As well as its tradition-rich culture and history, Leipzig also has a vibrant alternative scene that can be discovered, in particular, outside the city centre.
From vegan restaurants to industrial art galleries and alternative street festivals: according to the Skyscanner and Mashable online platforms, Leipzig is the world's number 1 destination for "yuccies" – or young urban creatives. The former industrial district of Plagwitz has become a hub for innovative start-ups and designers. A visit to the "Spinnerei" is a must for art lovers. Previously the site of the largest cotton mill in continental Europe, the building is now home to world-famous galleries and studios, which organise a great Gallery Tour three times a year.
Other places that are well worth a visit in the "Kunstareal" art area are the Tapetenwerk and the Kunstkraftwerk, which captures visitors' imaginations with continuously changing innovative exhibitions. Nearby Karl-Heine-Straße is the place to go if you are looking for quirky shops and lively bars. To end the evening in relaxed style, visitors should stop by "Noch Besser Leben" – somewhere to see and be seen.
A perfect example of alternative sub-culture combined with classy, trendy chic is Karl-Liebknecht-Straße in the south of Leipzig, a street affectionately known as KarLi and lined with bars, clubs and shops. The animated atmosphere both day and night is particularly appealing to students. Young families also appreciate its many attractions - from a cinema from the days of silent films to open-air concerts in the nearby Clara Zetkin park and flea markets on the site of the former Feinkost factory.
Cologne is all about "urban lifestyle"– the metropolis on the Rhine has become a creative hotspot, offering residents and visitors all the things that make urban living such a rich and special experience.
Including, on the one hand, trends that play a part in shaping the city's living space and, on the other, a unique and deeply rooted neighbourhood culture (Veedelskultur) that Cologne's residents identify with on many levels. With so many things to see and do and a strong creative economy, the cathedral city promises to be a real experience for lovers of design, fashion, culture, music, festivals, food and more. As well as traditional businesses and established events, newcomers from different areas are setting the tone for city life. Cologne also has as a thriving start-up and fringe scene.
Design is another strong tradition in Cologne: the "imm" international interiors show is the leading interior design gathering and an annual showcase for industry trends from all over the world. The cathedral city boasts a lively art and cultural scene, ranging from classic institutions, such as museums, philharmonic orchestra, opera and plays, to a very vibrant independent scene. Many creative districts are home to a wide range of unusual studios as well as contemporary galleries presenting innovative urban art and street art by established or up-and-coming artists.
As a media city with many television broadcasters and production companies, Cologne also has a lot to offer cinema enthusiasts. The annual "c/o pop festival" in August is regarded as a trendsetter for modern pop music. Cologne has also hosted Europe's largest reggae festival, the "Summerjam", for the last 30 years.
Leipzig is described as the capital of the Gründerzeit era due to the city's unparalleled number of buildings from the period from 1830 onwards.
The former affluent residential districts, for example the studenty Südvorstadt, the fashionable Musikviertel (Music Quarter) and the family Waldstraßenviertel (Waldstraßen Quarter), have now been extensively renovated, giving the city a unique shine. Striking trading and exhibition houses, courtyards and arcades are the defining features of the city centre. The traditionally developed self-contained system of 30 arcades, 20 of which are original, is unique in Germany. The best-known and most expensive arcade is the Mädler Passage, inspired by Milan's Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, with its elegant glass roof and the tradition-steeped Auerbachs Keller, once frequented by Goethe.
But Leipzig also has a lot to offer when it comes to modern architecture, as impressively demonstrated by the Augustusplatz square in the city centre. Built by the Dutch architect Erick van Egeraat in 2015, the new Paulinum building is an eye-catching sight. Both the building's name and its frontage bring to mind the Paulinerkirche church, which was blown up during the German Democratic Republic era. Today, it houses the Leipzig University auditorium.
Just a few steps away is the new Catholic "Propsteikirche St. Trinitatis" (St. Trinitatis parish church). Designed by the architectural practice Schulz und Schulz, it is the only new Catholic church to be built in East Germany and has won several awards, including internationally. The centre is also home to the first new museum building to be constructed in East Germany after 1945, the "Museum der bildenden Künste" (Museum of Fine Arts), opened in 2004 and presenting a unique mixture of art and architecture.
An exclusive trip to the Stuttgart region promises stylish hotels and top-class dining. Visitors can shop in the exquisite Breuninger department store or Outletcity Metzingen, and take a trip back in time to the splendid Baroque era at Ludwigsburg Residential Palace.
Stuttgart offers a wide selection of luxury hotels, including the Steigenberger Hotel Graf Zeppelin, Hotel am Schlossgarten and Arcotel Camino, located in direct proximity to Stuttgart city centre. The new luxury hotel Jaz in the City is situated close to Stuttgart central train station in the Europaviertel (European Quarter).
Gourmet stars in the Stuttgart sky. The state capital of Baden-Württemberg can boast no fewer than eight starred restaurants. A further sixteen fine-dining establishments in the wider Stuttgart region have also received accolades from the Michelin Guide.
For decades, the name Breuninger, Stuttgart's leading fashion and lifestyle department store, has been synonymous with top quality. The store is home to Germany's most exclusive women's high-fashion shoe department and stocks over 250 brands, including Jimmy Choo, Gucci, Prada and more. In Metzingen, modern shopping facilities are nestled in the historic city centre at the Outletcity, located at the foot of the Swabian Jura mountains in the middle of meadows scattered with fruit trees. Over 60 top brands, including stylish designers, sports product manufacturers and footwear fashion, cater to every wish.
Consisting of 452 rooms, 18 buildings and 3 courtyards, the Ludwigsburg Residential Palace is the largest preserved Baroque palace in Germany. It is set in around 30 hectares of parkland, known as the "Blühendes Barock" (Baroque in Bloom), featuring beautiful garden art from different eras.
Fans of cool cars, vintage vehicles and automobile nostalgia are in for a treat on Düsseldorf's streets or in a lovingly restored listed roundhouse.
In the south of the city, they can find a car lover's paradise extending over an area of some 19,000 square metres - the Classic Remise Düsseldorf. A wide selection of historic and classic cars are presented under the theme of historic industrial culture, but instead of being a museum, this is actually a sales showroom and the exhibits change with each purchase. The site also includes workshop and service facilities for classic cars and collector's vehicles, suppliers selling spare parts and accessories, automotive literature, clothing and model cars. One of the highlights is the 75 glass boxes which allow owners of vintage and collector's cars to park their vehicles in optimal temperature conditions.
If you are not content with simply looking and are eager to burn rubber on the tarmac, you can experience some action on a guided Hot Rod City Tour®. On board these small hand-produced vehicles, which look a little like motorised soapboxes, participants can expect a fun driving experience covering different routes in and around Düsseldorf, taking in sights such as the MedienHafen, Rheinufer, Old Town, Oberkassel and Kö, as well as the option of a night rally or a trip to the nearby Neandertal (Neander Valley).
Those who prefer a more leisurely pace can opt for a guided Beetle tour of the city. Colourful classic VW Beetles and buggies take to the streets on a Düsseldorf safari. Throughout the tour, a radio link keeps participants informed about the route and sights along the way, including the Hofgarten park, the Tonhalle, the Oberkasseler bridge offering a panoramic view over Düsseldorf, the Burgplatz square, MedienHafen and Königsallee.
Nuremberg has a reputation for culinary delicacies that few other German cities can rival, from 'Lebkuchen' (gingerbread-style cookies) in the Christmas period to finger-size 'Bratwurst' (sausages) eaten all year round.
Franconian specialities such as crispy 'Schäufele' (roast pork dish) and baked carp are also worth a try. These culinary delights are ideally accompanied by a cool beer from one of the private Franconian breweries. The traditional variety in Nuremberg is 'Rotbier' (red beer).
However, it's not just traditional Franconian fare that is served up in Nuremberg, some fine-dining restaurants also promise a treat for discerning palates. They work with fresh regional produce, sourced mainly from the nearby 'Knoblauchsland' (vegetable-producing region). As an Organic Metropolis, it is hardly surprising that Nuremberg is a trailblazer for the organics cause. As you would expect, all specialities are also available in organic versions.
Nuremberg has very quietly blossomed into Germany's whisky capital. The city is home to Germany's oldest whisky club and the latest highlight on the scene is Nuremberg's "The Village" whisk(e)y trade fair. So it should come as no surprise to find out that Germany's best whisky of 2015 came from Nuremberg.
However, the city's culinary attractions extend beyond fine dining. Tour guides accompany groups on culinary tours of the city and offer something for almost every taste.
From pretzels to beer and "Böfflamott" pot roast beef - traditional inns and beer gardens, ristorantes, taverns and bistros invite you to embark on a culinary voyage of discovery through Munich.
Typical Munich inns serve hearty traditional favourites in every conceivable variation: "Haxn" (pork knuckle), "Schweinsbraten" (roast pork), "Böfflamott" (beef stew pot) and "Knödel" (dumplings). For a lighter snack, try "Weißwurst" veal and pork sausages (can be ordered individually) or "Leberkäse" meat loaf. Bavarian snacks such as "Obazda" (camembert cream) and "Schnittlauchbrot" (chive bread) taste particularly good in beer gardens, where locals come together around beer tables in a relaxed atmosphere with visitors from all over the world. You can even bring your own picnic - a special Bavarian tradition.
Another special tradition is Munich's beer, which is still brewed according to the 500 year old "Reinheitsgebot" Bavarian beer purity law. As well as the world-famous big names, the city now also features an increasing number of microbreweries specialising in craft beers.
As well as complementing Bavarian cuisine, beer also goes very well with international specialities, bringing out the full depth of culinary secrets from around the world. Munich's love of "exotic" cuisine dates back to the days of Napoleon and his troops. "Böfflamott" (from the French "Boeuf à la mode") is now a classic Bavarian dish. Munich then turned to Italy for inspiration. The city's many trattorias, ristorantes and caffè bars, as well as taverns and bistros, have now become an integral part of its traditional dining scene. Today's selection ranges from the Atlantic coast to the Far East. From Bavarian fast food to exotic slow food, connoisseurs can look forward to a real treat in Munich.
Don't run, stroll – taking your time is a rare luxury these days. With its short distances between attractions, compact city centre and many green havens, Munich is a perfect city for leisurely strolls. Take time out for a quick break along the way, savour the atmosphere and you've already mastered the art of the Munich lifestyle.
As well as images of beer gardens, football fever, the Isar beach and the creative district, Munich also features magnificent buildings, luxury hotels, elegant shopping streets and Michelin-starred restaurants. The city's residents take full advantage of both sides of the city's character, summing up true luxury Munich-style: enjoying all the city has to offer with confident and relaxed ease. Munich's residents are proud of their city and its great cultural wealth.
The Deutsches Museum, the three Pinakotheken and the Lenbachhaus rank among the most renowned museums in the world, along with Museum Brandhorst and the State Museum of Egyptian Art. As well as great art, Munich's "Kunstareal" (art district) offers stylish pubs, cosy cafes and attractive shops. This is another example of Munich's special way of life: an elegant and confident blend of artistic pleasure and pleasure culture. In the musical arena too, Munich impresses with its variety and top-class venues. The city is home to no fewer than three international-level classical orchestras, the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra, the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and the Bavarian State Orchestra.
The Wittelsbach dynasty enjoyed a luxurious lifestyle in the Munich Residence and Nymphenburg Palace. Today, these places give visitors an insight into the feudal lifestyle of the Bavarian ruling family.
Frankfurt is a stylish metropolis. To ensure a good night's sleep, the city offers a selection of top-class hotels with outstanding service catering to your every need. Whatever your preference, from unusual to modern or exclusive, you can find your ideal accommodation among Frankfurt's design hotels.
The shopping metropolis is also a paradise for design and fashion fans, with shops and boutiques selling selections ranging from elegant and stylish to hand-made and individual. The famous shopping street of Goethestraße is home to elegant stores such as Armani and Versace. However, you can also find many small independent labels selling unusual one-off items by young designers. The Skyline Plaza offers a shopping experience with a difference. As well as lots of shops, it also has cafes and restaurants, a roof terrace with an amazing skyline view and a relaxing pampering area of 10,000 square metres in the spacious spa.
The city also boasts many cultural attractions. Artists from cities all over the world come together in Frankfurt's Tigerpalast to perform breathtaking shows in the famous variety hall. The Theatre and multiple-award winning Opera House present a consistently high-quality programme of top-class concerts and plays.
Many visitors may be surprised to discover that Frankfurt is also a porcelain city. Germany's second-oldest porcelain production site is located in Höchst. Visitors to the site can view the entire craft production process. As well as Frankfurt's many excellent museums featuring world-famous exhibitions, you can also find a small and interesting porcelain museum here offering guided tours.
Munich is all about mobility. The city is home to the BMW vehicle manufacturer. The company presents its history, current situation and future outlook in the BMW Museum and at BMW Welt.
There is also a chance to learn about all forms of mobility, from submarines to railways and air and space travel, in the "Verkehrszentrum" (transportation centre) at the Deutsches Museum. And over the last few years, Munich has also set its sights on becoming a cycling capital.
The BMW Area in the north of Munich offers visitors an exciting combination of an architectural experience, a museum and information. The BMW Museum showcases the company's history with highlights including the Isetta and the original car from the 1997 James Bond film "Tomorrow Never Dies". BMW Welt, the automotive manufacturer's experience and collection centre, also presents current models, from the small Playmobil-style i3 electric car to sea-blue coupés, pearl-grey compact cars and midnight-blue dream machines in an elegant "frozen" matt finish. Visitors can also go on a guided tour of the BMW plant.
The "Verkehrszentrum" (transportation centre) at the Deutsches Museum presents every conceivable means of transport, from carriages to rescue helicopters.
Munich offers a huge selection of environmentally-friendly public transport options. The city is increasingly switching to electric mobility, and local companies and the TU München are continuously researching new possibilities for climate-friendly transportation. Munich is also coming increasingly close to achieving its goal of becoming a "cycling capital", recording a 50% increase in cycle traffic since 2002. The cycle path network has been extended to over 1,200 kilometres.
Half-timbered and sandstone buildings are the defining features of Nuremberg's medieval architecture. The earliest traces of construction of the Salian Imperial Castle date back to around the year 1000, and the Hohenstaufen Imperial Castle was also developed in Romanesque style around the year 1200.
Gothic influences are apparent in the Castle from the 15th century onwards, but the churches of St. Lawrence and St. Sebaldus are also striking examples of this typical Nuremberg construction style. Only the immensely wealthy upper class were able to use stone, the rest of the population made do with half-timbered construction.
Albrecht Dürer's House and a number of properties on 'Weißgerbergasse' (Tanners' Lane) consist of a combination of a stone ground floor and wooden beams filled with masonry. Many town houses and manors were built during the Renaissance period, as were magnificent buildings such as the 'Wolff´sche Rathaus' (Town Hall) and the 'Hirsvogelsaal' (Hirsvogel Hall).
The Baroque era is represented by the Baroque Garden in St. Johannis, the Classics era by the 'Elisabethkirche' (St Elizabeth's Church), the Historism period by the 'Justizpalast' (Palace of Justice) while the 'Faberschloss' (Faber Castell Castle) stands for industrialisation. The Art Nouveau-style Opera House is regarded as timelessly beautiful, and Professor Hermann Jansen played a defining role in Nuremberg's modern-day town planning.
Traces of National Socialism are visible at the former Nazi Party Rally Grounds. In the post-war period, Sep Ruf left his mark on the city with the Germanisches Nationalmuseum, the 'Akademie der Bildenden Künste' (Academy of Fine Arts) and today's 'Heimatministerium' (Homeland Ministry), as did Ernst Neufert with the construction of the Quelle distribution centre.
Present-day developments include the extension of the Germanisches Nationalmuseum, the Business Tower, Volker Staab's Neues Museum - State Museum for Art and Design in Nuremberg - and the two exhibition halls designed by the architect Zaha Hadid.
Franconian hospitality combined with an exclusive selection of dining and shopping venues provide the perfect ingredients for incomparable experiences in Nuremberg.
However, these are by no means the city's only attractions. A harmonious blend of tradition and modernity also help to ensure a relaxed atmosphere throughout your entire stay. Top-class restaurants, some with several Michelin stars, treat discerning diners to the finest dishes and guarantee maximum pleasure. Many restaurants also serve traditional Franconian fare.
Shopping is a relaxed pleasure in Nuremberg city centre. The large pedestrian area created in 1966 is one of the oldest in Germany and one of the most extensive in Europe. A shopping trip in the historic atmosphere of the Old Town combines exclusive boutiques and glass-fronted shopping arcades with many sightseeing opportunities. For example, the 'Handwerkerhof' (Craftmen's Courtyard), where traditional craftsmen such as glass cutters, glass painters and leather bag-makers present their creations in a typical half-timbered setting. Fine jewellery can be crafted to customers' requirements here.
Large shopping centres and well-known outlets in places such as Herzogenaurach, Ingolstadt and Wertheim are also perfect destinations for shopping trips.
Düsseldorf's charm is mainly down to the great gastronomic diversity on offer in this Rhine metropolis. For years, Düsseldorf's creative, hearty and diverse cuisine has been attracting food-lovers from all over the world.
Traditional, rustic and down-to-earth fare meets haute cuisine, fusion food and – thanks to the third-largest Japanese community in Europe – authentic Asian cuisine.
The Rhine region's zest for life and its open attitude are reflected in all aspects of Düsseldorf's culinary scene. It is by no means contradictory to dine in a Michelin-starred restaurant before meeting up for a cool "Altbier" in the streets of the Old Town.
Düsseldorf's creativity extends beyond fashion trends to encompass the restaurant scene, with many trendy burger restaurants offering a wide range of creative takes on the burger and the burger bun. The restaurants take an environmentally-friendly approach to their meat, which is sourced exclusively from regional produce. For all non-meat eaters, Düsseldorf has also moved with the times in this respect. Completely vegetarian or vegan restaurants have opened up in many areas.
In defiance of all trends, Düsseldorf's residents have a great sense of tradition. A visit to one of Düsseldorf's craft breweries is also a chance to experience the distinctive Rhine culture. As well as the local specialities on your plate, Düsseldorf "Köbes" (waiters) will show you a more down-to-earth side of this shopping and fashion metropolis.
From half-timbered and brick buildings to Baroque gardens and castles – Hannover's architecture has many facets.
In the centre of the Old Town, visitors can find picturesque half-timbered buildings as well as the Gothic Kreuzkirche church and the reconstructed Leibnizhaus building, the Marktkirche church and the Old Town Hall - both renowned examples of north German brick Gothic architecture. The ruins of the destroyed Aegidienkirche church are now a memorial to the victims of war and violence.
Probably the city's most famous landmarks are the New Town Hall – a magnificent Neo-Renaissance style building with a curving lift up to the viewing platform – and the Herrenhausen Gardens. The Großer Garten (Great Garden) was designed as the summer residence of the Hannoverian prince-electors and, together with the reconstructed Herrenhausen Palace, is now one of the most significant Baroque gardens in Europe. The fairytale-like, Neo-Gothic Marienburg Castle is another preserved summer residence, while the former Welfenschloss Castle is now home to the University of Hannover.
The cityscape is defined, in particular, by the classic works of Georg Laves (1788-1864, leading architect to the royal house of Hannover). As well as his most famous buildings – the Opera House, the Waterloosäule (Waterloo Column), the renovation of the Leineschloss (Leine Castle) and the library pavilion – his plans paved the way for Hannover's continued growth.
Visitors can also find many examples of 20th and 21st century architecture in Hannover – such as the Expressionistic "Anzeiger-Hochhaus" high-rise building, street art in public spaces with the "Nanas" sculptures and the designer "Busstops" project, the twisted design of the Gehry-Tower, the world's largest exhibition site and the glass skyscraper tower of the NORD/LB bank.
To explore this historical trail for yourself, simply follow the 4.2 kilometre "Roter Faden" (Red Thread) city tour.
Discerning diners can look forward to a whole world of variety in Hannover. From haute cuisine to international specialities, original dining experiences or traditional regional delicacies, the city offers something to suit every palate.
The covered market, known as the "belly of Hannover", is brimming with flavours and specialities from all over the world. Rustic fare from German states features on the menus of many corner pubs as well as in sophisticated restaurants. Creative fusion cuisine also impresses with imaginative culinary inventions.
Traditional local cooking tends to be hearty fare. Spring is asparagus season, served with melted butter or hollandaise sauce, raw ham, cutlet or salmon. In autumn, the focus switches to kale, preferably accompanied by hearty "Bregenwurst" (sausage made from pork and pig or cattle brain). The traditional dessert is the "noble" Welfenspeise – a reference to the 19th century, when Hannover was the capital of the Guelphic ("welfisch" in German) kingdom.
Beer brewing has a long tradition in Hannover, as does Hannover's "Lüttje Lage" beer, made famous by the "Schützenfest" (Marksmen's Fair). The traditional high-proof ritual requires two glasses: one filled with Lüttje-Lage beer and the other with Korn schnapps. You then need to somehow place them both on your lips and down the Korn schnapps and beer in one.
To savour the pleasure of your trip to the Hannover region for longer, take home some tasty treats from one of the traditional eel smokeries by Steinhuder Meer (Lake Steinhude), a powerful dram from the Warnecke Korn schnapps distillery in Bredenbeck am Deister or a little something from Lower Saxony's oldest sparkling wine producer, Duprès & Co. in Neustadt am Rübenberge.
Hamburg is shaped by the rivers Alster and Elbe – and a trip along their banks illustrates the city's many contrasting facets. Hamburg's affluence is clearly visible in elegant residential districts, such as Harvestehude and Blankenese, as well as in the prestigious buildings in HafenCity.
However, as well as this luxurious side of Hamburg, visitors can also explore many other neighbourhoods, such as the Schanze and St. Pauli districts. These are the areas where urban trends evolve and come to life. Hamburg's former red-light district, the Reeperbahn, has long been an attractive leisure area lined with theatres, restaurants, art galleries, nightclubs and bars. Many art galleries, young designers and exciting dining venues have also taken up residence in neighbouring streets.
The city's trends are set in the Karolinen, Schanze, Ottensen and St. Georg districts and in the beach clubs by the harbour. These areas are brimming with stylish bars and relaxed cafes, charming boutiques and creative start-ups.
Cultural and music festivals take place all year round, including the Reeperbahn Festival and the International Summer Festival at the Kampnagel theatre.
Saturday morning is the perfect time for bargain hunting at second-hand markets. You can find trendy vintage furniture and all kinds of home decoration items at the flea markets around the old slaughterhouse in the Schanze quarter. One of the city's most famous fashion designers, Bent Angelo Jensen, has his studio here, designing suits for Hamburg musicians such as Jan Delay under the "Herr von Eden" label. Or you can browse vinyl collections in record stores such as Selekta Reggae Record Shop and Slam Records. Rather than serving simple espressos, the Café Public Coffee Roasters celebrates the renaissance of brewed coffee.
An enduring fascination for 130 years. With the invention of the universal motor, Gottlieb Daimler laid the foundations for our modern-day mobility. Automotive history is brought to life in the two large Mercedes-Benz and Porsche automobile museums.
If you want to find out about the earliest days of the car, you need to go right to the top, as the exhibition in the Mercedes-Benz Museum starts on the highest floor. From here, visitors are guided through automotive history on two tours covering a total of nine floors and covering the period from 1886 to the present day. The exhibition is divided into Legend rooms and Collection rooms. The seven Legend rooms present automotive legends while the Collection rooms feature topics spanning different eras. Visitors can learn about the continuing effects of the success story of this rising star during a plant tour at the Sindelfingen site.
Spectacular from the outside and powerful on the inside – the Porsche Museum recounts the story of the Stuttgart sports car manufacturer's product and motorsports history. The sports cars featuring the Stuttgart horse on the bonnet have been produced at Porscheplatz since 1950. Over 80 vehicles and 200 small exhibits are displayed in a 5,600 square metre exhibition area. The highlights include a reconstruction of the Type 64, the original Porsche.
The Gottlieb Daimler Memorial and Birthplace are also popular attractions in addition to the museums, giving visitors a very personal insight into the Stuttgart inventor and pioneer.
And why not continue the car theme with your accommodation? In the four-star V8 Hotel, set in the historic charm of a former airport site, everything revolves around cars. From racing to V8 Camp, drive-in cinema or tuning – each themed bedroom has its own personal charm.
All Munich residents and fans of the city share a love of the relaxed ease with which this metropolis on the River Isar makes the transition from the pleasure of culture to a pleasure culture. Munich's inhabitants also enjoy partying with visitors.
There is always a chance to strike up a conversation at the city's many festivals and folk fairs, such as the Dulten fairs, the Spring Festival, the two Tollwood Festivals, the Oktoberfest and the Munich "Christkindlmarkt" Christmas Market. Munich is a beautiful city and its beauty has an uplifting effect, from the golden Angel of Peace silhouetted against a blue sky to sunbathers on the steps of the Glyptothek, the many hues of green in the "Englischer Garten" (English Garden) or a tourist contemplating the original blue horse by the Blauer Reiter artist group in the Lenbachhaus.
In over 700 years of passionately fostering culture, the Wittelsbach dynasty laid the foundations for a unique blend of music, theatre and museums. Today, music lovers can enjoy a regal experience in one of the world's most famous opera houses and at concerts by top-class orchestras. The works exhibited in the art museums in the "Kunstareal" art area of Munich's Maxvorstadt district chart the course of several millennia, from the double statue of King Nyuserre in the State Museum of Egyptian Art to Beuys' works in the Pinakothek der Moderne and the Lenbachhaus.
In beer gardens, under shady chestnut trees, even after the blossoming season, visitors can experience some of the city's best-loved clichés - pretzels, beer and authentic "Gemütlichkeit" (congeniality) - and be surprised at how readily everyone engages in conversation. Munich is also a shopper's paradise, with its department stores, specialist shops and flagship stores of well-known labels. Lined by green spaces, the River Isar is an oasis of unspoiled nature in the heart of the city.
Throughout the ages, merchants from all over Europe have rhapsodised about Leipzig's inns. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, once a student in Leipzig, immortalised the Auerbachs Keller restaurant in his play "Faust", elevating it to worldwide fame.
Over the last few years, different Leipzig restaurants have cooked their way to gastronomic "star" status, notably FALCO** on the top floor of the Westin Leipzig and Stadtpfeiffer* in the Gewandhaus. As well as its modern, innovative cuisine, the Panorama Tower restaurant on the 29th floor of the City-Hochhaus boasts a panoramic view over the city.
For coffee culture enthusiasts, no visit would be complete without a break in one of the city's traditional coffee houses. "Zum Arabischen Coffe Baum" is Germany's oldest coffee house and also features a coffee museum with over 500 exhibits. Even from the outside, the Kaffeehaus Riquet is a striking sight, with two large elephant heads above the entrance. Once inside, the excellent coffee and cakes make an equally strong impression. Some other essential points to tick off the culinary "to-do" list include a cup of "Bachkaffee" coffee and a "Leipziger Lerche", a shortcrust pastry cake filled with almonds, marzipan and jam, at Café Kandler. If you are in the mood for something more savoury, try the "Leipziger Allerlei" made from fresh vegetables, morels and crayfish tails, which is ideally accompanied by a glass of "Leipziger Gose" beer. The best place to enjoy this top-fermented beer is in the Gasthaus- & Gosebrauerei Bayerischer Bahnhof.
The pulsating heart of the city centre lies in the area around Barfußgässchen, with its many pavement cafes and terraces. Just a few steps westwards takes you to Gottschedstraße, where you can find lots of trendy meeting places with international cuisine, luscious after-work cocktails and regular live music.
Automotive production is a key industry in Cologne and the wider region. The early history of the automotive industry originates in Cologne with the invention of the famous Otto engine. Cologne's automotive expertise has been perpetuated to the present day.
Companies from all over the world have chosen Cologne as the location for their head offices, including famous names such as Citroën, DAF, Mazda, Renault, Volvo, Nissan and Toyota. The most important and largest producer in Cologne is, however, the Ford-Werke plants, which have their European headquarters here and operate one of Europe's most cutting-edge car factories. With a workforce of some 20,000 people, it is the city's largest private employer.
Television capital, insurance metropolis and healthcare centre of excellence – these are just a few more attractions the business location of Cologne has to offer. A diverse and innovative mixture of industries, consisting of well-known large companies and a dynamic SME sector, has taken up residence in the Rhine metropolis. The city also boasts a strong digital and internet economy. The huge economic strength of one of Germany's largest regions is also clearly illustrated in international comparisons. For centuries, the Cologne economic region has traditionally been regarded as a centre of trade and industry.
Koelnmesse, the sixth-largest trade fair and exhibition centre in the world, is an impressive example. An increasing number of German and international companies are moving to the largest city in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany's most highly populated state. Some 17 million people live within a radius of just 100 kilometres around Cologne, making the region an attractive area for investment. More than 900 industrial companies are now taking advantage of Cologne's excellent local conditions.
Well-known building contractors and international artists have left their mark on the city of Stuttgart with some emblematic sights. Le Corbusier, Stirling and Yi and more have helped to forge Stuttgart's attractive and striking cityscape. Visitors can find some real masterpieces on Stuttgart's Schlossplatz square.
The "Altes Schloss" (Old Castle) – a medieval highlight – dates back to a 10th century moated castle. Just a few metres away is the splendid "Neues Schloss" (New Castle) which, as a result of its long construction time, combines Baroque, Classical Rococo and Empire influences. The "Kunstmuseum Stuttgart" art museum, by the Berlin architecture practice Hascher + Jehle, impresses with its stylish elegance. The glass cube encloses a stone cube which houses part of the exhibition areas.
The UNStudio by Ben van Berkel has given the outside of the Mercedes-Benz Museum an exciting new look. Based on a double-helix design, the exhibition area follows a spiraling shape. In contrast, the Porsche Museum is a detached and dynamically shaped monolithic body that appears to float above the ground.
There were protests in 1956 when a 217-metre tall "concrete needle" loomed up over the treetops. Today, the "Fernsehturm" (Television Tower) is a Stuttgart landmark and the first of its kind in the world. The "Stadtbibliothek" municipal library on Mailänder Platz bears the signature of the Korean architect Eun Young Yi. This square building – a discreet grey colour during the day – lights up in glowing blue at night.
The Le Corbusier buildings on the Weissenhof estate are not simply a showcase for new construction methods, they are also a World Heritage Site. Under the artistic direction of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, 17 architects, including Le Corbusier, created a residential programme for modern city-dwellers.
Connoisseurs visiting the state capital of Lower Saxony can expect great hospitality, diverse cultural experiences and sophisticated cuisine. The city is also an attractive shopping destination with two of Germany's most popular retail streets: Georgstraße and Bahnhofstraße.
Hannover also boasts lots of shopping arcades, the Ernst-August-Galerie and independent boutiques in the Old Town and popular local retail areas.
Visitors to the Royal Gardens of Herrenhausen can follow in the footsteps of court society as they stroll between beautifully decorated flowerbeds, magnificent sculptures and artistically clipped illuminated hedges. The main Großer Garten (Great Garden) is one of the most important Baroque gardens in Europe and attracts tourists from all over the world. No visit to Hannover is complete without a trip in the amazing curving lift up to the dome at the top of the tower of the New Town Hall, where you can enjoy a breathtaking view over the city.
Hannover invites discerning diners to embark on a culinary world tour. International specialities, charming cafes and bistros, rustic pubs and inns, stylish bars and restaurants: the gastronomic spectrum guarantees memorable dining experiences to suit every taste. The most discerning connoisseurs can look forward to haute cuisine consistently awarded top scores by restaurant reviewers.
Hannover's theatre scene is distinguished by its great diversity – from plays to opera, ballet, musicals, variety, cabaret/comedy and puppet theatre. The UNESCO City of Music's classic concerts have also attracted attention outside the region. In addition, more than 60 theatres and museums presenting top-class productions, concerts and exhibitions ensure outstanding cultural experiences.
Düsseldorf combines a traditional warm Rhine welcome with a touch of luxury to make life even more beautiful. The "Kö", one of the most famous boulevards in the world, is home to great French fashion brands including Dior, Hermès, Chanel, Louis Vuitton and Cartier.
Elegant boutiques sit alongside luxurious jewellers, impressive shopping malls and department stores such as Sevens, the Kö-Galerie shopping centre and Galeria Kaufhof. The "Kö" offers visitors a chance to savour the city's extraordinary atmosphere, for example its beautiful city moat lined with chestnut trees.
As well as its stylish boutiques, Düsseldorf also boasts a wide selection of outstanding hotels. Since its opening, the legendary Breidenbacher Hof has continuously set new standards, underpinned by a 200-year history, an exclusive atmosphere and very personal service. The InterContinental Düsseldorf offers guests elegant comfort in the most stylish setting. Situated at the start of Düsseldorf's Königsallee, the exclusive Steigenberger Parkhotel Düsseldorf welcomes guests next to the nearby Kö-Bogen complex and offers a view over the Hofgarten park.
The "Schiffchen" in the picturesque district of Kaiserswerth is Düsseldorf's top dining address. Chef Jean-Claude Bourgueil was awarded three Michelin stars for his French cuisine from 1987 to 2006. In Düsseldorf's MedienHafen area, diners can enjoy chef Holger Berens' Gault Millau-starred gourmet cuisine in an extremely modern and minimalist interior. His restaurant "Berens am Kai" serves dishes distinguished by a slight Mediterranean and French influence. These flavoursome pleasures are created using the finest regional ingredients to bring out intensive aromas.
… starting from the very beginning. One example is the Dresden Transport Museum, featuring exhibitions devoted to every conceivable technical and social aspect of human transportation.
As well as permanent exhibitions on road transport, railways, shipping and air traffic, visitors can also explore projects covering topics such as "engine bonnet art" or migration movements. Another attraction is the Transport Museum's location in the "Johanneum". This listed Renaissance building has been connected to transportation since its creation in 1586, when two halls on its ground floor provided enough space for carriages, coaches and 128 horses.
In Dresden, we like to think ahead, and this art has been perfected by the renowned "Friedrich List" Faculty of Transport and Traffic Sciences at the TU Dresden, where the mobility concepts of the future are conceived, researched and tested. The automobile driving simulator and the EcoTrain are just two examples. The future of the automobile is also the focus in the "Gläserne Manufaktur" (The Transparent Factory) in Dresden. Volkswagen has converted the former production site for its "Phaeton" car into a showcase for its electromobility and digitalisation concepts. Visitors have the chance to try out some environmentally-friendly electric cars on a test circuit.
At the other end of the spectrum, visitors to the city can also enjoy a fun experience in a two-stroke car. A tour of Dresden in a "Trabant", the little car that is such an integral part of Saxony's technical history, is a must for car lovers. "Trabi safaris" rattle through the city, naturally following the most scenic routes, passing many of Dresden's main sights.
The Saxon capital is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. The city centre consists mainly of Baroque-style buildings. However, a magnificent Gründerzeit district and modern buildings by renowned contemporary architects also shape its distinctive and charismatic face.
Dresden is continuously evolving, with the Old Town being a perfect example. The historic districts around the Neumarkt area have been reconstructed according to the historic model, with work still ongoing. Most notably including the "Frauenkirche" church, one of the city's world-famous landmarks and a pearl of baroque architecture.
Dresden's architecture is not just about Baroque. Extensive elegant residential areas delight architecture enthusiasts, while carefully restored Gründerzeit districts form the core of Dresden's urban cityscape. Everywhere you go in Dresden, you can find a charming symbiosis of old and new. One example is the new domed glass roof of the "Kleiner Schlosshof" (small inner courtyard) in the "Residenzschloss" (Dresden Royal Palace). Not forgetting the Albertinum, home to an important art museum and a new flood-proof storeroom. The 12-metre high structure appears to "float" above the building's atrium. Or the "Kraftwerk Mitte" – a former power station that now generates culture instead of electricity.
As well as buildings such as the "Gläserne Manufaktur" (Transparent Factory) and the "Festspielhaus Hellerau" (Hellerau Festival Theatre), the "Militärhistorisches Museum der Bundeswehr" (Bundeswehr Military History Museum) is another example of outstanding architecture. Star architect Daniel Libeskind designed the renovation of this historic arsenal. A new wedge-shaped construction cleaves the monumental building. This incision into the museum's design represents a link to theoretical references and provides an amazing viewing platform from which to admire Dresden's dazzling new beauty.
With its international mobility trade fairs, world-famous automotive companies and the fascinating Autostadt in Wolfsburg, Hannover is one of Germany's leading automotive locations.
Over 20,000 people work in the automotive sector in the Hannover region, which is home to companies including Volkswagen Nutzfahrzeuge, Continental, Komatsu Hanomag, Johnson Controls and WABCO. The sixth generation of the iconic "Bulli" Transporter is still being produced in Hannover and visitors can enjoy fascinating glimpses behind the scenes on plant tours. The IAA Commercial Vehicles - the world's leading trade fair for mobility, transportation and logistics - brings the international automotive sector to Hannover.
With 28 hectares of parkland, interactive exhibitions, a large family area, 10 restaurants, exciting driving experiences and, not least, the multi-brand ZeitHaus automobile museum, the Autostadt in Wolfsburg (approximately 1 hour's drive from Hannover) brings together architecture, design and nature to create the perfect backdrop for a wide range of attractions on the theme of "people, cars and what moves them". Classic car enthusiasts can admire around 250 exhibits from over 60 manufacturers in the ZeitHaus museum. The Volkswagen Group's brands are presented in eight dedicated pavilions in the Autostadt park, each providing a showcase for the relevant brand philosophy.
Visitors can learn interesting facts on exciting themed tours and at interactive exhibitions, take a break beside attractive water features or in green spaces and enjoy a wide selection of fresh and organic cuisine in the Autostadt's ten restaurants. Younger visitors can explore the large MobiVersum family area, offering lots of activities revolving around play, learning and design.
Away from the main hotspots, Stuttgart is still a real insider's tip. The cityscape features striking view points as well as little districts and quarters which have become trendy new meeting places for visionaries, creatives and city-dwellers.
The Schlossplatz square is the heart of Stuttgart and an essential stop-off on any city stroll, offering a view of many of the main sights. Stuttgart also has lots of charming and historic districts, including the Bohnenviertel with its antique shops, artists' studios, cosy cafes and rustic wine taverns. The Heusteigviertel area is distinguished by its Gründerzeit and Art Nouveau architecture. All roads lead to Marienplatz square, a starting point for many leisure activities and a perfect example of the Mediterranean style of southern Stuttgart.
From the Weißenburg Park and Teahouse, you can enjoy panoramic vistas and amazing views down into the Stuttgart valley. Located on a hill in the south-east of the city, it has a very artistic feel. If you are looking for a sweeping panoramic view and the chance to enjoy the Stuttgart valley and its vineyards from above, a visit to the beer garden on the Karlshöhe hill is a must.
Shopaholics and fashionistas are also ideally catered for in Stuttgart. The Fluxus mall is a long-established hip and alternative shopping paradise, with sixteen shops selling fashion, design, vintage, art and entertainment as well as cafes and bars.
Hip bars and relaxed and trendy pubs are a magnet for night owls. The pub district around the Hans-im-Glück fountain, Stuttgart's revitalised Old Town and Theodor-Heuss-Straße attract visitors from all over the world with their many bars, lounges and pubs.
Frankfurt's residents love their traditional specialities, from tasty "Frankfurter Würstchen" (Frankfurters) to fresh "Grüne Soße" (green sauce), hearty "Handkäs" (sour milk cheese) or the sweet "Frankfurter Kranz" (Frankfurt wreath) cake. They have even created special annual festivals to celebrate their favourite dishes.
Spring is season of the Green Sauce Festival, revolving around Goethe's favourite food and its seven aromatic herbs which have been subject to special protection throughout the EU since 2016.
In summer, visitors to the Apple Wine Festival can enjoy traditional apple wine varieties, new creations and unusual cocktails. The apple wine culture can also be sampled all year round in traditional apple wine taverns.
However, as well as its loyalty to regional specialities, Frankfurt is also a diverse, colourful and cosmopolitan city. Visitors to Frankfurt's "Bahnhofsviertel" (Station Quarter) can embark on a very diverse gourmet tour. This youthful and international district is a culinary melting pot. Münchener Straße is lined with restaurants serving dishes from all over the world, from Turkish fishmongers to Indian spices, Japanese sushi and Pakistani desserts. If you are looking for somewhere hip and trendy, the Station Quarter is also home to lots of bars and restaurants.
Frankfurt also offers visitors the chance to sample menus from Michelin-starred chefs. Diners can choose from several Michelin-starred restaurants offering top-class innovative cuisine in elegant surroundings. The selection ranges from cuisine inspired by the bistronomics culture with outstanding wine lists and clear linear design to regional produce with an international twist. The Tigerpalast offers a very special mix. Awarded two Michelin stars, the Tiger gourmet restaurant and the international variety show in the same building combine haute cuisine and top entertainment in a very pleasurable experience.
From elegant and extravagant cuisine to flavoursome down-to-earth fare, prepared by a Michelin-starred chef or from a rather more simple kitchen, Hamburg has something to suit every taste. Fish is one of the local specialities.
Classic Hamburg dishes such as "Hamburger Aalsuppe" (traditional soup with meat and eel) and "Pannfisch" (pan-fried fish) are served at the long-established "Fischerhaus" on St. Pauli Fischmarkt street. If you have a hankering for Japanese-style fish, try "Henssler & Henssler", a sushi restaurant managed by television chef Steffen Henssler. The "Jellyfish" in the Schanzenviertel (Schanze district) uses only line-caught and wild-caught fish and seafood in its original and creative dishes. The one Michelin-starred "Se7en Oceans" restaurant serves exclusive French and Mediterranean-style fish specialities, accompanied by an amazing view over the Inner Alster Lake.
The trend towards regional ingredients and high-quality organic produce can be seen all over Hamburg. Between the halls of the "Hamburg Messe" exhibition centre, the central meat market and the Schanze district, Tim Mälzer conjures up first-class fare in his "Bullerei" restaurant. The "Nil", between the Schanze district and St. Pauli, also uses regional produce and became a Bib-Gourmand restaurant in 2014.
For a relaxed atmosphere and good food, check out the following venues: "Café Paris", housed in a striking Art Nouveau-style vault and the "Vlet" in the historic Speicherstadt area. In the two Michelin-starred restaurant at the "Hotel Louis C. Jacob", Thomas Martin prepares his clear, contemporarily light and fresh creations. With "The Table", Hamburg is the only German city to boast a restaurant with three Michelin stars.
Dresden has many faces – and the most youthful, multicultural and liveliest of these can be found on the right-hand side of the River Elbe, in the trendy district of Neustadt. Boasting the densest concentration of bars and clubs in Germany, it is simply brimming with restaurants, bars, clubs and fashionable shops.
The artistically designed courtyards in the Kunsthofpassage are home to little boutiques selling art and crafts as well as welcoming cafes and restaurants. Not far from here, you can find daily live music and a wide selection of whiskies in the "Blue Note" jazz bar. Dresden's vibrant nightlife can also be experienced in the area around the Scheune youth club with its beer garden and Indian food.
Travel guides describe all the other "must-see" aspects of Dresden, but the best way to decide what you need to make time for is to take a typical Dresden approach: leisurely, open-minded and completely relaxed. Perhaps in the city's many galleries and theatres, in the "Festspielhaus Hellerau" festival theatre, a meeting place for the avant-garde of contemporary art, at festivals, in record shops, alternative spaces and concert clubs. Or in the "Großer Garten" (Great Garden) and along the Elbe Meadows, meeting places and sport and relaxation areas for Dresden's citizens. They are ideal places for a quick break or to spend a whole balmy summer evening in the heart of the city and with a view of beautiful architecture.
With over 3,000 venues, Cologne's diverse dining scene caters to every taste. A well as down-to-earth fare in Cologne's typical breweries, in recent years a whole array of restaurants have attracted attention with their sophisticated and creative cuisine.
Cologne's flavours can also be discovered in many specialist shops and at various culinary events. For a taste of Cologne's traditional lifestyle, visit one of the city's many breweries. The area between the cathedral, the Town Hall and the Rheinpromenade is home to a particularly high number of these traditional brewery inns. They promise a cool Kölsch (a top-fermented beer brewed only in Cologne and served by the waiters, called "Köbes") served in special "Kölsch-Stangen" glasses. This refreshing beer is ideally accompanied by Cologne specialities, such as "Halver Hahn" (buttered rye bread with gouda cheese, pickles, onions and mustard) or "Kölscher Kaviar" (blood sausage with raw onion).
While Italian and Mediterranean restaurants dominate the international dining scene, countless other nations – from Ethiopia to Vietnam – also serve their traditional fare in Cologne. The city's many bistros and cafes also offer Cologne's residents and visitors traditional German hospitality. Enjoy home-made cakes, sweet treats or savoury snacks and watch the world go by on the busy street.
In the last few years, Cologne's culinary portfolio has been expanded by a growing number of restaurants serving sophisticated and creative cuisine. Eight top restaurants have been awarded Michelin stars, with "Le Moissonnier" receiving an excellent rating of two stars. The Gault & Millau restaurant guide awarded 19 Cologne restaurants scores of 12 to 18 points for their outstanding cuisine.
Take in the urban vibe in Frankfurt – sipping a sundowner by the River Main, enjoying an after-work party at the Wochenmarkt market, Tuesday night skating against the backdrop of the Frankfurt skyline or eating street food in the "Bahnhofsviertel" (Station Quarter). Frankfurt offers almost endless choices for relaxed chill-out days and unforgettable party nights.
Watch the sunset from the sophisticated and cosmopolitan setting of the trendiest rooftop venues in the middle of Frankfurt's skyscrapers or treat yourself to a cool beer by the River Main. Choose from countless venues and summer gardens for a refreshing break with a spectacular skyline view. The Oosten restaurant is located right next to the Hafenpark park in the east of the city and has a large outdoor terrace.
Slightly further upriver, the Yachtklub is the perfect setting for cool parties on the water. It is then just a few steps to Meral Events Dönerboot, a boat offering Turkish specialities on the water's edge; you can even order from your own boat. The Maincafé between the Untermain bridge and Holbeinsteg bridge is a real classic. Relax on wooden decking, a deck chair or your own picnic rug and take in the urban Frankfurt scene.
Frankfurt's "Bahnhofsviertel" (Station Quarter) is brimming with restaurants, delicatessens and street food varieties from all over the world. Innovative new dining hotspots and trendy bars and clubs, such as Plank or Oye, are continuously opening up in this small and edgy district. Frankfurt's nightlife has something for everyone, from iconic or wild theme parties to concerts showcasing new bands. Clubs such as the Gibson have already become a real tradition and the after-work parties at the Wochenmarkt market on Friedberger Platz are no longer an insider tip, but a cool meeting place where bankers and students welcome the weekend with a glass of wine in a city that never sleeps.
From the IAA and Automechanika leading international trade fairs to modern vehicle production at the Opel plant in Rüsselsheim or the vintage cars maintained with loving care in the Klassikstadt – Frankfurt and the Rhine-Main region are a Mecca for car enthusiasts from all over the world.
Since 1951, the International Motor Show (IAA) has been held every two years at the "Frankfurter Messe" exhibition centre. The IAA is the world's most comprehensive automotive trade fair for anyone who develops, produces, uses or loves cars. It includes a wide selection of symposia and conventions for trade visitors, as well as an SUV track, classic car shows and tuning and collector events for car fans. The last IAA attracted almost one million visitors to the metropolis on the Main.
The automotive sector is one of the key industries in the Rhine-Main-Neckar region, and has a long history. Opel cars have been built in Rüsselsheim since 1898. Opel offers visitors guided tours of its vehicle production, accompanied by expert employees. History and state-of-the-art production intertwine at the Hessian plant. Opel Patent motor cars, Doktorwagen (Doctor's Car), the Laubfrosch (Tree Frog), Rekord, Kapitän and Admiral are just a few of the historic highlights.
For those who prefer classic cars to that new car smell, a visit to the "Klassikstadt" in Frankfurt am Main is a must. The huge brick factory building, constructed around the turn of the century, has a very special historic atmosphere and promises car enthusiasts a real treat with its mobile legends. Visitors can admire rare brands and valuable classic cars in the exhibition area and watch mechanics and restorers at work.
The Düsseldorf cityscape reflects a strong sense of modernity. Situated directly beside the River Rhine, just behind the Oberkasseler bridge, is the "Ehrenhof" complex of Expressionist-style buildings. It is home to the "Museum Kunstpalast" art museum, the "Tonhalle" concert hall and the "NRW-Forum Düsseldorf" centre.
In the Old Town, visitors can find the Wilhelm Marx House, one of the first office skyscrapers in Germany, built in 1922-1923. The 108-metre high "Victoria Turm" (Victoria Tower) in Golzheim and the 94-metre "Dreischeibenhaus" office building and neighbouring "Schauspielhaus" theatre on Gustaf-Gründgens-Platz define the cityscape.
The "Landtag Nordrhein-Westfalen" (North Rhine-Westphalia State Parliament) is situated directly on the banks of the Rhine. This striking circular building by the Rhine was completed in 1988 based on the plans of the architects Eller, Maier, Walter und Partner. Barely a stone's throw away is Düsseldorf's highest building, the 240-metre tall "Rheinturm" (Rhine Tower). This is where light artist Horst H. Baumann developed the world's biggest digital clock.
One highlight – and not just of Düsseldorf's urban architecture – is undoubtedly the MedienHafen. Once a hub of trade and industry, this area has now attracted the attention of international architecture experts with its symbiosis of tradition and modernity. The highlights include the asymmetrical Gehry buildings, which have quickly become one of Düsseldorf's best-known landmarks.
Another striking architectural highlight appeared in the city centre in the autumn of 2013, the so-called "Kö-Bogen". The building was designed by the world-famous New York architect Daniel Libeskind. In 2014, the Kö-Bogen received the prestigious MIPIM Award, making it officially the world's best building in the Urban Regeneration category.
A beach club with a sweeping panoramic view over the rooftops of the Old Town, little squares with relaxed cafes, craft beer bars and legendary clubs – Hannover appeals with its trendy hotspots and its own very distinctive charm.
The historic Kröpcke clock and "unterm Schwanz" (under the tail of the equestrian statue outside the main train station) have long been traditional meeting places for the city's residents. Situated at the start of the main retail streets, they make an ideal starting point for a shopping trip. In the vibrant and tumultuous district of Linden, people demonstrate the art of living. The Nordstadt district directly behind the university is home to a large number of students, giving it a peaceful and relaxed atmosphere. The Art Nouveau district of List features stylish boutiques and wine bars, while the Südstadt district boasts Maschsee Lake and beautiful market squares.
The "Roter Faden" (Red Thread) is a red line painted on the pavements to guide visitors to Hannover's main sights. You can also plan your own city tour using a brochure or a smartphone app. A trip in the curving lift up to the dome at the top of the tower of the New Town Hall is an absolute must, to take in the breathtaking view of this green city. Guided city tours and a trip in the hop-on hop-off double-decker bus are more good ways to see the main sights.
With its large and small theatres, exciting exhibitions and unique exhibits, Hannover has established a reputation as a theatre, art and museum metropolis. The city is also known for its parties, top-name concerts, nightlife and clubs. A wide range of festivals, including the Maschsee Lake Festival, Marksmen's Fair and open-air festivals, attract high numbers of visitors every year. The city is home to some iconic venues, such as the Kulturzentrum Faust (Faust Culture Centre) and the Eisfabrik arts centre, where bands rock the stage and genuine originals are discovered.
Situated on the edge of Nuremberg's Old Town, the multicultural area of Gostenhof has become a magnet for the "in crowd", with its vintage shops, galleries and designer boutiques.
Take a look over the shoulder of World Latte Art Champion Christian Ullrich in the coffee roasting house or enjoy a hot chocolate with home-made cake in the boutique, experience the spellbinding thrill of a show at the Wundermanufaktur magic theatre then, a few doors away, buy a magic set from woodturner Grottenthaler – the GoHo district has it all. Following the end of production, the nearby AEG site has become home to galleries and restaurants as well as research and science under the banner of "Auf AEG".
Twice a year, there is a chance to seek out countless treasures at the "Trempelmarkt", Germany's biggest flea market which extends over a large area of the Old Town. From May to October, a seaside atmosphere prevails in Nuremberg, when 600 tonnes of white sand cover an area of 4,000 square metres on the island of Schütt, occupied by 1,500 deck chairs: the city beach is "Nuremberg south" in the summer. The summer evenings on the square by the 'Tiergärtnertor' (city gate) are also a unique experience. Young people from all over the world come together here to chill out on the cobblestones with a bottle of 'Rotbier' (red beer) from the Altstadthof brewery.
In addition to traditional cultural events such as the 'Blaue Nacht' (Blue Night), long night of art and culture, and the Bardentreffen and Rock im Park music festivals, Nuremberg offers a wide range of unusual and niche hipster events: for example, the 'Brückenfestival' (bridge festival), Nürnberg.Pop, Folk im Park and the monthly Street Food Market.
What makes shopping in Dresden such a pleasure? It must be something to do with the city's history, with its sense of distinction and quality, its fine products and brands underpinned by centuries of tradition.
Established in 1434, Dresden's "Striezelmarkt" is one of the city's best-known markets and possibly boasts the longest tradition. It is one of Germany's largest and most beautiful Christmas markets.
In days gone by, Saxon rulers purchased valuable items from all over the world to fill their collections and museums, from porcelain to weapons, fine robes, paintings and goldwork. Over time, they arranged for these fine wares to be made locally.
One milestone in this process was the establishment of Europe's first porcelain production site in Meißen in 1710. Crowned heads and wealthy citizens from Europe and all over the world then travelled to Dresden to purchase luxury goods, a tradition that continues today - the Meißen porcelain factory still stands for premium top-quality craftsmanship. Dresden's jewellery designers and jewellers are perpetuating the tradition and artistry of the city's famous goldsmiths. The premium timepieces made in nearby Glashütte enjoy a worldwide reputation. From Meissen to Lange & Söhne, Juwelier Leicht, Glashütte Original and more, all these Saxon brands have their flagship stores in Dresden.
Dresden's extremely diverse shopping attractions include specialities such as wines from the hills around the River Elbe, regional designer fashion and everything the city's large shopping malls or small and attractive boutiques have to offer. Many hotels also provide pure luxury in every conceivable incarnation; from boutique hotels to grand hotels and designer hotels, there is something for every taste.
The last few years have seen the emergence of a vibrant, young and alternative scene in Düsseldorf. Up-and-coming districts such as Unterbilk, Flingern, Pempelfort and Derendorf have become melting pots for young art, culture, fashion and music.
Around 260 bars and pubs explain the Old Town's reputation as "the longest bar in the world". Wednesday evenings on Ratinger Straße are a particular highlight for Düsseldorf's residents. This is when young people come together in the area between the "Im Füchschen" brewery and bars such as the "Einhorn" or "Anaconda", both inside and spilling out onto the streets. Those in search of something a little more stylish are ideally catered for in the city's hipster districts, where students and young artists come together in the newest and trendiest lounges. zakk, a converted nail factory, offers concerts, readings and parties, while Boui Boui Bilk attracts visitors with food festivals and design, art and cultural markets.
Shoppers and trendsetters who prefer to choose their fashion outside the well-known chain stores can head to the area around Lorettostraße (Unterbilk), right next to the MedienHafen. If you feel like a quick break, pop into Yomaro and treat yourself to a frozen yogurt, with a wide choice of optional toppings.
You can find inspiring art almost everywhere you look in Düsseldorf. Around 200 metres of the frontages of the buildings on Kiefernstraße, which squatters put in the headlines in the 1980s, have been designed in a street art style. Since February 2016, the city's residents and visitors have been able to enjoy more "free art" underground. Six of the stations on the city's new Wehrhahn underground line have been designed by former students of the "Kunstakademie Düsseldorf" art school.
Post-modern glass and steel facades, elegant villas from centuries gone by, streets lined with beautiful Art Nouveau-style buildings, Baroque churches, historic residential districts and outstanding single buildings define the face of the city of Hamburg.
The first large shopping arcades were developed in the city centre in the 1970s, continuing today with the new Europa Passage and the redesigned Jungfernstieg.
Situated in the south of Hamburg's Old Town, the Kontorhaus Quarter was the first purely office district in Europe to write architectural history. It was built in the 1920s and 1930s and is also home to the Chilehaus, the Meßberghof and the Sprinkenhof. The Chilehaus, with its distinctive ship's bow-shaped top section, represents the most significant architectonic work of German Brick Expressionism and had a lasting influence on brick architecture in the 1920s and 1930s in northern Europe. It was also one of the first skyscrapers in Germany. On 5 July 2015, the "Speicherstadt and Kontorhaus District with Chilehaus" ensemble was awarded UNESCO World Heritage status, becoming one of around 1,200 "masterpieces of human creative genius of universal value" in the world.
A bold, wave-shaped glass construction rises up above the Kaispeicher A, a historic brick monument on the western tip of HafenCity. This is the Elbphilharmonie, Hamburg's new cultural landmark. It combines tradition with modernity in the place where Hamburg is at its most authentic, directly on the water in the heart of the Hanseatic city.
Modern architecture: even after 40 years, the Olympiapark (Olympic Park) with its bold tent roof construction by Günther Behnisch still has a futuristic look. Opposite is BMW Welt, a striking statement by the architects Coop Himmelb(l)au.
The neighbouring BMW Museum is home to the BMW Art Car Collection, created with the participation of artists from all over the world. Further north is the huge stadium ring of the Allianz Arena, designed by Herzog & de Meuron.
The Pinakothek der Moderne (architect: Stefan Braunfels) showcases all aspects of design, with its international design museums and attached Architekturmuseum (Architecture Museum). The Brandhorst Museum, designed by Matthias Sauerbuch and Louisa Hutton, has an outer skin made from 36,000 glazed ceramic rods. With its shimmering gold facade, the new extension of the Lenbachhaus designed by Foster + Partners is another architectural jewel. The new State Museum of Egyptian Art is the work of the architects Peter and Gottfried Böhm. The architectural practice Georg-Scheel-Wetzel designed the NS-Dokumentationszentrum (Documentation Centre for the History of National Socialism).
The Munich-based architectural trio Allmann Sattler Wappner is responsible for Munich's most modern Catholic church, the Herz-Jesu-Kirche in Neuhausen. The full-height blue glass entrance gate, leading visitors into an interior bathed in light, gives the building a magical appeal.
An oasis of peace in the heart of the city – St.-Jakobs-Platz and the Ohel Jakob Synagogue. Designed by the team of architects Wandel Hoefer Lorch, its raw sand-coloured base and light glass construction makes it an eye-catching sight in the Jakobsplatz Jewish Centre.
Cologne currently boasts one of the most vibrant architectural landscapes in Germany. The Rheinboulevard has given the city a very attractive riverside promenade on the right bank of the Rhine.
The new staircase leading down to the river, spanning a width of 500 metres between the Hohenzollernbrücke bridge and the Deutzer bridge, has already become a popular meeting place for the city's residents and visitors.
The Rheinauhafen area, Cologne's historic harbour district, has now been developed into a strolling promenade with international style, revealing a modern side to Germany's oldest city. The district has become a creative hub, revolving around the three spectacular "Kranhäuser" buildings designed by the famous Hamburg architecture practice Bothe, Richter, Teherani. Old meets new in a harmonious fusion in the Rheinauhafen area. For example, the former granary in the harbour district, known as the "Siebengebirge" (seven mountains) due to its distinctive pointed gables, has been transformed into a stylish residential and office building.
The Weltstadthaus building has been an architectural highlight on Schildergasse since 2005. This striking glass palace by the renowned architect Renzo Piano is home to the Cologne branch of the Peek & Cloppenburg fashion chain. The building's shape, resembling a stranded whale, has given rise to its name of "Walfisch" (whale) among the city's residents.
Another architectural masterpiece is the "Kunstmuseum des Erzbistums Köln Kolumba" (Kolumba art museum of the Cologne Archdiocese), which moved into a striking new building in September 2007 designed by the Swiss star architect Peter Zumthor. The new building integrates the ruins of the original Romanesque St Kolumba church, destroyed in 1945.
The state capital of Baden-Württemberg has a lot to offer when it comes to culinary delights. From sophisticated cuisine to down-to-earth fare, fine wines and refreshing beers – it caters to every wish.
The Stuttgart region boasts 24 Michelin-starred restaurants, eight of which are in the state capital itself. They cover the full spectrum, from traditional through to classic and sophisticated, creative and modern. It might not have any Michelin stars, but traditional Swabian home cooking is still exceptionally good. Swabian restaurants and pop-up taverns selling home-produced wine serve dishes including lentils with "Spätzle" pasta and "Maultaschen", a ravioli-style dish.
The "Stuttgarter Weindorf" wine festival showcases regional specialities as well as local wines on the Marktplatz and Schillerplatz squares each year. Some 125 relaxed wine arbours serve around 500 different Württemberg wines. The "Weinbaumuseum Stuttgart" (wine-growing museum) presents all kinds of interesting facts on the art of wine production. Visitors learn all about traditional and modern wine-growing techniques, smell characteristic fruit aromas and find out more about Stuttgart's wine-growing history. They can then spend some time browsing and tasting in the museum's "Vinothek" wine store.
Toasts in Stuttgart are made with beer as well as wine. The amber nectar flows freely each year at the "Cannstatter Volksfest" festival on the "Wasen" site. Whirling fairground rides and brightly-coloured food stalls attract some four million visitors each autumn. The nine festival tents and the "Almhüttendorf" Alpine village are also important highlights, offering visitors beer, regional cuisine and fantastic shows over the three weeks of festivities.
Frankfurt is a city of contrasts. At one time, it was famous for its Old Town rather than its skyline. Today, "Mainhattan" offers an attractive fusion of old and new, with skyscrapers, original half-timbered buildings in Höchst and vibrant reconstructions shaping the face of the city.
The city's history meets the present day in a unique mix of architectural styles.
In the "DomRömer" Quarter, the new Old Town is emerging, reconstructing the historic area between the Kaiserdom (Imperial Cathedral) and the Römer (City Hall). Old town houses are being rebuilt using historic materials, skilled craftsmanship and loving attention to detail. Frankfurt's Old Town was formerly the centre of business and political life for both the city and the Old Empire. Markets and trade fairs were held here, kings elected and emperors crowned. The reconstruction has restored access to the old Krönungsweg (coronation path). The new Old Town is already an impressive example of Frankfurt's urban development and a unique construction project in Europe.
Just a few steps away are the impressive streets of the financial district, carved out between imposing skyscrapers. Rising up to 260 metres, the Commerzbank Tower is currently the tallest of the giants. With its distinctive facade, the Westhafen Tower brings to mind images of a typical Frankfurt apple wine glass, while the pencil-shaped Trade Fair Tower is one of the city's landmarks.
The observation deck in Main Tower offers a breathtaking view over the city from a lofty height of 200 metres. Viewed from the banks of the River Main, the silhouette of the skyscrapers against the red glow of the sunset or illuminated by a starry night sky is a particularly attractive sight.
The cathedral city of Cologne is a smart luxury destination with a lot to offer discerning visitors, from a wide selection of exclusive accommodation options to top-class cuisine.
The area around Mittelstraße and the "Belgisches Viertel" (Belgian Quarter) is a shopping paradise with its independent boutiques and flagship stores of premium brands. In the "Friesenviertel" (Friesian Quarter), you can find unusual galleries, antique shops and art dealers. In the neighbouring Belgian Quarter, designers and shop owners showcase independent fashion designs as well as high-quality brands and accessories.
Cologne's diverse cultural landscape also features exhibitions, productions and concerts of international standing in some extraordinary and flamboyant venues. Anyone seeking time out for rest and relaxation in this city of one million inhabitants can visit one of Cologne's many wellness spas. Cologne's distinctive charm permeates every aspect of your stay, characterised by a friendly and open attitude and exemplary professional service. Visitors to Cologne can choose from 300 hotels with 31,000 beds, including 10 hotels in the luxury category and another 46 offering first-class comfort, some featuring a special boutique or design style.
Cologne is also an experience when it comes to dining. As well as down-to-earth fare in typical Cologne breweries, a wide range of restaurants have captured attention with their sophisticated and creative cuisine. 10 top restaurants have repeatedly been awarded Michelin stars over the last few years; with "Le Moissonnier" being the only two-star rated establishment.
A visit to Leipzig promises a sensory feast for culture enthusiasts and modern art lovers alike.
From a ballet at the Leipzig Opera to a great concert in the world-famous Gewandhaus or a motet by the St Thomas choir in St Thomas Church, there are so many ways to enjoy classical music – in many cases for free. But that's not all. Few German cities can boast such a vibrant arts scene, attracting worldwide attention. The most noteworthy examples being the Spinnerei art centre with over 100 studios and 11 galleries, as well as the leading representative of the "New Leipzig School", artist Neo Rauch.
Leipzig also has a lot to offer shopping fans. As well as major fashion brands, the compact city centre is also home to some exquisite designer labels, such as Liebeskind. The atmosphere in the historic arcades, in particular the elegant Mädler Passage, adds very special charm to shopping trips in Leipzig. And after your retail experience, you can choose from a wide selection of outstanding restaurants offering great cuisine at attractive prices. The FALCO** enjoys an excellent reputation with its Head Chef Peter Maria Schnurr - Chef of the Year 2016. As does the Villers gourmet restaurant in the five-star superior Hotel Fürstenhof. Not forgetting the Stadtpfeiffer*, situated right next to the Gewandhaus, which has been a favourite foodie destination for years.
Leipzig's hotel scene is equally multi-facetted. From the classic atmosphere of premium establishments such as the Steigenberger Grandhotel Handelshof, the Hotel Fürstenhof Leipzig and the Westin Leipzig to "newcomers" such as Innside by Melía Leipzig or the ANA Symphonie, offering a modern urban feel and stylish interior design.
With its elegant shopping arcades, famous retail streets and some of the best hotels in Germany, Hamburg offers visitors an all-round experience with a luxury feel.
The entire city centre is criss-crossed with a network of shopping arcades, each more beautifully designed than the other. Hamburg's smallest and most historic arcades are the Alsterarkaden which, together with the Mellin Passage, provide a link to the Neuer Wall and are decorated with beautiful stucco and ceiling frescoes. The Neuer Wall is Hamburg's top designer street. From Armani to Joop and Jil Sander, Cartier jewellery and Hermès or Louis Vuitton accessories, you can find all these famous names and many more international fashion brands here. The Neuer Wall is also home to a wide range of traditional specialist stores, such as the Unger fashion boutique.
Mönckebergstraße is also the location of the Levantehaus shopping arcade with over 40 stylish stores. After a long day of shopping, there is nothing like a pampering treatment to help you relax and unwind. You can indulge in a selection of treatments in all five-star hotels and in independent spas, for example the Cocon Day Spa on Rothenbaumchaussee.
Foodies with a penchant for a maritime harbour atmosphere should head to Große Elbstraße, where they can find a host of restaurants, including the famous Fischereihafen Restaurant, Au Quai, La Vela and Henssler & Henssler. Hamburg is the only German city to boast a three Michelin-starred restaurant: "The Table" in the HafenCity area. Watch the setting sun as you sip a cocktail 90 metres above the harbour, a luxurious experience to be savoured in the "20up" skyline bar in the Empire Riverside Hotel. Situated on the 23rd floor of the "Tanzende Türme" (Dancing Towers) on the Reeperbahn, 105 metres above the Elbe, the "Clouds" is Hamburg's loftiest dining venue.
Exploring art and culture is hungry and thirsty work. Luckily Dresden offers a wide array of culinary pleasures in addition to intellectual pursuits. What will it be? Gourmet cuisine or street food? Savoury or sweet? Traditional Saxon fare or exotic cuisine?
Whatever your taste, Dresden has a lot to offer. The city has even lent its name to a classic German Christmas pastry. The popularity of "Dresdner Christstollen" has extended beyond the Elbe region to the entire world. All year round, you can enjoy "Quarkkeulchen" (pancakes with Quark cheese) and "Eierschecke" cake. Each baker has his or her own closely guarded secret recipe for these culinary specialities – as well as for Stollen.
And every chef no doubt has a favourite recipe for Saxon "Sauerbraten" marinated beef. In Dresden, it features on the menus of gourmet restaurants as well as in down-to-earth hostelries and venues serving modern, innovative cuisine. Farmers producing within the urban area or nearby provide fresh and often organically grown ingredients. Continuous new interpretations are keeping Dresden's culinary traditions alive.
And what would you like to drink? Dresden is home to several breweries and is the most northerly city in the world to be situated in an official wine-growing area. The city's brewers and wine-growers will be happy to let you take a look over their shoulder as they work. Fine liqueurs made from local fruit are another tempting treat.
Since the early part of the 2000s, Leipzig has ranked among the top cities in the German automotive industry thanks to the presence of Porsche and BMW.
The Leipzig Porsche plant opened in 2002 and is much more than simply a production site. Visitors can see the production of the Panamera, Macan and Cayenne first hand and take part in a wide range of guided tours and experiences. The spectacular architecture of the exclusive Customer Centre, the plant's own certified circuit and an off-road track also make Porsche Leipzig a popular event venue.
With its award-winning architecture by Zaha Hadid, the BMW Plant Leipzig is one of the most modern and sustainable vehicle production sites in the world. Since March 2005, up to 740 vehicles have been produced here every day. As well as conventional vehicle production in Leipzig, the company's future focuses include electric cars and cars with lightweight carbon fibre reinforced plastic bodies. Plant tours provide insights into the vehicle production process - from welding of the bodywork to painting and customised features.
Leipzig is also the perfect place to experience the nostalgia of East Germany's automotive history - on a cool Trabi tour. An object of desire, the Trabant car was, and still is, a highly coveted item. In the former German Democratic Republic, people had to wait up to 15 years for their own little "cardboard box" and they are now almost as rare again today. At the former production site in Zwickau, 80 kilometres from Leipzig, visitors to the August Horch Museum can now gain a deeper insight into German automotive history, from Horch to Audi and Trabant right through to Volkswagen.
Nuremberg also has a lot to offer car enthusiasts. The 'Museum Industriekultur' (Museum for Industrial Culture) is home to some very rare microcars. The 14 HP Zündapp Janus managed to reach a top speed of 80 km/h, while the Victoria-Spatz even recorded 100 km/h.
Produced only in small series, these beautiful little roadsters have now almost disappeared, making them sought-after rarities among collectors. At the 'Ofenwerk - Zentrum für mobile Classic' (Classic Cars Centre) in Nuremberg, everything revolves around unique vehicles maintained with a great deal of love and passion. Merks Motor Museum was established in 2011 and displays 82 classic cars as well as a few more recent vehicles, from the 1927 Chevrolet Coach to "affordable bread and butter cars", such as the Ford P3 or Renault R4.
And in nearby Neumarkt, the 'Automuseum Maybach' (Museum for Historical Maybach Vehicles) displays around one tenth of the manufacturer's remaining classic cars.
Every year, the international motorsports elite gathers in Nuremberg in late June or early July for the DTM German touring car championship held on the spectacular city circuit. Over 140,000 touring car and Formula 3 fans make the annual pilgrimage to the grounds around the 'Steintribüne' (Grandstand) of the former Nazi Party Rally Grounds for this weekend of racing on the Norisring. Training, qualification rounds and four top-class races are accompanied by stunt shows and concerts.