Rugen Island is the largest in Germany, connected to the rest of the country by the Rugen Causeway and Bridge from where it sits in the Balkan Sea. With its pretty beaches, lighthouses, Eastern European castle ruins, fishing, and National Park, it’s another stellar example of Germany at its most romantically scenic.
As the beating heart of Europe’s economy and the center of World War II history, Germany may seem like an austere and serious place to visit. But once you’re there you’ll quickly realise that this somber aura is a total misconception. Germany is home to some of Europe’s most beautiful architecture, romantic fairytale castles, stunning landscapes, and vibrant city nightlife.
Let’s explore some of the most ‘wunderbar’ highlights!
We’ll begin, obviously, with the country’s capital. Berlin has a dramatic and torrid World War II and Cold War history, which it has bravely made no effort to water down or hide from tourists. Portions of the infamous Berlin Wall are still there to see near Reichstag and Checkpoint Charlie, the latter of which also has a charmingly tiny museum that is absolutely bursting with Cold War history. For World War II history, the Jewish Museum and Holocaust Memorial are incredibly moving and humbling places to experience. The flipside to Berlin’s historical sites is its healthy club scene after the sun goes down, fostered by an eclectic and bohemian culture that started to emerge post-Cold War as the city became a hub for diversity and creativity. Make sure you visit www.etias.com to take advantage of visa waiving before travelling, too.
2. Neuschwanstein Castle
In complete opposition to Berlin, Neuschwanstein Castle – one of the most photographed buildings in Germany – is a dreamy glimpse into the country’s romantic past. Sitting against the backdrop of the Bavarian Alps, it was built purely as a holiday-home for King Ludwig II of Bavaria (Germany’s previous name) rather than for military use like most castles, which is why it looks so picturesque. (Fun fact: it was Walt Disney’s inspiration for the Magic Kingdom castle!)
Almost as popular as Berlin for urban culture, Cologne sits right on the Rhine River and is a haven for beautiful art, fun nightlife and a landscape populated by a mixture of buildings whose designs mesh the old and new together. It’s also particularly well-known for its gothic and medieval architecture, with its Twelve Romanesque churches and the striking Cologne Cathedral standing at its center, also serving as the city’s unofficial logo.
4. Rhine Gorge
Between the cities of Bingen and Bonn, the Rhine passes through a stunning gorge. In late summer when the water is sky-blue, the trees are green and gold and the whitewashed buildings gleam in the sun, it’s really something magical to behold. Adding to this majesty are the forty (yes, forty) medieval castles, lush vineyards and quaint little towns that line its edges. The most famous attraction, however, is ‘Lorelei’ – a beautiful but deadly rock formation in the deepest part of the river. Hop on a boat to explore it properly…but watch out for Lorelei!
5. Rugen Island