Though Germany's historic cities typically grab most tourists' attention, the country's natural attractions can be just as beautiful. In Frühling (spring), Japanese cherry blossom trees burst into color all over Germany, as if to celebrate the end of another dull gray winter.
An embodiment of spring, these delicate blossoms are eagerly anticipated. For one to three weeks in April and May (depending on the weather), glorious cherry blossoms become an attraction for walkers, photographers, and picnic planners. An accurate prediction of exactly when the blooms will hit their zenith is impossible, but the blutenbarometer can help you guesstimate.
An exported Japanese tradition, the Sakura Campaign brought the blossoming trees to Germany after reunification. Japanese channel TV Asahi collected over 140 million yen (around 1 million euro) to gift the trees to Germany and other countries around the world. There are many cities around Germany where you can see the many cherry blossom trees all in one place.
At other times of the year, the city of Bonn, which is a 30-minute drive from Cologne, is not really known for being particularly beautiful. However, during the spring, its dreamy pink blossoms put it on the map. Bonn's Heerstrasse in the Nordstadt neighborhood is known as "Cherry Blossom Avenue." The long limbs of the trees are weighed down with blooms, creating a dreamy canopy.
The street's popularity can make it quite crowded with more people than flowers, so try visiting in the early evening to avoid the crowds and enjoy the pink shaded lamplight.
There are over 50 locations to enjoy Berlin's cherry blossoms, from parks to graveyards. Over 9,000 trees were planted around Berlin and Brandenburg starting in November 1990 to shortly after reunification and the fall of the Berlin Wall. You can find cherry blossoms on Bornholmer Straße, located in the north of the city beneath the bridge of the same name. Along with 215 Japanese Cherry trees, there is a memorial to the Sakura campaign. Before admiring the trees along the Mauerweg (Wall Way), check out the Fall of the Wall memorial at the top of the bridge. Other places to go include the Glienicke Bridge, or Bridge of Spies, and the Gardens of the World, a beautifully landscaped park where the lawn is adorned with 80 trees.
During the Japanisches Kirschblütenfest Hanami festival, the Mauerweg blossoms are joined by market stalls of food, crafts, and fruit wine influenced by Japanese culture.
Hamburg's trees also turn pink for spring. The trees were offered as a gift from the Japanese community, and the yearly cherry blossom celebration honors the special relationship between the two communities. Alsterpark is the best place to find long lines of blossoming trees. Look for the flowers at Alsterkrugchaussee, Kennedy Bridge, and at the Altonaer Balkon.
Hamburg's Japanisches Kirschblütenfest has taken place since 1968 and honors the Japanese community. Sister city with Osaka, there are Japanese performances, a cherry queen, and a spectacular fireworks display over the Alster at night.
Stray trees can be spotted throughout Munich and even hidden back in courtyards. The best place is in Munich's premier park, the English Garden. Or try the hill in Olympiapark, home of the 1972 Olympics. However, if you walk around the city's neighborhoods, you may be able to spot a few lighting up this urban Bavarian landscape.
Dortmund's Kirschblütenfest is a new annual festival for the blossoms that features Japanese performers at Romberg Park. Dortmund just started celebrating Kirschblütenfest, but its many cheery trees across Botanical Garden Rombergpark provide the perfect backdrop for the festival.