Food and Drink / Life&style / Nightlife

Germany – All Pretzels and Sauerkraut?

Sunset over the Rhine in Cologne, the iconic Cologne Cathedral in the background

Sunset over the Rhine in Cologne, the iconic Cologne Cathedral in the background

IT’s that time of year when most people start to think about booking their summer holidays – although the weather looks anything but sunny (yet). “Think warm thoughts” is what people would advise you where I’m from, and my fellow Germans are right.

Planning a trip to a sunny place is the best thing you can do while waiting for the sun to finally come out. Believe it or not, Germany is a super sunny place in summer and well worth a visit!

If you’re a student on a budget but still want to visit and explore fine cities, here’s some of the best places to go in Germany.

Sunset at the pier with a view of "Landungsbrücken"

Another sunset over another river, still Hamburg couldn’t be more different than Cologne.

Hamburg is located in the cold North but the sheer prettiness of all the old houses will make you feel warm inside. This city allows you to go full tourist mode; there’s so much to see and do in Hamburg!

Go for a river cruise on the ‘Elbe’ or visit the biggest harbour of Germany – watching the sunset at the ‘Landungsbrücken’ is an absolute must.

Just opposite the ‘Landungsbrücken’, you’ll find the „Broadway“ of Hamburg – numerous theatres playing every musical from The Phantom of the Opera to the Lion King and Wicked – in German.

The most famous thing about Hamburg is probably the ‘Reeperbahn’, a special street in the city’s red lights district. Located in the district of St. Pauli, this street has everything from restaurants to night clubs and, of course, musicals.

You can even book a guided tour around the ‘Kiez’ that takes you to all the bizarre but fun bars of the ‘Reeperbahn’. Don’t forget your camera but keep your smartphones safe!

Cologne is not only one of the largest cities in Germany, it is also the best one! (And I’m not only saying this because it’s my hometown, of course…)

Museum Ludwig features a huge collection of Pop Art, including iconic works of Andy Warhol.

Museum Ludwig features a huge collection of Pop Art, including iconic works of Andy Warhol.

When in Cologne, you don’t really feel like you’re in Germany because people are actually super laid back and outgoing. Cologne, or Köln as we call it, is like its own little country with hundreds of different cultures coming together.

If you go to ‘Keupstraße’ for example, you’ll feel like you’re in Istanbul – clothes shops selling sparkly dresses in vibrant colours, oriental music coming from one of the many Turkish restaurants and the smell of spices and coffee.

Just five minutes down the road, you’ll find loads of traditional German pubs that sell really cheap, really good beer.

Cologne has numerous museums and galleries for the art lover in you – and loads of clubs for the student in you. Besides the classic art galleries, the chocolate museum and the Eau de Cologne museum are both well worth a visit!

If you’re looking for a cheap night out, „die Ringe“ is the right place for you – a ring-like area consisting of about 25 bars and clubs; some good, some not so much.

For those who prefer live music and artsy parties, Ehrenfeld is the area to go. Pretty much every club there looks the same and plays the same music, so just go wherever the wind takes you!

Where Cologne is casual and fun, Frankfurt is posh: Almost everyone in this city works in finance as it is one of Europe’s financial centres. You can see that in the streets and bars as well: Frankfurters wear suits and sip cocktails.

If you like dressing up and going to trendy clubs, you’ll enjoy a night out in ‘Mainhattan’. That is what some people like to call the city – it is located at the river Main and its skyline looks like New York – kind of.

Frankfurt's skyline Photo: Udo Stafflinger

Frankfurt’s skyline
Photo: Udo Stafflinger

The city centre is a huge contrast to the futuristic buildings in the finance district – cute little brick houses and massive churches older than the oldest German beer recipe.

You can take great pictures at the ‘Römer’, a square surrounded by tiny buildings with restaurants inside. Make sure to eat some German sausages and have some beer there!

Have you picked a place yet? Let’s talk about how to get there then. Flights from London start at £20 return if you book early. Flight search engines like Google Flights and usually find the best offers for you and it’s also worth having a look at trains.

As for Hotels, there are loads of nice, clean and cheap hostels and budget-friendly hotels in all the major cities. Or you could join the couch-surfing community – it’s a great way to get to know the cities and its people, and it’s free!

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