Cologne (Köln), including Christmas Markets

In 6 words: Grandiose cathedral and fine Romanesque churches. For your visit you need a day to explore major sights while keeping pleasantly unhurried pace. Distances are walkable in many cases, but you may need to use public transport. Love the cathedral. On the other hand, aside from key edifices, city’s architecture is largely mid-20th-century plain. Worthy attractions: Kölner Dom, imposing both on the exterior and the interior. Left for another visit: Twelve Romanesque churches [did not tour any inside]; Museum Ludwig; Wallraf-Richartz-Museum; Imhoff-Stollwerck-Museum.      Destination appeal   Our verdict Last visit: December 2007.... Read More

Munich (München)

In 13 words: A city of many charms and attractions, even at times other than Oktoberfest. For your first visit you need about three days to be able to fully appreciate the city and all of its major sights while keeping pleasantly unhurried pace. Distances are walkable to a degree; München is a big city and some attractions will require use of public transport. Don’t miss: Having a beer-and-sausages breakfast at Viktualenmarkt. Worthy attractions: Altes Rathaus and Neues Rathaus [did not venture inside]; Frauenkirche with its twin onion towers; Viktualenmarkt; Theatinerkirche; Alte Pinakothek; Hofbräuhaus. Left for another visit: Neue Pinakothek; Residenz; Deutches Museum; Bürgersaal; Asamkirche; Stadtmuseum; Theresienwiese [for Oktoberfest]. Recommended Day Trips: Bavarian royal castles, such as Schloss Neuschwanstein and Schloss Linderhof.      Destination appeal   Our verdict Last visit: May 2005.... Read More

Bavaria (Bayern)

In 6 words: Castles, history, and boisterous German spirit. Worthy destinations: München; Nürnberg; Rothenburg-ob-der-Tauber; Schloss Neuschwanstein; Schloss Linderhof; towns and villages on the Romantische Straße; Garmisch-Partenkirchen. Left for another visit: Aschaffenburg; Würzburg; Bamberg; Bayreuth; Ansbach; Ingolstadt; Neuburg-an-der-Donau; Regensburg; Passau; Augsburg. Last visit: May 2005.      Destination appeal   Our verdict There are many, many interesting places in Bavaria, the heart of Germany in all senses but geographical. The foremost of them, of course, is München, which merits its own entry in this travelog. Other Bavarian destinations are discussed in this article.... Read More

Dresden

In 5 words: Spectacular river front and more. For your first visit you need no less than two full days to be able to fully appreciate the major sights of the city and visit its major collections. Distances are walkable in all cases. Love its stunning and grandiose architecture along the river front. Don’t miss: Taking the river cruise for the floating view of the central city architecture. On the other hand: The city may be even more resplendent now that the majority of renovation ahead of its 800th jubilee in 2006 is finished. Worthy attractions: Zwinger, with its several museums, the foremost of which is Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister; Residenzschloss and Hausmannsturm; Kreuzkirche. Recommended Half-Day Trips: Meißen; Festung Königstein.      Destination appeal   Our verdict Left for another visit: Hofkirche [did not tour inside]; Johanneum; Frauenkirche [under long reconstruction during our visit]; Schloss Pillnitz. Wise to skip: Alberti... Read More

Berlin

In 12 words: Hip; some interesting bits of history; many museums; yet visually mostly unimpressive. For your first visit, two full days should be enough to get acquainted with the city and most of its major sights while keeping reasonable pace. If you are looking to visit more than a couple of museums, budget extra time. Distances are walkable in many cases, but you will need use of the public transport occasionally. On the other hand: There was a lot of construction and renovation during our visit; when it is over, the city could be sparkling. Worthy attractions: Brandenburger Tor; Checkpoint Charlie [we did not tour its museum]; Reichstag, with its display on history of the German republic and nice views from under the glass dome; Gemäldegalerie, which holds a respectable selection of old masters; Berliner Dom; Fernsehturm (TV tower) with panoramic views over the entire city; Kunstgewerbemuseum; Schloss Charlottenburg [further afield] with its vast Schlosspark.   &nbs... Read More

Saxony-Anhalt

On our big voyage to Germany, we skirted the northern parts of the country, including Hamburg, Bremen, Lübeck and other Hanseatic League towns. Germany is too big a country to visit everything it has to offer in a little over two weeks, so we sacrificed the North, with the exception of one intraday stop.... Read More

Rhine Valley (Rheintal)

In 8 words: Castles, pretty villages, wine and the great river. For your first visit you need at least a full day to explore a few villages and castles. Add more time for bigger towns (e.g., Mainz) and potential trips to Moseltal or Trier. Plan to stick to the left bank if you are driving; most of the main attractions are on this side, and there are only a couple of places to cross the river, far apart from one another. Worthy destinations: Mainz; Bacharach; St Goar; Burg Rheinstein. Left for another visit: Koblenz; Maria Laach. Also nearby: Trier; Mosel Valley; Deutche Weinstraße. Last visit: May 2005.      Destination appeal   Our verdict... Read More