Germany is a country of great diversity. Its past divisions have left vast cultural differences that are evident to any traveller. Although often when you mention Germany, the things that tend to spring to mind are beer drinking lederhosen-clad men, beach towels and a frightening efficiency. But as a country it has a huge amount to offer and has long since shrugged off the 20th century history of division and tyranny.
In the heart of Europe and bordering 9 other countries, Germany has a stunning mix of turreted castles, snow topped mountains, lush river valleys, mysterious forests and medieval villages.
Whether you are looking to experience the magnificence of the royal cities of Heidelberg and Potsdam, the beauty of the Black Forest and Bavarian Alps or the buzzing cosmopolitan centres of Munich (to enjoy the famous Oktoberfest), Frankfurt, Düsseldorf and Cologne, you are guaranteed to be mesmerized by this incredibly country.
Germany’s past is most evident in its capital, Berlin. Today it is seen as a hedonistic city where anything goes, however it still bears the scars of the past. Thousands of tourists flock to the city each year to see the Brandenburg Gate and the path of the old Berlin Wall.
Everywhere you go you are surrounded by natural beauty, stunning architecture, fine art and a rich cultural history. Beethoven, Bauhaus, Goethe and Glühwein are just a few names associated with this amazing country.
Although Germany has never been classified as one of the great gourmet nations, its cities offer a mouth-watering array of international cuisines. That coupled with fine opera, world-class DJs, beer and its excellent regional wines make it a destination that should be on everyone’s travel wish-list. And if nothing else, it surely must be worth a trip just to experience the thrill of the no speed limit autobahns!
Germany use the Euro and currency and traveller’s cheques can be exchanged at any bank, bureaux de change, post office, airport, railway station, port and major hotel. Credit and debit cards are widely accepts and ATMs are abundant. However it is worth remembering that Germans tend to prefer to use cash so you should always ensure you have some with you rather than solely rely on using your plastic.
For many, the main association they hold with Berlin is the Berlin Wall. Even though it was broken down in November 1989, its iconic status has proved hard to shake off.
However anyone visiting Berlin today will be stunned at the city’s transformation. Many expect to see an austere concrete jungle and are pleasantly surprised by the modern and dynamic city that presents itself before them.
The west of the city has blossomed into a modern cosmopolitan centre full of gleaming modern buildings whereas the east is now a 21st century urban development. But that is not to say that it has lost its sense of history. Still evident are some of the old streets of East Berlin along with the grand architecture of Museumsinsel and Unter den Linden and the green vibrancy of Tiergarten Park.
Filled with museums, galleries and theatres it is very much a city of the arts. But it isn’t just a destination for the culture-vultures among you. Visitors are mesmerised by the unexpected laid-back attitude of Berliners and the lively nightlife that is on offer – anything from authentic beer halls to buzzing bars and Latino nightclubs. It is also fast becoming a centre for gastronomy – not something that one expects from a German city. However its streets are home to some of the best international restaurants in Europe.
See & Do
There is a wealth of things to see and do in Berlin. If you are planning on visiting numerous sights in the city it would be worth getting a Berlin Welcome Card which gives you discounts on all the major attractions plus free travel on public transport within the city. If you are a museum buff, then the SchauLUST Museen Berlin Ticket which is valid for three consecutive days and gives you free entry into around 70 museums is a must. Both can be obtained from railway stations and tourist information centres.
There are far too many attractions to list them all here, but below are just a few of the best:
  • The Reichstag
  • Museumsinsel – Pergamon Museum, Alte Nationalgalerie, Altes Museum, Bode & Neues Museum
  • Berlin TV Tower
  • Tiergarten Park/Berlin Zoo
  • Charlottenburg Palace
  • East Side Gallery
  • The Brandenburg Gate
  • The Jewish Museum
  • New National Gallery
  • Berlin Cathedral
  • New Synagogue
  • Wannsee Villa
  • Potsdamer Platz
  • Filmmuseum Berlin
  • Kollhoff Building (panorama point)
  • Remains of the Berlin Wall
  • Mauermuseum Haus am Checkpoint Charlie
  • LEGOLAND Discovery Centre
  • Hamburger Bahnhof
  • The Story of Berlin
  • Gendarmenmarket
Berlin may not be able to compete with the likes of Milan or Paris just yet, but shoppers certainly won’t be disappointed.
It is a Mecca for clothes, porcelain, chocolate and cold war memorabilia and can offer shoppers anything from market shopping to the big mall experience.
Both East and West Berlin have great shopping. In the east is it mainly along Friedrichstrasse where you’ll find numerous designer names (such as Gucci and Yves St Laurent), department stores (Galeries Lafayette), chain stores and a smattering of chic cafés. In the west head for Kurfürstendamm (Ku’damm) which also has designer stores, large modern retail outlets, high street stores and boutiques.
If you are looking for something a bit out of the ordinary, head for the original boutiques, retro clothing and young local designers in Hackescher Markt and Prenzlauer Berg.
Although a department store rather than a mall, Kaufhaus des Westerns (KaDeWe) is huge and may as well be a mall. It is the largest department store in Europe with the largest delicatessen on the continent. There are many malls in Berlin including AKEXA, a new mall opened on Alexandreplatz and Arkaden on Potsdamer Platz.
Of course, no city would be complete without flea markets, and Berlin has several to offer the bargain hunter. Three worth a mention here are Berliner Antik & Flohmkt (Banhof Freidrichstrasse), Kunst und Nostalgie Markt (Museum Island) and Zille-Hof (Fasanenstrasse).
Food & Drink
Although still famous as the home of the Bratwurst and Currywurst, Berlin is now a truly international melting pot of delicious cuisines. You can still grab a vast variety of sausages or a doner kebab if you wish, but the city has far more to offer.
If you want to sample real German dishes (apart from the aforementioned sausages) you could sample the Königsberger klopse (veal or pork meatballs in a cream sauce) and for desert either the pfannkuchen (jam filled donut known as the “Berliner”) or Rote gruetze (fruit compote). Of course, all washed down with a local wine (such as Rieslings) or beer.
There are far too many restaurants to name them all here, but here are a few of the best you might like to try:
  • Altes Zollhaus, Krezberg
  • Gugelhof, Prenzlaner Berg
  • Storch, Schöneberg
  • Hitit, Charlottenburg
  • Falafel UFO, Prenzlaner Berg
  • Maxwell, Mitte
  • Paris Bar, Kantstrasse
  • La Toja, Prenzlauer Berg
  • Bamberger Reiter, Schöneberg
In recent years Berlin has become a great city for nightlife and entertainment. Whether you are looking to party until the small hours or indulge in a bit of culture at the opera, Berlin has it all. It would be impossible to list all the venues and events here, but below is just a taster of what is possible.
  • Classical –       Philharmonie, Tiergarten
            Konzerthaus, Mitte
  • Modern –        Arena, Treptow
                        Columbiahalle, Kreuzberg
                        Tempodrom, Mitte
                        Tränenpalast, Mitte
                        B Flat Bar, Mitte
  • Berliner Ensemble, Mitte
  • Deutsches Theatre, Mitte
  • Maxim Gorki Theatre, Mitte
Opera & Ballet
  • Skaatsoper, Mitte
  • Komische Oper, Mitte
  • Deutsche Oper, Charlottenburg
Cinema – as the host to the world’s second largest celebration of cinema, The Berlin Film Festival, there are a variety of cinematic offerings. For mainstream movies the best place to go is The Forum in Postsdamer Platz.
To find out what’s on when, go to a tourist information centre. The largest is the Europa Centre, Charlottenburg.
Nightclubs and bars
Berlin is awash with late night bars and clubs. The best areas to head for are Treptoe, Kreuzberg, Friedrichshain and Mitte. Here are a few names that you might like to look out for:
  • Delicious Doughnuts, Mitte
  • Tacheles, Mitte
  • Berghain/Panorama Bar,
  • MS Hoppetosse Badeschiff & Arena, Treptow
  • Sage Club, Köpenickerstrasse
  • So36, Kreuzberg
  • Oxymoron, Mitte
  • Freischwimmer, Kreuzberg
  • Berliner Prater Garten, Prenzlauer Berg
  • Club der Visionäre, Kreuzberg
  • Cake, Kreuzberg
  • Café Cinema, Mitte
  • Newton, Mitte
  • Oststrand & Yaam Beach Bars, Mühlenstrasse
  • February – Berlin International Film Festival
  • February/March – Spandau Spring Festival
  • May – German Open Tennis Tournament
  • June – Carnival of Cultures & Fête de la Musique
  • June/July – German-French Fair
  • July – Love Parade
  • August – International Dance Festival & Berlin Beer Festival
  • September – Berlin Marathon
  • October – Deutschlands Festival
  • November – Jazz Festival Berlin
  • December – Christmas Markets
Berlin is ideally placed for exploring East Germany, so when you have exhausted everything the city has to offer here are a few suggestions for you:
  • Potsdam
  • Spreewald Nature Reserve
  • The Wannsee Conference House
  • Stasi HQ
  • Kreuzberg
Health & Safety
Tap water is considered safe to drink in Berlin. Healthcare is of a very high standard but visitors are still advised to ensure they have sufficient medical cover in place before travelling.
Crime levels are relatively low however you should take the usual precautions with your valuables especially when in crowded tourist areas.
Located in southern Germany, Munich is set to the north of the Bavarian Alps on the River Isar and is Germany’s third largest city.
Unlike the metropolitan cities of Berlin and Frankfurt, Munich has held on to its traditions in an increasingly modern world.  It is renowned for its art, architecture, being the capital of Bavaria and of course, most importantly, as the beer capital of Europe.
Probably its most famous event is Oktoberfest which conjures images of red faced men in lederhosen downing countless steins of beer and eating sausages to the sound of oompah music.
Munich is definitely a city that has something to offer everyone be it culture, hi-tech, parks and greenery, night-life, architecture, beer gardens, shopping or the skiing and sailing close by.
Of course, to make the most of your time here, it has the added benefit of being close to Austria and Italy, and such destinations as Prague and Budapest, making it a marvellous point from which to explore Central Europe.  
See & Do
As a city, Munich has much to offer any visitor. There are many sights to see in the city, so here are just a few suggestions to put on your itinerary:
  • The Fauenkirche (gothic church)
  • Marienplatz
  • Residenz
  • Vikualienmarket (Munich’s largest fresh fruit and vegetable market)
  • Olympic Park
  • Nene Pinakothek
  • Bavarian Museum
  • German Museum (claims to be the world’s largest science museum)
  • Oktoberfest
  • Pinkakothek der Moderne
  • Alte Pinakothek
  • Englischer Garten (English Garden)
  • City Museum
  • Jewish Museum
  • BMW World
  • Nymphenberg Palace
  • Hofbrauhaus
  • Munich Zoo
  • Sealife Munich
If you are into your designer labels and luxury goods, you’re in for a treat. Many of the shops in Munich are in the upper price ranges but there are still a good number of smaller boutiques and souvenir shops to browse around.
The most popular shopping area is the central pedestrian zone in the old town between Kaufintgerstrasse, Neuhauserstrasse and Marienplatz. Here you will find all manner of department stores, international chain stores and leading sports shops. It is a very mainstream shopping area.
For something a bit more exclusive head for Theaterinerstrasse (just off Marienplatz). This is the place for exclusive boutiques and stylish arcades. In this area you will find Maximilianstrasse, Munich’s answer to Bond Street – wall to wall international designers.
The area for small boutiques, antiques, second-hand clothes shops and jewellery is Viktualienmarkt. But if your prefer your shopping undercover there are three shopping centres in the city – Riem Arcade (Messestadt Ost), PEP (Neuperlach) and OEZ (near Olympic Park).
For the browsers amongst you, Munich also has several markets including Viktualienmarkt (Monday to Saturday) selling sausages, cheese, herbs, fruit and vegetables; Auer Dult, a huge flea market which occurs in May, July, August and October; Chistkindlmarkt which is Munich’s Christmas Market held in Marienplatz.
Food & Drink
Munich is famed for its Bavarian fare and noisy beer halls. But it also has some fine restaurants. Although many of the restaurants serve traditional Bavarian dishes (such as Weisswurst) there are also many international restaurants reflecting the cosmopolitan air of the city.
It isn’t possible to list all the restaurants in the city here, but below are a selection of the best you might like to try during your stay:
  • Tantris, Johann-Fichter-Strasse
  • Glockenbach, Kapuzinerstrasse
  • Hofbräuhaus, Platz 9
  • Augustiner Gaststäten, Neuhauser Strasse
  • Hundskugel, Hotterstrasse
  • Café am Beethovenplatz, Goethstrasse
  • Austernkeller, Stollbergstrasse
  • Barysphär, Tumblingerstrasse
  • Chinesischer Turm, Englischer Garten
  • Käfer-Schänke, Prinzregentenstrasse
The bars in the city are of a similar mix between cosmopolitan establishments and Bavarian traditional beer cellars and taverns such as:
  • Schumann’s Bar am Hofgarten, Odeonsplatz
  • Jodlerwirt, Altenhofstrasse
  • P1, Prinzregentenstrasse
  • Nachtcafé, Maximiliansplatz
Munich is a city that has a lot of entertainment to offer its residents and visitors. As well as the many restaurants and bars, there are venues for music, theatre, opera, cinema and clubbing.
The city is home to three internationally renowned orchestras – Munich Philharmonic, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and the Bavarian State Orchestra. The main venue for classical concerts is the Philharmonic Hall in Gasteig Munich.
There are numerous theatres in the city that show first class opera and theatrical performances. Venues include Gasteig Munich, Deutsches Theatre and Munich Kammerspiele. Opera is also often performed at the National Theatre.
When it comes to nightlife in the city make sure you dress up. Jeans and trainers will not get you past the bouncers on the doors! If you enjoy your evenings dancing to the latest hits try:
  • Kunstpark Ost
  • Babylon 2
  • MilchundBar
  • Nachtwerk
  • Alabamahalle
  • Atomic Café
  • New York
  • P1
The city also holds several events throughout the year. Below is a few of the most popular that you might enjoy should your trip coincide with them:
  • February – Carnival (Faschina)
  • April – Ballet Week
  • June/July – Summer Opera Festival
  • July – Munich Piano Summer Festival
  • August – Summer Festival
  • September – München Oktoberfest
  • October – Long Night of Munich Museums
  • December – Christmas Markets
Munich is ideally placed to explore the stunning surrounding Bavarian Alpine region. There are many beautiful places to explore. Here are just a few suggested excursions you may enjoy:
  • Neuschwanstein Castle
  • Linderhof Hunting Lodge
  • Brechtesgaden
  • Salzburg
  • Chiemsee
  • Dachau Memorial Site
  • Lake Starnberg
  • Oberammergau
  • Garmisch-Partenkirchen (Germany’s top winter sports destination)
  • Wildpark Poing
  • Zoo Hellabrunn
Health & Safety
Tap water is considered safe to drink throughout Germany.
Medical care is of a very high standard but visitors are advised to take out travel insurance before travelling as medical treatment can be very expensive.
Crime rates are generally very low but you should still exercise the usual precautions with your valuables especially when in busy tourist areas.


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