Germany may be the economic and political powerhouse at the heart of Europe, but it has a softer side too, one of vast forests, towering mountains, peaceful rivers and elaborate fairytale palaces. In contrast to that, its many sophisticated cities range from arty Berlin to musical Hamburg and of course Munich, at the foot of the Alps

DISTANCE FROM AIRPORT TO CITY CENTRE: Dusseldorf: 7 kilometres, Frankfurt International Airport: 12 kilometres, Hamburg: 8.5 kilometres, Munich: 29 kilometres | TIME ZONE: Summer: GMT +2 hours, Winter +1 hour | CURRENCY: Euros (EUR). Credit cards are widely accepted | LANGUAGES: German. English is widely spoken |