Germany's impressive football skills were highlighted as the team secured their fourth World Cup win, but there's more to this European holiday destination than the footie.
The country is often overlooked and underrated, making it a wonderful place to escape the crowds. Flights from the UK are just 1 hour 30 minutes and once you arrive there are a range of destinations to explore, offering picturesque castles and culture-rich cities in the year-round holiday destination.
Hotel comparison website trivago.co.uk has revealed ten of the most beautiful destinations in Germany to show there is more to this country than beer, pretzels, lederhosen and dirndls.
Some of its beauty spots will come as no surprise, such as the fairytale castle Neuschwanstein that inspired Walt Disney's Sleeping Beauty and the ever-popular capital of Berlin, but Germany has some hidden gems too, such as the island of Sylt, where it is possible to sample some of Europe's finest oysters.
Check out the gallery below to discover ten of the best places to go on holiday in Germany.
Ten of the best destinations in Germany
Ten of the most wonderful places to visit in Germany
With its romantic cityscape and scenic setting between the River Neckar and the surrounding countryside, it is no surprise that Heidelberg is a popular tourist destination. The hub is the traditional Altstadt (old city), which leads to the ruins of Heidelberg castle. This large renaissance castle boasts picturesque views over the city, but is perhaps most famed for its ‘Grosses Fass’, a 58,000 gallon wine barrel which took 130 oak trees to construct. Heidelberg is also known for housing one of Europe’s most reputable and oldest universities, boasting associations with 55 Nobel Prize laureates. Hotels in Heidelberg
Cologne, (or Köln in German), is the country’s fourth largest city. It is the birthplace of Eau de Cologne and there are more pubs per capita here than any other German destination. The main attraction is the intricate Cologne Cathedral, a gothic structure that took 552 years to complete. Although Cologne is a great year-round destination, it is known as one of the best places to celebrate the ‘Karneval’ (Carnival) festival. Thousands of visitors flock to the street parties and parades, which are held annually for five days before Lent. Hotels in Cologne
Just a few hours south of Munich, in the Bavarian Alps, is the inspiration for the castle in Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty. Neuschwanstein belonged to King Ludwig II, an enigmatic character with a grandiose swan-themed vision for his private retreat. The castle was famously never completed following the King’s mysterious death, and it can be viewed as it was left in 1886. A short walk through the forest will take visitors to Marienbrücke (Mary’s Bridge), boasting panoramic views of the castle and the surrounding mountains.Hotels near Neuschwanstein Castle
Bavaria’s second largest city, Nuremburg, is renowned for its history and medieval architecture. Travellers should consider visiting in December, when the annual Christmas market attracts up to two million visitors. Located in the central square of the city’s old town, visitors can enjoy Bratwurst (charcoal-grilled sausage), Lebkuchen (gingerbread) and Glühwein (traditional German mulled wine) while listening to brass bands. Christmas shoppers will have plenty of gifts to choose from, including Christmas decorations, jewellery, ornaments and toys. Hotels in Nuremburg
Visitors are often surprised to learn that Germany has 13 wine regions, of which the Moselle Region is the most famous. Situated around the Moselle River (the left tributary of the famous Rhine), the region shares borders with France, Luxembourg and Germany. The three towns of the Moselle Region are Trier (Germany’s oldest city), the picturesque Koblenz, and Cochem, where Celts and Romans first made wine more than 2000 years ago. Cochem is renowned as the most romantic Moselle destination and is world-famous for its Riesling, boasting a sweet, flowery taste. Hotels in Cochem
Berlin has been attracting art, culture and history-lovers for years, due to its 175 museums, 600 galleries and three opera houses. With deep connections to the Second World War, the era of Prussian Glory, and the East/West Cold War divide, reminders of Berlin’s past can be found throughout the city. From the turmoil of the past century, the capital has emerged as a unique, alternative haven of art and culture, unchallenged by any other European capital or German city. Hotels in Berlin
Although not renowned for its islands, Germany boasts over 50, the largest of which is Sylt. Located off the North coast and just a 30-minute ferry ride from Denmark, Sylt is an anchor-shaped island featuring a 25-mile long sandy beach. There are beaches designated for both families and nudist sun-bathers, or visitors may want to windsurf, visit one of the luxurious sea-view saunas, or party on the beach until sunrise. The island is most famous for its fresh seafood, especially the Sylt oysters, which are amongst the finest in Europe. Hotels in Sylt
Germany’s eastern gem lies along the Elbe River close to the Czech border. Dresden is a lively and alternative city, boasting interesting buildings and impressive museums. Historically, Dresden played an important part as the royal residence of the electors and kings of Saxony. The majority of the city centre was destroyed during the Second World War and it was only after the reunification that Dresden regained its prominence in Germany and Europe. Saxony’s capital is well known for hosting Germany’s longest-running Christmas Market, dating back to 1434. Hotels in Dresden
Although Munich is primarily known for its Oktoberfest celebrations, the Bavarian capital is a great year-round destination. The English Garden in Munich city centre is one of the most impressive urban parks in the world, larger than New York City’s Central Park. It is known for its five-storey Chinese Tower pagoda, home to Munich’s second largest beer garden. During the summer months, the English Garden is used as a beach-like getaway, popular amongst swimmers and sunbathers. A must-see is river surfing in the Eisbach, which is a made possible by a manmade wave under the main bridge of the park.Hotels in Munich
Hamburg is Germany’s second largest city, its maritime capital, and the second largest port in Europe. It is also a hub for Germany’s top media, as well as many other important industries. The best way to appreciate this affluent city is on a harbour boat cruise, where many of Hamburg’s finest hotels and restaurants are located. Hamburg best nightlife can be found around the Reeperbahn (red light district), home to numerous bars, clubs, pubs and concert venues. The Beatles used to play here back in the early 1960s, before finding worldwide fame. Hotels in Hamburg
Ten of the most wonderful places to visit in Germany
On the island of Naxos lies the mountainous village of Apeiranthos set in the hilltop of Mount Fanaria, which looks as though it is making its way to the top in order to glimpse a better view of the Aegean Sea. Named the 'Marble Village' by locals and surrounded by lush green valleys and rocky cliffs, the architecture of Apeiranthos has been well preserved with its neoclassical mansions, beautiful squares and churches, all made of white marble. Amazingly, the local dialect and traditions of Apeiranthos are similar to those of mountainous villages in Crete.
This gorgeous little village on the east coast of Ireland is somewhat overlooked by tourists but popular among the locals, with its great seafood and annual Leprechaun Hunt. Steeped in history, legend and mythology, medieval Carlingford is known for its narrow streets and castles, while overlooking the Mountains of Mourne. Visitors can enjoy local and international cuisine in its 12 restaurants, hill walking, heritage trails and fishing.
Located at the base of one of Iceland’s imposing eastern fjords, the peaceful village of Seydisfjordur, shaped by Norwegian entrepreneurs over a century ago, lies in the shelter of dramatic snow-flecked mountains – Mount Strandartindur and Mount Bjólfur. The colourful, Norwegian-style wooden houses characterise the unique village, with a population of just 750, and during the summer it has a thriving arts scene, with visiting artists and a growing community of artists-in-residence. When in Seydisfjordur, try sea fishing, cruising and bird watching in the safe hands of the local fishermen.
Soglio in the canton of Graubünden, close to the Italian border, is one of Switzerland's most romantic and traditional villages, famous for its flowers. Located on a sunny mountain terrace with amazing views, Soglio is home to a baroque rose garden and sequoia trees. The locals speak Italian but also their local Lombard dialect. Stay at Palazzo Salis, which was nominated Swiss Historic Hotel of the Year in 1998.
The white village of Thorn in Holland boasts pretty cobbled streets, the beautiful Abbey Church and cute whitewashed houses. Dating back to the late 10th century, Thorn became a 'white village' when the French arrived and claimed a tax based on the size of the windows. The poor population living in large houses formerly owned by aristocrats could not afford this, so they bricked up the windows and tried to cover up their poverty by whitewashing their homes. Visit the Museum Land of Thorn, devoted to the village's history with pottery, art and jewellery exhibits.
Saint-Montan in the southern Ardeche is a beautiful, medieval French village of character set on a hill with a ruined castle, narrow streets and vaulted passageways. Visitors to Saint-Montan can enjoy lovely views across the rooftops of the houses, a visit to the two small Roman-style chapels and dining in the village restaurants. Saint-Montan was named after a hermit who lived in the village for 30 years in the fifth century and you can visit the Cave of the Hermit of Saint-Montan.
Set in the region of Lombardy on a small hill overlooking a heart-shaped lake, Castellaro Lagusello is one of the most beautiful villages in Italy, known to Italians who have kept this picturesque part of the country to themselves - until now. The fortified village dates back to the 11th century and is dominated by Villa Arringhi, the former feudal castle. Castellaro Lagusello is famed for its Mantova cuisine and fine wines.
Picturesque Schwarzenberg in Austria's Bregenzerwald region is a chocolate box village with a riverside, mountain and ski location. The village has a modern twist and is heritage-protected for its clapboard houses. Every year the chamber music festival Schubertiade Schwarzenberg takes place with performances from various artists. Visitors come for hiking and skiing in winter, while in the summer there is horse riding, swimming and climbing to enjoy.
The locals call the village of Vitt the most romantic place on Rugen island. The picturesque village is characterised by its thatched-roof cottages, a tiny harbour and quaint octagonal chapel. The fishing village is best seen by bike or horse-drawn carriage as private cars are not allowed. With fewer than 50 residents and just 11 houses, Vitt is the perfect place to view true village life in Germany.
If you're looking for remote beauty in Spain, the whitewashed village of Capileira in Andalucía is set among mountains and forests, making it appear protected and mysterious. The village is a beautiful maze of quaint houses, ancient fountains and dramatic views. It has a special charm and the houses adapt to the rugged terrain. Inside the Pedro Antonio de Alarcón Ethnological Museum, you'll find displays devoted to the famous Spanish author.