Southwest Germany, a very special holiday destination, is ready to welcome UK visitors once more. They can start with historic cities such as Heidelberg, one of Europe’s most romantic with its castle, river and university, and Stuttgart, the region’s capital boasting art museums, opera shows and two of the world’s best car museums (this is where the automobile was patented almost 135 years ago!). The natural wonders of the Black Forest are also a highlight for any visitor.
Just one hour and 40 minutes away from London by plane (British Airways and Eurowings operate flights from Heathrow five of seven days per week), this “sunny side of Germany” has a number of towns and cities that remain relatively undiscovered by tourists.
Baden-Baden is one such destination. A Unesco World Heritage-listed city known for its thermal spas and museums, it’s ideal to visit on a day trip from the Black Forest. Holidaymakers might like to spend a morning admiring the Corinthian pillars and impressive murals of the Trinkhalle, an afternoon relaxing at the traditional Friedrichsbad spa and an evening enjoying music at the Festival Hall.
Meanwhile, Southwest Germany’s capital city of Stuttgart is often underrated. Vineyards trail from the hilltops down to the edges of the urban centre, so wine-drinkers have a vast array of tasting opportunities – recommend they start in Uhlbach. The Porsche Museum and Mercedes-Benz Museum, which aren’t just for car fanatics but for those interested in history and culture too, are well worth a visit as well.
Historians will enjoy that the region is dotted with 62 official historic sites. The Renaissance ruins of Heidelberg Castle, Maulbronn Monastery, which is one of Europe’s best-preserved medieval monastery complexes, and the pretty, pink Meersburg New Palace are all historic highlights.
Those who are more interested in what the great outdoors has to offer would do well to stay in the Black Forest, which is an ideal destination choice for families too (a visit to Europa-Park theme park is a must). Hiking, mountain-biking and zip-lining are all possible here, with the Schwarzwaldbahn Erlebnispfad walking trail often thought of as the most beautiful – it promises panoramic views of the woodland and plenty of choice when it comes to duration and difficulty.
Lake Constance is also a top recommendation for outdoor enthusiasts. This is the largest lake in Germany, bordered by Austria and Switzerland and lined with a large selection of quaint villages to visit. The sailing and wind-surfing here is top-notch, while in the colder months visitors can explore its ancient castles and stop by the Christmas markets.
Sightseeing is hungry work, so ensure visitors are aware of the local delicacies that will help them refuel. Favourites include maultaschen (ravioli filled with meat and spinach), which can be found at Maulbronn Monastery, and schupfnudeln dumplings served with sauerkraut and bacon. But of course a visit to Southwest Germany wouldn’t be complete without a slice (or two!) of its most famous dessert: Black Forest Gateau.