Germany — World Cup winner and more (Photo: Thinkstock)
After 10 years of hard work, and 24 years since a previous win, Germany is once again the soccer “Weltmeister” (world champion). But Germany is so much more than football. From sausage to beer, movies to fashion, here’s where Germany is good — nay, great! — and the undeclared world champion in many areas besides soccer.
Erdinger Beer. (Photo: Bernt Rostad/Flickr)
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the country that hosts the world’s largest beer festival (looking at you, Oktoberfest) also produces some of the world’s best brews. Each German state is famous for their own local beer, but Erdinger Brewery in Munich is one of the best (and offers a three-hour tour and tasting). Other breweries we like include Augustiner Bräuerei and Radeberger.
Germans and movies go way back to Marlene Dietrich. (Photo: AP)
What do movies like The Book Thief, The Monuments Men, Grand Budapest Hotel and Inglourious Basterds have in common? They were all filmed in Germany at the famous Babeslberg Studios. Germany’s cinema history goes back to the early 20th century with such famous actresses as Marlene Dietrich, and countless award-winning movies and cinematic innovations. It’s possible to tour the Babelsberg Studios or, for history film buffs, the Film and Television Museum in Berlin’s Potsdamer Platz is equally interesting and enlightening.
Jil Sander models. (AP Photo/Giuseppe Aresu)
Besides being the longtime home to Hugo Boss and Karl Lagerfeld, the fashion industry is alive and well in Germany with strong but elegant styles. Hamburg is home to cutting-edge contemporary designers including Jil Sander. Check out the Karoviertel (especially Markstraße) for small, boutique designers in Hamburg.
Black Forest Cake … Yum!. (Photo: Jutta/Flickr)
There’s nothing more German than a bit of Kaffee und Kuchen (coffee and cake) in the afternoon. And with a deep-rooted love for bread, it’s no surprise that the Germans know how to make a good cake, too. In the south it’s all about the Black Forest Cake (Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte) — a delicious layered chocolate confection with cherries, whipped cream, and liquor. Visit Freiburg, Lake Titisee and Feldberg (all small towns in the Black Forest) to find the best cafes and restaurants serving this creation.
Soccer and cars combine in Germany. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)
From Volkswagen to Porsche and Mercedes-Benz, Germans know how to make a good car. Stuttgart is Germany’s unofficial auto capital and the Mercedes-Benz Museum there is one of the best museums you’ll ever visit. If you’re not in the area to buy a new set of wheels, most German car manufacturers offer factory tours.
The Christmas Market in Nuremberg. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)
Nobody does Christmas like the Germans do. With world-renowned markets (including one of the most famous in Nuremberg) and enough baubles and nutcrackers throughout the country, Germany makes the cold winters warm. Just make sure you try Glühwein (mulled wine). Visit Nuremberg, Dresden, and Berlin for the country’s best Christmas markets (or Weihnachtsmarktë).
Visitors enter the Academy of Arts in Berlin. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
From the contemporary to the quirky, Berlin is home to hundreds of independent art galleries and the city attracts new artists each year. Visit Berlin during the annual Gallery Weekend (held each May for the past 10 years) for a quick glimpse into Berlin’s art world.
Thüringer Bratwurst. (Photo: Gourmandise/Flickr)
In Germany, it’s all about the wurst. Any public event in Germany (even soccer) sees countless sausage vendors, and we’ve all got our favorites. When you can buy a decent sausage on the street for under $2 in central Berlin from one of the countless grillwalkers, you know you’re onto something special. From the Thüringer Bratwurst popular across the country (and at every public fair) to the Weisswurst (white sausage) popular in the south, each region of Germany is as proud of their sausage as they are of their local beer.
Neuschwanstein Castle. (AP Photo/Christof Stache)
You’re probably familiar with the castle made famous by Walt Disney, but did you know it’s actually inspired by an actual castle — where else, but in Germany? Neuschwanstein Castle can be visited easily on a day trip from Munich, but there are hundreds of other castles and palaces across Germany. Hohenzollern Castle in the German state of Baden-Württemberg is often cited as one of the country’s prettiest (and it’s still owned by the Prussian royalty), but Sanssouci in Potsdam and Wartburg Castle (a UNESCO World Heritage site) are equally famous and picturesque.
A stretch of the Autobahn. (Photo: Steffen Ramsaier/Flickr)
Where else in the world can you get in a car and travel at speeds over 100 mph? Germany’s federal highway system, the Autobahn, is famous for its unposted speed limits along long stretches of the highway. It’s not uncommon to spot Porsches and other racers speeding down the highway. Want to try it yourself (with caution, of course)? German-owned Sixt Rent-A-Car has autos for hire across the country and in most metropolitan areas.
Bremen, Germany. (Photo: Jonas Ginter/Flickr)
Picturesque Small Towns
There’s a reason so many cities in America have their own German villages. Forget the East German styles of Berlin and the Old Cities of Munich and Dresden — in Germany it’s all about the small towns. Hamlets like Freiburg and Bremen are certainly pretty, but visit even smaller places like Schmalkaden in the middle of the Thuringian mountains or the lakeside town of Konstanz (am Bodensee) on the border between Germany, Switzerland, and Austria for even more picturesque views. And some great outdoor activities, too.
Adam Groffman is a globetrotter and self-styled hipster. He covers city trips in Europe and around the world, writing about expat life, festivals, nightlife and LGBT tourism on his personal travel blog, Travels of Adam and is the editor of My Gay Travel Guide. When he’s not out exploring the coolest bars and clubs, he’s usually enjoying the local arts and culture scene of a new city. You’ll find him most often in Berlin, Germany or on Twitter at @travelsofadam.
Germans in Berlin are savoring the World Cup title here, but they have much else to celebrate. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)