Lüdinghausen vs. Münster
You don’t need magic to disappear; all you need is a destination.
-Unknown

 

When I was first scoping out places to visit in Germany, I knew that I wanted to see Münster.  Unfortunately, the apartment rentals I looked at there were expensive and far from the city center (I'd like to blame my travel companion Mango for this, but I think he'd disagree).  So, upon discovering Lüdinghausen's moated castle obsession and its close proximity to Münster, I decided to stay in that little town.  And what a great decision that was, as it was nice to spend a week in a place just as charming as Münster with far less tourists, more nature, and just as much to do.  Here is a quick run-down on the two German towns, which should both be added to everyone's German travel bucket list.

 

Lüdinghausen

Population: 24,195
Founded/chartered: 1308
Density: 170/km2 (450/sq mi)
Urban fun fact: 3 moated castles

Charming Lüdinghausen perfectly blends a cozy small-town feel with abundant access to nature and just the right amount of things to do.  The cobblestoned downtown is vibrant and has mostly banned cars, and the community has a healthy amount of tourism and culture.  Unfortunately, the train station is not centrally-located (not good if you arrive on a rainy night without GPS).  Nearby town Nordkirchen with its fabulous palace is even smaller and just as charming, but much more remote; it's also a good alternative to staying in Münster.

 

 

Münster

Population: 296,599
Founded/chartered: 793
Density: 1,000/km2 (2,700/sq mi)
Urban fun fact: Bicycle capital of Germany

Münster is no doubt a college town (University of Münster), with its standard fare of young people on bikes and impressive cultural attractions (Picasso Museum, anyone?).  When I visited for a day trip, it was *really* cold and foggy, so I didn't get to enjoy the city as I would have on a sunny, spring day.  But I still managed to walk around and see some sights, including the gorgeous circa 1767 Baroque palace that served as the former Episcopal palace for the prince-bishop and is now the university administration building.  Unfortunately much of the city was destroyed in WWII, but fortunately most buildings have been rebuilt or rehabilitated.  (This includes the University building/palace, which was almost completely destroyed and is now devoid of any interior character.)