If you're planning a European adventure, don't discount Germany! France, Spain and Greece may get a lot of attention, but Germany is a fascinating country rich with interesting attractions and a complex history.
For one thing, Germany is incredibly diverse for a country with such a medium-sized landmass. Northern Germany, a relatively flat region with plenty of modern cities, is a totally different world than Bavaria, which is mountainous and calls to mind images of beer and yodellers. Additionally, due to years of occupation by the former Soviet Union, Eastern and Western Germany share very different pasts.
While you're travelling in Germany, consider adding the following cities to your itinerary:
Located in Bavaria, Munich managed to retain much of its original spirit (and many of its Medieval buildings) despite the bombings of World War II. The city's centre, the world-famous Marienplatz, is abuzz and alive with activity.
Every day at 11 a.m. (and at 12 noon and 5 p.m. in the summer), the Rathaus-Glockenspiel chimes, and tiny figurines come out to greet the crowds and mime famous German stories. While in Munich we recommend visiting the Nazi concentration camp, in Dachau, located about 20km away, to learn firsthand about the region's horrific history.
The tiny town of Wittenberg is home to the Schlosskirche Wittenberg, also known as All Saints' Church. This place of worship is the location at which Martin Luther nailed his now famous Ninety-Five Theses, sparking the Protestant Reformation.
You simply shouldn't travel to Germany without stopping in Berlin. The city has numerous cultural attractions, from the historic Reichstag (also home to the more modern Reichstag dome), to Alexanderplatz (where you'll find the Weltzeituhr, or World clock) to the infamous Berlin Wall. If you're interested in visiting a concentration camp near Berlin, you can make a trip to Sachsenhausen, about 20km north of the city.
Bombing raids in 1945 destroyed much of Dresden's gorgeous historic architecture, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't visit the city. Plenty of old buildings still stand, including the famous Zwinger and the Frauenkirche. The city is also home to a thriving arts scene.