• ©Martin Kirchner
  • ©Düsseldorf Marketing & Tourismus GmbH (U.Otte)
  • ©Dominik Parzinger, München Tourismus
  • ©Köln Tourismus GmbH (Andreas Möltgen)
  • ©Stuttgart Marketing GmbH
  • ©LTM (Andreas Schmidt)
  • ©Lollis Homestay Dirk Henneberg und Michael Lottes GbR
  • ©Nürnberg, Uwe Niklas
  • ©Jörg Modrow

Magic Cities

for backpackers

The Magic Cities are all easy and affordable to reach by train or plane, which makes them popular with backpackers. Young travellers from all over the world cross paths in Germany's major cities, and together they explore the offbeat bars and clubs, pick up the language, and discover the art and heritage of foreign cities. Particularly popular are the music festivals with their unique party atmosphere.

Youth hostels provide low-cost accommodation and a service tailored to the requirements of young international guests.

Discover and experience Germany with a backpack

Hostels in Frankfurt

Central location, good rooms, great atmosphere – Frankfurt am Main is an ideal destination for travellers on a budget.

FRANKFURT HOSTEL is located in central Frankfurt, across the street from the main train station in Kaiserstrasse, formerly one of the city's grand boulevards. It is also just a short walk from restaurants, cinemas, shops, theatres and the opera house, and there are public transport connections for the underground, buses and suburban railway located outside. A few steps further and you reach the hip United Hostel, which stands out with its ultra-modern design and new hostel concept.

The Five Elements Hostel, also situated near the train station, boasts a stylish interior. A large bar area with comfy sofas and tables completes the package. The hostel also offers a varied programme of events and activities.

A hearty breakfast buffet awaits you every morning, whether you're an early bird or a late riser. The city's youth hostel is in a central position right on the river Main and has facilities such as washing machines, a pool table and table football. In addition to youth hostels, affordable accommodation is available in many 1 and 2 star hotels.

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Pitchers of cider, green sauce and Handkäs' mit Musik

You can expect decent portions at a fair price in Frankfurt's cider houses, where good old-fashioned home cooking is top of the menu.

If you want to experience a traditional Frankfurt ambience while sampling the local specialities, then step inside a cider house. Frankfurt's favourite tipple, apfelwein is a type of cider that is traditionally served from a blue-grey ceramic pitcher called a bembel and drunk from a glass etched with a diamond pattern. Menu staples include Handkäs' mit Musik (cheeses marinated with vinegar and onion) and the Frankfurt 'green sauce' made from seven local herbs – an evergreen of a culinary kind and a favourite of Goethe's. Alternatively, you can bring your own food or grab a pretzel from Der Brezelmann. Guests at a cider house are guaranteed a sociable, laid-back evening.

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Leipzig for young people and backpackers

In 2013 the German National Tourist Board promoted Destination Germany with its theme 'Germany for young people – vibrant, fashionable, innovative'. Time to check out Leipzig!

Known for its dynamic arts, music and festival scene, the city of Leipzig is a great place to work and live. Not only does Leipzig attract artists, musicians and other creatives, it's also a top destination for young travellers aged between 14 and 29 – with or without a backpack. Together with affordable accommodation in hostels, youth hostels and boutique hotels, the city boasts a wide range of cultural attractions and leisure activities.

The city's nightlife has always been the stuff of legend. Even Angela Merkel used to dance at the Moritzbastei, Germany's largest student club, in her day. In the Südvorstadt district around Karl-Liebknecht-Strasse, a popular area with lots of colourful cafés, bars and pubs, you can enjoy city life to the full and explore clubs such as Distillery or Werk II late at night. One thing is guaranteed: the price is always right.

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Dresden accommodation for backpackers

After an action-packed day and perhaps a taste of Dresden's nightlife, a backpacker's next priority is finding low-cost accommodation.

Dresden's hostels are hugely popular for their unique atmosphere and their individual character. Guests also relish the opportunity to meet other backpackers and like-minded people there. Backpackers can find plenty of affordable accommodation both in the old quarter and in Neustadt. Lollis Homestay, Hostel Mondpalast and Hostel Louise 20 are just some of the places to stay in the heart of Neustadt, the city's pub and club quarter. There are also numerous inexpensive accommodation options in Dresden's old town.

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Hamburg – city of festivals

Hamburg has many different sides – it can be wild, it can be sophisticated and it can be typically Hamburg. That goes for the huge range of events held every year too. The city also offers a diverse range of fantastic music festivals.

The season of open-air concerts in Hamburg's Stadtpark features 40 or so acts, from local musicians to international stars.

Every May visitors to the Elbjazz Festival can enjoy international jazz in some surprising riverside venues. The combination of newcomers and legends, stages in small harbourside bars and the Blohm&Voss shipyard means the festival is gaining new ground for jazz in every possible respect.

Dockville Festival on Wilhelmsburg island in the Elbe features live performances by bands and solo artists from a broad spectrum of musical genres, as well an art camp.

During the Reeperbahn Festival, held every year on the last weekend of September, rock and pop newcomers send crowds wild in Hamburg's red light district. Sensational concerts are performed on Spielbudenplatz square and in around 20 clubs and theatres along the infamous St. Pauli street.

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Hostels in Hamburg – affordable and modern

Hamburg has places to stay to suit every budget – and there's no need to miss out on style or comfort. Looking for friendly service and eclectic interior design? Look no further!

Even the most energetic night owls will eventually run out of stamina and need a nice comfortable bed. Plenty of offbeat hotels in the centre of Hamburg offer good value for money, for instance Superbude. It has to be seen to be believed – the emphasis is on design and affordability, and its KitchenClub is open for self-service snacks.

Right on Schulterblatt, near the buzzing district of Sternschanze, is the budget hostel Instant Sleep. It's the perfect place for the young (and young at heart) who want to experience the city's wilder side.

Youth hostel locations don't get much better than Jugendherberge Landungsbrücken with its exceptional view of the port, proximity to St. Pauli and great public transport connections.

For affordable, well-appointed rooms, look no further than A&O Hotels. The chain has four locations in Hamburg, including hotels on the Reeperbahn and at the main station.

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Getting active in Hamburg – from canoeing to cycling

With its abundance of water and lush green spaces, Hamburg is a very inviting city. The Alster, Hamburg's main lake, and the countless scenic canals are a paradise, whether you want to chill out or burn some energy on and around the water.

It's particularly easy to combine urban living with the great outdoors in Hamburg. You only have to walk a few minutes out of the bustling city centre to find green space and recreation facilities. Or to get right back to nature, you can make a trip out to the nearby woodlands and conservation areas.

A great way to explore this leafy city is by bike. There's something for every ability, from adventurous mountain bike trails and road routes to leisurely Sunday rides. If you don't have your own bike, you can use the StadtRAD Hamburg bike-hire scheme with its network of more than 100 docking stations.

For an altogether different view of the city, head out on to the water. Hire a canoe or pedalo, from Pieper sailing school for example, paddle your way through the canals or enjoy the peace and quiet on the Outer Alster.

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Stuttgart – an invitation to party

The capital of Baden-Württemberg offers party-hungry backpackers plenty of choice, from the Cannstatter Wasen festival to the Hip-Hop Open.

Cannstatter Wasen is Stuttgart's biggest and most eagerly anticipated festival. Centred around the historical Fruchtsäule, the festival's iconic fruit column, 321 stallholders and brewers serve up a feast of fun and entertainment. The festival combines timeless fairground classics with modern rides, such as double loop-the-loop rollercoasters, gravity-defying carousels, bumper cars and chairoplanes. The beer tents serve up hearty regional fare including knuckle of pork, rostbraten and maultaschen, all washed down with towering glasses of beer.

The Hip-Hop Open is one of the biggest events of its kind anywhere in Europe. Year after year, fans of rap music descend on Reitstadion stadium to party into the small hours.

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Hostels in Stuttgart

Backpackers in Stuttgart can find good hostels at reasonable prices in ideal central locations.

Situated in the heart of Stuttgart, Hostel Alex 30 makes a perfect base for sightseeing, shopping and going out. The hostel offers affordable, individually designed rooms plus lots of useful services and amenities, including midday check outs, Wi-Fi, breakfast served until 11am, bed linen and individual use of the communal kitchen. With its light and airy rooms and central location, the newly renovated Inter-Hostel Stuttgart makes an inviting place to stay for every age group and an ideal base for every excursion imaginable in and around the city.

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Stuttgart by night

Stuttgart is a city that loves to party, with sensational festivals and all-night celebrations. Theodor-Heuss-Strasse is a party street like no other, and night owls flock to its many clubs, pubs and bars.

During the summer months in particular Theodor-Heuss-Strasse, or 'Theo' as locals call it, heaves with thousands of weekend revellers. The name of the game is to turn night into day as the street party keeps going until dawn. Bars like L'Oasis and 7 Grad or the Theo institution that is Suite 212 have large outside areas where you can sit and chat or relax over a shisha pipe. But if smooth tunes, trendy drinks and a cosy atmosphere are more your thing, then Stuttgart has plenty of options too. The charming pub quarter that surrounds the Hans-im-Glück fountain is teeming with old-fashioned pubs, trendy bars like the Matahari and elegant cafés such as the Deli.

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Düsseldorf – a backpack full of discoveries

Düsseldorf couldn't be easier for backpackers to get to. Interrailers pull into the main train station without any hassle, adventurers from overseas land at Düsseldorf's international airport and are in the city in under ten minutes.

In the centre of Düsseldorf there are many conveniently located, low-cost places to stay. The youth hostels and A&O hostels, in particular, are great for meeting other travellers.

The best way to discover Düsseldorf is with a WelcomeCard, which gives you unlimited travel on all buses and trams within the city, as well as lots of discounts on cultural attractions and recreational activities. You can also see the city's sights on one of the many guided tours. Depending on how energetic you're feeling, there are walking tours, jogging groups, bike tours, bus trips and boat cruises.

Düsseldorf's events calendar is bursting at the seams. There's something happening nearly every weekend, which makes it well worth travelling for.

Düsseldorf's nightlife is much like Düsseldorf itself: vibrant, diverse and multifaceted. With around 260 pubs and bars, it's no wonder the old quarter is affectionately known as 'the world's longest bar'. From bohemian bars in the trendy Flingern and Pempelfort districts to the spectacular clubs in the chic Media Harbour and along the famous Königsallee, there's something for everyone on a night out in Düsseldorf. If you prefer things a bit more intimate, the hip quarters of Flingern and Derendorf are a great place to start. Students and young artists can often be seen in the hottest new bars. And off the beaten track you can find good food and drink at great prices.

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Backpacker accommodation in Hannover

Hannover offers affordable accommodation for backpackers that is easily accessible by public transport. Whether you're travelling alone, as a pair or with friends, the hostels and campsites and other hostels are ready to welcome backpackers and offer a number of attractions.

The youth hostel is set in leafy surroundings – Lake Maschsee and the Ricklingen ponds offer opportunities for swimming, inline skating and water sports. It's a short journey to the city centre on the underground, while the Sportpark and AWD Arena are just around the corner, ideal for visitors going to a rock or pop concert or the Schützenfest fair. The youth hostel is one of the most modern in Germany. Affordable lodgings are also available at the cosy Naturfreundehaus. Located in the Eilenriede forest, not far from the centre of Hannover, it offers a disabled-friendly low ropes course. Young people travelling on a shoestring also like to stay at the basic Bed'nBudget hostels, with optional extras available for those who want them. Hotel Schlafgut in the Nordstadt student district offers an attractive discount for guests under 30. If you've brought a tent, there are campsites at Lake Steinhude, Lake Arnum, Lake Blauer, Lake Birkensee and in Wedemark.

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Hannover: events for backpackers

Events, festivals and never-ending parties. Backpackers are in their element in Hannover, with major rock and pop concerts taking place at the TUI Arena and Expo-Plaza. There's also a festival at Lake Maschsee, when around two million people gather together for a huge open-air party, and Hannover's Schützenfest is the biggest fair of its kind in the world.

From stadium concerts to football matches featuring Hannover 96 or the German national team – events at the AWD Arena are in a class of their own. Prestigious sporting events and big-name acts from the world's music and comedy scenes can also be seen in the AWD Hall, in the TUI Arena and at the Expo-Plaza. Thousands of fans gather inside the pavilion and in the region's event venues for the MASALA Weltbeat music festival. Other annual favourites include the Fête de la Musique and 'enercity swinging hannover' at the New Town Hall. Hannover even has its very own mini Woodstock. The Fährmannsfest alternative open-air music festival on the river Ihme has so far welcomed more than 300 bands onto its stage. The live music, variety entertainment and cuisine on offer during the Lake Maschsee Festival attract scores of visitors to what is one of northern Germany's biggest outdoor celebrations. There's also Hannover's famous Schützenfest fair with its amazing fairground rides and traditional merry-go-rounds.

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Discover Hannover with a backpack

The Sprengel Museum, Lake Maschsee with its water sports, beer gardens and beaches, the old quarter with its timber-framed buildings, bistros and flea market: sightseeing in Hannover offers plenty of highlights for backpackers. Herrenhausen Gardens are one of the city's most famous attractions.

Anyone looking for inspiration ought to try the Sprengel Museum in Hannover. It offers modern art from the 20th and 21st century, contains one of Europe's first photo galleries and presents innovative film and video works. The museum is also renowned for its spectacular art shows. Nearby, Lake Maschsee offers a chance to relax, go sailing, skating or stop for refreshments. A great way of exploring Hannover is the Red Thread, a red line painted onto the pavement which links the city's main attractions. These include the Leine river's Hohes Ufer embankment with artist Niki de Saint Phalle's 'nana' sculptures, the flea market and the old quarter with Ballhof theatre, Marktkirche church and the old town hall. Beyond the Red Thread lie the famous Royal Gardens of Herrenhausen with the Great Garden, Georgengarten, Berggarten and the SEA LIFE aquarium, a fabulous underwater world.

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Cologne for backpackers

Great transport links to Europe's major cities, accommodation for every budget, and plenty of youth appeal – Cologne is a hotspot for backpackers.

Cologne lies at the heart of Europe and is within easy reach of other major European cities by train or plane. Lots of hostels in Cologne tailor their services to the needs of backpackers and young globetrotters. Scenic campsites are perfect places to stay during the summer months. Even on a shoestring budget, you can get a real taste of Cologne. Many snack bars and student pubs offer affordable prices, and lots of the districts and sights are easy to explore on foot or by bike.

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Munich for backpackers

Is Munich defined by its elegance and tradition alone? No, the city is also a melting pot of backpackers and travellers from all over the world and it's not just during Oktoberfest that Munich attracts young travellers.

Lazing in the English Garden, getting active at the Olympic Park or watching the surfers on the river Eisbach – in Munich, having fun doesn't have to be expensive. Seeing and doing as much as possible on a limited budget while making friends with people from all over the world – for many young visitors those are the main objectives. The city offers a wide selection of wallet-friendly accommodation options. Price-conscious travellers in Munich have a multitude of hostels, B&Bs and brilliantly designed budget hotels in central locations to choose from.

Whether you want to party with like-minded people, hit the dance floor in a glamorous nightclub or chill out in an underground bar, Munich is a paradise for late-night revellers with a club scene that attracts DJs and guests from every corner of the globe. Mix with the students in the university quarter and around Gärtnerplatz square and feel the youthful atmosphere. Many summer venues – such as Isar beach for instance – open seasonally and at different new locations. Everything just flows here – including the river Isar, which is one of the most popular recreation areas in the heart of Munich.

Favourites that simply have to be visited include the area surrounding the famous Hofbräuhaus beer hall and, of course, Munich's celebrated beer gardens where visitors from all nations gather together. For the past two hundred years guests have been permitted by royal decree to bring their own food to the huge traditional beer gardens of Munich. A fantastic idea that has not only stood the test of time but also offers an excellent way to save money while not missing out on all the fun.

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Nuremberg welcomes backpackers

The trend for seeing the world at a young age and on a small budget is leading more and more travellers to Nuremberg. The city has three hostels suited to backpacking visitors. The Lette'm Sleep Hostel was Nuremberg's first backpacker hostel and is situated right behind the medieval city wall, just five minutes' walk from the main station. Internet facilities, Wi-Fi, and tea & coffee are available free of charge, and there is a self-catering kitchen, as well as lockers and luggage storage facilities. Guests sleep in doubles, multi-bed rooms and apartments. The hostel doesn't have a curfew and doesn't close at certain times.

A&O Nuremberg opened in March 2011. The brand new development has more than 116 rooms in various categories and is only a few minutes' walk from Nuremberg's main train station. Guests are made to feel at home with a huge lobby and bar area and a terrace bar. Bed linen, hand towels, breakfast and internet access in the room – here guests only pay for what they really need. Internet stations are available free of charge.

City Hostel is situated on Klaragasse right in the pedestrian area. The accommodation ranges from twin rooms to nine-bed dorms. Tea and coffee are free of charge and budding chefs can make use of the communal kitchen. Of course, there is also a Wi-Fi hotspot. Jugend Hotel, which enjoys a woodland setting near the airport, has 120 rooms. Guests of all ages are welcome, including young travellers and families.

The youth hostel in Nuremberg officially reopened in April 2013 following two years of renovation. Located in the former imperial stables, it offers stylish rooms with a view over the roofs of Nuremberg's old town. The youth hostel, which has 93 en-suite rooms with shower/WC, is considered one of the nicest and most comfortable anywhere in the world. There is a bar, lounge and show cooking, while the look is 21st-century design meets medieval castle. A full range of educational activities are available for children, young people and families.

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