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LIVING IN GERMANY

10 beauty spots that’ll make you want to visit east Germany right now

The former socialist East of Germany is often ignored by tourists and expats alike, who prefer the known comforts of the wealthier west. But from Rügen to Saalfeld, the east is full of hidden treasures.

10 beauty spots that'll make you want to visit east Germany right now
The Saalfeld Fairy Grottoes in Thuringia. Photo: DPA

For all The Local's guides to visiting Germany CLICK HERE

1. The Elbsandsteingebirge in Saxony

The stunning sandstone formations of Saxony are known as the Sächische Schweiz, or Saxonian Switzerland, due to their similarity to the highest peaks of the Alps. These epic pillars will transport you to another world.

Photo: Frank Richter/Sächsische Schweiz e.V./dpa-tmn

2. The Saalfeld Fairy Grottoes in Thuringia

These caves of former alum shale mines near Saalfeld were described in awe-inspired terms by the scientists who discovered them in 1913.

“When the light of the lamps penetrates the darkness – who dares to say a word! The Fairytale Dome stands before its discoverers with its Holy Grail Castle, awe-inspiring, sublime, illustrious in untouched purity and glory,” wrote Hermann Meyer, one of the discoverers.

Photo: DPA

3. Abbenrode in Saxony-Anhalt

Nestled on the edge of the Harz mountain range, the village Abbenrode will offer you unparalleled glimpses over Germany's second highest mountain range.

Photo: DPA

4. The Old Town of Dresden in Saxony

The Old Town of Dresden was almost completely destroyed by Allied bombing in the Second World War and was only rebuilt after the fall of communism in 1990. But the results are spectacular nonetheless.

The Dresden Altstadt seen from the banks of the river Elbe. Photo: DPA

5. The white chalk cliffs of Rügen

Located in the Baltic Sea, Rügen is Germany's largest island. Besides the stunning white chalk cliffs, there are idyllic bays and white sandy beaches washed over by turquoise seas.

Photo: RicoK/ Depositphotos

6. Schwerin Castle

The seat of power on Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Schwerin Castle is a sight to behold. Dating back to the 10th century, this beautiful structure sits on the edge of a gleaming lake.

Photo: Andrelix/Depositphotos

7. Potsdam harbour, Brandenburg

Potsdam is full of delights – from lakes to manicured parks to several palaces, the former seat of the German emperors has more sightseeing opportunities than you can shake a stick at.

Photo: chrissi/depositphotos

8. Quedlinburg, Saxony-Anhalt

This town just north of the Harz mountains is a UNESCO World Heritage sight – and it's not hard to see why. The town stands out for its remarkable Romanesque and half-timber structures.

Photo: NataP/Depositphotos

9. Uckermark, Brandenburg

The Uckermark is a tranquil get-away just over an hour north of Berlin. Dotted by lakes, it is the perfect escape from the bustle of the capital.

Photo: eurotravel/Depositphotos

10. Fürst Pückler Park in Saxony

This stunning park is the largest park designed in the English style in central Europe. Partly in Saxony, partly in Poland, it is a UNESCO world heritage site centred around the gorgeous Muskau Palace.

Photo:mijeshots.gm/Depositphotos

LIVING IN GERMANY

REVEALED: The most commonly asked questions about Germans and Germany

Ever wondered what the world is asking about Germany and the Germans? We looked at Google’s most searched results to find out – and help clear some of these queries up.

Oktoberfest
Hasan Salihamidzic, the sports director of FC Bayern, arrives with his wife at Oktoberfest in full traditional dress. Photo: picture alliance/dpa |

According to popular searches, Germany is the go-to place for good coffee and bread (although only if you like the hard kind) and the place to avoid if what you’re looking for is good food, good internet connection and low taxes. Of course, this is subjective; some people will travel long stretches to get a fresh, hot pretzel or a juicy Bratwurst, while others will take a hard pass.

When it comes to the question on the bad Internet – there is some truth to this. Germany is known for being behind other rich nations when it comes to connectivity. And from personal experience, the internet connection can seem a little medieval. The incoming German coalition government has, however, vowed to improve internet connectivity as part of their plans to modernise the country.

There are also frequent questions on learning the German language, and people pointing out that it is hard and complicated. This is probably due to the long compound words and its extensive grammar rules, however, as both English and German are Germanic languages with similar words in common, it’s not impossible to learn as an English-speaker.

Here’s a look at some of those questions…

Why is German called Deutsch? Whereas ‘German’ comes from the Latin, ‘Deutsch’ instead derives itself from the Indo-European root “þeudō”, meaning “people”. This slowly became “Deutsch” as we know it today. It can be a bit confusing to English-speakers, who are right to think it sounds a little more like “Dutch”, however the two languages do have the same roots which may explain it.

And why is Germany so boring? Again, probably a generalisation, especially given that Germany has a landmass of over 350,000 km² with areas ranging from high rise, industrial cities to traditional old town villages and even mountain ranges, so you’re sure to find a place that doesn’t bore you to tears.

Perhaps it is a question that comes from the stereotype that Germans are obsessed with being strict about rules, organised and analytical. Or that they have no sense of humour – all of these things being not the most exciting traits. 

Either way, from my experience I can confirm that, even though there is truth to German society enjoying order and rules, the vast majority of people are not boring, and I’m sure if you come to Germany you’ll meet many interesting, funny and exciting people. 

READ ALSO: 12 mistakes foreigners make when moving to Germany

When it comes to the German weather, most people assume a cold and cloudy climate, however this isn’t entirely true. While the autumn and winter, especially in the north, come with grey skies and sub-zero temperatures, Germany can have some beautiful summers, with temperatures frequently rising above 30C in some places.

Unsurprisingly, the power and wealth of the German nation is mentioned – Germany is the largest economy in Europe after all, with a GDP of 3.8 trillion dollars. This could be due to strong industry sectors in the country, including vehicle constructions (I was a little surprised to find no questions posed on German cars), chemical and electrical industry and engineering. There are also many strong economic cities in Germany, most notably Munich, Frankfurt am Main and Hamburg.

READ ALSO: Eight unique words and phrases that tell us something about Germany

Smart and tall?

Why are Germans so tall? They are indeed taller than many other nations, with the average German measuring a good 172.87cm (or 5 feet 8.06 inches), however this may be a question better posed to the Dutch, who make up the tallest people in the world.

Why are Germans so smart? While this is again a generalisation – as individuals have different levels of intelligence in all countries – this question may stem from Germany’s free higher education system or their seemingly efficient work ethic. Plus there does seem to be some scientific research behind this question, with a study done in 2006 finding that Germans had the highest IQ in Europe.

So, while many of the questions posed about Germany and Germans on Google stem from stereotypes, we can confirm that some aren’t entirely made up. If you’re looking to debunk some frequently asked questions about France and the French, check out this article by our sister site HERE.

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