Teutonic twins Germany and Austria have both crashed onto the Green List meaning we can all enjoy the lakes, mountains and culture of Mitteleuropa unhindered once more. If you like castles, spas, forest walks, architecture and museums and even a little bit of live music, you’re in the right place.
Berlin’s new airport is the talk of the town - years late but it’s given the city the big gateway it arguably needed. Avgeeks and the curious might get off on a look at the city’s other airports - the brutalist beauty of Tegel and Tempelhof’s eerie gargantuan terminal or the fact its runway, taxiways and aprons are now a giant park perfect for skating, cycling and picknicking. In fact from Sat until Sep 5 Tegel hosts a farewell festival as part of the Sonambiente series where artists and musicians take over the old airport and fill it with weird and wonderful sounds. Check out Berlin’s new Futurium if you want to gaze into the future of the city.
STAY AND EAT
A gorgeous apartment to yourself complete with kitchen and lounge – Staycity Wilde is an absolute peach of a place to crash. Stay at Artotel for an art-themed stay in sumptuous surrounds. The chic Ritz Carlton will make you think you’re a millionaire while you’re staying in complete luxury. Right in the centre of the city on the prestigious Unter Den Linden, Westin has every comfort you could need. For a simple and stylish stay in East Berlin try Vienna House Andel’s which also has a great roof bar and a bulging breakfast buffet. Right by the embassies and Tiergarten Park you’ll find the newly renovated rooms of the Marriott.
For party animals the Moxy is right near the clubs and bars you all know like Berghain and has a cool lobby with fussball, work stations if you’re here for bleisure and seats at the bar to enjoy a drink. The towering Waldorf Astoria sets the standard for a luxury stay near to the famous Zoo Station, once the main station of West Berlin, and the Amerika Haus, which houses Berlin’s photography gallery. The Waldorf’s restaurant Roca also impresses. The Niu Dwarf pays homage to urban gardens and Berlin’s unique allotments in its decor.
Osterberger is a chic eatery on a quiet street in Mitte with a dining room by architect Martin Davidson and a choice of vegan dishes or organic meats. The poussin with roasted vegetables won’t disappoint. Kink is a brand new restaurant in an old brewery on the Pfefferberg hill with some eye-popping neon lights and adventurous cooking like a buckwheat crêpe with king oyster pâté, shimeji, lovage and pearl onion. Le Cote is a bar and restaurant where Berlin’s brightest come to drink and dine on Mediterranean dishes done with panache like an amazing burrata with heritage tomatoes and Campari jelly. Very cool place and great service from the team. For genuine Swedish meatballs you can’t beat the meat (or vegan) balls at Möllers Köttbullar in Kreuzberg. Fine dining in style is yours for the taking at Jonas Zorner’s Golvet which has one Michelin star and does a seven-course tasting menu for 129 EUR. Dishes include monkfish with bone marrow and artichoke.
Dusseldorf is a cool city break destination with a thriving art scene and plenty of one off galleries like the uber hip Philara which has an X-rated tiling scheme we won’t describe here because it will make you blush. Once the home of Joseph Beuys, its annual Art Dusseldorf fair and many galleries like the famous K20 and the K21 inside the old Rhineland Parliament Building and even a whole tram line where the stations are living art exhibits, make it an art lover’s dream. To relax, take time out at the ultra luxe Vabali Spa – they also have a blingin’ Berlin branch and a new one coming to Hamburg soon too.
STAY AND EAT
Ruby in Dusseldorf epitomises the brand’s ‘lean luxury’ standpoint, find other great Ruby hotels in Munich and Hamburg and even London now. 25 Hours in Cologne is one of the most impressive 25 Hours Hotels with a great rooftop resto and retro interiors. The 25 Hours in Berlin, Dusseldorf and especially Hamburg also impress. Eat delicious French food at The Paris Club in Dusseldorf, a bistro with a modern twist and panoramic city views. Brucken offers seafood and meat dishes close to the River Rhine in Cologne’s historic old town.
Brandenburg’s lakes are enticing in late summer – Wannsee and Teufelssee are easy to get to from Berlin. Wolzigersee and many others have been cleaned up since the days of GDR pollution and are wildlife havens and great for sailing and swimming. The new E Werk is an art gallery in an old power station in the town of Luckenwalde. Don’t miss the original Bauhaus design school and museum in Dessau, and the hipster city of Leipzig – its old cotton spinning factory (one of the biggest mills in Europe) is now a haven for artists, with studios and galleries. Even Berliners have decamped to ‘Hypezig’ to hoover up the cheap rents and cool bars. For relaxation stop by at the huge Tropical Islands holiday park in an old airship hangar at Brand.
STAY AND EAT
Motel One is always a great value stay with hotels in Leipzig, Dresden, Berlin and Hamburg with easy access to eastern Germany. Each branch offers basic rooms but an impressive One Lounge lobby which combines restaurant, bar, work space and chill out area – making budget seem extremely attractive. Maritim has good quality hotels in places like Magdeburg, Berlin and Dresden which are all packed with facilities like gyms and pools. The Berlin ProArte one has loads of painting and sculpture spread around the whole hotel by German artists. Frieda is the name of the chef’s grandmother and the restaurant that is one of the plushest places to eat in Leipzig with refined nouvelle cuisine and a sunny terrace.
Autumn is a perfect time to explore Germany’s Baltic beaches, like the cute seaside town of Timendorfer Strand or the island of Rugen. Hamburg’s Reeperbahn Festival and Anchor Awards take over that city on September 22 for a week and offer up the best new bands from around Europe and special surprise guests (Liam Gallagher, Biffy Clyro and The Get Up Kids have played this surprise slot in previous years) and Hamburg’s music scene includes the new Elbphilharmonie and of course a Beatles tour of the places the band frequented.
STAY AND EAT
Hamburg’s Mercure is a stylish, modern and central hotel. The quirky Ibis Styles in Hamburg’s Barmbek district is a newly opened place that has interesting interiors. Try and get a balcony room at the NH Collection Hamburg City with great views and great service.
Bavaria and the Tyrol
Mountains aren’t just for skiing and warm weather means you can hike the Alps in Austria and Southern Germany and enjoy some lazy lake swims on Lake Constance or at Tegernsee in the Alpine foothills. The historic city of Nuremberg also has a great museum of trains for geeks who are young and not so young too. If you’ve still got Olympic fever you can walk through Munich’s 1972 Olympic Park exploring the old stadium and athletes’ village. Munich’s many markets are always fun, the Viktualienmarkt in the city centre has a massive range of fresh food and gourmet produce and lots of places to eat. To chill out there’s Therme Erding in the pretty Bavarian town, one of the largest spas in the world.
STAY AND EAT
Locke Schwan is the newest Locke apart-hotel opening (they also have a new one closer to home in Dalston), boasting classy mid century modern furniture in downtown Munich. Niu has a new design led hotel in Munich, the Loco. No Oktoberfest this year due to Covid but you can learn about suds at the German Hop Museum in Wolznach and do beer tastings. Izakaya at Roomers boutique hotel is now open again serving Asian meets South American fare. Don’t miss Munich’s cult food truck Grillin’ Me Softly, dishing up dogs and more around the city.
If you’re itching for live music Waves Festival hits Vienna on September 9-11 showcasing Europe’s best up and coming bands. Vienna’s outdoors is always worth a look – acres of forests, sections of the Danube perfect for sunning and swimming, and even numerous vineyards in the city limits. For a bargain 20 EUR you can tour Cobenzl’s vineyard, wine production rooms and tasting salon, and even taste their prize Sekts. And don’t miss Fritz Wotruba’s eye-popping brutalist church overlooking the city in the woods.
STAY AND EAT
The city innovates: Vienna’s old shops have been turned into apartments for cool sleepovers by the Urbanauts team. The twin luxury boutique hotels Topazz and Lamee offer a touch of glamour in the heart of the Austrian capital. The Guesthouse is simply one of Europe’s cosiest hotels with windows you can curl up in stacked with books, comfy rooms and breakfast served into the evening (the bread is incredible). One of the city’s foremost boutique boltholes, Das Triest also has a fantastic restaurant. Vienna’s Marriott has a great site in the city centre and plenty of things to keep you busy.
Wrenkh warms the cockles of your heart: friendly service, cool décor, a cookery school if you want to learn how to cook their dishes – most of which are vegetarian – and great vibes. If you love Middle Eastern flavours and own an Ottolenghi cookbook get down to Neni and make sure you have their mezze plate or falafels.
Styria and Southern Austria
Graz welcomes the new Halle Fur Kunst Steiermark with some stand-out exhibitions. There’s also several cultural festivals and don’t miss the Kunsthaus designed by London-based Peter Cook, founder of Archigram in the 1960s. Head out into the emerald hills to discover some Alpine history at the Austriahutte Museum or ride on the many heritage steam railways like the Feistritztal that climb through the stunning Styrian countryside. Castle Riegersburg meanwhile has a crow’s nest perch on top of a mountain – you won’t want to miss the views.
STAY AND EAT
The Augarten Art Hotel is a hip place to spend a night in the city of Graz. Specialities in this region include pumpkin oil and roasted chicken, which you can enjoy at Graz’s many pavement cafes. For something fancier head to the village of Hirschegg where the Michelin-starred Kilian Stuba dishes up hearty fare, including their special rib of beef which they carve for you tableside. Artis in Graz serves an ever changing tasting menu: think prawn with flavoured foams and microherbs.
Easyjet flies from London to many German and Austrian cities including Hamburg, Berlin, Stuttgart, Innsbruck, Salzburg, Dusseldorf, Munich and Vienna (easyjet.com).
Travel between cities in Germany and Austria by Flixbus and Flixtrain (Flixbus.com)