Updated: Jan 20, 2021
As travel restrictions begin to ease, our wanderlust for Germany can slowly return. With 16 states boasting picturesque medieval villages, fairytale castles, evergreen forests and sweeping alpine scenery, it comes as no surprise that Germany was the ninth-most-visited country in the world in 2019. These ten breath-taking locations all deserve top spots on your travel bucket list.
1. The Mosel Valley
View of Reichsburg Cochem Castle from the Mosel river. Photo: KaiPilger via Pixabay
Home to quaint villages, beautiful castles and terraced vineyards, the Mosel Valley in western Germany is bursting with culture, architecture and history. The peaceful atmosphere and quiet trails make it one of Germany’s most romantic locations. Its summer festivals celebrating the produce and wine of the region, luscious green vistas and tranquil river cruises make this the perfect haven for anyone looking to relax and unwind.
Bamberg's historical town hall, which dates back to 1386. Photo: maxmann via Pixabay
Situated in northern Bavaria, the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Bamberg features astonishingly well-preserved medieval architecture. The fascinating destination has long attracted tourists with its castles, rich culture and many beer gardens. It even features its own Little Venice, with rows of half-timbered, colourful houses.
3. The Romantic Road
Neuschwanstein Castle, Bavaria. Photo: Pascal Renet via Pexels
Spanning approximately 250 miles through the southern provinces of Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg, the Romantic Road begins in Würzburg, where visitors can bask in the glory of the UNESCO-listed, 18th-century Würzburg Residenz. Other highlights of the trail include the three medieval towns of Dinkelsbühl, Nördlingen, and Rothenburg ob der Tauber. The final destination is the world-renowned Neuschwanstein Castle, which is situated at the bottom of the Ammergau Alps. These outstanding sights are must-sees for any nature and road trip enthusiast.
Untermarkt, Görlitz. Photo: Zinneke via Wikimedia Commons
Used as a filming location for Wes Anderson’s Oscar-winning The Grand Budapest Hotel, Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds and Brian Percival’s The Book Thief, the small town of Görlitz in Saxony was voted as European Film Location of the Decade in 2017, owing to its wealth of unique, historical buildings. Situated on the Polish border, Görlitz is Germany’s easternmost town and offers a charming and pleasant sightseeing experience.
Königssee and the church of St Bartholomä, Bavaria. Photo: Sinousxl via Pixabay
Königssee (King’s Lake) in southern Germany boasts crystal-clear alpine waters and stunning scenery. The majority of the lake is situated within Bavaria’s Berchtesgaden National Park, just north of the Austrian border. The UNESCO World Heritage site features the famous baroque church of St Bartholomä, and its surrounding park trails have attracted keen hikers for centuries.
6. Berlin’s Museum Island
The Bode Museum, Museum Island, Berlin. Photo: nick_photoarchive via Pixabay
Completed in 1930, five world-renowned museums make up Berlin’s Museumsinsel. Amid the beautiful setting of the Spree river in the Mitte district, the site offers both a unique architectural spectacle and an immersion in cultural wonder. Visitors to the Neues Museum can expect to marvel at an original bust of the Egyptian queen Nefertiti, while the Alte Nationalgalerie houses masterpieces by Monet, Cézanne and Renoir.
7. Sanssouci Park and Palace
Sansoucci Palace, Potsdam. Photo: neufal54 via Pixabay
Commissioned by Friedrich the Great as a private retreat in 1745, the palace and surrounding park in Potsdam quite literally encapsulate the monarch’s desire to live without a care, or ‘sans souci’. The elegant summer haven is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, and its extensive gardens feature Roman baths, a neoclassical temple and a 19th-century palace.
8. The Black Forest
The Black Forest. Photo: mbc-2016 via Pixabay
Baden-Württemberg’s expanse of dense, dark forest, meadows and waterfalls offers miles upon miles of hiking trails with staggeringly beautiful views. Highlights include the 19th-century spa town of Baden-Baden, the quintessentially German architecture of Calw, and the beautiful university towns of Freiburg and Heidelberg.
The Holsten Gate, Lübeck. Photo: scholty1970 via Pixabay
The Hanseatic city of Lübeck is, in its entirety, considered a UNESCO World Heritage site. Offering an enticing history and picturesque streets, the northern city is characterised by its red-brick Gothic structures, postcard-perfect alleyways and beautiful churches. Literature enthusiasts can also enjoy the houses dedicated to authors Thomas Mann and Günter Grass.
10. Rügen Island
The cliffs of Rügen. Photo: Pixaline via Pixabay
Rügen in the Baltic sea is Germany’s largest island. One of its most popular sights, the chalk cliff Königsstuhl (King’s Chair) in Jasmund National Park, reaches 118 metres above sea level and is renowned for its sheer white colour and sensational views from its peak. The northeast island is home to many beautiful beaches, lagoons and bays, as well as a heritage beechwood forest.