Germany is known as a powerhouse of Europe, dominating the economy and industries from cars to beer. The first thoughts you conjure up about Germany may relate to its delicious food – such as sausages, sauerkraut and bread, or drinks, like the enormous steins of beer found in Brauhaus’ across the country. However, there’s a lot more to Germany than meets the eye. Beautiful landscapes, such as those in its northwestern wine regions and in the south in Bavaria, along with spectacular fairytale castles scattered throughout the country, make it a magical place to explore in all seasons. In winter, the snowy landscapes also bring about Germany’s world-famous Christmas markets in every town and city, which are filled with great food, drinks and souvenirs.
Germany has a rich, complex history, including its role in World War II and the country’s subsequent division into East and West, which can be explored through dozens of museums and memorials to this day. Germany’s reach also extends to some of the world’s most loved things, such as cars and football. The country is the birthplace of famous brands such as BMW and Volkswagen, while their football teams, such as Bayern Munich, are some of the best in Europe. Although you certainly can’t miss enjoying a beer and currywurst while visiting Germany, it’s famous for so many more amazing things worth checking out.
What Is Germany Known For?
Beer is simply a cultural institution in Germany, and unlike many nations, it’s generally not used to get carried away with but enjoyed with meals on a regular basis.
There are dozens of varieties of beers made in Germany and which one you try depends on the region or city you’re visiting.
Although most people think that Germans always enjoy a beer in a huge stein, which can hold around 1L of beer, actually, most beer is served in normal glasses or bottles when you order at restaurants.
The best places to sample beer are in traditional Brauhaus’ which can be found throughout Germany, although some of the oldest and best are in Munich.
Naturally, you should also try the beer at Oktoberfest, which is an event in itself, or there are many beer tours, bierkellers and other bars and restaurants that serve different varieties of local beer.
Recommended tour: Munich’s Beer Halls and Breweries: 3-Hour Guided Tour
Germany is the home of castles and although you might also find them across central and eastern Europe, Germany arguably does them best.
For example, Germany’s most famous castle is Neuschwanstein in Bavaria, a magical castle with towers and turrets surrounded by snowy mountains, bright blue lakes and rolling hills.
It’s so pretty, that Walt Disney used it as inspiration for Cinderella’s Castle! Although not quite as spectacular, similarly amazing castles are scattered across Germany almost everywhere, from north to south.
In fact, you’ll find that almost every major city has a castle and there are many more in the countryside.
Full of history and beautiful artefacts, Germany’s castles are worth a visit to explore the country’s fascinating history, learn more about its old monarchy and most importantly, for the magnificent views that can usually be found.
Recommended tour: From Munich: Neuschwanstein Castle & Linderhof Premium Tour
Germany has produced some of the best and most famous car brands in the world, and many people believe that they’re innovators in the car field, pioneering new designs all the time.
Mercedez-Benz, Volkswagen, Porsche, Audi and BMW all hail from Germany, and there are museums for these cars which you can visit if you’re an enthusiast.
It’s not just the brands that are famous but the cars themselves, as Germany invented the first ever car created by Karl Benz in Mannheim in 1885.
If you’ve got such great cars, you need somewhere to use them, which is why Germany’s next famous car-related thing was created: the Autobahn.
Although some parts have a speed limit, the Autobahn, which is Germany’s main motorway, is known for having no speed limit meaning cars can go as fast as they like!
4- Christmas Markets
If you’re lucky enough to visit Germany in winter, Christmas Markets should be at the top of your list.
Even though countries throughout Europe have Christmas Markets, Germany is the home of these magical markets and many more famous traditions, such as putting up a Christmas tree, singing carols and drinking mulled wine, called glühwein in German.
The biggest Christmas market is held each year in Nuremberg, but you can find markets everywhere, from Berlin to the tiniest towns and villages.
They’re filled with cute wooden huts selling cooked sausages, pretzels, glühwein and other culinary delights, as well as ornaments, souvenirs, clothes and more.
Another great place to visit is Cologne, which has a whopping eight Christmas markets across the city, all with different themes.
Lit up in fairy lights and often with live entertainment, Christmas markets are an unmissable part of German culture.
Berlin is Germany’s capital city and home to some of its most important attractions, including the country’s parliament, dozens of museums on ‘Museum Island’, the Holocaust Memorial, the Berlin Wall and many other important historical sights.
Berlin has a reputation as a young, edgy city as it’s extremely popular with young people and has a major university, meaning its bars and nightclubs are renowned around the world.
This has also led to a huge art culture, with museums, galleries, street art and other installations popping up around Berlin, as well as funky fashion and a liberal attitude.
Other attractions of note include the Brandenberg Gate, the East Side Gallery, Checkpoint Charlie and Berlin Cathedral, but it’s a city where there’s always something new and exciting happening.
The city makes for a great first taste of German culture for those who have never visited before and has many fascinating neighbourhoods to explore.
- Berlin: Hop-On Hop-Off Sightseeing Bus with Boat Options
- Berlin: Third Reich and Cold War Walking Tour
For more about Germany, read:
- 20 German Shows On Netflix
- 22 Famous Landmarks in Germany
- 15 Magic Things To Do In Munich
- 25 Facts About Germany
- 20 Castles In Germany
- 10 Bavarian Castles
- 20 Drinks In Germany
- Best Time To Visit Germany
- Berlin Nightlife
- Munich Nightlife
- 20 German Cities
- 20 Things To Do In Stuttgart
- 20 Things To Do In Cologne
- 20 Things To Do In Dusseldorf
- Where To Stay In Berlin
- 20 Types of Food in Germany To Taste
- 15 Famous Things Germany is Known For
- 20 Things To Do In Dresden
- 20 Things To Do In Frankfurt
- 20 Things To Do In Leipzig
Germany has a bigger stake than many other countries in classical music, thanks to being the birthplace of some of the world’s best composers, including Schubert, Handel and Beethoven.
Their musical creations are some of the most recognisable, even if you aren’t a fan of classical music.
For example, the famous walking down the aisle piece ‘Here Comes the Bride’ was actually composed by German composer Richard Wagner.
There are a variety of museums and attractions where you can learn more about Germany’s musical history, such as in Bonn, the former capital and the birthplace of Beethoven, where his house is , but also places like the Bach Museum and Mendelssohn-Haus in Leipzig, and the Wagner Museum in Bayreuth.
Recommended tour: Mozart and German Composers Private Tour in Munich
Oktoberfest is Germany’s most famous celebration of the year, closely followed by Karneval.
Oktoberfest takes place at the end of September and into October each year, and although there are similar celebrations across the country and in the south, such as the Cannstatter Volksfest in Stuttgart, the original and best is in Munich.
Huge, traditional beer tents are set up, and millions of people descend on the city to enjoy huge steins of beer, drink, dance, enjoy traditional music, funfairs, and entertainment.
On average, around six million people attend the event – It’s an iconic and unmissable celebration.
However, if you’re planning to visit, booking a year out is recommended, as most years there is no accommodation left in the city by the time of the festival.
Recommended tour: Munich: Guided Oktoberfest Experience with Beer and Lunch
Germany may not seem like it has a vast repertoire of delicious foods, but anyone who’s been there will argue that point, Sausages are a German staple and make up many different dishes; there are more than 1,000 varieties of sausage in Germany and you can enjoy them alone, with bread, in a stew, as currywurst, and in many more shapes and forms depending on where you visit.
There are three main types of German sausages, which are cooked (Kochwurst), scalded (Brühwurst) and raw (Rohwurst); however, if you’re visiting for the first time, this will be the least of your worries.
Instead, try a simple bockwurst at a Brauhaus, a bratwurst in a bun, a currywurst from a street-corner stand or a classic Frankfurter, all served in sauce and with sauerkraut.
- Traditional German Food and Berlin Old Town Private Tour
- Munich: Viktualienmarkt Gourmet Food Tour
- Munich: An Evening of Bavarian Beer and Food Culture
Football is Germany’s national sport and much like England, it’s one they are extremely proud of.
The country’s most famous teams are Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, which regularly dominate European league tables, while Germany’s national team have so far won a huge four World Cups.
Their football league (the Bundesliga) might not be quite as famous as the UEFA Champions League or Premier League, but it’s certainly up there as one of the most popular on earth.
When football matches are on in Germany, the whole country turns out to public screenings, beer gardens and pubs to cheer on their home team, and if it’s the World Cup, it can get even more wild, with millions of fans gathering outside to watch matches.
Unsurprisingly, when Germans win a football match, they don’t spray champagne, they spray beer to celebrate.
Recommended tour: Munich: City Bus Tour & FC Bayern Munich Allianz Arena Tour
10- World War II
World War II and the Holocaust is arguably the most important part of German history and cannot be avoided when visiting the country.
Aside from the famous Holocaust Memorial in Berlin, there are dozens of plaques and memorials scattered throughout towns and cities, remembering the lives lost during the Nazi regime.
Although the most well-known concentration camp, Auschwitz, is in Poland, visiting these other sites in Germany is essential in understanding its recent history.
The Holocaust Memorial in the capital is undoubtedly the most famous landmark relating to this, with an attached museum to discover more about the atrocities committed between 1933 and 1945.
This time period was when many current German people’s parents or grandparents were alive, meaning it still feels very current to German people and is critical for understanding the country’s attitudes today.
Recommended tour: Berlin: Jewish History Tour
11- Efficiency and Punctuality
Germans are extremely well-known for a few character traits which are efficiency, honesty, a lack of humour and punctuality.
Although you will find that many Germans enjoy a good laugh, the other traits can be clearly seen in Germany’s public transportation system.
Germany’s rail network is vast and its main operator, Deutsche Bahn, is known for running fast and like clockwork, with trains arriving on the minute!
Similarly, if you ever have to deal with German officials or paperwork, although it can be confusing, it is ruthlessly efficient, with a form for almost everything ensuring everything is signed off and correct.
Punctuality is also vital to Germans, who arrive everywhere on time.
This reputation is waning slightly but likely relates to being an economic and mechanical powerhouse, where creating innovative cars and machinery, and running a global economy have led them to be excellent in everything they do.
12- Albert Einstein
Scientists are a dime a dozen in Germany, with names such as Copernicus, Fahrenheit and Hertz all being born here, however, there’s someone who easily eclipses them all.
Renowned as one of the most significant scientists in history, Einstein became famous for his groundbreaking Theory of Relativity.
To delve deeper into Einstein’s life and research, you can explore the Albert Einstein Discovery Centre in his birthplace of Ulm or visit the Albert Einstein Museum in Berlin, to find out more about how his theories led to him winning the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1921 and opened the door to many more discoveries about the universe.
Recommended tour: Albert Einstein in Berlin Private Guided Tour
13- East and West Germany
Another important part of Germany’s history came after the Second World War, in which the country was divided into East and West.
These were also known as the GDR (German Democratic Republic) and the FDR (Federal Republic of Germany), with people not allowed to cross between the two.
One of the most significant displays of this is the Berlin Wall, some of which still stands in the capital, which separated West Berlin in the FDR, from East Berlin and the GDR.
The wall fell in 1989 but there are still remnants of this modern history in museums and sights such as Checkpoint Charlie.
Families divided by the wall were unable to see each other, sometimes for decades, and many people were smuggled across or left the country altogether.
This division is a major part of Germany’s history that’s worth learning about on a visit to the country.
14- Adidas and Puma
Along with beer, football and cars, two of the world’s biggest sports brands also originated in Germany! The two brands began with two brothers, Adolf and Rudolph Dassler in 1949.
Adolf and Rudolph began Adidas from home, naming it after his first name and surname put together, hence ‘Adidas’.
Unfortunately, this partnership didn’t last and Rudolph sought to eclipse his brother, creating Puma on his own, although both have become sporting powerhouses since their creation, second only to brands such as Nike.
Although there isn’t a museum for these brands in Germany, you can spot their products almost everywhere around the world, and since their creation in the brother’s hometown, the two competing brands now make everything from tennis shoes to running trainers, clothing, footballs and more.
15- Books and Authors
Many people may be surprised to learn that Germany is a book-lovers paradise, but those keen on the classics will know that many famous authors were born here.
Germans love books and equally, love celebrating books – every year in Frankfurt they hold the International Frankfurt Book Fair, which is one of the most famous and important book-related events in the world.
Additionally, the printing press was first invented in Germany, and, subsequently, the first magazine and book.
This is of little surprise, when some of history’s most famous authors are German, including icons like Johann Wolfgang Goethe, Thomas Mann, Franz Kafka and Hermann Hesse.
You’ll also find many beautiful bookstores in Germany, from tiny hole-in-the-wall local places to stunning chains, such as Thalia which is in a renovated theatre in Bonn.
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