Sponsored by ESMT Berlin \r\n\r\nChoosing to study in Germany can be a great decision, with a huge selection of leading German universities to choose from, and low or non-existent tuition fees. \r\n\r\nGermany is at the heart of modern Europe in many ways – geographically, economically, and as one of the leading political lights in the EU. \r\n\r\nIt’s also a multicultural melting-pot, an international centre for everything from arts and fashion to automotive design and beer festivals, and boasts a capital that over the last few decades has emerged as one of the trendiest cities in the world. \r\n\r\nAdd to this a history of great creatives and thinkers, including the likes of Goethe, Beethoven and Bach, as well as the recent tragedies of the 20th century, and you’ll certainly find no shortage of German artefacts and landscapes to get stuck into. \r\n\r\nTo get you started, here are our top 10 things to do in Germany… \r\n\r\nExplore Berlin \r\n\r\n \r\n\r\nBerlin is both Germany’s capital city and its largest city in terms of population and area size. It is home to some of the world’s best universities and business schools, including the European School of Management and Technology (ESMT Berlin). \r\n\r\nESMT Berlin’s main campus is located in the heart of Berlin in Schlossplatz, next to the Berlin City Palace. Founded by 25 leading global companies, ESMT Berlin’s postgraduate courses are focused on leadership, innovation and analytics. It is one of only four business schools in Germany to hold the Triple Crown accreditation. \r\n\r\nThe city itself holds a chequered history, scarred by the Second World War and the following period of division, Berlin’s history makes the city what it is today, a modern city of incredible diversity, openness and historic remembrance. Wherever you go in Berlin, you will find a fascinating piece of history. In fact, the historic main campus building of ESMT Berlin formerly housed the state council building of the East German government. \r\n\r\nIf you’re looking to learn more about Berlin’s past, top historical sites to visit include the Berlin Wall, the Jewish Holocaust Memorial, Charlie’s Checkpoint and Potsdamer Platz. \r\n\r\nThere’s also much more to Berlin than historic sites. It has a vibrant film industry, a raging nightlife, great cuisine and an eclectic underground music scene. From the majestic Brandenburg Tor to the fashionable Alexanderplatz, Berlin is a capital city like no other. \r\n\r\nSee where Berlin ranks in the latest QS Best Student Cities \r\n\r\nCastle Neuschwanstein \r\n\r\n \r\n\r\nLocation: Füssen,Bavaria \r\n\r\nThis 19th-century Romanesque Revival palace is one of the most picturesque castles in the world. Commissioned by Germany’s “fairy-tale king” Ludwig ll of Bavaria, Castle Neuschwanstein holds a special place in German history. Upon the death of his grandfather, Germany’s slightly eccentric king began the task of rebuilding the palace, a favourite haunt from his childhood years. \r\n\r\nIncorporating his love of opera, most notably that of composer Richard Wagner, Ludwig built himself a haven in which he was able to live out his idea of the Middle Ages. However, the palace wasn’t yet finished when Ludwig died in mysterious circumstances by the lake. \r\n\r\nToday, visiting Castle Neuschwanstein is one of the most popular things to do in Germany with more than 1.3 million visitors annually. It’s also widely known as the inspiration for Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty Castle. \r\n\r\nChristmas markets \r\n\r\n \r\n\r\nLocation: Cities across Germany (e.g. Berlin, Munich, Frankfurt) \r\n\r\nOne of the best things of studying abroad in the Northern Hemisphere is the way Christmas brightens up the winter months, and Germany certainly knows how to make the most of the festive season. \r\n\r\nIt won’t matter that the days are shorter and the temperatures colder; wrap up warm and head outside to explore the country’s famous Christmas markets (Weichnachtsmarkt), which are staged in almost every town and city around Germany and have become a popular event across Europe. Glut out on glühwein (warm red wine with fruit and spices) and apple fritters and get all your Christmas shopping done in one hit. \r\n\r\nOktoberfest \r\n\r\n \r\n\r\nLocation: Munich, Bavaria \r\n\r\nGermany is one of the great brewing nations of the world and taking time to indulge in some of the world’s finest beers is often at the top of lists of things to do in Germany. \r\n\r\nThe most popular way to do this is by joining Munich’s Oktoberfest, which takes place from late September and lasts for two whole weeks, attracting approximately six million visitors to the Bavarian capital every year. \r\n\r\nForget your books for a few days and get into the spirit of Oktoberfest – you’re likely to find a large part of the German student population doing the same, along with many of your lecturers too. \r\n\r\nSummer fireworks festivals \r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nLocation: The River Rhine, running through Mannheim, Karlsruhe, Offenburg and Freiburg \r\n\r\nDuring Germany’s summer months, from May to September, something special happens on the River Rhine. In the summer nights, the Rhine, one of Europe’s longest and most important rivers, is lit up by a dramatic blaze of fireworks, shedding light on the convoy of boats which makes its way up the river as the public wander along the water’s edge to watch. \r\n\r\nThese spectacular riverside fireworks displays are known as the Rhein in Flammen (Rhine in Flames) and there are a number of dinner cruises which operate during the event, where you’ll often find the best views of the fireworks, set against a backdrop of castles, palaces, picturesque villages and a beautiful riverside landscape. \r\n\r\nWagner Opera Festival \r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nLocation: Bayreuth, Bavaria \r\n\r\nIf you’re able to get tickets (waiting lists are long), the Wagner Opera Festival is one of the ultimate things to do in Germany for theatre and opera lovers alike. Head for the city of Bayreuth in north-east Bavaria to witness the famous festival, which takes place every year from late July to August. \r\n\r\nFestival performances take place in Bayreuth Festspielhaus, a custom-built theatre that composer Richard Wagner himself helped to design. People wait five to ten years for tickets to the Wagner Opera Festival, but try your luck by turning up on the day – you may be able to secure a returned ticket. \r\n\r\nDrive the Romantic Road \r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nLocation: Würzburg to Füssen \r\n\r\nStretching from Würzburg in the north of Bavaria to Füssen in the south, the 300-plus kilometers of Germany’s Romantic Road is another of the most famous things to do in Germany. \r\n\r\nA historic and scenic trade route, the Romantic Road takes visitors past medieval walled towns, alongside vineyards, past palaces and castles, and through quaint villages, all providing an excellent insight into the region\u0027s history, art and culture. Whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway, hiking trails, German cuisine or a few ski slopes, you’re likely to find it all along the Romantic Road! \r\n\r\nBaked Fish Festival (Backfischfest) \r\n\r\nLocation: Worms, Western Germany \r\n\r\nDon’t be put off by the name – of either the festival or the city. Head to the city of Worms in Rhineland-Palatinate (Western Germany) in late August to celebrate the traditional Baked Fish Festival (Backfischfest) – the biggest wine, food and folk festival on the banks of the Rhine. \r\n\r\nDedicated to the Fishermen’s Guild, Germany’s oldest such organization, the Backfischfest includes activities such as a lantern procession, a tug o’ war competition, jousting, and the traditional housewives’ afternoon. \r\n\r\nThe Cologne Karneval \r\n\r\n \r\n\r\nLocation: Cologne (and around Germany) \r\n\r\nEach year, at 11 minutes past 11 on 11 November (the time and date of the truce that ended fighting in World War I in 1918), carnival season is declared open – and there is no better place to join in the revelry than in Cologne (Köln). In one of Germany’s most popular student cities, the streets come alive during Karneval, with processions, concerts and colourful costumes. \r\n\r\nTraditionally coinciding with Easter celebrations, the week-long street festival is timed to fall between Fat Thursday and Ash Wednesday in the Lent calendar and has thus become almost as important a date in the party calendar as Oktoberfest. One of the top things to do in Germany at Eastertime, the Cologne Karneval is just one of many similar festivals happening up and down the country. \r\n\r\nExperience the bustling maritime city of Hamburg \r\n\r\n \r\n\r\nLocation: Hamburg \r\n\r\nNot only is it Germany’s second-largest city, Hamburg is also the country’s wealthiest city. Its identity is bound up in a maritime history which has successfully secured Hamburg’s place as the world’s third-busiest port, after London and New York. \r\n\r\nPerhaps not quite as well-known as German cities such as Berlin, Frankfurt and Munich, Hamburg is certainly well worth a visit, if only to take in the completely different feel it has. There are the buildings shaped like ocean liners, the artificial river beaches, gothic warehouses and fish markets. Visit Hamburg and find out why almost 1.8 million people call this German city home. \r\n\r\nMore things to do in Germany: \r\n\r\n\r\n\tWhy not challenge yourself to run the Berlin Marathon? \r\n\tVisit Trier, the oldest city in Germany. \r\n\tSample currywurst – a German street-food specialty! \r\n\tTake a break from studies for some kaffee und kuchen (coffee \u0026 cake). \r\n\tVisit Frankfurt, the birthplace of influential writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832). \r\n\r\n\r\nThis article was originally published in November 2010 and was updated on August 2022.