Germany is a hot commodity at the moment, according to travel specialists and tour operators we’ve spoken to this week. That’s due in part to a big push by tourism officials to highlight new summer attractions. Travelers are also venturing to a wider range of destinations.
"Munich continues to be our number one seller in Germany, and Berlin is second. What we are seeing is more and more travelers are going beyond those two top sellers, to places like Nuremberg, Stuttgart and the Black Forest. Because of Germany's extensive rail system, we can easily put together itineraries that let clients explore more of this warm and welcoming country, which is one of my personal favorites,” Harry Dalgaard, president and founder of Avanti Destinations, tells Travel Agent.
Avanti has introducing several new land-only itineraries and add-on sightseeing tours in Germany. They include a three-night Creative Berlin tour. It features a guided bike tour to see street art, creative spaces, and urban renewal projects, plus a private tour of Berlin’s art galleries. The three-night Historic Berlin tour includes a guided walking tour plus a self-drive Trabi tour along the Wall. Trabis (nickname for Trabant) were the East German-produced vehicles that hold an inexplicable cult status today.
For history or religious scholars, Avanti’s four-night In the Footsteps of Luther tour begins in Berlin and stops in Lutherstadt, Wittenberg, Erfurt and Eisenach (with Wartburg Castle entrance). The Reformation of Luther is 500 years old in 2017.
Additional Avanti programs include a Jewish district tour, Raw Berlin (counterculture focus) and a Berlin Evening Food bike tour.
“The new tour products in Berlin that we launched this year, like walking tours on different themes and self-drive Trabi tours, have been selling quite well. Right now, thanks to price adjustments due to the stronger dollar, Germany offers a tremendous value. It’s a culturally rich experience at a lower cost than most other countries in western and southern Europe,” said Dalgaard.
One German city making a big marketing push at the moment is Heidelberg. Voted InterRail’s 2015 European Destination of the Year, the city is using social media to attract Millennials. It’s also trying to appeal to a wide array of visitor interests. Examples include a new culinary sightseeing tour that follows in the footsteps of Goethe, among others. Fans of German wines will be interested in new tours at the Clauer winery. And the Stift Neuburg monastery right outside the city is well-known for its beautiful views of the Neckar valley and the slopes of the Odenwald. Not so well known are the organic beer tastings at the adjoining cloister brewery.
Bike tours are also big for the summer season in Heidelberg. Several certified bike routes cross through the city and countryside. The Bergstrasse bike path traverses the scenic area known as the German Tuscany. The Neckar Valley bike path stretches over 200 miles from the Black Forest to Mannheim, passing through Heidelberg. The trail and mileage markers are clearly labeled with the official Tourism Service logo.
The bike paths surrounding Heidelberg showcase classic German settings of steep hillside vineyards and fairytale-like castles. Those iconic scenes account for the country’s perennial draw.
“We’re selling a lot of Germany. The numbers are really doing well over last year. There is so much to experience there,” said Ed Jones, east coast sales manager for Europe Express.
For clients interested in something a little different, consider the seven-night Europe Express Hanseatic Ports of Northern Germany tour. It visits Hamburg, Bremen, Lubeck, Stralsund and Berlin. It features no less than four UNESCO World Heritage Sites.