Germany Travel Guide
Germany and all those that visit this country enjoy the results of unity, the period when the most investments where made in infrastructure and services, to wipe the division lines from the Cold War and the scars from the Second World War. Modern Germany has grown up and, even though it still suffers from the economical consequences that resulted from the unification, it’s obvious that this nation has found a way to express its national identity. Cities from the former East, like Dresden, shine again, like the jewels from the past. Germany has been the product of a long history of separation, a fact that has lead to a remarkable diversity, one that you can notice by crossings the states that embody the FederalRepublic.According to stereotypes, the Germans are apathetic, they eat only sauerkraut (sour cabbage) and sausages, drink gallons of beer every day, they are very disciplined and authoritarian with their children, have no sense of humor and other things like these. If you do visit Germany you’ll find a tolerant, friendly and educated nation. Due to its Nazi history, patriotism is still a delicate topic, especially for the older generations, who still seeks it national identity. The German literature from the past 50 years deals with losing or keeping the national identity during the Nazi regime. The Germans are cosmopolitans and they like to travel all over the world, and if it’s possible, many times per year. They seem to be very honest and they appreciate honesty and credibility, a fact that can be disturbing if you want to talk about cheap-chat, like the British for example. Good manners are important in Germany, with no ceremony and fallacy, but adapted to the situation and personalized.
Germany's Tourist Attractions
Don’t miss the German Parliament (Reichstag) restored by the British architect Norman Foster, or the Brandenburg Gate. They are the symbols of German unity and they are very close to the place where the Berlin Wall was in the past, until 1989.
- Take a walk along the Wall, marked by a path from the Brandenburg Gate to the Potsdamer Platz, which is now a central place for the city. Here you can find some fragments that were part of the wall.
- Visit the BerlinWallMuseum (Mauermuseum), located at the crossing point Charlie, where people used to cross the wall from East to West and backwards.
- Take a cruise on the Rhine from Koblenz, with its hilltop fortifications, right next to the place where the MoselleRiver sheds into Bingen, passing close to fairytale castles, scenic villages and the Lorelei Roch which is 120m high, the legendary shelter of the mermaid that drove the sailors to their doom.
- Head to the south-western Bavaria, near Fussen, close to the border with Austria, to see the fantastic castle Neuschwanstein, built in the 19th century by the Bavarian king Ludwig the second (king Ludwig the Crazy).
- VisitMainauIsland located on ConstanceLake’s northern bank, with many historical buildings and colorful rooftops. Owned by a private foundation, the island is filled with gardens and it’s famous for the flowers around here.
- Be surprised by the jewels, the sculptures and the countless treasures from the Green Treasury (Grunes Gewolbe) in Dresden, that houses the collections of August the Powerful from the 18th century and which is enlisted in UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
- Visit Freiburg, one of the most romantic academic cities in Germany, the gateway to the Black Forest and the place where the gothic cathedral lies with its magnificent tower. Located on the river Neckar, Heidelberg is the oldest academic city in the country.
- Admire the richness of the cities enlisted as UNESCO World Heritage Sites – Bamberg, in the northern Bavaria, Goslar in Lower Saxony and the former Hanseatic port Lubeck, located on the Baltic coast.
- Schwalmstadt in Hessen is the place where Little Red Riding Hood lived and Sababurg in Reinhardswald is a castle that inspired the Grimm brothers to write the story of Sleeping Beauty.
- Enjoy the relaxed atmosphere in the historical district Romer from the city Frankfurt am Main, which opposes the modern city’s tall and shiny buildings.
- Frauenkirche is a church located in Dresden, reconstructed after it was destroyed by the 1945 bombardments. Now it’s a symbol of the past.
- Visit the city of Weimar, 1000 years old, which hosted many personalities, including Goethe, Luther, Bach, Liszt, Wagner and Schiller. The city is an important historical center, which had its glorious era in the 18th and 19th centuries.
- Travel by train from Freiburg to the spectacular landscape in Hochschwarzwald (Superior Black Forest), a popular area the year round for winter sports, hiking, sailing and walking.
- Explore Germany’s past in the PergamonMuseum in Berlin, which contains artifacts and Islamic Art collections. This museum is surrounded by other interesting museums and galleries.
- Visit the eastern part of the CharlottenburgPalace, the biggest palace today, built for Sophie Charlotte, king Friedrich the First’s wife, at the end of the 1660s.
- Admire the fireworks from the river banks during the Rhine festivals in Flammen (Rhine in Flames) which take place all summer long, in various regions of the river.
- Venture in the Harz, Black Forest and Bavarian Alps mountains, some of the best places in the country for hiking, skiing and other winter sports. The marked trail network sums up approximately 132.000km.
- Take the little ones to the Park-Europe, the biggest thematic park in Germany, located in Rust near Freiburg. Here you can find the highest roller coaster in Europe.
- In Germany the automobiles’ constructers are being paid homage in the Mercedes Benz World in Stuttgart, BMW Welt in Munchen, Autostadt Volkswagen in Wolfsburg and the spectacular glass factory in Dresden.
- Visit one of the countless vineyards located on the Rhine, Necklar and MoselleRiver banks, following one the wine roads (Weinstrassen) from the region.
- If you get to Germany before Christmas, visit the Christmas markets (Weichnachtsmarkt) which are organized almost every year. The negus and the baked apples are always there.
- Pick one of the 300 spa centers to get relaxed, using a varied range of modern and traditional treatments.
- Germany is one of the largest beer consumers in the world. Enjoy the countless kinds of beer in the Oktoberfest festival that takes place in the end of September and attract 6 million visitors to the Bavarian capital each year.
- If you manage to get a ticket, go to the north-east Bavaria and Bayreuth, to the Wagner Opera Festival, that takes place every year from the end of July until August.
- Cross the Romantic Road that connects the northern and the southern Bavaria, famous for its wonderful stories. The cities along the road will offer you an insight into Germany’s history, art and culture.
- Every year, in the end of August, the Baked Fish Festival (Backfischfest) is celebrated in Worms and it’s the biggest festival with food and drinks from the Rhine’s banks. It’s dedicated to the fishers’ branch, the oldest organization of this kind in Germany.
In the past 50 years the Germans started to enjoy the Mediterranean and exotic food, integrating in their menus dishes from the countries they visited in their holidays. The favorite are Italian and Asian cuisines, but the great restaurants’ cuisine inspires mostly from the French one. However, you’ll also find many traditional dishes, some of the being specific to distinct regions.
The most popular ones include: Schweinebraten (pork and sauce, served with boiled potatoes and dumplings), Goulasch (boiled pork and beef rolls with onion and pepper, served with boiled potatoes and noodles), Kassler mit Sauerkraut (pork with potatoes and sour cabbage), Wiener Schnitzel (Viennese schnitzel), Erbsensuppe (bean soup with onion and potatoes, usually served with sausages), Leberknodel Suppe (soup with pork liver rolls), Kartoffelsuppe (potato soup, onion and bacon, served with Viennese sausages), Kochfisch mit Senfsauce (boiled fish fillet with mustard sauce and potatoes). For dessert, the Germans usually eat icecream and fruits, but also traditional desserts – Rote Grutze (fruit and cream compote), Pudding, Rice with Milk and Eis und Heiss (vanilla icecream with hot cherry compote).
Germany constantly went through periods of conquest, occupation and restructuring. The Danube and Rhine waters have divided the German tribes since the first century, but 500 years later, Christianity unified the entire region. On Christmas day, in 800, the pope crowned Carol the Great (Charlemagne) as king of the Francs and emperor of the Romans.
This moment represents the birth of the Holy Roman Empire (the first Reich), that lasted until the Napoleonic wars in the 19th century. In 1517 Martin Luther’s reform started, which to tensions between the protestant and catholic, resulting in the Thirty Years War, which ended in 1648. The local rulers’ authority stopped Germany from unifying until the Prussian ascension and the German empire reformation in 1871 (the second Reich), under chancellor Otto von Bismarck’s leadership and the first Kaiser, Wilhelm the First. “Two Kaisers” later, the monarchy was dissolved with Wilhelm the Second’s abdication and the end of the First World War.
The crushing inflation and the social turmoil have lead to a political instability that was exploited by the Nazi Party and Adolf Hitler, which assumed power in 1933, the beginning of the Third Reich. Once Germany was defeated, the country was divided again, the eastern sector being controlled by the Soviet Union, and the western sectors being controlled by France, Great Britain and the United States. During the Cold War, eastern Germany has the highest life standard of all the countries from the Warsaw Pact, even though it was a relative prosperity. The western Germany continued its economical development, according to the Marshall Plan. The Berlin Wall fell in 1989 and a year later the two Germanys were reunited.
The hand shake is a usual form of greeting in Germany and second person is the way to address someone. Before eating we say Guten Appetit, and the other persons around the table answer with Gleichfalls. It’s a custom to bring unpacked flowers to the host, but keep in mind that red roses mean only feelings of love. When you enter a room it’s rude not to say Gutten Tag or Gruss Gott, and upon leaving Auf Wiedersehen or Tschuss. It’s also polite to say your name on the phone before asking to speak with a specific person. The local hour is GMT+1 and GMT+2 is summer time. Electricity: 220 V. The period from June to September is the best time to visit Germany.