With its historic cities, small towns, enchanting forests, and magnificent mountains, you will be spoilt for choice when picking places to visit in Germany. Popular German cities to visit include Berlin, Cologne, Dusseldorf, Hamburg, Dresden, and Nuremberg. All these cities exhibit century-old values and traditions and will thrill you. Of course, there are many other fascinating Germany points of interest as we will reiterate in this travel guide.
With an area of 357,386 km² Germany is a very big country in Central Europe, so picking the best locations to visit can be overwhelming. Luckily, we explored most of Germany since we live here! So we know exactly which are the most bucket-list-worthy points of interest for any tourist who wishes to visit Germany.
Germany lies in the heartland of Europe. It majestically rolls from the icy waters of the North Sea to the lakes of Switzerland to the foothills of the picturesque Alps. Points of interest in Germany include the River Rhine, the Philharmonic Concert Hall, the Black Forest, Neuschwanstein Castle, the Saxon Switzerland National Park, and the Stadel Museum in Frankfurt, just to sample a few.
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The Best Places To Visit In Germany
Germany is not only vast but also maintains Europe’s most powerful economy. But you are perhaps more aware of Germany for its role in the Second World War. However, whether you love history, architecture, the outdoors, beautiful countryside, culture, the arts, picture-perfect little towns, or chaotic city life, Germany has something special for you.
Between its borders, you will discover breathtaking castles, baroque buildings, mythical forests, throbbing cites steeped in history, great people, and much more. If a trip to this expansive country is on your travel itinerary, make sure you don’t miss these Germany points of interest.
We recommend renting a car so you can easily visit as many touristic sites as possible. You will find many epic German souvenirs to bring home also, so an empty suitcase just for shopping is a must.
Here are our favourite locations in Germany you should visit at least once in this lifetime.
The Historic Brandenburg Gate, Berlin
The nation’s capital and the centre for German fashion, design, art, and music, Berlin is a city of huge contrasts. Though it bears traces of the most brutal war, its tranquil side is packed with great culture, stunning architecture, and historical museums. If you are wondering where to begin your German tour, we recommend the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin.
The historic Brandenburg Gate is one of the most famous monuments in Berlin. It’s both a national landmark and symbol, with over 200 years of history. You will marvel at the history of the only surviving city gate of Berlin. Perhaps, more importantly, the Brandenburg gate symbolizes the reunification of West and East Berlin.
Built in 1788–91, the monument is modelled after the equally famous Acropolis in Athens. Your trip to Germany will be incomplete without a photo taken against this world-famous edifice.
Berlin City And The Iconic Berlin Wall
The German city of Berlin ranks among the most visited capitals in Europe. A remarkable thing about Berlin is that about one-third of the city is covered by gardens, forests, lakes, and rivers. Among the attractions of interest include the Reichstag Building, Pergamon Museum, and Charlottenburg Palace. Your list of places to visit in Germany, however, must include the iconic Berlin Wall.
This is one of Germany’s most popular tourist attractions. Although the wall was officially brought down after the reunification of Germany in 1989, some sections have been well preserved. Some are now even covered in eye-catching graffiti. Also, make a date with the Berlin War Memorial and Berlin Wall Exhibition.
What’s the history behind the wall? The Berlin Wall was erected by the communist powers after the Second World War dividing Communist controlled Berlin from the capitalist western part. Today, the wall stands in ruins after Berliners tore it down. The remains of the wall is a sombre reminder of the turbulent history of Germany.
Watch A Performance The Philharmonic Concert Hall
One of Germany's most interesting points of interest is the Philharmonic Concert Hall. A night at this hall listening to the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra is something many can only dream about. Considered one of the best globally, this prestigious company has among its composers household names like Beethoven and Wagner.
It’s no surprise, therefore, that Berlin has a thriving musical tradition. You will not find a better place to sample contemporary German music and listen to the delightful sounds of classical music than the Philharmonic Concert Hall. If you can, join a tour of the world-class music chambers – unless you are in a group, there’s no advanced booking, simply turn up early.
If you are on a tight budget, consider the lunchtime concerts. These are free short performances featuring several members of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. They are held in the foyer, and you can enjoy them as you take your lunch. The lunch is not free though!
Photo Credit - Wikipedia
The Gothic City Of Cologne
Situated on the banks of the Rhine River, in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, the city of Cologne has much to offer. Besides exciting tourist attractions, Cologne has a buzzing nightlife, rich culture, and a great arts scene. Although the city suffered severe damage from the Allied Forces during World War II, the old town has managed to retain its winding cobblestone streets and picturesque buildings. Places to visit include the colourful botanical gardens and the numerous museums.
The Kölner Dom (Cologne Cathedral) is a Gothic architectural masterpiece that you cannot afford to miss and is one of the best places to visit in Germany. Kölner Dom is one of Europe’s largest Catholic churches with 56 massive pillars. It stands 157 meters tall and sits in an area covering 6,166 square meters. Since 1996, the cathedral has been a UNESCO World Heritage site. It’s currently the seat of the Archbishop of Cologne.
The interior of the cathedral has spectacular gold artworks that accentuate its charm. The stained-glass window dates back to the 12th century. Climb the south twin towers for a panoramic and relaxed view of the surroundings.
Dusseldorf City, Along The Rhine
Among the many German points of interest, Dusseldorf ranks high. A popular destination situated along the Rhine, this city welcomes you for a leisurely stroll along Rheinuferpromenade. This is the city’s waterfront walkway where you can soak up the culture of Aldstadt, the Old Town.
The Altstadt is famous for having “the longest bar in the world”. How is that possible? This is a square kilometre of bars, nightclubs, and restaurants. It’s not only entertaining but very easy on the eye. This part of Düsseldorf is full of flower-laden facades, church spires, and as the night falls, twinkling streets lined with neatly arranged alfresco dining tables.
Love greenery? Dusseldorf brims with green spaces for recreation dotted with boutiques and upscale stores if you are a shopaholic. Head to Rheinturm, the Rhine Tower and perch yourself on the observation deck. You get incredible 360-degree views of the city.
Hamburg, Germany’s Second Largest City
A blend of fascinating history, vibrant nightlife, and futuristic architecture, the city of Hamburg is not only one of Germany leading points of interest but also one of Europe’s most exciting places for tourists. The second-largest city in Germany, Hamburg lies on the banks of the Elbe River. It’s also Europe’s 2nd busiest container port after Rotterdam and the 19th busiest in the world. Admire the world’s largest warehouse district characterized by incredible Neo-Gothic buildings on oak piles.
What else has Hamburg to offer? See the Binnenalster artificial lake, visit Park Planten un Blomen for a water-light concert, or tour Miniatur Wunderland, the world’s largest model railway. Cap your Hamburg tour with a visit to HafenCity for a display of the city’s contemporary side. Hafen is a striking mix of skyscrapers, promenades, and concert halls. Decided to visit Hamburg? Great choice! We recommend staying at the Grand Elysée Hotel for a wellness weekend!
Dresden, The Capital Of Saxony
You wouldn’t believe it, but during World War II, the city of Dresden was literally razed to the ground. You can only describe it as the great phoenix of Germany, rising from the ashes. This is arguably Europe’s most successful and elaborate post-war urban reconstruction project. It has helped restore this once formidable Saxon stronghold to the jewel it once was.
Architectural treasures, baroque buildings and a majestic Lutheran church dominate the skyline. The glorious old town, attractive neighbourhoods, the River Elbe and its alluring surroundings, are all waiting for you in Dresden.
Love Christmas markets? Then Dresden must be on your list of places to visit when in Germany. You might not believe it, but Striezelmarkt in the capital of Saxony hosted the first one-day Christmas market in the world way back in 1434. Yes, Dresden is the birthplace of what was to become a timeless global trend.
The Ancient City Of Nuremberg
Among the best places to visit in Germany is undoubtedly Nuremberg. Whether you are interested in the nation’s turbulent history or keen to discover quintessential German architecture, Nuremberg is ready for you. For history students, Nuremberg Castle, St. Sebaldus Church, St. Lorenz Church, and Palace of Justice are some of the great sites waiting for you.
Into vintage German architecture? Nuremberg will impress you with a stunning castle and medieval palaces. The Old Town is surrounded by ancient city walls that mark the border between the past and the modern. Nuremberg City is also famous for its part in post-war trials. It was in this city where the first Nazis ever sentenced for war crimes were judged.
Ride Down The River Rhine
Stretching between Bingen and Bonn, the Middle Rhine flows through some of the most dramatic geological formations in Germany, the Rhine Gorge. A journey down the Rhine presents fantastic sightseeing opportunities. This is a region with a spectacular landscape dotted with terraced vineyards, picturesque villages, and medieval castles perched on hillsides.
Bathed in colour, the charming villages along the Rhine Gorge are a sight to behold. The route is dotted with hotels, cafes, and shops. In particular, the town of Bacharach is beautiful with terraced vineyards, half-timbered buildings, and cobblestone streets. To experience the best of the Rhine, join a riverboat cruise. Some trains and highways run along both sides of the Rhine River.
Love cycling? Hire a bicycle and explore the beautiful region or take one of the scenic walking trails along the River Rhine.
Venture Into The National Park of Schwarzwald/Black Forest
The National Park of Schwarzwald is one of the best places to visit in Germany. More commonly known as the Black Forest, it thoroughly deserves its name. The Black Forest is so dense in some parts that sunlight barely penetrates through. This leaves you to explore a world of pine trees and magical groves that suddenly break out into idyllic farmland or vast lakes.
Love time outdoors? Use the small student city of Freiburg as your base. And before you head out, take time and enjoy the beautiful churches there as well as the fairytale Gothic architecture. Many hiking trails are available with different difficulty levels. You can also join any of the guided tours for a day in the wilderness.
You will also find the spa town of Baden-Baden in the Black Forest along the Oos River. And did you know that Hansel and Gretel, the famous German folklore, originated here? Now you know.
The Breathtaking Neuschwanstein Castle
Neuschwanstein Castle is the most photographed building in Germany and also one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe. This castle has a fascinating history. Constructed in the late 1800s, it was never built for defence purposes as you would expect. Instead, Neuschwanstein was designed as a fanciful romantic retreat by King Ludwig II of Bavaria “Mad King Ludwig”. The Bavarian King had a reputation for abiding in daydreams and fantasy instead of reality.
This is one of Germany's points of interest and for a good reason. The great legacy of Ludwig II still stands majestically on the steep ridges of the glacier-topped German Alps. Inside, you get a glimpse of the extravagance and opulence enjoyed by one of Bavaria’s most famous monarchs.
The castle is the inspiration behind Disney’s Sleeping Beauty castle. When you look at the countless turrets, flying buttresses and the creaking drawbridges, it makes sense why the complex inspired Walt Disney.
The Saxon Switzerland National Park
Yes, you got that right; it’s Saxon Switzerland National Park in Germany and not in Switzerland. The name of this beautiful place can be rather a bit confusing because of the Switzerland tag. The park is in eastern Germany, to the south-east of Dresden. This is the perfect place to spend your day as it’s packed with beautiful landscapes. While there, look out for the Bastei Bridge and Königstein Fortress.
The park has some of Europe’s most beautiful landscapes. Fancy rock climbing? There are over 700 summits available to rock climbers. If you prefer keeping your feet on the solid ground, the massive park has 400 km² of marked hiking trails, footpaths, cycle routes, and steep climbing treks. And look out for Bastei Bridge!
Take A Culture Break At The Städel Museum
Our recommendations of places to visit in Germany cannot be deemed complete without the Stadel Museum in Frankfurt. A seamless blend of the modern and Classical, the Museum showcases over 700 years of artwork under one roof. Here you get to see Dutch Masters like Van Eyck and Vermeer alongside Renaissance artists such as Botticelli.
If modern and contemporary art appeal more, then fast-forward several centuries and take in the best of the 20th century. Stadel Museum has you covered as they also have regular exhibitions of modern art. The Stadel is probably the only museum in Europe with a beer garden. Talk of the perfect spot to review your German tour after appreciating the masterpieces.