in the middle
One of Europe's great artistic masters and a land of undiscovered gems, Germany shoulders its way into the very heart of the continent. Imbued with electric cityscapes – bohemian Berlin, portside Hamburg, hops-headed Munich – and peppered with hearty Saxon beer towns and Swiss-style spa resorts, it's a truly diverse and exciting place.
Meanwhile, the countryside ranges from the cascading foothills of the Alps, where enchanting timber hamlets are sprinkled with snow above the Konigssee, to the soft-contoured vineyards of the Rhineland, offering everything from wooded hiking trails to ski fields along the way. Search dealchecker for the best cheap hotels in Germany and book your place amidst the lederhosen and wurst stalls.
Beer and bratwurst is on the menu for visitors to Bavarian Munich. A city of parks and royal avenues, adorned with the Schloss Nymphenburg and the lively Englischer Garten, head here during Oktoberfest for one of the biggest blowouts on the European calendar.
Cologne and its colossal cathedral are a perennial drawcard. Surrounded by an immersive Altstadt of half-timbered taverns and pubs, there are oodles of Romanesque churches to see, and a wild nightlife scene to boot.
Berlin is one of Europe's most enthralling capital cities. Once divided by the concrete stretches of the Berlin Wall (still seen in some parts of town today), it's steeped in WWII history. Museum Island has relics from Ancient Greece and Macedonia, and the quirky little districts of Friedrichshain and Kreuzberg burst with pop-up hoc jazz bars, upcycled cafes and veggie restaurants.
Butting up to the tristate join of France and Switzerland in the south-east, the vast expanse of the Black Forest is a mainstay for walkers and culinary tourists. Many settle in the rejuvenating pools of the spa town Baden-Baden. Others strap on the boots and hike the hills to the Gutach Valley, where authentic Germany hotels hide in the depths of Baden-Württemberg. And then there are the wines of the Rhineland to sample, too.
The so-called route of the Romantic Road is one of Germany's truly popular pulls. It runs from Würzburg to the foothills of the Alps in the south, encompassing castles and gorgeous chateaux, the medievalism of Rothenburg ob der Tauber and oodles more culture and heritage along the way.
Meanwhile, the mountains of Bavaria with their great limestone peaks draw thousands of travellers each year. They come to gawp at the elaborate Gothicism of the fairytale Neuschwanstein Castle, to hike the hills of Berchtesgaden, to see Wagner country, and to ski on the very edge of the northern Alps.