A love letter to… Germany

Travel inspiration

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Historic, beautiful, friendly, and hip, Germany is an appealing prospect for anything from a whirlwind weekend to a grand tour

When you’re thinking of future European holiday destinations, Germany might not be the most obvious choice. After all, it’s not necessarily known for its beaches, party resorts, or world-famous cuisine. But that’s not all a country needs to be a great place to visit, and we think Germany’s awesome. So when it’s time to travel again, here’s why you’ll love it too.

Cool and artsy

Hamburg is a huge, industrial port city on the northern coast of the countryHamburg is a huge, industrial port city on the northern coast of the country — Shutterstock

Of course, Berlin is constantly listed as one of the coolest cities in the world, and that’s largely because it is. Even back in the 1970s when it was divided, it still attracted artists and musicians from all over the world to bathe in its bleak atmosphere. Now it’s home to clubs, bars, galleries, markets and shops that you could spend your whole life discovering. But Germany’s icy cool doesn’t end there.

There’s Hamburg, a huge, industrial port city on the northern coast of the country that has always been sympathetic to the drifters, travelers, vagabonds, and disenfranchised that have found their ragged way here over the centuries? Today it embraces that diverse culture to be one of the most vibrant cities in Europe.

The Neustadt area of Dresden, in the east of Germany, is block after block of gig venue, bar, record shop, bookshop, record shop, gig venue, gig venue, bar, bar, record shop, all decorated with street art, weird sculptures, and color. On the other side of the country, Düsseldorf, home of electro pioneers Kraftwerk, is shedding its industrial past to become a center of design and culinary chic.

Old-world charm

Germany also has some of the most quintessentially “European” cities in the whole continent, with cobblestones, narrow side streets, and colorful, crooked buildingsGermany also has some of the most quintessentially “European” cities in the whole continent, with cobblestones, narrow side streets, and colorful, crooked buildings — Shutterstock

On the flip side, Germany also has some of the most quintessentially “European” cities in the whole continent. What would you think of as a typical old European city? Cobblestones? Grand cathedrals with spires soaring to the heavens? Cloistered market squares leading to narrow side streets? Colorful, crooked buildings that have seen the world change over the last half a millennium and still stand proudly today? Well, Germany has all of that in spades.

Take Nuremberg, a chocolate box picture of winding streets and gabled houses. What about Heidelberg, sitting in the shadow of its mighty sandstone castle on the banks of the Neckar river? Or maybe Lübeck, a handsome, Gothic town, former Hanseatic trading port, and marzipan capital of the world. You’ll never be short of a spot of grandiose beauty in Germany.

Football for all

Even if you can’t get a ticket to one of the famous names (Dortmund with their famous “gelbe Wand”), wherever you go, it’ll be a memorable experienceEven if you can’t get a ticket to one of the famous names (Dortmund with their famous “gelbe Wand”), wherever you go, it’ll be a memorable experience — Ververidis Vasilis / Shutterstock

In the money-grabbing, ego-centric, moral vacuum of the football world, it’s often the case that the match-going supporter is one of the last people to be considered. The atmosphere at many stadiums is flat, with local supporters being priced out of being able to attend, replaced with people who’d rather sit and demand to be entertained like they were at the theater.

This is not so much the case in Germany. Clubs must adhere to the 50+1 rule, meaning no single owner can be a majority shareholder and use the club as a financial plaything (and opposition fan groups are vehemently opposed to clubs they see as bending this rule to breaking point, Hoffenheim and RB Leipzig being notable examples).

Football clubs tend to remain social institutions, something that’s been lost in many countries. Tickets are cheap, stadiums are full, atmospheres are formidable without (generally) crossing the line into hostile, beer is plentiful and the quality of the games is great. Even if you can’t get a ticket to one of the famous names (Dortmund with their famous “gelbe Wand”, St. Pauli with their hipster tourist following), wherever you go, it’ll be a memorable experience.

The Happy Wanderer

The mighty sandstone formations of the Sächsische Schweiz National Park is just one of the natural wonders of GermanyThe mighty sandstone formations of the Sächsische Schweiz National Park is just one of the natural wonders of Germany — Shutterstock

Get out of the cities and into the countryside and you’ll find some of the most wonderful hiking and cycling Europe has to offer. It’s not necessarily all that challenging, but it’s certainly satisfying.

Surprisingly, one-third of the country is forest. The Black Forest in the southwestern state of Baden-Württemberg is probably the most famous, with its mountains, gorges, and tumbling waterfalls, but there’s also the Unesco biosphere reserve of Spreewald not far from Berlin, the cave systems of the Teutoburg Forest, the tree-lined lakes and mighty sandstone formations of the Sächsische Schweiz National Park on the Czech border, and many, many more.

In many of these forests you’ll find castles. And not just any castles, but fantastic, fabulous, fairytale castles, some built as displays of power, others as some of the most over-the-top gifts ever bestowed on anyone, ever. There’s no better way to imagine a bygone age of romance, chivalry, and splendor.

Hard-working and handsome

People in Germany are friendly, willing to chat (almost always in impeccable English if you don’t speak German), and generally seem to be satisfied with their lotPeople in Germany are friendly, willing to chat (almost always in impeccable English if you don’t speak German), and generally seem to be satisfied with their lot — Shutterstock

There’s a cliche about German people that they’re officious, dry, and humorless. I’m going to put that to bed right now. What other people might see as a haughty lack of passion is, I will suggest here, simply a quiet sense of pride. Not an aggressive, jingoistic pride; more an acknowledgment that everyone has worked — and continues to work — to make everything as pleasant as possible. A pride that never crosses that line into smugness, but simply states that es muss sein.

It’s a handsome country, clean and elegant, with a sense of its own history that takes satisfaction in its achievements while acknowledging its mistakes. Even in the big cities, people are friendly, willing to chat (almost always in impeccable English if you don’t speak German), and generally seem to be satisfied with their lot. Go to any bar in any city in Germany of an evening and take a look around at a room full of happy, good-looking people laughing and having a good time in their prosperous, safe, largely socially conscious country. If that doesn’t give you even a mild hankering for a life as easily, comfortably satisfying as that, then I’m afraid we can’t be friends.

Read about our love for other countries on Kiwi.com Stories.