This guide to Germany offers comprehensive details of the ongoing changes caused by reunification, as well as providing information and advice on accommodation, restaurants, sightseeing and entertainment in all price ranges.
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Gordon McLachlan has written for several other Rough Guides, including Edinburgh, Scotland, Britain and Poland. Since his first visits to Germany whilst at university he has visited every corner of the country.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
WHERE AND WHEN TO GO
There’s enough variety within all but the smallest Länder to fill several weeks of travel, and you may prefer to confine your trip to just one or two regions. Among the scenic highlights are the Bavarian Alps, the Bodensee, the Black Forest, the valleys of the Rhine and Mosel, the Baltic island of Rügen, the Harz, and Saxon Switzerland. However, you may prefer one of the many less spectacular areas of natural beauty, which can be found in every province – these are the places the Germans themselves love the most, and where they spend their holidays and weekends. Several of the cities have the air of capitals, though Bonn has lost the role it "temporarily" carried for fifty years. Nearby Cologne, on the other hand, is one of the most characterful cities in the country, and the richest in historic monuments. Bavaria’s capital, Munich, is another obvious star and boasts of having the best the country has to offer – whether in museums, beer, fashion or sport. Nürnberg reflects on its bygone years of glory, while Frankfurt looks on itself as the "real" capital of the country, and Stuttgart and Düsseldorf compete for the title of champion of German postwar success. In the east, Dresden is making a comeback as one of the world’s great cultural centres, while Leipzig is returning to its role as one of the continent’s main trading centres. However, as all these cities have suffered to a considerable extent from bomb damage and ugly postwar redevelopment, the smaller places in many respects offer a more satisfying experience. Chief among these is the university city of Heidelberg, star and guiding light of the Romantic movement. Trier, Bamberg, Regensburg, Rothenburg and Marburg in the west, and Potsdam, Meissen and Quedlinburg in the east, are some of the many towns which deserve to be regarded among the most outstanding in Europe.
The best times to go are between April and October. Germany has a fairly volatile climate, not so different from that of Britain or New England. Summers are usually warm, but not overpoweringly so; good weather may come at an unexpected time, while it’s not uncommon to have several abrupt changes in temperature within a single day. Rain occurs fairly regularly throughout the year. Unless you’re intending to go skiing, winter travel can’t really be recommended, other than for seeing the cities stripped of tourist hordes. Otherwise, there’s a chance of snow at any time from November onwards. In the really popular areas, the claustrophobic effect of masses of organized tour groups is a factor to be taken into account between mid-June and mid-September: best avoid such places altogether then, and head for the many less spoiled alternatives. All things considered, however, the ideal times for visiting Germany are late spring and early autumn.
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