M odern-day Germany is a quilt of individual small states sewn together as the modern republic. Although they share a common government and language, each of these states and regions is quite different from the others, as evidenced by their traditions, culture and architecture.
Go to Cologne and you can look up at the soaring spires of the second tallest church in Europe, while in Frankfurt you’ll see the soaring skyscrapers of one of Europe’s major business centers. In the old coal-mining area of the Ruhr you’ll enjoy museums set in old industrial complexes, and in Berlin an avant-garde energy and culture reminiscent of Paris in the 1920s.
In Bavaria you’ll find verdant forests and Neuschwanstein castle said to be the model for Disneyland’s Cinderella’s Castle, in Munich fine museums and a vibrant arts scene.
And if you want to see the quintessential old German town, just take a drive to picture-postcard Rothenburg ob der Tauber. And all of this is just for starters.
You could spend a month in Germany and just scratch the surface, which makes some travelers want to linger in this land of Gemütlichkeit.
Good to Know
Christmas Comes Early in Medieval Rothenburg
Christmas came early for me this year while I was on Germany’s “Romantic Road.”
It was late October and I was in the little medieval town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber in Bavaria, one of the last remaining walled towns in Germany.
Bavaria’s Beautiful Bamberg
I visited Bamberg, Germany last month and was a bit taken aback by the whole experience.
First of all, I never expected it would be such a stunning city. It’s one of Europe’s largest fully intact old town centers, a beautiful medieval city that, thankfully, retained its historic beauty since it survived…
The Unexpected Pleasures of Medieval Regensburg
I knew little about the 2,000-year-old city of Regensburg, Germany when I boarded the River Countess for a cruise along Germany’s Main and Danube rivers. Only that it is a medieval city, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the first stop on Uniworld’s Danube Discovery itinerary. But what a discovery I was about to make.
Munich’s Toy Museum
If every kid wants to spend his life collecting toys, it’s not unreasonable to suppose that one kid may grow up to do so. Ivan Steiger, a filmmaker, children’s author and cartoonist from Prague, did just that.
Basking in the Holiday Glow of Christkindlmarkt
I started a new holiday tradition about five years ago…although I didn’t realize at the time that’s what I was doing.
In 2006 I took a river cruise on Germany’s Main River, docking in medieval towns that looked as if they were the inspiration for Grimm’s fairytales. It was December and Germany’s Christkindlmarkt season had begun.
The Romantic Road
One of the most interesting drives in Germany is along the Romantic Road, a 250+-mile-long ribbon of highway through Bavaria. A major trade route during the Middle Ages, today it is a tourist bonanza of medieval walled towns with half-timbered houses, romantic castles and beautiful vistas. Come here to step back in time.
The Rhine River Valley
A drive along the Rhine River provides both stunning scenery and the taste of small village life it provides – is a trip along the Rhine River. You can take it either by car (it’s easily accessible from the Frankfurt area) or by boat from Mainz.