Favourite German Cities to Visit
While the majority of Irish tourists visiting Germany flock to the Capital, many of our favourite German cities are often overlooked. Don’t miss out on all that Munich, Cologne and Dusseldorf have to offer – fantastic value-for-money, cosmopolitan shopping, world-class attractions and unique customs that give each city a distinct local flavour are surely enough to lure you away from “Boomtown” Berlin. We’ve summarised the best and brightest aspects of our favourite German cities below:
The city can be divided into several key areas – the Old Town, lined with pretty, historic houses, cobbled alleys, breweries, pubs and restaurants, where you can sip on the locally brewed Kölsch beer and taste a Halver Hahn sandwich (half a chicken). While Cologne has a vast selection of cultural attractions throughout the city, you’ll find many of its architectural treasures here, such as Cologne Cathedral, City Hall, the Heinzelmännchen fountain (Cologne elves), as well as the Farina Fragrance Museum.
On the main shopping streets of Hohe Straße and Schildergasse, you can pick up a bottle of Eau de Cologne, one of the city’s most famous exports. The Belgian Quarter, with its beautiful, historic buildings, offers a unique shopping experience, with one-off boutiques showcasing innovative Cologne fashions, vintage record shops and delicious bakeries. And for something more traditional, Alter Markt and Heumarkt is the place to go to discover handicrafts and jewellery made by local artisans. Lastly, you can enjoy a river cruise along the Rhine and admire the vast city-scape, including the uber contemporary crane houses of Rheinauhafen.
Festivities not to be missed include”Fastelovend” or carnival, which starts at 11 minutes past 11, on the 11th November (According to tradition the number 11 symbolises foolishness, because one fool next to another fool adds up to a foolish unity). Every July, the city also plays host to Germany’s largest musical fireworks display – the Cologne Lights or “Koelner Lichter”.
Home to Oktoberfest, one of the largest food and drink festivals in the world, it’s
impossible not to find yourself imbibing in a beer tent on a trip to the Bavarian capital. If you miss the annual event beginning in September (with an influx of over 7 million visitors), you can still sip from large tankards at Munich’s Englische Garten – head to the large pagoda located by the Chinese Tower (Munich’s second oldest beer tent) or beside Kleinhesseloher Lake. Here, you can enjoy traditional local dishes with a relaxing waterside view in the Seehaus restaurant – opened year round.
And if this doesn’t float your boat, you can swap beer-swilling for animal magic, with a visit to Tierpark Hellabrunn on the south-side of the city. One of the world’s first animal sanctuaries, it houses 1,000s of species from all over the globe. Daily feeding shows are a huge draw for families, where kids can learn what their favourite animals eat.
For those who like the finer things in life, the Nymphenburg summer palace is a must-see, where you can admire the opulent decoration in the Grand Hall, the sprawling manicured gardens and the elaborate Amlienburg hunting lodge with its mesmerising wall of mirrors.
Anyone who visits Munich, is sure to notice one of the city’s most prominent landmarks – the Frauenkirche Gothic cathedral. It’s construction is shrouded in a dark tale pertaining to a deal with the devil. Look for a spooky footprint inside the door and discover the strange story of its origins!
To delve into the darker history of the region, take a short train journey to the town of Dachau, 16km north west of Munich. Once a peaceful artists commune, it’s now a shrine to the infamous Nazi concentration camp, which was the first to open in Germany during the 2nd World War. Not for the faint hearted, collections of photographs and audio tours reveal the cruel treatment the Jewish, political prisoners and foreign nationals suffered here.
A shoppers paradise, the tree-lined Königsallee (locally known as the “Kö”) is an upmarket boulevard in the centre of Dusseldorf lined with glamorous designer boutiques, perfume and antique shops. For high-street brands, nearby Schadowstraße is one of the most visited shopping streets in Germany. After a spree, head to the old town to soak in the charm and culture of Dusseldorf’s pretty squares and alleyways, buzzing cafes and beer gardens, and its waterside promenade along the Rhine. Historical buildings, museums and contemporary architecture are a feast for the eyes – highlights include the Mediahafen or Media Harbour area where you’ll find unusual modern construction, trendy bars and restaurants and the iconic Rheinturm (Rhine Tower) – where you can enjoy fantastic views of the city.
To the south of the city lies the most impressive architectural work of art in the city – Schloss Benrath. This 200 year old baroque palace incorporates a summer residence, forested hunting grounds stretching to the banks of the Rhine, landscaped gardens of every possible design and geometric avenues that meet in a star formation around a central lawn and mirrored pond. Once a royal residence, today it comfortably houses the Museum of European Garden Art and the Museum of natural history in each wing, as well as playing host to various concerts in the grounds of the palace, during the summer months.
With hundreds of bars, restaurants and cafes scattered throughout the city, you have ample choice of places to enjoy the local tipple known as Altbier. A dark top-fermented beer, this fresh and bitter brew is readily available. You can even visit one of the four original breweries in the city to learn about its origins – Füchschen, Schlüssel, Schumacher or Uerige – and enjoy a glass or two of fresh Alt beer, served with traditional Rhenish snacks with a generous dollop of Mostert on the side (a speciality mustard with a recipe dating back to 1726).
Make the most of this favourite German city and celebrate in true Dusseldorf style by visiting during the Rhine Carnival (Feb), Japan Day (May), the biggest funfair on the Rhine (mid-July) or the famous German Christmas Markets in December.
For more information on German cities to visit, local attractions and things to do, check out Germany’s Official Tourism page. ClickandGo offers a whole range of packages to our favourite German cities – especially for authentic German Christmas Markets – to book your Yuletide break, click below: