Prepare for a roller-coaster ride of feasts, treats, and temptations experiencing Germany's soul-stirring scenery, spirit-lifting culture, big-city beauties, romantic palaces, and half-timbered towns.
Culture & History
Few countries have had as much impact on the world as Germany, which has given us the Hanseatic League, the Reformation and, yes, Hitler and the Holocaust, but also the printing press, the automobile, aspirin, and MP3 technology. It's the birthplace of Martin Luther, Albert Einstein, and Karl Marx, of Goethe, Beethoven, the Brothers Grimm and other heavyweights who have left their mark on human history. You can stand in a Roman amphitheater, sleep in a medieval castle and walk along with remnants of the Berlin Wall – in Germany the past is very much present wherever you go.
You'll encounter history in towns where streets were laid out long before Columbus set sail, and in castles that loom above prim, half-timbered villages where flower boxes billow with crimson geraniums. The great cities – including Berlin, Munich, and Hamburg – come in more flavors than a jar of jelly beans but all will wow you with a cultural kaleidoscope that spans the arc from art museums and high-brow opera to naughty cabaret and underground clubs. And wherever you go, Romanesque, Gothic and baroque classics rub rafters with architectural creations from modern masters such as Daniel Libeskind, David Chipperfield, and Frank Gehry.
Though the Germans are known as very bureaucratic people, they too know how to have fun and enjoy life. The widely attended carnivals and festivals prove this statement best. Both types of events are a joyful period of the year in which whole cities engage in all-out parties and colorful celebrations. The Carnivals have a long history in Catholicism, while today they are celebrated by street parades of people wearing costumes and masks. There is a variety of carnivals and festivals celebrating all spheres of life and joy.
One of the best traits of the German people and culture, is that they like to take care of each other. For example, lost items are hung on trees. If you are at a park in Germany, or anywhere near a tree, and you see something hanging at its lowest branches, then know that this is a lost thing. Somebody has lost it, and the other one who found it took care to hang it on the tree. So when retracing their steps, the owner will have it easier to find their belongings.
Experiencing Germany through its food and drink will add a rich layer to your memories (and possibly to your belly!). You'll quickly discover that the local food is so much more than sausages and pretzels, schnitzel and roast pork accompanied by big mugs of foamy beer. Beyond the clichés awaits a cornucopia of regional and seasonal palate-teasers. Share the German people's obsession with white asparagus in springtime, chanterelle mushrooms in summer and game in autumn. Sample not only the famous beer but also world-class wines, most notably the noble Riesling.
Mention traditional German food and most people tend to think of sausage, sauerkraut and beer — but German food is much more than these three things. Germany has a long culinary history reflecting its rural roots and geography. Over the years, German food has evolved as a national cuisine through centuries of social and political change. Each region has its specialty and distinct flavor. For instance, the area around Hamburg is known for fresh fish dishes while the South is known for all types of foods made of pork. But what they all have in common is the German heartiness and richness that you won’t find elsewhere.
In Baden-Wuerttenberg to the west, food has a more refined French influence. This includes dishes such as Maultaschen, a pasta dish similar to ravioli with pockets of pasta containing meat, herbs, and spices. Although the dish is made with finesse, the name literally comes from the term ‘meal bags'. The meat was traditionally hidden inside the pockets during lent when people were meant to eat less meat.
The area to the north that sits on the Baltic Sea (Lower Saxony) is where you are more likely to enjoy seafood, such as rollmops and herrings. Cake is enjoyed nationally, but regional variations include Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte from the Black Forest and the brilliantly named Bee Sting cake (Bienenstich Kuchen) from Andernach, so-called because the cake was made as a celebration after soldiers from Andernach and Linz used bee hives as a form of weaponry!
Most German’s neither live to work nor work to live. But a lot of Germans find that the two can be enjoyed harmoniously (the rest of the world should probably take note). The average working week in Germany is around 35-40 hours, one of the lowest in Europe. Productivity, however, is high, and whilst at work, most Germans take pride in doing a good job. And when not at work, they partake in a range of leisure activities and pastimes.
Hop in some of the city’s most amazing spots and actually meet some of the friendly Berliner. Some of the bars you will visit include a Ping-Pong bar, a Goth horror rock bar, an Absinthe bar, beach bars, squat bars, and even burlesque clubs.
See where Rammstein and Marilyn Manson hang out, play ping pong with the locals in Berlin’s iconic Dr. Pong’s or visit some crazy techno clubs and dive bars.
Try a rave, or a hiphop party in an old, bombed-out abandoned train depot. Perhaps you’d prefer a surreal club 3 floors below the city, with a labyrinth of hidden rooms and oddities that you must descend in an elevator to explore.
“Mauerpark” simply means “wall park” and refers to its former status being part of the Berlin wall and death strip. It is a public park which is a great place to visit, not necessarily beautiful, but super cool and hip – could this be any more Berlin?! The Mauerpark is a cultural and artistic center. Join the numerous events from Karaoke on Sundays, flea markets, exhibitions, live music and more.
Outdoors & Adventure
There's something undeniably artistic in the way Germany's scenery unfolds; the corrugated, dune-fringed coasts of the north; the moody forests, romantic river valleys, and vast vineyards of the center; and the off-the-charts splendor of the Alps, carved into rugged glory by glaciers and the elements. All of these are integral parts of a magical natural matrix that's bound to give your camera batteries a good workout. Get off the highway and into the great outdoors to soak up the epic landscapes that make each delicious, slow, winding mile so precious.
Germany offers as much in the way of great outdoor adventures as it does in big city thrills. Go skiing in the Bavarian Alps in the southeastern part of the country or settle in for water sports and a wellness routine on the rugged islands of the Baltic and North Sea.
Extreme camping takes on new meaning when you find yourself sleeping inside a tent suspended from a tree at the adventure resort of Waldseilgarten Hollschlucht, located in the mountain-fringed” village of Pfronten in Germany’s Allgau region (part of Bavaria).
The tents are actually called portaledges and are similar to what rock climbers sleep in during long climbs. To reach these tents you climb a series of ropes and cables built into the tree, then shimmy out across the branch and climb in. Your athleticism will be rewarded with spectacular views of the surrounding Bavarian Alps and a suspended sleeping space, with a thin mat and a duvet.
The Bavarian Alps may not have the scope and size of their Austrian and Swiss counterparts, but you can still indulge in some serious schussing in Germany’s rugged southeastern corner. With some 80 miles of slopes, the ski resort of Oberstdorf is home to Germany’s longest downhill slope (over 4.5 miles).
And the Fellhorn and Kanzelwand ski areas here make up the largest linked ski terrain on the north side of the Alps. You can even make it a binational ski day by skiing into Austria’s Kleinwalsertal ski area, about an hour's skiing from Oberstdorf.
Take a look at all the amazing destinations we have selected for you and your group, read our experiences and advice in our blog, and check what’s people saying about us too!