‘We wandered every cobbled street and climbed every Gothic tower’

Literary Lübeck

Lübeck – Queen of the Hanseatic League – has a fading charm and vulnerability that is absent in Berlin, Munich and Hamburg… and in most of Germany. I loved my trip there, wandering the cobbled streets, climbing every brick Gothic church tower – mostly alone! Thomas Mann wrote the unbearably sad novel Buddenbrooks there and then fled Nazism to the US in 1939. The Tin Drum author Günter Grass lived and worked in Lübeck later in life. Visit their former homes, now museums, the Grass-Haus and the Buddenbrook Haus. A special German city, full of history and meaning.
Martin Charlesworth

Gothic wonder of Marburg, Hesse

Marburg, the small, old university town about an hour by train north of Frankfurt, is a fairytale destination, not least because it was once home to the Brothers Grimm. Each cobbled street leads uphill to the castle, which rises above the half-timbered Oberstadt of Marburg. The castle was home to Martin Luther in 1529, and the Elisabethkirche, one of Germany’s earliest Gothic churches, was an important medieval pilgrimage site. One of the main attractions is the town hall, where in the afternoon locals and visitors gather to witness a copper rooster (the Gockelhahn) flaps its mechanical wings to indicate the hour.

Brilliant observation tower, Stuttgart

For a fernsehturm (observation tower) that surpasses Berlin, take one of the little yellow trams, which then become a funicular, through the winding streets of Stuttgart. The view from the tower towards the Black Forest is breathtaking, and on the external viewing platform you will wonder if it is gently moving back and forth, or if it is just your knees. Stuttgart is a green city with great art in the Art Museum and archaeological finds in the Landesmuseum Württemberg, and Swabian cuisine and wines in the local Weinstuben are lighter and tastier than in many other big cities.
Tim Proctor

Tips from Guardian Travel readers

Every week we ask our readers for recommendations from their travels. A selection of the tips are displayed online and may also appear in print. To enter the latest competition, visit the Reader Tips homepage

Monastic day trip from Munich

Located approximately 40 kilometers southwest of Munich Andechs Monastery – Bavaria at its most idyllic and authentic. Located atop the Ammersee (the Ammermeer), this Benedicitine monastery and pilgrimage church is popular for its brewery, restaurant and beer garden. It’s the perfect day out: take the S-Bahn from Munich to Herrsching, then stroll gently uphill for 40 minutes through beautiful forest. Reward yourself with delicious beer and Bavarian dishes upon arrival. On the way back to Herrsching, visit the beautiful St. Martin’s Church, where you can have an ice cream on the shores of the lake (or take a dip) and watch the boats before returning to Munich.

Culture and art in Nuremberg

If you can, spend time in the beautiful city of Nuremberg, with its great museums: the Germanische Nationalmuseum is the equivalent of the British Museum and is the largest German cultural history collection. The Neues Museum has an impressive collection of paintings by the famous visual artist Gerhard Richter and the Zukunftsmuseum is a large science museum. Stay at the Karl August hotel (doubles from €159 room only) with its stunning modern design, spectacular spa, friendly staff and delicious breakfast (€28, served – rather than buffet – to minimize food waste).

A cycling tour along the Baltic Sea via Rostock

I had a wonderful time in Germany last summer on the Baltic Sea Cycle Route. I put my own two-wheeler on the train in Birmingham and got off in Wismar, northern Germany, then followed the well-signposted route around the charming seaside town of Kühlungsborn. I stopped for a bit of beach time in Warnemünde and ate some sardine sandwiches and deliciously soft Baltic Berry ice cream from simple seaside cafes. Rostock is a beautiful Hanseatic city with some stern old stone buildings. From here I put my bike on the ferry to the car-free and quiet island of Hiddensee for a few peaceful nights. Returning to the mainland, Sellin welcomed me with large elegant villas and a 1920s Art Deco pier and a great footpath beneath the striking chalk cliffs of the Jasmund National Park. I ended my trip by sitting on the white chalk cliff “King’s Chair” (Königsstuhl) and looking out to the sea – I felt like a king.

Tour through the Reformation country south of Berlin

In 1517, Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the Schlosskirche Wittenberg, which will change the Western world forever by sparking the Reformation. As you explore this corner of eastern Germany you will discover beautiful towns and vibrant cities rarely visited by Western tourists. Wittenberg, 90 kilometers southwest of Berlin, is itself a medieval wonder on the River Elbe. Off the beaten track is Eisleben, a half-timbered town where you can visit Luther’s birthplace. The Wartburg is an imposing castle that towers high above Eisenach. Conclude your journey Halle (also called Saale), a lively university town near Leipzig. Luther’s death mask can be seen in the Market Church, where he also gave several sermons. Another great German, composer George Frederick Handel, was baptized here and played the church organ during his studies. Wilhelm Friedemann Bach, the eldest son of Johann Sebastian, was organist here from 1764 to 1764.

Punk ethos and Turkish delicacies, Kreuzberg, Berlin

Berlin’s large Turkish community has left an indelible mark on the culinary and artistic culture of the city as a whole, and it is near Kreuzberg where this unique fusion is best experienced. Start with a meal at Mardin restaurant, which serves the best kebab I’ve had outside Turkey, along with perfectly frothy Ayran – a salty drink based on yoghurt. Then find a concert at one of the many characteristic locations. Named after the area’s postcode during the Cold War, SO36 started life as a punk venue but has now also grown into a center for Turkish and queer culture. I was lucky enough to see the psychedelic pop singer Melike Şahin here. The venue has retained its punk ethos and remained firmly rooted in the local community, whilst also playing host to Turkish and other international stars in a wonderfully intimate, ‘hole-in-the-wall’ setting, reflecting its history of artistic and political carries radicalism with great force. pride, which embodied the multicultural Berlin I fell in love with.

Cologne beyond the cathedral

I really enjoyed Cologne while visiting my daughter. It’s such a relaxed city, with a large student population. Beyond the incredible Gothic cathedral – Germany’s most popular attraction – there is plenty of history to discover, best explored by bike along cycle paths and routes through numerous parks. The city museum, the Kölnisches Stadtmuseum, which recently moved to Minoritenstraße, is a good start. Some places are beautiful, such as the botanical garden with its French Baroque, English landscape and Italian Renaissance spaces. Others are less so, such as the brutalist Kirche Christi Auferstehung (Church of the Resurrection) until you step inside. It is thought-provoking, typical of a city that shapes its future from a difficult past. And there are the art museums, the concert hall, the Rhine and two parkruns.
Mark Anstee

Winning tip: oompah bands and lager on Königssee, Bavaria

Last summer, my partner and I camped and traveled around Germany, taking advantage of the €49 Deutschland-Ticket, which offered unlimited public transportation throughout the country for a month. A highlight was exploring the Königssee in the Berchtesgadener National Park, Bavaria. This small resort offers fantastic walking and cycling routes of varying difficulty. In summer, whether you’ve climbed on foot or taken the Jennerbahn cable car, beer garden season is in full swing, so you can toast atop the mountain with an oompah band playing and a cold stein in hand. Lake Königssee is fed by ice-cold glacial water, ideal for an invigorating dip, and you can explore the park further by boat. Camping Mühlleiten is a 40-minute bus ride from Salzburg and connected to Munich by train (Berchtesgaden station is a 40-minute walk, or 10 minutes by bus). Enjoy and try the Berchtesgadener hell!

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