Things to do in Germany

leisure in Germany
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Updated 2022-11-08 18:09

Exploring the surroundings and culture of Germany will undoubtedly be a motive for starting your expat project in Germany. Rightfully so, the country has a lot to offer regarding leisure activities, natural beauty, and a variety of landscapes for fun getaways. If excursions and long weekends are something you enjoy, you will definitely be able to do a lot of those during your free time in Germany. Whether you wish to explore the country's cultural and historical wealth, countryside and forests, or you prefer more thrilling leisure activities such as amusement parks, Germany will not disappoint you.

German history and culture

Germany has a rich history, which is portrayed by its monuments and old architecture. Some of its most fascinating cities, such as Berlin, Hamburg, and Dresden, have been catastrophically affected by the Second World War and suffered major destruction, but local authorities put great effort into preserving and restoring history. Today, most monuments have been rebuilt and preserved, such as the Brandenburg Gate, the Berlin Wall, Reichstag, and the Museum Island in Berlin, as well as the Sanssouci Palace in nearby Potsdam. The church St. Nikolai in Hamburg is a strong reminder of the devastation of the war. In Dresden, don't miss the opportunity to visit the Zwinger Palace and the Dresden State Opera House, which have been reconstructed after the bombing occurred during the Second World War. The rest of the city's infrastructure is mostly new.

UNESCO has listed 46 official World Heritage sites in Germany. Among other cities, these can be found in Aachen, Potsdam, Berlin, and Brühl. Other notable places for a visit are Dresden's city center, the city of Bamberg for its Middle Age style, and the Cistercian Abbey in Maulbronn. The Neuschwanstein Castle, which was built for King Ludwig II in Bavaria, and Cologne Cathedral, whose construction lasted over 600 years, are also places of interest. In fact, the Cologne Cathedral is one of the country's most popular tourist attractions, and the Rhine region near Koblenz and Loreley is a very attractive destination known for its many historic castles.

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Museums of Berlin

Sanssouci Palace in Potsdam

St. Nikolai Memorial in Hamburg

Zwinger Palace in Dresden 

Semperoper Dresden in Dresden

The Maulbronn Monastery

Neuschwanstein Castle

Cologne Cathedral 

Nature in Germany

Nature lovers will be delighted by the country's huge green spaces, including islands, forests and nature parks where you can spend hours and hours. The North of the country offers immense natural beauty, found in places such as the Müritz National Park, which hosts thousands of lakes and canals in a magical setting. The Mecklenburg Lake District, also known as "the land of a thousand lakes", is another fantastic option that offers wonderful and breathtaking landscapes along with an enormous and abundant array of flora and fauna. Additionally, there are many islands on the Baltic and the North Sea. Some of the most famous are Rügen, Usedom, Hiddensee on the Baltic, and Sylt, Juist, Langeoog, Heligoland, Chiemsee, Lindau, and Mariannenaue Island on the North Sea. You can thus enjoy a pleasant day between sea, sky, and earth in an enchanting atmosphere, under the gentle sun and along endless beaches or secluded bays.

You should not miss the Black Forest (or Schwarzwald) and Belchen in the Baden-Württemberg region, in South-West Germany, and the Moselle and Rhine Valleys in the Rhine region, which is Germany's best-known wine region. Many Germans also spend their holidays near Lake Constance or the German Alps in the Berchtesgaden region close to Austria's border. The Berchtesgaden National Park, for its part, hosts the Königssee, which is a stunning natural lake. In the South, particularly in the Bavaria region, you will be able to admire a beautiful natural view interspersed with mountains and forests, which are great for hiking and camping.

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Müritz National Park

Mecklenburg Lake District

Schwarzwald

Belchen

Berchtesgaden National Park

Amusement parks in Germany

If you are looking for a family getaway during your stay in Germany, you may want to visit one of the country's various amusement parks for all ages and tastes. The Heide Park Resort, for instance, located in the Lüneburg region, hosts lush and amazing green spaces. In Ibbenbüren, you will find an enchanted forest, including a leisure park and toboggan. We think this is the best place to be in the summer! A visit to the Tolk-Schau Park near Kiel will immerse you in the history at the time of the Vikings. If you prefer huge rides and large playgrounds, and other types of attractions, visit the Skyline Park towards Munich. Belantis in Leipzig and the Kleinwelka Park near Dresden feature ancient buildings, a zoo, and a maze. The Zeiss Planetarium in Jena is the oldest operating planetarium in the world and offers a fantastic projection of the stars. The Blanker Hans Sturmflutenwelt in Büsum, the Adventure Park Oberhausen near Duisburg, and the Butterfly Farm in Usedom are also interesting parks to spend some quality family time.

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Heide Park Resort

Tolk-Schau Park

Skyline Park

Belantis in Leipzig

Zeiss Planetarium in Jena

Blanker Hans Sturmflutenwelt in Büsum

Adventure Park Obernhausen

Urban life in Germany

German cities are very vibrant and have something for everyone. Most boutiques and shopping malls are open until 8 pm, except on Saturdays when they close at 4 pm. You will also find specialized markets and flea markets (Flohmarkt) in many neighborhoods, as well as craft markets, which are known as Kunstmarkt. 

To enjoy the rich culture and German culinary specialties, you can choose from all kinds of restaurants, pubs, beer gardens, and cafes. Note that portions tend to be rather big and meat plays an important role in German cuisine, as well as potatoes and varieties of bread. Italian restaurants and Turkish kebabs are well integrated into the German food culture. 

Beer gardens make very popular after-work social spots, and most regions celebrate local summer festivals from June on. Oktoberfest is the biggest festival, attracting the most tourists than any other event. Also, nightlife and culture lovers will be amazed by the huge number of bars, nightclubs, concert halls, opera houses, and theatres available in most German cities. 

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Most Germans follow weekly sports classes or language courses. The local Volkshochschule (adult education center) offers a huge variety of yoga, dancing and sewing classes. There are also many groups that organize bike tours around the cities, with the possibility of renting a bike.

Tip: Keep an eye on the Germany Forum for social expat activities happening in different parts of Germany. And if you don't find anything that you like, remember that you can always take the initiative to organise your event!

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