Without a doubt, Germany is a great place to visit. The country has something to offer for every age and every type of traveler. Germany, in fact, remains one of the most popular international destinations for U.S. travelers. Many Americans have ancestors who were from Germany, and many others served or know someone who served in a U.S. Army Base in the south. In countless families, the stories of Lederhosen and Bratwurst are legendary. So why not experience these traditions firsthand?
Of course, that’s easier said than done. Time is limited, and the country simply offers too many much to see everything there is to see. The white cliffs of Ruegen and Schloss Neuschwanstein sound nice, but also happen to be almost 1,000 miles away from each other. This is why planning your itinerary should be your first step. History buffs will look for very different destinations than hikers or beach lovers. Regardless of where you fall on the traveler scale, do not leave Germany without doing these three things.
Have a Drink at the Hofbräuhaus
What’s the first thing you think of when you consider Germany? Beer tends to be a common answer. The drink is so embedded in German culture that it’s difficult to disconnect one from the other. In most countries, beer is an alcoholic beverage used to get a buzz. In Germany, it’s almost a food, designed to be enjoyed the way a nice steak or Schnitzel would be. It’s difficult to leave Germany without having partaken in this experience at least once. And if you really want the full German experience, you have to visit the original Hofbräuhaus in Munich.
By now, branch restaurants of the same brand have sprung up all over the world. But while they’re surprisingly authentic, they have nothing against the original. Still owned by the Bavarian State, it opened in 1589 as the private brewery of the Bavarian Royalty. Its beer was and still is brewed according to the German purity law.
The food is authentic, the beer is great, but it’s the experience that makes this a must-stop during your Germany vacation. Live traditional Volksmusik plays every night, and despite its worldwide fame, the place still exudes authentic charm. That might be because, in spite of the countless annual tourists, an at least equal number of locals still enjoy their beer, food, and company as they have for hundreds of years.
Travel the Fairy Tale Route
You probably know most German fairy tales, from Hansel and Gretel to Rumpelstiltskin. They serve as the inspiration for countless Disney stories and have become as famous in the United States as in their country of origin. But did you know that you can still visit the locations that became their inspiration?
The 400-mile-long Fairy Tale Route is more than a single destination. It’s an attraction you might want to plan for in advance and devote a significant chunk of your itinerary to. Still, it’s perfect for any visitor who wants to explore the mythical tales of German folklore. Along the way, you’ll learn about the country, its varied landscapes, and more.
Destinations along this route vary widely. Families with children might enjoy the Red Riding Hood House, while history buffs will recognize Sleeping Beauty’s castle as a historical beauty from the early 14th century. Ancient forests and mountaintops will convince even those who’ve never heard of Grimm’s Tales that this route is a must-visit during your Germany trip. As for the educational component, a Snow White Museum in Bad Wildungen and a German Fairy Tale Museum in Bad Oeynhausen are perfect to understand the historical and cultural backgrounds behind some of your most favorite childhood stories.
Enjoy a Watt Wanderung
As you travel down the Fairy Tale Route, you might begin to realize that Germany offers some of the world’s most unique natural wonders. Perhaps chief among them is the Wadden Sea, an area in the North Sea where the water retreats so far during low tide that miles of sea ground become walkable.
Naturally, this phenomenon—a UNESCO World Heritage Site—is great to visit for anyone who isn’t used to it. It’s the perfect highlight of a trip to the North Sea, where you can enjoy white beaches with mild waves on islands like Foehr or Sylt. During high tide, you get your typical beach experience. At low light, the unforgettable part of this stop begins.
Countless spots across the North Sea offer guided tours, known locally as Wattwanderung. Here, a trained expert takes visitors to help them explore the intricacies of the Wadden Sea. That means digging out watt worms and crabs for the children and exploring the sea ground in other ways for the adults. In fact, some of the largest and most well-known Wattwanderungen don’t just go out for a bit, but actually allow you to hike through the sea ground from one North Sea island to another. The water, when timing it just right, never gets above your knees. During high tide, it will once again become deep enough for large ships to drive through. It’s an experience, unlike anything you can get anywhere in the world.
Making the Most out of Your German Vacation
Of course, these are just a few of the many destinations available for and popular among tourists in Germany. In reality, you will be able to easily find an attraction you will love, no matter where you visit.
Chances are you’ve heard about attractions like Neuschwanstein, the Berlin Wall, and the Brandenburg Gate. You might even be aware of some of the most beautiful cities to visit, from Mainz to Hamburg. But without a doubt, the best way to visit Germany is to truly experience it.
The country is old but proud. Traditions in Southern Germany very much differ from the North. This means you can customize your vacation to fit exactly what you’re looking for, including adding these 3 stops to your itinerary. Drinking a beer at the Hofbräuhaus, traveling the Fairy Tale Route, and taking part in a Wattwanderung, will allow you to begin to understand the German people better than a day trip to a typical tourist attraction ever could.
Traveling to Germany has the potential to make memories that last a lifetime. Especially if you know what destinations to visit, you can plan a vacation that you will never forget, and always long to repeat.