Old customs, modern times. See Germany differently
There is something for everyone in Germany – whether it's the big city buzz or the famous architecture, the historic sites or the packed shopping streets, the enchanting medieval houses or the scintillating nightlife.
Many of Germany's old traditions are still alive today. Centuries-old customs have been preserved and updated, and can make a unique contribution to your experience and enjoyment of the country. Indulge yourself with culinary delicacies from a bygone age. Try out various regional specialties. Witness old-fashioned handicrafts, whose charm is undimmed by the passage of time.
Go back in time to the dawn of pioneering discoveries – the car, the tram, the bicycle. Lose yourself in the crowd at festivals and markets and celebrate the survival of traditions that have passed down the generations.
Looking for a place to have fun? Somewhere where you can enjoy lively festivals and top-class concerts? If so, the Stuttgart region has lots to offer including culinary treats, select wines and a host of unforgettable events. Enjoy the great atmosphere of the Cannstatter Volksfest and sample award-winning cuisine. What better way to immerse yourself in the life of the city...
Don’t miss all the fantastic events and activities taking place all year round in and around Stuttgart! From beer festival to Christmas market - discover our most popular festivals and markets. We're looking forward to seeing you there!
Welcome to the birthplace of the automobile! In 1886, at around the same time, Gottlieb Daimler and Carl Benz were working on a new invention – the motor-car - and today, thanks to its Porsche and Mercedes-Benz museums, Stuttgart has become a magnet for motoring fans from all over the world.
One of the most famous resorts in Europe is Baden-Baden. More than two thousand years ago, the Romans discovered the thermal springs that established the Black Forest as a spa destination. In the 19th and 20th centuries, royalty and nobility flocked here to “take the waters.” In fact, baden means bath or spa in German, and Baden-Baden’s hot mineral springs are known for soothing away the stresses of modern life. This elegant resort offers two thermal baths. Swim in the modern Caracalla Spa, with its indoor and outdoor pools; spend the afternoon at the traditional Roman-Irish Bath, the “Friedrichsbad,” that is one of Europe’s loveliest and most historic spa buildings.
But the Black Forest is not a living museum. It is also the home of Europa-Park. In Rust, near Freiburg, this is Germany’s biggest theme park. Family fun is the main dish on the daily menu, here, with a dozen areas themed on European countries. Among the 100 different attractions and international shows are thrill rides, such as “Poseidon”, a water coaster that transports you to the world of ancient Greece, and “Matterhorn-Blitz” that zooms along the tracks in Switzerland. New this summer is an area devoted to English and Austrian fairy tales, with an enchanted forest, as well as “Piccolo Mondo”, a dark ride round Italy. At the end of the day, stay on in Europa-Park, at one of the 4-star hotels with a Mediterranean theme.
Stretching from Karlsruhe in the north, down to the Swiss border in the south, this area of SouthWest Germany has attracted vacationers for well over a century. As for the name – that’s because from a distance, the trees in the Schwarzwald looked black – literally a Schwarz (black) wald (forest). But, this lovely region also includes orchards, meadows and farms, sparkling lakes and rushing streams. Best of all, this is the sunniest part of Germany!
"One can say that there is something quite ideal about the location and surroundings of the city." Not only Johann Wolfgang von Goethe appreciated Heidelberg over 200 years ago in his diary but also Romantic poets like Joseph von Eichendorff, Clemens Bretano, and Achim von Arnim succumbed to the magic of the city. And the list goes on and on. Mark Twain, Robert Schumann, William Turner... Heidelberg is the epitome of the German Romantic era.
Year-round OUTLETCITY METZINGEN features some 50 stores. All are leading and internationally-known brand names. Besides Hugo Boss, look out for Burberry, Polo Ralph Lauren, Joop! and many more. All offer year-round discounts of at least 30%. For individual brands, savings of 70%-80% and more are normal during the sales. No wonder 3 million shoppers come here every year. And Metzingen is easy to get to, just a few miles from Stuttgart and the International Airport. You can also get there by train, as well as car via the A8 and A81 motorway. There are 3,000 parking spaces, plus an Espressobar, a Lindt chocolate shop and Olio e Pane, an Italian bistorante. 25 miles/40 km south of Stuttgart.
SouthWest Germany’s famous castles and palaces, such as Heidelberg, Ludwigsburg and Hohenzollern, have always been–and still are–a magnet for visitors every year. But small is also beautiful, and proof of the maxim is at Schwetzingen and Meersburg, as well as in the fine chateaux and manor houses throughout the region. Many often stage cultural events and festivals.
In Germany, sunny SouthWest Germany is known for growing grapes and making award-winning wines: Müller-Thurgau from Tauberfranken, Pinot Noir from Lake Constance, Trollinger from Hohenlohe and Riesling from the Rems.
When you stay at a vineyard, the wine you drink was made by your host! Where better to learn about the region’s wine-making than in a wine grower’s own home? Among the vineyards and wineries in the famous wine-making areas of Baden and Württemberg, you can rent a wide selection of apartments and guest rooms.
The Black Forest is famous for three delicious products: Black Forest Cake/Gateau, Black Forest Ham, and locally-distilled schnapps.Famous around the world, Black Forest Cake (Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte) is a revelation when you eat it in the Black Forest. The real thing is so much better! Think layers of chocolate cake, real cream, sour cherries and a hint of Kirsch (cherry liqueur). It is light, not too sweet and perfect with coffee.Then there is Black Forest Ham (Schwarzwälder Schinken). Again, the flavors are delicate, the slices are thin, and with fresh bread and beer, there is nothing better after a hike through the woods.
Bavaria - Inspiration and a passion for life. Blue skies and crystal-clear lakes. Small medieval towns and vibrant cities. Bavarian traditions and warm hospitality. Mystical forests and snow-capped mountain peaks. Outdoor activities and relaxation. UNESCO World Heritage and a wealth of cultural attractions.
Saxony - A holiday in Saxony is a holiday amidst 1,000 years worth of history and heritage, with cultural breaks offering a chance to explore the legacies of famous composers, architects and artists. Saxony's holiday regions are ideal for combining city breaks with activity-based, family and wellness holidays – both in summer and in winter.
Baden - Baden - The summer capital of Europe during the belle époque and a rendezvous for the rich and the beautiful, Baden-Baden today is famous worldwide as a spa town with a cultural tradition and a top-class reputation for healthcare. Glittering festivals and unrivalled elegance make it a byword for exclusivity, elegance and luxury living. Baden-Baden excels in everything it does, whether it's cures or culture.
Cologne - Every Cologne resident has more than their fair share of zest for life and partying spirit – it's in their DNA. After all, Cologne is more than just a city – it is a matter of the heart, an emotion and an unfalteringly positive state of mind. At the root of this outlook are carnival, kölsch beer and, of course, Cologne Cathedral.
Berlin - What does Berlin have that other world cities don't? Well, first of all, there's the locals, whose rough yet friendly charm is all part of the Berlin experience. Add to that an incredible array of sights that reflect not only the city's newfound swagger but also its great history and the dramatic events of the 20th century.
Munich - Lifestyle, joie de vivre or lebensart – whatever you call it, Munich has it in spades. It might be down to the clear blue skies or simply the city's beauty, but one thing's for certain: the people of Munich always like to show their best side, whether they're in a beer garden, on one of the exclusive shopping streets, or in Bayern Munich's stadium.
Beer and bratwurst are of course an integral part of Germany's festivals and public holidays. But they're just one small part of all the pleasures on offer. Take yourself on a culinary tour of discovery through Germany. You'll be amazed at the diversity of delicacies and taste experiences you'll encounter.
Few must try Delicacies:
Weisswurst. A traditional morning treat in Bavaria - The weisswurst sausage is one of Bavaria's best-known specialties. It is made of veal and pork and is flavored with onions and fresh parsley. The sausages, warmed through in hot water, are traditionally eaten in the morning, and are best served with sweet mustard, freshly baked pretzels and Bavarian beer – and best enjoyed in one of Bavaria's many beer gardens, of course. Aficionados suck the meat straight out of its casing. Only the uninitiated use a knife and fork.
The Neunerlei feast. Nine festive courses in Saxony - A highlight of the Erzgebirge Christmas is the traditional Christmas Eve feast known as the neunerlei. It comprises nine courses symbolising memories, hopes and what you've achieved during the year. Dishes might consist of lentils or peas, bratwurst with sauerkraut, herring or pieces of fish with apple salad, potato salad with sausages, groats, millet porridge or rosehip soup, roast pork with dumplings, bread and salt, prunes and a bread and milk mixture prepared with chopped nuts.
Maultaschen. Swabian ravioli of Baden - Württemberg - There are competing theories as to how maultaschen, or 'Swabian ravioli', first came about. One theory holds that the Cistercian monks of Maulbronn Monastery (hence the name maultaschen) were loath to go without meat during Lent. So they concealed the forbidden food from the sight of the Lord by enclosing it in a pasta dough. Hence also the other name for the dish – herrgottsb'scheisserle, or 'Fool the Lord'.
Kölsch beer. A Cologne classic - Over 3,300 pubs, clubs and restaurants in Cologne will serve you a refreshing kölsch. This top-fermented beer is traditionally served in 0.2-litre glasses, or stangen, so the waiter, known locally as the köbes, is kept very busy if you're thirsty. It's a great way to experience Cologne hospitality.
Black Forest gateau. One of Germany’s most famous exports - The Black Forest is home to the darkest, sweetest temptation in the whole of Germany. Whether it was first created in Radolfzell in 1915 or in a café in Tübingen in the 1930s, the Black Forest gateau definitely hails from Baden-Württemberg. And has gone on to conquer the world. Its key ingredients are Black Forest kirsch, which gives the cake its inimitable flavor, and of course cherries. As for how many cherries – that's up to the individual baker.
Wine - A total of 13 wine-growing regions gives Germany its diverse range of wines. The most scenic is the UNESCO World Heritage Upper Middle Rhine Valley, home of the Loreley rock, while Rheinhessen is the largest. Both these regions are set within Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany's number one wine-producing region with a total of six distinct vineyard areas. It is here that the German Wine Queen is crowned at the annual German Grape Harvest Festival. Every year since 1950 these young German women have been selected to represent the nation's wines around the globe for a twelve-month term.
Germany has always had its fair share of inventors, tinkerers and other resourceful enthusiasts. And their discoveries have conquered the world. From aspirin and airbags to garden gnomes and the Christmas tree, many of the things that make our life easier, safer or just nicer started life in Germany. Follow in the footsteps of great engineers and enterprising visionaries, all the way up to the present.
Few Invention must see Inventions:
The cuckoo clock reloaded - Nothing quite captures the character of the Black Forest and Baden-Württemberg like the cuckoo clock. Its design has remained largely unchanged since first being invented in the mid-19th century. The two largest examples in the world can be seen today in Schonach and Triberg, the most famous cuckoo-clock towns. You can trace the history of this iconic Black Forest timekeeper at the German Clock Museum in Furtwangen and on the German Clock Route in the Black Forest
O Christmas tree. O Christmas tree - According to legend, the Christmas tree had its genesis in 1419. Back then bakers in Freiburg hung sweets and baked treats from the branches of a tree. The children of the city were invited to ransack the tree on New Year's Day. Whether there's any truth to the legend or not, one thing's for certain: the German custom of decorating trees has spread all over the world. It's as much a part of Christmas as exchanging gifts and singing carols. The world's biggest Christmas tree towers over Dortmund's Christmas market every year.
German Beer Purity Law. Brewing the traditional way - Hops, malt, yeast and water – and nothing else. For around five centuries, the German Beer Purity Law has determined what can and can't go into German beer. It's the oldest food regulation in the world still in force today. The origins of the reinheitsgebot, as it's known in German, are a matter of some dispute. While Bavarian brewers claim it dates back to a document from 1516, their Thuringian colleagues point to a local trading regulation passed in 1434. Not that it makes any difference to the quality of the beer. The reinheitsgebot is rigorously adhered to everywhere in the country.
Porcelain. The 'white gold' - Johann Friedrich Böttger had boasted he could produce gold. When that didn't work out, Böttger turned his attention to the manufacture of porcelain, which up to that point had to be imported from China at great cost. In this he had more success, and by 1710 the first porcelain in Europe was being produced in Meissen. Over 300 years later, Meissen porcelain has established a reputation as the epitome of dining room elegance. At the House of Meissen interactive exhibition, visitors can get an insight into the triumphant 300-year history of 'white gold'.
House of Farina. World's oldest working perfumery - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Princess Diana and Bill Clinton couldn't live without it. In 1708 in Cologne, Johann Maria Farina created a fragrance that, in the truest sense of the word, was timeless. This 'eau de Cologne' was designed to remind Italian-born Farina of his homeland. Today, wherever in the world it is used, it's a reminder of the 'perfume city' of Cologne. Since its invention, many different fragrances have been marketed as eau de Cologne. But the original was created here in the House of Farina on the Rhine, where the world's oldest working perfumery today houses a fragrance museum.
Cologne Carnival - Carnival in Cologne begins at 11 minutes past 11 on 11 November and finishes on Ash Wednesday, just as elsewhere. The street carnival begins at 11.11am on Women's Day, the Thursday before Ash Wednesday. Carnival Saturday is the day of the first processions through Cologne's districts. The evening then brings the ghost parade and lavish costume balls and ceremonies in the city's halls. But the official highpoint of Cologne carnival is the Rose Monday procession – the excitement overflows and even the most straight-laced of locals get caught up in the spirit.
Hamburg Port Anniversary - For three days in May, the people of Hamburg celebrate one another, their city and in particular their port, the largest sea port in Germany. The Port Anniversary is devoted to seafarers, ships and every other maritime theme, with the whole of Hamburg honouring its great seafaring tradition through this lively festival, the biggest port festival anywhere in the world.
Schützenfest fair in Hannover - The Schützenfest fair in Hannover ranks as the biggest of its kind in the world. For ten days, over 250 fairground rides, carousels, try-your-luck stalls and drinks stands transform the capital of Lower Saxony into one gigantic funfair. The highlight is the riflemen's parade when more than 10,000 riflemen, dancers, artistes and entertainers together with numerous magnificent floats form a twelve-kilometre procession that makes its way through the city centre.
Cologne Lights: dream fireworks set to music - Bonn celebrates with the Rhine in Flames but Cologne hosts the Cologne Lights, one of Europe's most beautiful and most spectacular musical fireworks displays, right in the middle of the Rhine – an atmospheric extravaganza that will light up your eyes and bring joy to your heart.
Oktoberfest in Munich: the world's biggest beer festival - When it's the Wies'n – local speak for Oktoberfest – in Munich, the Bavarian capital, around seven million people make the pilgrimage to Theresienwiese. This is the world's biggest beer festival, so the catering is on a massive scale: millions of roast chickens are eaten and a veritable herd of spit-roast oxen is washed down by several million towering mugs of beer. Dating back over 200 years, the Oktoberfest is a hallowed tradition that, despite its size, still spells out what it means to be Bavarian.
Cannstatter Wasen: the biggest Swabian festival on the calendar - Every September, Stuttgart hosts the Cannstatter Wasen, Baden-Württemberg's largest festival and one that is ranked as the second-biggest beer festival worldwide after Munich's Oktoberfest. Swabians have a reputation for frugality, but the Cannstatter Wasen shows them in a very different light – as happy, friendly, fun-loving folk with a sense of tradition.
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