When most people think of Germany it isn't the buttoned-up efficient engineering and banking machine that is Frankfurt or Dusseldorf. Usually what comes to mind are sausages and pretzels, beer halls and leiderhosen, river-cruises, castles and the polka. What comes to mind is Southern Germany, or Bavaria! With a massive hub in Munich whether you arrive by Flug or Bahn you're in the heart of this rich cultural heritage.
In the City: Munich
Munich is a beautiful and historic City that is every bit as modern and cosmopolitan as it is classical and romantic. Massive parks (the one where Oktoberfest was born actually) and Wittsbach palaces intermingle with the Legendary BMW Factory and Racing Experience, and the famed Olympic Stadium. For every world-class museum there is a cozy platz holding a Christmas market or craft fair. And while one cannot over-look the painful history as well (when Munich was seat of the Nazi Party in WWII) the Munichers have done a beautiful job of not only repurposing those sites but offering insight into the growth and recovery the city has had through exhibits that educate without excusing. Whether its schnitzel, strudel, or sauerbraten - the food is an experience all of its own, and don't miss the chance to see Wagner performed in its original Opera House.
Outside the City: Castles and History
Beyond the bustling city, just a short drive or bus right away, is the inspiration for Walt Disney's castle. The famous romantic Neuschwanstein. Located in the perfect candy colored snow globe town of Fussen, you can't miss this iconic site of Southern Germany. A two-for-one ticket will get you access to the neighborhoods second Palace: Hohenschwangau which is a generation older than Neuschwanstein. While in Schwangau explore the lake-side Museum of Bavarian Kings which is not only on the beautiful Alpsee, but gives you an instant and profound understanding of world history. And speaking of history, although not really a " family vacation" idea, if you find yourself in this region we do recommend a profound and moving trip to one of the terrifying concentration camps in the region. It feels like a must, if only to offer humility and understanding to your place in the world.
After a few days in Munich and surrounds, the possibilities are endless depending on your travel style. History buffs can follow in the footsteps of famous battles and end in Berlin with its history lessons on Communism and the Wall. Wine-lovers can take a slow drive through the wine region skirting Austria and staying in vineyard chateaus that have been in the same generation for centuries. Board a Rhine or Danube River Cruise to head deeper into Eastern Europe or further North along through the black forest to the French Countryside. Passport stamp collectors don't miss how close you are to micro-nation Liechtenstein where, yes you can get a passport stamp, meet the King and have lunch while looking at the Swiss Alps.