Teutonic twins Germany and Austria have both crashed onto the Green List meaning we can all enjoy the lakes, mountains and culture of Mitteleuropa unhindered once more. If you like castles, spas, forest walks, architecture and museums and even a little bit of live music, you’re in the right place.
Berlin’s new airport is the talk of the town – years late but it’s given the city the big gateway it arguably needed. Avgeeks and the curious might get off on a look at the city’s other airports – the brutalist beauty of Tegel and Tempelhof’s eerie gargantuan terminal or the fact its runway, taxiways and aprons are now a giant park perfect for skating, cycling and picknicking. In fact from Sat until Sep 5 Tegel hosts a farewell festival as part of the Sonambiente series where artists and musicians take over the old airport and fill it with weird and wonderful sounds (https://sonambiente.berlin/). Check out Berlin’s new Futurium if you want to gaze into the future of the city.
And if you want to see real Berliners take a walk along the Landwehrkanal in Kreuzberg where people come to drink and eat and hang out in their droves by the water.
Osterberger is a chic eatery on a quiet street in Mitte with a dining room by architect Martin Davidson and a choice of vegan dishes or organic meats (https://www.osterberger.de/). The poussin with roasted vegetables won’t disappoint. Kink is a brand new restaurant in an old brewery on the Pfefferberg hill with some eye-popping neon lights and adventurous cooking like a buckwheat crêpe with king oyster pâté, shimeji, lovage and pearl onion (https://kink-berlin.de/). Le Cote is a bar and restaurant where Berlin’s brightest come to drink and dine on Mediterranean dishes done with panache (https://lacoteberlin.com/) like an amazing burrata with heritage tomatoes and Campari jelly. Very cool place and great service from the team. For genuine Swedish meatballs you can’t beat the meat (or vegan) balls at Möllers Köttbullar (http://koettbullar.com/) in Kreuzberg. Fine dining in style is yours for the taking at Jonas Zorner’s Golvet (https://golvet.de/) which has one Michelin star and does a seven course tasting menu for 129 EUR. Dishes include monkfish with bone marrow and artichoke.
Dusseldorf is a cool city break destination with a thriving art scene and plenty of one off galleries like the uber hip Philara (philara.de) which has an X-rated tiling scheme we won’t describe here because it will make you blush. Once the home of Joseph Beuys, its annual Art Dusseldorf fair and many galleries like the famous K20 and the K21 inside the old Rhineland Parliament Building (https://www.kunstsammlung.de/de) and even a whole tram line where the stations are living art exhibits, make it an art lover’s dream. To relax, take time out at the ultra luxe Vabali Spa (vabali.de) – they also have a blingin’ Berlin branch and a new one coming to Hamburg soon too.
With a thriving gallery scene, Dusseldorf is an art-lover’s dream.
Ruby in Dusseldorf (https://www.ruby-hotels.com/) epitomises the brand’s ‘lean luxury’ standpoint, find other great Ruby hotels in Munich and Hamburg and even London now. 25 Hours in Cologne is one of the most impressive 25 Hours Hotels with a great rooftop resto and retro interiors. The 25 Hours in Berlin, Dusseldorf and especially Hamburg also impress (https://www.25hours-hotels.com/en/hotels). Eat delicious French food at The Paris Club in Dusseldorf, a bistro with a modern twist and panoramic city views (https://www.theparisclub.de/). Brucken offers seafood and meat dishes close to the River Rhine in Cologne’s historic old town (https://www.restaurant-bruecken.com/).
Brandenburg’s lakes are enticing in late summer – Wannsee and Teufelssee are easy to get to from Berlin. Wolzigersee and many others have been cleaned up since the days of GDR pollution and are wildlife havens and great for sailing and swimming. The new E Werk is an art gallery in an old power station in the town of Luckenwalde. (www.kunststrom.com/Home.html). Don’t miss the original Bauhaus design school and museum in Dessau, and the hipster city of Leipzig – its old cotton spinning factory (one of the biggest mills in Europe) is now a haven for artists, with studios and galleries. Even Berliners have decamped to ‘Hypezig’ to hoover up the cheap rents and cool bars. For relaxation stop by at the huge Tropical Islands holiday park in an old airship hangar at Brand (https://www.tropical-islands.de/).
Bake under summer sunrays at Brandenburg’s Wannsee or Teufelssee lake.
Motel One is always a great value stay with hotels in Leipzig, Dresden, Berlin and Hamburg with easy access to eastern Germany (https://www.motel-one.com/en/). Each branch offers basic rooms but an impressive One Lounge lobby which combines restaurant, bar, work space and chill out area – making budget seem extremely attractive. Maritim has good quality hotels in places like Magdeburg, Berlin and Dresden (https://www.maritim.com/en/) which are all packed with facilities like gyms and pools. The Berlin ProArte one has loads of painting and sculpture spread around the whole hotel by German artists. Frieda is the name of the chef’s grandmother and the restaurant that is one of the plushest places to eat in Leipzig with refined nouvelle cuisine and a sunny terrace (https://guide.michelin.com/en/sachsen/leipzig/restaurant/frieda).
Autumn is a perfect time to explore Germany’s Baltic beaches, like the cute seaside town of Timendorfer Strand or the island of Rugen. Hamburg’s Reeperbahn Festival and Anchor Awards take over that city on Sep 22 for a week (www.reeperbahnfestival.com/en/frontpage) and offer up the best new bands from around Europe and special surprise guests (Liam Gallagher, Biffy Clyro and The Get Up Kids have played this surprise slot in previous years) and Hamburg’s music scene includes the new Elbphilharmonie and of course a Beatles tour of the places the band frequented.
Baltic beaches, cute seaside towns and a thriving music scene – Hamburg has it all.
Bavaria and the Tyrol
Mountains aren’t just for skiing and warm weather means you can hike the Alps in Austria and Southern Germany and enjoy some lazy lake swims on Lake Constance or at Tegernsee in the Alpine foothills. The historic city of Nuremberg also has a great museum of trains (https://www.dbmuseum.de/) for geeks who are young and not so young too. If you’ve still got Olympic fever you can walk through Munich’s 1972 Olympic Park exploring the old stadium and athletes’ village. Munich’s many markets are always fun, the Viktualienmarkt in the city centre has a massive range of fresh food and gourmet produce and lots of places to eat. To chill out there’s Therme Erding in the pretty Bavarian town, one of the largest spas in the world (https://www.therme-erding.de/en/).
In the Tyrol check out some the pretty villages like Mayrhofen which comes alive once a year to host Snowbombing (snowbombing.com).
There are numerous vineyards as well as stunning churches to be seen in Vienna’s city limits
Wrenkh warms the cockles of your heart: friendly service, cool décor, a cookery school if you want to learn how to cook their dishes – most of which are vegetarian – and great vibes (https://www.wrenkh-wien.at/). If you love Middle Eastern flavours and own an Ottolenghi cookbook get down to Neni (https://neni.at/) and make sure you have their mezze plate or falafels.
Styria and Southern Austria
Ride one of the many heritage steam railways that climb through the stunning Styrian countryside.
Easyjet flies from London to many German and Austrian cities including Hamburg, Berlin, Stuttgart, Innsbruck, Salzburg, Dusseldorf, Munich and Vienna (easyjet.com)
Travel between cities in Germany and Austria by Flixbus and Flixtrain (Flixbus.com)