Heidelberg, Germany

Germany is not only an economic powerhouse of the European Union (EU), it is also a great place to visit with everything from historic cities like Frankfurt, Munich, Hamburg and Dresden to smaller historic towns, incredible scenery, spectacular Cathedrals, Grand Palaces, Castles, the majestic Bavarian Alps and the Rhine and Mosel Rivers.

Berlin, capital of Germany is one of the most dynamic and vibrant cities in Europe. A top cultural centre and home to excellent museums, art galleries as well as superb dining and shopping. Some of the best galleries and museums are located on Museum Island, a must see destination and home to the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra and Berlin Opera. Famous landmarks to visit include the Brandenburg Gate, Checkpoint Charlie, DDR Museum, the Kurfürstendamm lined with shops and restaurants and Charlottenburg Palace.

Located on the River Main, Frankfurt is a modern business and financial centre with an impressive Old Town (Altstadt) including the delightful Römerberg, a well preserved pedestrian friendly city square known for its fountain, medieval townhouses, attractive boutiques and galleries. The square is also home to historic buildings including the Old Town Hall (Altes Rathaus) and a number of fine Old Churches. In the Museumsufer district you will find the Museum of World Cultures and the Museum of Ancient Sculpture.

Bavaria’s state capital is Munich located on the outer edge of the beautiful Bavarian Alps. This city has so much to offer including the old Peterskirche and the iconic Cathedral, the Frauenkirche and of course the huge Renaissance-era Michaelskirche. Take a stroll in the historic city centre along the Marienplatz where you can explore the delightful old architecture dating back to medieval times. Situated near Munich is the quaint old town of Füssen, located between the Ammergau and Allgäu Alps. It is a great base to explore King Ludwig II of Bavaria’s Neuschwanstein Castle and Linderhof Palace.

Hamburg is the country's second largest city and is situated on the Estuary of the River Elbe only a short distance from the North Sea. This dynamic port city is popular for its preserved Old Warehouse District where the former storage buildings now house everything from Concert Halls, entertainment venues, shops, restaurants to art galleries and museums, including the excellent International Maritime Museum.

Situated in the upper Elbe Valley, the historic city of Dresden is just a few kilometres from the Czech border. Must see sites include Dresden Cathedral or Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, the 1743 Frauenkirche Dresden one of the most spectacular Baroque Churches in Europe. The Zwinger Palace and Gardens a famous architectural monument along with the Semperoper Opera House and the Concert Hall. Located 120 kms from Dresden is Leipzig famous for its traditional fairs and markets including a fabulous Christmas Market.

The attractive medieval Old Town area of Nuremberg (Nürnberg) stands as a testament to the rich cultural traditions that have shaped Germany. A highlight of any visit is to walk around the city's five kilometres of walls that were built to protect the old city in the 1300’s. The 11th Century Nuremberg Castle is an enormous old fortification with a variety of individual medieval structures to explore, many of them housing museum displays and related artefacts. Located just 79 kms away is the Medieval Rothenburg ob der Tauber, one of the most attractive places to visit along the famous Romantic Road tourist route. Famous for its Walls and Towers, this completely preserved, picturesque medieval town offers endless charm with the imposing 13th Century Town Hall (Rathaus) and the wonderful Ratstrinkstube built in 1466 with its interesting clock.

Other great cities to visit include Düsseldorf, considered to be one of the most cosmopolitan cities due to its vibrancy. Explore on foot the historic Old Town (Altstadt) district with the picturesque Marktplatz and extraordinary Town Hall (Rathaus). Heidelberg is located around the River Neckar Valley, crowned by the crumbling remnants of the glorious medieval Heidelberg Castle. The Citadel rises high above the red tiled roofs and streets of the Old Town, reached by the Heidelberger Bergbahn funicular. The city is dotted by statues to Goethe and other German poets, while a charming Church spire and arched bridges make this a city one you will not forget.

When leaving the big cities behind, Germany has some spectacular small towns to visit all with beautiful museums, historic sites, enchanting lanes and postcard like squares. Some of the prettiest towns include Oberammergau in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Schiltach, Esslingen and Bad Wimpfen in Baden-Württemberg, Lindau and Mittenwald in Bavaria and Marburg in Hess and the UNESCO World Heritage Old Town area of Bamberg, a veritable picture postcard of a preserved medieval German town.

The River Rhine etches its way through a wonderful path of deep cut valleys and some of the most breathtaking Castles and cultural landscapes. Along its route visitors can catch a glimpse of historic towns like Boppard, the legendary rocks of Lorelei, the stunning old city of Koblenz and the fairytale turret tops of Eltz Castle. The Rhine is also famous for its wine with vineyards catering for Riesling and Spätburgunder that flow from the hilltops to the riverbanks. Also sitting along the Rhine is Cologne (Köln) with its historic Old Town and famous Cologne Cathedral. Other exciting things to do include exploring its ancient Roman remains, magnificent Baroque Palaces, numerous museums and art galleries.

The beautiful Black Forest situated in the southwestern corner of Germany stretching 160 kilometres with densely wooded hills and is one of the most visited regions in all of Europe. Some of the highlights include the delightful spa town of Baden-Baden, numerous medieval towns and villages and the spectacular Black Forest Railway centered on Triberg with its famous falls as well as Triberg itself, home to the Black Forest Open Air Museum.

Germany has well over 20,000 Castles to visit including the most famous of them all, Mad King Ludwig II of Bavaria’s, Neuschwanstein. Other notable Castles include Hohenzollern Castle in Baden-Württemberg, Heidelberg Castle, a massive red sandstone castle, Wartburg Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Eltz Castle, a medieval castle nestled in the hills above the Moselle between Koblenz and Trier and Hohenschwangau the 19th Century Palace, which was the childhood residence of King Ludwig II of Bavaria.

The tradition of Christmas markets as we know them today began in Germany and feature traditional crafts, decorations, choirs, bands and freshly baked artisan goods. Some of the best known Christmas Markets to visit include the Nuremberg Christmas Market, one of the oldest dating back to the 1500’s, the Marienplatz Christmas Market in Munich as well as the Dresden, Leipzig, Hamburg and Cologne Christmas Markets.

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