When people think of Germany; Oktoberfest, beer and sausages often come to mind, but Germany has so much more to offer. It is a country where you can find spectacular mountain ranges, rugged coastlines, large pine tree forests and widen open fields. The landscape in Germany is as varied as the local cuisine, history and culture. But fear not, travel bloggers from Germany and around the world have come together to create the ultimate German bucket list to inspire you and help you plan your next trip to Germany.
The Speicherstadt, Hamburg by Maria from GlobalMary
The Speicherstadt in Hamburg is the largest warehouse district in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage site. The area belongs to the famous port of Hamburg and represents a Hanseatic culture of merchant guilds of the times. Today the Speicherstadt is not used for storing things anymore — it is an amazing tourist attraction. It is full of museums, cafes and local shops. And when the day comes to an end, the lights turn on in the Speicherstadt for the spectacular view.
I highly recommend visiting a Caféhaus – Speicherstadt Kaffeerösterei for a brunch or a cup of aromatic, tasty coffee.
Photo credit: Davide Ragusa
Friedrichstadt by Sarah of the Wanderlanders
When traveling to Germany a lot of people tend to skip the northwestern corner of the country. Yes, there are tons of beautiful places in the south, but the north has it’s gems too. There is one little town in northern Germany that I guarantee will win you over, Friedrichstadt. It was founded by Dutch settlers in the 1600’s, and the town still has a lot of that Dutch charm. I suggest spending half a day there and combining it with checking out some of the beaches on the North Sea. It is a great town to walk through, take pictures, sit outside at a cafe, and take a boat tour. If you want a place filled with charm, but not filled with tourists, Friedrichstadt is the perfect place to go!
The North Sea (Nordsee) by Meredith from Kaffee und Kuchen
The North Sea (Nordsee in German) is a much-loved vacation spot among Europeans and it’s not hard to see why. Nestled between Great Britain, Scandinavia, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, and France, the North Sea boasts several small islands, many of which belong to Germany. Located in the Wadden Sea (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), Germany’s North Sea islands have long sandy beaches, big white-capped waves, and gorgeous natural scenery. The islands are also known for their curative climatic conditions; holidayers flock to the North Sea to relax, restore, and breathe in the healthy sea air. It’s the perfect place for a summer getaway!
Sylt by Edwina from Traveling German
Sylt is arguably Germany’s most beautiful island. It’s famous for its 40 kilometer long sand beach and its beautiful thatched houses, some of which have been turned into little boutique hotels.
A popular activity amongst Germans here is mudflat hiking in the Wadden Sea at low tide. Afterwards, sit in one of the traditional “Strandkorb” beach chairs to watch the sunset and relax. Or have an afternoon tea in one of the island’s teahouses and look out for German celebrities – Sylt is a fashionable destination amongst Germany’s celebrity community!
Bremen by Ruben from Gamintraveler
Bremen is located in Northern Germany. It is a great place – you can walk around the city center where you will see the Town Hall and St Peter´s Cathedral. Why is Bremen so famous? It’s because of the Bremen Town Musicians. You will see sculptures of them everywhere in the touristic areas of the city. Apart from walking around downtown, you should visit the parks to mingle with the locals. I recommend my favorite one, the Bürguer Park. After going around the city during the day time, you can enjoy German sausages and drink a cold local beer.
Hiddensee by Maria from Global Brunch
The small Baltic Sea island of Hiddensee is one of Germany’s true insider tips and not very well-known amongst tourists. Every summer hundreds of Germans escape their busy everyday lives to relax and re-charge on this car-free island surrounded by natural beauty. Climb up the old lighthouse, cycle from one small village to another or spend your days sunbathing on the beach. There is however one thing you should know about Hiddensee before you visit. The majority (not all) of beaches on the island are nudist beaches (FKK) – clothing optional.
Fischland-Darß-Zingst Peninsula by Maria from Global Brunch
When you think of Germany, you might not necessarily think beaches and sunbathing, but if that’s what you’re looking for, visit the Fischland-Darß-Zingst Peninsula. The area has countless beautiful beaches from wild natural coastline to well-maintained beaches featuring the famous German beach basket (Strandkorb), which you can rent. This peninsula has everything you need for a perfect holiday: cultural events, outdoor activities, picture-perfect sunsets and delicious, fresh fish. You can even bring your dog along, as they have public dog beaches where your furry friend can play in the sand.
Spreewald by Susanna Kelly of Wandering Chocobo
Spreewald is a UNESCO protected biosphere preserve with breath-taking nature and adorable water locked villages. Rent kayaks at one of the few places along the river, not far from the Lübbenau train station, and enjoy a day of adventure. Stop for lunch at a beer garden accessible only by boat! When you’re done, walk through the town of Lübbenau, which is known for making the best gherkins, possibly in the world! Spreewald and Lübbenau are just a 100km train ride from Berlin and you can easily make this adventure a day trip from the city.
Dresden by Margherita Ragg from The Crowded Planet
I’ve been lucky to visit several German cities, and I do indeed love Berlin, but if I were to choose my favourite place in the country, I’d say Dresden. The city was a wonderful surprise – when we visited for the first time, I really didn’t know what to expect. I only knew about the wartime firebombing that reduced the whole city to rubble, and I was amazed by how well the Altstadt had been rebuilt. However, my favourite place was Neustadt, an area full of bars, cafes, parks and street art. Dresden in summer is especially amazing, and it’s the perfect time to take a day trip to wonderful Saxon Switzerland, just outside the city.
Bastei Bridge by Corinne Vail from Reflections Enroute
If you love unusual landscapes and getting out into nature, the Sächsischen Schweiz with its stunning Bastei bridge is for you. Only about 20 kilometers from the beautiful city of Dresden, awe-inspiring stone pillars surround you as you do any number of hikes in the park. Carved out from the unimposing Elbe River, you will be amazed at the breath-taking landscapes. If you are in Germany, especially touring city after city, do yourself a favor and get outside and hike the Bastei Bridge! You’ll love it.
Ega Park, Erfurt by Lisa from Travel Ist Me
My number one place in Thüringen, Germany is the „Ega Park“. You can find it in Thüringens` capital Erfurt. With a size of 36 hectare you can easily fill a day’s programm. It is a giant garden with a tropical butterfly house, a water park for children, a labyrinth, a little zoo where you can pet farm animals and much more. Walk through different climate zones, museums and an observatory. The botanical gardens are very well visited. It is the best choice to spend a sunny day outside alone or with friends and family. Super relaxing and pretty to look at.
Görlitz by Maria from Global Brunch
Görlitz is without a doubt one of my favourite places in Germany. The city has so much historic charm and beautiful architecture that it’s hard not to fall for it. I recommend wandering the alleys in the city center to really appreciate the old buildings, which as a matter of fact have been almost unharmed by the war. Enjoy some regional cuisine in one of the cosy restaurants in the old town or wander across the bridge and grab some delicious Piroggi in its Polish sister town Zgorgelec.
If you’re visiting in the summer wander down to the Obermühle, a quaint restaurant right by the river Neiße. Enjoy a beer in Germany’s easternmost brewery, while taking in the lush greenery on the Polish side of the river. With a little luck, you might even be able to spot some glow worms in this area.
Dutch Quarter, Potsdam by Maria from Global Brunch
The Dutch Quarter in Potsdam is a small piece of The Netherlands in the heart of Brandenburg. The houses in this neighbourhood were built for Dutch craftsmen hired by King Frederick Wilhelm I. The Dutch architecture was meant to make the craftsmen feel at home in Potsdam. It’s the largest collection of Dutch style buildings outside of the Netherlands. My favourite things about the Dutch quarter are the cute cafes and shops. Every corner is inviting you in to soak up the atmosphere and indulge on sweet treats.
Garden Kingdom, Dessau-Wörlitz by Chris from Amateur Traveler
A highlight from the age of enlightenment in Germany is this series of large gardens near the city of Wörlitz. The entire area of the gardens is 142 km2 (55 sq mi) so this is a place where you can wander for days. The gardens include manor houses, palaces, and even a model of a volcano. These gardens are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Kloster (Abbey), Neuzelle by Maria from Global Brunch
The Neuzelle Abbey is a Cistercian monastery in Lower Lusatia (county Brandenburg), which is not only a stunning Baroque built, but it also has beautiful gardens that invite visitors for a stroll. The Abbey is home to the oldest & largest family-owned brewery in Eastern Germany. Whether you decide to go for a brewery tour & tasting of their famous black beer (tours only available in German, but you can contact the brewery for more infos), attend a concert or simply admire the Abbey, Neuzelle Kloster is well worth a visit.
Brandenburg Havel by Maria Berz from Global Brunch
Brandenburg Havel, a town close to Berlin and in the heart of the state Brandenburg. One of the reasons the town is well worth a visit is the abundance of water! The town is surrounded by water which makes it a popular destination for water-based activities and it makes for some stunning views. Take a river cruise, hire a boat or find a seat at a Cafe by the river for an iced coffee with a view. This is one of my favourite spots to watch the boats go by and relax on a sunny day.
Bad Saarow by Maria from Global Brunch
Bad Saarow is one of my favourite places in Brandenburg. It is located on the shore of one of the largest and most beautiful lakes in the county and is the perfect place for a weekend getaway. The outdoor activities on offer in the area range from cycling and climbing over sailing to boats tours and after a fun filled day you can relax in the local thermal bath (Saarow Therme), followed by a delicious meal in one of the town’s top notch restaurants.
Schlaubetal Maria from Global Brunch
The Schlaubetal (Schlaube valley) region is located in East Brandenburg. It’s a popular destination for nature enthusiasts, hikers and cyclists from all over Germany. There might not be any mountains to climb (it’s pretty much as flat as it gets), but the Schlaubetal has plenty of clean, beautiful lakes, large forests and a well-maintained network of cycling and hiking paths to charm you. Best time to visit: Summer (to enjoy the lakes) or Autumn (for mushroom picking and fall foliage).
Berlin in Winter by Inma Gregorio A World to Travel
If there’s something I love about Central and Northern Europe is how seasons matter. And being a Winter lover it only makes sense to visit my favorite German city, Berlin, during the coldest months. Bonus points if a snow storm takes over as it happened in one of my last visits. Wandering around Brandenburg Tor, the Reichstag and the Jewish memorial, exploring some of its train stations, having a glass of mulled wine at one of the weekly outdoor markets or enjoying the alternative scene in Revaler Strasse are some of my favorite things to do. Discover why you too should visit Berlin in Winter here.
Burgermeister, Berlin by Kelly Mongan A Pair of Passports
You can’t visit Berlin without eating at Burgermeister at least once! The tiny burger shack, located in the middle of the road, is always absolutely packed…and always delicious. Waiting in the queue is half the fun because you feel so accomplished when you finally get up there to order. The burgers themselves are incredible – so greasy and juicy and (slightly) addictive. Take your meal to go or pounce on one of the few outside seats as soon as they become available. Just remember to order cheese fries, too!
Museumsinsel, Berlin by Allison Green Eternal Rrival
Museumsinsel in Berlin is home to many of the best museums in the city and is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. One of my favorite museums there is the Pergamon Museum, which reconstructed and now houses incredible ancient structures like the Ishtar Gate of Babylon which is over 2,500 years old!
The Holocaust Memorial, Berlin by Allison Green Eternal Rrival
The Holocaust Memorial in Berlin is a deeply affecting, but important, place to visit when in Berlin. Almost like a giant abstract cemetery, the site is composed of over 2,000 concrete blocks. Overall, the memorial gives one the feeling of confusion, disorientation, and impersonality. It does a remarkably good job with the immense task of honoring the lost lives of millions of Jews in the Holocaust.
East Side Gallery, Berlin by Maria Berz from Global Brunch
The East Side Gallery in Berlin is the longest still existing part of the Berlin Wall and was painted by 118 artists from 21 countries in spring 1990. Nowadays you can only see the replicated versions of the original paintings, but they still carry the same strong political message!
What once meant seclusion, limitation and control now stands for creativity and personal freedom. I was born in the East of Germany and without the fall of the Berlin Wall I could not pursue my passion for travel the way I do now.
Go on a river cruise in Berlin by Maria Berz from Global Brunch
The best way to see Berlin during the summer is on a river boat tour! You get to see some the city’s most iconic sights & landmarks while enjoying the sunshine and a light breeze.
The river cruises start from various points in the center and across Berlin (Friedrichstraße Station, Jannowitzbrücke or Schloss Charlottenburg) and can last anywhere between 1 – 4 hours, depending on the service provider. Be aware that most tours do no operate during the winter months.
Carnival of Cultures, Berlin by Maria Berz from Global Brunch
The Carnival of Cultures is a four day event that takes place in Kreuzberg every year around the Pentecost weekend in Berlin. It celebrates the diversity in the city with live music, mouth-watering food from around the world and of course the highlight: the street parade, where artists, dancers and musicians perform. The event is outdoors, free and it invites visitors from around the world to join the celebration of Germany’s multi-cultural capital.
The TV Tower, Berlin by Maria Berz from Global Brunch
The TV tower in Berlin is not only a symbol of the city, but the tallest structure in Germany AND the second tallest structure in the European Union. There is a visitor platform and a restaurant at the top.
Markthalle Neun, Berlin by Maria Berz from Global Brunch
The Markthalle Neun is a historic indoor market hall located in the heart of Berlin’s hip Kreuzberg district and an absolute must-visit for all travelling foodies. Every Thursday street food vendors showcase some of the tastiest bites from around the world between 5pm – 10pm, but make sure to get there early as it can get quite busy.
Get high on the German Alps, 3 Times! by Susanna Kelly of Wandering Chocobo
Grab a train from Munich and head to the mountains for a day of hiking! The hiking can be pretty intense out here, so it’s recommended for those in decent shape, but the views and sense of accomplishment are worth it. Look down upon the valleys filled with adorable red roved villages and farms as you reward yourself with a cool beer at one of the huts along the way. For an easy hike, head to Tegernsee and for a hard hike head to the trails around Garmish. Most offer tram rides up or down for those who are unable to hike.
Klettersteig by Susanna Kelly of Wandering Chocobo
If hiking isn’t intense enough for your, amp it up with Klettersteig in the Alps. Klettersteig is a popular German sport that is a hybrid between hiking and actual rock climbing. Metal rungs are drilled into sheer mountain faces. You work your way up the mountain, step by step, clipping and unclipping yourself to the rungs. You’ll need to stop by one of the sports outfitters in Munich, like Schuster to rent the gear, if you don’t have your own. If you’ve never mountain climbed before it is recommended you find a guide or a company to help you. Check out the routes near Königsee.
Garmisch-Partenkirchen by Susanna Kelly of Wandering Chocobo
If you’re a snow bunny, hit the slopes of Garmisch-Partenkirchen in the winter! Germany offers amazing terrain with some breath taking views, that won’t break the bank like some resorts in France or Switzerland. This leaves room in your budget to spend the night in a cozy Alpine lodge. Before you call it a night don’t miss the the local Après-Ski where you’ll have a blast dancing to classic schlager-pop music and drinking jaeger until you can dance no more.
Drive the Scenic Romantische Straße by Susanna Kelly of Wandering Chocobo
This scenic highway cruises through some of the most beautiful parts of Germany. The road runs from Würzburg to Füssen and highlights the best of Germany, taking you through the wine regions, rolling farms, castle filled hills, UNESCO sights, renaissance towns, medieval villages and the mighty Alps. Road trips are some of the best ways to experience a new place and this one does not disappoint. Budget 2-3 days at least for this trip and extend it to visit the Rhine region if you have time!
Rothenburg ob der Tauber by Tami Wilcox from Postcards and Passports
Rothenburg ob der Tauber is magical! You will swear you have gone back in time. It’s on the Romantic Road in Bavaria, and it’s the most well-preserved medieval town in Germany. Take the Nightwatchman’s Tour and explore the town walls and ramparts. Discover schneeballen (the local pastry), and visit the Käthe Wohlfahrt Christmas store. Walk the cobblestone streets and be inspired by the flying buttresses on St. Jakob’s church. Don’t miss Rothenburg!
Eibsee in Garmisch-Partenkirchen by Lisa anywhere’s perfect
Crystal clear blue water is something, people expect to find in the Caribbean but not really in Germany. This lake proves them wrong though.
Eibsee is located close to the Bavarian town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen right at the bottom of the tallest German mountain Zugspitze and can be either reached by car (there’s a pretty big car park right at the lake) or by a bus from the city centre.
So no matter if you are looking for a light walk on a Sunday afternoon or a dip into cool water on a sunny day, Eibsee is the place to go!
Spinatknödl at Rotwandhaus by Lisa anywhere’s perfect
Yes, food! Spinatknödl are not really typical German but more from the region of South Tyrol but up at Rotwandhaus, which is located close to Taubenstein at the lake Schliersee in Bavaria, I think I’ve had the best ones yet. Basically, there are dumplings made out of bread and spinach, served with parmesan and butter. See for yourself!
And the best part about it is, that the way there is very beautiful as well. You can either take a gondola up to Taubenstein and then walk for about 1.5 hours with the most breathtaking views, or you walk all the way from the lake up, which will probably take you about 3 hours. Either way, you have a great view over the beautiful mountains and forests around there.
Berchtesgadener Land By Meredith Kaffee und Kuchen
A little gem tucked away in the southeastern corner of Germany, Berchtesgadener Land is absolutely breathtaking. This alpine region is a popular location for skiing and sledding in the winter and hiking and camping in the summer. Nature lovers will delight in seeing emerald green Lake Königsee and Lake Hintersee, while spa enthusiasts can soak in the thermal baths in the spa town Bad Reichenhall. Since it’s located only a few kilometers away from the Austrian border, you can easily fit in a day trip to beautiful Salzburg (Mozart’s hometown) while you’re in the area.
Lindau by Nadine Maffre from Le Long Weekend
On the eastern shores of Lake Constance lies the fairy tale village of Lindau. Connected to the mainland by two bridges, Lindau is a compact Island chock-full of historical buildings and attractions. A stone’s throw from Austria and Switzerland, look beyond the Barvarian lion and lighthouse at the gate of the harbour to spot the snow-capped peaks of the Swiss Alps. Take a guided tour to really enjoy this ancient island to its fullest, or simply stroll the colourful streets and discover its charms for yourself. Shop for locally made crafts and jewellery in the surprisingly affordable boutiques and be sure not to miss the bustling weekly market.
Get Drunk and Andechs by Susanna Kelly of Wandering Chocobo
These German monks were not messing around when they created their special brew of Stark Bier. Andechs is a monastery set in the hills of Munich that is easily accessible by the S-Bahn. Enjoy a small easy hike to access the monastery. Order up some pork knuckle and a liter of the beer if you dare. Don’t worry, there is a bus that will pick you up from the monastery if you can’t make the hike back. This is also a great place to come to during Oktoberfest. It offers a different scene and crowd if you want a break from the large beer halls.
Tollwood in Munich by Lisa anywhere’s perfect
Tollwood is a culture festival in Munich, which takes place twice a year, once in the summer (around the end of June until end of July) and once in winter (around the end of November until the end of December). Summer Tollwood takes place at Olympia Park and winter Tollwood at Theresienwiese (where Oktoberfest usually takes place).
The ecological festival offers a variety of food stalls from around the world on top of stalls full of treasures like clothes, accessories and lots of other great stuff!
Surfing the Eisbach in the English Garden, Munich by Heesun from Me Want Travel
Whenever I travel, I love exploring the outdoors. Munich was no exception, and that’s how I found myself surprised and excited to watch surfers. In a river. In the middle of a park. You can watch these surfers at Munich’s public park, the English Garden, in the mad-made river called The Eisbach.
English Garden by Sabrina from MaroBlog.de
The English Garden in Munich is one of the biggest parks in the world. It’s about 375 ha, separated in to two sections “Englisch Garden” and Hirschau. These are the most famous sights of the park:
The Chinese Tower in the park was built like the famous great pagoda in the royal garden “kew garden” in London. This Tower was destroyed many times – last rebuilding was 1952 after a bomb attack in the second world war.
The Monopterus was built as a grave for famous Bavarian people. It was also rebuild after the attacks from WW2.
Japanese Tea House
This Tea House was built to the Olympic games 1972 because of Munich’s friendship with the Japanese city Sapporo. The Japan Festival is held in remembrance every 3rd Sunday in July.
Rent Bikes and Explore Bavaria by Susanna Kelly of Wandering Chocobo
Munich is a great city to explore by bike, but sometimes it’s what outside the city that makes the trip so amazing! Just outside of Munich there are sprawling bike trails that run along wheat fields, follow rivers and through forests. The best trip is a trail that runs from Munich to Sternberger See, which is about 2 hours away. Cool off by swimming in the lake, then catch the train back to Munich!
Soest by Esther from Trip to Adventure
Soest is a small town in North Rhine-Westphalia, at the East of Köln-Dortmund area. I discovered this charming place by chance (I had to work there for a couple of days) and I fell in love with the green-stone churches, the traditional houses with wooden beams. One can get lost in the centre by walking the small and labyrintic streets from the Theodor-Heuss-Park to the circular walking path along the medieval wall. It’s a must to eat in Die Ziebwel some traditional and complete German dish.
Münster by Sofie Couwenbergh from Wonderful Wanderings
In Münster they have a tradition that goes back to the 14th century: that of the Tower Guardian. For centuries, every night a man climbed up the tower of the Lambertikirche to watch over the city. Every hour he would walk around the tower and blow his horn three times three in three different directions to let the people know the coast was clear.
Now, Münster has its very first Tower Lady and you can hear and see her toot her horn every night except on Tuesdays. It’s such a cool tradition.
Ruhr Valley by Silke Elzner from Happiness & Things
I come from a region in Germany which is hardly considered a tourist hotspot. Yet, the Ruhr Valley does have some interesting sights and attractions to show for, in particular if you are interested in industrial design, the history of the Industrial Revolution and regional change. Historically, the Ruhr Valley has always been a very industrial, populated area. There is no romance here, no fairytale castles perched on high cliffs overlooking a meandering river clad with vineyards.
Yet, you can definitely find some real gems in the area. For example, check out the German Mining Museum in Bochum and the Landschaftspark in Duisburg to see firsthand how coal and steel have shaped this region. Or find medieval remains at Altona Castle or Old Westerholt village. Many industrial places have been transformed into recreational spaces such as the Phoenix Lake in Dortmund. There is a lot more to see in this well connected area, and it’s easy to get around on public transport.
Rhine River Gorge by Chris from Amateur Traveler
One of the most beautiful routes in Germany is taking a boat through the Rhine River Gorge. This area has one of the best collections of castles in Germany. These castles used to control trade on the river and collect taxes but now they just inspire photographers. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Cologne at Christmas by Jones from Jones Around The World
I’ve had the opportunity to visit Germany several times, and it really is an amazing country to visit any time of the year. With that being said, the absolute best time to visit Germany is during Christmas!
The Christmas Markets in Cologne definitely need to be included on your German bucket list. The entire city becomes one giant Christmas party! There are beautiful lights everywhere, tons of markets with yummy food and delicious spiced wine, and you can really feel the Christmas spirit!
Cologne is one of the most beautiful cities in the country as well, so you’ll definitely be killing two birds with one stone by visiting this city over Christmas!
Cologne Carnival by Margherita Ragg, The Crowded Planet
I’ve been to Cologne twice, and both times it was for a festival! The first time I visited was during Pride, and we had a wonderful time dancing on the back of a truck going around the city. The second time was during Cologne Carnival, one of the craziest parties I’ve ever been to. I think every single person in town was wearing a fancy dress – except me, and I felt so embarrassed! Carnival celebrations in Cologne last for several days. If you can’t stay in the city long, we recommend visiting on Sunday and Rose Monday, the day of the main parade.
Rüdesheim am Rhein by Sonal of Drifter Planet
Rüdesheim am Rhein is a quaint town near Frankfurt on the bank of river Rhine. This Riesling wine-making town is one of the most popular tourist spots in Germany and has a beautiful landscape of riverside vineyards, castles, cute walking streets, and the river Rhine. It is also a is a part of UNESCO World Heritage site list. Rüdesheim. The best thing here is the view from the top which can be accessed by a gondola lift or by hiking.
Whether you want to surf urban rivers in Munich, celebrate Carnival alongside locals in Cologne or watch the sunset from the TV Tower in Berlin, one thing is certain: Germany should not be missing off your 2017 travel wish list!
A big thanks to all the talented and lovely travel writers who have contributed to “The Ultimate German Bucket List”! Do check out their blogs and social media channels for more info about travel in Germany.
I also want to thank Claire for inspiring me to do this with her “Great British Bucket List“.
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