Ah, Germany. Everyone knows it’s there, but few people put it on the top of their travel list, preferring the standardÂ France, Italy or Greece, or going more exotic to eastern Europe or up to Scandinavia. And that’s a pity because there isÂ just so much to see and do in Germany. I lived there for two and a half years (and married a German, so we returnÂ regularly) and still feel like I’ve only scratched the surface. In case you need more convincing, here are 25 tips for what toÂ do in Germany to prove that there is definitely something for everyone. Some are very well-known activities likeÂ Oktoberfest in Munich or visiting the Berlin Wall remnants; others are well off the beaten tourist track; but all of themÂ are well worth a look.
A view of Bacharach along the Rhine by Jeremy Branham
The Berlin Wall
I could write a book about the Berlin Wall,Â but instead I’ll just heartily encourage you to take advantage of any Berlin Wall-related sightseeing spots in Berlin.Â The Eastside Gallery is a great way to see some of the famous artistic moments of the wall, and the Topography of TerrorÂ exhibition located at the old SS headquarters gives some scary history from those times. My favourite Berlin WallÂ attraction is probably the Haus am CheckpointÂ Charlie museum which includes incredible stories (and artefacts) about those who escaped or attempted to escape intoÂ the west.
Haus am Checkpoint Charlie exhibit by boreritos
We’ve lots more tips on things to do in Berlin.
Without the cathedral, Cologne is a pretty city on the Rhine with some interesting museums. But being home to Koelner Dom (CologneÂ Cathedral) makes it a must visit. This is a towering cathedral that must surely impress everyone, and both inside andÂ outside it’s utterly photogenic. I first visited as a teenager and have been captivated by it ever since.
We’ve some more suggestions on things to do in Cologne.
Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau
One of the most well-known castles in Germany is Neuschwanstein, near theÂ town of FÃ¼ssen in Bavarian, south-east Germany. Many say it’s even the model for the famous Disneyland castle and thereÂ are definitely similarities. It can be, in my opinion, a little too overrun with tourists and the tours through theÂ castle whisk you through at quite a cracking pace – so my suggestion is to spend more time at its “brother” castle HohenschwangauÂ , walking distance from Neuschwanstein, and take a walk around the grounds of both, because it’s really a picturesqueÂ area.
Hohenschwangau Castle by Amanda Kendle
Eagle’s Nest and Berchtesgaden
You can’t go too far in Germany before World War Two history confronts you. One fascinating place I visited was Eagle’sÂ Nest (Kehlsteinhaus) near Berchtesgaden. Just gettingÂ there is interesting as you end up taking a lift up through the rock to the top of a hill and the views are fantastic.Â Built as a retreat for Hitler, he apparently didn’t end up going there much and since it wasn’t such an important NaziÂ site it wasn’t destroyed at the end of the war. Nowadays there is a restaurant up there, and you can take some greatÂ hikes, but for me it was still a little spooky to think of Hitler having been there at all.
A popular day trip from Berlin is a visit to Schloss Sanssouci in Potsdam. This palace was the summer residence for Frederick the Great and you can take a tour of the inside or simply enjoy exploring the gardens and other features around it.
At Schloss Sanssouci byÂ Amanda Kendle
Oktoberfest in Munich
Mention Germany and many people will want to time their visit for Oktoberfest, withÂ the biggest festival happening in Munich. (Remember, though, that most of Oktoberfest actually happens in September!).Â Central Munich is home to the Hofbrauhaus and regardless of what time of year you arrive, you can pop in there for a beerÂ and some good German food and get some of the Oktoberfest atmosphere.
We’ve more tips on things to do in Munich.
Rothenburg ob der Tauber
If you’re after a picture-book German town, Rothenburg ob der Tauber is the one to visit. The only drawback is a lot of tourist buses stop there – but that’s because it is so typically German-looking and photogenic – so it might be better to spend the night there and take a good look around earlyin the morning or late in the evening when it’s a little emptier. And if you’re there at night you can also try the Night Watchman’s tour.
View to Rothenburg’s main square byÂ Amanda Kendle
Off the Tourist Track in DinkelsbÃ¼hl
For those who prefer to stay off the beaten track, a similar typically German experience can be had by visiting a town like DinkelsbÃ¼hl in the south of Germany. With plenty of Fachwerk-style buildings and little shops to explore, you may not find too many tourists but you will find olden days Germany!
Fachwerk houses in Dinkelsbuehl byÂ Amanda Kendle
Frankfurt Book Fair
If you’re a book lover, I can’t recommend strongly enough that you time a trip to Germany to coincide with theÂ Frankfurt Book Fair. I’ve managed to get there a couple of times (so far!) and it is incredible! It’s usually held in October and two of the days (usually theÂ weekend) are open to the general public. You’ll see new books before anyone else, get all kinds of free giveaways (hauntÂ the cook book section when you’re hungry!) and be thoroughly entertained.
Bodensee – Lake Constance
The Bodensee, or as we English speakers refer to it, Lake Constance, is one of the jewels of Germany, and is a popular holiday destination for the locals as well. Apart from the scenic nature of the lake there are some other interesting attractions there too, like the Lake Dwelling museum and the Zeppelin Museum. It’s also popular to do a cycling tour around the lake and it’s a great place for it.
Lake Dwelling Museum on Lake Constance byÂ Amanda Kendle
Rhine Cruise to Bacharach
The towns along the Rhine River are particularly beautiful parts of Germany and a good base for exploring some of these is Bacharach. From here you can take a cruise on the Rhine and you also have easy access to many nearby castles.
Heidelberg is a very pretty city on the River Neckar, and the centrepiece is theÂ Heidelberg CastleÂ (or at least its remnants) which sit a little way up a hill above the main shopping area. You can also getÂ great views to the castleÂ from the other side of the river, by taking a stroll on the Philosopher’s Walk.
View to Danube from Heidelberg Castle byÂ Amanda Kendle
Rhine River in Dusseldorf
If you’re looking for a busier place to appreciate the Rhine, try visiting Dusseldorf. As one of the financial centres of the country it’s bustling with all kinds of people and the promenade along the Rhine is an interesting way to see the river and the people who live and work near it.
The south-west city of Ulm is another great place for a visit and the highlight for me is the Ulm Cathedral. This Gothic building is the tallest church in the world! If you make it to the top (there are quite a few stairs!) you’ll have great views over Ulm and the Danube River and you’ll deserve a tasty treat when you get back to ground level.
View from Ulm Cathedral byÂ Amanda Kendle
Becks Beer in Bremen
Obviously, there are plenty of places to get a good beer across Germany, but one of the best is Bremen, theÂ home of Becks beer. Quite apart fromÂ the beer, Bremen is a lovely town to visit. If you remember your fairy tales and know about the Musicians of Bremen,Â you’ll be rewarded with a cute statue of the four animals involved (rub the lucky hoofs!).
I’m not even a fan of marzipan but I became a convert when eating original LÃ¼becker Marzipan. You can visit the spot in Lubeck where it’s made and stock up on all your favourite marzipan treats – it definitely tastes superior to pretty much any other marzipan I’ve ever eaten! There are also lots of other reasons to have a short break in LÃ¼beck now that it’s very easily accessible.
Town Hall in Luebeck byÂ Amanda Kendle
Holocaust Sightseeing in Berlin
There are an enormous number of sightseeing spots in Berlin that I think you can’t miss, but some of the most important are those related to the holocaust. The Jewish Museum is the first of these – although the Holocaust is only a small part of this museum, the rest is also incredible and you will learn a lot, as well as be fascinated by it. It’s one of my favourite ever museums! The relatively new Holocaust Memorial is also an important place to visit and have a quiet reflective moment. Finally, there is also an Anne Frank Museum which is especially suitable if you have children travelling with you.
Dachau Concentration Camp
You may not want to visit a concentration camp but I think it’s a useful and important experience. The Dachau Concentration Camp just outside Munich can be somewhat overwhelming but the history you find there should not be forgotten.
Entrance to Dachau Concentration Camp byÂ Amanda Kendle
Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp
An alternative is the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp just outside Berlin. It is smaller and usually less crowded than Dachau, but will have a similar effect on you.
Bad Wimpfen Christmas Markets
I’m a huge fan of European Christmas markets and perhaps the loveliest I’ve ever experienced are those held in theÂ village of BadÂ Wimpfen in south-west Germany. This is a picturesque medieval town where the market stalls are set up along windyÂ cobblestone alleyways, with an emphasis on authentic, traditional gifts and food. Even if you miss the November/DecemberÂ Christmas market weekends, I thoroughly recommend stopping by Bad Wimpfen in any case.
Christmas markets in Bad Wimpfen byÂ Amanda Kendle
Nuremburg Christmas Markets
A good alternative – and a bigger set of markets – can be found at the Nuremberg Christmas markets. They have great food stalls with all the traditional German foods available and the possibilities for shopping are incredible, as the Nuremburg Christmas markets are said to be the largest in the country.
ZKM in Karlsruhe
If you’re in the south-west of Germany, a stop in at the ZKM Museum in Karlsruhe is an interesting distraction. This gallery includes a range of interactive art installations which gave me hours of amusement, I have to admit!
ZKM Exhibit in Karlsruhe byÂ Amanda Kendle
Fraueninsel in Bavaria
Bavaria (or Bayern as the Germans say) is a popular destination for a German holiday and one of the prettiest parts is a beautiful lake, the Chiemsee, not far from Munich. Visiting one of its islands, the Fraueninsel, makes for a fantastic day trip.
BlÃ¼hendes Barock in Ludwigsburg
Garden lovers need to swing by the small town of Ludwigsburg, just north of Stuttgart, to check out theÂ BlÃ¼hendesÂ BarockÂ – home to beautifully kept gardens along with a special section highlighting fairy tales we all know and love.Â My husband enjoyed visiting this as a child, but as an adult the gardens are just as impressive.
Gingerbread house at Bluhendes Barock byÂ Amanda Kendle
Currywurst in Koblenz (or anywhere!)
I don’t think it matters where you try a Currywurst – the famous German snack of sliced up sausage covered in a curry sauce, and usually served with chips – but my recent experience was in Koblenz, a charming city that’s not too big and not too small – and I can vouch for the fact that there is delicious Currywurst there!
Your German tips
I could go on and list a hundred things to do in Germany instead of twenty-five, but I’ll stop there! What’s your favourite place to visit in Germany? Let me know in the comments.