Germany has a lot more to offer than just beer and beautiful castles. Here's a look at the top must-see non-soccer sights.
Germany's capital is a touristic hotspot with plenty of brilliant museums. Definitely go see the Reichstag and its huge glass cupola. It's right next to the Brandenburg Gate. You could have a coffee at the famous Hotel Adlon and witness the colourful touristic activities right in the very heart of Germany.
If you need a break, visit the famous Sanssouci Castle in Berlin-Potsdam or do a day trip to the nearby Wannsee Lake. If you care for history, visit Checkpoint Charlie to relive the German reunification.
One of Germany's most beautiful cities is Dresden, some 90 minutes (car) east of Leipzig. It's not just the famous buildings (Frauenkirche, Semperoper, Zwinger) that leave a lasting impression on the visitors, but also the great landscape. A boat trip on the Elbe River underneath the mountains should make up for some nerve-wracking World Cup action. If you're looking for a gift to bring back home to your significant other, consider some of this region's famous chinaware. If you're keen on castles, go to Pilnitz or check out the famous Bastei.
HAMBURG'S RED LIGHT DISTRICT
Rivaled only by Amsterdam's famous red light district, the Reeperbahn offers all sorts of entertainment. "In Hamburg, the extra time starts at the Reeperbahn," says Hariolf Wenzler, managing director of Hamburg Marketing. So here's the masterplan. Join 50,000 fans for the public viewing of the game at the Heiligengeistfeld, stroll up and down the Reeperbahn until early morning and then visit the famous Fischmarkt (on from 5-10 a.m. on Sundays only) to have some fresh fish breakfast.
If you're stuck in Stuttgart, Kaiserslautern or Frankfurt, you really have to visit the charming university town of Heidelberg, probably Germany's favorite tourist location. Do a boat cruise on the Neckar river, visit the famous castle or enjoy great world-class wining and dining. To an international soccer fan, Heidelberg is probably as German as is gets.
Hard to think of any sights in the industrial area of Gelsenkirchen and Dortmund. Nearby Oberhausen has a well-known shopping mall called Centro. Also, you could endeavour the 60-minute trip to the university city of Muenster, which in October 2004 was voted the most livable community of the world (ahead of Coventry (UK) and Seattle). Why? It's charming, lively, modern as well as ancient and romantic. A little bit of everything. Go figure out yourself.
Beautiful city center, spectacular main station and a long tradition. Still, Leipzig is first and foremost known for its music. Bach, Wagner and Medelssohn had all fallen in love with Leipzig. Goethe was there, too, and he had a few beers in the famous beerhall Auerbach's Keller, now a restaurant. Leipzig offers a lot of cultural activities. Check out the famous choir in the Thomaskirche.
Cologne boasts the third-tallest church of the world, the famous Kölner Dom (157 metres/515 feet). More than six million visitors check out the historic building every year. Even Pope Benedict XVI came by last summer. A boat cruise on the Rhine River will help to relax. Never ever ask for "Alt-Bier" in the local pubs. That's the brand from their rivals in neighbouring Dusseldorf (also worth a visit). You only drink Kölsch in Cologne. Keep this in mind.
You'll love the famous Hofbräuhaus. See how many Maß Bier (1.069 litres/36 ounces) you can manage. Also try the Augustiner Keller for great Bavarian food.
Germany's most famous forest. If you visit the England team camp in Baden-Baden, you should certainly have a long walk in the beautiful landscape. Not far from Stuttgart.
You can probably spend the whole World Cup visiting ancient castles, but this one is a must-see. Schloss Neuschwanstein, King Ludwig's favourite fairytale castle, is known for spectacular architecture and a magnificent view of the Alps. South of Munich and certainly nothing to miss out on.
As a native of Germany, Johannes Berendt can't wait for the World Cup to start. He covers international sports for the British Press Association and ESPN SportsTicker.