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With fairy-tale castles, Bavarian beer gardens, lush countryside and Berlin’s world-famous historical attractions, the Germany of today is diverse, progressive and welcoming. Its residents know how to perfectly blend history with modern innovation and creativity. City breaks in Berlin, Munich, Hamburg, and Cologne offer world-famous museums, majestic cathedrals and historical landmarks, along with warm hospitality and no shortage of local beer.
Best time to visit: June to September.
1 hour 45 minutes
Tegel International Airport (TXL), 8 km northwest of the city centre. Schönefeld (SXF) is situated 20 km southeast of Berlin. The new Berlin Brandenburg Airport is scheduled to open in 2016.
Visitors to the major cities will be spoilt for choice when deciding what to see and do in Germany. Annual funfairs await you nation-wide, tempting you with fairground rides, fireworks and live shows for the whole family. Meanwhile Munich’s world-famous Oktoberfest offers the perfect chance to taste the local food and beer. In Hamburg, the international Maritime Museum takes you on a fascinating journey through 3,000 years of history, while Berlin is the place to be in December, for some of the most famous Christmas markets. Don’t leave your city break in Germany without sampling a weisswurst (white sausage) at one of the traditional beer gardens.
Let your hair down and mingle with the locals at the tri-annual DOM funfair. Held in spring, summer, and winter, this spectacular fair draws hundreds of families and fun-seekers to Hamburg each season. For more traditional fun, book your city break in Germany for November, when you can enjoy music, street food and merrymaking until the early hours of the morning at one of the nation-wide carnivals. Dig a little deeper into Germany’s cultural past at Hamburg’s International Maritime Museum, which takes you on a journey through 3,000 years of history. Continue your cultural trail at Munich’s Alte Pinakothek Galleries, where you can examine one of the most famous collections of Old Master paintings.
Each December, watch as Germany’s city centres, squares, boulevards and town halls are transformed for the annual Christmas markets. Stalls offering everything from handcrafted toys and traditional food, to local arts and crafts, offer an authentic Christmas experience. Pick up unique gifts for your loved ones, or simply soak up the festive atmosphere. Berlin holds over 50 different markets over the festive season, while Hamburg’s popular market on the Rathausmarkt treats guests to over 150 stalls. Whichever Christmas market you visit, expect fairy lights, carol singing, roasted chestnuts and plenty of mulled wine.
Where German hospitality really shines is in the country’s beer gardens and traditional restaurants. Munich’s Oktoberfest festival is one of the best places in Germany to sample some local specialities. Don’t leave without trying the Bavarian favourite weisswurst sausage. Typically eaten for breakfast, this veal and pork sausage is served with sweet mustard, freshly baked pretzels and a cold glass of beer. For a more authentic experience, do as the locals do, ditch the knife and fork and suck the meat right out of its skin. Foodies can enjoy upscale cuisine in Cologne and fine-dining beside Hamburg’s River Elbe. Cologne also claims to have more breweries than any other city in Europe.
Families: Marvel at Miniatur Wunderland, the world’s largest model railway, in Hamburg. Nearly 900 trains pass through models of the Alps, America, Scandinavia and other locales.
Football fans: Watch FC Bayern München, one of Europe’s top football teams, play a home match in Munich’s Allianz Arena.
Festive Shoppers: Starting in November, explore Germany’s traditional Christmas markets for unique handmade gifts and mulled wine.
Language: The language spoken in Germany is German.
Currency: The currency used in Germany is the Euro (€).
Local time: Germany is one hour ahead of GMT/UK time.
Fly: Tegel International Airport (TXL) is 8km northwest of Berlin. The Hamburg-Fuhlsbüttel (HAM) airport is 8km north of the city. Munich Airport (MUC) is 40km from the city centre.
Flight time from UK: Under 2 hours.
Tourist information: Further Germany tourist information can be found at
Visa & health: Before your holiday to Germany, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/germany for recommendations and advice on visas and health.
Temperature: Averages low 20s (°C) in summer, 0-3 (°C) in winter.
Best time to visit: June to September.
Berlin has four distinct seasons, with weeks of snow in winter and hot and muggy temperatures in summer. It can rain year-round, but June and September are drier.
By train: The country has a sophisticated and affordable rail network that includes high-speed trains.
By public transport: All major cities have extensive light rail, underground metro and bus networks.
By bicycle: Most German cities have a traffic layout designed to be bicycle-friendly, and Cologne and Berlin have multiple cycle lanes.
Munich Oktoberfest: The 17-day festival opens with a parade in late September. More than six million people arrive for the Oktoberfest beer, Bavarian delicacies and fairground amusements.
Gay pride: Cologne hosts one of Europe’s largest LGBT events each year. A week of festivals, parties and political forums ends with a Sunday parade across the city.
Cinema spectacular: The film industry’s elite gather every February for the Berlinale International Film Festival, the worlds largest, which shows more than 400 films and sells 300,000 tickets.
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