Best Things To Do In Germany: 12 Must-See Attractions

by Jen
Best Things To Do In Germany
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Have you been putting off a trip to Germany – something you’ve always wanted to do but you just can’t lay down the specifics of your itinerary? Let me help you. Here are some of the most fun, scenic, and unique things to do in Germany. These sights, activities, and attractions are sure to make for a truly memorable vacation experience.

The best things to do in Germany to a large extent relate to its rich history, diverse culture, and stunning landscape. Yes, Germany, the heart of Europe, is a treasure trove of unique attractions. From the towering Alps in the south to the windswept shores of the North Sea, from the vibrant metropolises to the quaint half-timbered towns, Germany is a country that never ceases to amaze.

Known for its precision engineering and high-tech products, Germany is equally admired for its old-world charm and “Gemütlichkeit” (coziness). It offers a breathtaking array of experiences that cater to every traveler’s desires. Whether you’re a history buff, a nature lover, an art enthusiast, or a foodie, Germany has something for you. Here’s everything you need to know about these fun things to do in Germany.

The top places to visit in Germany right now
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Best Places to Visit in Germany

Ready to deep dive into all the coolest things to do in Germany? As noted above, there’s something for everyone at this vacation destination. So keep reading to discover all these unique Germany places to visit.

Are you looking to explore the country’s most iconic historical and cultural sights? Or would you prefer a tranquil getaway in nature? Perhaps a leisurely walk through some woodlands, serene lakes, and charming villages? Whatever you’re planning, these must-sees in Germany can accommodate your needs. So pack your bags, and get ready to embark on an unforgettable German adventure. Here’s all the best attractions in Germany that you should know about.

1. Schloss Neuschwanstein

For a unique experience like no other, you’ll want to check out this top place to visit in Germany. If you’re seeking a fairy-tale experience in Germany, look no further than Schloss Neuschwanstein. This enchanting castle, nestled deep in the heart of the Ammergebirge Alps, is a testament to the romantic fantasies of the age of chivalry. The brainchild of Mad King Ludwig, this castle is a dramatic blend of Wagnerian inspiration and alpine grandeur.

Schloss Neuschwanstein is not the only castle that will leave you spellbound in Germany. The country is dotted with numerous castles and palaces, each boasting its unique style. Schloss Linderhof, another of Ludwig’s creations, is a sight to behold. This elegant white villa, set against the backdrop of the mountainside amidst terraced gardens, is a sight for sore eyes.

Whether you’re a history buff, an architecture enthusiast, or a lover of natural beauty, a tour to Schloss Neuschwanstein should be at the top of your list when visiting Germany. The castle’s dramatic setting, coupled with its rich history and architectural splendor, makes it a must-see attraction.

So get ready to step into a real-life fairy tale as you explore the splendid castles of Ludwig II, King of Bavaria. From the intimate Linderhof to the scenic Hohenschwangau and the fairy-tale Neuschwanstein, you’re in for a royal treat. And don’t forget to make a stop at the town of Oberammergau on your day trip. Don’t miss out on one of the most unique things to do in Germany.

Discover Germany's fairy-tale charm at Schloss Neuschwanstein, a majestic castle inspired by romantic fantasies and alpine grandeur.
Discover Germany’s fairy-tale charm at Schloss Neuschwanstein, a majestic castle inspired by romantic fantasies and alpine grandeur.

2. Berlin Wall

History lovers will love this top thing to do in Germany. On August 13, 1961, a dramatic turn of events shaped the cityscape of Berlin for many years to come. The Berlin Wall, which was erected to impede the escape of East Berliners from the Soviet-regulated East German state, from that day forward served as a mainstay of disunity, fear, and of universal oppression.

Today, the remaining fragments of the Berliner Mauer are nothing more than graffiti-covered lengths of concrete and dilapidation. Still, the sight is enough to attract visitors by the thousands. The Wall, once a symbol of division and the Cold War, now stands as a testament to the human spirit and the pursuit of freedom.

Walking along the remnants of the Wall, you can’t help but feel a sense of history. It’s a stark reminder of a time when the city was divided, and the world along with it. The Wall is more than just a physical barrier. It’s a symbol of the ideological divide that once separated East and West.

Today, the Wall serves as a canvas for artists from around the world. Its graffiti-covered remains transformed into a vibrant outdoor gallery. The East Side Gallery, a 1.3-kilometer stretch of the Wall, is the world’s largest open-air mural collection. Here, you can see works by artists from around the world.

Visiting the Berlin Wall is a powerful experience. It’s a reminder of the city’s turbulent past, but also of its resilience and its commitment to a future of unity and freedom. As such, visiting the Berlin Wall is one of the best things to do in Germany you don’t want to miss.

Explore Berlin's history at the Berlin Wall, a must-visit for its powerful reminder of unity and freedom.
Explore Berlin’s history at the Berlin Wall, a must-visit for its powerful reminder of unity and freedom.

3. Erholungspark Marzahn in Berlin

Looking to visit one of the best places in Germany? Add this to your bucket list! A hidden gem in the bustling city of Berlin, the Erholungspark Marzahn is a testament to the city’s commitment to creating spaces that blend natural beauty with urban convenience. Established in 1987, this public park in Marzahn is a unique combination of tranquility and cosmopolitan beauty.

The park’s most notable feature is the Chinese garden, the largest of its kind outside China. Crafted by local landscape architects and artisans, the garden is a serene oasis complete with ponds, pavilions, watercourses, and traditional architecture. Visitors can also witness ceremonies symbolic of countries such as Italy and Korea, adding a multicultural flair to the experience.

But the park is more than just a collection of beautiful gardens. It’s a testament to the city’s commitment to creating spaces that blend natural beauty with urban convenience. Amidst the hustle and bustle of the city, Erholungspark Marzahn offers a peaceful retreat, a place to unwind and reconnect with nature.

Whether you’re a local looking for a quick escape from the city or a tourist seeking a unique experience, Erholungspark Marzahn is a must-visit. Its blend of natural beauty and cultural diversity makes it a standout attraction in Berlin, a city known for its rich history and vibrant culture.

So, if you’re planning a trip to Germany, make sure to add Erholungspark Marzahn to your itinerary. It’s a place where you can immerse yourself in nature, learn about different cultures, and experience the unique blend of tranquility and cosmopolitan beauty that Berlin has to offer. No wonder this is one of the top things to do in Germany for the most discerning tourists.

Berlin's hidden gem, Erholungspark Marzahn, blends natural beauty with urban convenience, offering tranquility in the bustling city.
Berlin’s hidden gem, Erholungspark Marzahn, blends natural beauty with urban convenience, offering tranquility in the bustling city.

4. The Nymphenburg Palace in Munich

Experience Europe in style at this unique place to visit in Germany. If you’re a fan of grandeur and history, then The Nymphenburg Palace in Munich is a must-visit. This Baroque palace, once the summer residence of Bavarian monarchs, is a testament to the opulence and power of Germany’s past.

The palace’s façade is a sight to behold, stretching over 700 meters and adorned with intricate details. But the real magic lies within. The palace’s interior is a maze of lavish rooms, each more impressive than the last. From the grand hall adorned with frescoes to the exquisitely furnished bedrooms, every corner of the palace is a feast for the eyes.

The palace grounds are equally impressive, spanning over 200 hectares. The gardens are a perfect blend of French and English styles. It features beautiful fountains, a grand canal, and a stunning pavilion. The park is also home to several smaller palaces and pavilions, each with its own unique charm.

A visit to the Nymphenburg Palace is like stepping back in time. As you wander through its halls and gardens, you can almost hear the whispers of the past, telling tales of grand balls, royal intrigues, and the everyday life of Bavarian royalty.

It’s not just a palace; it’s a journey into the heart of Bavaria’s rich history and culture. It’s easy to see why this is one of the best things to do in Germany!

Explore opulence and history at Germany's Nymphenburg Palace in Munich, a unique destination for fans of grandeur.
Explore opulence and history at Germany’s Nymphenburg Palace in Munich, a unique destination for fans of grandeur.

5. Christmas Markets

Yearning for a getaway like no other? This thing to do in Germany has got you covered. When the winter chill descends upon Germany, the country transforms into a wonderland of twinkling lights, festive music, and the tantalizing aroma of Glühwein and gingerbread. One of the most cherished traditions during this time is visiting the Christmas markets. This is a practice that dates back to the Middle Ages.

In every corner of Germany, from the smallest villages to the largest cities, these markets spring to life. They are a feast for the senses, filled with beautifully crafted ornaments, hand-knit scarves, and an array of mouthwatering treats. However, the most famous of them all is the Christkindlesmarkt in Nuremberg.

The Christkindlesmarkt is a spectacle to behold. The market square, nestled in the heart of the city, is transformed into a festive paradise. Over 180 wooden stalls, adorned with red-and-white cloth, offer an array of goods, from traditional Christmas decorations and toys to various culinary delights.

As you wander through the market, you’ll be drawn to the enticing aroma of Nuremberg’s famous gingerbread and the sizzling Nuremberg Rostbratwurst. Don’t forget to warm up with a mug of Glühwein, a mulled wine that’s a staple at German Christmas markets.

So, if you find yourself in Germany during the holiday season, make sure to add a visit to the Christkindlesmarkt in Nuremberg to your itinerary. Is this one of the coolest things to do in Germany? You bet!

Christkindlesmarkt: A festive wonder with over 180 stalls offering Christmas delights in the heart of the city.
Christkindlesmarkt: A festive wonder with over 180 stalls offering Christmas delights in the heart of the city.

6. Nuremberg

A visit to Germany would be incomplete without a trip to the city of Nuremberg. However, the history here is of a much darker nature. Located on the edge of the city are the former Nazi Party Rally Grounds, a chilling reminder of Germany’s past. The imposing structures, such as the Zeppelinfeld Grandstand and the unfinished Congress Hall, still stand today. This makes it the large site an eerie place to walk around.

But Nuremberg is not just a place of remembrance, it’s also a place of reflection and education. The Memorium Nuremberg Trials examines the process that saw leading Nazi figures answer to their crimes and shaped the future of international criminal law. If not in use, you can visit the courtroom where the trials were held.

Nuremberg’s history has shaped its present. The city serves as a stark reminder of the atrocities of the past, but also stands as a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and the pursuit of justice. There is so much to see and learn at Nuremberg. It’s no wonder this is among the most unique things to do in Germany.

Explore Nuremberg's history, which is one of the best things to do in Germany
Explore Nuremberg’s history, including the chilling former Nazi Party Rally Grounds, a reminder of Germany’s past.

7. Octoberfest in Munich

As far as things to do in Germany go, this activity is among the coolest! The world’s biggest excuse for a beer – and it comes in big measures, too. Bring your lederhosen and Dirndl to drink a “Maß” or two at the Octoberfest. Octoberfest is a 2-week festival held in Munich, Germany. The first weekend of October is traditionally the last weekend of the festival, so plan accordingly. In general, German beer comes in a great variety. If you are not sure which one might fit your taste check out this overview of German beer. But what is certain is that tasting German beer is one of the best Germany things to do.

So, if you’re a beer enthusiast, or simply curious about the rich beer culture in Germany, make sure to add the Octoberfest in Munich to your travel itinerary. Not only will you get to taste a variety of German beers, but you’ll also get to experience the lively atmosphere, traditional music, and delicious food that this world-renowned festival has to offer. Just remember, when you’re lifting your Maß, it’s customary to say “Prost!” – the German word for “Cheers!” As one of the top Germany attractions, you’ll definitely want to add this to your travel itinerary.

Celebrate Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany, with two weeks of beer-filled festivities.
Celebrate Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany, with two weeks of beer-filled festivities.

8. Ostalgie

Looking for what to do in Germany? You should try exploring Ostalgie. In the years following the fall of the Wall, a sense of Ostalgie – nostalgia for the East (or rather Nostalgie for the Osten) – began to emerge in certain quarters of the old East Germany. The sentiment originated with those for whom memories of the collapsed country remained vivid, though this nostalgia for the iconography of communist East Germany also proved immensely popular with visitors, spawning a mini-industry in Berlin which still shows no sign of abating.

The term Ostalgie is a portmanteau of the German words “Ost” (East) and “Nostalgie” (nostalgia). It represents a longing for the simpler times of the GDR (German Democratic Republic). This is the socialist state that existed in East Germany during the Cold War. This sentiment has led to a resurgence of interest in East German culture, with many businesses capitalizing on the trend.

In Berlin, you can immerse yourself in the Ostalgie experience by taking a city tour in a Trabbi car, the iconic vehicle produced in East Germany. The GDR Museum offers a glimpse into life behind the Iron Curtain. It showcases the everyday experiences of East Germans under the socialist regime. For a taste of East German cuisine, you can visit a GDR-themed restaurant. You can try traditional dishes like Eisbein (pickled ham hock) and Schnitzel.

Whether you’re a history buff, a foodie, or just curious about different cultures, exploring Ostalgie is a unique way to experience a piece of Germany’s past. This makes it one of the most unique things to do in Germany.

Discover Ostalgie, the nostalgia for communist East Germany
Discover Ostalgie, the nostalgia for communist East Germany, and delve into Germany’s intriguing history and culture.

9. Heidelberg

Looking for the best things to do in Germany? Don’t miss this one! A city that perfectly encapsulates the spirit of Germany, Heidelberg is a must-visit destination for any traveler. Nestled in the Neckar river valley, Heidelberg is renowned for its old-world charm, beautifully preserved architecture, and the famous Heidelberg University, the oldest in Germany.

The city’s heart is the Heidelberg Old Town, a vibrant maze of narrow streets lined with beautiful baroque buildings. Here, you’ll find the bustling Marktplatz, home to the Church of the Holy Spirit and the old Town Hall. The Old Town is also a haven for food lovers, with a plethora of traditional German restaurants, charming cafes, and bustling beer gardens.

But the jewel in Heidelberg’s crown is the Heidelberg Castle, a mix of styles from Gothic to Renaissance. Perched on a hill overlooking the city, the castle is a sight to behold. The castle ruins are among the most important Renaissance structures north of the Alps. Don’t miss the Heidelberg Tun, one of the largest wine barrels in the world, which is housed within the castle’s walls.

For those who love the great outdoors, the Philosopher’s Walk offers stunning views of the city and the castle. It’s said that Heidelberg’s philosophers and university professors would walk and talk along this path, hence the name.

Heidelberg is a city that effortlessly blends the old with the new. This makes it a captivating destination that should not be missed on your German adventure. With so much charm and personality, Heidelberg is one of the top places to visit in Germany.

Discover Heidelberg's charming Old Town with baroque buildings and the breathtaking Heidelberg Castle perched on a hill.
Discover Heidelberg’s charming Old Town with baroque buildings and the breathtaking Heidelberg Castle perched on a hill.

10. Romantic Road

It would be a crime to write an article on the top things to do in Germany without mentioning the Romantic Road. The Romantic Road is a picturesque journey that takes you through the heart of Bavaria, showcasing the region’s rich history and stunning landscapes. This route is a must-visit for anyone who appreciates the charm of medieval towns and the beauty of nature.

The journey begins in the historic town of Würzburg, known for its baroque palace and the ancient Marienberg Fortress. As you travel south, you’ll pass through quaint towns like Rothenburg ob der Tauber. This is a well-preserved medieval town that seems straight out of a fairy tale.

The Romantic Road also takes you through the Pfaffenwinkel region, known for its beautiful churches, including the famous Wieskirche. This pilgrimage church, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a masterpiece of Bavarian Rococo and is set in a stunning alpine landscape.

The journey ends in the foothills of the Alps, at the fairy-tale castles of King Ludwig II. The most famous of these is Neuschwanstein Castle, a dreamy castle that inspired Disney’s Sleeping Beauty Castle.

The Romantic Road is more than just a route; it’s a journey back in time, offering a glimpse into Germany’s rich history and culture. Whether you’re exploring the vineyards of the Tauber Valley, walking the cobbled streets of Rothenburg, or marveling at the grandeur of Neuschwanstein Castle, the Romantic Road promises a memorable experience. As such, I recommend this thing to do in Germany to everyone I meet.

Explore Bavaria's Romantic Road, a must-visit for lovers of medieval towns and nature enthusiasts.
Explore Bavaria’s Romantic Road, a must-visit for lovers of medieval towns and nature enthusiasts.

11. UNESCO World Heritage Sites

This is one of the best things to do in Germany, hands down. Germany is a treasure trove of historical and cultural gems, and its UNESCO World Heritage Sites are a testament to this. With a whopping 46 sites listed, the country offers a diverse range from architectural marvels, intellectual achievements, significant historical sites, to stunning landscapes and parks.

While you’re traveling in Germany, immersing yourself in the country’s rich culture and history is a must-do. Be sure to visit some of the local heritage sites. For instance, the Cologne Cathedral is a masterpiece of High Gothic architecture and a testament to the strength and endurance of European Christianity.

Or perhaps you’d prefer the Palaces and Parks of Potsdam and Berlin, a collection of palaces and landscaped parks that reflect the artistic and cultural tastes of the Prussian kings in the 18th and 19th centuries.

For those interested in industrial history, the Zollverein Coal Mine Industrial Complex in Essen is a fascinating look at the evolution of heavy industry over the past century.

Each of these sites offers a unique glimpse into Germany’s past and present. This makes them an essential part of any visit to the country. So, whether you’re a history buff, a nature lover, or just a curious traveler, make sure to add visiting Germany’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites to your itinerary. As such, these Germany attractions are one of the most popular sights in the country.

Experience Germany's rich history and culture at the Cologne Cathedral, a masterpiece of High Gothic architecture.
Experience Germany’s rich history and culture at the Cologne Cathedral, a masterpiece of High Gothic architecture.

12. Rugen Island

If you’re seeking a blend of natural beauty and historical charm, then visiting Rugen Island is one of the best things to do in Germany that you should try.

As the largest island in Germany, Rugen Island is nestled in the Baltic Sea and is part of the state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. This island has been a beloved tourist destination since the 18th century, and it’s not hard to see why.

Rugen Island is renowned for its picturesque landscapes and romantic seaside resorts. Its star attraction is the Jasmund National Park, famous for its unique chalk cliffs that rise 161 meters over the sea. The largest of these majestic cliffs is known as Konigsstuhl, or King’s Chair. Legend has it that in ancient times, a newly crowned king would climb to the top of this cliff and sit in a chair to demonstrate his power.

Another notable feature of Rugen Island is Cape Arkona, East Germany’s northernmost tip, where tourists can visit an old lighthouse, remnants of a Slavic castle, and a picturesque fishing village.

The island’s many seaside resorts, including Binz, Sellin, Gohren, and Sassnitz, offer a wide variety of recreational activities ranging from golf to horse riding, cycling, windsurfing, and even hot air balloon trips.

A great way to explore Rugen Island is by its steam-powered train, known as Racing Roland. This island is a true gem that encapsulates the spirit of Germany’s natural beauty and historical richness. For those seeking rest and relaxation, the enchanting Rugen Island is one of the best places in Germany you should know about.

Rugen Island's star attraction is Jasmund National Park, famous for its unique chalk cliffs.
Rugen Island’s star attraction is Jasmund National Park, famous for its unique chalk cliffs.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the Best Things to Do in Germany

Looking for more content on the top things to do in Germany? Here are some popular questions (and answers) I get that will help you plan your trip to Germany:

What is the number 1 tourist spot in Germany?

Germany is home to numerous iconic tourist spots, but the most visited and arguably the number 1 tourist spot is the Neuschwanstein Castle.

Located in Bavaria, near the town of Füssen, Neuschwanstein Castle is a 19th-century Romanesque Revival palace that looks like it’s been taken straight out of a fairy tale. The castle was intended as a personal retreat for Ludwig II of Bavaria, but it was opened to the public shortly after his death in 1886.

Perched on a rugged hill with panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes, the castle is known for its stunning architecture and beautiful interiors, which include a Byzantine throne room and a Singer’s Hall. It inspired Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty Castle, and it’s easy to see why with its romantic design and picturesque setting.

Every year, it attracts over a million visitors, making it one of the most popular tourist destinations in Germany. It’s especially beautiful in winter when the castle and its surroundings are often covered in snow.

However, it’s worth noting that Germany is a country rich in history, culture, and natural beauty, and there are many other destinations that could vie for the top spot, including the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, the Cologne Cathedral, the Romantic Road, and the Black Forest, to name just a few.

When is the best time to visit Germany?

Germany is a year-round destination, but the best time to visit depends on your preferences. If you’re a fan of warm, sunny weather and outdoor activities, consider visiting between May and September. For winter sports enthusiasts, the months from December to February are ideal. Meanwhile, if you want to experience Germany’s famous Christmas markets, plan your visit for late November through December.

Is Germany expensive to visit?

While Germany is not the cheapest European destination, it offers good value for money compared to some other Western European countries. Accommodation, food, and transportation costs can vary widely depending on the region and the level of luxury you seek. Generally, cities like Berlin and Munich tend to be more expensive, while smaller towns and rural areas can be more affordable.

Berlin's breathtaking beauty from above.
Berlin’s breathtaking beauty from above.

Do I need to know German to visit Germany?

While it’s always helpful to know some basic phrases in the local language, it’s not essential for a trip to Germany. English is widely spoken, especially in larger cities and tourist areas. However, learning a few German phrases can enhance your travel experience and is often appreciated by locals.

Is 7 days in Germany enough?

Seven days in Germany can give you a good introduction to the country, but how much you can see and do depends on your interests and travel style. Here’s a basic itinerary for a week in Germany:

Day 1-2: Berlin – Start in the capital city, where you can visit historical sites like the Brandenburg Gate, Checkpoint Charlie, and the Berlin Wall Memorial. Don’t miss the Museum Island and the vibrant neighborhoods like Kreuzberg and Prenzlauer Berg.

Day 3-4: Dresden or Leipzig – Take a train to either of these cities. Both are known for their cultural and historical significance. In Dresden, you can explore beautiful baroque architecture, while Leipzig offers a vibrant arts and music scene.

Day 5-6: Munich – Head south to Bavaria’s capital. Visit the Nymphenburg Palace, the English Garden, and the iconic Hofbräuhaus. If you’re interested in history, a day trip to Dachau Concentration Camp is a sobering but important experience.

Day 7: Neuschwanstein Castle – End your trip with a visit to this fairy-tale castle in the Bavarian Alps. It’s one of the most popular tourist destinations in Germany.

Remember, this is just a basic itinerary and there’s much more to see in Germany,. This includes the Rhine Valley, the Black Forest, the Romantic Road, and cities like Hamburg, Cologne, and Heidelberg. If you’re interested in these places, you might want to consider extending your trip. Also, keep in mind that traveling between cities can take up a significant portion of your day. As such, make sure to account for travel time in your itinerary.

What is the food like in Germany?

German cuisine is hearty and diverse, with regional variations. Some of the must-try dishes include Bratwurst (German sausage), Pretzels, Sauerbraten (pot roast), and Sauerkraut. Germany is also famous for its beer, with a variety of styles and flavors to try, especially in Bavaria.

What is Germany best known for?

Germany is renowned for its rich cultural heritage, with a history that has given rise to majestic castles, Gothic cathedrals, and quaint half-timbered houses. It’s also famous for its precision engineering, manifested in world-class automobiles like BMW and Mercedes-Benz, and its vibrant beer culture, with Oktoberfest being a globally recognized event.

How to spend 10 days in Germany?

A 10-day trip in Germany could start in the vibrant city of Berlin, soaking up its rich history and modern culture. Then, you’ll want to move on to the picturesque Romantic Road, stopping by Rothenburg ob der Tauber and Neuschwanstein Castle. The journey could end in Munich, with a visit to the Nymphenburg Palace, a stroll in the English Garden, and of course, a taste of traditional Bavarian beer in one of the city’s famous beer gardens.

Final Thoughts on Exploring Germany

From the vibrant city life of Berlin and Munich to the enchanting beauty of the Black Forest and the Romantic Road, Germany offers a wealth of experiences for every type of traveler. Whether you’re a history buff, a nature lover, a foodie, or an adventure seeker, you’ll find something to love in this diverse and dynamic country. So pack your bags, brush up on your German (optional), and get ready for a memorable journey through the heart of Europe. Germany awaits!

The top things to do in Germany for all types of travelers
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