The 5 Best Places to Visit in Germany: Rivers, Forests, Cities and Castles
Germany is one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations. Its combination of accessibility and variety in scenery and experience can’t be matched. But there’s so much to see in the country it’s hard to settle on the must-see places in Germany.
For starters, try these five best places to visit in Germany.
Tip: Germany is one of the most popular destinations for travel insurance. Read why.
Top German cities to visit
It only makes sense to start with the city that’s at the heart of so much of the German experience, from history to art to lifestyle.
Berlin is synonymous with an approach to life that’s cynical, adventurous, dark, and celebratory by turns. Some of that stems from Berlin’s role in the Bauhaus arts-and-culture movement of the 1920s. Some stems from its postwar status as a divided city. Some is just Berlin being Berlin.
Berlin could easily be a vacation destination all by itself. With limited time, be sure to hit the highlights – the Brandenburg Gate, Museum Island, Unter den Linden, Alexanderplatz – but also try to do something more characteristically Berlinesque, like renting a Cold War-era Trabant, wandering through Kreuzberg, or visiting the DDR or Stasi museums.
Did you know it's illegal to run out of fuel on the autobahn in Germany? Read: Tips for Safe Driving on Vacation in Europe
If Berlin is Germany’s dark heart, Munich is its jolly exterior. The epitome of Southern-Germany bonhomie, Munich parties hard in its biergartens and festivals, and offers architectural highlights galore.
Start with the Neues Rathaus, the uber-Gothic city hall. Wander to the storybook-charming Marienplatz and then check out some of the city’s spectacular churches.
For a change of pace, visit one of Munich’s three major art museums, and cap things off with a spin through the zoo and – finally – a cold stein of beer at the city’s Viktualienmarkt.
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Even now the cities of the former East Germany get short shrift compared to their western counterparts. In the case of Dresden, that’s extremely unfortunate.
The capital of the province of Saxony shines with spectacular old buildings, like the Semperoper (Opera House), the Residenzschloss (Electors’ Residence), the Zwinger Palace and the Frauenkirche.
In addition, the Sempergalerie Alte Meister has (as its name implies) one of the greatest collections of paintings by the Old Masters, and the Zwinger Palace houses a breathtaking collection of famous Dresden pottery.
For a little funk with your history, check out the Neustadt portion of the city.
Beautiful Germany Vacations
The Rhine River: Cruising and Castle Tours
There’s a reason why one of the best ways to see Germany is on a river cruise. The Rhine is the highway of old Germany and the best route to see the most beautiful places in Germany. Impressive castles and striking modern buildings line its shores. Wineries dot its banks. Charming old villages with their half-timbered buildings sit close to the water.
Some of this is illusion, of course. Many of the villages and castles were rebuilt after World War II, and the notion that any place would want to remain as it was in 1570 is pure poppycock. But there are few better ways to see Germany old and new than from its most famous river.
No matter where on the Rhine you happen to be there’s something historical or scenic nearby; however, the stretch between Dusseldorf and Mainz is home to more than 100 sites that are linked to some of Germany’s best-loved myths, sagas, and fairy tales.
Talk about magic – the Rhine has it.
The Black Forest: Legendary Tourism
The schwarzwald is the stuff of legend, but the reality is that the Black Forest:
a) Really is a forest, and a large one; and
b) Isn’t black at all, though it is a fairly dark green.
The Black Forest was made for auto tours, where you can stop at wineries and taverns along the Baden Wine Route, explore the luxurious resort town of Baden-Baden, or get your cuckoo-clock fix at Furtwangen’s German Clock Museum.
No matter where you go in Germany you’ll find friendly people, striking architecture, and centuries worth of history.
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