Though it remains far less well known or understood by foreigners than some other European countries, since reunification Germany has gained a higher profile as a travel destination. The most popular destination is Berlin, one of the most fascinating capitals in Europe. Many of Germany’s other major cities have proud histories as independent city states or as capitals of kingdoms in their own right. But the tourist attractions in Germany are by no means limited to the cities and many other great attractions can be found in every part of the country.
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.
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.
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.
Located near the border with Belgium and the Netherlands, the Aachen Cathedral is the oldest cathedral in northern Europe. 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.
Off the northernmost coast of Germany are the North Frisian Islands. 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. It is also popular to rent bicycles and tour the island that way.
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. In addition to traditional residences, Quedlinburg is home to a German Romanesque cathedral known as the Dom and a variety of museums exploring local architecture, history and art.
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. Saxon Switzerland National Park is home to the Elbe River as well as stunning rock formations, deep valleys and miles of hiking trails. Mountain biking and rock climbing are also popular pastimes within the national park.
Schwerin Castle in the city of Schwerin is one of the most significant attractions in the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. The castle is situated on an island in the middle of the Schweriner See, adding to its unusual appeal. Built in the 14th century, Schwerin Castle is now a seat of government, and it is open for guided and self-guided tours. The castle is said to be haunted by the ghost of a creature called Petermännchen, and these legends bring in a number of curious visitors each year.
The Rügen Cliffs are located in the Jasmund National Park in the northeast of Rügen island. Facing constant erosion the chalk cliffs tower high above the Baltic Sea. The 118 meter (387 feet) high Königsstuhl (king’s chair) is the most majestic part of the cliffs. The undisturbed forests behind the cliffs are also part of the national park.