Best Places to Visit in Germany

Full of culture, lively locals and some great beer, Germany is home to many captivating travel destinations. Whether you're looking to soak up art, culture and history or party at Oktoberfest, this country appeals to a variety of tourists. U.S. News weighed factors like sights, food, culture, accessibility and value, in addition to expert and traveler opinions, to create the best places to visit in Germany. Vote for the destinations you love below to help shape next year's ranking. (Note: Some of the below destinations may be affected by the coronavirus outbreak. Check with the CDC and the U.S. Department of State before traveling.)

SUMMARY

Best Places to Visit in Germany

  • Berlin
  • Munich
  • Hamburg
  • Nuremberg
  • Neuschwanstein
  • Black Forest
  • Mainz
  • Frankfurt
  • Leipzig
  • Heidelberg
  • Bonn
  • Saxon Switzerland National Park
  • Lübeck
  • Hannover
  • Stuttgart
  • Dresden
  • Trier
  • Potsdam
  • Bamberg
  • Berchtesgaden
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    Berlin

    #1 in Best Places to Visit in Germany

    Germany's capital city is akin to Paris and London in that you just can't visit the country without going here. Like many large cities, Berlin truly offers something for everyone, from a lively nightlife scene to beautiful green spaces. What's more, Berlin pays homage to its more ominous past with powerful and humbling attractions. Must-visit historical sights include the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, the Berlin Wall Memorial, the East Side Gallery and Checkpoint Charlie.

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    Munich

    #2 in Best Places to Visit in Germany

    Visitors flock to Munich every fall to take part in Oktoberfest, a two-week-long festival featuring Germany's best beers and bratwurst. But Munich offers so much more than just this festival. The city is home to beautiful gardens, exquisite churches and engaging museums worth exploring. Wander around Munich's charming neighborhoods and spend some time in Marienplatz, a central square that's filled with shops and hosts a popular Christmas market.

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    Hamburg

    #3 in Best Places to Visit in Germany

    Hamburg is home to Germany's largest cruise port, the Elbe river and hundreds of canals that flow through the city center, making it an excellent place to explore by boat. However, Hamburg is also worth checking out on foot – many of its top attractions are clustered in the heart of the city, including the Alter Elbtunnel and Platen un Blomen park. Plus, Hamburg is a haven for music lovers thanks to its impressive Elbphilharmonie complex, which features two concert halls and a plaza with sweeping city views.

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    Nuremberg

    #4 in Best Places to Visit in Germany

    While the thought of visiting Germany during winter might initially induce panic, travelers should seriously consider braving the conditions to experience the city during Christmas. The reason for this is Nuremberg's grand Christkindlesmarkt, which is both Germany's largest Christmas market and one the country's most-visited sights. Plus, many of Nuremberg's top attractions are protected from the elements, so visitors can stay warm while perusing the city's museums, churches, World War II sites and medieval Imperial Castle.

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    Neuschwanstein

    #5 in Best Places to Visit in Germany

    Though Neuschwanstein Castle was never meant for visitors, it has become one of Germany's most popular attractions. King Ludwig II commissioned the castle as a place of refuge from public life. Today, more than 1 million people stroll through the property every year. The castle's Romanesque Revival-style is certainly romantic, but what elevates this castle to bucket list status is its unbelievable setting in the middle of the Bavarian Alps. From the castle, travelers can get an eyeful of the surrounding mountains, Alpine lakes and striking foliage (especially during fall).

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    Black Forest

    #6 in Best Places to Visit in Germany

    One of the best places to see Germany's natural splendor is the Black Forest. This section of Baden-Württemberg encompasses 99 miles of awe-inspiring landscapes, including rolling hills, stunning lakes, enchanting waterfall-filled forests and lengthy valleys dotted with charming villages. A great introduction to the Black Forest is driving along its scenic namesake highway (Schwarzwaldhochstrasse). You'll also want to save time for visiting gorgeous natural wonders like the Triberg Waterfalls, Lake Titisee and the Feldberg, the Black Forest's highest peak.

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    Mainz

    #7 in Best Places to Visit in Germany

    All wine lovers should make sure to visit Mainz when traveling to Germany. That's because Mainz is the country's wine capital. The city and the surrounding Rheinhessen area (Germany's largest wine-producing region) align themselves with other European wine hot spots – including Porto and Bordeaux – so there's no doubt that you'll find fantastic glasses of wine here. Plan on visiting Mainz's old town, where you'll find wine taverns that serve locally made varieties of riesling and silvaner. Then, take a long stroll through charming squares like the Markt and the Kirschgarten to admire their beautiful architecture.

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    Frankfurt

    #8 in Best Places to Visit in Germany

    Frankfurt is best known as the financial capital of the eurozone thanks to it housing the European Central Bank, but don't assume the city is nothing more than a concrete jungle. Frankfurt doubles as a tourist-friendly destination with all kinds of attractions. Here, you'll find the Frankfurt Museum Embankment, a riverside perimeter that comprises more than a dozen museums, including the popular Städel Museum. Other noteworthy sights include the city's colorful old town, the Main Tower observation deck and the Palmengarten, a beautiful botanical garden.

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    Leipzig

    #9 in Best Places to Visit in Germany

    Leipzig offers an array of attractions and activities (think: various museums, an impressive zoo and top-notch nightlife venues) to satisfy both residents and visitors. Prioritize visits to the Monument to the Battle of the Nations, which celebrates Napoleon Bonaparte's defeat and retreat from the city, and the Museum of Fine Arts, where you can admire thousands of centuries-old paintings. If you're a music lover, also save time for exploring the Leipzig Music Trail and seeing St. Thomas Church, which houses Johann Sebastian Bach's remains.

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    Heidelberg

    #10 in Best Places to Visit in Germany

    This city in southwestern Germany is well known for housing the country's oldest university. However, its good looks and superb location along the Neckar River also make it a great destination to enjoy historical character and a small-town ambiance. To see as much of this beautiful city as possible, take a long stroll through Heidelberg's old town and across its Old Bridge. Then, check out the Philosopher's Walk and ride the Königstuhl Funicular Railway. Additional can't-miss sights to add to your vacation itinerary include Heidelberg Palace, Heidelberg Zoo and the Students' Prison at Heidelberg University.

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    Bonn

    #11 in Best Places to Visit in Germany

    Classical music lovers will likely love visiting Bonn. Once the capital of Germany, Bonn attracts audiophiles interested in seeing Ludwig van Beethoven's birthplace. At the Beethoven-Haus, visitors can check out Beethoven's childhood home and the world's largest collection of Beethoven artifacts. Beyond Bonn's Beethoven-related sights, travelers will find Schloss Drachenburg (a fairy-tale structure that sits high above the city) and the Kunstmuseum Bonn (a contemporary art museum).

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    Saxon Switzerland National Park

    #12 in Best Places to Visit in Germany

    Saxon Switzerland National Park stands out for its collection of unique rock formations. You'll find the rocks, which come in various shapes and sizes, scattered throughout the park. Saxon Switzerland's most popular attraction is undoubtedly the Bastei Bridge, which is surrounded by stately formations and provides incredible views of the area. Other fascinating spots worth visiting include Painter's Way, the Elbe Cycle Route and Felsenbühne Rathen, an outdoor theater built into the park's rocks.

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    Lübeck

    #13 in Best Places to Visit in Germany

    Upon first glance, Lübeck might look like any other mid-size German city. However, this northern destination holds a lot of historical significance, so much so that UNESCO designated it a World Heritage Site in 1987. Between the 12th and 16th centuries, Lübeck was considered one of Europe's most important trading ports. The city still remains a hub for maritime commerce thanks to its location on the Baltic Sea. When travelers are not learning more about Lübeck's maritime roots at the European Hansemuseum, they can check out the city's charming old town or explore its many waterways during a boat tour.

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    Hannover

    #14 in Best Places to Visit in Germany

    If you're planning a spring trip to Germany, be sure to include a stop in Hannover. Located in northern Germany, Hannover is awash with parks and gardens so beautiful and peaceful that you're guaranteed to have a relaxing vacation. Start your visit strolling through gardens commissioned by royalty, including the perfectly manicured Herrenhausen Gardens, 124-acre Georgengarten and exotic Berggarten, which features a highly regarded orchid collection. Then, rent a boat and explore the Maschsee Lake, or spend a few hours walking around Hannover Adventure Zoo.

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    Stuttgart

    #15 in Best Places to Visit in Germany

    Stuttgart offers a diverse mix of attractions that helps it appeal to travelers with varying interests. Culture hounds will love the city's countless museums (including the Porsche Museum and the Mercedes-Benz Museum) and architectural sights (think: the Killesberg Tower), while nature lovers will appreciate its beautiful parks (like the Wilhelma, a zoological-botanical garden). There's also a thriving nightlife scene for those who like to party. What's more, Stuttgart boasts proximity to the country's largest wine-producing region, so oenophiles can easily take a daytrip to a few wineries.

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    Dresden

    #16 in Best Places to Visit in Germany

    Dresden is made for architecture enthusiasts. The city, which is located in eastern Germany close to the Czech border, features a remarkable amount of facades and edifices adorned with incredible architectural details. Though you'll have your pick of stunning structures, make sure you visit the Dresden Zwinger (a Baroque palace) and Schloesserland Sachsen (a Renaissance palace where the Fürstenzug, the world's largest porcelain mural, resides). If you prefer modern architecture, head to Kunsthofpassage to gaze at its quirky buildings, one of which has singing drainpipes.

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    Trier

    #17 in Best Places to Visit in Germany

    Situated about 10 miles east of Germany's border with Luxembourg, Trier draws history buffs in droves. The city, which is the oldest in Germany, was founded by Romans in 15 B.C. and is filled with ruins from that era. Can't-miss Roman relics include St. Peter's Cathedral, Porta Nigra, the Basilica of Constantine and the Imperial Baths. When you need a break from learning about Trier's ties to the Roman Empire, explore old town's colorful market square, visit Karl Marx's birthplace or take a scenic boat tour along the Moselle river.

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    Potsdam

    #18 in Best Places to Visit in Germany

    Travelers who are visiting Berlin should consider taking a daytrip to Potsdam. Located less than 22 miles southwest of bustling Berlin, Potsdam offers a quieter, more serene atmosphere complete with parks and beautiful historical landmarks. The city's most popular attraction, Sanssouci Palace, is so breathtaking that it is often compared to Versailles, so plan on spending a couple hours there taking in its splendor. You'll also want to save time for visiting Cecilienhof Palace – where the historic Potsdam Conference took place – and strolling through the charming Dutch Quarter.

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    Bamberg

    #19 in Best Places to Visit in Germany

    Head to this small medieval city in northern Bavaria to feel as if you've stepped back in time. Bamberg is famous for housing notable Enlightenment-era writers and philosophers like Ernst Theodore Amadeus Hoffmann and Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. Plus, Bamberg boasts a gorgeous location along the Regnitz river and a collection of exquisite architecture, including the Bamberg Cathedral and the Old Town Hall. But no visit would be complete without seeing the dreamy rose garden at the New Residence palace.

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    Berchtesgaden

    #20 in Best Places to Visit in Germany

    For a memorable vacation in the Bavarian Alps, visit Berchtesgaden . The town, which is next to Germany's border with Austria, captivates visitors with its massive peaks, cascading forests, deep valleys and Alpine lake and river. Start your journey driving the scenic Rossfeld Panoramastrasse before traveling south to awe-inspiring Lake Königssee and the Eagle's Nest, a mountaintop beer garden once owned by Adolf Hitler. If you enjoy skiing, arrive in winter when Jenner Mountain is blanketed with snow. 

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