Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany

Germany often feels like a storybook come to life, with castles lining the Rhine River; gingerbread trim adorning medieval villages; winter holiday markets filled with spiced wine and twinkling lights; a festive autumnal Oktoberfest; and summer days spent sipping wine in scenic vineyards and hiking through the fairy tale Black Forest.

There’s also a more modern side to the country. There's Berlin, with its lively urban art scene; Stuggart, which produces some of the world's most stylish cars; and the cosmopolitan cities of Munich and Frankfurt. Germany has a serious side, too. Throughout the country, you'll find several World War I and World War II monuments, which allow you to pay tribute to Germany's past and present. 

Frankfurt / vichie81/iStock

What Is Germany Known For?

It’s hard to talk about Germany without mentioning the month-long celebration of Oktoberfest. With oompah bands and servers and guests dressed in traditional lederhosen and dirndls, it’s the best of Old World tradition — which pairs perfectly with freshly brewed beer, plate-sized fresh pretzels, and platters of bratwurst and sausages: all synonymous with German culture.

For traditions that aren’t quite as boisterous, a castle visit is in order. There are reportedly over 20,000 castles in the country, including Bavaria’s famous Neuschwanstein, which served as the inspiration for Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland. Heidelberg is a perfect stop along Germany’s "Castle Road," and offers visitors the opportunity to step back in time. The country was at the center of two World Wars, and there’s a sad history that’s associated with Germany. Pay your respects and learn about the past at spots such as the Berlin Wall or Dachau Concentration Camp

Heidelberg Castle / DaLiu/iStock

What Currency Does Germany Use?

Germany is a member of the European Union and the country uses the euro as currency. 

When Is Oktoberfest in Germany?

The celebration of all things beer and cheer is celebrated not in October — as the name would have you believe. In fact, Oktoberfest actually kicks off in mid-September (the start date changes every year). The festivities go on for 16 days and wind down in early October. 

Things to Do in Berlin

Berlin / RossHelen/iStock

It’s been 30 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall, which makes it an especially apropos time to visit the city. The city is home to some of Germany's top universities, museums, and entertainment venues. Must-visit sights include Reichstag Building, Brandenburg Gate, the Holocaust Memorial, Checkpoint Charlie, and Alexanderplatz. Cross the bridge to Museum Island to explore a trio of famous museums: the Pergamon, the Altes, and the Bode. But, don’t stop there. Berlin is home to 170 museums that cover every interest and art form.

Want to get outside? The city is filled with several picturesque parks and green spaces. Alternatively, get out on the water and take a boat tour of the city’s impressive architecture. Strolling through Berlin's colorful neighborhoods will give you a look at the graffiti arts scene. The city is also known for its nightlife — so be sure to stay up late so you can take it all in.

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