EAT OUT AND REACH FOR THE STARS

Of Germany's 300 Michelin-starred restaurants, a quarter (74) are in SouthWest Germany. The greatest concentration is in Baiersbronn, a Black Forest community, where three classy restaurants hold an astonishing total of eight Michelin stars. Then, there is Chef Marco Akuzun's top air at Stuttgart Airport: every dish is a work of art and every mouthful is delicious in the world's only Michelin-starred airport restaurant. Also unique is Ammolite, The Lighthouse Restaurant at Europa-Park (voted the world's best theme park). Here, Chef Peter Hagen-Wiest has held two Michelin stars since 2014, a first for a theme park anywhere in the world.

More details: www.baiersbronn.dewww.restaurant-top-air.dewww.ammolite-restaurant.de

POSH PALACES AND COMFORT FOOD

SouthWest Germany boasts some of Europe's outstanding examples of grand architecture. Ludwigsburg's 300-year-old palace is a fine Baroque building; Hohenzollern Castle may be 19th-century, but it's easy to imagine Rapunzel on the ramparts. Best Renaissance palace? That's Weikersheim, with its exquisite Baroque garden. As for monasteries, the best-preserved medieval complex in northern Europe is Maulbronn Abbey. Locals, however, know it as the birthplace of Maultaschen, SouthWest Germany's comfort food. Back in the 17th century, Brother Jakob circumvented the Lenten ban on eating meat by “hiding” minced meat in ravioli-like pasta pockets. Maultaschen have been popular ever since.

More details: www.schloss-ludwigsburg.de/en/www.burg-hohenzollern.comwww.schloss-weikersheim.de/en/www.kloster-maulbronn.de/en/

DISTILLING THE ESSENCE OF THE BLACK FOREST

The Black Forest offers much more than cuckoo clocks and hiking trails. Half of Germany's distilleries are here, transforming the abundant plums, raspberries, pears and cherries into traditional Schnapps (fruit brandies). With 900 small, private stills, Oberkirch is Europe's distilling capital, with a fun Schnapps Walking Trail. What is NEW is gin. Century-old skills now produce the world's first truffled gin. Delicately flavoured with truffles from the forest, Boar Gin is winning gold medals around the world, while Monkey 47 Schwarzwald Sloe Gin is made with local wild fruit.

More details: www.renchtal-tourismus.dewww.boargin.de

MANNHEIM, A CITY OF SURPRISES

With 170 nationalities, SouthWest Germany's most diverse city is Mannheim, with ethnic restaurants galore. But there are also five exciting Michelin-starred restaurants. Leading the way is Opus V, with two stars, serving modern, imaginative, Asian-influenced dishes. The newest spot is Le Corange (one star), a superlative fish restaurant. As for the Fontanella Café, that is where Dario Fontanella created ice cream that looks like … spaghetti. And the strawberry and chocolate topping looks like tomato sauce! Special to the city is Mannheimer Dreck, a gingerbread-like spice cake with almonds, cloves and more.

More details: www.mannheim.de/en/discovering-tourism

THE STUTTGART BEER FESTIVAL – 200 YEARS OLD

Celebrating 200 years in 2018, the Cannstatter Volksfest, the Stuttgart Beer Festival, is the world's second biggest beer festival (September 28 to October 14). This 17-day-long event kicks off with the traditional keg tapping: the mayor draws the first beer from a barrel of specially-brewed Festbier (festival beer). On the Canstatter Wasen, meadows on the edge of Stuttgart, are seven vast tents where thousands come for beer, crispy pork knuckles, whole roast chickens and live music. But this is also Europe's biggest funfair, with roller coasters and big wheels, an old-fashioned carousel and tons of family fun.

More details: www.cannstatter-volksfest.de

HISTORIC CASTLE, HISTORIC BREWERY

The seat of the powerful Hohenzollern family for nearly 500 years, Sigmaringen Castle, overlooking the Danube, is known for its antique furniture and medieval weapons. In 1849, one Friedrich Müller leased the royal brewery here; then, he changed his name to Frederick Miller, sailed to the USA and founded the Miller Brewing Co. in Milwaukee, which became a giant of American brewing. Across the river, the 173-year-old Brauerei Zoller-Hof pays tribute to Miller with their “Old Fred” amber lager. Run by the 6th generation, this family brewery uses regionally-grown ingredients, including SouthWest Germany's world-famous Tettnang hops. To produce fuller flavours, they mature their award-winning lagers for six weeks, much longer than usual. Learn more on a brewery tour.

More details: http://schloss-sigmaringen.dewww.zoller-hof.de/en