Things to do in Germany

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Germany is home to some of the most well-preserved medieval towns, scenic hikes, festive markets, and unique dishes and drinks. No matter your interest, this diverse country surely has something for you. Here are 16 of the very best things to do in Germany!

The stunning New town hall in Munich with its Rathaus-Glockenspiel german clock
The stunning New town hall in Munich with its Rathaus-Glockenspiel German clock (photo Donna Vallance )
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Why Should You Travel to Germany?

According to the German Tourist Board, Germany continues to rise on the list of the world’s most popular tourist destinations. As of 2022, it is the number 2 European destination for US travelers

However, the country’s allure extends beyond its picturesque villages, breathtaking landscapes, and Oktoberfest (the world’s largest beer festival). Tourists are also drawn to Germany because of its commitment to its sustainability goals and initiatives, where the country ranks number 4 on the SDG Index (Sustainable Development Goals). 

Frankfurt is a hub for many international flights to Europe, so getting to Germany by air is relatively easy. 

Train travel in Germany is a convenient, sustainable, and efficient way to get around the country. The Deutsche Bahn railway network covers over 33,000 kilometers of track, operates more than 40,000 trains daily, and connects major cities and smaller towns alike. 

With a variety of ticket options and high-speed trains like the ICE, travelers can easily explore the diverse landscapes and cultural attractions of Germany by rail.

And if all those reasons still aren’t enough to convince you, visitors also appreciate the captivating blend of contemporary culture that is intertwined with Germany’s rich traditional values and historical landmarks. 

The 16 Unforgettable Things To Do in Germany

Although I could only cover some of the things to do in Germany on one list, I will do my best to include the best of the best. Below you will find exciting things to do in Germany near Hamburg, Berlin, Frankfurt, and Munich. So no matter which airport or train station or cruise port you end up at, you’ll surely find one or more of these attractions in Germany near you.

Things To Do Near Hamburg, Germany

Explore the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Lubeck

Known for its stunning medieval architecture, charming streets, and historic landmarks, Lubeck is a fun day trip just 1 hour from Hamburg. This lovely historic city will make you feel like you have stepped back in time to the middle ages. 

While visiting, you can wander through the narrow alleys, visit the Gothic-style St. Mary’s Church, marvel at the Holsten Gate, tour the town hall, and check out the traditional yachts at the Museum Harbor. 

The picturesque town is surrounded by water, so the best way to explore is via a boat tour. There are group tours, or you can even rent a small e-boat.

Spend a Weekend on Rugen Island 

I highly recommend spending a weekend on Rugen Island. After a 3-hour and 15-minute train ride from Hamburg, you’ll find yourself surrounded by the Baltic Sea, white chalk cliffs, and sandy beaches as far as the eye can see. It’s truly a nature lover’s paradise. 

Rugen Island is Germany’s largest island, so there is plenty of things to do. 

During your weekend, you can hike in Jasmund National Park. The most popular hike is the 7.2-mile Hochuferweg Jasmund trail which will lead you through dense beech forests and to epic panoramic views of the park. 

If hiking is not your thing, there are multiple viewpoints around the island, rent a Strandkorb (a traditional German beach chair) to enjoy the beautiful sandy beaches of Rügen Island, or you can relax in the seaside resort towns of Binz and Sellin. 

Visit Germany’s Smallest State

Germany has 16 federal states, with Bremen and the exclave seaport Bremerhaven being its smallest. A stop here is a must on any German trip itinerary. 

Bremen is nestled on Germany’s lower Weser River, just over an hour from Hamburg.

There are many things to do in Bremen, but any visit should include a stroll around the vibrant fairytale atmosphere of Marktplatz. It’s a bustling square surrounded by picturesque buildings and stunning architecture, the UNESCO-listed town hall, quaint shops, and cozy cafes. Snap a photo with the Bremen Town Musicians statue, a beloved symbol of the city’s folk tale heritage.

You will also want to explore the historic Schnoor Quarter, a charming neighborhood of narrow streets, half-timbered houses, and cozy cafes.

If you have more time, hop on a train to explore the port city of Bremerhaven by checking out the tourist attractions Klimahaus Bremerhaven, the German Emigration Museum, or the German Maritime Museum. 

Later head to the Observation Platform at the Atlantic Sail Hotel in Bremerhaven for panoramic views of the surrounding area, where you can admire key landmarks, the harbor, and the North Sea coastline. The platform is at the hotel but is open to the public for only € 4.00 per adult.

Go Apple Picking in Altes Land 

Altes Land is another fun day trip from Hamburg that you can reach in just over an hour via car, train, or bus. If you visit Germany during the fall months, you’ll find Altes Land overflowing with fresh apples to pick. Surprisingly enough, this hidden gem is home to Northern Europe’s largest fruit-farming region.

There are many orchards, but Herzapfelhof Lühs remains one of the most popular. Here, you’ll find acres of orchards, festive activities, apple tasting, and even an apple laser to engrave personalized messages onto your fresh picks. 

Altes Land also has several maritime and historical museums to check out during your day trip.

Things To Do Near Frankfurt, Germany

Road Trip to Rothenburg Ob Der Tauber

Embark on a scenic day trip from Frankfurt to Rothenburg Ob Der Tauber, a well-preserved medieval town known for its charming architecture, cobblestone streets, and enchanting Christmas market.

Wander through the town’s romantic alleys, visit the iconic Plönlein, and don’t miss the opportunity to savor traditional German cuisine at a local tavern. Zur Holl is a unique choice, as you can dine in a candle-lit cave. 

If you do not have a car, many guided tours depart from Frankfurt and Munich.

But, if you are driving yourself, take a slight detour to visit the charming town of Würzburg, where you can explore the iconic Würzburg Residence, another UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its baroque architecture and stunning gardens.

Wine Taste in the Rhine Valley 

Although most people head to Italy to indulge in an authentic wine-tasting experience, Germany is home to 13 wine-growing regions. Rhine Valley is a small and underrated German wine region known for some of the highest quality wines. It’s a must-stop for the best things to do in Germany. 

After just driving one hour west of Frankfurt, you’ll find yourself in the Rhine Valley, where you can savor delicious local wines amidst breathtaking vineyards and stunning river views. 

Some popular and must-stop wineries include Weingut Matthias Müller, Weingut Toni Jost, and Weingut Didinger. Each has its specialties and offers different wine-tasting experiences and views. 

While in the valley, you can also bike along the Rhine Cycle Route or hike along the Rheinsteig Hiking Trail for panoramic views of the region. 

Tour the Eltz Castle 

Feel like royalty as you explore Eltz Castle, an impressive medieval fortress nestled in the hills of the Moselle Valley, offering captivating architecture, stunning views, and a glimpse into centuries of history. It looks like something straight out of a fairytale!! 

The castle is open from April 1st to November 1st from 9:30-5:00 and costs € 14,00 per adult. All tours are guided and last approximately 45 minutes. 

Things To Do Near Berlin, Germany

Hike in Saxony 

Experience the natural beauty of Saxony through one of the many breathtaking hikes. Saxony is located in eastern Germany, just 2.5 hours south of Berlin. It’s known for its beautiful scenery, including the Elbe Sandstone Mountains, the Saxon Switzerland National Park, and the Ore Mountains. 

If you only have time for one hike, check out the Bastei Bridge trail, which will take you along a 12 km meandering trail to the famous Bastei Bridge above the Elbe River. 

The region is also home to several historical and cultural attractions, such as the city of Dresden, the Zwinger Palace, and the Frauenkirche. After a day of adventures, be sure to stop for an ice-cold German beer (which Saxony is also known for), as it is brewed in many traditional breweries throughout the region.

Take a Weekend Trip to the Harz Mountains 

If you visit central Germany, make time for a trip to the Harz Mountains. This mountainous region can be found just under four hours from Berlin and over four hours from Frankfurt. It’s a must on any adventure vacation! 

While in the region, you can ride a scenic cable car (known as Burgbergseilbahn), stroll through medieval towns, tour the Rammelsberg Mine, and hike or bike in Harz National Park.

Swim in Lake Muggelsee 

For those wanting to stay closer to Berlin yet still enjoy the great outdoors, you can enjoy a refreshing swim in Lake Müggelsee. It’s the largest lake in Berlin, offering sandy beaches, clear waters, and water sports and relaxation opportunities.

You can find this outdoor oasis just 21 km from downtown Berlin. 

Visit the Berlin Wall

Visiting the Berlin Wall is a captivating journey through history that immerses you in the turbulent Cold War era. Although the Wall has fallen, many sights remain to see. 

Exploring the Wall’s memorial sites and learning about the stories of those who risked everything to escape its confines is a memorable experience. Check out the East Side Gallery, Checkpoint Charlie, Old St Hedwig Cemetery, and the Berlin Wall Memorial.

The memorial is open daily except Mondays from 9:30 am-6:00/7:00 pm, depending on the season. A visit here serves as a reminder of the power of unity, the importance of freedom, and the enduring human spirit. 

You truly cannot visit Berlin without a stop here. 

Things To Do Near Munich, Germany 

Watch the Surfers at Munich’s Eisbach River

Witness the unique spectacle of surfers riding the waves at Munich’s Eisbach River, a man-made stream that creates a standing wave perfect for surfing in the heart of the city. 

Although anyone can surf in the river, it can be pretty dangerous, and you are recommended to be an experienced surfer. For beginners, it’s best to enjoy the show or head to the nearby Floßlände in Thalkirchen.

the Surfers at Munich's Eisbach River
Surfers at Munich’s Eisbach River photo Donna Vallance

Visit Berchtesgaden National Park

Berchtesgaden National Park is the only national park in the German Alps and a must-visit destination for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. The park boasts stunning landscapes, mountain views, and crystal-clear lakes. Visitors can explore hiking trails, take a boat ride on Königssee Lake, or enjoy a scenic drive through the Bavarian Alps.

The Eagle’s Nest, a historic building once used as a retreat for Nazi leaders, is one of the most popular attractions in Berchtesgaden National Park. Visitors can take a bus and elevator to the top of the mountain to enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.

Shop at Viktualienmarkt

Explore Viktualienmarkt, Munich’s bustling open-air market, where you can indulge in delicious local food, fresh produce, and traditional Bavarian specialties. 

It’s a popular spot for tourists and locals alike, as the endless shopping options and the lively environment are contagious. Most vendors open at 6:00 am, stay open until 6:00 pm each weekday, and close slightly earlier on weekends. 

Tour the Neuschwanstein Castle 

A tour of the Neuschwanstein Castle should be on everyone’s Germany vacation bucket list. The fairytale-like Neuschwanstein, a famous castle nestled in the Bavarian Alps, is known for its enchanting architecture and inspiring views of the surrounding landscape.

You can see the magic through a guided tour. The tours last approximately 30 minutes and are available in English and German. 

Once you’ve walked up an appetite, there is a cafe on the castle’s second floor and a delicious themed restaurant (Schlossrestaurant Neuschwanstein) just outside the gates. 

Pay Your Respect at Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site 

Although not the most fun stop on the list, the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site is a significant historical landmark just outside Munich. This solemn and deeply moving destination offers visitors a profound insight into one of the darkest chapters in human history. 

As you journey from Munich, you will be transported back in time to the period of Nazi Germany. 

The preserved grounds and exhibits serve as a poignant reminder of the immense suffering endured by countless individuals. 

As you explore the site, you will encounter various displays, including photographs, personal testimonies, and artifacts, each shedding light on the unimaginable horrors within these walls. 

You can drive yourself from Munich, or there are many guided day trips to choose from. 

Things To Do in Germany Recap 

As you can see, there are many unforgettable things to do throughout Germany. Whether you hope to step back in time, immerse yourself in nature, or simply enjoy the tasty authentic food and drinks, you will leave with a newfound love for this diverse country.

This article originally appeared on Savoteur.

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  • Bella Bucchiotti

    Bella Bucchiotti (xoxoBella) Bella Bucchiotti is a storyteller, food lover, travel enthusiast, dog mom, Type 1 diabetes advocate, and adventure seeker living on the Pacific coast. On her website xoxoBella, she encourages others to run the extra mile, try new recipes, visit unfamiliar places, and stand for a cause.

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