Thanks to Australia’s historic ties, Europe remains an enduring magnet for Australians. And Germany is no exception.
Despite cases running at thousands a day, Germany is a leader in living with COVID-19. Compliance is high and vaccinated visitors are welcome to enter quarantine-free.
The Germans have decided to treat Covid as endemic, which means all businesses and tourist attractions are open but you’ll still need to flash a vaccination certificate for entry and masks are required indoors and on public transport (and they must be medical grade: surgical, FFP2 or KN95).
I flew in on a Singapore Airlines flight and based myself in Munich for 10 days, taking day tours to explore the rest of Bavaria.
My visit to the famed Neuschwanstein Castle near the town of Fussen was an absolute dream. The fairytale-like landmark was the inspiration behind Disney’s Cinderella Castle, and looks especially resplendent with the Bavarian Alps as its backdrop.
It was exciting to hear stories of the mad King Ludwig II, who commissioned the building of the castle. He was attacked for spending so much money and died under “mysterious circumstances”. Get your tickets early if you want to see the interior of the castle as tours book out well in advance.
I loved Nuremberg, Bavaria’s second-largest city after Munich. Snap photos along the Pegnitz River, which runs through the city, or head to Weissgerbergasse (Tanner’s Lane) to see the colourful half-timbered houses. For a bird’s-eye view, I climbed up to the Imperial Castle’s city viewing area.
Three hours from Munich by train, the medieval city of Rothenburg was another delight. Expect more pretty half-timbered houses, cobblestone streets and a delightful Christmas museum. The city walls remain relatively intact and you can walk their 3.2-kilometre length.
On the Night Watchman tour a guide dressed up in medieval gear to take us around the city as he told us stories of its fascinating past.
Don’t miss Regensburg on the Danube River. The city is well known for its iconic 12th-century stone bridge and the Historische Wurstküche − the oldest sausage kitchen in the world.
Wanting a breath of fresh air, I travelled to the German Alps near the town of Grainau. A cogwheel train took me up Zugspitze, the country’s tallest mountain. There, I enjoyed stunning views of snow-capped peaks, the highest church in Germany and the stunning turquoise waters of Eibsee Lake.
Of course, Munich itself is packed with things to see and do. I took a Third Reich walking tour to get a glimpse of the city’s painful past. As the birthplace of the Nazi party, I learnt how Hitler rose to power and attempted to pull off a military coup along its streets.
I also learnt about the Bavarian kings of the city’s opulent palaces, Nymphenburg and Munich Residenz. For good ol’ Bavarian cuisine, don’t miss Hofbrauhaus − Germany’s most famous beer hall – for large servings of beer, pork knuckles and pretzels.
The Victuals Market near Marienplatz is another must-go. As with the rest of Bavaria, be prepared for huge food portions. There’s no going hungry in Deutschland.
I stayed at Arthotel Munich, a five-minute walk from Munich Central Station. For a little more luxury, there’s the five-star Sofitel Munich Bayerpost. As to the friendliness of the German people, I’d say it was a mixed bag. The staff at Arthotel Munich were lovely and on my first day when I didn’t pre-book tickets to board a bus, a German man stood out in the cold for 20 minutes attempting to help me out.
Current Smartraveller advice for Germany: “Exercise a high degree of caution.”
Take me there
Fly: Flights to Munich in December start at $1600 return.
Stay: A single at the mid-range Arthotel Munich starts at $100 per night, while rooms at Sofitel Munich Bayerpost start at $300.
Explore more: munich.travel/en