Mention “Germany”, and images of beer fests, Lederhosen, and fairy tale castles likely come to mind. But with its pristine green landscapes, well-preserved Altstadts (old towns), and lesser-known festivals, Germany offers much more.
I called fairytale Heidelberg home for a decade, marrying in the city’s castle, not far from the promenade where my parents pushed me in a carriage as a baby. My parents now live in Oberammergau, a tiny town in Bavaria, so I’ve had the chance to spend time in two distinctly different German states. Glimpses of horse-blessing ceremonies, seasonal celebrations, and mountain hikes follow.
Below, you’ll find my clickable Germany index, as well as destination-specific tips, accommodation, and transportation resources.
Click the index button below to see all my posts from Germany.
Table of Contents
- Make a pilgrimage to King Ludwig’s Neuschwanstein Castle, the structure said to be the inspiration for Disney’s Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland. If you can, visit when the castle is dressed in snow, or framed by brilliant autumnal hues.
- While on the King Ludwig circuit, visit Schloss Linderhof, one of the ‘Mad King’s’ other famous castles.
- Devour the details of this overwhelmingly baroque city.
- Hit the trails on either side of the Neckar River to escape the hustle and bustle of Heidelberg’s Old Town-core.
- Take in fantastic views of the Altstadt – either from the Heidelberg Castle or the Heiliggeistkirche.
- Celebrate annual traditions: Sommertagszug (March), the Herbstfest (September), or castle illuminations (summer months).
- Zip down the foothills of Germany’s Alps on the seat of an alpine coaster.
- Deep within a snowy and barren forest, watch a wild deer feeding.
- Stroll Oberammergau’s quiet streets while admiring the brilliantly-painted facades of homes and businesses.
- Watch folk dancers of all ages get ‘slap happy’ as they demonstrate traditional German dances at an outdoor summer festival.
- Ride a tiny cable car to the summit of the Laber, and take in gorgeous views of the valley along the way.
- Climb to the top of Mount Kofel, Oberammergau’s signature peak.
- Twist your tongue while trying to master the lyrics of a local tune.
- Pay a visit to Oberammergau’s St. Peter & Paul Church and Cemetery, and admire the traditional headstones – some sculpted from wood, others carved in stone.
- In the neighboring village of Unterammergau, attend an annual horse-blessing ceremony.
- Observe artisans as they craft Old World treasures out of copper, embroidery thread, and wood.
- Partake in annual traditions: Saint Nicholas Day (December), Maria Himmelfahrt Day (August), or the birth of the fairy-tale Bavarian King Ludwig II (August).
- Admire the ornate Baroque and Rococo Ettal Monastery. Afterwards, enjoy a frothy mug of the monks’ beer.
- Heidelberg – Because of its picturesque atmosphere and proximity to Heidelberg’s best-known attractions, I heartily recommend choosing a hotel in, or near Heidelberg’s Old Town-core: either the Altstadt (Heidelberg’s Old Town), Bergheim district, or Neuenheim district. Restaurants, cafés and shops are nearby, and you can even go hiking in the hills in a matter of minutes. I lived in an apartment in the Altstadt for 10 years, and I loved being among all the action. Since I was a resident of Heidelberg, I have limited experience staying in hotels in Heidelberg. However, here are some hotels we would revisit the next time we come to Heidelberg. Some links are affiliate links.
- Hotel Goldener Hecht – After our furniture was boxed up and we were preparing to leave Heidelberg, Shawn and I spent a few nights at the Goldener Hecht. We loved the central location! Heidelberg’s famous Old Bridge was just a few footsteps away, and the Heidelberg Castle was only about half a kilometer’s walk. Our room was clean, quiet, and pleasant, too.
- Hotel zum Ritter – When Shawn and I were married in the Heidelberg Castle, some of our family and friends stayed at the Hotel zum Ritter, one of Heidelberg’s most famous buildings. The elegant Hotel Ritter is situated on the pedestrianized Hauptstrasse (Main Street), just across from the Heiliggeistkirche (Church of the Holy Spirit). Even if you don’t stay there, the hotel’s gorgeous Renaissance exterior will likely catch your eye as you stroll down the Hauptstrasse.
- Oberammergau – Before my parents moved to Bavaria, Shawn and I spent two nights at the Gästehaus Hildegard. We thought the beds were comfortable, the owners were helpful and kind, and the breakfast was tasty. The guest house is centrally located in the town too, and it’s not far from the Tiroler Gasse bus stop. The train station is also only about 1 km away.
- Train – The Deutsche Bahn is Germany’s main provider of train services. Their website lists timetables, and you can purchase e-tickets on the site. You can show e-tickets to the conductor on your smart phone. Keep in mind that you can often get better fares when purchasing special tickets, often valid in a specific German state (e.g. regional day tickets such as the Bavaria Ticket, Baden-Württemberg-Ticket, etc.). Sometimes we’ve purchased special tickets that work in Germany as well as sections of neighboring countries like Austria, or the Czech Republic (e.g. Bavaria-Bohemia Ticket, known as Bayern-Böhmen-Ticket, in German).
Additional Germany Resources
- Germany’s currency is the Euro (EUR). Calculate the current exchange rate.
- Since 1958, Germany has been been a member of the European Union. It is part of the Schengen Area.
- Deutsche Welle ‘DW’ German & international news (Germany’s public international broadcaster)
- German National Tourism Board (official website)