Jeannine Williamson looks beyond Berlin for some great German city stays
Berlin is a beautiful, action-packed city with sights ranging from the historical to the cutting edge. But it’s not the country’s only short break choice.
This week we shine the spotlight on five of the best city destinations beyond Berlin.
The Bavarian capital is renowned for Oktoberfest, which attracts more than six million people each year, and while it’s famous for beer, Munich is high on cultural appeal too, with nearly 300 churches that have led to it being dubbed the German Rome.
A historic landmark is the Frauenkirche in the Old Town with its distinctive onion towers. Nearby Marienplatz is a buzzing meeting place and the grand boulevard Leopoldstrasse is the fashionable street to see and be seen.
Museums range from the Pinakothek, with its fabulous collection of European masterpieces, to the wacky Center for Extraordinary Museums with the world’s first chamber pot collection.
When it’s time to relax an important part of the Bavarian mentality is ‘gemütlichkeit’, chilling out in a comfortable environment over a long cup of coffee, and clients will find plenty of atmospheric coffee shops.
Sample: Kirker Holidays offers three nights’ B&B at the four-star Hotel Torbrau from £716 for travel in September, including British Airways flights from Heathrow, transfers, guide notes and the Kirker concierge service.
020 7593 2288
Called the ‘Florence of the Elbe’, the capital of Saxony is one of Germany’s most beautiful cities. Virtually all the buildings were destroyed in the Second World War and a painstaking reconstruction programme has restored the city to its former glory.
One of the most impressive examples of the restoration work is the Frauenkirche Church with its magnificent baroque dome that dominates the skyline. The ruins were left untouched for more than 45 years before the church was rebuilt using materials salvaged from the rubble.
It reopened in 2005. Dresden is rich in cultural and historic sights including Zwinger, a baroque palace that now houses art galleries. It is also a popular destination to enjoy one of Germany’s traditional Christmas markets, as Dresden’s Striezelmarkt was recorded as far back as 1434 and is the oldest in the country.
Sample: Regent Holidays offers three nights’ B&B at the three-star Achat Comfort Hotel from £485 including flights from Heathrow.
0117 921 1711
Germany’s financial capital on the River Main is dominated by more skyscrapers than any other German city, leading to the nickname ‘Mainhattan’.
But below the surface of this modern business empire there’s a city of considerable contrasts. Romer Square is the heart of the city where, apart from the town hall, the beautiful half-timbered buildings only date back to the 1980s.
About 80% of the city was destroyed during Second World War and this devastation is poignantly illustrated in the Historical Museum.
The monetary clout of Frankfurt’s residents and business visitors means there are plenty of shopping opportunities from Goethestrasse, from the city’s most exclusive shopping mile to the colourful Zeil, Germany’s self-proclaimed busiest shopping street.
Apple wine has been associated with the city for more than 250 years and medics claim it increases blood circulation to the brain and halts the ageing process.
Sample: Dertour has three-for-two-night-packages to Frankfurt this summer with three nights’ B&B at the three-star Manhattan Hotel from £199 including flights from London.
020 3131 2895
The largest city in the state of Saxony has an international reputation for music and books.
Goethe, the father of German literature who studied in Leipzig, described it as a ‘little Paris’ and the Waldstrasse district is home to a collection of 19th-century listed buildings and one of the most beautiful German renaissance town halls, which was built in just nine months in 1556.
Leipzig’s more unusual claim to fame is having the world’s largest Christmas advent calendar, in Bottchergasse, and is a train spotter’s paradise with Europe’s largest railway station.
The viewing platform at the Monument to the Battle of the Nations, the largest European memorial, provides a bird’s-eye view of city. Leipzig is also home to one of Germany’s oldest and most famous boys’ choirs. St Thomas is celebrating its 800th anniversary this year with a programme of special concerts.
Sample: Dertour offers three nights’ B&B at the three-star Grand City Hotel Leipzig Zentrum from £359, including flights from Heathrow via Frankfurt.
020 3131 2895
Situated on the Rhine, Germany’s oldest major city is one of its most picturesque. It’s hard to miss Cologne’s magnificent twin-spired cathedral, a Unesco-listed building that’s one of Germany’s three most-visited sights.
Although there’s no lift, it’s worth scaling the 509 steps of the south spire for a view over the city. Afterwards visitors can reward themselves with a trip to the Chocolate Museum with its chocolate fountain and cafe serving all kinds of indulgent confections.
A one-hour river cruise from Hohenzollern Bridge is a great way to get a different perspective of the city. In addition to its museums and galleries, Cologne is a great shopping city and its Christmas markets – there are four – are among Germany’s best.
After dark Cologne has a lively nightlife scene and boasts more pubs per head of population than any other German city.
Sample: Cresta Holidays offers two nights’ B&B at the three-star Flandrischer Hof Hotel from £277 for travel in the low season with BMI flights from Heathrow.
0844 800 7019
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