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Rick Steves Best of Germany
By Rick Steves
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- ebook $16.99 $20.99 CAD
- Trade Paperback $24.99 $32.49 CAD
This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around November 12, 2019. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.
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- Strategic advice from Rick Steves on what’s worth your time and money
- Short itineraries covering Munich, Bavaria, Rothenburg and the Romantic Road, the Rhine Valley, and Berlin, plus Salzburg, Austria
- Rick’s tips for beating the crowds, skipping lines, and avoiding tourist traps
- The best of local culture, flavors, and haunts, including walks through museums and atmospheric neighborhoods
- Trip-planning strategies like how to link destinations and design your itinerary, what to pack, where to stay, and how to get around
- Over 400 full-color pages with maps and vibrant photos
- Suggestions for side trips to Dachau Memorial, Würzburg, Nürnburg, Burg Eltz, Cologne, Baden-Baden, Frankfurt, Dresden, and Hamburg
THE BEST OF GERMANY
Map: Top Destinations in Germany
THE BEST OF MUNICH
THE BEST OF SALZBURG
THE BEST OF THE BAVARIAN ALPS
THE BEST OF ROTHENBURG AND THE ROMANTIC ROAD
THE BEST OF THE RHINE VALLEY
THE BEST OF BERLIN
THE BEST OF THE REST
Designing Your Itinerary
Trip Costs per Person
Before You Go
Travel Strategies on the Road
Germany is blessed with some of Europe’s most spectacular scenery—the jagged Alps, flower-filled meadows, rolling hills of forests and farmland, and the powerful Rhine River. Its many castles range from evocative ruins to sturdy fortresses to Romantic-era palaces fit for a king.
In contrast to these beautiful images, the country has a troubled 20th-century past. Throughout Germany, you’ll see respectful acknowledgment of this tumultuous time, with thought-provoking museums and somber memorials.
As a nation, Germany is less than 150 years old (“born” in 1871). It was split into East and West after losing World War II. After the Berlin Wall fell, Germany was officially reunited in 1990, resulting in both euphoric joy and growing pains.
Today Germany is at the forefront of human progress, with high-tech trains, gleaming cities, and world-class museums. A founding member of the European Union, Germany leads the way in creating a stable, prosperous Europe for the future.
Yet the country nurtures its culture and traditions. You can visit idyllic half-timbered villages, enjoy strudel at the bakery, or sip a stein of beer while men in lederhosen play polka tunes.
With medieval castles, speedy autobahns, old-time beer halls, shiny skyscrapers, and the best wurst, this young country with a long past continues to make history.
THE BEST OF GERMANY
This book focuses on Germany’s top destinations—its most fascinating cities and intimate villages—from powerhouse Berlin to sleepy Bacharach. A focused 14-day trip highlights lively Munich, musical Salzburg (just across the Austrian border from Munich, it’s too convenient to pass up, even in a book about Germany), the castle-studded countryside of Bavaria, the medieval walled town of Rothenburg, quaint villages along the mighty Rhine, and the fascinating, ever-changing capital, Berlin. And when there are interesting sights or towns near my top destinations, I cover these briefly (as “Near” sights), to help you fill out a free day or a longer stay.
Beyond the major destinations, I cover the Best of the Rest—great destinations that don’t quite make my top cut, but are worth seeing if you have more time or specific interests: Würzburg, Nürnberg, Frankfurt, Baden-Baden, Dresden, and Hamburg.
To help you link the top stops, I’ve designed a two-week itinerary (see here), with tips to help you tailor it to your interests and time.
The towering New Town Hall presides over Munich’s main square, Marienplatz.
The Viktualienmarkt, a fun open-air market with cheap eateries, sports a Bavarian maypole.
A guide proudly introduces visitors to the palatial Residenz, home to Bavarian royalty for centuries.
At beer halls, oompah bands play “Roll Out the Barrel!” to crank up the fun.
The Chinese Tower in the English Garden is a landmark near a popular beer garden.
Ride the rapids at the south end of the English Garden, where the surf’s always up.
Time to order another! Prost!
A statue of Mary and an ornate glockenspiel (with daily shows) overlook Marienplatz—Mary’s Place.
Salzburg’s compact Old Town is an inviting maze for visitors to explore on foot.
The New Residenz, where prince-archbishops once partied, hosts a glockenspiel and museums today.
The Mirabell Gardens anchor a soaring view of Salzburg’s old-town spires and hill-capping fortress.
Walk or bike along the Salzach River, or just admire the city view from the bridge.
Grave sites are lovingly tended at St. Peter’s Cemetery.
Fountains add a splash of artistry in this lively city, brimming with music and culture.
Festooned with old-time signs, the street called Getreidegasse entices shoppers and photographers.
Growing up in Hohenschwangau Castle inspired “Mad” King Ludwig to build castles of his own.
The ceiling of the Wieskirche opens up to the artist’s view of heaven.
Visitors admire Linderhof Castle, “Mad” King Ludwig’s smallest, most intimate home.
Bavaria’s Lüftlmalarei—colorful painted scenes on houses—raise the bar for house painters everywhere.
To avoid long lines, order timed tickets to tour Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau Castles.
Swooping downhill on a luge: Wheee!
Füssen makes a cozy home base for visiting nearby castles and sights.
The stunning Neuschwanstein Castle is King Ludwig’s masterpiece and swan song.
Vineyards and forests blanket the hill topped by Rothenburg, Germany’s best walled town.
Half-timbered buildings, arches, and towers contribute to the picturesque charm of Rothenburg.
Rothenburg’s main square draws locals and tourists alike.
In this Middle Ages altarpiece, the master wood-carver, Tilman Riemenschneider, brought wood to life.
Walk the narrow, roofed wall of Rothenburg early or late for maximum medievalism.
If you go for Baroque, visit the gardens of Weikersheim Palace, along the Romantic Road.
Costumed soldiers evoke feudal times, when lords and robber barons vied for control of the Rhine.
The village of Bacharach, nestled on the Rhine, is fun to stroll.
Ferries cruise up and down the Rhine, taking passengers on a joyride.
Visitors can clamber up and down the ruins of Rheinfels Castle, enjoying Rhine views.
Cologne’s grand Gothic cathedral is impressive day or night.
The Rhine Valley produces fine wine, which can be sampled in tastings at wine bars.
Castles have built-in chapels, ranging from plain stone to decorative, with fine stained glass.
Burg Eltz, in the Mosel Valley, wins Europe’s best-furnished castle award.
Along the Spree River, crowds come out with the sun.
Dating from 575 BC, the Ishtar Gate (detail shown) from Babylon graces the Pergamon Museum.
Sunset highlights the dome topping the Reichstag, Germany’s historic parliament building.
Berlin’s stocky cathedral is just over a century old, built under the reign of Kaiser Wilhelm.
The Brandenburg Gate, once separating East and West Berlin, is now a powerful symbol of freedom.
Segments of the former Berlin Wall are decorated with graffiti.
The lively Hackescher Markt neighborhood with its shops and eateries—is fun to explore.
The quirky little green man (Ampelmann) on the stoplight is a nostalgic reminder of communism.
Hamburg, Germany’s most important port, has a huge harbor that even landlubbers enjoy touring.
In Dresden, a cyclist joins the Parade of Nobles, a mural made with 24,000 porcelain tiles.
In Baden-Baden, it’s fun to make waves at the Baths of Caracalla.
Nürnberg, largely rebuilt after World War II, has a sweet Old Town and powerful Nazi sites.
Modern Frankfurt has skyscraping towers and down-to-earth parks.
A guard stands watch in Dresden.
The Residenz Palace is just one reason to visit Würzburg, filled with atmospheric wine bars.
Approach Germany like a veteran traveler, even if it’s your first trip. Design your itinerary, get a handle on your budget, make advance arrangements, and follow my travel strategies on the road. For my best advice on sightseeing, accommodations, restaurants, and transportation, see the Practicalities chapter.
Designing Your Itinerary
Decide when to go. Peak season (roughly May-Sept) offers the best weather, long days (light until after 21:00), and the busiest schedule of tourist fun. Late spring and fall generally have decent weather and lighter crowds. Winter can be cold and dreary, but Germany’s famous Christmas markets brighten main squares from late November until Christmas.
Choose your top destinations. My itinerary (described later) gives you an idea of how much you can reasonably see in 14 days, but you can adapt it to fit your timeframe and choice of destinations.
Fun-loving Munich is a must for anyone, with its engaging mix of beer gardens and world-class art. If castles spark your imagination, linger in Bavaria and on the Rhine. Historians appreciate Nürnberg, Dresden, and Berlin. For music and Mozart, settle in Salzburg (Austria). If you like medieval walled towns, make tracks for Rothenburg. To feel the pulse of 21st-century Germany, head to Berlin. Hedonists luxuriate in the baths at Baden-Baden. Hikers love to go a’wandering in the Bavarian Alps, and photographers want to go everywhere.
Draft a rough itinerary. Figure out how many destinations you can comfortably fit in your time frame. Don’t overdo it—few travelers wish they’d hurried more. Allow enough days per stop: Count on at least two or three days for major destinations (and at least three for sights-packed Berlin).
Staying in a home base (such as Munich) and making day trips can be more time-efficient than changing locations and hotels. Minimize one-night stands, especially consecutive ones; it can be worth taking a late-afternoon train ride or drive to get settled into a town for two nights.
Connect the dots. Link your destinations into a logical route. Determine which cities in Europe you’ll fly into and out of; begin your search for transatlantic flights at Kayak.com. If you fly into Frankfurt (a popular arrival point), note that the airport has its own train station to easily get you to your first destination (the Rhine villages are just an hour away).
Decide if you’ll travel by car or public transportation, or a combination. Trains connect major cities easily and frequently. Trains in Germany are either fast and pricey (book ahead for discounts, or use a railpass), or they’re slow and cheap (even cheaper with one of several day passes). Long-distance buses are inexpensive, though it’s wise to book several days in advance.
A car is useless in big cities, but it’s helpful for exploring countryside regions, where train and bus connections are relatively infrequent and time-consuming.
For the best of both worlds, use trains to connect major cities, and rent a car strategically (or take a regional bus tour) to explore the countryside, such as the Bavarian Alps region, which has many scattered sights.
Allot sufficient time for transportation in your itinerary. Whether you travel by train, bus, or car, it’ll take a half-day to get between most destinations.
To determine approximate transportation times, study driving times (see the map in Practicalities chapter) or train schedules (Germany’s Deutsche Bahn, www.bahn.com). If Germany is part of a bigger trip, consider budget flights; check Skyscanner.com for intra-European flights.
Plan your days. Fine-tune your itinerary; write out a day-by-day plan of where you’ll be and what you want to see. To help you make the most of your time, I’ve suggested day plans for destinations. But check the opening hours of sights; avoid visiting a town on the one day a week that your must-see sight is closed. Research whether any holidays or festivals will fall during your trip—these attract crowds and can close sights (for the latest, visit Germany’s national tourism website, www.germany.travel).
Give yourself some slack. Nonstop sightseeing can turn a vacation into a blur. Every trip—and every traveler—needs downtime for doing laundry, picnic shopping, relaxing, people-watching, and so on. Pace yourself. Assume you will return.
Ready, set... You’ve designed the perfect itinerary for the trip of a lifetime.
Trip Costs per Person
Run a reality check on your dream trip. You’ll have major transportation costs in addition to daily expenses.
Flight: Frankfurt has the most convenient, cheapest flights from the US, though Munich is affordable and a more charming starting point. A basic round-trip flight from the US to Germany can cost about $1,000-$2,000, depending on where you fly from and when (cheaper in winter).
Public Transportation: If you’re following my two-week itinerary, allow $350 per person; it’d be worthwhile to buy a German Flexipass with five train days (to use for longer trips between major destinations) and purchase point-to-point tickets for short, cheap, regional trips (e.g., between villages on the Rhine). German rail passes are sold at most train stations in Germany.
- On Sale
- Nov 12, 2019
- Page Count
- 429 pages
- Rick Steves