100 Best Things to do in Germany
Here are the 100 best things to do in Germany that will show you the charm, beauty and cultural diversity of this country.
Germany is rich with surprises and contrasts just waiting to be discovered by the discerning tourist. A country of enchanting little villages nestling between lofty and imposing mountains, fairytale castles and churches and lush vineyards rolling down towards the banks of the Rhine or the Mosel, Germany also boasts of the more rumbustious Munich Beer Festival and the Cologne Carnival, a very fine choice of gateaux, sausages and beer and a powerful and somewhat spooky folkloric tradition.
1. Die Zugspitze
Located in the Garmisch-Partenkirchen region of Upper Bavaria, the Zugspitze can be accessed by cable car from the Eibsee lake (around ten minutes) or by cogwheel train from Greinau followed by a cable car from the Zugspitzplatt to the summit. There are also five hiking routes for the more intrepid and guided tours with overnight stops are a popular tourist attraction for avid hikers.
At 2.962 metres above sea level, the Zugspitze is not only the highest mountain peak in the Wetterstein mountains, it is the highest peak in Germany. On a clear day, the breathtakingly lovely panorama of the mountain ranges of four neighboring countries – Germany, Austria, Italy and Switzerland – is clearly visible from its summit. For those who love hiking and/or winter sports, the Zugspitze is definitely a number 1 choice when visiting Germany!
2. The Castle of Neuschwanstein (Munich)
In 1868, four years after acceding to the throne, the shy and reclusive King Ludwig II commissioned his architects Eduard Riedel and Georg von Dollmann to build him a mediaeval castle where he could hide from his people. Paradoxically, Ludwig himself only lived a few months in the castle before his death in 1886; 7 weeks later the castle was opened to the public and it has been one of Germany’s most popular tourist attractions ever since.
Located in Hohenschwangau in the rolling green hills of southern Bavaria, surrounded by blue lakes, Neuschwanstein appears to float in the clouds like some magical castle in a fairytale. From Munich, it can easily be visited as a day trip. Tickets should be booked in advance!
3. Europa Park (Freiburg)
North of Freiburg in Baden-Württemberg in the little village of Rust is the biggest amusement park in the whole of the German-speaking world. In 2015 alone, it boasted 5,5 million visitors and is among the top 5 tourist attractions in Germany worldwide. In 2016, it won the “Golden Ticket Award” as the best amusement park in the world for the third year running. As an additional bonus, it is also open in winter!
With more shows, rides and attractions than one could ever imagine, including the biggest roller coaster in Europe, the Europa Park offers unlimited fun, excitement and entertainment to young and old alike. The Europa Parkc can be accessed from Freiburg by car in around 30 minutes and the closest railway station is Freiburg. Additionally there are a number of airports close by which offer shuttle-bus transport directly to the Europa Park.
4. Oktoberfest (Munich)
Munich`s flamboyant Oktoberfest is famous the whole world over. Since its inception in 1810 in celebration of the wedding between Ludwig of Bavaria and his bride Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen, the Oktoberfest has grown continuously in size and popularity. With its dirndls and its lederhosen, its stalls and diners offering a multitude of German and Bavarian specialties and – of course – its fourteen beer tents offering beer for every taste (and wine, too!), the Oktoberfest is a must for anyone seeking the fun side of Germany.
The Oktoberfest takes place once a year, beginning in September and ending in October, on the famous “Theresienwiese”, otherwise known as “Festwiese”. Travel by public transport from München is recommended owing to lack of parking.
5. Cologne Carnival (Cologne)
Traditionally, Cologne carnival begins whimsically at the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month, although the serious partying does not begin until Shrove Thursday. However, when it does, it goes with a bang! Cologne carnival is a celebration, above all, of fancy dress: streets, pubs and restaurants are full of exotic and bizarre costumes, streamers, balloons, practical jokes and laughter. The highlight is a 6 kilometre-long parade through the streets of Cologne on shrove Monday. A colorful, unforgettable, once-in-a-lifetime experience!
Though Cologne carnival is predominantly a street festival, there are plenty of carnival dances, dinners, parties and other indoor events running at the same time to choose from. Street activity during carnival time is at its height in the city center and the old parts of the city, which are accessible by bus or train from Cologne airport within 20 to 25 minutes.
6. Cologne Cathedral (Cologne)
At the time of its completion in 1880, Cologne Cathedral, with its awe-inspiring twin spires, was the highest building in the world. Even now, at 157m, it dominates the surrounding architecture with ease. Building commenced in 1248 but was halted during the Middle Ages and recommenced in the 19th century. Cologne cathedral reputedly houses the remains of the Three Biblical Magi- which were given to the Archbishop of Cologne by the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick Barbarossa in 1164 – and is an important destination for modern-day pilgrims to this day. For this reason, but also because of its being “an exceptional work of human creative genius”, Cologne Cathedral was dubbed an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996.
Cologne cathedral is situated very close to Cologne railway station and is impossible to miss! It is around 25 minutes from Cologne airport by bus or rail.
7. Miniature Wonderland (Hamburg)
In 2000, brothers Gerrit and Frederik Braun set out to fulfil a long-cherished dream – to build the largest model railway in the world. 16 years later, Miniature Wonderland ist just that! The Hamburg section alone encompasses 200 square metres and includes all of Hamburg’s main attractions, including an airport and 1,500 trains arriving and departing the railway station, all computer-powered. Every 15 minutes it becomes “night” in Miniature Wonderland and the lights come on. Visitors can “travel” from the American section – with the Grand Canyon or Las Vegas – to the fjords of the Scandinavian section, just in a few short steps. Sensational!
Located in Hamburg’s Speicherstadt, Miniature Wonderland is only 800 metres from the city centre and is easily accessible within a few minutes from Hamburg railway station by bus or subway.
8. Black Forest
For romance, hospitality and great cooking, the Black Forest is hard to beat. Whether your preference is alpine sports and hiking, or wellness and relaxation, the Black Forest has it all.
Located in the south west of Baden-Württemberg in the central German highlands, the Black Forest boasts dense woods, green and rolling hills and quaintly-timbered houses in sleepy villages. In addition, 20 destinations in the Black Forest were awarded “Family Friendly” holiday seals, so the Black Forest is great for children.
The Black Forest is easily accessible from railway stations Freiburg (1 hr) or Karlsruhe (1hr 20 mins). The nearest airport is Stuttgart.
9. The Romantic Road
The winding path of Germany’s Romantic Road, which incorporates over 400 km between Würzburg to Füssen in Allgäu through Germany’s south-central countryside, was travelled by the Romans over 2,000 years ago. Whether by coach or by bus, by bicycle or even on foot, the Romantic Road offers some of the most memorable visual impressions you will experience in Germany. 28 of Germany`s quaintest mediaeval villages, lush green countryside and rolling hills, blue lakes and finally King Ludwig`s spellbinding castles are only part of this spectacular trip back in time.
Starting from Würzberg or from Füssen, the Romantic Road can be travelled within a day; however, you may well wish to take more time to enjoy its beauties and coach trips of several days are offered for you to do just that!
10. Brandenburg Gate (Berlin)
As a former symbol of Berlin’s´ division upon itself, Brandenburg gate actually looks back on over 200 years of history. Brandenburg gate was erected between 1788 and 1791 and is the only one of the former 18 city portals which remains. In the years between 1949 and 1990, the gate drew visitors from both sides of the Berlin wall to look at “life on the other side”. Since the reopening of the wall in 1989, the gate has come to signify the reunification of Germany. It is one of the most popular attractions in Berlin and thousands of tourists flock to Berlin every month to view it.
Brandenburg Gate is situated 5 minutes from Berlin railway station on Pariser Platz, a highly-frequented shopping and tourist precinct. The closest subway station is Brandenburg Tor.
11. Checkpoint Charlie and the Wall Museum (Berlin)
Checkpoint Charlie, immortalized in spy films and literature alike, was until the reopening of the Berlin Wall in 1989 the checking-point in the wall between the American sector and East Berlin, beyond which only foreign visitors or allied personnel could pass. Close by is the Berlin Wall Museum, which documents the history of the Wall and the daring and often fatal attempts made by East Germans during the years of the Cold War to cross it.
Checkpoint Charlie is 3 minutes by taxi or 17 minutes on foot or by subway from Berlin’s famous Alexanderplatz (subway station Kochstr/Checkpoint Charlie) and 9 minutes on foot from Berlin’s main railway station. A visit to this sobering and illuminating reminder of Germany’s more recent political history is well worth it!
12. The Loreley (St. Goarshausen)
Few legends have so captured the imagination of poets, artists and musicians and the general public alike as that of the Loreley: the beautiful maiden, sitting on a rock combing her hair and luring sailors and fishermen to their deaths by drowning. Yet in the little town of Sankt Goarshausen on the eastern shore of the Rhine in Rheinland Pfalz, the Loreley is more than just a legend. At the end of St. Goarshausen`s little pier, her beautiful bronze statue, 3.3 metres high, still gazes mournfully into the water.
High above is the famous Loreley rock, which can be reached by steps up the cliff. Its summit offers a fascinating view of the Rhine gorge which should not be missed.
13. The City of Lübeck
If you like mediaeval architecture, a maritime atmosphere and marzipan, then the City of Lübeck in Schleswig-Holstein is the place for you! Lübeck on the river Trave, famed for its brick-gothic architecture, is also one of Germany’s largest ports and a former member of the Hanseatic League. For these reasons it was listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1987.
Lübeck has its own airport; the closest international airport is Hamburg. By rail it is 45 minutes from Hamburg.
14. Harz Mountains
100 km long and 300 km wide, the Harz mountains in Northern Germany stretch from Lower Saxony through Thüringia and into Saxony Anhalt, dwarfed by the famous Mount Brocken or “Blocksberg”, which at 1,141.2 metres above sea level reputedly draws all the world’s witches on Walpurgis night. The Harz abounds with strange legends of haunted mines and wild giant men, but its wide popularity as a holiday resort has not suffered.
Whether it’s hiking, rock-climbing, alpine sports or mountain biking you’re after, or wellness, spas and excellent cuisine, the Harz has them all, for beginners, experts and small children alike.
15. The Island of Juist
At just 17 km long and 0,5 – 1 km wide, the little island of Juist is nonetheless the longest of the north frisian islands.The locals refer to it as Töwerland” or “magic land”; with its long idyllic beaches and atmosphere of unruffled tranquillity (no cars are allowed on Juist except to doctors), it is the perfect place to relax and escape from the noise, bustle and hectic activity of everyday life.
Juist has only two villages, Juist and Loog, both of which offer apartments and housing at modest prices. Transport is by bicycle, carriage (from the airport) or on foot, so comfortable shoes are a must! The island can best be reached by taking the train from Berlin to Norddeich and then travelling by ferry (around 90 minutes) or by plane (just seven minutes) to Juist.
16. Hamelin – Pied Piper Land
On the banks of the river Weser in Lower Saxony, nestling among the lovely Weser hills, is the small city of Hamelin . It was here in 1284, as legend would have it, that the famous Pied Piper of Hamelin rid the city, first of an infestation of rats and then, when the agreed payment was denied him, of the city’s children. The legend permeates Hamelin even today: the Pied Piper`s house is a popular tourist attraction and in a little bakery in the old part of the town it is possible to buy loaves of bread in the shape of rats.
Equally attractive are the winding cobbled streets and charming timbered buildings of the old town center and the promenades along the banks of the Weser, with their fish restaurants and pubs. Ferry trips and boat parties on the river are a further huge attraction. Hamelin is a relatively small city, but it is definitely worth a visit.
17. Museum Island (Berlin)
It is rare to find an internationally significant museum on a small island, and still rarer to find five, but on the northern half of Berlin’s Museum Island in the river Spree you will find just that. From the Pergamon Museum with its collection of ancient architecture – including the Greek altar after which it is named – to the Bode Museum with its art exhibitions, you can marvel at artefacts of all kinds and from all ages on Berlin’s Museum Island.
But there is more to Museum Island than just museums. It houses both the magnificent Berlin Cathedral and the City Palace, both of which are definitely worth seeing. Museum Island is within walking distance from Berlin’s famous and central Alexanderplatz (around 15 minutes).
18. Moritzburg Palace (Moritzburg)
The exquisite baroque castle of Moritzburg lies in the municipality of Moritzburg, approximately 16 km from Dresden city center, in the center of an artificially contrived symmetrical lake. Originally conceived as a hunting lodge in 1542, the castle gradually took on its present form in the 18th century under the rule of Augustus the Strong; today it is considered one of the finest examples of Baroque architecture in Sachsen. And if its exterior is breathtaking, its interior is rich and lavish beyond description. Not for nothing was Moritzburg Palace used as the backdrop for the movie “Three Hazelnuts for Cinderella”!
Similarly worthy of interest is the little pheasant castle in Moritzburg Palace grounds, another delicious example of baroque architecture at its finest. And if you like gingerbread, Moritzburg is definitely the place to go! Moritzburg Palace can be easily reached by bus or coach from Dresden in under an hour.
19. The Port of Hamburg
Lively, colorful and bustling, Hamburg is everything a harbor town ought to be and then some. Hamburg’s history goes back to the reign of the Emperor Charlemagne in AD 808. Owing to its position at the mouth of the Elbe estuary, Hamburg has been Germany’s most significant port since the 12th century. It is also the second largest city in Germany and the eighth largest in the EU.
Whether you choose to go to a musical or the theatre, to visit Speicherstadt, Miniature Wonderland or any other of Hamburg’s numerous tourist attractions, to take a boat trip down the Elbe or simply to enjoy a meal in one of the countless excellent fish restaurants along the banks of the river, Hamburg will not disappoint you. Lesser-known but equally fascinating attractions include the fish market, the Portuguese Quarter and Harry`s Bazaar. Hamburg
has both a major railway station and an airport and is easily accessible from anywhere in the world.
20. Tübingen`s Chocolate Market
On the banks of the river Neckar in the province of Baden-Württemberg, approximately 30 km from Stuttgart, lies the beautifully nostalgic town of Tübingen, one of Germanys oldest university towns whose renowned Eberhard Karls University, founded in 1477, is one of the oldest in Europe. The town itself is lovely with its castle Hohentübingen high above the town, its beautiful mediaeval church – the “Stiftskirche” -, its Hölderlin tower and the wonderful reflection of its buildings´ facades in the waters of the Neckar.
Tübingen is also home to Germanys one and only chocolate festival.Against the romantic backdrop of the old city center, master chocolatiers from five continents demonstrate the amazing versatility of the cocoa bean in a breathtaking (and mouthwatering) display of imagination and expertise. Visitors are encouraged to try not only the finished products, but also the processes by which they are made. A must for chocolate lovers! Tübingen can be reached from Stuttgart by train or bus in just under an hour.
21. The Fairytale Route
Germany’s “Fairytale Route”, established in 1975, has rapidly become a leading tourist attraction. Running from Hanau (Hessen) in central Germany to Bremen in the north, it encompasses 600 km of nature parks, towns and villages associated with the brothers Grimm and their stories as well as numerous towns and buildings of visual or historical significance.
The Fairytale Route can be travelled by car or by coach, or even by bicycle; alternatively, there are many different guided tours on offer, with overnight stops, which make the route more restful and informative.
22. Kiel Week
Kiel Regatta, the highlight of Kiel week, is the largest sailing event in the world and one of the largest festivals in Germany. Beginning as a sailing competition in the 19th century, it has gradually expanded to become a huge festival, with free music events, cabaret, beer tents and the best cuisine Kiel can offer. It also offers an exhibition of historical sailing ships and a spellbinding display of fireworks, but the regatta itself, with around 2,000 sailing ships and regattas in every discipline, is an exciting and awe-inspiring event which should not be missed.
Kiel week takes place during the last complete week of June. Kiel is the regional capital of the province Schleswig-Holstein, directly on the Baltic coast, and can best be reached by train from Hamburg (around 1,5 hours). The nearest airports are Hamburg and Lübeck. Since it is a relatively small city and is bursting at the seams during Kiel week, hotel accommodation should be booked well in advance.
Believed by many to be the prettiest town in Germany, the little town of Goslar in lower Saxony, founded in 922, has over 1,500 timbered houses from different periods in a beautiful state of preservation. For this reason, the entire old part of the city, as well as the Rammelsberg silver mine – which has been continuously in use for over 1,000 years and upon which Goslar’s wealth was founded – were designated UNESCO world heritage sites in 1992.
Despite its diminutive size Goslar offers a wealth of attractions. The old market place, the pewter museum, the Stabkirche and – of course – the silver mines and the mining museum are all definitely worth a visit. But above all, it is the atmosphere and charm of Goslar which leave a lasting impression. The Christmas market is quite simply unforgettable. Goslar is around 40 km from Brunswick (approximately 1 hour by car or train) and 71 km from Hanover (around 1,5 hours). The closest airport is Hanover-Langenhagen.
24. The Reichstag (Berlin)
The Reichstag was opened in 1894 to house the German Parliament, but fell into disuse after it was severely damaged by fire in 1933. Some work was done on it during the 60s, but it was only after the reunification of Germany in 1989 that it was completely restored and partially reconstructed, including the addition of an amazing glass dome, work of architect Norman Foster, which offers a breathtaking view over the city. Work was completed in 1999 and the German Bundestag, or Parliament, convened there again for the first time in April of that year.
The Reichstag is one of the most frequently-visited attractions in Berlin, however visitors should be aware that they will be required to register in groups in order to gain admission. Situated on Berlin’s Platz der Republik, it is only a stone’s throw away from Brandenburg Gate and well worth a visit!
25. Herrenhäuser Gardens (Hanover)
The magnificent palatial gardens in the urban part of Hanover, the capital of Lower Saxony, are a definite must for lovers of plants and landscape gardening. They comprise four gardens covering a total of 135 hectares; over 1,500 plants from different climes have their home here, including over 800 flowering orchids.
The Castle museum, the Wilhelm Busch Museum and the Kunstfestspiele (a major summer art and music festival) are only some of the additional attractions this 300 year old baroque garden complex has to offer. An absolute highlight, however, is the annual firework competition, which takes place between the months of May and September. Herrenhäuser Gardens are around 15 minutes from the railway station by car, or 20 minutes by subway. Subway station is Herrenhäuser Gärten.
26. Memorial and Museum Sachsenhausen (Oranienburg)
35 km north of Berlin in the province of Brandenburg lies the town of Oranienburg. Here, in the concentration camp Sachsenhausen, over 200,000 people were held captive between the years 1936 and 1945. Tens of thousands of them are thought to have died here of exhaustion, illness, undernourishment or by execution. At the onset of liberation by the Russian Red Army, the camp was evacuated at the beginning of April 1945 and 33,000 prisoners were marched north towards Wittstock, many of them dying of cold or disease on the way. The 3,000 left behind at Sachsenhausen were eventually liberated by Polish and Russian soldiers.
Sachsenhausen was officially declared and opened as a museum and memorial in 1961. Today it is one of the most nationally and internationally significant memorial sites of the Holocaust in Germany and a chilling reminder of the darker side of the country`s not-so-distant past.
27. Aachen Cathedral
Aachen cathedral was the first German building to be put on the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage list and is one of the oldest buildings in Germany which are still in use. For nigh-on 600 years it was the coronation cathedral for German kings, and the marble throne of the Emperor Charlemagne used for this purpose – still virtually intact today – is one of the Cathedral’s most popular attractions. Two gilded shrines from the early 13th century, containing the remains of Charlemagne and relics from the life of Christ, are a further attraction, both for tourists and for pilgrims from all over the world.
Aachen borders Holland and Belgium, with the closest airport being the Maastricht Aachen airport in Holland. The Cathedral is approximately 1.4 km from the main railway station.
28. Schnoor Quarter and Old City (Bremen)
The Schnoor Quarter is the oldest and by far the most charming part of Bremen`s old city center. Narrow, winding cobbled streets connect quaint, 13th or 14th century houses one after the next like pearls on a string, from which the precinct may well have derived its name, for “Schnur” is the German word for string. In earlier times, this was the poorest part of the town and house-owners could not afford to modernize their homes. The result is that they have remained almost exactly as they were in mediaeval times, though they have been lovingly restored.
Today the Schnoor Quarter is a favorite haunt for visiting tourists; nostalgic shops, cheery pubs and cosy cafés create a warm and inviting atmosphere against a background of mediaeval charm. Definitely worth a visit, the Schnoor Quarter is only 15 minutes on foot from Bremen`s main railway station, or 20 minutes by bus. Bremen has its own airport.
29. Allianz Arena (Munich)
If the roar of 75,000 football fans and the excitement of this most popular of team games is one of your passions, then the Allianz Arena should be on your list of places to visit in Munich. Since its inauguration in May 2005, this huge stadium has seen all the home games of FC Bayern Munich; it was also one of the venues of the World Cup in 2006 and hosted the Champions League Final between Bayern and Chelsea in 2012.
The Allianz Arena is around 25 minutes by car (or 45 minutes by bus) from Munich’s main railway station.
30. Müritz Nationalpark (Waren)
With its more more than 100 lakes of over one hectare and surface of 322 sq km, 70 % of which are woods and 30% water, the Müritz National Park in the south of the province Mecklenburg Western Pomerania is not only the perfect habitat for nature lovers, but for many endangered species of bird and animal too. The possibility of observing these shy creatures close up from specially constructed hides turns any holiday into a voyage of discovery, and the stunning beauty of the surrounding environment is a feast for the eyes.
For those less interested in the beauties of nature, there are hiking routes, cycling routes and canoe routes within the Park. Steamboat cruises take place regularly and are very popular with visitors. The Müritz National Park is located in Waren, approximately 175 km from Berlin and 100 km from Rostock.
31. Saalfeld Fairy Grottoes
On the perimeter of Thuringia’s slate mountains lies the town of Saalfeld on the river Saale. From around 1530 onwards, alum was extensively mined in the area, giving rise to the wonderful fairy grottoes now included in the Guinness Book of Records as the most colorful cave grottoes in the world and drawing an average of 160,000 visitors yearly.
Guided tours include the history of the mediaeval alum mines and their geological composition, as well as fairy tales and legends associated with the caves. Saalfeld lies 1,5 hours south of Leipzig by car or train.
32. Berlin Television Tower
At 368 m tall, Berlin`s television tower – located close to the city’s bustling Alexanderplatz – is the highest structure in Germany and the second highest in the EU. Originally built between 1965 and 1969 as a symbol of Berlin, it now houses a visitors platform and a rotating restaurant at just over 200m, which offer a panoramic view of up to 42 km, depending on visibility.
The Television Tower is located around 28 minutes on foot from Brandenburg gate, or 7 minutes by taxi. It is only 7 minutes on foot from Berlin’s main railway station and is thus very central and impossible to miss! Owing to its immense popularity with visitors, long waiting times for entry may occur.
33. Bastei Bridge, Saxon Switzerland National Park
Saxon Switzerland National Park, 42 km southeast of Dresden, comprises 93 km of the most breathtaking natural beauty in Europe. Located in the Elbe sandstone mountains, it offers over 400 hiking routes through the lushest scenery imaginable, over 700 peaks for rock climbers and a wealth of apartments, camping sites or hotels for those who prefer just to relax and enjoy the view!
The most popular attraction of the region is the Bastei Bridge, which was built in 1851 of the same sandstone as the surrounding mountains, thus blending beautifully with them. 76,5 m long and 193 m above the winding banks of the Elbe, the bridge affords the most unique and spellbinding views. Best route is by train from Dresden to Lohmen (around 1 hour). From Lohmen, free shuttle-buses run directly to the National Park.
34. The Green Vault, Dresden Castle
Anyone deciding to visit Dresden Castle`s Green Vault must first decide whether to visit the historical Green Vault or the New Green Vault, for this fabulous collection of gold, silver and precious gems set in the most exquisite of artwork was so huge that the decision was made, during restoration of the castle, to divide it between two venues!
The New Green Vault contains more than a thousand magnificent examples of jewellers`art dating from over three centuries.The Historical Green Vault houses over three thousand masterpieces of goldsmiths` and jewellers`art, as well as exquisite pieces of ivory or amber. Insiders speak of the richest treasure chest in Europe and it is well worth while to take the time to visit both. Dresden Castle is around 20 mins on foot from the railway station, or 7 minutes by bus.
35. Nuremberg Christmas Market
Few events embody the anticipation, sweet nostalgia and sheer cosiness of Christmas as does a German Christmas market. Wool-hatted and -mittened vendors sell every Christmas gift you are likely to need from little wooden chalets gaily decorated with Christmas lights, and the scent of German mulled wine, roast chestnuts, sugared almonds and donuts wafts on the air, combining with the sweet strains of German Christmas carols.
Nuremberg’s Christmas Market has been taking place since at least 1628. Between 25th of November and 24th of December each year, Nuremberg opens its Christmas Market to receive and enchant guests from all over the world. With an estimated 2 million visitors, Nuremberg’s Christmas Market is one of the biggest in Germany and one of the most famous in the world. It takes place on the market-place in the old city and surrounding streets, right next to the railway station. Nuremberg has its own airport.
36. Bodensee (Lake Constance)
Lake Constance, at the northern base of the alps, borders on Germany, Austria and Switzerland with its German borders in Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg. It is by far the biggest lake in Germany and has long been a very popular venue for watersports and sailing enthusiasts. But the area is also rich in culture, history and scenic beauty. Konstanz town, on the Swiss border, and Konstanz Harbor are well worth a visit, as are Lake Constance`s largest island, Reichenau (joined by a causeway to the mainland) and the famous Stilt House Museum.
Konstanz town has a large railway station with connecting trains from the closest airports: Stuttgart (2 hours) or Frankfurt am Main (4 hours) in Germany, or Zurich in Switzerland (1 hour).
37. Halbe Tropical Islands (Krausnick)
Just 60 km south of Berlin, in the 1,000 year-old village of Krausnick, Halbe, lies the leisure and family park “Tropical Islands”. This little paradise just outside Berlin has to be seen to be believed. Set like a jewel in the enchanting Spreewald Forest, but with palm trees, sandy beaches, tropical birds and gardens overflowing with exotic plants, it offers exactly what it promises: a holiday on a tropical island.
Playgrounds and water games ensure that the smaller guests are happy, while the larger ones can enjoy the biggest sauna and wellness resort in Europe. A number of different types of accommodation are available for overnight stays. A great opportunity to relax from the bustle and activity of Berlin, Halbe Tropical Islands is easily accessible from Berlin or Cottbus to the station of Brand. A shuttle bus travels regularly from Brand to Halbe Tropical Islands.
38. Dresden Frauenkirche
Dresden`s famous Frauenkirche has witnessed both opulent glory and complete destruction in the course of its over 1,000 years of history. Originally conceived as a missionary church in the 11th century, it underwent a number of major architectural changes to re-emerge, in the middle of the 18th century, as one of the finest examples of sacred Baroque architecture in Germany.
In February 1945 the Frauenkirche was totally destroyed in one of the last bombing raids of WWII, to lie in ruins for more than forty years. It was not until after the reunification of Germany that the project to begin rebuilding it was discussed, a project which began in 1994 and was to take 11 years. Today the Dresden Frauenkirche can easily be accessed and viewed in all its former glory. It stands in the middle of Dresden’s old market place, nearest tram stops “Altmarkt” or “Pirnaischer Platz”.
39. Erlebnis Zoo (Hanover)
Of great appeal to young and old alike is Hanover’s huge adventure zoo, which was founded in 1865 and now attracts over 1 million visitors per year. 22 hectares in size, the zoo houses over 2,000 different animals and nearly 200 species. Alongside close contact to the animals through thick protective glass plus various shows and public feeding-times, the zoo offers additional attractions such as the Sambesi boat trip, Yukon bay and an adventure playground for children.
Refreshment is offered by numerous little cafes offering specialties from a number of different countries. Since at least a day is required to see everything, this is all to the well. It is located in Adenauerallee, on the outskirts of the Eilenriede woods; bus or tram stop (“Zoo”) are minutes away. The zoo is closed on Mondays, its winter season with different attractions is from 31st October to 21st March.
40. Heidelberg Castle (Heidelberg)
This lovely, partially-ruined old castle is generally considered to be one of the finest examples of early Renaissance German architecture, as well as Heidelberg`s biggest landmark and attraction. In its earliest form, the castle existed prior to 1214 and was developed into two castles around 1294, with additions and changes being made in the 17th and 18th centuries. Although wars, fires and two lightning bolts have caused recurring damage to the castle and it has never again been fully restored, its majestic position in the hills above Karlsplatz and the amazing view it affords attract over 1 million visitors a year.
The castle can be reached on foot via 315 steps up the hill, or by funicular. Both start from P12 at the “Kornmarkt”. A shuttle bus runs every 60 to 90 minutes from Frankfurt airport directly to Heidelberg.
41. Gendarmenmarkt Open Air Festival (Berlin)
Every year the in the heart of summer, one of the loveliest town squares in Europe – Berlin`s Gendarmenmarkt – opens for a few days to invite visitors from all over the world to a series of classical concerts under the night sky.
Against the spectacular backdrop of this beautiful square, you can hear works of classical composers, but also light opera and jazz, pop or rock played on classical instruments. Many of these concerts are also accompanied by fireworks to amaze and delight the eyes as well as the ears. Closest subways from Berlin railway station are “Französische Str.” or “Hausvogteiplatz”.
42. Jewish Museum (Berlin)
The three buildings of Germany’s Jewish Museum in Berlin comprise one of the largest documentations of German-Jewish history in the whole of Europe, spanning a period of over 2,000 years. With 720,000 visitors in 2012, it is one of Berlin’s most popular museums.
Quite apart from its content, the main building itself is a fascinating example of contemporary architecture. Designed by the Jewish architect Daniel Libeskind, it most clearly resembles a broken Star of David with its futuristic angles, planes and facets. A visit to this museum should definitely not be missed! The Jewish Museum is located on Lindenstr., 10 minutes by taxi from Brandenburg Gate and 11 from Berlin`s railway station.
In the Harz mountain region of Saxony-Anhalt at the foot of their most majestic peak, the “Brocken”, lies the enchanting small town of Wernigerode. With its numerous small cobbled streets of half-timbered houses, its quaint castle and market place, its lofty position in the mountains at 250 m above sea level and its picturesque location on the Holtemme river, Wernigerode was dubbed by the poet Hermann Löns “the brightly-coloured town of the Harz”.Nearest cities are Brunswick (55 minutes) and Hanover (1 hour 35 minutes) by road.
44. Bad Gandersheim Open Air Theatre
The little town of Bad Gandersheim at the foot of the Harz mountains is known not only for its spas and hot springs, but also for its famous open air theatre productions. These have been taking place annually in front of Bad Gandersheims`s small cathedral since 1959; they run from the start of July to the end of August. With up to 55,000 visitors (2006), Bad Gandersheim`s open air theatre is the fifth largest in Lower Saxony.
Bad Gandersheim can be accessed by train from Hanover or Brunswick in just over an hour. The nearest airport is Hannover-Langenhagen.
45. 1888 Water-Powered Funicular (Wiesbaden)
North of the beautiful city of Wiesbaden lies the Neroberg hill and the two are connected by the Neroberg funicular railway line. The funicular has been running since 1888 and was declared a technical monument by the state of Hessen in 1988. It is one of the few water-powered funiculars still in existence.
Wiesbaden lies only an hour by train from Frankfurt; the closest airport is Frankfurt am Main.
46. Westernstadt El Dorado (Templin)
For lovers of the wild west, the adventure park Westernstadt El Dorado in Templin, Brandenburg is definitely the place to go. In between live shows including stunt riding, native American dance and storytelling, young and old alike can try their hand at panning for gold, pitching horseshoes or pony-riding in an authentic wild west environment.
Templin lies approximately 100 km north of Berlin. The town has its own railway station.
47. Hamburg Dungeons
The Hamburg dungeons in Speicherstadt, Hamburg are among the city’s most popular attractions. In a 90-minute program, 600 years of their history are reenacted before your eyes, among them the Inquisition, the bubonic plague and the great fire. 2 special rides, a torture chamber and a number of special effects round off the program. Admission for children 14 and under only with a parent, for children under 10 not recommended.
Subway stations Stadthausbrücke or Baumwall are just a few minutes on foot from the dungeons, as are “Miniature Wonderland” and Hamburg Port.
48. Steinhuder Meer
Steinhuder Meer, with its surface area of 32 square kilometers and an average depth of 1,5 m, is classified as the the largest shallow lake in Germany. It lies at the heart of the 310 square kilometres Steinhuder Nature Reserve. For sailors, wind- and kite-surfers, anglers, divers and hikers, for anyone who loves water and nature, and particularly for families with children, Steinhuder Meer is the perfect vacation resort.
Steinhuder Meer is only 33 km northeast of Hannover. The nearest airport is Hannover-Langenhagen.
49. Heidepark (Soltau)
For one exciting attraction after the next and endless fun for the whole family, the theme park
“Heidepark” near Soltau in the Lüneburg heath would be hard to beat. 850,000 square metres house every kind of ride and activity imaginable. From loop-the-loop roller coasters to merry-go-rounds and water-slides, from Transylvania to the Pirate Bay, fun and entertainment are guaranteed.
For those who don’t manage to see everything in one day, there is the Adventure Hotel for overnight stays, in which children under 11 are entitled to free bed and breakfast. The Park is closed from November until the middle of March. By train, Soltau is easily accessible from Hanover, Hamburg or Bremen. A bus goes directly to the Heidepark from Soltau railway station.
50. Museum Quarter St. Annen (Lübeck)
The St. Annen Art Museum, erected on the site of the former ruined St. Annen cloister and incorporating some of its walls and arches, is a fascinating synthesis of modern and ancient architecture and a perfect setting for the modern art exhibitions which are its specialty. The St. Annen Museum is one of the most beautiful in Germany and its exhibits encompass Lübeck’s history in the Middle Ages, from the 14th to the middle of the 17th century. Nine further museums are available in Lübeck within walking distance of one another!
Lübeck is approximately 80 km northwest of Hamburg and can be reached by train from Hamburg airport in under an hour.
51. Sanssouci Palace (Potsdam)
Sanssouci Palace was commissioned to be built by Frederick the Great in 1745, making it the oldest of the Berlin and Potsdam palaces and under UNESCO World Heritage Protection since 1990. Its name “Sans souci” is French and means “with no cares”, indicating that the palace was built for recreational purposes. With its rococo architecture and extensive gardens dotted with follies, it is easy to imagine that the King sought refuge from the burdens of his office here. Together with the other imperial palaces of Potsdam and Berlin, Sanssouci Palace attracts over 2 million visitors a year.
Luisenplatz or Charlottenhof are the closest tram and bus stops from Berlin railway station. They depart every twenty minutes.
52. Ozeaneum (Stralsund)
Stralsund, a town in Western Pomerania on the Baltic coast and a former member of the Hanseatic League, is by reason of its gothic brick architecture and its picturesque waterfront location a particularly attractive one. It also hosts the Ozeaneum, which opened in 2008 and was named European Museum of the Year in 2010 and which boasts the largest whale exhibition in the world and a total of 45 tanks. For lovers of underwater worlds, the Ozeaneum Stralsund is a must!
Stralsund can be reached by train from Berlin or Hamburg. The Ozeaneum is twenty minutes on foot from Stralsund’s main railway station.
The Allgäu is the name given to the pre-alpine region of Swabia in southern Germany. It is a region of lush green hills and mountains, sparkling rivers and lakes and quaint villages. It is also famed for both its mountain sports and its dairy products, in particular cheese.
It is the perfect region for a relaxing holiday, in particular since both its air and its water are said to have healing properties! Its largest town, Kempten (also one of Germany’s oldest settlements) can be reached by train from Memmingen-Allgäu airport in around 50 minutes. The nearest international airports are Munich and Zurich.
54. Island of Sylt
The Island of Sylt, off the North Sea coast of Schleswig-Holstein, is often referred to as “The Queen of the North Sea”. At 99 square kilometres, it is the largest of the North Frisian islands and famed for its sporting events – in particular the annual Windsurfing World Cup – and for its cooking, which is often praised by international connoisseurs. With its 40 kilometres of long sandy beaches and its nature parks, Sylt is an idyllic place for a restful seaside holiday.
Since 1927 the island has been connected to the mainland by the Hindenburgdamm, so that it is easily accessible by shuttle bus or car. Alternatively, there is a ferry from the Danish island Rømø (40 minutes), or you can fly directly to Sylt, which has its own airport.
55. Geierlay Rope Bridge
At 360 metres in length and 100 metres above the ground, the Geierlay Rope Bridge in Rhineland Palatinate – which connects the towns of Mörsdorf and Sosberg, near the Luxembourg border – is the longest rope bridge in Germany and one of the longest in Europe, and is definitely not for the faint hearted! Opened in 2015, it is expected to draw at least 170,000 intrepid visitors a year to test their head for heights and marvel at the spectacular view.
The best starting-point is the village of Mörsdorf, which has a reception area built especially for the purpose. The bridge begins approximately 2 kilometres farther on. Good walking shoes are recommended. Mörsdorf has its own railway station and is best reached by train from Koblenz or Frankfurt am Main.
56. Bayreuth Festival
First opened in 1876 with a historical performance of Wagner’s “Das Rheingold”, the “Festspielhaus” in Bayreuth is now a cultural and social Mecca for Wagner lovers all over the world, including many members of the aristocracy. Though it can take a few years to obtain tickets for some productions, the Bayreuth Festival is a unique musical, visual and social experience which is well worth waiting for.
Bayreuth is located in Upper Bavaria on the Red Main River. The closest airports are Nuremberg (1 hour 41 minutes) and Munich (3 hours 18 minutes).
57. Bad Mergentheim Wildlife Park
Immediately apparent to any visitor at the Bad Mergentheim Wildlife Park in Baden-Württemberg is the overriding intention of keeping animals as closely as possible in accordance with their natural habits. Boundaries, if any, are all but invisible and made almost exclusively out of natural materials. This guarantees close, intimate experience of its animals without the underlying sadness which accompanies watching living beings in cages.
The park houses over 70 different species of indigenous animal, including wolves and bears, and is a great day trip for a family with young children. Bad Mergentheim is 40 minutes by train or road from Würzburg, and 1 hour 40 minutes from Frankfurt am Main.
58. Porta Nigra Gate and Roman Monuments (Trier)
The city of Trier in Rhineland Palatinate is the oldest city in Germany. Originally founded by the Romans 18/17 BC as Augusta Treverorum (City of Augustus in the land of the Treveri), it rapidly expanded to become one of the three main provinces of what was then Gaul. Of the buildings erected by the Romans, the amphitheatre, Roman baths and Porta Nigra Gate are still standing and are well-frequented by tourists from all over the world.
Best connection is by rail from Koblenz, which takes around 1 hour 15 minutes.
59. Baden Baden Spa and Hot Springs
As long ago as AD 69, the Romans, long aware of the benefits of hot springs and spas, had established the first baths in Baden Baden, Baden Württemberg. Today the healing powers of the twelve thermal springs still in existence remain undiminished: from all over the world, visitors come to Baden Baden, quite literally to “take the waters”. The city is also famous for its sports, in particular horse-racing, and is the perfect resort for exploring the neighboring Black Forest.
Baden Baden has its own airport. Stuttgart and Karlsruhe are the nearest large cities. Baden’s railway station is some distance from the city center and best accessed by bus.
60. Karl`s Village of Discovery (Rövershagen)
On the Baltic coast near Rostock, around 3 hours from Berlin by road or train, lies the small town of Rövershagen. Karl’s Village of Discovery is a farming and rural-themed adventure park which is open all year round. Alongside animal shows, visitors can try their hand at bread-, cheese- or jam-making, or even pottery and glass-blowing. Attractions and activities for children include a bobby-car run, a ball bath and any number of climbing frames indoor and out.
61. Island of Rügen
At 926 square kilometres, the Island of Rügen off the West Pomeranian coast of the Baltic sea is the largest of the German islands. Famed for its long Baltic beaches, its white chalk cliffs and its elegant resorts and hotels, the island also hosts the open air Störtebeker theatre festival, which draws 100,000 visitors annually.
62. Wadden Sea
The Wadden Sea is a shallow stretch of water between northwestern Europe and the Frisian islands, an area of wetlands and mudflats rich in biological diversity. Many species of wading bird, but also seals and porpoises have their home here; this UNESCO world heritage site houses many species which have become extinct elsewhere, and incorporates the three Wadden Sea National Parks of Hambury, Lower Saxony and Schleswig Holstein.
Holiday resorts by the Wadden Sea include the Frisian islands and seaside towns such as Cuxhaven or Neuharlingersiel.
63. Phantasialand (Brühl)
Phantasialand in Brühl, North-Rhine Westphalia was founded in 1967 as a small family park. 50 years and a great many additional attractions later, it now draws 1,75 million visitors a year. With its dozens of exciting rides, roller coasters to suit every taste and the loving attention to detail in their Chinese or African design, Phantasialand is sure to delight the whole family.
Brühl can be reached by car from Cologne in under half an hour, or by train in around 45 minutes.
64. Legoland Günzburg
Günzburgs theme park “Legoland” in Bavarian Swabia is a wonderful day trip for Lego lovers of any age. Opened in 2002, it draws around 1.3 million visitors yearly and is one of Bavaria’s most popular attractions. In 2012 it was dubbed the most child-friendly park in Germany. The heart of Legoland is a miniature landscape of Germany, built from over 25 million Lego bricks,
but like any other amusement park there are rides and shows galore to entertain and amuse the whole family.
Günzburg is 1.5 hours from Munich by train. A shuttle bus runs regularly between the railway station and Legoland.
65. Botanical Gardens (Frankfurt)
Lovers of exotic plant and animal life will be thrilled to discover 22 hectares housing tropical plants from almost every climate, right in the center of one of Germany’s largest cities. In the Tropicarium, an assembly of 14 greenhouses, various climates around the world are perfectly simulated to give the visitor unique insight into the growing conditions of each species. Particularly impressive is the 18 metre high palm house, which was built in 1869; the towering leafy palms it houses are as popular today as they were then.
The Botanical Gardens are only 9 minutes from Frankfurt railway station by car, or just over 20 minutes by bus.
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