Are you planning a trip to Germany? You’re in luck – there are so many fantastic places to visit in Germany! The possibilities are endless, but I’ve put together this Germany bucket list to help you choose the best cities, towns, and regions to add to your Germany itinerary. Whether you’re interested in big cities like Berlin, small towns like Bamberg, or nature areas like the Black Forest, there’s bound to be something just right for you here.
Planning which places to visit in Germany
Remember you can’t see everything in one trip. Smaller places can often be visited in a day, while you should plan at least two or three days for bigger cities.
Nearly everywhere in Germany is connected by train, so it’s easy to get around in Germany without renting a car. It’s worth checking the train schedules to see how long it takes to get from one place to the next.
This will help you decide the order of your itinerary and how many places to include on your Germany bucket list trip without spending too much time in transit.
Take your time and enjoy the sights and the food in Germany. Germany has a lot to offer and many regional differences.
Of course I’m biased, but I think Berlin should be on every Germany bucket list. The capital city has something for everyone and is one of the best places to see in Germany. I recommend spending at least 3 days in Berlin to really get a feel for the city and see a lot of the sights.
Here you can learn about World War II and the country’s dark past. There’s also no better place to learn about the Cold War. Remaining sections of the Berlin Wall are just some of the reminders of the time when the city was split into East and West.
Berlin is also an amazing city for art from traditional galleries to creative street art. The city has loads of great museums, like the German History Museum, the DDR Museum, the Checkpoint Charlie Museum, the Jewish Museum, and so many more. And of course, don’t forget the fantastic museums on Museum Island.
Visit Berlin’s most iconic landmarks, such as the TV Tower, Brandenburg Gate, the Berliner Dom, the Reichstag Building, and the Victoria Column. Explore Charlottenburg Castle, and check out some of the lesser known castles in Berlin.
For a big city, you might be surprised that Berlin has lots of parks and green spaces. Explore the different neighborhoods, have a beer at a Berlin beer garden, see views of Berlin from above, and simply enjoy the quirkiness of the city.
Where to stay in Berlin
Berlin has lots of great neighborhoods for you to stay in and explore. If you’re visiting Berlin for the first time, it might be best for you stay somewhere central. Many of the attractions are in Mitte or easily connected to Mitte by transport, so you should stay somewhere in that region. Here are a few hotels we recommend.
For a more detailed look at the different neighborhoods and our recommendations, check out our guide to where to stay in Berlin.
Read more about Berlin:
- 37 Amazing Berlin Bucket List Sights to Include on Your Trip
- What to Wear & What to Pack for Berlin, Germany: Your Ultimate Berlin Packing List
- 27 Fun Day Trips From Berlin
- 63 Free Things to do in Berlin
- 15 Amazing Places for the Best Views of Berlin From Above
Another one of the best places to visit in Germany is Munich. Most of what you’ve always imagined as typical Germany is actually Bavaria and Munich. Here you’ll find giant pretzels, giant beers, lederhosen, and of course, a wonderful city to explore.
The center of Munich is where you’ll find the old town and most of the sights. See Marienplatz and Munich’s famous neo-gothic City Hall (Rathaus) with its Glockenspiel. You can also climb the tower here for views of the city.
Other great viewpoints in Munich are Frauenkirche, which is Munich’s largest church, and St Peter’s Church, which gives you great views of the Rathaus and Frauenkirche. After climbing those towers, have a beer in Viktuellenmarkt.
Munich is also a great city for World War II history. Learn about this history on a tour or in one of many museums. And take a day trip to Dachau Concentration Camp to understand the horrors of Germany’s past.
Home to Oktoberfest, Munich is a bucket list destination in Germany for beer enthusiasts. But remember that Oktoberfest actually starts in mid September. Book well in advance because hotels sell out months or even a year ahead of time.
If you’re in Munich for more than a couple of days, it’s a great city for day trips to other parts of Bavaria, some of which are mentioned separately in this post. Popular day trips from Munich include Neuschwanstein Castle, Nuremberg, and Bamberg.
Neuschwanstein Castle is the most famous castle in Germany, earning it a place on many Germany bucket lists. It is the creation of the Mad King Ludwig who nearly bankrupted Bavaria building it. This fairy tale castle inspired Disney’s signature castle in Florida.
The only way to see the inside of the castle is by taking a guided tour, and you have to book a specific time with your ticket. Your tour guide will tell you all about the castle’s interesting history, but no photography is allowed.
Looking for that postcard view of the castle? Make your way to the Marienbrücke (St Mary’s Bridge) which is up in the hills above Neuschwanstein.
This isn’t the only castle in the town of Füssen. Another popular one is Hohenschwangau Castle, and you can get a combo ticket to tour both of them.
The Black Forest is a fantastic place to visit in Germany. It’s situated in the southwest corner of Germany, and it’s a nature lover’s dream. This is the home of Hansel and Gretel, along with many other tales from the Brothers Grimm.
If you want to enjoy some hiking, you’ll find plenty of trails in the Black Forest. This is also a great area for skiing if you’re visiting Germany in the winter.
The Black Forest is also well known for coo-coo clocks, and there are lots of places that sell them. However, you’ll have to do a little research to make sure you’re getting something authentic and not mass produced.
This region is also home to some wonderful spa towns, like Baden-Baden, a recently recognized by UNESCO World Heritage site. German spas are generally nude, so be prepared.
Freiburg is a great small city to visit in the Black Forest and use as a base to explore the region.
If you want a good mix of city and nature, Freiburg just might be the perfect destination in Germany. It’s a small city, so it’s easy to explore on foot. There are plenty of restaurants and hotels, so you’ll have the comforts of a city.
Wander through the old town, but watch your step. Most streets have small canals on the sides with water running through them. These are called Bächle and are one of the city’s most famous landmarks. Kids pull boats by strings through them in the summer. Legend has it that if you step into one of them, you will marry a local.
Freiburg has a great market square surrounding the cathedral. Climb the cathedral tower for views of the city from above. For an even higher look, climb Castle Hill where you’ll find a beer garden and sweeping views of Freiburg and the surrounding forest.
You’ll also notice a couple of remaining old city gates in Freiburg. These are called Schwabentor and Martins Tor, and they add to the charm of the city.
For avid hikers, Freiburg is perfect. From here, you can get to the trails and experience this gorgeous forest. But if you’re not so into hiking, you can still enjoy the Black Forest.
Take the cable car up to Schauinsland, one of the tallest mountains in the area, and climb the observation tower. You’ll have spectacular views of the forest, and on a clear day you can supposedly see all the way to Switzerland.
Another option is a day trip to Titisee, an alpine lake with a cute village. You can rent a boat or walk around the lake, and this is a nice place for some Black Forest souvenir shopping.
Schluchsee is a bigger lake not too far from Freiburg where you can boat, hike, or cycle around the lake. If you’re visiting the Black Forest in the winter, Feldberg is great for skiing.
It won’t take long to see why Hamburg is one of the best places to visit in Germany.
Located between the North and Baltic seas, Hamburg was an important trade city for centuries. The city had a vast trade route across the globe and was a major port of departure for immigrants. Its maritime history is still an important part of the city’s identity.
Explore the Speicherstadt district where you can see the canals and warehouses that were once an important part of the shipping and trading. To learn more about the maritime history and culture of Hamburg, visit the Speicherstadt Museum, the International Maritime Museum, and the Rickmer Rickmers ship museum.
Miniatur Wunderland is a fantastic model railway museum with entire cities recreated in miniature with unbelievable detail. You could easily spend a few hours here, it’s that good. Book tickets ahead to avoid the long wait.
Hamburg is Germany’s top cultural city. Check out the Elbphilharmonie, an impressive building, home to Hamburg’s philharmonic. Even if you don’t take in a show, you can still go to the impressive viewing platform for views of the city.
This cultural city is also where the Beatles made it big. Visit some of the clubs where they played, and stop by Beatles Platz, statue honoring the band.
This diverse city features over forty-five theaters and fifty museums, and there is never a shortage of fun things to do in Hamburg. Being a shopper’s paradise, there is no doubt that Hamburg is Germany’s wealthiest city. Enjoy shopping in any of its numerous boutiques, handicraft stores, flea markets and luxury stores.
Another city in northern Germany, Lübeck was an important part of the Hanseatic League. It is home to the European Hansemuseum, which is focused on telling stories of piracy, trade boycotts and the likes via its fascinating exhibitions.
Known as one of the most beautiful and romantic towns in Germany, Lübeck features rich brick Gothic architecture filled with idyllic courtyards and lots of maritime attractions.
Explore the old town and its pedestrian-friendly streets. Check out the old city gates. If you’re coming in from the train station, you’ll see the famous Holstentor Gate. On the north side of the old town, the Burgtor Gate is also impressive.
Lübeck is an interesting city to add to your Germany bucket list. It has a rich history, it’s pretty and charming, and it’s easy to explore in a short amount of time.
Cologne is one of the more popular cities to visit in Germany, and it’s located in the western part of the country not far from the Rhine Valley.
The Cologne Cathedral is undoubtedly the city’s most famous landmark, and this impressive church is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s so tall it’s hard to get a picture of the whole thing. This is a great place for views of Cologne from above.
Beer exists in every corner of Germany, but Cologne has its own specialty, called Kolsch. It is served in small glasses that will just keep coming until you put your coaster on top signalling that you’re done.
Stroll through the old town, learn about the city in one of the many museums, and enjoy the atmosphere at a cafe. Cologne is definitely a must see city in Germany.
If you like wine and castles, the Rhine Valley is the perfect region in Germany for you to explore. Along the Rhine River between Cologne and Frankfurt, there are tons of castles to admire and plenty of delicious wine to taste. Explore both charming small towns and larger cities in this part of Germany.
One of the more popular ways to experience the Rhine Valley is, unsurprisingly, from the river itself. Take a boat tour to see the beautiful landscape and many of the castles in this region. You can also use the trains to get around the area and check out some of the castles that aren’t so close to the river.
Koblenz is a great city to base yourself in for exploring the Rhine Valley. From here you can hop on a boat tour or take day trips to other amazing towns like Trier, the Moselle Valley, and even Cologne and Bonn.
If you want an all around great experience, add the Rhine Valley to your Germany bucket list. You won’t be disappointed.
Bamberg is such a pretty and charming town. The old town is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and the half timbered buildings are very picturesque. Make time to simply wander and enjoy the beauty. It’s no wonder this town is one of the best places to visit in Germany.
The most famous attraction here is the Bamberg Town Hall building. It was built on an artificial island in the middle of the river, and it’s definitely one of the most interesting places to see in Germany.
The city also has a strong beer culture with many local specialties. Be sure to try the smoked beer, or Rauschbier in German. It’s definitely unique!
Check out the Bamberg Cathedral, the New Residenz palace, the Bamberg rose garden, and the waterways commonly referred to as Little Venice. For a small city, Bamberg has a lot to see and do.
Bamberg is worth visiting on its own, but it’s also a good choice for a day trip from Nuremberg or Munich.
There are many sides to Nuremburg, making it the perfect addition to your bucket list of places to see in Germany.
The Nuremberg Castle is impressive and is definitely worth checking out. It sustained quite a lot of damage during WWII, but luckily has been restored. The castle tower is also the best place for views of Nuremberg from above.
Wander through the old town to admire the half-timbered buildings and the variety of shops and cafes. Check out the Hauptmarkt (main square), St Lorenz Church, and the Frauenkirche church. These gorgeous icons are a must in Nuremberg.
Nuremberg is also packed with WWII history. It was an important city for Nazi rallies, and a visit to the Dokumentation will teach you about the city’s dark history. Visit the Nuremberg Palace of Justice, the location where the famous Nuremberg Trials took place when Nazi war criminals were prosecuted.
Don’t forget to eat while you’re here. You’ll find some delicious local specialties, like the famous Nuremberg sausages. Try them in a bun or with a side of sauerkraut.
Visiting at Christmastime? Nuremberg is home to one of the most famous Christmas markets in Germany. Don’t miss it if you’re in the area in December or even late November.
You can visit Nuremberg as a day trip from Munich, but there’s enough to do here for a few days if you have time in your Germany itinerary.
Rothenburg ob der Tauber and Romantic Road
Germany has plenty of fairy tale worthy destinations, and the Romantic Road is certainly one of them. The Romantic Road is a trail that connects several German towns in southern Germany. And even though it is a fairly modern construct, the towns themselves are definitely historical.
In the northern part of the Romantic Road is Würzburg, and Füssen, home to Neuschwanstein Castle, is in the southern end. More than a dozen towns of varying size are scattered in between, and Rothenburg ob der Tauber is the most well known. It’s definitely a picturesque town.
Most people stop in Rothenburg for the view pictured above, but if you can spend a little more time or even stay overnight, you’ll be rewarded. Rothenburg is one of the few remaining walled cities in Germany, and that alone should earn it a place on your Germany bucket list.
This is one of the few regions of Germany where it might be better to rent a car. This will give you the flexibility to visit towns along the Romantic Road at your own pace.
Garmisch Partenkirchen and Zugspitze
Zugspitze is the highest mountain in Germany, and this region of the country is simply stunning. For outdoor enthusiasts, this is definitely one of the most fantastic places to visit in Germany.
Luckily you don’t have to be a climber to reach the top of the mountain. A combination of trains and cable cars takes you to the top of Zugspitze where you can enjoy unmatched views.
There are so many things to do in Garmisch Partenkirchen, which makes it a great base to explore the southern part of Bavaria and the German Alps.
From this town you can go hiking, explore a gorge, visit the Linderhof Palace, see the Olympic village from 1936, and enjoy the quaint old town. At about an hour from Munich, Garmisch Partenkirchen and Zugspitze are easy to include on a trip through Bavaria and southern Germany.
Bremen was another important city in the Hanseatic League and is located in northern Germany. It’s a beautiful city and a wonderful place to see in Germany, especially if you want to visit a city not as many tourists go to.
Take a stroll through the old town admiring the Market Square, Roland statue, St. Peter’s Cathedral, and the Rathaus (town hall). Both the Roland statue and the Rathaus are UNESCO World Heritage sites.
You’ll also find many shops, restaurants, and museums in the old town. This is a great area to soak up the culture and learn about the city’s history.
Another part of Bremen to explore is the old town Schnoor Quarter. In this district you’ll see lots of cute buildings and quaint cobbled streets.
This charming city is a great choice to include on your Germany itinerary, and you’ll find that there are lots of great things to do in Bremen.
Heidelberg is a little north of the Black Forest, and it’s one of the prettiest small cities in Germany. It’s well known for the castle that sits on a hill above the city. Though it’s mostly in ruins, it’s still quite impressive.
In the old town, check out the market square and the cathedral, called Church of the Holy Spirit. Keep wandering towards the river, and you’ll see an impressive bridge with distinctive towers. For a different perspective, take a boat tour on the river to learn about Heidelberg.
Though the view from Heidelberg Castle is fantastic, you can get even higher up the mountains. Take the funicular up the mountain, past the castle, to the end station. This is called Königsstuhl, or the King’s Throne.
Heidelberg is included on most tours of Germany for good reasons. This is surely one for your Germany bucket list.
Dresden is one of the prettiest cities in Germany and deserves a place on your bucket list. It’s located in southeast Germany on the Elbe River, which makes for an impressive skyline.
Wander through the Old Town to admire the stunning architecture. Don’t skip Brühl’s Terrace, a long terrace along the river where the old city ramparts were. Today this is a wonderful place for a stroll with views of the river and impressive buildings.
Be sure to check out Frauenkirche, an important church that was badly damaged during World War II. Its restoration was one of the most impressive rebuilding projects in the world and used nearly 4,000 of the original stones. This alone makes it one of the most interesting places in Germany to visit.
Another place you should see is the Zwinger Palace, an impressive 18th century Baroque palace. Inside is an extensive art museum, and the grounds surrounding the palace feature gardens, fountains, and statues.
Dresden is also home to the oldest Christmas market in the world. If you’re planning a Germany Christmas market itinerary, Dresden should be on your list.
With many more museums, palaces, and fun activities, you could easily spend several days in Dresden. It’s a great city to include on a one week Germany itinerary in eastern Germany.
Saxon Switzerland National Park
Germany has 16 national parks, and Saxon Switzerland National Park, located in the southeast part of the country, is one of them. If you love nature, this region is for you.
The park covers an area of 274 square miles with hiking trails for all experience levels. Or you can rent a bike and explore from two wheels instead of on foot.
Bad Schandau is on of the easiest towns to base yourself in and use as a gateway to the park. From here you can take the Kirnitzschtalbahn (Kirnitzschtal Tramway) up into the forest to explore. I recommend getting out at the Kirnitzschtal Beuthenfall stop and hiking south along the trail near the stop until you get to the gorgeous Bloßstock rocks.
If you’re an avid hiker, check out Basteibrücke, one of the most beautiful natural bridges in Germany. It’s a tough hike to get there, but worth the effort.
I think you’ll agree that this is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Germany, especially if you love the outdoors.
Known for its rich cultural heritage, Leipzig is another must see German city you could easily spend several days exploring.
Start with a visit to the main square, Leipziger Markt. Here you’ll find the farmer’s market and the Old City Hall, one of Germany’s most beautiful Renaissance buildings. Continue wandering through Leipzig’s quaint old town and admire its well-preserved passages.
Visit Nikolaikirche, another church where Bach served as a choirmaster. Nikolaikirche was also an important part of the nonviolent protests that eventually helped bring an end to the East German communist rule.
It’s also worth stopping by St Thomas Church. This is where Martin Luther was a preacher, and where Bach was a choirmaster two centuries later.
Pay a visit to Volkerschlachtdenkmal, the Battle of the Nations Monument, which is the largest war memorial in Europe. It was built to honor the 100th Anniversary of Napoleon’s defeat at the Battle of the Nations in Leipzig in 1813.
Located right on the border of Berlin, Potsdam is filled with gorgeous palaces and royal parks that you can explore. Usually people visit Potsdam as a day trip from Berlin.
If you visit Potsdam, you should see the magnificent Sanssouci Palace, which was the summer home of Frederick the Great. This is the most famous palace in Potsdam.
But that’s not the only palace worth seeing. Visit the Neues Palais, which is a large Baroque palace built by Frederick the Great at the end of the seven-year war with France. Other worthwhile palaces include the Orangery Palace, Charlottenhof Palace, Cecilienhof Palace, Marmorpalais, and Babelsberg Palace.
Be sure to explore the town itself because Potsdam is more than its gorgeous palaces and gardens. Take a walk through the Dutch Quarters and check out the antique shops, galleries, cafes and ateliers that line its cobbled streets. Behind the quarters is the Jan-Bouma-Haus where there is a museum you can explore. You’ll also see several old city gates.
Potsdam is one of the most popular day trips from Berlin, so you should definitely include it on your Germany bucket list.
Book a tour for your trip to Berlin
Berlin Travel Resources
I want you to have the best trip, and hopefully this Germany bucket list helps inspire you to plan a trip to Germany. But there are lots more tips on the site!
Here’s what you should know before coming to Berlin. From practical tips to quirky facts about the city, it’s all in there.
Read this helpful packing list for Berlin so you know what to bring and what to wear.
You’re probably going to be using public transport to get around Berlin. Read this handy guide to Berlin’s public transport system and how to get around Berlin.
Visiting Berlin? Don’t forget travel insurance!
It’s always a good idea to travel to Berlin with a valid travel insurance policy. Travel here is reasonably safe, but you never know when something could happen. You need to be covered in case you have an accident or become a victim to theft.
We recommend World Nomads insurance for travel. Travel insurance helps you recover your expenses and continue to enjoy your trip.