Picture Germany and Berlin's iconic Brandenburg Gate, Munich's lively beer hall tradition and creamy Black Forest gateau spring to mind. But there's more. Slip under Germany's skin to find storybook villages, rich culture and hearty food.
Discover the rich variety of Germany's 16 states: from Rhineland Palatinate's castle-dotted vineyards in the west to the north coast's rolling dunes, thrashed by the North Sea. In summer, hike the Black Forest's velvety woodlands streaked with purple heather. Down south, the first snow lures skiers to the pointy Bavarian Alps, grazing the Austrian border.
After you've experienced Berlin's stellar art collections and pulsating nightlife, go east to Dresden, where Baroque residences cluster around the domed Frauenkirche cathedral. In Munich, sample Bavarian hospitality to the sound of an oompah-pah band in the Hofbruhaus traditional beer hall, and Dutch Masters in the Alte Pinakothek gallery. Germany's financial heart beats in Frankfurt, where skyscrapers create a dramatic horizon. See Hamburg's harbour lights twinkle by night.
Stride through the Black Forest's wooded vales, speckled with hip-roofed (four-sided roof) farmhouses, or schuss down the Bavarian Alps' slopes. Off Germany's north coast, the Frisian Islands dunes and cliffs are pummelled by the North Sea. In West Germany, the River Rhine snakes past gently sloping vineyards and turreted castles. Edge east to climb the bizarre pinnacles of Elbe Sandstone Mountains.