New Romantics Sarah Lyon, Writer | Posted: 20 July 2016

Cities like Venice and Paris undoubtedly tick many of the boxes for a romantic getaway. But there is something incredibly attractive – don’t you think? – about finding a destination that is a little less obvious. Not the saccharine version of many a newspaper’s ‘romantic breaks’ travel supplement.

Self-guided walking holidays in Germany

Germany offers not one, but seven, cities that are noted as quintessentially romantic without being clichéd. They are all to the west of the country. Think castles, cathedrals and churches. Then, of course, enough fairy-tale palaces to make any self-respecting princess go weak at the knees.

We all know the allure of a potential partner who is nonchalant about their own beauty and, in the same way, the fact that these cities don’t try too hard to package themselves for romance is very appealing. Tourism guides give the odd hint; but they don’t overdo it. There is, after all, nothing worse than going on a romantic holiday and feeling like you are an extra in some sketchy Hugh Grant film.

The destinations listed under the umbrella of ‘romantic’ are Koblenz, Mainz, Worms, Speyer, Neustadt an der Weinstraße and Idar-Oberstein.

Self-guided walking holidays in Germany

Star billing though, goes to Trier. After all, this is Germany’s oldest city and known to many as the “second Rome” because of its history. The gate, known as Porta Nigra and built from huge basalt lava blocks, is perhaps the city’s best-known landmark.

Self-guided walking holidays in Germany

Equally impressive though is the iconic Roman Bridge, or Römerbruecke, and it takes next to no imagination to picture the baying crowds of up to 18,000 gathered to watch the gladiators in action at the remains of the oval amphitheatre.

These reminders of Roman rule, together with the baths which boasted heated swimming pools and were the largest outside Rome, have been placed on the UNESCO List of World Heritage Sites. Also included on the list are the city’s Cathedral (the oldest in Germany) and the Church of our Lady.

Self-guided walking holidays in Germany

With a population of 50,000, Trier became one of the most significant cities in the western half of the Roman Empire. A feel-good factor prevailed and seemingly endless grand structures were built. But, by the end of the 4th century, Trier was struggling to defend itself against continued attacks by Germanic tribes and the Western Roman Empire was slowly dismantled. The population rapidly dropped from 80,000 to 5,000 and the once pulsating urban heart of the city was broken.

Trier’s location, on the banks of the Moselle, was its saviour and its population grew arm-in-arm with its reputation as a trading place. As an aside, Trier was one of the few German cities to be bombed during WWI. Following the ceasefire, American troops marched into Trier on 1 December 1918 and by the following August, the city was under French control where it remained until 1930.

But back to modern-day Trier. It’s maybe a romantic notion in itself, but surely this city’s strong historical link with Rome helps explain its blindingly obvious Mediterranean vibe? Gelato stands, alfresco cafés and restaurant terraces – it has them all; and more. Some credit for the laid-back feel and diverse culinary scene can doubtless also be put down to both the city’s proximity to France and Luxembourg (just a 45-minute drive away), as well as the influences of the students studying at Trier’s two universities.

Self-guided walking holidays in Germany

Talk of food would be wrong without raising a glass to the wine of this Moselle region of Germany. Forget preconceptions about German wine being sickly sweet. Today, about 70% of white wine produced in this country is either dry or off-dry; a statistic that is increasing year on year. After a spell of being unfashionable, Riesling has experienced a huge surge in popularity. It’s sometimes described as the ‘sherbet lemon’ of the wine world – a hint of initial sweetness followed by a more complex kick of flavours. There is a very true saying that ‘not every Riesling is for everyone, but there is a Riesling for everybody’. So, if you haven’t liked Riesling in the past, you probably haven’t tried enough…

Related Holidays & Further Information

Meanders of the Moselle Valley

In this quiet corner of Germany, the serpentine River Moselle winds its way through vine-terraced hills and historic villages. Here, you can enjoy splendid walking and fabulous views, delve into Germany’s Roman past and savour excellent wine-tasting opportunities.

More about our walking holiday in the Moselle Valley >

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