Best Places to Visit in Germany – Part II

Best Places to Visit in Germany – Part II

Rhine Valley

  • Upper Rhine Valley, GermanyThe Rhine Valley with its rounded hills, mighty river, historic castles and scenic towns represents a region that has a special ambiance and a unique attractiveness.  The vineyards that covers the hills along the river are put to good use and great wines and good food add even more magic to a tour of this enchanting area.
  • The Upper Middle Rhine Valley, defined as the area from Bingen/Rüdesheim to Koblenz, is an exceptional destination that combines one of Europe’s most beautiful river valleys with the opportunity to explore some of the most scenic examples of Germany’s historic castle culture. The countryside is lush and each town or village along the banks of the Rhine yields unexpected treasures. Be prepared for a busy journey as numerous towns will beckon for your attention and the  region’s numerous, excellent wineries surely deserve some attention as well.
  • The best way to observe the beauty of this area is by boat. Yes, this can be a little “touristy”, but great fun all the same.   So plan to hop on one of the daily tour boats and observe the Rhine Valley from its river.  The castles and towns are glorious when viewed from the Rhine and you do not have to move your feet to see the sights.
    • If you have time for a longer cruise, consider one of the many cruises targeting the “Great Rivers of Europe”.  We think the “river cruise” prices are competitive.  The best part of river cruising is that you do not have to schlep your luggage to a new hotel each day.
    • On the other hand, the tours associated with these cruises are not particularly ambitious and might not leave you enough time to see what interests you It thinking about taking a river cruise of the Rhine, be sure to research the shore tours and time available for wandering.
  • Another great way to explore the Rhine Valley is by car.  Driving both sides of the River allows you to stop at the attractions and views that interest you and not be relegated to the stops the tour boats make.  Be prepared for slow driving, as the few roads that snake through the valley and its cities are narrow and traffic is slow moving in tourist season.
  • In addition, the Rhine Valley is a popular summer vacation destination and many who visit do so for a week or more and are in no hurry for tomorrow to come, so meals can be long and crowds can be considerable.
  • While the Rhine Valley is a thoroughly enjoyable area to travel, it is easy to underestimate the amount of time it will take to explore the nooks and crannies of the valley, its towns and castles.  Be sure and budget your time and prepare an itinerary of the places of specific interest to you.
  • The Rhine Valley, extends further north and south than the area we recommend  be the focus of  your visit. Most sections of the river have something to offer, but no other area offers quite as outstanding scenery or as many fascinating towns as the Upper Middle Rhine Valley.


  • rudesheimThis warm and enjoyable village is a popular stop along the Rhine, as it is the region’s most well-known “wine town”.  Rüdesheim’s setting is quite scenic and the town is filled with places to eat, drink and shop (walk the Drosselgasse).
  • Be sure to see the Niederwald Monument (take the cable cars), a famous monument of stone and bronze commemorating  the 19th century reunification of Germany.
    • Click here for official tourism information on Rüdesheim.
  • The famous Lorelei Rock sits above a narrow, curved section of the Rhine, about 15 miles north of Rüdesheim.   In the past, this section of the Rhine was difficult to navigate and many ships ran aground on the now famous rocky outcrop.
    • Legend has it that a young lady called Lorelei, jumped off the cliffs here in despair over an unfaithful lover and was reborn a  “siren”, whose hypnotic songs lured sailors to their deaths.   Mesmerized by Lorelei’s voice they forgot the strong current and their ships were slammed into the large rock outcrops along the edge of the river.
  • Click here for our Photo Guide to the Rhine Valley to see some beautiful photographs of the towns and scenery you will see during your visit.
  • For additional information on any of the towns described above, see the official website of the Rhineland-Palatinate Tourist Board. For more official tourism information on the Upper Middle Rhine Valley, visit this website produced by the Ministry of Education of the Rhineland Palatinate focused on the Upper Middle Rhine World Heritage Site.

The Mosel ((Moselle) River Valley 

  • Although the Rhine is the most famous of the rivers in Germany, the Mosel and its valley may be the most beautiful.  If you tour the Mosel Valley be sure to include  a stop at the city of Trier, Germany’s oldest city.
  • Trier 
    • We recommend a visit to Trier and consider this historic town to be one of Germany’s unexpected treasures.
    • Trier is Germany’s oldest city and its highlights include Porta Nigra – the city’s Roman gate dating from the 2nd century, the Trier Cathedral (reputed to be Germany’s oldest church), the Throne Room of the Roman Emperor Constantine, and the ruins of several Imperial Roman Baths.
    • Read our Guide to Trier, to discover the details not covered here, including facts on the city’s amazing Roman ruins, fantastic cathedral and enchanting Old Town.

Berlin and Potsdam

    • berlin, germanyOnce again the capital of Germany, as well as being considered as the new Capital of Cool in Europe, Berlin is both old and new. Visiting combines poignant views of its past through the city’s historic buildings and museums, while its modern outlook is shown by its culture, galleries, restaurants, hotels and nightlife.
    • Berlin, located at the heart of Europe, is the third most popular city in Europe, behind London and Paris, while more popular than Rome and Barcelona.  We think it is the best place to examine the promise and complexity of modern Germany.
    • Perhaps the best secret about Berlin is that it has many new, great hotels that offer value for the money.  Its average hotel rate is one of the lowest in Europe.
    • Berlin offers over seven centuries of history and is one of the largest cities in Europe.  It is divided into twelve boroughs that are called Bezirkes. Be sure to visit the Brandenburg Gate, the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, and  the Museum Island (also known as the Museum Quarters and Berlin-Mitte).
      • The Museum Island is noted for the Berliner Dom (cathedral) and, especially, the Altes Museum with its amazing collection of fine arts. The Neues Museum houses the world famous bust of Egypt’s Queen Nefertiti as part of its famed Egyptian and Papyrus Collection.  Also, the Bode Museum, has an outstanding Sculpture Collection and Museum of Byzantine Art. The Pergamon Museum is undergoing renovation and its famed Great Altar of Pergamon will be closed for renovation for three years starting in May 2014.
        • Take time for walk between the Brandenburger Tor and the Palace Bridge of the Arsenal along Unter den Linden to see many of the glories of historic Berlin.
    • Over a third of the city is green space, so take time to smell the roses.
        • If you like world-class shopping, head for the amazing collection of stores along both the Ku’Damm (the Kurfürstendammmstrasse) and the Friedrichstrasse.
      • If you are a “Cold War” buff, you might be interested in seeing the underwhelming recreation  of “Checkpoint Charlie” and the privately funded Museum at Checkpoint Charlie (also known as the  Wall Museum – both located on Friedrichstrasse at Zimmerstrasse).
      • The Holocaust Memorial, also known as the  Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe is located  just south of the Brandenburg Gate.  Here you will find almost five acres covered with 2711 concrete slabs of varying size.  The site was meant to be a memorial, but it seems to have generated more controversy than healing.  For more information, visit the official website of the Foundation (you may need to use Google Translate).
      • The Reichstag, seat of the German Parliament is a pleasant building with an unusual modern  glass dome that is accessible.  You have seen photos of it and visiting is a thrill.
      • Also, visit this site to find out about the Mauerguide, a GPS-integrated tour tracing the path of the Berlin Wall. You can rent the device and the guide (fee) at several prominent locations in Berlin and use it find out about the Berlin Wall and its path through the city.
      • Note that Berlin is one of the centers for the modern arts in Europe and the town is filled with interesting galleries, some with unusual exhibits that make for a great way to spend an afternoon.
      • If you are going to be in Berlin in October, check the timing of the Berlin Festival of the Lights. It is one of the largest illumination festivals in the world and it is a “spectacular” event.
      • Click the official Berlin Tourism website for more details on this amazing city.
    • Potsdam

    • Potsdam GermanyPotsdam, a short distance from Berlin, is the historic heart of the Prussian Empire that played a key role in the history of Europe.  Although the city suffered from World War II and its after effect, Potsdam is beginning to reassume its leadership  role in Germany’s cultural and historic heritage.
    • See the official Potsdam tourism website for more information on visiting.
      • Potsdam, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is known for many things, but the most interesting attractions are its parks, palaces, historic architecture, and gardens.  Schloss Sanssouci in Potsdam was the summer residence of Frederick the Great and is considered a landmark of world architecture.
      • Potsdam has several historic districts and neighborhoods that uniquely reflect this famous city’s role in pan-European history.
        • If you have time, see the Neur Garten Park, the Cecilienhof House and the Babelsberg Palace and Park (which was the summer home of Emperor Wilhelm I).

The Castle Road – Burgenstrasse

  • Although not as popular an attraction as the Romantic Road, the Castle Road, approximately 620 miles long, is a scenic route that runs from Mannheim to Prague and passes  70 castles.  The beginning section of the Castle Road follows the valley of the Neckar River, which is densely populated with castles, many functioning as hotels.  If you are looking to drive in a scenic area that is less touristy than the Romantic Road, full of interesting towns, and one that offers a dramatic view of German history, the Burgenstrasse may be the right choice for you.
  • For more information, see the official tourism website for Germany.
  • Heidelberg
    • HeidelbergOf the many stops along the Castle Road, Heidelberg is the most popular.  The city has a beautiful setting with its castle perched on a hill overlooking the town, which overlooks the Neckar River. .
    • For detailed information on Heidelberg, Castle Heidelberg and the town’s many attractions, you can rely on our detailed Guide to Heidelberg, or continue reading below for a brief introduction.
    • Heidelberg’s Castle (Schloss) dates from the 14th century, but large sections of the castle were destroyed during battles in the late 17th century.  This fabulous castle, towering over the town and its river, is a picturesque scene known around the world.  The Castle has a storied history and an interesting interior.  While visiting, you can see a wine cask claimed to be the world’s largest (and it is a whopper).
    • Heidelberg is a noted university center and offers a variety of attractions.
      • Heidelberg’s Old Town is filled with dramatic buildings that line crooked lanes filled with interesting shops, great cafés and quality restaurants.  Be sure to walk this area if you visit.
        • During your Heidelberg visit, you might be interested in shopping the Hauptstrasse, the longest pedestrian-only shopping area in Europe.
      • If you are serious about antiques, Heidelberg has numerous shops whose treasures will tempt you.
      • Many visitors enjoy walking along the Philosopher’s Way/Walk (Philospohenweg), across the Neckar River, for a spectacular view of the city and its Castle .
      • For those of you with a literary inclination, Mark Twain spent several months in Heidelberg, a fact which is commemorated in the city.


  • MaulbronnMaulbronn is famed for its Monastery, which was founded more than 860 years ago.  The Maulbronn complex of buildings is unique and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  We have included it in the section on the Castle Road, as it is a place that is convenient to see if you are on you way to Heidelberg or Mannheim.  Although quite small, and relatively undecorated, Maulbronn has a feel of history that you will not experience in many other locations.
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