In 2014 Germany won the World Cup, an achievement that underwrote the country’s sense of confidence and vibrancy. With a rich history and positive outlook there has never been a better time to visit the heart of Europe. Here we profile seven of our favourite things about Deutschland:
Berlin is undoubtedly one of Europe’s great capitals. A young city, it was famously described by its former-mayor as “poor, but sexy” a description that has very much been taken to heart. With some of Europe’s best bars and clubs, hedonism is very much on the cards. However, there is another side to the city. Its art scene is internationally recognised with galleries like the Hamburger Bahnhof exhibiting the very best in modern art. Berlin is also home to the world-renowned Berlin Staatsballett, whose performances are as popular as they are beautiful.
In the west and southwest of Germany carnival season is something of a way of life. Taking place during the weekend before Ash Wednesday, carnival is a chance for Germans to let their hair down and let themselves go. Floats are decorated and flamboyant costumed revellers accompany performers and bands as they walk through the street. Carnival is particularly popular in Cologne where thousands fill the street day and night.
Whether you’re a beer aficionado or not Oktoberfest is a must-do. Where else can you enjoy Germany’s world famous beer, bratwurst, lederhosen and the less-than-dulcet tones of an oompah band? Despite a reputation for steeliness, Oktoberfest proves that the Germans know how to party.
While Munich is the home of Oktoberfest there is more to Bavaria’s capital than drinking and dancing. It is a remarkably ornate city with beautiful gothic architecture and charm in abundance. Around Marienplatz the city’s regal past is most visible, with cobblestone streets, eye-catching churches, bustling cafes and all manner of boutiques. The English Gardens provide a refuge from the city – beautifully manicured they will win over even the most stubborn horticulturalist.
Germany is internationally known for its classical music and nowhere is this heritage celebrated more clearly than in Leipzig, home of the great baroque composer Johann Sebastian Bach. Every year the city celebrates ‘Bachfest’ during which the Thomaskirche, where Bach served as Kapelmeister, is the centrepiece of an exhibit of over 100 individual performances and dramatic ensemble performances alike.
There’s more to German cuisine than wurst…although there are over 1,500 types of sausage across the country. Perennial favourites include potato salad, sauerkraut, all manner of breads (sumptuous pumpernickel is a must try), stews and soups…the list goes on and that’s without mentioning their desserts!
Frankfurt Book Fair
The ‘Frankfurter Buchmesse’ is the largest book fair in the world with nearly 7,500 participating exhibitors representing over 100 countries. The fair dates back to 1487, shortly after Gutenberg invented mechanical movable type in nearby Mainz. With bank upon bank of books – of all shapes and sizes – the Fair is a feast for the eyes and a must for book lovers.