Here we go, a post that does what it says on the tin. Five cities that might not instantly spring to mind when thinking German city break, but that are well worth a visit. Without further ado…
Boasting two town halls , an abundance of green space and a beautifully restored Altsadt, or old town, Hannover is a city full of things to see and places to be. The best way to get a feel for Hannover past and present is to follow the 4,200m Red Thread. Pick up the accompanying guide-book for €3 at the Tourist information office (opposite the main rail station) then meander the historic corners, modern highlights and cultural attractions of the city. The curvy, colourful Nana sculptures never fail to raise a smile and those wishing to delve a little deeper into creative Hannover can detour to follow the Sculpture Mile, a route dotted with open air art.
End the day at the Brauhaus Ernst August. Expect cold Hanöversch beer and a warm welcome. Wise to make a reservation, especially at weekends and definitely if you are a larger group.
A green and laid back city made up of several districts each with its own charms, Wuppertal is best explored using its world-famous monorail. The schwebebhan, affectionately known as The Old Lady, runs every few minutes and ferries visitors and residents alike across the city. And at under €10 for a 24 hour ticket, this is the most fun and best value way to explore. At ground level, be your own guide and pick up a Pioneer guide from Tourist info and follow the 90 minute or so self guided tours . Alternatively, just hop on and off at whichever stop takes your fancy and see where your feet take you.
Famed as a historic port and cruise terminal, Kiel is worth a look for being so much more than a gateway to the cruise ships. Having thrown off its reputation as a port city with rough edges, Kiel is now a bustling and welcoming city with some great shopping, historic harbour,pretty parks and a thriving but relaxed social scene. Follow the Blue line self guided walk to get your bearings.
And if a night exploring the aforementioned social scene leaves you needing to blow the cobwebs away, you don’t have to travel far out of the city to find some pretty stunning coastline. For the best views, climb to the top of the 72m high Laboe memorial. Having been all the way up, have a glimpse into the life of the men who went all the way down with a visit to the U-995 submarine.
Leipzig is a city not afraid of change. Berlin may forever be known for the fall of the wall, but it was here in Leipzig that the seeds of change that grew into a peaceful revolution were sown. That chapter of German history can be explored at the Museum in the Rund Ecke. Elsewhere in Leipzig, former industrial buildings have embraced change to find a new purpose as part of a thriving creative community . If you like your art big, head to the Leipzig Panometer and feel small in the face of a panorama style exhibition by Yadegar Assisi. For something a little more intimate, former cotton mill the Spinnerei hosts a range of artists.
For a change of pace, spend a day exploring Leipzig Zoo. Easily found from the station by following the bronze animal prints in the pavement, the historic zoo is divided into six themed lands including an indoor rainforest with boat rides and free flying birds.
And if your looking for a place for a pit stop, head to the rail station. Not only is this beautifully preserved building an attraction in its own right, its also home to the fanciest Starbucks we’ve ever been in. The food court in the station arcade is worth a visit for fast, budget friendly food options, with plenty of options other than standard fast food offerings.
When you think of places rich in Roman remains, Germany might not be the first place that springs to mind. Trier is bursting with ’em and they are surprisingly well-preserved. The imposing Porta Nigra is a good place to begin. You literally can’t miss it and you’ll find the tourist info office right by it. Other Roman remains in the city include Roman baths and an amphitheater.
Trier is a city made for strolling, with its many squares and pedestrianized areas. Its brimming with quirky corners and unusual attractions like the Lion Apotek, one of the oldest in Germany and still a working chemist. As well as some pharmacy themed exhibits from the past on view, it also sells a range of modern German brand health and beauty products. Worth a browse.
Wander a while and then stop off at one of the many pavement bars and cafes for a glass something locally produced. This is the heart of the Mosel wine region…it would be rude not to!
Have you taken a city break in a place that’s a little different or underrated? I’d love to hear about it, lets chat in the comments.