Germany is the country I visited most in recent years. The close proximity of Germany to my hometown in the Netherlands makes traveling to this country easy and manageable. In fact, I am considering to do more holidays in this country not only due to proximity, but also due to the cheap price, many castles to see, good food and beers. There are many German cities to visit which are close to the Netherlands!
In my previous blog, I have written about some of the best Dutch cities to visit close to German borders. In this blog, I will discuss some German cities worthwhile to visit close to the Dutch borders and a few German cities to visit on longer road trips. Just remember that when you go on a road trip to Germany, it is important to take note of the differences and similarities with the Netherlands. I outlined some of these in my blog Differences between the Netherlands and Germany for road trip travels.
Below are six German cities and towns that are easy to reach from the Netherlands (around one to five hours by car). These are just located on the east side of the Netherlands. Moreover, these places could be easily visited in one road trip without taking major detours. See the map below for the guide, starting from the village closed to the North of the Netherlands (Heede), going to the South (Heidelberg). Of course, if you come from the South of the Netherlands, you can simply cross the border and go to a close German cities such as Dusseldorf and Cologne.
German cities to visit close to the Netherlands
1. Heede Germany
Heede is a very small village, which is 10 minutes away from the border of the Netherlands in Bourtange. There is not much to see here as compared to other big cities. But you can find here the apparition of Mother Mary. So if you are a religious person and are interested to visit sacred places, then it is worth dropping by Heede. Since this village is very small, spending a few hours here is enough. Our main reason to visit this town is to stay in Hotel Zur Linde in Heede. Heede is conveniently located close to Groningen while prices for the hotel and dinner are much better than what you will find in Groningen and Drenthe. So far, we had a very nice time in this hotel and they have good food for an affordable price.
2. Bottrop Germany
Bottrop is an hour and fifteen minutes drive from Wageningen, our hometown. There are many things to do in Bottrop, such as visiting museums, castle, or movie parks. However, the main reason for me and many other Dutch tourist to come to this place is to experience the Alpincenter Bottrop. It is an indoor skiing dome, considered as the longest in the world! Of course I am not an expert in skiing, but I planned to bring my family here when our kids are a little bit older. Skiing can be very expensive hobby, especially if you go to the mountains of Switzerland, Italy, and Norway. However, Bottrop, is very nearby Netherlands and has very cheap entrance tickets combined with all you can buffet and drinks for a low fare.
The city of Dusseldorf is within one and a half hours travel from the Netherlands. From Bottrop, it is just less than an hour drive. Dusseldorf is the second largest city of North Rhine-Westphalia region in Germany. This city is populated with higher education institutions, around 22 that includes universities, university of applied sciences, academy of arts and university of music! As a city in North Rhine-Westphalia, you can simply take boat tours along the Rhine river and discover many of Dusseldorf’s iconic spots. Dusseldorf also has its old and new city center. You can find the old city center, which is characterized by historical architectures, while the new city center is characterized by modern buildings, arts, and culture and shopping streets.
4. Cologne Germany
Cologne is a city two hours away from Wageningen in the Netherlands and less than an hour drive from Dusseldorf. It is also possible to reached Cologne by train from Ede-Wageningen station and Dusseldorf with the same travel time by car due to the good train connection. Cologne is considered the biggest and most populous city of the North Rhine-Westphalia. Similar to Dusseldorf, Cologne has many things to offer. Since Cologne is along River Rhine, it is possible to do some boat cruise and discover some of the famous spots of Cologne. There are also multiple universities in this city including the University of Cologne, one of the largest and oldest universities of Europe. The famous landmarks to visit are the Cologne Cathedral and the Cologne bridge. Every year around December, there is a Christmas market in this city. Here you can feel the coziness of the season while drinking some German gluhwein and eating German bratwurst or sausage. In the city center you can also find a shopping street. Here, the shops offer lower prices as compared to many shops found in the Netherlands. You’ll also find some nice restaurants that offer tasty German cuisines and beers at relatively huge portion!
Going to Frankfurt takes around 4 hours from the Netherlands and 2-2.5 hours from Cologne. Frankfurt is the largest city in the Hessian region and the fifth largest city in Germany. In the past, Frankfurt was an important city of the Holy Roman empire. In the present, it plays an important role in the European Union. It is a hub for many businesses and financial institutions. Examples of these include the European Central Bank, Frankfurt Stock Exchange, Deutsch Bank, and DZ Bank. There are also many universities in the city of Frankfurt. Europe’s 2nd busiest airport, next to Heaththrow in London, is also the Frankfurt’s airport. Despite the modernity of this city, there are still many things to do in Frankfurt, such as visiting Goete House, Stadel Museum and Museum of Modern Kunst, and cruising River Main.
Heidelberg is around 4 hours and 45 minutes travel by car from the Netherlands, and an hour and 10 minutes travel from Frankfurt. Heidelberg is a university town and has been a hub for many of the famous philosophers and scholars worldwide, including the Philippine national hero Dr. Jose Rizal. The Heidelberg University is considered as the oldest university in Germany and one of the most prestigious in Europe. Going to Heidelberg will give visitors such a unique experience. It is a very romantic place with castle, river, bridge, and pleasant temperature. As a matter of fact, Heidelberg has been considered as the warmest place in Germany and many faunas including almond, fig tree, and olive trees have grown in the region. For further inspiration on why visit Heidelberg, check my blog about Five reasons that make Heidelberg worth a visit.