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Say Prost to Germany’s Western States
Germany’s West is chock-full of Gothic architecture, lush greenery, and traditional bierhäuser (beerhouses). Explore the half-timbered buildings and skyscrapers in bustling Frankfurt, venture up the breathtaking Rhine River Valley to Cologne, continue on to avant-garde Düsseldorf, and then head to the lovely, and very green, Hannover.

Much like the complex history of these cities, you’ll be sampling a beguiling mix of cutting-edge and centuries-old flavors along the way. Discover the joy of a perfectly roasted pork knuckle and wash it down with a glass of Altbier in Düsseldorf. In Cologne, visit the Chocolate Museum and feel like a kid in a candy store, until you sit down for an adult-size serving of Kölsch at dinner. Whatever you’re craving, culturally and gastronomically, western Germany has a hearty serving of it.
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    Photo By SeanPavonePhoto
    Day 1
    Night Flight to Frankfurt
    Save the days for sightseeing and take an overnight flight to Frankfurt, Germany. Put on your headphones and eye pillow at 30,000 feet and have an in-flight beer if you like, but remember—you’re headed to some of the best Bierhäuser in the world. It might be worth the wait.
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    Photo By Städel Museum
    Day 2
    Frankfurt’s Bustle
    Wake up when the wheels touch the tarmac at Frankfurt am Main Airport. Frankfurt is Germany’s fifth-largest city and, after you check in at the charming Villa Kennedy for a night, it’s off for your first taste of Germany. Your hotel is a stroll from the Museum Embankment, so wander into the Städel Institute of Art to see masterpieces from Rembrandt and Renoir. The Cathedral, St. Paul’s Church, Goethe House, and Römerberg Square are stellar examples of Frankfurt’s rich history— but look up at the skyline. It’s as cutting-edge as the city’s culinary scene.

    If you’re a vegetarian—even if you’re not—try dinner at the trendy Seven Swans. Two vegetarian restaurants in Germany joined the ranks of Michelin Star status in 2018, and this is one of them. If you’re craving traditional German fare, 12 Apostles serves roasted pork knuckle with pickled cabbage. Wash it down with a beer brewed right there on the premises.
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    Photo By Matthias Haker Photography
    Day 3
    Sip Kölsch in Cologne
    Drive north for two hours to your next stop: Cologne. Check in at the Hyatt Regency for a night—ask for a view of the Cathedral—and then set out. Cologne is a crossroads of the medieval and modern, and you’ll stumble upon no less than 12 Roman churches in the Old City Center alone, plus an ancient Roman wall, the Wallraff-Richartz Museum, a postmodern quarter, and, wait for it—a Chocolate Museum.

    Cologne is also home to over 20 Kölsch breweries—a top-fermented, light lager— and you have one night to try them all. Check out Früh am Dom, Gaffel am Dom, and Brauhaus zur Malzmühle. Per Kölsch tradition, the beer is served in small glasses, and when you’ve had your fill, you have to put a coaster on top of your empty glass. Otherwise, the waiter will keep the beer flowing without asking.

    Soak up the crisp Kölsch with rib-sticking German fare at the brewhouses, or try a plated modern masterpiece at the Michelin-starred maiBeck restaurant in Old Town.
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    Photo By DZT / Francesco Carovillano
    Day 4
    Altbier in Düsseldorf
    On day four, it’s a 45-minute drive to Düsseldorf and its avant-garde architecture, robust art scene, and even more robust Altbier scene. Check in at the luxurious Breidenbacher Hof for the night and then explore the Königsallee shopping district and Benrath Palace. All it takes is a few hours of wandering the Altstadt (the historical quarter along the Rhine, also called “the longest bar in the world”) to realize Düsseldorf loves its Altbier.

    A Düsseldorf specialty, Altbier is a brown beer that tastes clean and crisp, like a lager. Take a tour of one of the oldest Alt breweries in Düsseldorf, the Schumacher, and see how this local brew has been crafted for centuries. Afterwards, suck down more Altbier—and German eats—at Brauerei "Im Füchschen" or Brauerei “Kürzer.” For sophisticated urban fare, Tafelspitz 1876 is divine.
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    Photo By Hannover Marketing&Tourismus GmbH / Lars Gerhardts
    Day 5
    Hannover
    On your last full day, it’s a two-hour drive to Hannover, a city that celebrates its museums, theaters, and green spaces. Check in at Kastens Hotel Luisenhof in the heart of the city, and then set out for the spectacularly Baroque Herrenhäuser Gärten, Lake Maschsee, and the Eilenriede, Europe's largest urban forest. Also, catch the view from the dome of the New Town Hall.

    Hannover’s culinary scene is another reason the city non-stop celebrates. At Brauhaus Ernst August, the dunkelbier sauce (dark-beer barbeque sauce) and home-brewed beer are as good as the live music. Meier's Lebenslust also has rustic regional food and house-brewed beers on tap. For modern flavors, the changing menu at 11a is a favorite, and Riverside 6 Senses is super upscale.
  • Day 6
    Head Home
    The culture buff in you has been overwhelmed, your taste buds tantalized, and your thirst satiated with pints of Kölsch and Altbier. Western Germany is truly an immersion of all the senses, and a fascinating journey from the medieval to the modern. As you make your way back to Frankfurt today, reflect on all that you’ve seen, learned, sipped, and tasted as you rejoice in the flavors of western Germany.