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Many cities in Germany offer unique opportunities to experience more, while not having to deal with large crowds. These two cities are popular vacation spots, have great attractions and things to do, and won’t be as crowded as larger locations like Berlin and Munich.

Essen, Germany a closer look

Essen, located directly on the River Ruhr, is one of the largest major cities in Germany. Essen was selected as one of the three honorary cities to be the “Capital of European Culture” for 2010 due to the large number of relevant activities and accessible cultural events. Essen is a city that was once a coal and steel juggernaut. One of the main attractions in the city is the Zollverein coal mine, which closed in 1986 but is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The mine is available for tours and exploration, and is always a fun activity. Another popular destination to visit is Essen Abbey. It’s home to many ancient artifacts, dating back to the 10th century, including the famous Golden Madonna of Essen, dating back to the year 980. Whatever your reason for visiting, you’ll be sure to enjoy yourself as there’s plenty to do.

Essen is a great home base if you’re also planning to explore more of Germany. From Essen you are relatively close to both the Netherlands and Belgium. You could easily take a long weekend trip from Essen to Amsterdam, to Brussels and back if you want to explore the area.

A closer look at Bonn, Germany

Bonn is located just south of Cologne and is the 19th largest city in Germany. Many people may not know that Bonn is the former capital of West Germany. About half of all government jobs remain in Bonn and are known in Germany as the ‘federal city’. Today, much of Bonn’s activities are focused on sustainable development research and development, making Bonn one of the greenest cities in Germany. The clean air and water make it a great place to visit from around the world, and a number of UN agencies are based in Bonn. It is also the birthplace of Ludwig van Beethoven, so many music lovers come to this area as well.

From Bonn it is easy to explore more of the towns on the famous Rhine, such as the quaint village of K√∂nigswinter or Bad Honnef. You can also visit many of Germany’s famous national parks, which actually surround the area. Whatever your travel plans, Bonn is a great location to make your home base while exploring the area with your rental car in Germany.

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