Berlin, Germany

What European country is known for stunning scenery, world-altering history, deep rooted traditions, and fun?

Germany should be at the top of every European bucket list.  Start your trip in Munich, where you’ll climb the 300 steps to the top of St Peters Church Tower for a bird’s eye view of the gorgeous city. The name “Munich” means “by the monks” because Munich was began by Benedictine Monks prior to the 1100’s, a monk is featured on the city coat of arms.

After climbing down from St Peters Tower enjoy strolling through one of the most stunning squares in the Old World, the Marienplatz, right in the heart of Munich.  Don’t leave without checking out the Rathaus-Glockenspiel, which chimes and re-enacts two scenes from the 16th century at 11AM and 5PM daily.  Stop for a traditional meal of German sausages and drink freshly pressed juices at the Viktualienmarkt while browsing the colorful stalls. Munich is a city of world-class museums, gorgeous city parks, beer gardens, Baroque and Rococo architecture, and delightful avenues.

A short two hour drive from Munich is one of Germany’s oldest and most picturesque towns, Passau.  Nestled where three rivers meet:  the Danube, Inn and Ilz, Passau is comprised of gorgeous buildings featuring Italian architecture.  St. Stephen’s Cathedral (Italian Baroque architecture) is a must see in Passau, home to what was once the world’s largest pipe organ, almost 18,000 pipes. Most Danube river cruises feature a stop in Passau, where strolling through the old city delights modern tourists from all across the globe.

The Bavarian Alps are very near Munich, making a trip to the most famous fairy tale castle in the world, Neuschwanstein, a “must see” while you’re there.  Also in the Munich area is Eagle’s Nest, Hitler’s mountain retreat. 

If you appreciate fine automobiles a mere three hour drive from Munich brings you to Stuttgart, home to both the Mercedes Benz museum and the Porsche museum.  Every March fans of classic cars arrive at Stuttgart for the Retro Classics.  The area is also the largest wine producing region in Germany.  The Altes Schloss (Old Palace) offers lessons in history all the way back to the Stone Age. 

From Stuttgart you can head off to Nuremberg, where the castle that was begun in 1140 reigns over the city.  History buffs will appreciate a visit to the former Nazi Party Rally Grounds and the Palace of Justice where the Nazi war criminals were tried and convicted in 1946.  The Bratwursthausle makes their own Bratwurst, best in the world if you ask me, just a few steps from the main town square.

What trip to Germany would be complete without a visit to Hamburg, the gorgeous seafaring hub and maritime capital of Germany?  You can even hop onboard a boat and take a tour of one of the largest ports in the world, worming you way between massive container ships, ocean liners and mega yachts.  The Speicherstadt area is a collection of warehouses built on thousands of oak piles between 1885 and 1927 in the neo-Gothic brick style.  Here canals, bridges and narrow streets link the world’s largest warehouse complex.

And of course, about three hours from Hamburg brings you to Berlin, the capital of Germany.  The Brandenburg Gate and Berlin Wall are the two top attractions, but don’t miss Museum Island, home to five temple like buildings housing treasures from the past 6000 years. 

It seems every great town or site in Germany is three hours or less from each other.  Black Forest cake, bratwurst, cuckoo clocks, beer, wine and coffee-Germany is a history lover, food lover, wine lover, scenery lovers delight.

Joy Gawf-Crutchfield owns and operates The Joy of Travel.  Contact Joy at 918-339-4805

Joy Crutchfield