The capital of Lower Saxony, Hanover doesn't have quite the size or sights to rival nearby Hamburg or Berlin, but it still has lots to offer. A largely modern city of half a million, Hanover is known in Germany for its flawless accent (on which the national standard for correct spoken German is based) and in the UK as the home of one of Britain’s royal dynasties.
This royal past is still on show in Hanover’s Herrenhausen Gardens, where the city’s former rulers old pleasure grounds are still one of Europe’s best-preserved baroque parks. Despite wartime bombardment, Hanover has also held onto some remarkable buildings, including a spectacular neo-Renaissance town hall, the Anzeiger Tower’s domed 1920s mini-skyscraper and the half-timbered buildings of the old town’s Kreuzkirche neighbourhood. For low-key shopping and strolling, meanwhile, the handsome, gentrified 19th-century district of List has hip bars and a weekly market. The city also attracts visitors to its many fairs, including a relatively tourist free 16-day Oktoberfest beer festival and the huge Schutzenfest, held in July, which dates back to the 1400s.