At first glance, Germany is not really a top destination for tourists and travelers. Germany, compared to other European countries, lacks famous landmarks like the Big Ben or the Colosseum that draw tourists in hoards to England and Italy. German cities also do not have the attractive and distinctive personalities like the liberal Amsterdam, or the romantic Paris. So why would anyone go there?
Even as a German (I was born there), I would recommend you to travel to France or Spain instead if you were to visit Europe. Except during the winter. Winter is when Germany really comes to life. I had the chance to go back Germany and put together a list of five exciting things I did and saw in Germany that will hopefully inspire those with wanderlust to add it to their travel bucket list.
1 – Snow
Arguably, you can see snow anywhere. Even in California, where it’s beach weather all year round, you can escape up to Big Bear to get your snow fix. What’s different about snow in Germany though is that it makes German cities absolutely beautiful. You can really feel the holiday spirit as the snow falls onto the decorated houses.
We were lucky to see first snow fall during a midnight stroll through the city, and as the only ones awake, we simply couldn’t help but just stare in amazement as the snow began to cover the city in white.
2 – Sledding and Castles
To this day, there are over 20,000 castles still left in Germany. These castles are uniquely fitted for sledding and ice skating because they are often built on a steep hill surrounded by a moat. In the winter, when it becomes cold enough, the moat freezes and the hill becomes covered in snow. I did this all the time with my friends when I was younger, and we’d try to skate laps around the moat to see who would be the fastest.
3 – Weinachtsmarkten (Wintermarket)
Germany gets really festive for Christmas. In almost every major city, you will find Weinachtsmarkten, which translates to christmas markets. The first thing you will notice when you go to one is that the smell of roasted chestnut wafts far beyond the market, inviting onlookers and passerbyers in. Inside you will find tents set up that sell hot chocolate, roasted chestnuts, Currywursts and many other winter snacks and food.
My favorite beverage there is called Gluewein, which is sweet wine that has been heated. When it’s cold and snowing outside, that drink is sure to warm you up and bring out the festive side of you.
4 – Clubbing
What really shocked me about the party scene here in Germany is that it starts late. My girlfriend and I went to the club at 11:00pm, but when we arrived, there was no one there. We were surprised because when we looked online, we saw that this was one of the more popular clubs in Berlin, so why didn’t we see anyone here on a Saturday night?
It turns out, the crowd doesn’t arrive until 12:00pm, and the DJ performing didn’t even get started until 1:00am. Much like in Vegas, they start really late, and end really late. From what we heard, the clubs go until 5:00am in the morning, and after that there are still after parties you can go into. Germans party late and they party hard, so if you are a late night rager, this is for you.
5 – Sylvester
My favorite activity in Germany is New Years Eve, or Sylvester. In Germany you are allowed to set off your own fireworks, which can lead to immense, and even dangerous fun. You can go to almost any major department stores and see fireworks displayed prominently for sale. It’s not too expensive either, especially when everyone from a big group pitches in.
We spent about 100 euros together, and got plenty of fireworks, volcanoes, dynamites and lighters. One of our friends pointed out to us that it’s actually somewhat ironic that in the U.S. you can’t buy fireworks, but you’re allowed to purchase guns. In any case, once you’ve purchased your goods, you wait until midnight strikes, and then the fun begins.
You can light them from the comfort of your own home, or if you’re feeling a little adventurous, you can head to the city center, where people have meet up spots and light thousands of fireworks together. It’s not as organized as the Disneyland ones, but it’s fun as you countdown, light your own fireworks, toast with champagne and really light up the new year.
I hope you enjoyed the list, and feel free to let me know in the comments any other activities that you think people should check out in Germany.