Germany is a fascinating place to visit. Cities like Berlin, Cologne, Dresden, and Frankfurt ooze culture and history. While the stunning mountains, lakes, valleys, and forests of Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg, and Saxony will take your breath away.
Plenty of small towns and villages boast impressive castles and cathedrals that will seduce you with their charm. While the gastronomy and beer in every region will leave your taste buds dancing with delight.
For the tourist, Deutschland – as the locals call it – spoils you for choice. In fact you could spend an entire month in the country and still barely scratch the surface of all the things to do in Germany.
Clearly, you won’t be able to see everything during your visit. But after reading our top tourist attractions in Germany, you should have a clearer idea of where you might want to go.
North of the Harz Mountains National Park is the charming, picturesque town of Quedlinburg. As visitors walk along the cobblestone streets, they will have the opportunity to view over 1,000 half-timbered houses.
Since the town suffered minimal damage during the World Wars, it is one of the few destinations in Germany that retain its quaint, historic style.
It also has an impressive castle ruin, while its main landmark is the St. Servatius Church. Dating back to the 11th century, it is one of the oldest churches in Germany. It is notable for possessing several valuable works of art and the tomb of King Henry I – the first German monarch.
Quedlinburg was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994. It also boasts a rich cultural heritage that incorporates several traditional festivals and events. These include the Quedlinburg Festival of Music and the Quedlinburg Christmas Market.
Visitors can also check out the Münzenbergmuseum and sample the local cuisine. Traditional dishes such as ‘Harzer Roller’ and ‘Harzer Käse’ are well worth trying.
26. Speicherstadt in Hamburg
Speicherstadt is a historic warehouse district in Hamburg. It possesses one of the largest collections of brick buildings in the world. It is also defined by an intricate network of canals and its distinctive red brick architecture.
Built-in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, these warehouses stored goods such as coffee, spices, and textiles.
In 2015, the Speicherstadt and the nearby Kontorhausviertel became UNESCO World Heritage Sites. This was in recognition of their exceptional representation of early modern architecture and urban planning. It was also a result of their historical significance as a centre of international trade.
Today, Speicherstadt is a vibrant neighbourhood full of museums, restaurants, cafes, and shops. It attracts tourists with its unique architectural style and colourful history. Visitors can take a guided tour of the warehouses and learn about their history and use.
As well as the warehouses, the Miniatur Wunderland resides here. It is the largest model railway in the world and is another popular tourist attraction.
25. Römer in Frankfurt
The Römer is a historic building complex in the city center of Frankfurt. It comprises a row of half-timbered buildings that date back to the 15th and 16th centuries.
One of the most famous landmarks in the city, The Römer was originally built as a town hall. It was also a residence for Frankfurt’s wealthy merchants. Today, the buildings are used for various purposes. These include a venue for city council meetings, offices for the city administration, and a cultural center.
You can admire the beautiful half-timbered architecture and the intricate carvings and sculptures on their facades. The Römerberg – the square in front of the Römer – is a popular gathering place. It is also the site of many cultural events, such as the annual Christmas market.
As a symbol of Frankfurt’s rich history, The Römer offers a unique and fascinating glimpse into the city’s past. Providing a stunning contrast to the modern skyscrapers and financial institutions for which Frankfurt is also famous.
24. Volkerschlachtdenkmal in Leipzig
Leipzig is a major city in Saxony, and it is also home to one of the largest monument in Europe. The Volkerschlachtdenkmal, or Monument of the Battle of the Nations, was built to remember the Battle of Leipzig in the Napoleonic Wars.
During the battle, more than 100,000 soldiers perished. Although the battle took place in 1813, the monument wasn’t unveiled until 1913. Today, the monument is accompanied by a museum exhibit explaining more about the battle and the Napoleonic wars of the 19th century.
23. Old Town Hall in Bamberg
Bamberg is a historic city in Bavaria, and it is home to a number of fascinating architectural landmarks. None is so interesting or important as the Old Town Hall, or the Altes Rathaus.
Legend says that the city’s bishop wouldn’t allow the residents to build a town hall on existing land, so they decide to construct the building in an unexpected spot. The Altes Rathaus is perched on the middle of a bridge spanning the Regnitz River, and the interior is decorated with remarkable frescoes.
The building was constructed in the late 13th and early 14th centuries with a Gothic façade. It also has a large hall and a striking tower.
Considered to be one of the most beautiful town halls in Germany, tourists can go on a guided tour of the building. During this, you will learn about its architectural and historical significance.
You will also be told some incredible tales, legends, and stories about it. One of which relates to the Bamberg Rider. This is the ghost of a knight who died in a duel and who allegedly still haunts the building.
22. Harz Mountains
One of the highest mountain ranges in Germany is the Harz Range, a region populated by picturesque, traditional homes, snow-covered peaks and peaceful rivers.
The Grimm Brothers, who famously wrote many of the world’s most popular fairy tales, based some of their stories in the Harz Mountains.
With a limited number of tourists, the Harz Mountains are slightly off the beaten track, offering activities like hiking to the summit of Brocken, the tallest peak, or riding an authentic steam train through the mountains and valleys.
21. Aachen Cathedral
Construction on the cathedral began in the eighth century, and the design is a combination of Carolingian and Gothic styles. The cathedral was built by the king Charlemagne, and countless coronations were held there in centuries past.
Visiting today, some of the most fascinating things to see are the incredible bronze Wolf Doors from the ninth century and the golden mosaics in the Palatine Chapel.
Sylt is a stunning North Frisian island located in the North Sea. The largest of the North Frisian Islands, it’s known for its beautiful sandy beaches and wild dunes. However, its main attraction is the Wadden Sea National Park. Sylt is one of the most popular islands, although its northern location means it is not as accessible for travelers as other German tourist attractions.
Sylt boasts endless beaches, not to mention gorgeous sand dunes and traditional lighthouses. A short walk from thatched roof cottages and open fields, you can make a splash at the beach and stay in a contemporary hotel suite. Renting bicycles and tour the island that way is also a popular thing to do in SyIt.
In addition to its natural attractions, Sylt is also known for its traditional architecture. This includes its characteristic red-roofed houses. It also incorporates the ‘Kampen House’ style, found in the village of Kampen.
19. Saxon Switzerland National Park
Not far from the city of Dresden is the Saxon Switzerland National Park, a sprawling park near the scenic Elbe Sandstone Mountains. The park crosses over into the Czech Republic, but the Czech side is known as the Bohemian Switzerland National Park.
The national park is known for its unique sandstone formations, rock towers, and deep valleys. It is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers, offering opportunities for hiking, climbing, and sightseeing.
The park is named after the country of Switzerland because of its similarities to the Swiss Alps. The sandstone formations in the park developed over millions of years through erosion and weathering. They are now a source of inspiration for artists and photographers.
One of the most popular sights in the park is the Bastei Bridge, a sandstone bridge that offers panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. Visitors can also explore the park’s many trails, including the Malerweg. This scenic course leads through the park and is named after the painters who were inspired by the area’s beauty.
18. Schwerin Castle
Schwerin Castle is a historic palace located in the city of Schwerin. It is one of the most important examples of 19th-century Romantic architecture remaining in Germany.
Located on an island in the city’s lake and surrounded by a beautiful park, it has a rich history that dates back to the 9th century. Over the years, it served as a residence for several dukes and grand dukes of Mecklenburg-Schwerin for many generations.
The present building was constructed in the 19th century and showcases a mix of Gothic and Renaissance styles. Its design incorporates towers, turrets, and decorative elements that give the castle its distinctive character.
Schwerin Castle is a symbol of the city’s rich cultural heritage. Visitors to the castle can admire its beautiful architecture. They can also explore its interior and learn about its rich history through exhibits and displays. The castle’s beautiful gardens and parks also provide a tranquil space for visitors to relax.
17. Rugen Cliffs
Located on the Pomeranian coast, within the Baltic Sea, the Rügen Cliffs are a feature of Germany’s largest island.
To get to them, you will have to head to Rügen island in northeast Germany. But once you are there, you should be wowed by its stunning coastal scenery.
It includes high chalk cliffs like The King’s Chair, which has a viewing platform and visitors center that showcases exhibits on Rügen nature.
The cliffs are a popular tourist destination which offers access to pristine sandy beaches, hiking trails, and birdwatching opportunities. It is a part of Jasmund National Park, which is renowned for its primeval beech forests and white-tailed eagles.
The nearby seaside resort Sassnitz features a fascinating museum within the former submarine HMS Otus.
Nestled in the southeast part of the country, near the Austrian border, lies Berchtesgaden.
Known as one of Bavaria’s most beautiful regions, it features stunning alpine scenery. It is also a haven for those who enjoy winter recreational activities like hiking, skiing, and snowboarding.
In addition to these activities, Berchtesgaden is also home to several historic sites. These include Konigsee lake and the Kehlsteinhaus on top of Berchtesgaden. Also known as the ‘Eagle’s Nest’, it was a former mountain the retreat of Hitler. Even after the end of World War II, the structure was saved and now operates as a museum.
Berchtesgaden is also famous for its salt mines. Should you book a tour of them, you will be able to view an operation that has been going on for thousands of years.
15. Reichstag in Berlin
The capital city of Berlin is filled with historic buildings, but one of the most important is the Reichstag.
Although originally dating back to the 19th century, the Reichstag got a major renovation in the 1990s after being severely damaged in WW2. Following the end of the Cold War, Berlin was chosen as the overall capital, and the Reichstag became the official seat of government in Germany.
It now boasts an incredible glass dome that offers views over the city and looks stunning when illuminated at night.
14. Hohenzollern Castle
The neo-Gothic Hohenzollern Castle is perched on a bluff overlooking two small towns at the foothills of the Swabian Alps.
Not far from the town of Hechingen in central Germany, this popular tourist destination is known for its stunning architecture and historical significance. It also offers breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside.
The castle has a rich history. For many years it served as the ancestral seat of the Hohenzollern family, who played a significant role in German history.
It has undergone several renovations and reconstructions over the centuries, and today, visitors can explore its well-preserved interiors. This includes grand halls, bedrooms, and chapels – which will blow you away with their lavish decor and ornate detail.
Zugspitze is the highest mountain in Germany. Located in the Bavarian Alps near the border with Austria, it soars to a height of 2,962 meters (9,718 feet). Its summit offers breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.
Although the peak is a world-renowned spot for serious skiers, a trip to the top is worthwhile whatever the season. From a lake at the base of the mountain, hop aboard the Zahnradbahn, a cogwheel train that heads partway up the mountain. Then, it’s onward on the cable car called the Eibsee-Seilbahn. At the summit, it is possible to view the landscape of four countries at once.
In addition to its scenic beauty, Zugspitze is also home to a research station and several hotels and restaurants. They make it a convenient base to explore the surrounding mountain range.
12. Nuremberg Christmas Market
German Christmas markets are known the world over, and arguably the best of all is found in the Bavarian city of Nuremberg.
The Christkindlesmarkt is held annually in Nuremberg’s old town, and it has been in place since the 17th century.
The market is famous for its traditional atmosphere and festive decorations. It comprises elaborate wooden stalls, lights, and festive music.
Visitors can browse and purchase a wide range of seasonal holiday gifts, including handmade crafts, toys, and seasonal treats. Additionally, the market offers a range of food and drinks, including mulled wine and gingerbread.
The Nuremberg Christmas Market takes place in the weeks leading up to Christmas. It is one of the most popular things to do in Germany and a highlight of the city’s holiday festivities.
11. Rothenburg ob der Tauber
A true storybook village brought to life is Rothenburg ob der Tauber. Straight from the pages of a fairy tale, this Franconian town has a remarkably well preserved medieval center.
Overlooking the Tauber River, many of the churches and residences date back to the 15th and 16th centuries. A highlight of the town is the Market Square, which is flanked on one side by the 13th century Town Hall Tower.
It is also famous for its Christmas market, which is held annually and features traditional stalls selling gifts, food, and drinks.
Visitors can also take guided tours of the town’s impressive fortifications and ramparts. From them, you will also observe stunning views of the surrounding countryside.
10. Black Forest
The Schwarzwald, or Black Forest, can be found in the southwestern corner of the country. The name comes from the thick tree canopy, and the forest is a mecca for those who love beautiful scenery and outdoor recreation.
Hiking, swimming in chilly Alpine lakes and mountain biking are popular things to do, but the Black Forest also has some urban alternatives. Within the forest are several towns and cities. Baden-Baden is a world-famous spa retreat perfect for relaxation, and Freiburg is a bustling university town with amazing cuisine and nightlife.
9. Romantic Rhine
The Romantic Rhine is a picturesque stretch of the river Rhine in western Germany known for its incredible scenery and charming villages.
This section of the river extends from Bingen to Koblenz. It carves its way here through steep vineyard-covered hills topped with countless castles and ruins.
The river has been an important trade route into central Europe since ancient times and a string of small towns has grown up along the banks. Constrained in size, many of these old towns retain a historic feel today.
Additionally, the Romantic Rhine is famous for its scenic boat rides. These offer a fabulous way to immerse yourself in the region’s natural beauty.
8. Frauenkirche in Dresden
The Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady) is a Lutheran church in Dresden. It is one of the city’s most famous landmarks and is known for its stunning baroque architecture. Notable features of it include its distinctive dome and towers.
The original church was constructed in the 18th century. On completion, it was heralded as one of Europe’s most impressive religious buildings. However, the church was destroyed during World War II and lay in ruins for decades.
In the 1990s, a major effort was launched to restore the church to its former glory. It was finally re-opened in 2005 after a meticulous rebuilding process.
Today, the Frauenkirche is a symbol of Dresden’s resilience. It is one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions, attracting visitors from all over the world.
Lindau is a pretty town in southern Germany. It is situated on an island, on Lake Constance (Bodensee), near the Austrian border.
The city is connected with the mainland by bridge and railway and has about 3,000 inhabitants. Full of medieval and half-timbered buildings, Lindau is quite a popular tourist attraction.
One of its main focal points, its twee harbor features a Bavarian Lion statue, while its stone lighthouse showcases lake and mountain views.
The town is also noted for its Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings. An annual event that brings Nobel Prize winners and young scientists together.
Oktoberfest is an iconic 16-day festival held annually in Munich from late September to the first weekend in October. It is the world’s largest beer festival and attracts millions of visitors from every continent.
The festival features beer tents, traditional German food, music, and rides. It also features other activities like parades and competitions.
Oktoberfest has its roots in the celebration of the marriage of King Ludwig I of Bavaria to Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen in 1810. It has since evolved into a world-class international event.
Many visitors wear traditional German attire to enter into the spirit of things. For men, this involves dressing in lederhosen. For women, it requires putting on dirndls. All of which add to the festive atmosphere.
See also: Where to Stay in Munich
5. Cologne Cathedral
Easily the greatest Gothic cathedral in Germany, Cologne Cathedral (Kölner Dom) has been Cologne’s most famous landmark for centuries. It is one of the largest and most famous structures of its kind in Europe. The cathedral was built over the 12th and 13th centuries. But its construction was interrupted and not completed until the late 19th century.
It is known for its twin spires, visible from much of the city. It is also noted for its elaborate stained glass windows, which date from the 14th to the 20th century.
The cathedral houses many important works of art. One of which is the Shrine of the Three Kings. This is said to contain the bones of the Three Wise Men, which goes a long way to explaining why it is such a popular attraction.
4. Holstentor in Lübeck
Holstentor is a historic city gate in Lübeck. It was built in the late 15th century and is one of the city’s most recognizable landmarks.
The gate is considered a masterpiece of brick Gothic architecture. It is now a museum showcasing the history of Lübeck and the Hanseatic League.
Completed in 1464, this stunning Gothic building is part of Lübeck’s medieval city fortifications. It is one of a couple of city gates you can visit – the other being the Citadel Gate.
Because of its two captivating round towers and arched entrance it is regarded as a symbol of Lübeck. Together with the old city center (Altstadt) of Lübeck it is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Germany.
3. Heidelberg Old City
Located in the Neckar river valley, Heidelberg is one Germany’s most popular tourist destinations.
During WWII, the city was almost completely spared by allied bombings which destroyed most of Germany’s larger inner cities. As a result, Heidelberg has retained its baroque charm of narrow streets, picturesque houses and picturesque bridges.
The city’s most iconic landmark is the Heidelberg Castle, a Renaissance-style fortress perched atop a hill that overlooks it.
Other prominent attractions include the Philosophers’ Walk, a scenic path along the river, and the Church of the Holy Spirit. The latter is a Gothic-style church with a unique tower. You will want to take plenty of photos of it.
The old city is a beautiful area to walk around and offers a glimpse into Heidelberg’s rich and colorful history.
2. Brandenburg Gate in Berlin
The Brandenburg Gate is a famous monument in Berlin.
It was built in the late 18th century and was originally intended as a symbol of peace. The gate is one of the most recognizable landmarks in Germany and represents the country’s reunification.
It stands 26 meters tall and is adorned with classical Greek-style sculptures. Over the years the Brandenburg Gate has been the site of many historic events. These include the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.
See also: Where to Stay in Berlin
Today, many people come here to see it, have their photograph taken by it, and recall where they were when that consequential moment in time happened.
The ultimate fairytale castle, Neuschwanstein Castle is a 19th-century palace located on a craggy hill that overlooks the village of Hohenschwangau in Bavaria.
Built by the command of King Ludwig II to be a retreat, it was intended to evoke the romance of the Middle Ages. The king was declared insane when the castle was almost completed in 1886 and found dead a few days later.
Today, the castle is one of Europe’s most beautiful examples of Gothic Revival architecture. Its stunning design and scenic location in the Bavarian Alps have inspired countless works of fiction. Most notably, it is featured as the castle in Disney’s Sleeping Beauty.
Visitors to Neuschwanstein can only enter its interior by partaking in a guided tour of it. If you choose to do so, you will get to see its ornate decor, furnishings, and murals.