So, you’re sitting there wondering to yourself whether or not Germany is the place you want to pack up and take your family to this year. That, OR you’re already dead-set on visiting Deutschland and are looking for tips on what the best places to visit in Germany are.
Either way, this handy little list should do wonders — whether you’re in need of some convincing or beginning the planning stage of your upcoming vacation.
Why You Should Definitely Consider German Tourist Attractions
Germany is a culturally-rich country with loads of history and wonders just oozing out of every corner. From the Gothic architecture to art, food, and music, Germany has an innumerable amount of things for you and your family to discover.
Whether it’s in rural areas or major cities, Germany will have something to make your vacation extra special. Historical sites (check), breathtaking nature (check), and loads of great food and drink (double-check): you’ll have no shortage of enjoyable things to see in Germany!
If you’re not planning a long stay, it would be wise for you to consider condensing your list of things to see to only the absolute best places to visit in Germany. Our handy little guide should leave you well on your way to pinpoint exactly what you want to see during your short time here.
If, on the other hand, you plan to stay in Germany for quite a while, you may want to consider learning German at least on a conversational level. The best way to do so would be to take up German lessons or employ a tutor.
Well, without further adieu, here are some of the top German destinations you just have to see!
Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate
This 18th-century neoclassical monument in the heart of Berlin is no doubt one of the most iconic structural tourist attractions in Germany.
Built in the late 1700s, this stunning monument has been around to witness some of history’s most pivotal moments. From Napoleon Bonaparte to Barack Obama, Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate has famously served as the location of choice for many notable state dignitaries as they addressed the German people. Due to its tumultuous existence throughout some of Europe’s most straining and difficult times, the monument has grown to serve as a symbol of peace and unity.
This is certainly a must-see if you’re planning a trip to Berlin. The panoramic view of the monument is made even more incredible at night when it is lit up.
The Black Forest
If ham is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear “Black Forest”, then you absolutely have to set your sites on this breathtaking forested mountain range.
Although originally owing much of its economy to its plentiful ore deposits, the Black Forest has grown to become one of Germany’s top tourist destinations. It has embraced its tourism economy head-on and with this has come a number of things for you to see and do while visiting.
Its lakes offer a great opportunity for anyone interested in water sports. While its lush mountainous terrain is the perfect place for hiking with over 23,000 km of hiking track and networks to boot. Naturally, the winter months provide ample conditions for both downhill and Nordic Skiing. On top of that, the region has an assortment of indoor attractions to see as well; from museums and old imperials towns to a variety of thermal baths and spas.
The Black Forest is undeniably one of the best places to visit in Germany and is easily accessible via railway or tourist routes.
This Catholic cathedral in Cologne, Germany was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996. For good reason, of course, as this world-famous monument serves as a wonderful symbol of not just German Catholicism but also Gothic architecture, and it is often cited as Germany’s most visited landmark (up to 6 million visitors a year).
Regardless of one’s religious affiliations, it’s impossible to ignore just how incredible this cathedral is from both a structural and aesthetic standpoint. It holds the honor of being the tallest twin-spired church in the world while also maintaining its position as the second tallest church in Europe and the third tallest worldwide.
With such a high regularity of visitors, it’s no doubt worth seeing for yourself why the Cologne Cathedral remains one of the best places to visit in Germany.
Oktoberfest in Munich
Of course, you had to have known this was coming, right?
Oktoberfest is not so much a destination, as it is an event. It takes place during — you guessed it — October!
Sorry but this isn’t ACTUALLY true: Oktoberfest really only takes place for one day in October. Despite what its name suggests, the event runs from mid-September to October 1st. So, don’t come in October expecting Oktoberfest — you’ve already missed it, I’m afraid.
It is celebrated throughout the country (and even throughout parts of the world) but is most traditionally known as the famous 16-18 day folk festival that takes place in Munich, Germany.
This important fixture of Bavarian culture offers up traditional folk music, incredible food, rides and rollercoasters, and beer (lots of it). In 2011, it was estimated that about 7.5 million litres of beer was consumed! However, don’t let this staggering statistic discourage you: Oktoberfest is largely viewed as a family-friendly affair, during the day-time at least. Though, unsurprisingly, children are not permitted within the beer tents past 8 PM.
If you happen to be in Germany during this time, you would be remiss if you didn’t take the time to experience this unbelievable event.
This miniature model railway (and airport!) is a place you will find in every Hamburg itinerary. It serves as a technical marvel for both kids and adults alike and is the largest of its kind in the world.
It’s quite unlike anything you’ve seen before, as this incredible exhibit is home to 9 distinct sections of miniature models — all of which encompass various parts of the world, from Hamburg to Venice and even the United States. Each model has been afforded an uncanny eye for detail, with over 10,000 rail cars, 263,000 human figures, and 389,000 LEDs.
Experiencing these expertly-crafted miniature models is a real treat and undeniably one of the best places to go in Germany.
This 19th-century Romanesque revival castle is a breathtaking site situated in Southwest Bavaria, Germany. Although originally intended for King Ludwig II of Bavaria, the castle was opened to the public shortly after his death. Since then, Neuschwanstein Castle has become an incredibly popular German tourist attraction, with over a million visitors per year.
Just by looking at this castle you would think it’s something that was taken right out of a fairy tale! It’s really quite unlike anything you’ve ever seen before.
Not only does this castle serve as a bold statement of Roman architectural design (both in its interior and exterior alike), but it is also situated in an equally beautiful lush mountainous region. Although tours of this incredible castle run no more than 35-minutes each, you’ll have no shortage of incredible views once you exit the structure.
Königssee, or “King’s lake”, is another one of Germany’s breathtaking natural attractions. Located in Southeast Bavaria near the Austrian border, this picturesque lake is visited by loads of tourists during the summer months.
Königssee is known to have the cleanest water in Germany, making it a perfect destination for swimming (weather permitting, of course). As well, the surrounding area is famous for its hiking trails and also its incredible echo, which is often demonstrated by playing a flugelhorn or trumpet.
This is no doubt an incredible place to visit if you’re looking for something a little more outdoorsy and natural. Although Germany certainly has its fair share of man-made wonders, it’s also pivotal that you not overlook its natural beauty, and Königssee is definitely a great place to start.
The Berlin Wall Museum
The Berlin Wall is unquestionably one of the most iconic and important structures in all of Germany. Serving as a critical symbol of the decades-long separation between East and West Germany during the Cold War era, what remains of the Berlin Wall is both menacing and impactful as a vital piece of history that should not be overlooked.
The wall was primarily active between 1961 and 1989, during the most heated years of the cold war, and served as a physical representation of sorts for the Iron Curtain that separated Western Europe from the communist-led East.
Although many segments of the wall have since popped up in exhibits around the world — as well as eBay, of all places — it’s definitely worth seeing the remaining stretches of the wall in-person, unremoved from their original place. Doing so truly affords one an understanding of the gravity of what this structure once represented.
The 1,316 meters long stretch of the wall that remains is also home to the famous East Side Gallery, a portion of the wall that is today used as an open-air street art and graffiti gallery.
The Berlin Wall is a truly marvelous symbol of how far humanity has come, as well as a potent warning of what it’s capable of if left unchecked. It is for this reason that the Berlin Wall remains one of the most famous places in Germany.
Berlin Zoological Garden
Covering about 86.5 acres, this zoo in Berlin is known as the oldest zoo in Germany. Not only that, the zoo boasts upwards of 1,300 hundred different species, making it one of the most diverse and comprehensive collections of species anywhere in the world.
The zoo and its aquarium see upwards of 3 million visitors per year. This is certainly no surprise considering the stellar selection of wildlife to behold. The zoo is also world-renowned for its selection of bears.
Berlin’s Zoo is split up into a variety of sections which include:
- World of Birds
- Hippo House
- Rhino House
- Elephant House
- Antelope House
- Panda Garden
- Primate House
This is a great place to visit if you’re looking for a fun and eventful day-trip for you and your kids to enjoy. Art and architecture aren’t necessarily the best way to have your kids engaged, but they’ll have a hard time denying the wow factor of such a wide variety of animal species all in one place.
Right in the center of Berlin’s Mitte district sits an island in the River Spree. The Northern half of this island, the site of the old city of Cölln, is dedicated to a complex of culturally significant museums. These include:
- The Altes Museum, known for its collection of antiques and architectural design
- The Neues Museum, famous for its Egyptian and Prehistory and Early History collections
- The Alte Nationalgalerie, an art gallery with an assortment of Neoclassical, Romantic, Biedermeier, Impressionist, and early Modernist artwork
- Bode Museum, contains a multitude of Byzantine art, coins, and medals as well as a wide variety of sculptures from many areas including the Middle Ages and the Renaissance
- The Pergamon Museum, known for its antiquity collection of Middle Eastern and Islamic art
This Jam-packed and internationally-renowned complex of museums was added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites in 1999. It’s a significant site not only for its exhibition of German culture but also a multitude of cultures from around the world.
The Reichstag Building
The Reichstag is a historic edifice situated in Berlin, Germany. Construction started in 1864 and the building was originally intended as a place of meeting for the imperial diet (or parliament) of the German empire.
However, the Reichstag was rendered unusable in 1933 after it was set on fire. This served as a pivotal moment in history, as it is often cited as the event which led to Hitler’s ultimate ascension to power. Luckily, upon the reunification of Germany which took place decades later, the Reichstag was renovated and rebuilt back into working order. To this day, it remains the meeting place of Germany’s parliament as well as one of its most prominent tourist attractions.
This is a must-see if you’re in the German capital and, best of all, visiting is completely free of charge. Be sure to make this a stop in your tour of Berlin.
This exhaustive list of the top German destinations should have hopefully given you a thorough run-through of what Germany has to offer. There’s so much to see and do — to not go would truly be doing you and your family a grave disservice.
Whether you’re looking for one-of-a-kind historical sites, breathtaking natural beauty, or just plain fun, Germany has it all! You’re bound to find something to fit the needs and desires of you and your family and will no doubt have yourself an unforgettable vacation.
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