From exploring the Black Forest, to buzzy cities including Berlin and Stuttgart, and the natural beauty of Saxon Switzerland, find out the best places to travel to in my Germany travel blogs and travel guides.
From wandering across the Bastei Bridge, to exploring Königstein Fortress and hiking along the Elbe River, it’s time to get to know Saxon Switzerland in Germany.
First things first, until a few months ago I didn’t know anything about Sächsische Schweiz a.k.a. Saxon Switzerland. After a quick Google I muttered, ‘that doesn’t look like Germany!’ It didn’t. In my naïve little head, Germany was all about beautiful castles, pretty cities, forests and mountains. It wasn’t this…
I could see a few similarities between the region and Cappadocia in Turkey and El Valle De La Luna (the valley of the moon) in Chile, but compared to my five previous trips to Germany, this region offered something completely new.
The photos are special, but being right there and taking in the size and scale of the rocks is absolutely incredible! If you love the outdoors, this is a great region to visit – even better if you’re into hiking or climbing. In fact, the Elbe Sandstone Mountains have several hundred scalable peaks.
It’s fair to say the name is a little confusing. It actually got its name in the 18th Century when two Swiss artists visited, and thought the area was reminiscent of their home nation. Needless to say, the name stuck…!
Check out our video, then scroll down to find out all you need to know to plan your visit to the Bastei Bridge and Saxon Switzerland in Germany.
Time to tell you about some of my favourite spots, and give you a few tips on how to make the most of your time in Saxon Switzerland, Germany.
Berlin is independent, gritty and has plenty of stories to tell. I headed off on a Withlocals street art tour of Berlin for a fascinating delve into Berlin’s multi-layered history, learning about the city’s creativity, secret food and drink spots and plenty more!
Let me start by saying, there aren’t many tour guides out there like Betty. She has one of those exciting temperaments that draws you in and makes you want to know EVERYTHING. You want to ask her questions about her life, her passions, her Berlin. I hung on every word and in no time, I started to see the city through her eyes. That, for me, is the beauty of a Withlocals tour – you get someone who lives and breathes the place you’re visiting.
I booked the three-hour ‘Urban Jungle’ tour, which promised to show me the alternative side of Berlin. And believe me, there was a lot to see!
We kicked off the day in Hackesche Höfe in Mitte neighbourhood, with an opportunity to see the city’s most beautiful art nouveau architecture. With several interlinking courtyards, it was once cramped accommodation for people from all walks of life. These days, it’s super desirable, and while the upper floors offer accommodation, downstairs you’ll find upmarket restaurants, independent boutiques and more.
The most photographed spot is the Haus Schwarzenberg, an area filled with colourful street art and murals, with the artwork of Anne Frank by Jimmy C one of the most famous. I heard how Jimmy had studied aboriginal art and used some of the techniques in his street art. This one stands just in front of the Anne Frank museum, and no doubt draws crowds to see the artwork as much as to the museum.
Last week I clocked up a record 100,000 steps in just four days. Where did I go? Berlin! It was a city I’d wanted to visit for a long time, so when an invite arrived in my inbox, it was a no brainer.
After breezing past a gigantic colourful giraffe at The Circus Hotel, and settling into my cute, kitsch room, I felt a little overwhelmed. There was just SO much to see and do in the city, and I only had four days. I wondered if I’d even scratch the surface.
The big thing on my list was a trip to the International Garden Exhibition (or IGA Berlin 2017). It’s open until 15th October and offers visitors a mini world tour, without hopping on a flight. Well… actually, the main access is via cable car, so some flying is involved!
I spent around 6 hours walking around the gardens, enjoying views from a super-modern viewing tower, exploring Japanese, Chinese and Balinese gardens and putting the macro function on my camera to good use by snapping beautiful close-ups of colourful blooms.
So, whether you’re already planning your trip, or want some inspiration, here’s my guide to visiting IGA Berlin 2017.
Stupid question but… What Is IGA Berlin 2017?
Nope, not stupid at all! I’d never heard of it either until this trip. It’s a huge garden show, featuring beautiful flower displays, inspirational architecture, and themed sections designed take you on a tour of the world. There are areas dedicated to China, Japan, Bali, Korea and more. You could compare it to Chelsea or Hampton Court Flower Shows, although this one covers a bigger area.
Once you arrive at Kienberg, you catch the cable car over the various gardens. It gives an amazing overview of the exhibition. It’s at this point you’ll realise just how vast it is! I read the exhibition covers 104 hectares (approx. 140 football pitches) – well that explains how I clocked up so many steps!
How Do I Get To IGA Berlin 2017?
The nearest station to the entrance is Kienberg, which is served by line U5. The journey is just 26 minutes from Alexanderplatz in the city centre. The 197 bus also stops just outside. You can view a map of the site here.
What Are The Highlights Of IGA Berlin 2017?
Well… there are lots! It’s a very photogenic place. Here are a few of my favourite spots from my day there.
The beautiful cable car system transports visitors 1.5km all the way from the entrance at Kienberg to the main flower hall. Soaring over the site is a magnificent way to arrive, particularly when the sun is shining!
The Chinese Garden
What a gorgeous spiritual place! This is the largest Chinese garden of its kind in Europe, and was built with materials shipped all the way from China. The traditional teahouse overlooks the lake, which is known as the ‘Mirror of Heaven’. It felt like one of the calmest spots in the exhibition, and one of my top tips is to sit and order a pot of tea (4-5 EUR) while watching the huge fish swimming around in the lake.
From Seville and Tallinn, to Athens, Riga and St Petersburg, it’s time to venture away from the obvious and consider these lesser-visited cities in Europe.
When I think of my favourite European destinations, many of them are the tried and tested choices, with Barcelona sitting at the top of the list. But there are plenty of underrated European cities that are packed with all the good stuff – culture, top restaurants, beautiful architecture, and that a bit of adventure too!
So if you fancy shaking up your holiday habits, why not book a mini-break to check out a few of these less-visited choices?
I visited Seville a couple of years ago on a wonderful road trip around Andalucía. I absolutely loved Seville. I remember trying to drive around the city’s tiny, skinny streets, petrified of scraping the car against the walls! It’s a stunning city though, and along with the impressive Plaza De Espana, Real Alcázar de Sevilla and Seville Cathedral, I also loved discovering some great restaurants.