Travel: The sunnier side of Germany
The South West of Germany is the country's sunniest region and it makes for perfect summers. It's warm enough to swim in clean, clear lakes; cycle through vineyards and to sit in glorious gardens while sipping a glass of wine or a local brew.
This part of Germany is also very family-friendly, is well-priced and is fun for children of all ages. Little ones will love the theme parks for tiny tots while teenagers love the ziplines, the tree top adventure parks, canoeing and sailing.
By the way, South West Germany (www.tourism-bw.com) is the easy way to refer to the German federal state of Baden-Württemberg.
This summer you could join in three Black Forest area celebrations and as 2016 marks the 500th anniversary of Germany’s beer purity law, look out for special brews.
On the Rothaus Brewery’s 225th birthday, they are also celebrating their Tannenzäpfle pilsner’s 60th. No wonder the 90-minute brewery tours are so popular (www.rothaus.de/en/about-rothaus/tours).
The region also has world-class vineyards. In Freiburg, taste up to 400 local wines at the annual wine festival which runs from 7 July 7 until the 12th.
In Freudenstadt you can taste as you walk on a fun foodie hike on 31 July 31. Or in Baiersbronn’s annual Black Forest Rally for Epicureans, combine driving and gourmet food between 22 and 25 September. See www.blackforest-tourism.com
The highlight of Karlsruhe’s 300th birthday in 2015 was so successful that they are recreating it this summer: the light shows at Karlsruhe Palace.
Thanks to the skill and imagination of artists and designers from across Europe, the glorious palace at the heart of the city starred in a dazzling display of light and sound.
The facade of the grand baroquepalace will again be transformed into a world of magic and fantasy. But this year, the nightly light show will be more interactive.
For example, for 50 Euro, you can have your very own portrait projected on to the facade for all to see between 7 August and 17 September!
For more details see www.karlsruhe-tourismus.de/en
Each year, Heidelberg Palace attracts around a million visitors from all over the world. Since the early 19th Century, these impressive ruins have been synonymous with Romanticism.
It would be hard to imagine a more striking location: set against the deep green forests on the north flank of Königstuhl hill, the red sandstone ruins tower majestically over the Neckar valley. From its lofty position, the palace’s silhouette dominates the old town centre of Heidelberg.
The rich and eventful history of Heidelberg Palace began when the counts palatine of the Rhine – later prince electors – established their residence at Heidelberg. First mentioned in 1225, this was destined to become one of the grandest palaces of the Renaissance.
Until the Thirty Years’ War, Heidelberg Palace boasted one of the most notable ensembles of buildings in the Holy Roman Empire.
In brisk succession, the prince electors commissioned a series of imposing constructions: Gläserner Saalbau, Ottheinrichsbau, Friedrichsbau and Englischer Bau.
Each one is a masterpiece of Renaissance architecture. Their magnificent façades create a resplendent frame for the courtyard.
In summer, the Island of Mainau, on Lake Constance, offers a great day out.
On the ‘Flower Island’ which is open daily, relax on a bench and admire a sea of flowers and glorious views over one of Europe’s most beautiful lakes.
As well as attracting garden lovers, families enjoy their visits. Children romp around at adventure playgrounds, such as ‘Dwarf Village’ and ‘Water World’.
There is also a popular farm, with a petting zoo, pony rides and animals created out of flowers.
Nearby, the insect garden helps to educate visitors of all ages about the importance of wild bees and honey bees for pollination. But for Mainau Island details, see www.mainau.de
And finally having been voted the ‘World’s No 1 Theme Park’ for the past two years, Europa-Park has 14 European-themed areas, so you can tour Europe in a day!
One of the thrilling new family attractions for 2016 is the Irish-themed area, featuring an idyllic fishing village, plus a swing boat and roller coaster just for children.
Menus are inspired by Irish cuisine; a large covered play world guarantees year-round fun.
On the edge of the Black Forest, the park boasts 100 attractions and shows on 235 beautifully-landscaped acres. For a great short break, stay on site in the park’s five themed hotels.