When the Germans discovered traveling

Colosseum - Colosseum - Rome © Panther Media Photo: Bernd Rinderknecht

In the 50s Italy was the dream destination of the Germans. With Italy they associated sun, beach and sea. But also art, culture and dolce vita. Especially when it came to food, Italy was a country full of exoticism. There were still only very few Italian restaurants in Germany, so eating was an adventure. Spaghetti and pizza were something completely new for the German tourists. Vegetables and herbs such as broccoli, basil and zucchini were also still largely unknown.

Couple in one-piece bathing suits in shallow water in front of a bathing cart circa 1910. © picture alliance / akg-images Photo: akg-images

When bathing in the sea became fashionable

In 1793, the first German seaside resort, Heiligendamm, was founded. A little later the first seaside resorts were built on the North Sea. more

But Italy often remained only a dream for most people. The majority of Germans spent their vacations in their own country. One trip went to the North Sea, the Baltic Sea, Bavaria or the Black Forest. But by the end of the 1950s, Germans were doing better and better. They wanted to treat themselves. A vacation belonged to it. When it came to going abroad, Austria was at the top of the popularity scale. Then came Italy, Switzerland, Yugoslavia, Belgium, Holland and Denmark. Vacationing was not yet the norm, however; many stayed at home – and enjoyed their free time in swimming pools or at bathing lakes.

Preferred means of transport: the train

A young woman on the back of a moped holds a paddle under her arm. © picture-alliance / akg-images Photo: akg-images / Horst Maack

In 1960 there were 13 million vacationers. Of these, 53 percent traveled by train. During the vacation season, 1.400 special trains used to take vacationers to their destinations. 20 percent traveled by bus, and in 1960 as many as 21 percent went on vacation by car. Only one or two boat or plane trips were booked. Flying was still far too expensive. In addition, many were afraid of flying. Even ship travel was pure luxury.

Two young women have chosen a nice spot for their tent on the edge of a lake. (Photo from the 1950s) © picture alliance/dpa picture archive

When the northern Germans discovered camping for themselves

Only a few people can afford hotel vacations abroad in the 50s. Camping becomes a much loved alternative. more

Local demands were rather modest compared to today. In the boarding houses the vacationer wanted running water in the room – cold and warm. Many could only afford a camping vacation. You set off with tent and caravan. Especially in Italy the campsites became very popular among the Germans. Other favorites were bungalows in vacation villages. Even a larger family could fit in there. Another advantage: cooking yourself was cheaper than eating out.

It was not until the 60s that package tourism really took off. Now there were also the first air travels to Mallorca.

A comparison of the apartment house in Damp, earlier vs. today © NDR

Damp 2000: From meadow to vacation resort

At the beginning of the 1970s, a superlative vacation resort was built between Flensburg and Kiel. In Damp 2000 there was room for as many tourists as a small town could hold. But not everything went according to plan. more

Aerial view of the former KdF seaside resort of Prora (27.04.2011) © picture alliance / dpa Photo: Stefan Sauer

Prora – The “Colossus of Rugen

As “seaside resort of the 20.000” the Nazis had planned the huge complex. Today the listed buildings are popular again. more

Historical stagecoach diligence © Museum Foundation Post and Telecommunications

How fast stagecoaches revolutionized travel

On 1. July 1841, the express stagecoach Diligence starts its service between Hamburg and Lubeck. Passengers and mail now arrive twice as fast – thanks to the latest technology. more

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