This past weekend you may have noticed on my Instagram @travelsofadam that I’ve been traveling around Germany. This country is one of my favorites in Europe for a few reasons. Perhaps that’s not unexpected, considering that I live in Berlin. But seeing as how this is my adopted home, I didn’t always have a fascination for German history and culture. Over the years of living here, though, I’ve become more and more fascinated by Germany’s unique place in the world.
You see, I’ve gotten to know this country quite well. Even though I’m a city boy through and through, my desire to see more of Germany is fueled by my interest to live here. Being an expat living in Berlin, I feel a special pull toward seeing more of my new adopted country than most other European destinations. Thankfully, Germany has some great sites to offer up.
This weekend I left Berlin and headed south on a “Visionaries and Pioneering Thinker’s Route” to see and learn more about Germany’s innovative history. That includes sites such as the Lutherstadt where Martin Luther pinned his 95 Theses on a church door, starting the Protestant Reformation. And also the cities of Weimar and Dessau which is where the Bauhaus school of art & design began (soooo cool!). Along the way I’ll stop off at the major UNESCO sites (a handy guide as I only have a day in each city) using this free app and Germany’s official UNESCO guide.
TRAVEL TIP: Germany’s official tourism website offers suggested itineraries and plenty of information for tourists. They even have an app (free download here) which outlines all 38 UNESCO World Heritage Sites across Germany with suggested itineraries from city to city. Visit Germany.travel for more information.
And now… the reasons why I love traveling around Germany….
5 Reasons to Travel Around Germany
There’s history here
And not just that WWII history. Germany has been the site of major innovative thinking throughout history. I sometimes forget how much of my European history classes in high school took place in what’s now Germany. From the Holy Roman Empire to the Reformation, Germany has always been at the forefront of history. I mean — this is the country where Gutenberg printed his Bible, where Luther successfully split the church, where Beethoven, Bach and other classical composers created new sounds. Germany has more than an extensive history. It’s where so much of so many things began.
Germany has a history of style
When we think of art and design, Germany probably isn’t the first place to come to mind. But it should. This is the country of Romantiscim. Goethe penned many of his deeply moving stories in Weimar. Caspar David Friedrich captured the strangely beautiful if not surreal German landscape in his 19th century paintings. And Walter Gropius (along with more than a few others) founded his new way of modernist thinking and Bauhaus style in the cities of Weimar and Dessau. Then there’s that whole fashion industry, of which Germany is a leader not just in innovation but in style.
Germany is pretty
Maybe this is the most surprising thing I found about Germany. While on my previous Eurotrips, I’d always gone the more classically beautiful destinations in southern Europe, traveling around Germany has taught me to appreciate the strange beauty that is indeed here. German castles such as Hohenzollern and Neuschwanstein are popular destinations, but when traveling by train in Germany, it’s easy to spot the beauty of Germany’s extensive countryside. (Remember: Germany is a BIG country, too!)
One of my favorite ways to travel around Germany is stop off and visit the smaller towns and cities. That’s where you find the most beautiful traditional German architecture. The people are friendly and generally welcoming. And the cobble-stoned streets and colorful roofs just add to that German atmosphere. Even in Berlin we like to say that “Berlin is a village” meaning the city is made up of a thousand different neighborhoods each with their own special local flair.
The German Language
It’s taken me years to get a grasp on the German language but now that I’ve got a somewhat tenuous grasp on it, I actually kind of enjoy it. Never having studied the German language before arriving in Berlin, it’s been a long road trying to learn it (and even now I’d just classify myself as an intermediate speaker), but it’s certainly one of my more interesting achievements. With English being a Germanic language, there are a lot of strange similarities between the languages. And like I’m sure many native speakers and foreign learners will add to the conversation, there’s a certain amount of poetry in the ways of German grammar. My favorite way to practice the German language is to get outside of Berlin and visit these small towns & cities — where I’m even more of a foreigner but where the locals are just all too happy for you to be speaking their language. While most Germans speak English, it’s always fun to speak a bit of the local tongue!
TIP: Follow the #DailyDeutsch hashtag on Twitter to see what funny words people have found from the German language. Every now and then I like to add my own in :) Search #DailyDeutsch on Twitter.
Have you visited Germany before? What are your reasons for traveling in Germany? Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram and Twitter to get in-the-moment updates from my German travel adventures over the next few days!
Germany really is a gorgeous country, and you’re so right about the history. Congrats for being able to consider yourself an intermediate speaker, I’m certainly not there yet. Have fun exploring!
Oh man – maybe I’m being ambitious saying that because you’ve certainly gotten further than me in the German language schools!
Adam, I love reading about your passion for Germany! It’s been years since I bumbled through Berlin, Potsdam and Dresden with a school group. I’d really love to see Germany again-and more of it! :)
Awww shucks Karisa – thank you!
It’s funny, too, because I never really cared about Germany until I took one fateful holiday to Berlin, fell in love with the city, and then just decided to stay. WHAM! It’s two years later and the whole of Germany has somehow managed to capture my attention!
Man! I have been wanting to speak German lately, and have even considered pursuing my MBA in Germany. How did you go about learning German in Berlin? How much schooling did you have to go through?
Hey Mark…. I’ve taken a few courses in Berlin which have definitely helped. I’ve still got a long way to go, but it’s when I travel outside of Berlin and to these small cities, that’s when I get my best practice!
You can read more about my attempts at learning German here :) Viel Glück!
Oh I adored your article! I love everything about Germany, stayed in München for 2 months like forever ago for my german studies (2008 yikes!) and felt in love with the city, and I kick myself every day for not traveling to other cities while I was there (In my lame attempt to defense myself, München doesn’t let you go :D)
I’ll definitely take notes of your suggestions for my return trip in September.
Again great article ::D
Thank you for the kind words Gabriela. And I can totally understand about not wanting to leave the city you’re living in when it’s just a short period of time. I don’t think I left Berlin for at least the first 6 or 7 months I was living here!
As a German: congrats, Adam. Great article and keep on learning German, it’s a beautiful language to express thoughts. :)
Well thank you so much Romy! I’ve taken a break from learning German but am starting to practice more again. I think my studies will pick up again during the summer :)
Adam, I must say, German language is really good to listen and to express your thoughts as well. It is one of sweetest language I have ever heard. And, about the places, it if full of adventure and you’ll go crazy exploring them.
Thanks Sofia… it took some getting used to, but these days I do sort of enjoy the sound of the German language…
I also love traveling around Germany! I’m Dutch, born and bred just 30 km from the German border.
Traveling through Germany by train is great. From Cologne to Frankfurt via the old Rhine line, along the river… And from Stuttgart to Munchen, also amazing.
My favorite state is Baden-Wurttemberg. Everything from big cities to the smallest towns. Tons of castles, beautiful hills, ancient architecture, the Black Forest, the almost subtropical Rhine Valley (around Freiburg it gets HOT in summer!), and with it being pretty much the center of Europe, it’s an *amazing* area. Oh and I almost forget to mention the weather which is usually nice but can include small (or giant) heavy thunderstorms, which are absolutely amazing to see from the hills with the sun shining on and underneath the clouds.
I went to Baden-Wurttembrg on my first holiday alone when I was 14. Stayed in Schwabisch Hall, between Stuttgart and Nurnberg. Amazing town, amazing area. Recommend it to everyone!
Hi Daniel – I haven’t taken a lot of the really scenic train routes through Germany but I definitely agree with you about Baden-Württemberg being beautiful. I visited that part of Germany last year and really loved it.
Funny to read your comments about the weather because I think that’s actually one of my least favorite parts about traveling in Germany. These days it seems like I always need to be prepared at every moment for rain or sun, hot or cold weather. It’s certainly keeping me on my toes!
My husband and I would love to live/visit Berlin. We’ve heard so much about what a cool city it is and what a great stepping off point to tour other parts of Europe. Have you done any of the long distance treks in Germany?
Hey Erin – You’ve heard right! Berlin is a great city and in a pretty good central location (I just with the airports were better here…)
Unfortunately I haven’t done any treks in Germany – it’s not really my thing, but a friend of mine who lives in Munich has done a few I believe. Check out her blog: monkeysandmountains.com
I like your post. Actually I like all German related topics German language,there’s history, and also German people. Did you know German language is a official language of many countries like Austria, Liechtenstein etc. I love German culture.Am became very happy to read post and see the all German’s Photography.
thanks for this articl, Germany among the best country.
very nice, thanks for all these information,i m learning german language
Really impressive, since i was child i want to go in Germany, thanks for advices.