How to spend the summer holiday in Germany
Published on March 10, 2021 / Updated on November 7, 2022
Germans might be known for spending their vacation days outside the country, preferably on some beach. And yet there are many extraordinary destinations within Germany’s borders for spending your summer holiday. Whether it’s travel or budget restrictions keeping you in the country this year, let these travel tips for relaxing nature spots and exciting city trips inspire your planning!
Germany may be densely populated, and yet the country’s 16 states offer plenty of opportunities to relax in the countryside where you can experience distinct natural features, pursue many outdoor activities in impressive surroundings and marvel at the scenery which often makes you forget you’re in Germany.
Sure, you’ve heard of the White Cliffs of Dover, but Germany has the next best thing: Jasmund National Park. On Rugen, Germany’s largest island and situated in the Baltic Sea, you’ll find chalk cliffs towering 118 meters in height. The impressive sight isn’t the island’s only attraction by far: Rugen allows for wind and kite surfing and has plenty of attractive beaches or swimming in summer. Hike or bike around the island, sample the very north German cuisine heavy in local fish, breathe the fresh atlantic air and treat yourself to one of the wellness offers.
Switzerland is of course known for the Swiss Alps. Germany’s mountains might not rival these peaks in height, but they’re nonetheless stunning and resemble the Swiss scenery so closely that you’ll find more than one spot nicknamed Switzerland in Germany: Saxon Switzerland, Franconian Switzerland, Markish Switzerland or Holstein Switzerland. These destinations in Saxony, Brandenburg, Franconia or Schleswig-Holstein are perfect for panoramic hikes or demanding rock-climbing.
Lake Constance – or “Bodensee” in German – in southern Germany borders on Germany, Switzerland and Austria and is every bit as beautiful as Lake Geneva. The lake of course offers plenty of opportunities for water sports such as swimming, diving, surfing, fishing, sailing and boating. You can also complete a 260 kilometer circle around the entire lake hiking or biking or enjoy many shorter trails and paths. Other attractions include historic sites and buildings, e.g. in the old town of Constance, the three churches on the island of Reichenau and the flower island Mainau.
The Bavarian Forest National Park is Germany’s oldest and largest national park. It’s situated in lower Bavaria between the Danube river and the border with Austria and the Czech republic. The region is rich in forests and mountains, forming a paradise for nature lovers with amazing views, serene glacial lakes and hundreds of kilometres of trails for hiking and biking. Famous attractions are the “Großer Arber” mountain at 1,456 metres, historic silver mines and the Crystal Road (“Glasstraße”), a popular holiday route in Bavaria showcasing the region’s glass production.
A German beach holiday is different from Majorca, but offers a romantic charme all of its own. The coast of Lower Saxony and the islands of Frisia let you experience white sand beaches from your private beach chair. Take in the natural beauty during hikes and bike rides and explore the UNESCO World Natural Heritage of the Wadden Sea. It’s one of the world’s largest wetlands with a biodiversity of more than 10,000 species including many birds and fish, seals and porpoises.
Germany boasts the most liveable cities in the world – but they also make great travel destinations. Here are our top picks for the summer.
Germany’s capital might be every bit the hectic metropolis you imagine it to be, and yet summer in the city can be so exciting that Berliners don’t want to leave. From historic sites such as the remains of the Berlin Wall and UNESCO World Heritage Sites like museum island with its galleries and museums, Berlin is rich in culture, architecture and history. Summer is ideal for open air cinema and outdoor clubbing where you dance to house music in the sun in one of the city’s parks. Berlin never sleeps, and yet you take it easy or relax at the nearby lakes.
Venice meets Amsterdam, that’s Hamburg in a nutshell. Sounds contrary? Opposites attract could well be the motto of the city in which you’ll find the scene of St. Pauli and the “Reeperbahn” as well as the square buildings of rich Hanse merchants. Hamburg summer highlights include sipping cocktails on the Elbe beaches at sunset, relaxing in the park, taking advantage of the shopping opportunities and going clubbing at night. The must-see main attractions include the old churches and city hall, the world’s largest model railway system, historic WW2 bunkers, the wax museum, the warehouse district with its channels and the harbor with the Sunday fish market with its auctions.
Dresden has earned the nickname “Florence on the Elbe” thanks to its baroque architecture and its mild climate. Magnificent buildings and generous green areas define the city. Anyone interested in art and history has plenty to marvel at in Dresden, from the reconstructed “Frauenkirche” to the castles, palaces and parks as well as the historic old town with the opera building and the university of fine arts. Summer is the time to experience the city’s many festivals with a focus on music, art and culture. You’ll also find a rich alternative scene with many clubs, bars and cafés.
You’re probably thinking of Oktoberfest when you hear Munich. But before that traditional event takes place between September and October, you can pass an easy-going summer holiday in Bavaria’s capital known for its rich city life. The proximity to the Bavarian alps and the surrounding lakes and castles make Munich a popular travel destination. The beer gardens provide plenty of opportunity to sample a good brew during the summer months. Other highlights are the many parks and green areas such as the English garden, the Olympia park and Saint Peter’s church with its excellent view of the old town. Munich also offers plenty of exquisite shopping and a high society nightlife.
The cathedral of Cologne is among the most popular sights for Germans themselves, but locals and foreigners alike also flock to the city for carnival, which takes place at the beginning of the year. Great summer events are a light festival with fireworks and music on the river, Christopher Street Day as well as a cycling race and the Cologne marathon and triathlon. The city is said to have Germany’s most beautiful zoo and features many parks and a green belt. The river beaches are a popular local spot to hang out in the summer. Cologne’s various neighborhoods have their own culture and nightlife from alternative to chic.
Where will you spend your summer holiday within Germany? We hope we’ve given you some ideas for a city trip or experience in nature!