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Setting sail from Nuremberg
Nuremberg, Bavaria's second city, first pops up in the history books in 1050 as a stronghold of the Franks, and later became the unofficial capital of the Holy Roman Empire. Nuremberg was also the centre of the German Renaissance, although in the 20th century it became associated with the Nazis; huge rallies were held here, and Nazi officials were later tried and convicted at the Nuremberg Trials. Happily Nuremberg has bounced back from these dark days, and nowadays the city is a tourist magnet thanks to the beautifully restored old town, Christmas markets and excellent beer.
Schwurgerichtssaal 600 (Court Room 600) of the still-working courthouse is where the Nuremberg Trials took place. It forms part of an extraordinary exhibit detailing the history of the trials.
Bamberg’s eye-catching, UNESCO-listed old town is one of the most beautiful in all of Germany. The city was briefly capital of the Holy Roman Empire, and the city centre is still dominated by the 13th century cathedral. There are also plenty of breweries, and you shouldn’t leave without trying Bamberg’s famous smoked beer.
The handsome town of Würzburg, situated on the river Main between Nuremberg and Frankfurt, was ruled for centuries by a succession of powerful prince-bishops. Although much of the city was destroyed during the Second World War, the majestic 18th century Residenz palace stands as a testament to the wealth of the bishopric.
The quaint little Bavarian town of Miltenberg sits on the Main river to the southeast of Frankfurt, with a beautiful old town that survived the Second World War unscathed. Timber-framed buildings lean at jaunty angles overhead, not least in the ‘Black Quarter’, where the streets are so narrow that the sunlight barely reaches ground level.
Arriving in Cologne
Cologne is a wonderfully warm and welcoming city, its skyline dominated by one of the most beautiful Gothic cathedrals in Europe. It's also been here a very long time; although much of the city suffered heavy damage during the Second World War, you can still see remnants of the old Roman walls. You will likely spend most of your time in the attractive Altstadt (Old Town), home to beer halls aplenty and some fascinating museums.
Cross the river to the right bank for the very best views of the city.
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Where to stay in Nuremberg
We like the Drei Raben (Three Ravens) in the rebuilt old town.
Our favourite hotel in Cologne
The Hotel im Wasserturm – yes, your German is correct, it really is a former water tower.