Sports, Wellness, History & Europe's Economy Attract Visitors to Germany
This summer, the ultimate place for mother-daughter bonding is Germany, host to the FIFA Women's World Cup soccer tournament. Beginning June 26 - July 17, 2011, the Women's World Cup gives fans everywhere several chances to see some of the best soccer players in the world in action.
Sixteen teams will come together in nine host cities, giving families an opportunity to travel and see the country while they're catching the games. Germany, which drew more than 100,000 Americans for the 2006 FIFA World Cup games, is holding out a warm welcome to all foreigners, especially the estimated one million American women who choose soccer as their sport. From the opening game in Berlin to the finals in Frankfurt, tickets are being sold at prices between 15 euros and 200 euros per seat. Purchase tickets early then plan an itinerary around them.
With worldwide interest in the sport, all the buzz about Germany becoming a center for medical tourism (their thermal wellness spas are famous), and the country's big planned "Summer of Cars" celebration of the 125th anniversary of the invention of the automobile, the time is right to visit. Coincidentally, turmoil in the world economy has made Germany a relative bargain this year, and a better value for your family trip to Europe.
FIFA Women's World Cup Host Cities
Keeping the itinerary of the FIFA Women's World Cup in mind, plan to make your base in Dresden, Wolfsburg, Sinsheim and Frankfurt near the major stadiums.
Dresden, on the banks of the Elbe River in Saxony, is celebrating the 200th anniversary of the composer Liszt, so many public concerts are planned. In addition to the city's famous annual Dresden Music Festival concert series, there's a Liszt concert at the fully restored Semper Opera House on June 1, 2011. Teens, students and parents will enjoy Outer Neustadt's great club scene, with dozens of venues for new bands. In what's left of the old city, families can tour the Baroque architecture, beautiful Church of Our Lady and the Zwinger Museum. Visitors to Dresden later in the year will be able to see the extension to the city's Military Museum being designed by Daniel Libeskind, whose Jewish Museum in Berlin is a very moving, not-to-be-missed attraction. Buy the Dresden Card for savings on bike tours and guided visits.
Wolfsburg in northern Germany is the host to three FIFA Womens World Cup group games and a quarter-final game. It's home of Volkswagen, a must-stop for anyone interested in watching how those cute Beetles and other cars are made. The futuristic car museum known as the Autostadt occupies nearly 40 acres of land, with pavilions filled with cars, other types of transport, and displays on the future of mobility. Curious kids should make a stop at the city's Phaeno Science Center, also known for its innovative displays that teach visitors about science.
For a side trip, Baden-Wurttemberg, where Karl Benz patented the first motorwagen with a gasoline-powered engine 125 years ago, is having a 125-day-long schedule of events and exhibits. In fact, the original ca. 1906 Benz motorwagen will be on display at the German Museum in Munich.
In Sinsheim, near Heidelburg in the Rhine-Neckar region, families can pay a visit to the interactive Car and Technology Museum, where special exhibits on the history of man's favorite invention will be going on all year. Admire an authentic Air France Concorde and Soviet supersonic planes, antique motorcylces, trains and the many multi-media exhibits kids can play with before relaxing in their 3D IMAX theater. Plan a day to visit Steinsberg Castle in the countryside, with its octagonal tower and good restaurant.
For the finals in Frankfurt, count on the sophisticated city putting up huge video screens along the Main River and in the main squares so that citizens and visitors can watch the FIFA games together. While we assume the women in your family will be glued to the games, Frankfurt also has some of Germany's best shopping.
Pause for a Family Spa Weekend & Fun in Germany
Of the more than one thousand hospitals in the country, the German Government estimates that up to 10% are treating foreigners who come for medical treatments and surgery. Germany is also an early adaptor of wellness spas, having focused on the healing thermal waters of Baden-Baden and other mineral spas for several centuries. In fact today, Germans are entitled to two weeks per year of spa vacations, as covered by their national health insurance. Even visitors who don't have two weeks to recuperate at a therrmal spa resort will find that accept day guests and provide a lot of healing in that brief period.
Outside of Dresden in southern Saxony, there are some well known spa hotels for a long weekend getaway, serving gourmet healthy cuisine. They typically have facilities for swimming and golf as well as the spa. If you're not interested in thermal baths, there are mud baths called peloids, mountain and seaside wellbeing resorts, places that specialize in treating guests with the air trapped in natural caves or with radon gas, and thalassotherapy with seaweed massages.
Families of any age can plan a sidetrip to one of Germany's themeparks. In addition to a local Legoland, there's Movie Park, Holiday Park and the Europa-Park in Rust. Rock n' Rollers will want to stop at the Rock am Ring, Germany's biggest rock festival that takes place in early June in Nurburgring. Join thousands of others and hear the likes of Alanis Morissette and Green Day, INXS and The Prodigy. As the festival's 25th anniversary, 2011 is bound to attract many major artists. If you're in the country in early July, catch Europe's biggest reggae and dancehall festival in Cologne, the Summer Jam Festival which also coincides with the city's annual Gay Pride events.
For more information about sights and hotels, and ideas for getting around the country, visit www.germany-tourism.de