The wonderfully-preserved city of Bamberg has a four-steepled cathedral and half-timbered houses edge the winding lanes, contrasting with the vast 'New Residence' which was the seat of the prince-bishops and has a delightful Rose Garden. The old Town Hall can be found on the Island City in the River Regnitz, along with Little Venice - an area of brightly-painted fishermen's houses. A visit to a traditional Bamberg Beer Haus is an opportunity to taste the locally brewed smoky-tasting beer, Rauchbier.
The quaint streets of Bratislava lead to lively squares and medieval St Michael's Gate, topped with a 51-meter tower and a balcony with fantastic views of the old city. Bratislava has the oldest Town Hall in Slovakia and many impressive Baroque palaces. Highlights include the grand Pramatial Palace, St Martin's Cathedral and 13th-century Bratislava Castle.
The Danube divides the capital of Hungary into old Buda and cosmopolitan Pest. In the Pest district are graceful mansions leading to the vast and imposing Hero’s Square. Across the river is the famous Chain Bridge and in the hill-top castle district is Buda Castle and its fine gardens, the Royal Palace and the fairytale turrets of Fisherman’s Bastion.
In the Wachau Valley wine region is the pretty and romantic town of Dürnstein with cobble-stoned streets, medieval buildings, 16th-century burgher houses and inviting taverns. It is well-known for the fabulous, wedgewood-blue Stiftskirche, a baroque church overlooking the waterfront, and for the hill-top remains of a castle where Richard the Lionheart was held prisoner during the Crusades in 1192. This is an apricot-growing region, and delicious apricot liqueurs, brandy and schnapps are on sale in the town.
The skyscrapers on Frankfurt's skyline reflect the city's importance as a centre of finance in Europe. The Romer is an old patrician residence which now houses the Town Hall, and there are several public gardens including the baroque Bolongarogarden and the Nizza.
Heidelberg is a beautiful city where visits usually include Germany's oldest university and the picturesque ruins of Heidelberg Castle, from where there are wonderful views of the Neckar River valley. The Altstadt is the charming old town, district, and a funicular can be taken to the top of the Konigstuhl Mountain.
Linz sits astride the Danube, blending old timbered houses, a moated castle and futuristic glass buildings lit at night in dazzling neon. Around the main square are Roman fountains and the medieval buildings of the Inner Courtyards. Try Linzer Torte in one of the many coffee houses, or perhaps take the mountain tram to Pöstlingberg.
Leafy Mainz offers two fascinating highlights. Mainz was the birthplace of Johann Gutenberg, and the city's Printing Museum exhibits the first two copies made of his famous Bible. In St Stephans' church there are wonderful, vivid blue stained-glass windows created by the great 20th century artist, Marc Chagall.
Melk is famous for the vast Benedictine Abbey on a hill-top above the town. It is still in use as a monastery and tours of its historic interior are usually offered, with views from the hill of the town's red roofs below. Situated in the Wachau valley, Melk is surrounded by the remains of a city wall.
Miltenberg has rows of richly-timbered houses huddled together on the town's narrow streets and squares. It is well-known for the Crooked House, Main Castle and the Royal Inn, which has been in continuous use as an hotel since the 15th century. The area around Miltenburg is renowned for glass-blowing. Close by is 18th-century Schloss Kleinheubach, a magnificent castle with lovely grounds.
The medieval city of Nuremberg was the site of the War Crimes Tribunal at the Justice Palace. Other World War II sites include the Court House and the Nazi rally grounds at the Zeppelin Fields. The old city is surrounded by 900-year old ramparts which enclose Albrecht Durer's house, the Hesperides Gardens and the Market Square with its fountain. Rulers of the Holy Roman Empire resided at Nuremburg Castle, which includes the Kaiserburg Fortress.
Passau is at a meeting of rivers and is well-known for the magnificent 17000-pipe organ in St Stephan's Cathedral, and the white-walled fortress of Veste Oberhaus. Within reach is Salzburg, the birthplace of Mozart, where the Hohensalzburg Fortress overlooks the town and reminders of the 'Sound of Music' story are around.
Regensburg is one of the finest medieval towns in Europe. Among the sites are the 12th-century stone bridge across the Danube, the Wurstküche - 'Old Sausage Kitchen' and St Peter's Cathedral, renowned for its soaring towers and beautiful stained-glass windows.
Vienna is famous for its delicious pastries, the waltz and romantic architecture. Along the broad Ringstrasse is the beautiful Austrian National Library and cafés and shops line Kärntnerstrasse. Visits may be offered to Hofburg Palace, the Vienna Opera House or nearby Schönbrunn Palace, which was the grand summer residence of the Habsburgs. It has formal gardens, the first zoo and an atmospheric faux-Roman folly.