Known colloquially as Deutschland, Germany is a spectacular gem in Europe. From idyllic medieval villages, rolling countryside, and historic castles, Germany offers a great mix of metropolitan and cultural sights.
Germany does not disappoint when it comes to diversity and unique experiences across the region – many of the different cities offer very different experiences. If you are planning to take a trip to Germany, make sure to explore as many different regions as you can, as there is a lot to see!
Here are 15 of the best places to visit if traveling to Germany.
The capital city of Germany, Berlin is the perfect destination for the traveler interested in history and unique cuisine. You cannot leave Berlin without visiting the Brandenburg Gate, which is the most photographed site in the city. Make sure to stop by the Brandenburg Gate, the most recognized landmark of the city, which dates back to the 18th century.
For those interested in history, don’t miss visiting the remnants of the Berlin Wall, which are scattered in various regions of the city. The most iconic is the East Side Gallery, the longest extension of the wall which runs for 1.3 kilometers. Today, the wall is recognized for world-famous art and murals which depict the history of Germany. It is a great place to take photos, and if you want to learn more, free walking tours are offered.
Munich is a bustling cultural city in Germany, being the third largest city and capital of Bavaria. Having a more ‘posh’ atmosphere than Berlin, Munich offers a wide variety of attractions and sights. The city is a metropolis for all things art, culture, and architecture. Make sure to check out one of the many immaculate churches that inhabit the city. Even if you aren’t religious, the inner design of the churches, many dating to the 18th century, will leave you in awe. The most renowned is Asam Church, one of the most beautiful churches in Germany.
One absolute must-see in Munich is the British-style park appropriately named the ‘English Garden.’ Stretching 910 acres, the park is larger than New York City’s Central Park, and is a peaceful getaway from the busy city. The English Garden is a haven for all things recreation, as it contains numerous trails for running, walking, and cycling, as well as rivers for kayaking, and rowing. Because of the current, you can even surf!
A charming baroque city, Dresden is sure to excite. For the most photo-worthy architectural views, make sure to visit Zwinger Palace, which was featured in the 2014 film ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel.’ Upon entering, you can visit some of the incredible galleries inside, such as the Dresden Porcelain Collection, the Mathematical and Physical Instruments Gallery, and the Old Masters Picture Gallery.
If staying through the evening, do not miss a performance at the Semperoper Opera House in Dresden. Another piece of architectural beauty, is located in the historic center of Dresden and hosts a variety of ballet and opera shows. If you visit during August, however, note that it will be closed. If you can’t make a show, try a guided tour of the inside, where you can learn more about the history of the opera house and its significance.
Frankfurt is one of the biggest economic and cultural hubs of Germany. For a unique aerial view of the city, make sure to go to the Main Tower, a 56-story, a 200-meter skyscraper in the city which offers admission to the top floor. For the most beautiful views, try going during sunset.
After you have worked up an appetite, head over to Kleinmarkthalle, an extensive indoor market with over 150 vendors selling souvenirs, fresh produce, and German food. Make sure to engage with the vendors and practice your German!
If you are interested in German history, Nuremberg is the place to go. The city is characterized by its cobblestone old town and mountain castles.
A great time to visit Nuremberg is in December, as that is when the annual Christkindlesmarkt, or Christmas Market, is held. The downtown Main Marketplace becomes alive with Christmas lights, trees, and countless vendor booths selling ornaments and Christmas trinkets. It is also a great place to try some authentic German Christmas street food, such as roasted sausage, gingerbread, and mulled wine.
6. Jasmund National Park
Located on the German island of Rügen on the country’s northeastern coast, Jasmund National Park contains the largest chalk cliffs in Germany. It is some of the most unique landscapes in Germany, and arguably in Europe, as the park is characterized by its bleach-white cliffsides, blue Balkan sea, and ancient beech forests.
The park is small, only about 12 square miles, but attracts over 1.5 million tourists annually. Explore the winding seaside and forest trails that the park has to offer, or try one of the many boat tours offered in the park.
7. Rhine Valley
Rhine Valley offers a scenic getaway from the German cities, as it is located along the Black Forest. There is no scarcity of old towns to visit in Rhine Valley – some of the most notable include Rüdesheim, Bacharach, and Boppard.
For some of the most scenic views, visit the Upper Middle Rhine Valley, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The area stretched about 67 kilometers and can be traveled by foot, bicycle, car, train, and boat.
The second largest city after Berlin, Hamburg is one of Germany’s most important coastal port cities. Hamburg is the home of some of the first live shows of the Beatles, which helped launch them into fame! Also known as the “gateway to the world,” Hamburg is recognized for its intricate mazes of canals.
When visiting Hamburg, make sure to check out Speicherstadt, which has the world’s largest complex of warehouses and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. With an industrial and gothic atmosphere, Speicherstadt is great to explore for its history. Stop by one of the many cultural museums in the area, such as Minatur Wunderland, the world’s largest model railroad system. It is one of the most popular museums in Germany, and hosts endless miniature city replicas of German cities and towns, and has expanded to Italy, France, and North America. It is a very niche and unique experience that you cannot miss!
Over 2,000 years old, Cologne has a unique vibe as a city compared to the rest of Germany. Your first stop when visiting Cologne should be the Cologne Cathedral, or Kölner Dom in German, the main landmark of the city. It stands 157 meters tall and is the largest gothic church in all of Northern Europe. Inside the cathedral, you can find some interesting exhibits, such as the largest swinging bell in the world, some of the oldest stained glass in Europe, and religious relics.
Another must-visit is the Ludwig Museum, a contemporary art museum with abstract, pop, and surreal art. It has the largest collection of Picasso pieces in Europe, as well as pieces from notable artists such as Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein.
10. Rothenburg ob der Tauber
If you are looking to time travel back to medieval times, look no further than Rothenburg od der Tauber. The town, located in the Franconia region of Germany, feels like a set from a fairytale. It is one of the most uniquely picturesque places in the country, with narrow cobblestone streets, medieval-style houses, and quaint plazas. When arriving to Rothenburg od der Tauber, simply exploring the streets and taking photos is enough to pass an afternoon. If you want more panoramic views of the town, climb up the the 52-meter Town Hall. The entrance fee is about €2.50, and there is also a Nighwatchmann’s tour offered every evening at the entrance of the building.
After a long day of walking, head to Castle Garden, the site of a former castle which was destroyed by an earthquake in the 1500s. Today, it is the grounds of a beautiful English-style garden and park, with statues, fountains, and flowers.
A lesser-known gem in Germany, Düsseldorf has an exciting art, food, and architectural scene. One unique aspect to the city that you cannot find elsewhere is Little Tokyo. Because Düsseldorf has the third largest Japanese community after Paris and London, you can find some of the most authentic Japanese food in Germany in Little Tokyo. Stroll down the street to find small Japanese markets, sushi, and ramen.
Take advantage of Düsseldorf’s flat terrain by renting out a bike and cycling around the city like a local. Some notable routes include the Rhine Promenade which takes you through many main shopping streets and restaurants. During your ride, make sure to stop by the Carlsplatz market, the oldest open-air market in the city which sells everything from seafood, meat, produce, and authentic street food. If you want to explore the food scene to the fullest extent, consider going on a food tour to find all of the best spots.
If you are looking for a getaway from a big city in a romantic small town, consider visiting Füssen, which sits just north of the Austrian border. Füssen has great access to both urban and remote attractions, with a colorful old town as well as access to many mountain trails. After strolling through the charming Old Town, head to one of the trails surrounding the town for picturesque views. If visiting during the summer, take advantage of all of the water activities available, as Füssen is surrounded by more than 10 lakes. You can also rent out equipment to go kitesurfing, sailing, and pedal boating. If you are visiting Füssen during the winter, you are also in luck, as the region has some of the best skiing in Germany.
Baden-Baden is one of Germany’s spa towns, thanks to access to several hot springs. In 2021, it received UNESCO World Heritage Site status by being named one of the “Great Spa Towns of Europe.” It is a very popular summer vacation spot for European travelers, and it has 12 natural thermal springs nearly 2,000 meters in depth. There is a vast array of spas to choose from for your experience, which offer dry suanas, steam baths, massages, and relaxation rooms.
If you enjoy casinos, then Baden-Baden is your spot. Another high tourism spot in the town is the Casino Baden-Baden, which is an old-school casino with immaculate Victorian architecture. It offers Roulette, Poker, and Black Jack, as well as an array of slot machines. Even if you don’t like gambling, no problem, the casino is still worth visiting just to admire the history and beautiful game halls by joining one of the guided tours that the casino offers.
14. Bavarian Forest National Park
The first ever national park of Germany, Bavarian Forest National Park is a magical forest teeming with lush highland forest. The park is next to the border between Germany and the Czech Republic and is also home to various wildlife such as lynx, bears, beavers, bison, and wolves.
Bavarian Forest National Park is a great destination for hiking and backpacking. One of the best trails to check out if visiting the park is Lusen ab Finsterau, a 7.8-mile loop that passes through the summit of Lusen and gives amazing panoramic views of the park.
If you are interested in seeing some of the most magnificent palaces in the world, don’t hesitate to visit Potsdam. The city is the home of Sanssouci Palace, which was the beloved summer home of Frederick the Great in the 18th century. Many visitors compare the opulence of Sanssouci to the Versailles Palace in Paris.
For a country full of medieval history, nature, and metropolitan cities, Germany is the perfect tourist destination. Don’t just stay in Berlin – make sure to explore many of the other cities and national parks that Germany offers, and you will absolutely be charmed.