Regions in Germany
Germany is a federal republic consisting of 16 states (called Bundesländer). Three of these federal states are actually city states: Berlin, Bremen and Hamburg. The federal states can be roughly grouped by geographical areas as shown below, although other groupings exist. For a long time, the division between North and South was most noticeable, but due to the legacy of the Cold War, the division between East and West is now more pronounced.
- Northern Germany (Bremen, Hamburg, Lower Saxony, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Schleswig-Holstein)
Windswept hills and popular holiday destinations on the North Sea and Baltic Sea coasts
- Western Germany (North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate, Saarland).
Wine country and modern cities, strongly characterised by the breathtaking valleys of the Middle Rhine and Moselle.
- Central Germany (Hesse, Thuringia)
The green heart of Germany, with some of the most important historical and economic cities and the old Thuringian Forest.
- Eastern Germany (Berlin, Brandenburg, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt).
The eccentric and historic capital Berlin and the reconstruction of the historic city of Dresden, “Florence on the Elbe”.
- Southern Germany (Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria)
The Black Forest, the Alps and the Oktoberfest. Lederhosen Germany, Dirndls, postcard views and high-tech companies.
Cities in Germany
Germany has many interesting cities for visitors; here are just nine of the most famous destinations. These are mainly the major cities in Germany. Some, like Berlin and Hamburg, stand like urban islands in a more rural landscape, others, like Düsseldorf and Frankfurt, are part of conurbations with other cities.
- Berlin – The reunited and revitalised German capital, famously divided by the Berlin Wall during the Cold War. Today it is a metropolis of diversity with some of the best clubs, shops, galleries and restaurants in the world. Because of its long history as a divided city, Berlin also has more opera houses and museums per capita than most other places in the world. The Potsdam suburb with its royal palaces and gardens is a place not to be missed when visiting Berlin.
- Bremen – One of the most important cities in Northern Germany, the Old Market, the Schnoor, the Böttcherstrasse, the quarter and the maritime flair of Bremen and its harbour Bremerhaven (which together form the state of Bremen, the smallest state by size and population) are a great city experience.
- Cologne – founded 2000 years ago by the Romans and known for its huge cathedral (the second largest in the world), Romanesque churches, archaeological sites and lively old town district. Cologne Carnival is a major event that takes place around February.
- Dresden – Formerly called Florence on the Elbe, the Frauenkirche (the most beautiful Baroque cathedral outside Italy, destroyed in the war and rebuilt from 1994 to 2005) and the reconstructed historic Old Town, also destroyed in the war. The Zwinger and Residenzschloss museums are unique in the world.
- Düsseldorf – Germany’s shopping capital, which also presents a great variety of fascinating new architecture. There is a lively nightlife in the old town and on the banks of the Rhine.
- Frankfurt – magnificent skyline, Europe’s financial and transport centre, home to the European Central Bank (ECB) and a major trade fair. Small reconstructed centre with half-timbered houses, important museums and galleries around the Museumsufer such as the Schirn Kunsthalle, the Städel and the Senckenberg Naturmuseum.
- Hamburg – the second largest city in Germany, with a metropolitan character surpassed only by Berlin, famous for its harbour as well as its liberal culture. Don’t miss the lively nightlife around St. Pauli with the Reeperbahn and its nightclubs and entertainment venues. Historically one of the Hanseatic cities and then a leading shopping centre, it is still one of Germany’s three “city states”, i.e. a city that is its own federal state.
- Munich – The beautiful capital of Bavaria, whose motto is “cosmopolitan city with a heart”, the site of the famous Oktoberfest, the Hofbräuhaus, numerous beer gardens and the Alpine Gate.
- Nuremberg – former imperial city with a medieval touch, whose old town was partially rebuilt after the heavy bombing of the Second World War, including the Gothic Kaiserburg and the main churches. You can also visit the Nazi Party Rally Grounds, the Documentation Centre and Courtroom 600 (site of the Nuremberg war crimes trials).
Other destinations in Germany
- Baltic coast – kilometres of sandy beaches and seaside resorts with picturesque islands such as Rügen (Germany’s largest island), Hiddensee and Usedom.
- Bavarian Alps – the famous Neuschwanstein Castle and the best skiing and snowboarding areas in Germany. Endless hikes and mountain bike tours
- The Black Forest – a region with wide mountain peaks and panoramic views; a paradise for tourists and hikers.
- East Frisian Islands – twelve islands in the Wadden Sea; Borkum is the largest island in terms of area and population
- Franconian Switzerland – one of the oldest tourist destinations in Germany, named after the Romantic artists of the early 19th century who said the landscapes had the aesthetic beauty of Switzerland.
- The Harz Mountains – a low mountain range in the central low mountain range of Germany, famous for its historic silver mines and the picturesque towns of Quedlinburg, Goslar and Wernigerode.
- Lake Constance – a beautiful corner of Central Europe; it offers visitors water sports and beautiful towns and villages to see
- Middle Rhine Valley – the part of the Rhine between Bingen/Rüdesheim and Koblenz is a UNESCO World Heritage Site; the valley is famous for its wines
- North Frisian Islands – quiet islands with seaside resorts on the North Sea coast, especially Sylt is known for its famous guests and unspoilt landscape