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Germany: Once you arrive - Must read

Five things to do in Germany

Want to know what fun things you can get up to in Germany when you're not studying? Hear from the expert, Simone Flueckiger

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Germany may be famous for bratwurst and beer but that doesn’t do this diverse country any justice. From the world’s most colourful caves to medieval castle ruins set against a beautiful green forest, there is so much to see and experience. Check out these five things you can do when you’ve got some time off from studying.

 

Neuschwanstein Castle

One of Germany’s most famous landmarks, Neuschwanstein Castle in southwestern Bavaria is definitely worth a visit. Perched atop a rugged hill overlooking the village of Hohenschwangau, the 19th century structure attracts more than a million visitors per year.  With its yellow limestone walls, pinnacles and towers, it served as a model for the Sleeping Beauty Castle in Disneyland resorts across the world. If you’re interested in visiting the palace, you can either walk up the steep road leading to it or catch a ride in a horse-drawn carriage.   

Find out more about visiting Neuschwanstein Castle

 

Stuttgart Spring Festival

For three weeks starting mid-April, the southwestern city of Stuttgart holds Europe’s largest spring festival. Every year, around 1.5 million visitors flock to the “Cannstatter Wasen” fairgrounds next to the Neckar River. Officially kicking off festival season after the winter break, there are tons of fun things to do. You can go on rides, try German specialties from the many food stands scattered across the grounds and, of course, enjoy a cold beer or two in one of the large party tents.

Learn more about Stuttgart Spring Festival

 

Saxon Switzerland National Park

Located in the heart of the Saxony state, the Saxon Switzerland National Park spans nearly 100 km². The rugged sandstone cliffs, large forest area, and rivers have been under protection since 1990. You can explore the national park via 400 km of hiking trails or 50 km of biking paths. In some areas, you’re even allowed to go climbing. Since protecting plants and animals is a top priority, it’s forbidden to go camping or to veer off the designated tracks. The park is about an hour away from the city of Dresden, and can easily be reached via public transport.

Find out more about Saxon Switzerland National Park

 

Saalfeld Fairy Grottoes

Named “the most colorful cave grottoes in the world” by the Guinness Book of World Records, the Saalfeld Fairy Grottoes can be found deep underground in the state of Thuringia in central Germany. Dating back to the 16th century, they were created by miners extracting alum slate. Nowadays, visitors can sign up for a guided tour to explore the caves’ shimmering lakes and colourful stalactites and stalagmites.

 

For an additional charge, you can spend two hours in the “healing tunnel”, wrapped up in a sleeping bag and breathing in the clean and crisp air. According to some, spending time in the tunnel helps with allergies and respiratory problems.  

Learn more about the Saalfeld Fairy Grottoes

 

Heidelberg

Heidelberg, home to Germany’s oldest university and a picturesque old town, stretches along the banks of the Neckar River in the south-west of the country. With a population of around 150,000, the city is easy to get to grips with and great for exploring on foot. Heidelberg’s most famous landmark, the Heidelberg Palace, sits nestled in the woods atop Königstuhl hill and can be reached either on foot or via funicular. Check out the red sandstone ruins as part of a guided tour, go for a stroll in the garden or simply take in the lovely view of the river and the old town. 

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About Author

Simone Flueckiger is a writer and NCTJ-qualified journalist based in Germany. She graduated from the University of Geneva in Switzerland with a degree in foreign languages and spent parts of her studies in France and the UK. She’s still an avid fan of travelling and languages, and is currently trying to learn Russian.