The 30 best places to visit in Germany

 

In the south east of the country, in Schonach Im Schwarzwald within the Black Forest, the traditional home of the cuckoo clock makers, is a building known as the Cuckoo Clock House. Measuring 3.1 metres (10 ft) high and 3.6 metres (12 ft) wide it is one of the largest cuckoo clocks in the world. Fully working, every thirty minutes the top window opens and a giant cuckoo appears to announce the time.

30. Cuckoo Clock House

 

In the extreme north of the country on the Baltic Sea is a rather unusual attraction known as the 'Diving Gondola', a capsule at the end of a pier that takes visitors under the water to see the world beneath the waves. There are three similar sites in the area, the most picturesque of them being the Tauchgondel in Sellin.

Pictured is the Tauchgondel Zingst.

29. Tauchgondel

 

South of the capital, Berlin, is the biggest free standing hall in the world, an airship hangar that has been turned into the Tropical Islands Resort. No matter the season, the temperature inside remains at 26 Celsius (78 F) with humidity at 64%. Inside attractions include the tropical village, the biggest indoor rain forest on Earth with over 50,000 plants, a beach, swimming pools and restaurants with enough space to comfortably hold 6,000 people. 

28. Tropical Islands Resort

 

Opened in 2010 in the south east of the country, north of the city of Munich, is the 34 metre (111 ft) Kuchlbauer Observation Tower, designed by famous Austrian artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser, the man behind similarly odd structures in his home country. The tower itself is more impressive than the view it provides, being even more spectacular at night when illuminated.

27. Kuchlbauer Turm

 

In the extreme south east of the country along the border with the Czech Republic is the Bavarian Forest National Park, within it stands the 44 metre (144 ft) wooden viewing platform known as the 'Tree Tower'. From the summit visitors are met with incredible views of the Lusen and Rachel Mountains, with the vastness of the Bohemian and Bavarian forests laid out in front of them. On a clear day it is also possible to see the Alps.

26. Baumwipfelpfad Bayerischer Wald

 

Completed in 1754 AD in the extreme southern centre of the country, in the foothills of the Alps within Bavaria is the Pilgrimage Church Of Wies, from the outside a normal unassuming oval rococo church. Legend has it that in 1738 tears were seen on a dilapidated wooden figure called the Scourge Saviour, resulting in a pilgrimage to see the sculpture. At the height of it's fame the church interior was superbly decorated with frescoes and stucco-work that has survived to present day. Such is the majesty of the artwork, the Church Of Wies has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

25. Wieskirche

 

Opened in 2015, directly to the west of the city of Frankfurt is a Nepalese style pedestrian suspension bridge known as Geierlay. Within the low Hunsruck mountains the bridge spans a valley some 360 metres (1,180 ft) wide hanging 100 metres (330 ft) above the ground. It's estimated that a fifth of all visitors to the bridge do not cross it.

24. Geierlay

 

Completed in the year 2000 in Darmstadt, just south of the city of Frankfurt, is the residential building complex known as Waldspirale, directly translated it means 'Forest Spiral'. Designed by famous Austrian artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser, the man behind similarly odd structures in his home country, the complex has many elements of his personal style; the gilded onion domes, the lack of straight lines and sharp corners, colourful ceramic columns and multi-coloured exteriors. The Waldspirale is certainly one of the most unique residential buildings on the continent.

23. Waldspirale

 

Completed in 1846 AD after 150 years of construction is the landscape park of Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe, described as the most grandiose Baroque combination of landscape and architecture. In the city of Kassel, in the almost exact centre of the country, the park consists of some landmark buildings that include the Wilhelmshöhe Castle and the Octagon, complete with a statue of Hercules at the summit of a cascading waterfall. As the largest European hillside park and the second largest park on a slope in the world, the location has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Pictured is the Octagon and the cascading waterfall.

22. Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe

 

In the extreme northern centre of the country, north east of the city of Hamburg is the city of Lübeck, once the medieval capital of the Hanseatic League. The well preserved old town sits on an island enclosed by the Trave River and is distinguished by Brick Gothic architecture, among narrow cobbled streets. Dominated by seven church steeples, the most impressive of these are the 13th century Lübecker Dom and the highly influential Marienkirche, though the most notable landmark of the city must be the Holstentor, or Holsten Gate. In medieval times the city could only be entered through one of four gates, of which two remain today. Built in 1464 AD, the Brick Gothic construction is one of relics of Lübecks medieval fortifications and is today regarded the symbol of the city. The historic centre of Lübeck has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Pictured is the Holsten Gate.

21. Lübeck

 

Completed in 1913, close to the city of Leipzig in the east of the country is the Monument To The Battle Of The Nations, built to commemorate 100 years since the defeat of Napoleon. Said to stand on the spot of some of the bloodiest fighting, the building reaches 91 metres (299 ft) high with a viewing platform at it's peak. Adorned with statues inside and out, the largest is a 12 metre (39 ft) figure on the front of the memorial representing the archangel Michael, considered the War God of Germans.​

20. Völkerschlachtdenkmal

 

Consecrated in 805 AD in the far west of the country, close to the Belgian border in the city of Aachen, is the enormous Aachen Cathedral. Constructed on the orders of the Emperor Charlemagne, who would later be buried here, it was originally inspired by the churches of the eastern part of the Holy Roman Empire. Enlarged in the Middle Ages, the oldest cathedral of northern Europe was the church of coronation for thirty one German kings and twelve queens. Steeped in history, filled with historical treasures, the magnificent Aachen Cathedral has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

19. Aachener Dom

 

In the north west of the country, south west of the city of Hamburg is the city of Bremen, renowned for it's Hanseatic buildings in the Market Square. Among them is the ornate Gothic town hall with it's large Renaissance facade, dating from the early 15th century when the city joined the Hanseatic League. Another major landmark of the square is the Statue Of Roland, dating back to 1404 AD it stands 5.5 metres (18 ft) tall. While the immediate surroundings of the Town Hall have survived reasonably well, the rest of the historic town of Bremen suffered serious destruction during World War II. For this reason the Town Hall and the Statue Of Roland have been declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Pictured is the Town Hall & St. Peter's Cathedral.

18. Bremen

 

Completed in 2010, in the extreme south of the country within the Bavarian Wetterstein Mountains, is the AlpspiX Viewing Platform. Situated on the Osterfelderkopt, a secondary summit of the Alpsitze, two 24 metre (79 ft) steel arm platforms crisscross to form an X, offering visitors an unhindered view of the Hollental Valley from 1,000 metres (3,280 ft) above the ground.

17. AlpspiX

 

In the extreme east of the country, close to the border with Poland, in the Azalea and Rhododendron Park Kromlau is the Rakotzbrücke, otherwise known as the Devil's Bridge. Many bridges around the world have been built to create circular reflections on the water and are similarly nicknamed the Devil's Bridge, though few are as striking as Rakotzbrücke.

16. Rakotzbrücke

 

Completed in 1842 in the south west of the country, directly south of the city of Stuttgart is the beautiful Gothic Revival styled Lichtenstein Castle. Overlooking the Echaz Valley at an elevation of 817 metres (2,680 ft) above sea level, this relatively modern castle was inspired by the novel of the same name, itself inspired by a medieval castle whose ruins lie a few hundred metres away. Despite it's relatively young age, it's fairy tale style has led many to regard it one of the most beautiful in all of Europe.

15. Schloss Lichtenstein

 

In the far west of the country, between the city of Frankfurt and the Belgian border is the picturesque town of Cochem, famed for it's towering 11th century romantic castle, the Reichsburg Cochem. Set among rolling forested hills, the idyllic riverside town is considered one of Germany's prettiest.

14. Cochem

 

Built in the 12th century in the far west of the country, between the city of Frankfurt and the Belgian border, a stone's throw from Cochem, is the medieval Eltz Castle. Named after the Eltz family, that same family still occupy the castle an amazing thirty generations later. Situated on a rocky spur some 70 metres ( 230 ft) high, this Romanesque, Baroque stronghold is another of the countries picturesque fairy tale castles.

13. Burg Eltz

 

In the southern centre of the country, to the north of the city of Nuremberg is the town of Bamberg, commonly regarded to be one of the most beautiful in all of Germany. With an old town almost completely devoid of modern structures, two of it's most noteworthy are the Altes Rathaus (Old Town Hall), built in 1455 AD on an island between two bridges it has become a symbol of Bamberg. The other is The Bamberg Cathedral Church Of St. Peters & St, George, an enormous masterpiece measuring 94 metres (308 ft) in length with four towers reaching 81 metres (265 ft) into the sky. Built in 1002 AD the church contains many works of art including the marble tomb of the founder and his wife, considered a masterpiece of Gothic Renaissance sculpture. With such history, a large part of the old town of Bamberg has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

12. Bamberg

 

In the northern centre of the country, between Hanover and Leipzig, just north of the Harz Mountains is the particularly quaint and picturesque town of Quedlinburg. Having survived the war almost completely undamaged, it has remained one of the countries best preserved Medieval Renaissance towns. Among the cobbled stone streets and half timbered houses, visitors should seek out the Collegiate Church and the Quedlinburg Castle. With such an amazing level of preservation, the entire historic old town has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

11. Quedlinburg

 

First constructed in the 11th century in the far south east of the country between Stuttgart and the Swiss city of Zurich is the fortress of Hohenzollern Castle. Built atop the 234 metre (768 ft) Mount Hohenzollern, the castle was completely destroyed in 1423 AD by the free imperial cities of Swabia. In 1461 AD a much stronger castle was built on the site, remaining intact through the Thirty Years War. Having fallen into disrepair in the 18th century, sever dilapidated buildings were demolished. What stands on the site today, built around 1867 AD, is one of the most impressive castle structures in a country of incredible historic fortresses. Holding within it the Prussian historical artifacts, the Crown Of Wilhelm II and some personal effects of King Frederick The Great, the incredible Gothic Hohenzollern Castle is truly one of the great castles of Europe.

10. Burg Hohenzollern

 

In the far west of the country, close to the border with the Czech Republic, on the road between Prague and the German capital, Berlin, is the city of Dresden, the capital of the state of Saxony. Though allied bombing towards the end of World War II destroyed most of the city centre, the city is distinguished by celebrated art museums and classic architecture within it's mainly reconstructed old town. With a long history of royal residence for the Kings of Saxony, it was once known as the 'Jewel Box' of Europe, because of it's Baroque and Rococo city centre. Despite being removed from the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites due to the construction of a four lane bridge in the heart of the cultural landscape, the city of Dresden remains one of the countries finest cities, with a wealth of grand and artistic constructions.

9. Dresden

 

In the southern centre of the country, west of the city of Nuremberg is the small charming town of Rothenburg Ob Der Tauber, Germany's best preserved medieval walled city. With it's narrow towers and colourful half timbered houses among winding cobbled streets, the picturesque Rothenburg Ob Der Tauber is a fairy tale town of romance, having long been considered one of the prettiest in Europe.

8. Rothenburg Ob Der Tauber

 

In the far west of the country, close to the borders of both Belgium and the Netherlands is Germany's fourth largest city, Cologne. At the western end of the Hohenzollern Bridge that crosses the Rhine River is Cologne's most iconic landmark, the mammoth Cologne Cathedral. Construction began in 1248 AD and continued until halted in 1473 AD, where it would remain unfinished for 400 years. Work restarted in the 19th century and was completed to the original plan in 1880. Attracting an estimated 20,000 people per day it is the most visited landmark in Germany. The largest Gothic church in northern Europe, the 157 metre (515 ft) twin spires are the second tallest in the world, giving the cathedral the largest facade of any church on Earth. Considered a masterpiece of exceptional intrinsic value, Cologne Cathedral has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

7. Köln

 

In the far east of the country straddling the border with the Czech Republic is the 93 square kilometre (36 square mile) Saxon Switzerland National Park, sitting at the heart of the German part of the Elbe Sandstone Mountains. Adjoining with the Bohemian Switzerland National Park on the Czech side of the border, the landscape is dominated by fissures and rocky canyons that include some of the most untouched natural forests in Europe.

Pictured is the towering rock formation known as the Bastei.​

6. Nationalpark Sächsische Schweiz

 

In the extreme south of the country, within the Bavarian Wetterstein Mountains is a pristine mountain lake, the Eibsee. Sitting at an elevation of 973 metres (3,192 ft) above sea level, surrounded by some of the highest peaks in the country, including Germany's tallest mountain, the Zugspitz, the location offers some of the most naturally beautiful terrain in the country.

5. Eibsee

 

Completed in 1938 in the extreme south east of the country, directly south of the Austrian city of Salzburg is the Eagle's Nest, presented to Adolf Hitler to mark his 50th birthday. Situated at an elevation of 1,834 metres (6,017 ft) above sea level, it is said that Adolf Hitler disliked the location due to his fear of heights. Open seasonally as a restaurant and tourist attraction, visitors who take the two hour hike from the Obersalzburg will be met with a fantastic view over the Berchtesgaden National Park.

4. Kehlsteinhaus

 

In the far north east of the country sits the largest and most populated city in Germany, the capital, Berlin. First documented in the 13th century, it's history has seen it the capital of the Margraviate Of Brandenburg, the Kingdom Of Prussia, the German Empire, the Weimar Republic and the Third Reich. Divided in half after World War II, the eastern half surrounded by the Berlin Wall became the capital of East Germany as the western half remained the de facto capital to the rest. Following the reunification in 1990 Berlin returned to be the capital of all Germany, where it has become one of the most tourist visited cities in Europe.

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3. Berlin

 

In the extreme south of the country, along the border with Austria is the 210 square kilometre (81 square mile) Berchtesgaden National Park, probably the most idyllic location in Germany. Home to forests, high mountains, huge valleys and two of the five glaciers in the country, it's the lakes of Königssee and Obersee that attract the most attention. Situated in the Berchtesgaden Alps, it really is the most beautiful of locations.

2. Nationalpark Berchtesgaden

 

Built in 1886 AD in the extreme south of the country, in Schwangau, close to the Austrian border, is probably the most well known castle structure on Earth, Neuschwanstein Castle, translated as 'New Swanstone Castle'. Highly stylish, impeccably decorated inside and out, it became the global symbol of the era of Romanticism, nominated in the twenty strong shortlist to be considered for one of the New 7 Wonders Of The World. The inspiration for Walt Disney's Sleeping Beauty Castle, this majestic 19th century Romanesque Revival styled fortress is without question one of the most picturesque pieces of architecture in Europe, if not the world.

Pictured from the Marienbrucke Bridge.

1. Schloss Neuschwanstein

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