18 Best Places to Visit in Germany (with photos and tips)
Growing up in a neighborhood in which most families had German roots, gave me the possibility to understand their culture from a young age. My first venture to Berlin was just the beginning of my adventure. I crossed Germany from north to south, and from the eastern to the western border always having the impression that I had left a “hidden gem” behind.
Located in the heart of Europe, Germany is its number one economic power. It has over 82 million inhabitants, which make it the most populous EU state.
I do not exaggerate when I tell you that Germany with its dreamy forests, snow-capped mountains, and Gothic castles is one of the most enchanting top touristic destinations.
Keep in mind that this country is not all about “Oktoberfest”, craft beer, and wursts.
As a first-time traveler to this country, I advise you to include on your must-see list at least 5 of the following stunning places:
Amazing Places in Germany to Add to Your Bucket List
1. The Grandiose Neuschwanstein Castle
King Ludwig II of Bavaria, nicknamed “The Mad King” or “The Swan King” envisioned a castle standing up proud in romantic scenery. Built near the Tyrol mountains, the construction has superb architecture and a luxurious interior.
Does its silhouette look familiar to you? I think it does! It inspired Walt Disney to draw the spellbound castle in which Sleeping Beauty was waiting for her prince.
These following things left me speechless:
How to get to Neuschwanstein?
An asphalted path will take you to the majestic gates. You need between 30 and 40 minutes to cover the distance on foot.
Your car has to remain in the parking area. In case walking is not part of your plan, you have the following options:
1/ a romantic ride in a horse-drawn carriage
2/ the castle’s fast and practical bus
2. Museum Island in Berlin
The area received the status of UNESCO National Heritage Site in 1999. This island encloses five of Berlin’s major museums, which hold national treasures and works of art.
The Altes Museum shelters ancient Etruscan, Roman and Greek artifacts. Architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel gave the construction its Greek Temple structure. The staircase and the 18 Ionic columns are an iconic image for the German capital.
The Alte Nationalgalerie
The Old National Gallery was re-opened in 2001. It contains an extensive collection of 19th- century paintings and sculptures. Tourists can admire numerous works by well-known German artists and French Impressionist pieces.
The Bode Museum
Its grand re-opening was scheduled for 2006 after a decade of restoration work. The museum displays an impressive collection of sculptures and paintings. It is situated on the north part of the island and resembles a ship’s bow which plows through the river.
Tip: spare some time for one of the richest numismatic collections in the world; coins, medals, and tokens of immense value are placed in huge cabinets
The Neues Museum
It showcases exhibits of prehistoric tools and Egyptian works of art. The bust of Queen Nefertiti is its most famous piece.
Heavily damaged during the World War II bombings, it was reopened to the public at large in 2009.
Other top exhibits include the skull of a Neanderthal child, a 700.000 years old silex utensil, and the Egyptian papyruses collection.
The Pergamon Museum
Here, you will find Roman, Greek and Babylonian antiquities. Tourists appreciate the huge Pergamon Altar and the market gate of Miletus.
The Ishtar Gate is a blue wonder, decorated with lions, horses, unicorns, and dragons. While looking at it, you come to understand why Babylon was considered the capital of the world millennia ago.
Good to know: you may buy a single ticket which grants you access to all museums
At weekends or during the peak seasons the entrance queues are a bit overwhelming. You either book online or you get up at the break of dawn.
Advice: The best alternative is to purchase the Berlin Welcome Card which spares you the trouble of reserving in advance.
3. The Worms Cathedral
The Cathedral of Saint Peter at Worms, also called the Kaiser Dom or Emperors’ Cathedral, illustrates the mastery of German church architects. It is made of red sandstone specific to the medieval constructions in the area.
The inside was destroyed during the 1689 fire. This explains why the furniture has a baroque design and the choir stalls a rococo one.
Why is it so striking for the tourist’s eye?
It has four high towers, two wide dome towers and a nave of approximately 100 yards long.
do not overlook Saint Andrew’s Church; it hosts a museum with exhibits dating back to the Roman Worms
cross the Nibelungen Bridge with its huge medieval portal
4. Rüdesheim am Rhein
The picturesque town is located on the right bank of the River Rhine, at a stone’s throw from Mainz.
Wine is sacred here. The inhabitants have devoted a whole museum to this refined drink. There is also a festival during which beautiful girls compete to become “The Wine Queen.”
What do I do to have fun?
The area is always crowded no matter the season. Thus, it is a bit difficult to take awesome pictures of traditional buildings. Besides tasting various types of wine, you should also:
Tip: The Rüdesheim coffee is one of a kind; mixed with caramelized sugar, it is a real treat for all your senses.
5. The Wonderful Europa Park
Theme park enthusiast or not, you will be surprised by Europa Park. Divided into 15 areas, each inspired by a European Country, it offers a wide range of entertainment opportunities. No matter your age, you will love every second spent here.
What is it’s best attractions?
The 4 D Magic Cinema is perfect for some family fun. It is famous for its D-Box seats which give visitors the impression they are right next to their favorite movie characters
Adventure Playground was projected for children; the kiddos spend hours in the intricate mazes or in the colorful ball pool
Good to know: only kids with a height of maximum 120cm are allowed to enter the playground.
The African Queen is a magnificent boat designed to transport tourists to the African village surrounded by wild animals.
The circus shows, the dancing fountains, and the musicals are usually packed.
6. Rothenburg ob der Tauber
The town is situated in Bavaria on a large plateau close to the River Tauber. It is an important point on the well-known “Romantic Route” which stretches along 372 kilometers in south-east Germany.
It’s name means “The Red Fortress on the River Tauber”; the houses have roofs made of red tiles, offering a unique aerial view.
All medieval buildings are well-preserved, and the massive defense wall is almost intact. The cobbled streets, the buildings with wooden beams, and the upright towers will remind you of old German folktales.
I must warn you that it is almost impossible to decide whether to take incredible selfies or just admire the serenity of the place.
How to make the most out of your stay?
Rothenburg is far from being a dull provincial town. The stylish cafés provide tourists and locals with savory desserts, tasty sandwiches, and flavored coffee.
The Imperial Museum hosts paintings, sculptures, and pieces of furniture which narrate the town’s centuries-old history. Saint Jacob’s Church has a majestic Gothic structure worth looking at.
Sports enthusiasts will not be disappointed either. Hiking and cycling routes, climbing parks, and the golf course give the town a modern, active touch.
To spice up your trip, book a hot-air balloon ride. You will fly over the Tauber Valley, fertile fields, and scenic villages.
7. The City of Nürnberg
According to official documents Nürnberg was founded in the 10th century AD. Its tumultuous history is abundant in key events. The Nürnberg Trials, during which notorious Nazi leaders were found guilty of crimes against humanity, are one reason for you to come here.
The old city center was severely damaged in 1945. At present, visitors may wander thought rebuilt houses, surrounded by fortified walls.
Reasons to visit the city:
The Bratwursthäusle Restaurant where they sell mouthwatering bratwursts with “sauerkraut” (fermented cabbage)
the wide selection of beer, including smoked beer obtained from malt dried on fire
Playmobil FunPark attracts young travelers with its numerous playgrounds, knights’ fortress, Noah’s Ark, and a toys’ store close to the exit
Albrecht Dürer’s memorial house where you will find out about the mysterious rabbit which appears all over the city
Tips:-stroll along “Konigstrasse,” a vast pedestrian area with beerhouses, restaurants, cafés, and souvenir shops
-the Documentation Centre contains lots of information about World War II
Good to know: The Christmas Fair here gathers over 180 artisans and craftsmen who sell traditional products; the fair has a very long tradition, dating back to 1628.
8. The Old Town Hall in Bamberg
Built in 1386, the town hall of Bamberg is situated in the middle of the Regnitz River, being reachable from two bridges.
According to the local legend, the bishop of Bamberg did not provide the citizens with a site for the construction of a town hall. This forced people to create an artificial island, by ramming stakes into the river.
The exterior walls are covered in red frescos while the rooms inside shelter collections of China and faience.
Fun Fact: a cherub’s leg springs out from one of the walls
9. The Cologne Cathedral or Kölner Dom
The grandiose Cologne Cathedral dominates the city with its large pair of towers, the North Tower and the South Tower. The religious edifice is 145 m high and the cross nave measures 86 m.
Its construction began in 1248 when the old cathedral was no longer considered to be representative of the expanding borough. The final touches were added six centuries later.
The Cathedral possess an impressive thesaurus which includes:
The Wise Men Sarcophagus, decorated with gold and silver statues covered in precious stones
The Gero Crucifix, carved in oak wood
The Jewelry Madonna with a silk dress garnished with gems donated by believers
What makes it special?
The relics of The Three Wise Men turned it into an important pilgrimage site for Christians around Europe.
The fourteen bombs which hit it during the war did not manage to bring it down.
10. The Black Forest
The name comes from the canopy of evergreens arising above the forest. Home to wooden houses, old towns, and antique cuckoo clocks, it is a fairy tale place, packed with folklore and traditions.
You could spend weeks in this fresh-air area with gorgeous scenery. In case your schedule is tight and time a precious resource, you’d better head for:
A European posh spa town which the rich and trendy have favored since the 19th century. It is the best spot to start your expedition. Plus, the spas provide top spoiling facilities, and the sports clubs have a diverse offering, ranging from tennis to horse riding.
How to enjoy yourself here:
You should tour the old town and admire its impressive Baroque architecture. While here, enter the antique stores, sip a coffee in the garden of a classy restaurant or purchase delicate jewels.
The resort is a magnet for the artistic community. Hence, cultural events and art exhibitions are common all year round.
The Fabergé Museum celebrates luxury and genius craftsmanship. Over 400 pieces form a unique and valuable display. The Rothschild Fabergé Egg occupies a central position.
Tip: join a guided group to discover the tracks of the Black Forest National Park access to The Roman Baths is possible in exchange for a reasonable fee
Do not leave without having seen the Paradise Cascade and its peaceful gardens.
Situated in the north part of the forest, this lovely spa town draws tourists no matter the season. Close to the pass of the Enz River and surrounded by pine trees, it is perfect for extended pampering sessions. Its thermal baths hover around 35˚C.
To break your spa routine, spend a few hours on the banks of Wildsee Lake or in the charming village nearby.
11. The Mainz Museums
The main city of the Rhineland-Palatinate region is a land of old and new. Cathedrals, galleries, open-air markets, boutiques, and street art give Mainz its particular atmosphere. Its museums cannot be overlooked.
Johannes Gutenberg, the man responsible for the invention of the printing press, lived and worked in Mainz. The museum celebrating his work opened its gates in 1900. Tourists may explore different sections dedicated to printing technology, paper, posters, and graphics.
-it is closed on Mondays (opening hours)
-multilingual guided tours should be requested in advance.
Good to know: it holds the famous Gutenberg Bible, which is the first printed book in the world.
This cultural establishment is one of the oldest museums in Germany. It shelters significant exhibits which comprise ancient Roman items. Different ages and centuries have been allocated a room or a hall.
The Golden Horse on the roof is a reference point for visitors and a symbol of Mainz.
Tip: the custodians add new exhibits regularly, so even the veteran visitors always find something interesting to study
12. The Heidelberger Schloss
The remarkable constructions perches on the hill above the city of Heidelberg. It comprises a few buildings and an enclosed inner courtyard. Each section emphasizes a different period in German architecture.
Why will you leave amazed?
The gardens form an Earthy paradise. Vivid flower beds and well-kept arbors are a delight for the eye. Sculptures, fish ponds, waterfalls, and orange trees do not overcrowd the place, but round its loveliness.
Tips for the romantics:
-couples have the opportunity to get married at Heidelberg Schloss
The capital city of the German state Hesse is a millennia-old spa town. It is famous for its jaw-dropping constructions and enormous parklands.
How to make your stay unforgettable?
Nerobergbahn is a water-powered railway which locals and tourists use to reach the Neroberg peak. It dominates the city which spreads at its bottom. The views are fantastic, and your photos will be shared by your friends.
Once arrived on top you may:
Tips for gourmet travelers:
14. Miniature Wunderland in Hamburg
This is a fantastic spot for model building fans because it hosts an immense model railway system. The ensemble comprises miniature versions of different German cities and the mountain regions of the Austrian Alps or the German region of Harz.
Good to know:
Hamburg’s miniature version encloses almost 200 square meters.
Tip: avoid planning your tour during weekends and school holidays
15. The Eltz Castle
It is a charming castle, tucked into the woods. Constructed in the 12th century, the building has had the same owning family for more than 850 years. Its name comes from the river Eltzbach, which means black Adler Tree.
Generations of workers contributed to its elevation. The cornerstone was fixed in 1157, and the final finishes were added 5 centuries later.
How to get to Eltz Castle?
By Bus: on weekends (May-November) and during public holidays you can take the Castle bus which runs four times a day.
By train: do not forget to get off at Hatzenport train station.
Tip for hikers: the trail between the castle and the Hatzenport station has a length of 5.3 km; you will not get lost because it is marked with easy to spot signs
16. The Topography of Terror, Berlin
This museum is not for the sensitive ones nor for children. Present authorities consider it an essential part in the process of acknowledging and assuming the country’s past. The brutality, the horror, and the absurdity of the Nazi regime are well illustrated here.
Images, videos, and official documents show how extreme hearted led to atrocities which have no logical explanation.
The area used to be the headquarters of the notorious and much feared German Secret Police. The Topography is an open-air museum, located in western Berlin. The blunt evidence is housed in a modern glass structure which covers a surface of 800 square meters.
Good to know: a part of the exhibition is dedicated to the victims who were tortured and killed in the basement of the Gestapo building
17. Zugspitze Peak
The highest of its kind in Germany, the peak is situated on the border with Austria. Trains, cable cars, and cogwheels will lead you to the top. For the more adventurous ones, there are mountain trails and glacier crossings.
Splendid views and fresh air are just two of the reasons to climb up here. The cable car stop is anything but dull. It has a contemporary design with restaurants, cafés, and a museum. The Igloo village is opened during the coldest months.
Tip: the place is crowded so be prepared to wait in a queue to get to the Zugspitze yellow cross.
18. The Sans-Souci Palace and Its Gardens
Emperor Frederick the Great ordered the construction of the Sans-Souci Palace at the outskirts of Potsdam. It served as a summer residence for the Prussian royal family.
Far from the bustling streets of Berlin, “Sans-Souci” is often compared with Versailles because of its elegance and remarkable gardens. These cover a large surface, being the greatest park in the Brandenburg region.
What to expect?
plan your journey carefully as the trains and roads are jammed during the weekend
rent a bike to see the whole park
It is said that you need a lifetime to learn German. In fact, you need ages to discover the country and its breathtaking views.
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