesque little town that had retained its pre-WWII splendour.
The tour provides travellers with a fascinating view of European history, culture and art – from its fertile valleys to lush meadows and forests to awe-inspiring views of mountains to romantic castles. Its popularity is largely attributed to the beauty of the sites along the routes, as the tour passes through several historic areas such as Würzburg, Augsburg through some ancient walled towns like Nördlingen, Dinkelsbühl and Rothenburg ob der Tauber. Highlights at the end of the tour includes the magnificent sight of the Alps and the beautiful Neuschwanstein Castle. It’s a journey that showcases the beauty of Germany’s countryside and its wonderful cuisine, impressive and carefully preserved buildings and towns and cities that were planned and designed way before modern city planning and architectural techniques were developed.
- Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate
The Brandenburg Gate in Berlin was modelled after the Acropolis. The monument was built in 1791 for King Frederick William II. The 26-metre high Neo-classical structure has an impressive four-horse chariot placed on its top. There are six columns on each side of the monument, which creates five passages. The royal carriages passed through the centre while regular traffic used the other four. The two buildings on each side of the Gate are decorated by beautiful Doric columns. The Brandenburg Gate used to be a symbol of the division of Berlin and was also a part of the Berlin Wall. But with the coming down of the Berlin Wall, the Gate becomes the symbol of the unity of Germany.
Its main feature is the sculpture that was designed by Johann Gottfried Schadow in 1793. The Quadriga, which represents the Goddess of Victory, points to the east, towards the city centre. When the Berlin Wall fell it was opened to traffic on 22 December 1989, with over 100,000 people coming to celebrate. However, with the damage caused to the monument, it was closed to traffic to restore the Gate. It reopened on 03 December 2002 but only for pedestrian traffic. Taxis and buses are no longer allowed to pass through its gates.
- The Black Forest
Germany’s famous Black Forest seems like an enchanted, mysterious place, what with its hills looking dark due to their dense forests. But in reality, the Black Forest is one of the most visited areas in Europe’s upland regions. It’s a haven for hikers and a wonderland for visitors because of its wonderful spa facilities at Baden-Baden and Bad Liebenzell, a beautiful resort. Other places of interest here are the Black Forest Open Air Museum, the falls and the Black Forest Railway, all located on Triberg. The Black Forest has some very fine and well-maintained hiking trails that go for about 30,000 km (18,000 miles), which becomes an ideal location for cross-country skiing in winter. Of course, we must not forget the sinfully-rich Black Forest cake, made with luscious chocolate drenched in schnapps and layered with plenty of cherries!
Nestled between famous hiking trails Hunsrück and Eifel is the medieval town of Cochem, which is located in Moselle Valley’s most romantic area. The general shape of the landscape might have changed but the allure of the place, with traces of the medieval ages, still remain. Dominating the landscape is the impressive Reichsburg Castle, which was completely destroyed before but was completely rebuilt in its original style and thus still looks like a classic fairy tale castle. Just as impressive is Moselle Valley, with its lush vineyards and fields, meadows and forests, including the town’s old section. The scenic town of Cochem has charming alleys and narrow streets, a historic market and beautifully-restored half-timbered houses. Moselle Valley produces several types of excellent Rieslings.
Cochem is prepared to pamper its guests, with a promenade full of flowers and benches, the river tours, the creative lighting of the palace and its large swimming pool with artificial waves. In the old town are several attractions, remains of the past, some of which date back to the early 14th century, such as the Guard House and the Endert Gate Tower, Balduin’s Gate, Burgfrieden Gate and Martin’s Fountain in the market. The mid-17th century Capuchin monastery is now a cultural centre, while up the hill is Cochem Castle, which was built in year 1000.
- Schloss Neuschwanstein
One of the most famous among Germany’s collection of castles is Schloss Neuschwanstein in Füssen, which is said to be the inspiration for the theme park castles of Walt Disney. King Ludwig II of Bavaria, who was known to be quite shy, started building fantasy fortresses with many battlements and towers from 1869-86, with Neuschwanstein one of the most beautiful. Schloss Neuschwanstein was opened to the public 21 days after the death of King Ludwig II. While the king built his palace to keep away from public life, his private life now becomes easily accessible to the public. It’s a castle that draws more the 1.4 million visitors a year.
As a private retreat, the Neuschwanstein had technologically-advanced fixtures. The royal residence had hot air central heating and every floor had running water. Hot and cold water taps were available in the kitchen and automatic flushing system was installed in the toilets. There was a lift for royal meal delivery, telephones on the fourth floors and an electric bell system to call adjutants and servants. The large window panes of the castle were unheard of during the time of King Ludwig II.