Germany is a country full of wonderful places to visit! But aside from its oceans, mountains and forests, there are a ton of beautiful cities in Germany you should visit besides the sought-after metropoles.
Whether you are looking for towns straight out of a medieval fairy tale or admire streets lined with pastel-colored buildings from Baroque times, here are my top picks for gorgeous German cities and towns.
**** This post isn’t sponsored nor commissioned but may contain affiliate links, which are marked with a star (*). If you book anything from them, this doesn’t cost you anything but might give me a little commission to help keep this free blog full of more travel tips and me fuelled with chocolate to keep writing. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. ****
Rothenburg ob der Tauber
Definitely one of the most beautiful towns in Germany, Rothenburg ob der Tauber draws the crowds like crazy. Cobblestone streets, half-timbered houses, a romantic fountain in front a street fork, that’s what pops up when you do a quick google image search.
And it’s so much prettier in real life! Plus, it’s rather small, which means you can easily walk around town in an afternoon, sit in a rustic restaurant and gaze out over the city wall over the surrounding landscapes.
To top it all off, the town is gorgeous all-year-round with fairs, markets and events, such as the weekly market and the spring or fall fairs. In December, it also boasts one of the most charming Christmas markets in Germany.
I often hear that Heidelberg is the most beautiful city in Germany. For some reason I haven’t visited yet but it’s high on my Germany bucketlist. Just browsing through image galleries online, you can tell why.
It’s very promising when a historic city is situated by a river but with deep hilly forests and a towering castle to boot, you have the perfect package. Plus, Heidelberg isn’t so big as to be overwhelming.
The most striking buildings include Heidelberg Castle, the corn market, the old stone bridge and gate as well as the Heiliggeistkirche (“Holy Ghost Church”).
Furthermore, you can easily squeeze in some hiking with the mountain Königstuhl being right there. Also, it’s close enough that you can also plan day trips from Stuttgart here if you want to and explore the region further.
One of my favorite cities to visit in Germany! Bamberg’s Old Town is incredibly charming and two-layered. Roam the small cobblestone streets and gaze up at the colorful half-timbered, historic houses.
But don’t just step into the delightful vintage and décor shops inside but look up for the many religious details like figures of saints. Bamberg has always been an important religious seat and to this day is an archdiocese.
No wonder the grand cathedral high above the city center is so dominant. And should definitely be on your list of must sees in town as is the nearby rose garden and the Old Court. Afterwards, plan in a stroll around the river and spot Bamberg’s “Little Venice”.
Another extremely beautiful German city is Weimar. Once a major cultural hub for Europe, drawing artists, humanists, philosophers and writers from near and far to its concert halls and grand castles, it still has retained its charm.
The center merges modern shopping facilities with classic buildings, such as the houses of Goethe and Schiller. There’s a castle near the historic market place and a harmonious country park sprinkled by Romantic art installations, such as fake ruins and Roman buildings.
One of the best times to visit is for the onion market (yes, all fare is made from onions: candy, soup and home décor) or the Weimar Christmas market.
If just for its fairy tale castle inspired by the gorgeous chateaus in France, Schwerin is well worth a visit. But that’s really not all! If you ask me in person, I could go on and on about the charms of things to see in Schwerin. I have spent many a summer in town and I love it dearly.
Come for the Dragon boat race on the central pond, which may be small but has its own ferry service!
Next, parade through the gorgeous gardens and parks of the castle (it’s free and hosted Germany’s annual garden show in 2009), climb the castle roofs (there are special tours), sip a cocktail at a beach bar or chat with locals over bear at the Goat Market.
In summer especially, you can go on cruises around the many lakes, do island hopping or ride bikes around the extensive bike network, which is also conveniently very level as North Germany is rather flat.
Close to Hamburg – and a weekend getaway for many Hamburgers (yes, that’s the correct name)- is the region of Altes Land (“old country Picture apple orchards stretching as far as the eye can see and you cycling along grassy damns next to cute farm houses and quiet streams.
Base yourself in York and you’ll most likely have the most romantic experience in Germany. The town was created with heavy Dutch influence and you can tell – from the canals, to the brick houses. Go on an exploration tour in the day.
Then, sit outside a cozy restaurant at night to get that extra special feeling. Sitting underneath an inkjet-black sky with orange street lamps lighting up the cobblestone streets and boats bobbing on the water, you won’t want to head to bed to soon.
Hamburg is one of the main hotspots in Germany for tourists. No wonder, it boasts gorgeous architecture, be it the old town hall, the warehouse district by the harbor or the concert hall Elbphilharmonie.
The fish markets are a must for fresh fish bread on the go or – if you are into pasties – the Franzbrötchen. Foodies will find plenty of restaurants for different tastes and budgets, with local and international cuisine.
And don’t even get me started on the many events, such as huge concerts and games going on year-round.
Görlitz isn’t just one of the prettiest towns in Germany, it may as well be the town with the prettiest doors. (Yes, I even saw a calender filled with just Görlitz doors.) The Old Town comes with a city wall tower you can climb and many restored houses that feature stunning door designs.
Each house is different, the details change and the colors are vibrant. But don’t forget to look for other details like Baroque stuccos or flower boxes as well.
A main must see is the old town square with town hall and nearby cathedral. Step in and then cross the bridge into Poland. The towns used to be connected but were split by the border and got separated.
For a small town, it sure knows how to impress. Stand on the market square and do a full turn to take in the historic half-timbered houses in their various styles. These aren’t the often black/brown and white houses, they come in colors of green and red around here too.
Notable houses are the Hochzeitshaus (“wedding house”) and the town hall. But that’s not all since you can go on a little hunt for remains of the original city wall, fortifications and look-outs.
There are quite a few towers around town, such as the “old tower”, Grebenturm, Rosenturm, Bleichentorturm or Frauenturm.
Fulda is the largest town in East Hesse and really quite charming with its well-preserved medieval buildings. Start with a stroll around the city castle, which used to be the residency of the local prince-bishop and prince-abbots.
Two religious buildings that should be on your list for this very pretty city in Germany are the Cathedral and the St Michael Church. The former dates back to the 18th century and the latter to the 9th century. Looking at them, you really can see the significant change in architecture styles over time.
With all these historic buildings, it’s hard to pick the most striking. However, if I had to choose I’d pick the townhall of Fulda from 1500. It’s dramatic half-timbered front is contrasted by the color red, making it look all the more eye catching.
Stuttgart is the capital of the state Baden-Wuerttemberg and as such has a lot to offer. There are many things to do in Stuttgart in one day, such as art galleries or the quirky Pig Museum. Plus, the food scene is very diverse. But do try the local foods.
The focal point In Stuttgart is the New Palace, right in the heart of the city center. It’s where locals love to meet and mingle, or hang out while listening to street performers. From here, you get a pretty good idea of the fact that Stuttgart is nestled in a valley with vinyards all around.
To get an eagle-eye view, head up the train station tower (it’s free) or climb the hill known as Karlshöhe. It harbors a wonderful parkscape with romantic ruins and sweeping panoramic views. At its foot, you can also find the lapidarium with its many artful statues.
Regensburg is another cute German town with pastel colored houses, tiny cobblestone alleys and an imposing bridge, all found in a compact Old Town. It’s very walkable and you can easily wander around in an afternoon.
Have some afternoon coffee and cake by the riverside and don’t miss the local hatmaker, Hutkönig Manufaktur. The designs are quintessentially Bavarian, super high quality and therefore come with a price tag. But they last. And they also fashioned the iconic Mad Hatter hat that Johnny Depp wore in Alice in Wonderland!
Munich is one of the most popular destinations for tourists in Germany. No wonder, one minute you can walk around the Old Town and the next go on an extensive shopping spree. Plus, there’s the gorgeous Nymphenburg Palace in town.
And if you want to escape into nature, check out the English Garden and the surrounding museums or plan a walk around Olympia Stadium. (Pro tip: walk around the oddly shaped apartment blocks from the 70s and look at the colorful murals on the compact student blocks.)
One of my favorite towns is Dresden. Whether you visit for the Dresden Christmas market or any other time of the year, the city will keep you busy.
If are new in town and want to engage in some Dresden sightseeing, pick a topic of interest. Is it museums, historic buildings, or even castles in Dresden? (The city has 19!! And there are many more castles around!) You might get overwhelmed if you want to see everything at once.
My tip is to do a tour around the historic center and the coveted Semper Oper. (Get in here.*) This way, you get a pretty good overview of its iconic sights, its main castles and how all the best spots area nicely interconnected (also historically).
Only a short train ride away, making for a great day trip from Dresden, lies Leipzig. It’s the location of one of the most biodiverse zoos in Europe, Germany’s second largest book fair and ComicCon and a town center that blends old and new.
While the university building is all shiny with a glass façade, historic buildings such as the old town hall. It’s said to be one of the best examples of German Renaissance architecture and you can climb the tower on a guided tour.
What I love about the center are the many arcades and hidden passageways. Do keep a lookout for those. One that’s highly recommended by Leipzig city guides – for a good reason – is the Mädlerpassage.
It houses high-class shops and cafes but is great for window shopping. In December especially, it gets decked out in Christmas lights!
The capital of the state of Thuringia is packed with historic buildings. The city center is a fairy tale setting beaming with half timbered houses, intricate details on merchants houses, an imposing town hall and an even more awe-inspiring cathedral towering over the main market place.
The go-to attraction in Erfurt is the merchants bridge called Krämerbrücke. It’s where select artists reside and exhibit their creations, ranging from paintings to pottery and more, in the shops on the river. During Christmas market time in Erfurt it’s the most charming!
Erfurt is also a great spot to check out for dining out and trying local food, such as Thuringian sausage and dumplings. The dumpling museum isn’t too far away from Erfurt either, in case you want to learn more about their history and production.
My hometown makes a horrendous first impression when coming from the autobahn. (If you come from Weimar, it’s much better.) You’ll be greeted by ugly Soviet building blocks, but never mind that.
This definitely means it isn’t THE prettiest city in Germany but you’ll see why I included it once you get to the city center. You’ll see an interesting mix of modern and historic buildings.
The center was heavily bombed during WWII and the gaps were filled with modern designs. Step into the tourism information and you can still see original parts of the former building.
The townhall is pretty too. Do take a closer look at the Schnapphans, the joker head atop the clock. He’s one of the Seven Wonders of Jena. (If you want to learn more about those, check out my article on what to see in Jena.)
The best views over the city can be had from the Intershop Tower and the surrounding hills, which also offer great hikes around Jena. Especially in spring, you can admire patches of wild orchids next to certain trails.
Many people absolutely love Berlin and think it’s the most beautiful city in Germany. I disagree but that’s of course also subjective. And Berlin certainly has its charms, being home to castles, the museum island and parks winding around canals.
But it’s mostly known for its edgy character, as is very obvious with the street art in districts like Kreuzberg and the many underground bars. My favorite and a very unusual one at that is the former airport-turned-park Berlin-Tempelhof. People walk their dogs on the meadows between the runways, where kids fly their kites.
There’s definitely a lot to discover in the capital of Germany and you’d need at least a week to really get a good head start.
Cologne is the German capital of carnival. The city goes bananas in February with parties and parades, people dressing in silly costumes and women cutting off men’s ties (Women’s Carnival Day).
But aside from that, the main focal point for first time visitors is the grand cathedral. It’s one of the largest Baroque cathedrals and it took centuries to complete. Even though its construction officially commenced in 1248, it wasn’t completed until 1880.
You get a pretty gorgeous view from the foot of the bridge Hohenzollernbrücke at the shore opposite the cathedral. In total, Cologne has seven bridges and you can easily go on a sightseeing tour in a boat to take in the skyline.
Another pretty state capital is Potsdam. It feels rather small but walk around the center and you’ll quickly appreciate the quiet of the streets compared to the business of Berlin, which is only an hour drive away.
In the center, you can enjoy shopping in former town houses, their ornamental facades still well preserved. However, you need to schedule in ample time to explore Sanssouci and its widespread park landscape and lakes. It’s one of the best castles in Germany.
Besides this, the former Russian colony Alexandrowka is another great point of interest. It was erected in memory of the King’s late friend, the Russian Czar. People still live in the 12 original farmsteads with their large orchards and there’s a small museum and Russian restaurant you can visit.
Which of these cities in Germany is the best in your opinion? Which have you been to?
More Germany trip tips
- Did you know that there’s an authentic Japanese Garden in central Germany? Find out where.
- Why not check out the Chinese garden and tea parlour in a nearby city, too?
- There are three Lobdeburg Castles in Jena – Here’s why
- You gotta see the creepy art village in Plinz
- Visiting the Dornburg Castles during the rose festival
- Shamefully underrated but full of art – Gera in Thuringia
- Cool ideas for activities in the Harz mountains
February 22, 2020 at 19:59
So many beautiful places, I want to visit them all. I haven’t spent nearly enough time in Germany
February 25, 2020 at 23:18
Hi Emma, there really are a lot of fabulous spots. Maybe you can come back one day and see some more. 🙂
February 23, 2020 at 17:10
Loved your list! I spent 4.5 months in Hamburg, and I agree – it’s a stunning city! I loved the fischmarkt, too. I really want to explore more of these cities, though – Heidelberg is at the top of my list!
February 25, 2020 at 23:18
Hi Kelsey! Hamburg is such a nice place. So happy you got to see it for a longer period.
March 14, 2020 at 12:42
I’ve only been to Germany twice, both for short stays. Your post has me wanting to go back for longer and explore all of these places!
March 25, 2020 at 20:17
Hi Jasmine, it’s great to hear you’ve been to Germany before. There’s so much to see to warrant another trip. 😉
March 14, 2020 at 15:22
Wow these cities look amazing! I love Germany and you have added some cities to my bucket list.
March 25, 2020 at 20:18
Hi Ashley, they really are special. I’m happy to hear you like them.
March 14, 2020 at 17:03
I have NOT been to Germany yet, but I love this list. I tend to be a fan of the small, wee villages, so I’d spend time there.
March 25, 2020 at 20:19
Hi Lynne, we do have some pretty villages you can visit. I can recommend the many half-timbered villages around Stuttgart and included some in my guide here.
March 14, 2020 at 20:35
My friend just moved out to Germany, and I’ve been dying to visit her. This is a great list for us to start with!
March 25, 2020 at 20:19
Hi Chelsea, that’s a big move. I hope she likes it so far. And I hope you get to visit her soon. Exploring new countries with friends is the best!
12 Prettiest cities in Europe you should visit - Wapiti Travel
May 23, 2020 at 15:06
[…] one of the most beautiful cities in Germany, bears a lot of history, some parts are scars but a lot is also about […]
25 Ideas for What to See in Weimar | Germany on the Brain
June 20, 2020 at 11:17
[…] of the prettiest cities in Germany, Weimar is the cultural heart of the state of Thuringia (and was the place to be in Europe 200 […]
November 19, 2021 at 11:14
It’s a fine list of beautiful cities in Germany, but you miss out the city of Freiburg. Maybe the most charming city in Germany.
November 19, 2021 at 22:32
Hi Kenneth, thanks for your tip. I haven’t been to Freiburg yet. Need to check it out now. What other German towns did you fall in love with?