Germany’s Top Tourist Attractions

Once again the German Tourism Office (DZT) has conducted a survey on the favourite tourism attractions in Germany. From the beginning of July 2012 to the end of March 2013, over 15,000 tourists from all over the world took part in the survey which was available in 26 different languages. Below are the top ten results:

1. Neuschwanstein (above)

In at number one is the idyllic setting of Neuschwanstein – the romantic, fairy-tale castle nested neatly within the Bavarian mountains. Originally commissioned by the king of Bavaria, Ludwig II, the castle has become well known as the setting for many movies, including Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

2. Europa-Park

Located in south-western Germany and an unlikely favourite to the list, Europa-Park is credited as the second most popular theme park resort (after Disney Land Paris) in Europe. Numerous rides, shows and attractions are located throughout the 90-hectare grounds which are divided into individually themed European countries.

3. Cologne Cathedral

Kölner dom photo credit

Impressive from every angle, Cologne Cathedral, despite being badly damaged during WWII is an absolute triumph of Gothic architecture and the most visited attraction in Germany. Interesting fact: the supposed remains of the Three Wise Kings are venerated in the Cathedral which was the primary reasons for its construction.

4. Brandenburg Gate, Berlin

Brandenburg Gate

Brandenburger Tor photo credit

A symbol of pre and post-war Berlin, the Brandenburg gate stands proudly as one of Germany’s most well-known landmarks. Along with many other German landmarks, the gate was severely damaged during the bombing of Berlin during the war but was restored to its former glory in 2002.

5. Berlin Wall

Unlike most other attractions on this list, the Berlin Wall is not particularly nice to look at – I mean, it’s just a wall! However, as a historic landmark, this attraction is highly significant. There are also numerous things to do, see and learn around what’s left of the former wall.

6. Loreley on the Rhine

Shrouded in mystery and enchantment, the Lorelei (or Loreley in German) is a rock named after a mermaid-like creature that is said to have beguiled all men with her beauty. Located in the stunning surroundings of the Middle Rhine Valley, the area is a magnet for tourists who come for the breath-taking views along the Rhine.

7. The Black Forest, Baden-Württemberg

Not too far from the Rhine region is the Black Forest, an area rich in vineyards, panoramic views and river valleys. An ideal getaway for a family trip or active holiday with so many things to see and do from skiing and cycling to thermal baths and tasty regional cuisines – the Black Forest embodies everything you’d expect from a typical German holiday.

8. Heidelberg Castle

Germany is home to many castles but the romantic surroundings of Heidelberg castle and its unique history make it an unforgettable German landmark.

9. Lake Constance

The beautiful Lake Constance located on the Rhine has shores in three countries and is located in one of the most beautiful parts of Europe. This is the ideal location for those looking to relax while enjoying the panoramic views of the Alps and surrounding countryside.

10. Reichstag, Berlin

Reichstag photo credit

The ultimate symbol of German power and government, the Reichstag is much more than just a public building with an amazing dome-shaped viewing platform, restaurant and exhibitions.

Interested in seeing the rest of the results? Click here.

How to Make Business Travel More Fun

business trip

Business Trip Photo Credit

Let’s face it – business and travel are not always fun. The long journeys, transport delays and that particular feeling of loneliness one gets when staying in a hotel room are some of the reasons why many of us may dread the thought of a business trip. However, by following a few simple tips, it can be possible to combine both business and pleasure.

The More the Merrier 

Consider bringing your family or spouse along on the trip. Although your company may not agree to pay for this, many businesses will be more than happy for you to bring along friends or family provided that your work isn’t affected. It also makes the trip much more exciting and can work out cheaper than taking a regular family holiday.

Choose the Right Mode of Transport

Most companies will usually reimburse you for your travel expenses so you might want to consider your best travel option. For example, do you really need to take a flight when you could take the train? Travelling by train can be less stressful than flying, particularly if travelling through the night as many trains have the option of sleeper cars.

Plan Ahead of Time

Do some research on the place you’ll be visiting to see if there are any events or activities that you could get involved in during your stay. Most business meetings will usually only last a couple of hours, so there will be plenty of time to discover the area and enjoy yourself. Your business contacts may even offer to show you around town if you ask them nicely.

Visit Family and Friends

For many of us, the prospect of friends and family scattered throughout the country and sometimes abroad is becoming all the more common. However, see if you can use this business trip as an opportunity to pay them a visit – perhaps they live in the town you’re visiting or even close by.

Get Involved

After your business meeting has finished don’t just go hide in your hotel room! There are always new things to be discovered in a different city! You might want to check out the local restaurants, go shopping or discover the local attractions. Either way, the next time you’re asked for the purpose of your visit, you’ll be able to respond with: “business and pleasure”.

Austria: Mozart, Skiing and the Sound of Music

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For many of us, Austria is most commonly associated with things such as Skiing, Mozart and the place where the Sound of Music was filmed. But in reality, the country has so much more to offer.

Beautiful landscapes

From the deep alpine valleys surrounded by lakes and mountains to the country’s natural wonders, you’ll be blown away with the sheer beauty of the Austrian countryside.

A popular destination in both winter and summer is the mountainous region of Tyrol – a quintessential oasis for those seeking peace and tranquillity. There are also a number of superb ski resorts in the area that make it a great place for winter sports too.

Head south of the country and you’ll discover the stunning Styrian Wine Region, an area renowned for its many castles and authentic culinary cuisine.  Local specialities include “Brettljause” a delicious assortment of cheeses, cured meats, pickles and spreads which can be found in the numerous rustic restaurants throughout the region. The famous dry rosé “Schilcher” is also something which is unique to the area and definitely worth a try!

Styrian Wine Region

Sound of Music

One cannot talk about Austria without mentioning the movie: the Sound of Music which was filmed in and around the city of Salzburg. The various guided tours within the city are an excellent opportunity to discover the many places associated with the movie such as the Nonnberg Abbey where the “real” Maria was once a novice and later married Baron von Trapp – also the von Trapp family home and the beautiful Mirabell Gardens which were used for the famous “Do-Re-Mi” song scene.

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Mirabell Gardens

Towns, Villages & Cities

The sophisticated capital of Vienna with its long history and rich culture is an absolute must for the Austrian tourist with something for everyone to discover.

Nightlife? You bet! From the elegant world of opera to a night on the town, you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to enjoying yourself in Vienna. The city boasts a world-renowned electronic music scene with clubs such as Flex, located on the Danube Canal, being voted as one of the best locations world-wide!

In addition to the many attractions within the capital, there are number of places not to be missed on your trip throughout Austria. Below are some of my favourites:

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Hallstatt

The beautiful little village of Hallstatt is like something from a fairy-tale movie with its magnificent panoramic views and idyllic backdrop – it’s also known for the production of salt and dates back to prehistoric times.

Hohensalzburg Castle

Hohensalzburg Castle

Regarded as one of the largest medieval castles in Europe, the mighty fortress of Hohensalzburg can be seen from almost everywhere in the city of Salzburg.

Melk Abbey

Melk Abbey

Overlooking the Danube River, the Benedictine Abbey of Melk is a sight to behold and displays some of the finest examples of Baroque architectural design.

Secret Beaches of Britain

beautiful beach

Camber Sands

Located in East Sussex, Camber Sands is a beautiful beach that stretches for just over 7 miles and during low tide is a half mile wide. There are golden sandy dunes on this windswept stretch and it doesn’t get overcrowded.  You can take sanctuary behind your windbreak, take a horse ride, fly your kites or simply enjoy a stroll through the surf at sunset. Whatever you choose to do at Camber Sands, you’ll feel more relaxed afterwards!

Sunset Island

Lundy Island

Owned by the Landmark Trust, Lundy Island beach is slap bang in the middle of the Bristol Channel. No sand to be found here, the 3 mile stretch is made from granite and is not adorned by any of the accessories you might expect to see at a British beach (fish & chips, beach balls and buckets and spades). What you will find though are wild cliffs ideal for climbers, long stretches of coastal walks and a splendid marine reserve which will thrill divers. There is plenty of wildlife to be found also including ponies, sheep, seals, dolphins, deer and best of all basking sharks. The Landmark Trust offers over 20 self-catering places to stay and each is full of character, including a castle, a lighthouse and even a converted pig sty for one!

Scottish beach

Luskentyre

Located in the Hebrides on the Isle of Harris, Luskentyre beach is a rarity in Britain as it boasts a gorgeous white sandy beach. With the Outer Hebrides hills providing a magnificent backdrop Luskentyre provides some of the most scenic views in Britain and as the sea water sparkles hundreds of hues of white and blue you’ll be mesmerised. If stargazing from a private jacuzzi and sauna sounds like your thing then book yourself one of the Blue Reef Cottages, sit back and relax.

Slapton Sands

The name is misleading as there is no sand to be found at Slapton Sands beach, but this bar of shingle provides more than enough to warrant a visit and exploration. With a freshwater lake on one side and the sea on the other, the area is renowned as one of Britain’s top fishing destinations with stunning views and peaceful surroundings.

Top Stag Destinations in Europe

Spanish city

Barcelona

Looking for somewhere a little warmer than Eastern Europe? Why not try Barcelona with its wonderful combination of sunshine, food and sangria? You’ll not only have the opportunity to experience the many delights of this bustling metropolis but also the chance to enjoy a relaxing day at the beach. Things to do during include: a visit to FC Barcelona, a city tour in one of the many nifty GoCars and an unlimited choice of fiery drinks accompanied by mouth-watering tapas.

Riga

Another city which is hugely popular for stag parties, there is a whole host of activities on offer in Riga. The city is packed full of buzzing clubs and bars and although the prices have increased slightly, they are still cheaper than most major European cities. Once you venture away from the bars, Riga really comes into its own with an array of activities on offer such as getting to shoot AK47’s, simulations of freefalling , bobsleighing and if you time it in the winter you can even try a safari on a snowmobile.

Prague

Prague is undoubtedly one of the most popular destinations for stags and with good reason. Prices aren’t as cheap as they once were when you could buy a meal and a few pints for less than a tenner, but they are still reasonable – particularly if you head away from the city centre. In addition to the many great bars and restaurants in the city, Prague is also home to a variety of impressive monuments such as the Petřín Tower – these are not only great for those group photo shots but also make perfect hangouts during the day.

Berlin

This historic and famous city is fast becoming one of the hottest stag destinations in Europe. The Germans love their beer and drinking is accepted and expected! Aside from the fabulous German beers on offer Berlin has some awesome activities that will keep you away from the bars for a few hours at least. Two that come thoroughly recommended are the driving experience in Trabant and also the fabulous Beer Bike! If you are unsure of where to go this year or next for your stag do, Berlin is a must.