Even the most well-seasoned travelers always find something that delights, entertains, and awes them in Germany. Learn about the Cold War legacy in Berlin, explore the charming Black Forest, revel in the beer halls of Munich, and much more. Whether you’re looking for something fun for the whole family or taking a solo trip, here are the 15 best places to visit in Germany.
- Discover the best of Berlin
- Find your Fairy Tale in Bavaria
- Relax in Bad Schandau
- Head over to Hamburg
- Make your way to Munich
- Do your thing in Düsseldorf
- Dig into Dresden
- Visit the birthplace of eau de Cologne
- Picture yourself in Heidelberg
- Leipzig Brims with Arts and Culture
- Ride in style in Stuttgart
- Feel like royalty in Potsdam
- Discover the Brothers Grimm in Bremen
- See the future in Frankfurt
- Brave the Black Forest
Discover the best of Berlin
Berlin, once divided by the Wall separating the eastern and western parts of the city, is now a center of arts, culture, and history. Explore both sides of the fallen wall at famous sights like the Brandenburg Gate and Checkpoint Charlie. Make your way to the Reichstag to see its iconic glass dome, a testament to how history has shaped the city. The dome is closed on certain days, so you’ll need to book your visit in advance. Need something a bit different? Take a walk on the wilder side and explore Berlin’s flourishing street art scene.
Find your Fairy Tale in Bavaria
Bavaria is simply magical. Snow-capped mountains, medieval villages intermingled with modern cities, and cultural centers. While there’s plenty to see in the region, you can’t miss Neuschwanstein Castle. If it looks familiar, you’re probably reminded of Sleeping Beauty’s and Cinderella’s castles, and for good reason. Walt Disney traveled to the castle and found inspiration before creating those classic movies. In fact, you’ll find fairy-tale inspiration all across Bavaria, from the mechanical dining room table at Linderhof to the hall of mirrors and chandeliers of Herrenchiemsee.
Relax in Bad Schandau
Unwind in Bad Schandau and soak in the rejuvenating powers of this Saxon gem. Since the 1730s, people have flocked to this town on the Elbe to bathe in the healing waters. Lounge in an old-fashioned paddleboat steamer like they did back then and marvel at the sandstone cliffs carved by nature along the river. Climb to Königstein Fortress and discover how the 800-year-old fortress was also a castle, monastery, and prison before transforming into a spa.
Head over to Hamburg
One of Europe’s largest port cities, Hamburg has been shaped by the various people and cultures that have traveled in and out of the city. Explore the many bridges at St. Pauli Piers and learn about how trade evolved and grew in Hamburg at Speicherstadtmuseum. For a brighter, more expansive view, head to the Marco Polo Terraces. Sit on the wooden platforms and watch the harbor in action. Back in town, head for some people-watching in the trendy Schanzenviertel neighborhood and perhaps some window shopping at local boutiques and galleries.
Make your way to Munich
Munich may be famous for its Oktoberfest, but festival fun can be had all year. You don’t need to drink beer to enjoy a brewery tour. These iconic Munich landmarks offer glimpses into the fun-loving side of the city, with the 500-year-old Hofbräuhaus still partying like it’s 1589. Take a moment to relax in the Englischer Garten. One of the largest parks in Europe, its the perfect place to kick back and relax on a sunny day. Finally, make sure to visit the Odeonplatz, with its Italian-influenced opera house and Renaissance-inspired Hofgarten.
Do your thing in Düsseldorf
Decide for yourself if Düsseldorf is Little Paris, as Napoleon supposedly called this metropolis. Check out the luxury shops along the Königsallee, featuring high-end names like Chanel and Gucci. Meander along the Rhine for serene river views to Burgplatz for a refreshing bite or a beverage. Perhaps a Halve Hahn (cheese on rye with cumin) or a glass of Altbier (local dark beer). Enjoy the greenery and fountains at the Hofgarten. Take a detour to Immermannstraße and see how Düsseldorf may be turning into Little Tokyo with its authentic ramen and sushi restaurants, manga bookstores, and tea rooms.
Dig into Dresden
Rebuilt after the bombings of World War II, today visitors can marvel at Dresden’s intricate baroque and rococo cathedrals, palaces, and parks. Boat cruises along the Elbe offer a leisurely way to enjoy the opulent architecture. Make sure to see Frauenkirche church, Semperoper opera house, and Brühl’s Terrace, known as the Balcony of Europe. After exploring the lavishness from the outside, explore the inner chambers of the Residenzschloss to the Green Vault. Marvel at the extravagance, from the golden interiors to the gold and silver mechanical spider and the diamond-encrusted owl flask.
Visit the birthplace of eau de Cologne
Modern and ancient at the same time, Cologne is also a delightful destination. Cologne Cathedral stands impressively within the center of the city. Take your time up the 533 steps up the South Tower to witness spectacular city views. Don’t forget to stop at the bell chamber for a glimpse of the world’s largest free-swinging church bell, clocking in at 24 tons (22,000 kilos). But Cologne offers more than things to see. The Farina Duftmuseum lures with scents of eau de Cologne at the world’s oldest perfume factory in existence. To top off the sensational experience, indulge your sweet tooth with a visit to the Chocolate Museum.
Picture yourself in Heidelberg
Romantic views and dazzling photo ops are almost everywhere in Heidelberg. Heidelberg Castle wraps itself around the historic city lovingly as you look up from Karl Theodor Bridge. If you’re there with your partner, seal your love with a lock on the bridge and throw the key into the Nektar River. Wander along the Philosopher’s Walk and think deep thoughts among the fertile landscape.
Leipzig Brims with Arts and Culture
As one of Europe’s oldest learning centers, it’s no wonder that Leipzig is an arts and cultural capital. The University of Leipzig is itself a work of art with its beautiful buildings and gardens. The library is astounding, home to parts of a 4th century Bible manuscript and ancient Egyptian medical manuscript dating back to 1,600 B.C. Walking through St. Nicholas Church, you can marvel at the arches and décor that inspired Bach when he was the pianist there in the 1700s. For a more playful side of Leipzig, let a night watchman show you the sites of Leipzig by lantern light.
Ride in style in Stuttgart
Stuttgart has a storied history with deep roots in transportation. The regal Landtag sits over the charming Eckensee Lake and the New Palace impresses with its baroque style. Go to where this all began in Schiller Square where horse breeding and trading grew into what is now modern Stuttgart. This heritage continued through to the automobile age when Stuttgart gave birth to the Mercedes and Porsche. As you walk through the Mercedes and Porsche Museums, discover how they were more than just luxury car makers, but innovators in the automotive age. At the Mercedes Museum, kids can design their own car, while adults to take a car out for a spin at the Porsche Museum.
Feel like royalty in Potsdam
Potsdam earned its UNESCO World Heritage status with its many palaces and gardens. Start with Sanssouci, built as a little villa for Frederick the Great to relax, the name translates loosely to no worries. The extravagance doesn’t stop there. The city has fourteen lavish palaces for you to roam around and through. Make sure to include Cecilienhof – fascinating as a huge English Tudor House in Germany, it was also the location for the Potsdam Conference at the end of World War II, leading to the Cold War. Make your way to Babelsberg to learn about some screen royalty. Here international film stars including George Clooney and Tom Hanks shot movies like Inglorious Basterds and Bridge of Spies.
Discover the Brothers Grimm in Bremen
The Town Musicians of Bremen is a classic Grimm fairy tale. A donkey, a dog, a cat, and a rooster escape from their owners to live a life of freedom as musicians in Bremen. They work together to fight off robbers and live happily ever after. When you see their statues by the Rathaus, don’t forget to hold both legs of the donkey and make a wish. Make sure to explore the Böttcherstraße. A very short street, you’ll find galleries, cafés, and boutiques. Try to get there for the porcelain bells that chime three times a day from the Glockenspiel House.
See the future in Frankfurt
German business and finance companies have made Frankfurt their capital, blending in with the city’s cultural heritage brilliantly. From the observation deck of the 56-story Main Tower, you can fill your Instagram with superb panoramas. Boasting an impressive glass dome and artful metal structures, MyZeil is almost more artwork than shopping mall. The 40-meter-long escalator inside is also delightfully moving. Among all this glass and metal are beautifully preserved historic sites, from the glorious Opera House to the lush gardens and intricate greenhouses of the Palmergarten.
Brave the Black Forest
The Black Forest may be known for its winter experiences, but this lovely region has plenty going on all year long. Witness how the rich, famous, and royal vacation in the spa town of Baden-Baden. Take to the heights with the cable car in Feldberg and look down from 1,500 meters up. Discover the lovely German wine country along the Badischerweinstrasse. You won’t regret having a glass of crisp Riesling to celebrate your trip.