Germany - Attractions
Of strategic importance since it first straddled the Spree River in the 13th century, Berlin never hogged centre stage quite like it did this century. Today the city, restored as the nation's capital, is the focus of the mammoth project of reunification and the barometer of Germany's moods.
Berlin is a veritable motherlode for lovers of art, architecture and artefacts. Its great clusters of museums will keep the most dedicated culture addict happy. The layers of the city's history, from war and violent division to imperial fancy, exist in fascinating proximity to its dynamic present.
Frankfurt is often seen only as a transit hub or a business centre, but it's so much more. It boasts Germany's most spectacular skyline and Europe's tallest office building. It's also the country's most international town; more than a quarter of its citizens are foreign.
Flâneurs get the best view of Frankfurt. Luckily most of its obvious attractions are located around the city centre. Invest in a 'Museumsurfer Ticket'(available at museums) and spend a couple of days cruising Frankfurt's galleries and museums at a fraction of their individual prices.
Lübeck is a glorious medieval town that's earned its place on UNESCO's World Heritage list. Although it's easily accessible from Hamburg, Lübeck is off the main tourist trails and can be a quiet alternative to the more spectacular attractions further south. The altstadt (old town) was heavily bombed in WWII but has been sensitively rebuilt and the town's stately charm is apparent today.
Munich, rivalled only by Berlin as Germany's most popular destination, is a city that enjoys contradicting itself. Don your Lederhosen, pack your Dirndl and head down to the capital of Bavaria, where cutesy folk traditions rub shoulders with BMWs, haute cuisine and high-minded sophisticates.
Munich is a compact enough city, but you could easily spend several weeks exploring its museums, architectural treasures and idyllic surrounds. The Altstadt (old town) is a pleasure to stroll around, with its grand avenues and spacious squares that recall the glory of Bavaria's monarchy.
Here are dramatic landscapes with fertile vineyards clinging to steep hills, numerous imposing castles and dreamy wine villages. Every village has at least one wine festival per year, with the most famous being the Rhine in Flames series of festivals, when water, lighting and fireworks are combined to spectacular effect.
Best known abroad as the birthplace of the ill-fated Weimar Republic, this small city is a cultural pilgrimage site for Germans. It was the epicentre of the country's Age of Enlightenment and home to such intellectual and creative giants as Goethe, Bach, Schiller, Liszt, Nietzsche, Kandinsky and Klee, to name a few.