Dark forests, deep rivers, lush winelands and medieval towns and cities give many parts of Germany the look of a fairytale. Despite this, Germany holidays were for many years an unknown quantity for the British, who opted instead for the culture of France, the beauty of Italy and the heat of Spain. Increasingly, they are now flocking to these same rivers and winelands – the Rhine, the Moselle – to discover a land of beautiful scenery, hospitable people and some truly great-value holidays.
Berlin had a more turbulent 20th century than perhaps any city in the world and is a fitting symbol for the country. Once a beautiful imperial metropolis, it was almost totally destroyed during WWII, then became the frontline of the Cold War until the Wall was knocked down in 1990. Reunification has been a difficult process but Berlin is thriving again, and the cranes across the skyline indicate the scale of ambition. The capital is lively and fashionable, and the many excellent attractions to see on holidays to Germany include the Brandenburg Gate, the Reichstag parliament building, the Checkpoint Charlie museum and Pergamon museums.
If it’s traditional Germany you’re after, head for the far south of the country, to Bavaria and the Black Forest. It’s here that Germany tours reveal the oompah bands, the lederhosen and the green hats adorned with feathers. Continue almost to the border and you’ll find Neuschwanstein, a hilltop castle built by the mad King Ludwig II at the cost of bankrupting Bavaria. Ludwig met a sticky end, perhaps in revenge for this financial mismanagement. But the castle has since appeared in the film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and was the model for the Walt Disney castle, and nowadays is Bavaria’s biggest attraction, so maybe Ludwig wasn’t so crazy after all?
And just as Germany holidays are a recent discovery for many Brits, the idea of Germany as one nation is also relatively new. Before 1871, the region was a mishmash of states, principalities and kingdoms, linked by their language and trade. It wasn’t until Prussia, the largest German state, united the country that it began to resemble the country we know now.