Must See

Bavaria (Bayern)

Located in the southeast corner of Germany, bordered by Austria and Czech Republic, Bavaria is Germany's largest state. Culturally unique, the city of Munich is its heart and soul. However, Bavaria is also known for its beautiful forests and charming walled towns. The Romantic Road, which connects the northern area of Bavaria with the south, is the most famous of all the German scenic roads. The towns along the way give visitors an excellent insight into the region's history, art and culture.

The Wagner Opera Festival takes place every year from late July to August in the northeastern Bavarian city of Bayreuth. However; be warned: the waiting list for tickets can be very long - sometimes up to 10 years! Tickets are allocated by lottery, although preference is given to financial donors and famous patrons.


This buzzing and fun capital city is full of history, fine museums and urban culture. The knocking down of the Berlin Wall led to a vast transformation of the city, as East and West reunified. The Berlin Wall Museum (Mauermuseum) at Checkpoint Charlie, where people crossed from West to East (and vice versa) has a permanent exhibit and temporary displays of art relating to the Berlin Wall.

The city has many highlights, some of which include:

Museum Island: located on Spreeinse island in the River Spree, this district is dedicated to art and antiquities, and houses collections of Egyptian and pre-history works, 19th century sculptures and paintings, late Antique and Byzantine art, and original-size, reconstructed monumental buildings such as the Ishtar Gate of Babylon, the Pergamon Altar, and the market gate of Miletus, consisting of parts taken from the original excavation sites.

Unter den Linden (Under the Lime Trees Avenue): this heart of the historic section of Berlin dates from the 17th and 18th centuries and connects Pariser Platz, Bebelplatz and, after crossing the Schlossbrücke (castle bridge), the Lustgarten and Museum Island. Buildings along the street include the Russian Embassy (former Soviet Embassy), the Neue Wache war memorial, the Berlin State Library, the Berlin State Opera, Cathedral of St. Hedwig, the Kronprinzenpalais (former palace of the crown princes) and the Zeughaus Berlin (old armoury that now houses the German Historical Museum (DHM).

Brandenburg Gate: this potent symbol of German unity stands close to the Reichstag the western end of Unter den Linden, right by where the Berlin Wall stood until 1989. The monumental sandstone structure was modelled on the Acropolis of Athens and was built for King Frederick William II in 1788-91. The first Neo-Classical structure in Berlin, it is 26 m (85 ft high), 65.5 m (215 ft wide) and 11 m (36 ft deep); there are six Doric columns on each side, forming five passages.

Charlottenburg Palace: this baroque palace is situated on the east side of Berlin, and is the biggest surviving palace in the capital. It was built for Sophie Charlotte, wife of Prussia's King Friedrich I, in the late 1660s. In addition to the historical apartments, the palace houses the Museum of Prehistory and the Gallery of Romanticism from the New National Gallery.

Black Forest

Home of the cuckoo clock and the chocolate gateaux, this region skirts the borders with France and Switzerland to the east of the Rhine. Named after dark evergreens that line the landscape, The Black Forest offers great walking, skiing and swimming in lakes. Freiburg is gateway to the Black Forest, with its gothic Cathedral (12th to 15th centuries) with magnificent tower. From there, travellers may take a train ride east into the spectacular countryside of the Upper Black Forest.

Cologne (Koln)

This old cathedral city on the Rhine is one of the oldest cities in Germany, having been founded by the Romans in the year 30 BC. The centre of Cologne was completely destroyed during World War II and the city today is characterised by simple and modest post-war buildings, with few interspersed pre-war buildings which were reconstructed due to their historical importance. However, the Gothic Cologne Cathedral (started in 1248), managed to remain intact despite suffering 14 bomb hits during the war and is now the city's most famous landmark and unofficial symbol.

The city has over 30 museums and hundreds of galleries. Exhibitions range from local ancient Roman archaeological sites to contemporary graphics and sculpture. Some of the ones to look out for include the Römisch-Germanisches Museum (Roman-Germanic Museum) with displays on ancient Roman and Germanic culture; the Museum Ludwig (modern art); Wallraf-Richartz Museum (medieval art); and EL-DE Haus ,the former local headquarters of the Gestapo, which documents the Nazi rule in Cologne with a special focus on the prosecution of political dissenters and minorities.


Dresden (meaning people of the riverside forest) is situated in a valley on the River Elbe and is the capital city of the German Federal Free State of Saxony. The inner city of Dresden was heavily destroyed during what proved to be the final weeks of World War II in Europe. The 18th century Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady) was destroyed in the firebombing and was reconstructed in the late 1990s and early 2000s as a landmark symbol of reconciliation between former warring enemies.

Dresden hosts the Dresden State Art Collections (Staatlichen Kunstsammlungen Dresden), which is one of the world's most important museums and collections. The art collections consist of eleven museums, of which the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister (the Old Masters Picture Gallery) and the Grünes Gewölbe (the Green Vault - housing exhibits from the period of baroque to classicism) are the best known.

Other museums and collections in Dresden include the State Museum of Prehistory (Landesmuseum für Vorgeschichte), the Collection of Art and Technology of the Dresden University of Technology (Universitätssammlung Kunst + Technik), the State Collection of Natural History (Staatliche Naturhistorische Sammlungen Dresden) and the Transport Museum (Verkehrsmuseum Dresden).

Frankfurt am Main

The fifth largest city in Germany, Frankfurt am Main (Frankfort-on-the-Main in English) is is located on both sides of the Main River. The centre of Frankfurt is located on the north of Main River, whilst the southern part of the city contains the Frankfurt City Forest (Frankfurter Stadtwald) Germany's largest forest within a city.

The Römer is a complex of eleven formerly separate buildings of the 15th-18th centuries, including the Old Town Hall (Altes Rathaus), which has the Emperors' Hall (Kaisersaal) where the newly crowned emperors of the Holy Roman Empire held their banquets. To the west of this stands the New Town Hall (Neues Rathaus; 1900-08). To the south of the New Town Hall, on the banks of the Main, is the 14th century Gothic church of St Leonhard, with Romanesque doorways.

The relaxed atmosphere of the historic Römer district contrasts starkly with the modern skyline of the city nowadays known as 'Mainhattan', due to its shiny skyscrapers, including the Commerzbank Tower, (Europe's tallest building until 2004) designed by Sir Norman Foster.

Along the Schaumainkai in Frankfurt's district of Sachsenhausen, on the left bank of the Main, there is an extraordinary concentration of museums, some of them of international standing. The area has become known as Museumsufer (Museum Embankment), and is home to such gems as the Städel art gallery (with European paintings from seven centuries) and the Museum of Applied Arts (MAK), which exhibits more than 30,000 objects representing European and Asian decorative arts. The Schaumainkai street is often partially closed to traffic on Saturdays for Frankfurt's largest flea market.


On the north shore of Lake Constance lies the attractive island of Mainau, with its historic buildings and multicoloured roofs. Owned by the private Lennart Bernadotte foundation, it is maintained as a garden island and is famous for its flowers. Beside flowers, there is a great park landscape with beautiful views on the lake. There is also a greenhouse with a tropical climate and thousands of butterflies.


Munich is the capital of the state of Bavaria, and is Germany's third largest city. At the centre of the city is the Marienplatz, a large, open square with the Old and the New Town Hall. Its tower contains the Rathaus-Glockenspiel. The Peterskirche (St Perter's Church) close to Marienplatz is the oldest church of the inner city. It was first built during the Romanesque period, and was the focus of the early monastic settlement in Munich before the city's official foundation in 1158. Nearby, the Gothic hall-church Heiliggeistkirche (The Church of the Holy Ghost) looks down upon the Viktualienmarkt, the most popular food market of Munich, which developed from an original farmers' market to a popular market for gourmets.

Munich is a green city and is home to a number of parks. The Englischer Garten (English Garden), covering an area of 3.7 sq km, is one of the world's largest urban public parks. It contains a large lake with islands; a large wooden pagoda that holds 7,000 seats, making it the 2nd largest beer garden in Munich (after Hirschgarten); a Greek-style temple; and even a nudist sun-bathing area. Other large green spaces are the modern Olympic Park and the parks of Schleissheim Palace and Nymphenburg Palace (with the Botanical Garden to the north). The city's oldest park is the Hofgarten, near the Residenz, dating back to the 16th century. Another notable park is Ostpark, which houses the swimming area, Michaelibad, one of the largest in Munich.

The city has several important art galleries, most of which can be found in the Kunstareal (art district), including the Glyptothek (Greek and Roman art), the Alte Pinakothek (containing several thousand European paintings from the 13th to 18th century), the Neue Pinakothek (European Art of the 18th and 19th century), and the Pinakothek der Moderne (20th century works).

Munich is famous for its breweries and the Weizenbier (wheat beer) is a speciality from Bavaria. The Hofbräuhaus am Platzl is arguably the most well-known beer hall, located in the city centre. Oktoberfest, perhaps Munich's most famous attraction, is a 2-week-long fair, which offers a wide selection of rollercoasters and several large beer tents ("Bierzelte"). Despite its name, the festival actually takes place in late September and attracts 6 million visitors to city each year.


One of Germany's most popular tourist destinations is Neuschwanstein Castle (Schloss Neuschwanstein), a 19th century castle situated near Hohenschwangau and Füssen in southwest Bavaria. This fairytale-style castle is perched 200-metres above a picturesque wooded valley, and was used as the inspiration for the Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland. Close to the border with Austria, this romantic alpine retreat was created by King Ludwig II ('Mad King Ludwig'), along with nearby Hohenschwangau Castle.

River Rhine

The Rhine is a particularly scenic waterway, noted for its breathtaking riverside landscapes, charming towns and wine-growing. It is probably best enjoyed on a pleasure cruise, where boats glide past fairytale castles, hilltop fortifications and pretty villages. The trip from Koblenz will take visitors past the 120 m- (394 ft-) high Lorelei Rock, the legendary home of a siren who lures boatmen to their demise. There's also the chance to enjoy spectacular riverside fireworks displays during the 'Rhein in Flammen' (Rhine in Flames) festivals that take place throughout the summer at various points along the river.


The Saalburg is a Roman fortification in the forested Taunus mountains, constructed about 90 AD, enlarged until about 210, and abandoned after 260. Today the Saalburg houses a museum and is a centre for Roman archaeology. It is located between Bad Homburg and Wehrheim, some 30 km north of Frankfurt am Main.


Germany's oldest city (founded in or before 16 BC), Trier was historically the capital of the Western Roman Empire, and residence of the Emperor Constantine. It was an important early city of Christianity and preserves some impressive Roman monuments. These include:

  • the Porta Nigra (the best preserved Roman city gate north of the Alps);
  • a Roman amphitheatre;
  • ruins of three Roman baths, among them the largest Roman baths north of the Alps;
  • a Roman bridge (Römerbrücke) across the Moselle River, which is the oldest bridge north of the Alps still crossed by traffic;
  • the huge Constantine Basilica, home to the 67 m long throne hall of Roman Emperor Constantine and still used today used as a Protestant church; and
  • the Trier Cathedral (Dom St. Peter), which dates back to Roman times and is home to the Holy Tunic, a garment that is said to be the robe Jesus was wearing when he died. It is only exhibited every few decades, at irregular intervals.


Weimar is one of the great cultural sites of Europe, and was home to such luminaries as Bach, Goethe, Liszt, Schiller, Wagner and Luther. The tombs of Goethe and Schiller as well as their archives, may be found in the city. After the First World War, the German National Assembly met in the National Theatre in Weimar and in 1919 adopted the constitution of the "Weimar Republic".

During the Nazi period the notorious Buchenwald concentration camp was established in the immediate vicinity of the town; there is now a historical exhibition on the premises.


Christmas Shopping

In the weeks before Christmas, almost every town and city of any size in Germany stages a Christmas Market (Weichnachtsmarkt). Warming glühwein and apple fritters are a must on a cold winter's day.


Germany has over 300 health resorts and spas that offer a wide range of traditional and modern treatments. The most famous spa town is Baden-Baden, in the southwest, due to its mild climate and its brine springs. The Caracalla Baths are a modern bathing and therapy centre with two circular pools and a 'mushroom fountain' in the centre, with water up to 69°C/156°F.

Walking and Hiking

Some of the best areas for walking and hiking include the Harz Mountains, Black Forest (Schwarzwald) and the Bavarian Alps. Germany's network of marked walking trails amounts to some 132,000 km (82,500 miles).

Wine Tasting

Germany is well known for its wine, and travellers can visit some of the many vineyards on the banks of the Rhine, Neckar and Moselle rivers, following one of the numerous specially designated Wine Roads (Weinstrassen) in the region.