It’s not all oompah bands and bratwurst… Although squeezing a bit of both into your next trip to Germany would certainly be a treat. Picture steaming glühwein, dense forests straight out of the Brothers Grimm and snow-capped mountains; Germany’s a fairytale land of hillside fortresses and wide, winding rivers. Trafalgar Global Product Manager Liesa Bissett says it’s for these reasons alone that Germany should be on your travel watchlist in 2016. Here are her favourite Germany experiences on offer:
Cruise the Rhine
One of the most renowned waterways in Europe, the Rhine River runs from the Swiss Alps, right through Germany and into the North Sea. Of course, no visit to Germany would be complete without cruising along it for few hours past medieval castles and terraced vineyards. A firm favourite for Liesa is Trafalgar’s stop at a magnificent castle overlooking the Rhine Valley where guests can learn about the history of the castle and the stories of the knights who once lived there – all before enjoying a delicious lunch.
The Pied Piper of Hamelin
Follow the fairytale of the Der Rattenfänger von Hameln, a medieval story that tells of a tragedy that befell the town in the 13th century and was later made popular by the Brothers Grimm. The town of Hamelin in central Germany started with a monastery as early as 851 AD and became a town by the 12th century. It’s also known for its sightseeing tower on Klüt Hill, which today is a popular tourist attraction. The town’s setting in the picturesque Weser Mountains means visitors not only enjoy a day of history, but of stunning landscapes too.
East and West
No longer a “divided” Germany, the landmarks of the old East and West sections of Berlin are a must-see on any visit. See the Brandenburg Gate, Unter den Linden and Reichstag Building which were all major points of focus 25 years ago in 1990 during the reunification of East and West Germany. Visit the Mödlareuth Open Air museum for insight into “divided Germany”. See the differences between East and West Germany, as well as parts of the original Berlin Wall.
Visit the most well-preserved medieval town in Germany, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, with its half-timbered houses and the Old Town Hall. Also renowned as the “Christmas Town”, Rothenburg is a great place to buy hand-made Christmas decorations and the annual Advent Market offers a range of stalls with seasonal food and gifts set up in the market square. If you’d like a bird’s-eye view of the town, climb the Town Hall Tower or walk the walls that surround this old town – best done before breakfast or at sunset to make it all the more magical.
It rises up impressively atop a rugged hill above the village of Hohenschangau in south-west Bavaria. Neuschwanstein Castle was commissioned by reclusive Ludwig II as a retreat and upon his death in 1886 was opened up to the public, has featured prominently in several movies and was the inspiration for Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty Castle. Inspired by the operas of Richard Wagner, the pictures in the castle are directly modelled on the medieval legends that the composer incorporated in his works. Picturesque inside and out, Neuschwanstein was built to make the most of beautiful mountain and lake views and, in the words of Ludwig, “in the authentic style of the old German knights”.