The land of Bach and Goethe, Germany is a unique cultural landscape existing in the very heart of Europe. With its soul-stirring scenery, spirit-lifting culture, big-city beauties, romantic palaces and half-timbered towns, the Deutschland is an exceptional unification of natural beauty and man-made marvels as history, culture and natural beauty perhaps best describe the essence of vacationing in Germany. We handpick some of the most exquisite locales of this “Land of Ideas”
It is said that from the town of Gernsheim, on the eastern banks of a torpid meander in the Rhine, it was once possible to see the steep slate roof and towers of Frankenstein castle, positioned on a hilltop, about 10 miles away. Visit the castle today, a short drive south of Frankfurt, and climb the tower to enjoy a dining experience on a patio, both with a view of the valley below. Frankenstein Castle (German: Burg Frankenstein) is a hilltop castle in the Odenwald overlooking the city of Darmstadt in Germany. It is thought that this castle may have been an inspiration for Mary Shelley when she wrote her 1818 Gothic novel Frankenstein. Get ready for the kind of warm-hearted companionship that the novel’s monster yearned for.
Cologne Cathedral also known as the Catholic Cathedral in Cologne, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. The towering Cologne Cathedral, the Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Mary, is located on the banks of the mighty Rhine and is undoubtedly Cologne’s most impressive landmark. This masterpiece of high Gothic architecture, one of the largest cathedrals in Europe, begun in 1248 and was the most ambitious building project of the Middle Ages. As imposing as its façade, its magnificent interior covers an area of 6,166 square meters and boasts 56 huge pillars. Above the high altar is the reliquary of the Three Kings, the 12th-century work of art in gold that was designed by Nicholas of Verdun from Milan.
Neuschwanstein Castle is one of the most visited castles in Germany and the most popular tourist destination in Europe. The castle, also known as the ‘Fairytale King’, is located in Bavaria near the town of Fussen and was built by King Ludwig II of Bavaria. The antiquated old town of Füssen, situated between the Ammergau and Allgäu Alps and a popular alpine resort and winter sports centre, is a good base to explore nearby Neuschwanstein Castle. One of Europe’s most famous (and picturesque) royal castles, this many-towered and battlement-covered fantasy fortress is the inspiration for Walt Disney’s famous theme park castles. From guided tours of the sumptuous interiors to some of the country’s most spectacular views, a variety of tour options are offered.
When one thinks of the Black Forest, the spiky peaks, crystal clear rivulets, picturesque mountain pine and speedy brooks come to mind. Followed by the soft clump of boots on the moss-laden forest soil, travellers may experience all this and more at the Schwarzwald or the Black Forest as they walk or take a drive around. From the scenic beauty of the vast expanse of hills, valleys and forests to the posh Spatown Baden till the Swiss border, the area is rejuvenating in one word. Travelling by train, one should not miss the vivid Black Forest rail route between Offenburg and Konstanz. It is hailed as one of the most beautiful train journeys in Europe.
The Rhine Valley
The mighty Rhine is not only Europe’s most important watercourse; it is also the most beautiful one. With a total length of 1,320 kilometres, this magnificent river stretches from Switzerland through Germany and all the way to the Netherlands. While there are many places in Germany to enjoy this majestic river, the lovely Upper Middle Rhine Valley section, designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is probably the most popular spot for tourists to visit. Here, this often dramatic 65-kilometre stretch of river boasts more than 40 castles and some 60 picturesque medieval towns all just waiting to be explored either by river cruise or by car ride. The historic town of Bingen, where the river cuts through a deep gorge before entering the Bacharach valley, is a good place to begin the voyage.
The Island of Rügen
Rügen is the largest and most beautiful of the German Baltic islands, separated from the rest of Germany by the Strelasund and linked to the mainland town of Stralsund. The island’s beauty stems from its diversity of landscape, including everything from flat farmland and forest-covered hills to expansive sandy beaches, lagoons and lovely peninsulas. A fun thing to do here, especially for outdoor enthusiasts, is to pay a visit to the Jasmund Peninsula, which in places reaches heights of 161 meters. Here, one will find Jasmund National Park, popular among nature lovers for its abundance of wildlife, with notable species found here, including rare white-tailed eagles. Another draw is the island’s beautiful Stubnitz beech forests, part of the Königsstuhl National Park.