Memorable & personalized luxury holidays.
There's quite a bit of everything in Germany. Fairy tale castles coexist with brutalist architecture and painfully haunting, concentration camps. Unforgettable landscapes, caressed by the Rhine for most part, will entice you away from the eclectic art, music and street scene. Beer drinkers may find their Mecca, but wine lovers will go home starry eyed as well. Like they say “Wilkommen auf Deutschland”, anything’s possible here!
Romantic Road, (Romantische Straße), South Germany – For 225 mi, from the river Main to the German Alps, there exists an almost fairy tale land of half timbered fachwerk houses, arched gateways, cobblestoned villages and the walled towns of Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Dinkelsbühl and Nördlingen. Welcome to the Romantic Route, Bavaria’s number 1 attraction. En route are some of Germany’s most famous castles and baroque palaces. Starting at historic Würzburg, the route goes all the way to the foot of the Alps at Neuschwanstein. The landscape is just as varied, changing from placid fields and river valleys to dramatic mountain vistas.
Built as either summer residences or seats of power, German castles outdo the rest in splendour, size and flamboyance. Compulsory for those who love medieval architecture and lore.
Neuschwanstein, Füssen – Sleeping beauty could just be around the corner. The poster child of castles, the Neuschwanstein was built by whimsical King Ludwig II and draws millions every year.
Würzburg Residenz – The seat of the prince-bishops of Würzburg, the palace is known for its brilliant zigzagging Treppenhaus (Staircase) topped by the world’s biggest ceiling fresco, painted by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Heidelberg Castle, Heidelberg – The university town’s best known landmark, the castle is an example of Renaissance architecture.
Sanssoucci, Postdam – ‘No worries’ is the translation of the name in French. Summer home of King Frederick the Great, it is often called the “Versailles of Prussia”.
Albrechtsburg, Dresden – Towering over the river and town, this wonderful Gothic castle is Germany's oldest castle and was constructed in the 15th century.
Glücksburg Castle, Glücksburg – A moated castle, it was the summer home of the King of Denmark and the seat of the Dukes of Schleswig-Holstein. Another jewel of Renaissance architecture.
There is no shortage of music festivals in the land of Beethoven and Wagner.
Beethoven Festival, Bonn (August/September) – Every year, the works of Germany’s most celebrated musical genius are performed and interpreted by leading musicians at this festival. The venues are selected to reflect the year’s theme.
Bayrueth Festival (July/August) – Conceived by Richard Wagner himself, this festival is conducted at the Bayreuth Festspielhaus, which was also designed by him. His works are performed by internationally renowned names and tickets are sold out months in advance.
Bach Festival, Leipzig (June) – Held at The Church of St. Thomas, this festival pays tribute to the greatest of Baroque composers. The green vistas of Leipzig and surroundings only add to the magic.
The list extends to techno, rock, heavy metal et al, at festivals like the Fusion festival (June), Melt, Rock am Ring (June, July) and the Wacken Open Air festival (August).
The dark side of German history serves as a reminder of both the bestiality and bravery of men and women. Be prepared to be humbled, moved and profoundly disturbed.
Dachau Camp Memorial Site, Munich – Set up to house political opponents of Hitler, the Dachau camp witnessed the interring of over 2,00,000 prisoners, of which nearly 42,000 were killed. It was also a school for the SS men to be trained in violence. See the living quarters, read the stories and follow the ‘Path of the Prisoners’, the route by which the victims came to the concentration camp.
Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp, Berlin – Another testament to the brutality of the Third Reich, this camp outside Berlin was designed to be the prototype for other camps. Apart from the heart wrenching stories of torture, death, starvation and illness, Sachsenhausen was also the site of the Nazi’s infamous currency counterfeiting operation. Jewish artisans and printers were forced to print fake British and American notes.
Ravensbrück Women’s Camp, Berlin – The biggest women’s camp set up by Himmler, the Ravensbrück story was largely forgotten in the aftermath of the war. Recent decades have seen noble efforts to resurrect stories of these brave women, many of whom were non-Jews. Of the 1,30,000 that passed through these gates, only 15,000 survived till the end. Ironically, the camp is situated on the shores of a lake, in seemingly placid environs.
Buchenwald, Weimar – One of the largest Nazi camps in the Third Reich, it housed religious and political prisoners, Roma and Sinti, Freemasons, Jehovah's Witnesses and prisoners of war as well. It is infamous for its notorious commandant Karl Otto Koch and his gruesome wife Ilse. Buchenwald was also the place where inmates were literally worked to death.
Saxon Switzerland National Park, Bad Schandau – One of the most unique landscapes in Europe, the Saxon Switzerland National Park borders Saxony (Germany) and the Czech Republic. Here the sandstone façade carved by erosion, allows the Elbe to brave its way through it. Feast your eyes on bizarre rock formations, table mountains, sandstone cliffs, deep valleys and gorges. Catch glimpses of wildlife such as the Eagle Owl, Fat Dormouse and the Lynx. Walking, hiking and climbing are all possible, with well marked trails.
Schwarzwald (Black Forest) – The tightly packed canopy of trees gives this mythical forest its world famous name. The inspiration for fairy tales, the Black Forest National Park serves up pristine coniferous forests, moors, valleys, clear lakes and quiet meadows dotted with the odd cottage or two. Locals claim that hiking was invented here, so get moving. The area has many picturesque small towns including the University town of Frieburg, the base for most Schwarzwald attractions and tours. A quick hop to the spa town of Baden-Baden (Switzerland), should round things off nicely. And yes, eat the local pastry.
Rhine Valley – The Rhine River is an intrinsic part of the German soul. The 67 km valley is a UNESCO World Heritage site, with more than 40 ancient castles and ruins; built by patrons who ranged from petty nobles to robber barons! Take a cruise - inarguably the best way to appreciate this mesmerising landscape. The popular KD line runs boats in both directions. Float past charming towns and castles, the best being the run between Bacharach to St. Goar. The climax is the narrowest point – the Lorelei rock, where the enticing mermaid Lorelei, supposedly lured sailors to their doom. Hop off when you like for exploring, lunch or ein bier. And get back on the next passing boat. Take your time; it’s not called the ‘Romantic Rhine’ for nothing.
Mercedes Benz Museum, Stuttgart – Let the 125-year-old history of the silver arrow – the Mercededs Benz, drive you to infinite pleasure at Stuttgart.
BMW Museum, Munich – The Bayersiche Motoren Werke Museum is a treat for the automobile fan. Rent a motorrad for a day, or watch the latest models on display.
Audi Factory Tour, Ingolstadt – The four beautiful rings of the Audi have a fantastic history. Get to know the story behind the Audi and go on a factory tour at Ingolstadt.
Nestled by the River Elbe in the Saxony region of Germany, Bad Schandau, with its inviting terrains and picturesque trails will offering you treats at almost every turn.
Beer is the word. Not by the mug, but by the litre. Get your lederhosen and Dirndl, and head to Munich for the ultimate intoxication!