A country of contrasts, Germany is a mix of age old traditions and forward thinking ideals. It it also filled with impossibly beautiful countryside, chocolate-box-pretty villages and perfectly preserved towns. An ideal winter or Christmas travel destination, many people choose to get a flight to Germany this time of year. Drawing from my many trips to this unique European country over the years, here is my choice for the most beautiful places to visit in Germany:
1.Rothenburg ob der Tauber
Step back into Medieval Europe and follow the cobbled streets through the fairytale gate in the city walls. This is one of the most beautiful towns along the Romantic Road in Bavaria, a route in itself worth including in this list. The Romantic Road runs from Frankfurt to Munich. Rothenburg, although small is packed with interesting sites and museums including the main Market Square surrounded by 14th century buildings; the tall Town Hall Tower which has 241 steps leading to one of the most beautiful views over the city and the Medieval Crime and Punishment Museum. At night don’t miss the amusing Night Watchman’s Tour.
2. Black Forest (Schwarzwald)
The Black Forest covers a large area within which you’ll find the spa town of Baden-Baden; the “Jewel of the Black Forest” – Freiburg and Offenburg – the capital of the wine region as well as many other quaint villages. However the most beautiful part of this area can be seen by driving or hiking along the Schwarzwaldhochstraße – a route through the rolling hills and valleys, thick forests of black fir trees and mist covered lakes. One of the most beautiful lakes in the area is Titisee, try taking the Zapfle-Bahnle train alone the scenic route around the lake or follow the lake road which encompasses the tranquil water.
3. Neuschwanstein Castle
Mad King Ludwig’s castle south of Munich is the Romanesque building that inspired the Disney castle. Although over run with tourists this doesn’t detract from the perfection of this castle both inside and out. The most beautiful and picturesque view of the structure is from Mary’s Bridge, a stop half way up the hill towards the castle. You can be taken there by horse drawn carriage making this an even more fairytale like experience. Nearby is the equally beautiful Hohenschwangau Castle.
In the heart of the Neckar Valley this German university city was untouched by WWII bombs and is a classic example of baroque architecture. The Hauptstraße (main street) stretches for a mile and is perfect for people watching and ogling at the artistic buildings. The Altstadt is one big photo-op, with its cobbled streets, shuttered buildings, dozens of churches and picturesque plazas. Go up to the Heidelberg Castle to get a bird’s eye view of the city and river below.
5. Sanssouci Castle
Near Potsdam in East Germany, on a small hill sits this grand summer palace. Created for Fredrick the Great of Prussia it is said to resemble Versailles mostly because of the beautiful terraced gardens perfectly planted to cascade down the slope of the hill. Within the gardens are secluded temples and gazebos. The building itself is embellished with golden Rococo detail.
6. Rheinsteig (Rhine Valley)
Running along the bank of the Rhine River from Bonn to Wiesbaden this hiking trail passes through some of the most picturesque forests, villages and vineyards in Germany. The trail through the Rhine valley gives you spectacular views of mountains, castles, mineral springs and small country inns. The area from Bingen to Koblenz is a UNESCO World Heritage Site boasting 40 castles and stately homes.
Along the river Weser this small city is one of the oldest in Germany dating back 1200 years, and is perhaps most famous for the story of the Musicians of Bremen. In the older part of the city, in the Schnoor-Viertel area, follow the winding cobbled alley ways surrounded by the most beautiful medieval houses with wooden beamed facades. Not far from the city centre are farms and countryside waiting to be explored along the edge of the river Wümme.
Often forgotten by foreign travelers, the Island of Sylt is connected to the mainland by the Hindenburgdamm causeway. With several resorts, 40km of beaches, an unusual shoreline and breathtaking nature Sylt is worth a vist. Sylt is part of the German Frisan Islands and being separated from the mainland it has remained relatively untouched. The houses on Sylt are in the Fristian-style and the cliffs lining the coast are slowly eroding which has created an unusual and unique pattern. Fields of flowers, colourfully painted light houses and sparsely populated villages has made this an exclusive hidden gem and playground for the rich and famous.
9. Brocken within the Harz National Park
The highest mountain in northern Germany is almost always shrouded either in mist or snow as well as legends! Stories abound of mystical creatures on this eerie peak. You can take a gauge train to the summit and get the most beautiful view of the Harz National Park below. You could also follow the Goethe Way path to the top by foot. The mountain peak rises above the tree tops and only low shrubs and plants grow on the upper part of the mountain. In the park itself are botanical gardens, hiking trails and rare flora and fauna. The area is also blessed with many species of butterflies and small creatures unique to this area.
The narrow lanes of the Old Town of Bamberg and its numerous historic architectural styles has earned it the title of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. See the beautiful Dom and the town hall which is on a bridge over the river Regnitz as well as wandering alongside the meandering streams. Be sure to enjoy a glass of the local beer in one of the outdoor beer gardens.
Written by Petal Mashraki. Petal is a freelance travel writer who has lived and been educated in England, South Africa and Israel. Her occupation have always revolved around the arts and things she feels passionate about. I use the experience I’ve gained traveling to over 25 countries to write about travel. She currently write for Bangari Content Studios and on her blog-Unique travel experiences.