From Bruges to Bern: The six best city trips for autumn
No plan for the fall break yet? Perfect! We present six quickly accessible and not so well-known cities in Germany and its neighboring countries – for an unforgettable city trip.
The one with one
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The biggest or the most famous doesn’t always have to be the best. This also applies to cities. Metropolises like Munich, Vienna, Zurich and Paris are on everyone’s lips as destinations, but they are also usually overcrowded and expensive. Cities from the second row, which are often underestimated, exude more charm. Now that the high season is over and the cities belong to the people who live there again, is the best time to visit. We present six attractive autumn destinations that are close by.
1. Bern instead of Zurich
Medieval city surrounded by rivers, mountains and the Gantrisch Nature Park: The old town of Bern is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is considered one of the most beautiful cities in Switzerland with its towers, fountains, patrician houses, sandstone buildings and arcades. It also owes this to its location in a loop of the Aare River, which is a Caribbean-like turquoise green. In the narrow streets of the old town there are around 100 fountains from which drinking water bubbles continuously.
The historical highlights also include the arcades, covered arcades that house small shops. Bern is also characterized by its many well-preserved vaulted cellars. Goods were once stored there, but today they are home to charming cafés, restaurants, wine bars and boutiques. This mix of modern, historic and alternative is what makes the city on the river so attractive. The most beautiful view is from the rose garden all the way to the Bernese Alps with their snow-covered peaks – a popular sunset spot. Wow in French-speaking Switzerland!
2. Innsbruck instead of Vienna
A university town in the middle of the mountains: With 130,000 inhabitants, Tyrol’s state capital Innsbruck is neither big nor small, but manageable. And what there is to see and experience here explains why the Austrian city is so popular with around 30,000 students from all over the world. In the heart of the old town, the Golden Roof, built by Emperor Maximilian, shines with the Imperial Hofburg, the Hofkirche and the Hofgarten.
Here the Nordkette, the gateway to the Karwendel, rises majestically into the sky. There the Patscherkofel with its pine forests, which are among the largest in Europe. And in front of it the world-famous Bergisel ski jump, built by star architect Zaha Hadid. Anyone who visits the oldest museum in the world, Ambras Castle and the marmots and ibexes in the Alpine Zoo will never forget this special Innsbruck feeling: between culture and nature, ups and downs, tradition and trends – crowned with a Kaiserschmarrn or Kaspressknödel.
3. Merano instead of Rome
Empress Sissi already loved Meran: at the end of the 19th century, the Austrian monarch spent several months in the spa town and enjoyed its Mediterranean climate. Even today, South Tyrol’s second largest city stands for an imperial holiday – between mountains up to 3,337 meters high, palm trees, cypresses, wine terraces, Art Nouveau villas and stylish wellness hotels. In autumn, the town of 40,000 inhabitants on the Passer is also a popular destination for hikers. In autumn, along the Waalwege, the leaves of the chestnut trees shine in golden tones and those who like to eat the tree fruits can do so in many places at Törggelen.
If you want to make less effort but still experience lots of greenery in the city, stroll from the old town along the summer promenade to Sissi’s holiday home Trauttmansdorff Castle and its enchanting gardens with plants from all over the world. These extend over a huge area of more than 16 football fields with a height difference of 100 meters. With spectacular views of around 80 garden landscapes, the surrounding mountains with their sugar-coated peaks and the city of Meran. Another highlight is the Meran thermal baths, which are located right in the city center. An eye-catching building with a puristic design made of glass, steel and wood, designed by South Tyrolean star architect Matteo Thun. Here you can relax in clinically tested mineral water in 15 pools or in the sauna area – always with a view of the mountains and palm trees.
4. Bruges instead of Brussels
Insider tip in Belgium: Brussels, Antwerp and Ghent are on everyone’s lips. But Bruges? Have you ever heard that the city with 118,000 inhabitants is at the top of the list of the most picturesque cities in Europe? From the west of Germany, for example Cologne, the UNESCO World Heritage city can be reached quickly and easily in just over three and a half hours. It enchants with its cobbled streets, picturesque canals like those in Venice and medieval squares framed by colorful buildings and Gothic facades.
The best overview of Bruges – even as far as the Netherlands when the weather is clear – is offered by the 122 meter high brick tower of the Church of Our Lady. The Gothic town hall is Belgium’s oldest building – and is also considered the most beautiful in the city. Speaking of beauty: how about a visit to the Diamond Museum? The art of diamond polishing is said to have been invented here in 1450. Since then, Bruges has played a prominent role in the history of the diamond trade, which is shown in the museum alongside many valuable stones. If you are thirsty, you can quench it in the beer museum, among other places. Belgium has been known for its beer specialties since the Middle Ages. Conveniently, the museum tours end in the tasting room – with a view of the medieval market square.
5. Colmar instead of Paris
If you live in Baden-Württemberg, Saarland or in the direction of Frankfurt, you don’t have to go far to Alsace. The north-east of France lies in the Rhine plain on the border with Germany and Switzerland and has great things to offer for gourmets, nature lovers as well as city and castle fans. For example, the city of Colmar, with a population of almost 70,000, is often referred to as “Little Venice” due to its narrow canals.
It is surrounded by vineyards and impresses every romantic with its colorful half-timbered houses and cobblestone alleys. The cityscape is influenced by the Middle Ages and the Renaissance – and the Unterlinden Museum. This is housed in the former Dominican nuns’ Unter den Linden monastery and is one of the most visited museums in France due to its impressive collection of works of art. The many cozy cafes and restaurants along the canals and bridges, which invite you to enjoy a laissez-faire atmosphere, are also impressive.
6. Würzburg instead of Munich
Baroque residence, castle and wine: In the north of Bavaria, in a valley on the Main, lies the city jewel of Würzburg. Or to put it another way: the heart of the Franconian wine region. With its residence built by Balthasar Neumann, the city of 128,000 can compete with many large-caliber guns in Europe. This is considered the highlight of Baroque palace architecture – also because it combines the most diverse varieties of European Baroque.
UNESCO also agreed with this opinion in 1981 when it declared the residence a world heritage site. The Marienberg Fortress surrounded by vines, the Marienkapelle, the Falkenhaus, the old Main bridge with its almost five meter high figures of saints and all the wine bars in the city center are among the highlights of the university town. Hikes and excursions to the directly adjacent vineyards and river cruises on the Main are also available here – and of course a glass or two of Franconian wine in the numerous wine bars, wine cellars and wineries.
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