You may find all the Alpine clichés you could ever want in one stylish little bundle in Munich. The capital of Bavaria may be known for its generally clear blue sky. Still, it also conceals a plethora of hidden gems. The modern BMWs, chic shops, and robust industries may all be found here with the ancient customs and mythology that have shaped this region for generations. Its museums include everything from works of art to technical marvels to artifacts from the first Oktoberfest. The city’s music and cultural sectors are second only to those of Berlin.
Castle Neuschwanstein, commissioned by King Ludwig II, Bavaria’s most famous (and eccentric) king of the 19th century, rises from the mystical Alpine woodlands like something out of a children’s bedtime tale. The inside is just as fantastical, a confection that puts even the most ostentatious oligarch’s palazzo to shame, reflecting Ludwig’s preoccupation with the fabled Germanic past and his appreciation of composer Wagner. Tourists go to see the sweet folly that supposedly influenced Walt Disney’s Magic Kingdom castle.
The Black Forest is stunning in any weather: mist, snow, or sunshine. Spend some time in this wooded area of southern Germany if you need some quiet time in nature. Half-timbered towns straight out of a fairy tale, crashing waterfalls, and cuckoo clocks the size of homes may be found in every valley. Take in the scenery, ride the twisting roads to remote lakes, taste the Black Forest’s signature dessert, work off your meal on a scenic forest path, and then retreat to a cozy farmhouse with thick curtains. Do you hear it? Silence.
The Rhine Valley, from Rüdesheim to Koblenz, is a fascinating blend of the natural (churning whirlpools, dramatic cliffs), agricultural (near-vertical vineyards), medieval (hilltop castles, half-timbered hamlets), and modern (in the 19th-century sense: barges, ferries, passenger steamers, and trains) worlds. Trails depart from every riverfront hamlet and lead you through woods and vineyards to breathtaking lookouts and gigantic stone strongholds. Finally, return to the village for a wine tasting and romance night.
Heidelberg is Germany’s oldest university town, and the remnants of a medieval castle on a slope provided spiritual inspiration to the romantics of the 19th century. Students have been going to class, drinking beer from steins, singing drunkenly, carving their names into bar tables, and sometimes spending time in student prison for generations. That has all left its stamp on the city we know today, home to cutting-edge science and culture and some of the world’s most chaotic nightlife.
Dresden, Germany, formerly known as “Florence on the Elbe,” was left to a smoking ruin after being carpet-bombed for hours on a frigid February night in 1945. Dresden’s resurrection from the dead is a miracle in and of itself. This city’s restored architectural gems and world-class museums ensure its position among Europe’s most important cultural centers. The combination of a lively bar district, the spectacularly rebuilt Military History Museum by Daniel Libeskind, and the tiara of villas and palaces bordering the river make for a tempting bundle of exploration.
A period existed when Trier served as the Western European capital. All right, it was two thousand years ago when Emperor Constantine oversaw this crumbling capital of the Roman Empire. This picturesque town contains nine monuments recognized by Unesco as World Heritage properties due to its exceptional Roman heritage preservation. They include the city’s historic amphitheater, thermal baths, and Porta Nigra city gate. Germany’s oldest city, located on the banks of the Moselle River, is now as relaxed as the river itself, and it’s just a grape’s throw from some of the country’s best and steepest vineyards.
Is it just us, or does nature blow your mind? This is what comes to mind when you look at the sandstone beauty of Saxon Switzerland, located not far from Dresden. A favorite of Romantic painters of the 19th century, this national park has a surreal landscape of pinnacles, buttresses, mesas, and spires. Others think the best way to take in its splendor is on foot, through one of the numerous routes that wind through the forest or to the remains of long-lost castles. These rocky heights are ideal for free climbers.
Your camera will fall hopelessly in love with Potsdam’s magnificent palaces, lovely gardens, breathtaking vistas, inspired architecture, and intriguing Cold War sites; we’re almost sure of that. King Frederick the Great established the state capital of Brandenburg, located just over the Glienicke “spy bridge” from Berlin. His whimsically rococo Sanssouci Castle is the crown jewel of this Unesco-recognized cultural tapestry, which combines several styles popular in Europe throughout the 18th century to create a breathtaking masterpiece. Spending the day here will educate and entertain you.