In terms of tourism, Germany tends to fly under the radar of its European rivals France, England, Spain and Italy. However, the Vaterland’s kaleidoscope of natural beauty, urban traditionalism merged with modernity, and its historical importance, give Germany legitimate claim to be the most underrated destination in Europe.
Germany travel resources
Germany lies at the geographic epicenter of Europe, bordered by nine countries and two seas. It is home to the largest population in Europe, which is dispersed around a variety of natural splendors: the magnificent mountain ranges of the Alps; the Black Forest, filled with its dense foliage and folklore; the majestic winding rivers of the Rhine and Danube; and the picturesque coast of the Baltic Sea.
Germany has contributed significantly to Europe’s pool of great leaders (Frederick the Great), writers (Goethe), philosophers (Kant), composers (Beethoven), scientists (Einstein), and revolutionaries (Martin Luther and Karl Marx), making it a cultural epicenter as well as a geographical one.
With its central location, breathtaking landscapes, abundant supply of well-preserved and thoughtfully-curated historical and cultural landmarks, and cities at the forefront of modernity, it is easy to see why more travelers should look to Germany when choosing their next European holiday destination.
City focus: Berlin
Berlin has been a world-renowned metropolis, compared with the likes of New York City, Paris and London, since its golden age of the roaring twenties. However, no other city in the world can compete with Berlin’s unique past. It is this tumultuous narrative that sets Berlin apart and provides the city with its unrivaled personality: a patchwork of history, architecture, arts, nature and nightlife.
In contrast to the wealthier German cities of Munich and Hamburg, Berlin is relatively poor. As a result it offers very reasonable prices for a European capital, although this is quickly changing with Berlin’s recent rise in popularity with travellers.
Berlin’s public transport system was once the most technologically advanced in the world. While today this does not hold true, the BVG is still a good network, pragmatically connecting the bustling metropolis, its numerous surrounding lakes, and the historic Prussian town of Potsdam. Make sure to get your Welcome Card upon arrival!Read more about Berlin
Getting to and from Germany
The capital is currently served by two historic, yet decaying airports: Tegel (TXL) and Schönefeld (SXF). However, in October 2013, a new airport, Berlin Brandenburg Airport, will open as the other two close. This will provide Berlin with one ultra-modern airport complete with high-speed connections into the city center.
Many travellers will arrive in Germany from other European countries. Various ferry routes connect England to Germany via the Netherlands, however, booking low-cost airline fares from the UK is the better option. Taking the ferry into Germany makes more sense from the Scandinavian countries of Norway, Sweden and Denmark. There are many ferry connections along the Baltic Sea into the German harbor towns of Kiel and Rostock.
Getting around Germany
You can also experience the autobahn by letting someone else drive. While you probably won’t be reaching any record speeds in a bus, you can find some affordable travel deals.
Berlin Linien Bus, for example, offers an ever-expanding network of 30 national bus routes.
DB Bahn has one of the most extensive and modern rail networks in the world. Its IC and ICE trains connect over 50 cities within Germany, with the ICE trains reaching speeds of 190 mph. Although it costs a little more, be sure to reserve seats, especially at peak times. Book several days in advance for cheaper tickets.
Car and camper rental
Are you ready to handle the infamous autobahn with its open speed limit? The roads really are fantastic to drive on, but you might want to start slow of you’re not used to driving at speed.
Book online with our partner, Europcar, for a car rental discount of up to 25%.
If you’re looking to quickly hop from one urban environment to another, then flying is the way to go. The three largest German fleets are Lufhansa, Air Berlin, and TUIfly.
Book well in advance for the best deals.
One of the most scenic ways to get around Germany is by cruising one of its many rivers: the Rhine, Danube and Elbe to name a few.
Cruise on the Danube, Europe’s second-longest river, and take in the varied landscape while imagining the ancient Romans sailing the same course.
Top 10 things to do in Germany
- Experience Berlin. This true metropolis has something for everyone!
- Cruise the romantic Rhine. Witness the beauty that inspired the German writers and artists of the Romantic Movement.
- Drink in Munich. The best time to drink a Maß (a one-litre glass of beer) isn’t during Oktoberfest. Instead, visit during summer and drink in one of Munich’s many fantastic Biergärten.
- Sail Lake Constance. Swabia’s Sea has the Alps as its magnificent backdrop.
- Discover Neuschwanstein. Visit the crazy Bavarian King’s unfinished but astonishing castle. Disney copied it for Sleeping Beauty and their theme parks, but that just doesn’t do it justice!
- Shop at Kristkindlmarkt in Nuremberg. Germany’s largest Christmas market in one of Germany’s coolest medieval towns.
- Experience carnival in Cologne. This is Germany’s version of the Rio Carnival – be sure to drink the local Kölsch beer, and (after you’ve recovered) make time to tour Northern Europe’s largest gothic cathedral.
- Soak up the Black Forest. Walk, bike, or drive your way through its rolling hills and valleys, into its lush forests and by its serene rivers and lakes.
- Visit the Frauenkirche in Dresden. Destroyed by air raids in the aftermath of WWII, it lay in ruins for more than 40 years. Private donations financed its thirteen-year reconstruction (re-opened in 2005), demonstrating its importance to the people of Germany.
- Go to the Island of Rügen. You’ll be rewarded with some unbelievable vistas, including the chalk cliffs in Jasmund National Park.
This page by Travis Shirk, a writer from Tucson, Arizona who is based in Berlin, Germany where he works for the travel comparison site Idealo. He is a travel enthusiast and has also lived in Munich, Germany and Copenhagen, Denmark.