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Top European Destinations
Germany: Perfect in Every Season
Wherever you venture throughout Germany, its charm and magnetism can be felt year-round. From the busiest and largest cities to quaint small villages, travelers are welcome to experience the unique culture and lifestyle of this historic country. While festivals, such as Oktoberfest, make for memorable experiences, there are plenty of things to do and see in any season. A trip to Germany is sure to include eye-popping scenic views, hearty meals, fairy-tale castles, and a friendly warmth from those you encounter.
The storybook-like Black Forest region is full of points of interest that attract visitors from all over the world. It is proudly the home of the cuckoo clock, many inviting natural hot springs for a relaxing soak, and of course the thick, dense 100-mile forest bearing the same name – the backdrop for many tales written by the Brothers Grimm. Visit the world’s largest cuckoo clock – which is the size of a house – and pick up your very own authentic cuckoo clock in the town of Triberg. Take a walk through the German Clock Museum to discover how the Black Forest region had an impact on timekeeping and learn the origins of their world-famous bird timepiece. You can visit this area any time of the year, though we recommend spring and autumn as there are fewer crowds as well as very comfortable temperatures. Fun fact – Black Forest cake is not named for the Black Forest. It is named for a tart cherry liquor, distilled in the Black Forest region, that lends its flavor to the tasty dessert.
The Land of Castles
Germany is home to about 20,000 castles, so plan your German vacation to include a few castle tours or sightings. The most famous, Neuschwanstein Castle, sits high in the mountains of Bavaria and is well-known for being the model for Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty castle. Originally designed as a 200+ room retreat for King Ludwig II, this royal palace was constructed in the late 1800s yet never completed. Guided tours take you through the 15 rooms that were finished and adorned with massive mural paintings, rich jewel-toned furnishings and an array of swan figurines. While Neuschwanstein is considered a fairy-tale castle, Frankenstein’s Castle in Burg could be quite the opposite. Speculated to be the inspiration behind Mary Shelley’s horror classic, Frankenstein, the grounds of this 12th century stone castle are now the site of a restaurant that serves classic German cuisine, such as schnitzel (thin-sliced, fried meat) with spaetzle, and is host to several public events including Medieval shows, concerts, and Halloween festivals.
Nothing shines as brightly under the winter moonlit sky as the twinkling lights of Germany’s Christmas Markets. This four-week Christmas celebration, beginning in late November, started as a German tradition in the middle ages. Over time, the markets spread throughout Europe including the Czech Republic, Croatia and Switzerland, attracting millions of visitors year after year. Vendors can be found carting their wares, offering items such as handmade tree ornaments and cuckoo clocks to delicious, warm cups of glühwein, a spiced mulled wine. Along the snowy streets you’ll find revelers spilling out of centuries-old beer halls, carolers singing classic songs with hot chocolate in hand, and maybe even meet Saint Nicholas himself. Popular stops on many Europe river cruises, there are numerous markets to attend with the most famous found in the cities of Dortmund, Cologne, Nuremberg, Dresden and Frankfurt.
Whether Germany is your sole destination or a stop on your Europe vacation, you will find plenty of escorted tours to satisfy your growing bucket list of must-see places.
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