The winter can be harsh in the Netherlands, especially if you’re one of those fierce Dutchies who battle with the cold day in and day out and continue to cycle instead of catch public transport. All that hard work deserves some reward, no? So how about booking a weekend escape!
It doesn’t have to be an arduous journey and it certainly doesn’t have to break the bank if you travel to the neighbouring country of Germany. Too often we forget all the opportunity and adventure we could have closer to our doorstep. So in the spirit of finding cheaper and more accessible holidays, we compiled a list of some of the best German cities for a weekend escape from the Netherlands.
Time by train:→ 02:40 from Amsterdam/Rotterdam
Cologne is rather grungy like Berlin, which is a large part due to the fact most of the city was flattened during WWII. After the war, the focus was to try and rebuild the city as quickly as possible which resulted in the erection of sterile concrete blocks.
Thankfully, the famous Cologne Cathedral (used as a reference point for attacking pilots’ location) survived. It is the main tourist attraction of the city and given it is the largest Gothic church in northern Europe, it is easy to see why. After paying the four euro entry and ascending the 386 steps, you’ll be rewarded with panoramic city views including the Rhine River and iconic Hohenzollern Bridge.
TIP: Don’t leave this city without trying Cologne’s famous “Kölsch” beer!
Time by train:→ 03:00 from Amsterdam/Utrecht
Not to be confused with Munich! This city in west Germany has a lovely feel to it with a stunning Altstadt (old town). Due to its extensive bicycle path network, it is often named the “bike capital of Germany”, so Dutchies should feel right at home!
It also has more 1,000 pubs, so you won’t be hard pushed to find a cool beer to top off a day bike exploring. You’re unlikely to be disappointment by your drink as Germany has laws in place to protect the quality of brews.
Time by train:→ 04.45 from Amsterdam
Heidelberg is Germany’s oldest university town with famous alumnus including Max Weber and Franz Boas. Its notability does not stop there, however. Famous playwright, Goethe lived in Heidelberg and author Mark Twain detailed his three-months living in Heidelberg in his book A Tramp Abroad. This rich literary history has lead the city to be named a Unesco City of Literature in 2014.
But that’s not the only appeal. Visitors marvel at the beautiful baroque architecture of the old town, which survived WWII, the location next to the Neckar River and the imposing Heidelberg castle that looms over the town on one of the many surrounding hills.
Choose your visiting weekend wisely however, as more than 11.5 million tourists flock to this city each year.
Time by train:→ 5.15 from Amsterdam, or 03.45 from Groningen
Hamburg is a major port city located in northern Germany and has more bridges inside its city limits than any other city in the world (with even more canals than Amsterdam).
It can take a while to navigate the different areas of the city but if you put in the effort and discover all the hidden gems then you will undoubtedly grow to love it. The Beatles rose to fame while playing on the infamous Reeperbahn strip. When John Lennon was once asked what it was like growing up in Liverpool, he retorted “I didn’t grow up in Liverpool. I grew up in Hamburg.” For major Beatles fans, it is worth noting that there is a designated Beatles tour you can take in Hamburg.
A must-do is the Sunday Fischmarkt, located right on the harbour. It starts around 5 am with herring sandwiches and of course, beer. As the morning continues, bands start playing and people flock to the dance floor. No better way to cure your Saturday hangover than with a Sunday drink!
Time by train:→ 2:45 from Amsterdam
Dortmund is most well known for their football team – Borussia Dortmund – which is the second most successful German football team after Bayern Munich. After Camp Nou in Barcelona, Dortmund’s Signal Iduna Park is the second-largest stadium in Europe so even if you aren’t a football fan, the atmosphere at the 81,359-capacity stadium is electric and promises an epic time.
If after attending a match you catch the football bug, then the fun doesn’t need to end there. The German Football Museum opened its doors in 2015 even equipped with quizzes, interactive games and a small indoor pitch to muck around on.
Aside from football, there is still lots to discover here. Meander around the beautiful Westfalenpark or boost up Dortmund’s 220-metre TV tower for panoramic city views.
So there you go, five varied and worthwhile German cities for a weekend escape from the Netherlands. Have you been to any of these cities? What’s your favourite place in Germany? Let us know in the comments!