The One Thing ... Germany   

By ben Groundwater


By Ben Groundwater

The One Thing You Should Do
In Germany Is ...

Visit a beer hall

It doesn’t have to be Oktoberfest. Though Munich’s famous carnival of ale is one of the true highlights of the worldwide beer-drinking calendar, you don’t have to go to Oktoberfest to appreciate German beer culture. All you have to do is visit a beer hall. 

And you should do so in Bavaria, the part of the country that’s best known for its booze. Begin in Munich, the area’s capital, and head to probably the most famous beer hall of all, the Hofbrauhaus. This drinking den has been serving the thirsty hordes since 1589, and they really know their way around a “mass”: the one-litre beer glass from which you’ll be drinking. In summer, when the beer garden opens, there can’t be many better places in the entire world to be.  

There are, however, plenty of other great beer halls, gardens, breweries and even monasteries that serve beer outside of Munich. Just outside the city, make the trek up to Andechs, a hilltop monastery that’s been brewing its own beer since 1455. Or check out Kneitinger, a beer hall in the town of Regensburg that’s known as one of Bavaria’s best. There’s also the Schlenkerla brewery, in the town of Bamberg, which is famous for its “smoked” beer. 

Pretty much every beer hall in Germany will be a convivial place full of locals who love a beer and a bite to eat. Just remember: it’s a marathon, not a sprint.  


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The One Thing You Should Not Do
In Germany Is ...

Mention the War

This is kind of a joke, of course, fuelled by an old episode of the British sitcom Fawlty Towers. “Listen, don’t mention the war,” Basil Fawlty told his hotel staff when a group of Germans came to stay. “I mentioned it once, but I think I got away with it.” 

It’s a joke, but this is also serious business. When you’re in Germany, it really is best not to mention the war. The war will be mentioned to you, of course. You’ll tour former concentration camps in Germany. You’ll stand at former military checkpoints. You’ll visit war memorials. Modern-day Germans don’t seek to hide from their past, but rather to confront it, and to learn from it. And that’s a very good thing. 

But still, that doesn’t mean the country’s past is something local people particularly enjoy talking about. It’s also not something you should feel you really need to bring up in polite conversation. The two world wars of the 20th century are a source of much embarrassment for many Germans, particularly younger citizens, and if you’re hoping to make friends in this fantastic country, and to keep them, then you’re best leaving this topic well alone. Maybe talk about football instead.


Find out more insider tips about other destinations: read all the articles in Ben's "One Thing" series here

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