Ask anyone to think of Germany and they will probably conjure up a well-worn image of beer, sausages, snow-tipped forests, Bavarian castles and techno music. It might make any German wince to hear it, but the good news for travellers is that all of these clich├ęs are to some extent true! However, Germany is a modern country and has more to offer than is at first apparent, with a refreshing contrast of traditional towns and thriving cosmopolitan cities co-existing within its borders. It is the mix of experiences available that makes Germany the third most visited country in Europe, and the eighth most visited country worldwide – not bad for a country that emerged battered from the Second World War.

On one side of the country’s personality you have Munich, a city noted for its charming provincialism alongside its growing cosmopolitan values. Munich is the capital of Bavaria and revels in its folk tales and traditions, with a landscape dominated by baroque palaces, historic buildings and grand Gothic architecture as well as many green parks. The friendliness of the people is legendary, as is the proud emphasis on beer epitomised by the yearly Oktoberfest, a beer festival to beat all beer festivals that draws a massive 6 million visitors to the city annually.

Dresden is a similarly striking city, which has risen above its tragic past to stand as a symbol for the endurance of art and beauty in Germany beyond the scars of war. Its museums, art galleries and churches are unrivalled the world over and it has a truly impressive skyline of spires and domes.

The Black Forest area of the country in Baden-W├╝rttemberg is another pull for tourists, with its rivers, mountains and trees affording a fantastic range of walks, biking trails and even cross-country skiing. Indeed, the Alps are a fantastic place to experience some top quality skiing, especially in resorts like the famous Garmisch-Partenkirchen. The traditional German fare available across the country is also a welcome reminder of German history, with meaty dishes like stew and schnitzel and cakes and black bread being some of the country’s favourites.

On the flip side of Germany there are highly modern, innovative and metropolitan cities like Berlin and Cologne leading the way in artistic and technological terms. Berlin has one of the world’s highest concentrations of creative industries, Hamburg is a world leader for business and Cologne is the perfect example of modern German prosperity. The inspiring architecture and traditions of the past is coupled with cutting-edge design and a vibrant nightlife to make Germany a welcoming country for all ages, budgets and tastes.

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