Top 10 Cities to Visit in Germany

Posted on August 27, 2019 by Lucy Hancock
brandenburg gate

From cultural diversity to historic sights, there’s something for everyone in Germany.

You can find Munich’s baroque palaces, or wander around Hamburg’s HafenCity. Or if you’d rather venture into the capital, Berlin hosts historic sites like the Brandenburg Gate and Berlin Wall, which blends effortlessly with contemporary art galleries.

Here are our top 10 places to explore in Germany…

Berlin

Over time, Berlin has emerged as a cosmopolitan and exciting city, packed with inspiring art, architecture, and entertainment.

History is an important part of Berlin’s identity. Don’t miss the symbolic Brandenburg Gate and the Jewish Museum which are moving reminders of the Cold War and World War II.

No trip to Berlin is complete without a visit to the Berlin Wall, particularly the East Side Gallery in Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg which features 105 paintings.

Berlin is a wonderful place to wander around at leisure, and walking is the best way to soak up the atmosphere. Every district in and around the city centre has its own identity – from Mitte with its must-see sights and markets (including the Reichstag), to Kreuzberg, with its abundance of bars and restaurants.

Tiergarten is dominated by the green park of the same name, while Charlottenburg is a popular retail district and home to Schloss Charlottenburg, the largest royal palace in Berlin complete with beautiful gardens and woodland.

Airport: Berlin Tegel Airport (TXL) is located 5 miles from the city.

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Munich

Bavaria’s capital is the gateway to the Alps and makes a good city break before setting off to the mountains.

For a taste of Munich’s hospitality and world-renowned beer, a visit in October for the world-famous Oktoberfest is a must. While reservations for the festival are possible, you can get a seat at off-peak times.

Other popular sights include the Deutsches Museum (Transport Museum), the Residenzmuseum, home to Bavaria’s Wittelsbach rulers from the early 1500s, the Schönheitengalerie (Gallery of Beauties) for portraits, as well as Munich’s variety of shopping and dining options.

Airport: Munich Airport (MUC) is 18 miles from the city centre.

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Frankfurt

Frankfurt is the financial centre of Germany, which explains all the skyscrapers! But Frankfurt is historic too.

A cruise down the River Main shows the city’s progression, past its modern area and onwards to the traditional buildings of the city’s Museum Embankment.

Museums include Städel, Historisches Museum, Jüdisches-Museum, Senckenberg Naturmuseum (Museum of Natural History), Geldmuseum der Deutschen Bundesbank to name but a few – while other cutting-edge artistic attractions like the Orfeos Erben independent cinema help define Frankfurt as a modern and innovative city.

The nearby vineyards and spa towns like Wiesbaden are easy to reach, making Frankfurt ideal if you want to stay around for more than just a short city break.

Airport: Frankfurt Airport (FRA) is 8 miles from the city centre.

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Hamburg

Germany’s second largest city boasts one of the biggest ports on the planet, earning it the nickname ‘Gateway to the World’. It might surprise you to know that Hamburg has more bridges than Amsterdam and Venice put together, thanks to several waterways running through its centre.

Hamburg is the nation’s greenest city with two thirds of its area covered by lakes or parkland, which makes it ideal for walking and cycling. Head to the vast Planten und Blomen botanical gardens and admire their abundance of fountains, lakes, lawns and flowers. Greenery aside, Hamburg’s Reeperbahn, an entertainment district, is where the Beatles played in the 1960s and its live music scene is still renowned today.

You will find UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) wonders in Speicherstadt and the nearby Kontorhaus district, the largest historic development of port warehouses in the world. Meanwhile, the innovative, sustainable all-wood Wälderhaus (Forest House) is a shining example of Hamburg’s environmentally sound outlook.

Airport: Hamburg Airport (HAM) is just 5 miles from the city centre.

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Cologne (Köln)

Founded by the Romans, Cologne is one of Germany’s oldest cities. The iconic spires of its famous UNESCO-listed cathedral, Kölner Dom, soar elegantly over the city.

From beer gardens and river cruises to Cologne Zoo and Cologne Aquarium, there’s plenty to keep you busy.

If you prefer a leisurely stroll through the city, you’ll come across the ancient Roman wall and an abundance of medieval churches including the Great St. Martin Church and St. Aposteln.

There’s an abundance of museums and galleries too: the Chocolate Museum (Schokoladenmuseum); the Roman Germanic Museum and its Roman mosaics and relics; the German Sport and Olympic Games Museum; the Cologne Museum of Applied Art; and the Holography Museum are some of the most popular.

Airport: Cologne-Bonn Airport (CGN) is also known as Konrad Adenauer Airport and is 10 miles from the city centre.

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Dresden

Otherwise known as ‘Florence on the Elbe’, Dresden sits majestically alongside the River Elbe.

The city’s skyline is full of spires, towers and domes so it’s difficult to imagine it was wiped out during the Allied bombings of 1945. The most famous reconstruction in the city centre is the baroque dome of Dresden Frauenkirche.

The baroque style Old Town (Altstadt) and contrasting New Town help make Dresden a fascinating place to visit. Sightseeing highlights include: medieval Stolpen Fortress featuring a prison and torture chamber; Church of Our Lady (Frauenkirche) dating back to the 18th century; Grünes Gewölbe (Green Volt Museum) the 12th century Residenzschloss (Dresden Royal Palace); baroque Zwinger Palace; and the beautifully landscaped Grosser Garten (Great Garden) and zoo.

Airport: Dresden International Airport (DRS) is situated in Klotzsche, a district 6 miles from the city centre.

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Leipzig

A favourite for creatives, Leipzig is also a city of significant historical and cultural interest, partly due to its connection with the lives and works of Bach, Wagner, Mendelssohn and Goethe.
One of the world’s top classical ensembles (the Gewandhausorchester) and the oldest and finest boys’ choir (the 800-year-old Thomanerchor) delight audiences in Leipzig. Meanwhile, for over a decade, the New Leipzig School of contemporary German painting has kept up with the international art world through protagonists like Neo Rauch and Tilo Baumgärtel.

You can easily see the sights in a day or two, but Leipzig is worth a little more time. Linger longer to discover the best beer drinking spots or go antique shopping in Plagwitz.

Airport: Leipzig/Halle Airport (LEJ) is 9 miles from the city.

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Heidelberg

Heidelberg is one of the few German cities that managed to avoid being destroyed in World War II, so original old world charm abounds in the narrow cobbled streets of its baroque Altstadt (Old Town).

Take a wander through the streets and squares, packed with cafes and shops and climb the church spire of the Gothic church on the Marktplatz. The ruins of Heidelberg Castle, the country’s oldest, most famous university, and its idyllic riverside setting also help make Heidelberg one of the most attractive cities in Germany.

The River Neckar is a perfect getaway from the crowds in town. Make your way to the riverside park for a picnic, stopping near the Theodor Heuss Bridge, a popular spot with the locals.

Heidelberg’s rich literary history and thriving contemporary scene which encompasses prominent authors, publishing houses, bookshops, translators, libraries and festivals earned it the title of UNESCO City of Literature in 2014.

Airport: Mannheim City Airport (MHG) is 15 miles from the city.

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Weimar

Weimar was home to many of the nation’s thinkers and artists – Goethe, Bach, Schiller, Liszt and Nietzsche to name but a few – many of whom have museums in the city dedicated to their works. Weimar is also where the Bauhaus movement began and revolutionised 20th century art and architecture.

A walk through the Old Town takes you to over ten UNESCO-listed historic buildings from the Classical Weimar period, including the royal stables, the neo-Gothic Town Hall and Baroque Duke Palaces.

Airport: Erfurt–Weimar Airport (ERF) is 30 miles from the city.

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Düsseldorf

Düsseldorf can’t fail to keep you entertained. From traditional breweries and the Old Town based on the River Rhine and Classic Remise Dusseldorf housing classic cars, to futuristic architecture by Ghery and Chipperfield, art galleries and luxury shopping. There’s something for everyone.

Altstadt is dubbed the ‘longest bar in the world’ while the redeveloped harbour area, Medienhafen, hosts an annual festival of avant-garde architecture. If you can’t make it to Düsseldorf’s carnival in February, this is the next best thing.

Airport: Düsseldorf International Airport (DUS) is 4 miles from the city centre.

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Lucy Hancock

lucy hancock headshot Lucy Hancock is a Content Executive at Staysure. As a specialist travel insurance provider, we aim to keep up-to-date with travel trends, all while offering tips on how to make the most of your holiday. Lucy travelled across Europe with Interrail in 2017, and her favourite destination was Budapest. She likes big books, big words and the colour yellow.