[All content and prices updated May 2013]

Why you should add Germany to your RTW travel list

Germany is not as obvious of a destination as England, France or Italy, but that doesn't make it any less rewarding for the visitor.
  • Beer and food is always a good combination in Germany. Beer gardens are your first choice. Does Oktoberfest ring a bell?
  • Having Europe's largest economy, Germany is impressive nearly everywhere you look.
  • From the lush Rhine River Valley along the western part of the country to surprisingly-opulent Hamburg in the north to the ultra-hip music and arts scenes developing in the former East down to Germany's most livable city of Munich, there is no shortage of things to keep a visitor busy.
  • The huge beer steins are there year-round, but the lederhosen is something you'll most likely see during Munich's enormous Oktoberfest celebration, which actually ends in early October by the way, so check the calendar.
  • Berlin is by far Germany's largest city and its most vibrant as well. Since reunification with the East in 1989 formerly West Berlin has remained fairly posh and pleasant, but the far-larger former East Berlin has exploded with an amazing arts, music, and nightlife scene as ramshackle and affordable shop fronts and apartments are transformed into ultra-hip galleries, clubs, and lofts.
  • You can experience what the state marketing department is now calling the Romantic Road that stretches from near Munich to near Frankfurt.
  • In spite of the slightly silly name, the incredibly scenic route is well worth a visit, by car or by bus, and nearby Rhine River cruises are also well worth checking out to see the collection of castles and fortresses that once controlled the river traffic.

Indie travel tips for Germany

  • Visit Munich’s Alstadt (Old Town).
  • Neuschwanstein Castle – yes, the one which inspired Disney’s castle – can be visited during a day trip from Munich.
  • Brandenburg Gate, Berlin Wall, Checkpoint Charlie – in short, the main historical sites in Berlin.
  • Climb the glass dome of The Reichstag in Berlin.
  • Germany is home to some very old and interesting Christmas Markets. In December , head to Munich to get gingerbread, mulled one and Christmas ornaments.
  • Explore the banks of the Elbe in Hamburg
  • Rent a car and explore the Black Forest. Try the food and enjoy the scenery. Walking and biking are highly recommended, too.
  • Visit The Cathedral of Cologne, the third tallest cathedral in the world.
  • Free walking tours of the German cities (i.e. Munich, Berlin) are great options even for those who won’t ever consider a traditional tour. You get to learn a lot about the place you see and make friends.
  • Have a picnic in Tiergarten, the largest park in Berlin.
  • In Munich, put on your walking shoes and explore the area between Karlsplatz and Marienplatz. People watching is a must.
  • Swim in Lake Constance, located at the foot of the Alps. There are hiking and cycling trails in the area.
  • Eat Doner Kebab. Yes, it’s a Turkish food but in Germany it’s amazing thanks to the many migrants . It’s also a cheap and filling meal.

Transportation

When you book your flight into Germany, you'll probably find that the cheapest airfares are into the country's largest airport in Frankfurt, but the city itself is really not a highlight, so you might consider a slightly higher fare into a city you actually plan on visiting. Of course, the country's train system is fast and efficient so getting from one city to another is often faster by train than by plane.

As a hub in central Europe, Germany is a perfect place to use a Eurail Pass. Get one here on BootsnAll. There are passes available for only Germany as well as others that include some surrounding countries, so shop for passes carefully before buying one that may be more than you need.

Accommodations

Germany is the birthplace of the modern hostel movement, so it's no surprise that there are many from which to choose, but they can get booked up quickly.

Photo credits: James Almond