Kehlstein, the Bavarian Alps near Berchtesgaden, Germany
Cochem, town in the Mosel valley topped by a castle built in 1051.
The Great Outdoors
***The Rhine Valley is Germany’s Top of the Hops, the best outdoor experience in the country. Hills, river, castles, vineyards combine to overpowering effect. And in May there’s the epitome of river fever, The Rhine in Flames festival.
Cruises through the spectacular Rhine Gorge are a favourite tourist experience.
**Hartz Mountains. Another excellent destination for all season outdoor sports freaks, and closer to most tourist destinations than the overblown Alps.
Hiking: Germany’s favourite outdoor pastime so trails are well developed and supported.
The best locations are the Alps, the Hartz Mountains, the Rhine Valley and the Black Forest.
Hiking around Konigsee, Bavarian Alps.
German efficiency and eco-attitude combine to produce a mass of excellent city and rural cycle paths, well-posted, little used yet in awesome surroundings.
During the April- September season many rail stations rent bikes which can be returned to other stations in the ‘Fahrrad am Banhof’ scheme.
Brocken, Harz (aka Broken, Legs)
Canoeing and windsurfing
There is no shortage of rivers and lakes for strong-arm holiday-makers. Lake Constance down south in Bavaria is especially popular.
Skiing: As with hiking and biking, there’re plenty of places for gorgeous downhill and cross-country skiing, well-organised too, as you would expect.
Cologne festival fireworks.
early December – late January, Lübeck Ice Sculpture Festival. Glittering ice art in a gorgeous town.
end of January, International Dog-Sled Racing in Todtmoos, two days. Thousands of dogs and many more spectators enjoy this event, particularly the torchlit night races.
Feb/March Heidelberg Fasching – this elegant town’s answer to Mardi Gras, with local festivities and parades.
Feb/March Carnivals in many cities but the three best are in Dusseldorf, Cologne and Mainz. massive, colourful and vigorous.
Easter week, Berlin Opera Festival.
end of March, Munich Ballet Week. Top performances from international stars.
early April, International Dance Theatre Days in Weimar. Wild dance in east Germany.
early May, The Rhine in Flames (1st Saturday of May). Towns south of Bonn, on the river Rhine, explode with celebrations and massive firework displays.
end of June, Christopher Street day, Berlin. A monster Gay Pride parade and street party.
most of August, Wagner Festival at Bayreuth – very expensive and elitist, held in the unusual theatre that Wagner built.
most of August, Berlin International Dance – a wide range of innovative, international dances.
late September for 2 weeks, Oktoberfest, Munich, mainly about downing vast quantities of beer and bratwurst then behaving badly with your neighbours.
All December, Christmas Markets and Fairs in many cities and towns, especially Munich, Berlin, Heidelberg, Lübek and Munster.
A typical and charming German Christmas Market. Munich, Berlin, Heidelberg and Lübek host some of the best.