Western Europe is a perennial hot destination with international travelers from India. I would not be surprised if a lot of you have already planned your European holiday this summer with your family and friends. While most Indians plan for popular mainstream holiday destinations such as romantic Paris, bustling London, charming Barcelona or liberating Amsterdam, I would request you to visualize South Germany as the perfect off-beat summer holiday destination in Europe. Here are 8 reasons why I love South Germany and why I think you should experience it too and possibly include it into your europe packages.
1) Drive or Ride on the Route followed by the World’s First Automobile
Are you an outdoor enthusiast who wants to re-live one of the most iconic moments of the modern world? Well, what better than to re-trace the route taken by Bertha Benz in her Mercedes Benz on the world’s first long distance automobile journey. This memorial route, about 194 kms long, takes you from Mannheim to Pforzheim across the dense Black Forest, the wine region of Baden, the Roman roads of the Upper Rhine plain and the Odenwald mountains in 2 different routes.
Whether you opt to drive, go on a motorcycle or a mountain bike, this iconic route is also one of the most scenic and apt routes in the summer months. It’s castles, farmhouses, waterfalls, brisk rivers, winding roads, delicious cuisines and peaceful countryside just add to the overall charm.
2) Mouth Blow your own glass work at Dorotheenhutte Wolfach Glass Factory
A lot of the world’s ancient mouth blown glasswork was designed in and around the Black Forest area and hence it becomes imperative that you experience this ancient history. There are places in the Black Forest where not only do they still practice this ancient art, but they also give you the opportunity to try your hand at it. One such place is the Dorotheenhutte glass factory where you can see this live action and even better try your hand or should I say mouth at it. I have a glass vase mouth blown by me as a souvenir. May be, you can also make one for yourself. This place also stocks some of the best glass and crystal work in the region.
3) Be Mesmerized by the Fairy Tale Kingdom of Heidelberg
Think of fairy tale movies and what you see in them is what you get to experience in real at the fairy tale kingdom of Heidelberg. Located by the Neckar river in the Baden-Wurttemberg region of Germany, a visit to Heidelberg is nothing short of pure joy. A majestic castle, baroque buildings, beautiful churches, many ancient bridges, cobbled paths, lots of statues and a view to die for, scenic Heidelberg is where the legends of Odenwald begin. Untouched by the world war, this university town’s Altstadt or old town area is full of amazingly beautiful experiences in the day and rich party action in the night.
4) Cycle along Lake Constance
Summer months and cycling seem to go hand in hand in Europe. If you wish for a truly outdoor holiday, cycle along Lake Constance, the third biggest lake in Central Europe and one that shares its border with Austria, Germany and Switzerland. It’s ferry crossings, its calm peaceful shores and the Konstanz city itself with its cathedral, ancient houses and shops makes for a great summer getaway. Apart from cycling, one can indulge in sunbathing, swimming and other water sports here.
5) See the World’s Largest Cuckoo Clock at Schonach
Southern Germany gave the world cuckoo clocks. Master watch and clock designers of this region have created this marvel for centuries. And their largest such marvel can be found at Schonach where stands the world’s largest cuckoo clock. Be sure to watch this cuckoo clock both from the outside and from the inside where you can see the stunning gear work. Once you are done with the cuckoo clock experience, you can go for a hike in this beautiful Central Black Forest area.
6) Visit the Land of Cuckoo Clocks at Triberg
Located in the heart of the Black Forest region is Triberg, the pulsating home of the cuckoo clocks. Here, one will find cuckoo clocks of all shapes and sizes. Go here to experience the true history of this region from its cuckoo clocks to its music, attire and much more at the Black Forest museum. The house of 100 clocks is a top attraction. Apart from cuckoo clocks, Triberg is home to one of Germany’s highest waterfalls, the Triberger waterfall. There are a couple of hiking trails that lead to the waterfall and that is very much recommended if you are a nature lover. As this entire town is beautiful hiking country, you can also opt for a circuitous hiking route that takes you from the waterfall to all around the town, including its baroque churches and ancient homes.
7) Soak the Festive Atmosphere at Stuttgart
The pulsating heart of South Germany, Stuttgart is definitely one of the richest cities in Germany. Known for iconic automobile brands such as Mercedes Benz, Porsche and Audi among others, Stuttgart is a beautiful German city that hosts the famous Stuttgart Spring festival. This is where fun, frolic, good food and big kegs of German beer come alive. Dressed in traditional attire, the locals love this festival. As a tourist, this is a great way to be an integral part of the local culture. When you are not taking part in the festivities, you can explore the wine country located around the city or the amazing automobile museums of Mercedes Benz or Porsche and learn a lot about the rich automobile DNA of this place.
8) Fall in Love with the Bavarian Alps
Considered to be one of the most beautiful landscapes of Germany, the Bavarian Alps bordering Austria is perfect for hiking in the summer months. Comprising of glacial lakes, thick fir tree forests and beautiful blue rivers, the Bavarian Alps home to abundant wildlife and stunning views. Those who don’t hike, prefer mountain biking or motorcycling on the steep winding roads of this gorgeous mountain country.
I hope by now you are sold on the offbeat charms of South Germany and will think about including it into your European holiday itinerary. Before finalizing your trip to Germany, do ensure that you apply for your schengen visa from the German consulate, find yourself a good currency converter to use your foreign exchange and money wisely, buy yourself a handy English to German translation book to tide with all language related problems in the German countryside and stock up on the adventure quotient to make use of all the outdoor avenues this summer in South Germany.