Spring is here. There is not a more perfect time to start enjoying the history, culture and natural beauty Germany has to offer. With its quaint historic towns, exciting cities, peaceful forests and breathtaking mountains, visitors may experience a hard time choosing where to visit. To help make the choice a little easier, I have outlined the top five destinations you do not want to overlook!
The fairytale castle: Neuschwanstein
Neuschwanstein Castle, built from 1869 to 1886 by King Ludwig II of Bavaria, was the inspiration for Walt Disney’s famous theme park castle. Located between the Ammergau and Allgaeu Alps near the town of Fuessen, this area is a spectacular place to enjoy the great outdoors and one of the world’s most famous castles. Visitors can take a variety of tours, including a viewing of the Throne Room and Singers’ Hall.
Miniatur Wunderland and the Port of Hamburg
The historic Port of Hamburg boasts the world’s largest model railway. This model has more than 12,000 meters of train tracks, 300,000 lights, 890 trains and 200,000 human figures. Spend time exploring this exceptionally detailed model, complete with airports, planes that actually take off, crowded cities, the countryside and busy harbor towns. While in Hamburg, be sure to check out the habor-side promenade as well as the port, also known as the “Gateway to the World.”
Zugspitze is Germany’s highest peak, with the Zugspitze massif straddling the area between Germany and Austria. The eastern summit can be reached by the “Bayerische Zugspitzbahn,” the “Bavarian Zugspitze Railway,” or cable car. Visitors can also ride the Tiroler Zugspitzbahn, a railway that runs to Zugspitzkamm station. From here, visitors can continue on via cable car to Zugspitz-Westgipfel station, complete with a restaurant and impressive views. Visitors can take in the gorgeous scenery from the viewing platforms.
The island of Ruegen
Ruegen is the biggest of the German Baltic islands and is linked to the mainland town of Stralsund by a causeway. The island draws visitors for its diversity, including farms, forests, beaches, lagoons and peninsulas. Make sure to visit the forested Jasmund peninsula, where you will find the highest cliffs on the island, Koenigsstuhl and Piekberg, plunging 117 and 161 meters to the sea.
Koenigssee and Berchtesgaden
While out running errands this week, I struck up conversation with a local German man. He asked me if I had ever been to Koenigssee, which translates to “King’s Lake.” I have not. He told me it is a beautiful place I must see. Located on the German border near Salzburg, Austria, it is an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise. Enjoy the trail to the “Malerwinkel,” meaning “painter’s corner.” Take a boat ride to the 17th century pilgrimage chapel of Saint Bartholomew. Located by Koenigssee at the end of Deutsche Alpenstrasse, Berchtesgaden is also an extremely popular destination. Nestled into this mountain range, Berchtesgaden is home to Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest, a lodge built for Hitler and now a major tourist destination. Here, you can sleep in a Bavarian hut, take a boat ride, or visit the local salt mine.