Unmissable Things to Do in Germany
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Unmissable Things to Do in Germany

Getaway Staff

If Europe is the center of classical history, then Germany is its core. This is a country with baroque and Romanesque influenced cities and acres of forest that seemingly goes on forever. Germany is the country that inspired Grimm’s Fairy Tales and its towering castles, and timber villages only show that further. This is the land on which Hansel and Gretel tricked the wicked witch; where Little Red Riding Hood visited her grandma and Rapunzel threw down her hair. There are many things to do in Germany, all of which are unmissable. Really, who needs Disney World?


01 Visit the Renowned Cologne Cathedral

cologne cathedral Ultima_Gaina / Getty Images

Cologne is one of the largest cities in Germany, and the town itself dates back 2,000 years. It's also the Rhine region's cultural hub, with more galleries per square mile than anywhere in the world except for New York City. Most importantly, Cologne's unreal skyline is dominated by the Gothic towers of Cologne Cathedral. The Cathedral is the third-tallest in the world and the beacon of why the Catholic Church dubbed Cologne a "Holy City." You can visit the Cathedral throughout the year as it opens at 6 am on weekdays. Visitors can also take a guided tour across its roofs which provides incredible panoramas of Germany's warmest city.


02 Sunbathe on the White Sands of the Island of Rugen

sellin pier at dusk elxeneize / Getty Images

When you close your eyes and picture Germany, chances are you're not expecting to see a beach vacation. However, all of this should be put to one side as soon as you feast your eyes on the spectacular Rügen Island. As well as being the largest island in the country, its Baltic coastlines are dominated by soft, white sandy beaches and steep chalk cliffs. Inland, there's a whole enchanting countryside to explore as well as resorts and spas that rarely get too crowded. If you like camping, there's also always the chance to take in the glory of the night sky from one of 16 organized sites on the island. Truly, if you want a beach holiday that's unlike anything else, Germany will fill that void.


03 Soak Up the Art of the Berlin Wall

berlin wall street art pensatyva / Getty Images

In the 30 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall, Berlin has reclaimed what was once a barrier used to divide the city. What remains now stands as a testament to overcoming a shadowed history, bringing people together rather than tearing them apart. Is there a better way to unite people than with art? Probably not, and the East Side Gallery has risen to notoriety because of this. This open-air gallery is set on the remnants of the wall and consists of a series of murals and paintings from artists all over the world. As it stands, the gallery is a monument to the fall of the wall and peacefully overcoming all differences. As far as Berlin goes, it's definitely a must-see.


04 See a Fairytale Come to Life at Neuschwanstein Castle

mountain castle bavaria

If you give yourself time to picture a fairytale castle, what you might unknowingly picture is Neuschwanstein. Probably because the Disney Castle and Hogwarts were actually modeled on it. This enchanting 19th-century palace sits on top of a hill in the middle of a Bavarian forest. It's understandably one of the world's most famous castles, but also has more to offer than just its look from afar. Keen visitors can stay in the small village of Hohenschwangau which surrounds it and then venture up to the castle for a guided tour. That being said, even the village offers its fair share of things to do, including an annual traditional Christmas market.


05 Walk the Medieval Streets of Rothenburg

old town of rothenburg serts / Getty Images

Once upon a time, Rothenburg was the second-largest city in Germany. Rothenburg ob der Tauber - literally meaning 'above the Tauber River - is a dream town. It's picturesque, preserved medieval streets are like something out of 'The Pied Piper of Hamelin' or 'Rumpelstiltskin.' Understandably, they've made the small town a haven for tourists in the thousands, with everyone searching for a piece of its magic. Regardless of this, simply setting foot on the old cobblestone will be enough to give you that. For a less-touristy Rothenburg, book a hotel overnight and explore the town after the sun sets. Before that, climb to the top of the town hall to see the town in all its glory, horses, carriages, and all.


06 Stroll Under the Brandenburg Gate

brandenburg gate berlin

Berlin's Brandenburg Gate is one of the city's most iconic and astonishing sites. Though steeped in wartime history, Brandenburg has seen almost as much as the city itself. It also serves as yet another symbol of the post-Cold War, reunified Germany. The gate was built in the late 18th Century and since then, has stood tall over the now vibrant city. If you visit Berlin during the summer months, you can learn pretty much all there is to know from the gate. However, if you visit for the New Year, you'll be able to join all of Berlin in a huge street party surrounding it. Fireworks, live music, you name it!


07 Throw the Dice on Museum Island

museumsinsel berlin bluejayphoto / Getty Images

Another spot in Berlin is what's known as Museum Island, or Museumsinsel to Germans. Based on a small island in the middle of the Spree River lies a unique collection of museums and galleries. The five glorious, neo-classical museums that call Museumsinsel home house millions of treasures from the entire span of human history. Even if you're not keen on going into any of the museums, you can still opt to take a picnic over to the island where you can sit and admire the surrounding architecture. However, museum-lovers will be in heaven: its museums have everything from Ancient Egyptian artifacts to works by the best of the impressionists.


08 Take a Picnic to Sanssouci Park and Palace

morning in potsdam

Sanssouci Park in Potsdam is often referred to as being the Versailles of Berlin. Looking at photographs of it, you'd also believe it. Seeing it for yourself, however, is an experience that no words in the English language can describe. The park surrounds a sprawling, formerly royal palace, the grounds of which occupy almost 300 acres of land. As well as its main palace, Sanssouci is also the location of several smaller palaces and pavilions including the Chinese House and Orangery Palace.

Note: If you'd like to visit more than one of the locations, it might be worth getting a pass to visit them all.


09 Venture Down the Fairy Tale Route

rakotz bridge DaLiu / Getty Images

Of course, Germany has its own fairy tale route. It seems only fair, given how much of the country inspired so many of those stories. On the Fairy Tale Route, you can trace the footsteps of the Brothers Grimm through bewitching forests and enchanting towns. The route spans over 300 miles from Hanau to Bremen. Seeing the same sights that inspired so many tales is equally inspiring to those who visit. After all, the route has more than 20 castles, a medieval fortress, and waterfalls that never seem to end. Simply rent a car and invite magic into your passenger seat.


10 Drive Through the Black Forest

panoramic view of black forest no_limit_pictures / Getty Images

The Black Forest is a huge region in southwest Germany. Lying just on the border with France, its dense, evergreen forests also had a hand in inspiring the Grimm Brothers. The forest is mystical, mythical, and the experience of a lifetime. Its mountainous landscape is haunted by small, quaint villages and idyllic towns dotted throughout the region. Each town also has its own thing to offer its visitors, from the vineyards of the Badische Weinstrasse to the lakeside strolls of Titisee. The Black Forest is a marvel in all seasons, and its romantic gem is truly Heidelberg.


11 A Day at Berlin's Tempelhof Airport

tempelhofer feld old airport berlin germany Teka77 / Getty Images

Experience the unique charm of Berlin's Tempelhof Airport, a historic site transformed into a vibrant public park. Cycle, run, or walk along the old runways, or enjoy a picnic amidst the vast green spaces. Once a bustling airport, Tempelhof is now a testament to Berlin's innovative urban planning, offering a unique blend of history and recreation.


12 Reflecting at Berlin’s Holocaust Memorial

Memorial to Murdered Jews of Europe designed by Peter Eisenman, Tiergarten, Mitte, Berlin, Germany Danita Delimont / Getty Images

The Holocaust Memorial in Berlin is a poignant tribute to the millions of Jews who lost their lives during the Holocaust. Walking amidst the 2,711 concrete slabs, each varying in height, evokes a sense of disorientation and isolation, symbolizing the experiences of the Holocaust victims. This powerful monument serves as a stark reminder of the atrocities of the past and the importance of remembering them.


13 Cruising the Majestic River Rhine

Lorch in Germany instamatics / Getty Images

Embark on a serene journey along the River Rhine, one of Europe's major waterways. As you cruise, marvel at the picturesque landscapes, charming towns, and historic castles that line the riverbanks. The Rhine offers a unique perspective on Germany's rich history and stunning natural beauty.


14 Cologne’s Cathedral: a testament to faith and art

Koln Germany city skyline, Cologne skyline during sunset ,Cologne bridge with cathedral Germany Europe fokkebok / Getty Images

Stand in awe of the Cologne Cathedral, an architectural masterpiece and a symbol of the city's enduring faith. This Gothic cathedral, with its towering spires and intricate details, is a testament to the craftsmanship of the medieval era. Inside, marvel at the stunning stained glass windows and the Shrine of the Three Kings.


15 Frankfurt’s Skyline: a glimpse into the future

Skyline of Frankfurt am Main, Germany, the financial center of the country. murat4art / Getty Images

Marvel at Frankfurt's skyline, a striking contrast of historic buildings and modern skyscrapers. Known as "Mainhattan", Frankfurt's skyline is a symbol of Germany's economic power and its embrace of the future. As the sun sets, watch the city lights reflect off the glass facades, creating a mesmerizing spectacle.


16 Navigating Hamburg’s canals and museums

Hamburg Speicherstadt with sightseeing tour boat in summer, Germany bluejayphoto / Getty Images

Explore the city of Hamburg, often referred to as the "Venice of the North" due to its intricate network of canals. Take a boat tour to admire the city's historic warehouses and modern architecture. Don't forget to visit the city's world-class museums, such as the International Maritime Museum and the Hamburger Kunsthalle.


17 Experiencing Music at Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie

Germany, Hamburg, Elbpromenade in the morning Westend61 / Getty Images

Catch a concert at the Elbphilharmonie, Hamburg's iconic concert hall. Known for its exceptional acoustics and stunning architecture, the Elbphilharmonie hosts a variety of performances, from classical music to contemporary pieces. Even if you're not attending a concert, visit the plaza for panoramic views of the city and the harbor.


18 Exploring Rügen: Germany’s largest island

Sunset on Rügen Xurzon / Getty Images

Take a trip to Rügen, Germany's largest island known for its diverse landscapes. From chalk cliffs and sandy beaches to dense forests and historic architecture, Rügen offers a wealth of natural and cultural attractions. Whether you're hiking in Jasmund National Park or exploring the seaside resorts, Rügen promises a memorable experience.


19 Discovering Dresden: the jewel of Saxony

Dresden, Germany aletheia97 / Getty Images

Explore Dresden, the capital of Saxony, known for its rich history and stunning Baroque architecture. Visit the Zwinger Palace, the Semperoper, and the Frauenkirche, all symbols of the city's resilience and artistic spirit. Despite the destruction during World War II, Dresden has been meticulously restored, earning it the nickname "Florence on the Elbe".


20 Embracing the wilderness in Saxon-Switzerland:

The Bastei - Landmark in the Saxon Switzerland ZU_09 / Getty Images

Immerse yourself in the natural beauty of Saxon-Switzerland National Park. Known for its unique sandstone formations and panoramic views, the park offers numerous hiking and climbing routes. Don't miss the Bastei Bridge, a stunning stone bridge offering breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape.


21 Nuremberg’s dark past: exploring Nazi history

Nuremburg Unveils Memorial To NSU Murder Victims Johannes Simon / Getty Images

Uncover Nuremberg's Nazi past by visiting the former Nazi Party Rally Grounds and the Nuremberg Trials Memorial. These sites provide a sobering insight into the horrors of the Nazi regime and the subsequent pursuit of justice. They serve as a reminder of the past and a call to prevent such atrocities in the future.


22 The romantic road: a journey through Germany's past

green vineyard, road and town in Wurzburg, Germany LightFieldStudios / Getty Images

Embark on a road trip along Germany's 'Romantic Road', a scenic route that takes you through picturesque towns, medieval castles, and stunning landscapes. From the vineyards of Würzburg to the fairy-tale castle of Neuschwanstein, the Romantic Road offers a captivating journey through Germany's history and culture.


23 Scaling Zugspitze: Germany’s highest peak

Public transportation concept. Yellow electric tram travels at Berlin's town, Germany. Buildings background, banner. george tsartsianidis / Getty Images

Take a cable car to the top of Zugspitze, Germany's highest peak. The journey offers breathtaking views of the surrounding Bavarian Alps. At the summit, enjoy the panoramic vistas and perhaps even a meal at the mountaintop restaurant.


24 A night in a German castle:

Aerial of Golfclub Ansbach golf course and Burg Colmberg castle Holger Leue / Getty Images

Experience the grandeur of Germany's past by spending the night in a castle. Many of these historic structures have been converted into hotels, offering guests a unique opportunity to live like royalty. From the medieval Burg Colmberg to the romantic Schlosshotel Hugenpoet, each castle offers a unique and unforgettable experience.


25 Skating at Tempelhofer Feld: Berlin’s abandoned airport

little girl on roller skates on Tempelhofer Feld in Berlin golero / Getty Images

Experience the thrill of skating down the runway at Tempelhofer Feld, an abandoned airport in Berlin. This unique recreational space offers a wide runway perfect for skating, cycling, or simply walking. The airport's vast open spaces and historic buildings add to the charm of this unique urban park.


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