Top Sights and Attractions in Germany
Germany is well known for offering fantastic value hotels, delicious food and drinks (including craft beer), stunning scenery and beautiful cities like Berlin. Add its vibrant capital, historic castles and no speed limit autobahns into the mix and it is easy to understand why so many fall in love with its culture and landscapes.
This stunning example of High Gothic architecture stands as one of Europe’s largest cathedrals with 56 massive pillars, offering panoramic views of Cologne from its south tower.
1. Berlin’s Museum Island
Berlin’s Museum Island is an impressive complex of museums, the Berlin Cathedral, and gardens gathered onto an island by the Spree River. Considered one of the world’s greatest museum complexes by UNESCO, its five age-old institutions – Alte Nationalgalerie (Old National Gallery), Altes Museum (Old Museum), Neues Museum, Bode Museum and Pergamon Museum – are world renowned and make this museum complex truly world class.
Museums showcase an expansive variety of art and antiquities; some highlighting German history while others global cultures. One highlight is the Pergamon Museum which houses several ancient art treasures like Ishtar Gate from Babylon, Miletus market gate completeness gate and Aleppo Room among others.
No matter your artistic or cultural interests, Berlin’s Museum Island should not be missed. With its beautiful neo-baroque architecture and unparalleled collections of artworks inside, Museum Island will leave you speechless!
2. Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie
One of Germany’s newest and most coveted tourist attractions is Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie. Designed by Tate Modern architects Herzog & de Meuron, this breathtaking new-meets-old building opened to great acclaim in 2017 and quickly became an attraction that showcased Hanseatic metropolis.
Even if you don’t plan on attending a concert at Elbphilharmonie, a trip up to its public plaza on top is well worth your while – you will be mesmerized by its magnificent harbor and city views from there!
Take a guided tour for an in-depth experience of this building’s acoustics and history; combine this visit with one of Speicherstadt or HafenCity tours so that you can see Elbphilharmonie from various angles while learning its history. It has come to symbolize a city which embraces both its past and its future while celebrating both equally.
3. Cologne’s Kolner Dom
Cologne Cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and iconic symbol of Cologne, can be seen from almost any angle in the city. A stroll through Old Town (Altstadt) or Rhine River cruise provides an ideal opportunity to admire this Gothic architectural marvel in all of its glory.
It is the largest Gothic church in Northern Europe and features the world’s tallest twin-spired building. Inside is an amazing treasury full of holy relics and exquisite artwork; visitors may pay a small fee to explore it further.
Dachau Concentration Camp stands as a stark reminder of Germany’s dark past. All visitors should plan a visit, though. Dachau was Germany’s first concentration camp and should serve as an emotional experience.
4. Neuschwanstein Castle
Disney’s Sleeping Beauty castle, inspired by Bavaria Alps scenery and nestled therein is truly remarkable in terms of architecture and beauty.
Interior of Castle Montgarid: Beautiful Decor and Furnishings Available tours can provide tours through this exquisite castle; but be sure to leave plenty of time for exploring its many rooms and galleries.
Spring or fall are ideal times for visiting the castle, with milder temperatures and smaller crowds.
5. The Harz Mountains
Germany may not be known for its mountains as much as Switzerland is, but Germany’s Harz Mountains make for an equally captivating visit. This UNESCO-listed region features picturesque towns with medieval half-timbered houses and labyrinthine cobblestone streets as well as breathtaking vistas.
Climb the Munzenberg to enjoy spectacular panoramic views of Quedlinburg and its surroundings, not forgetting to stop at medieval Stave Church with its Holy Blood Altar by Tilman Riemenschneider and stained-glass windows!
Lindau on Lake Constance is often called the Garden of Eden due to its serene shoreline and Alpine vegetation, charming half-timbered buildings, and 14th-century Rathaus (Town Hall). For history lovers looking for an emotional experience, Dachau should not be missed as its former concentration camp provides a profoundly moving visit.
6. Aachen Cathedral
Aachen Cathedral on Germany’s western border with Belgium and the Netherlands is an extraordinary mix of Carolingian and Gothic architecture. Constructed by King Charlemagne himself and hosting multiple coronations ceremonies through time, Aachen Cathedral holds an indelible place in German and European history alike.
This cathedral features an octagonal choir and ornate windows inspired by Sainte-Chapelle in Paris; it was also the first site in Germany to be designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Harz Mountains are Germany’s highest mountain range and provide breathtaking views of Alpine peaks, lakes, and villages in their vicinity. You can even take an unforgettable cruise along Lake Constance to witness this breathtaking view from another perspective! Known for their picturesque half-timbered houses and Alpine foliage – Quedlinburg village serves as an outstanding example – they even served as inspiration for Beauty and the Beast movie director Disney!
7. Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate
Like its Washington Monument and Shoe counterparts, Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate stands as a breathtaking icon that symbolizes its history. Situated at Pariser Platz – an exquisite public square that has been converted to pedestrian use – this breathtaking structure can only be appreciated in person.
The Brandenburg Gate’s massive size and beauty make it one of Germany’s premier tourist attractions. Its iconic structure includes a statue of Minerva, goddess of war and peace; as well as two temple-looking side buildings.
Sanssouci, Frederick the Great’s summer palace in Berlin’s suburbs, can also leave you amazed. This gorgeous estate often compared to France’s Versailles features an exquisite flower garden and numerous greenhouses; inside are Baroque furnishings while its surrounding park has over 3,000 fruit trees and hedges for an amazing experience! Visiting this incredible destination will surely leave you speechless!
8. Berlin’s Museumsinsel
Museum Island on Spree Island is an internationally recognized UNESCO heritage site and boasts five world-class museums: Altes Museum showcases Greek and Etruscan antiquities, Neues Museum offers Egyptian collections including Nefertiti’s bust, while Pergamon houses an impressive Ishtar Gate from Babylon.
Brandenburg Gate is one of Germany’s most iconic landmarks. Situated at the heart of Berlin, this famous gate stood as a reminder of division until the wall fell and now serves as a celebration of German unification.
Rothenburg ob der Tauber is an exquisite example of a medieval German village, boasting strict heritage protection to reveal winding cobbled lanes and revered churches. Additionally, this charming town hosts special exhibits at Reichsstadtmuseum and Alt-Rothenburger Handwerkerhaus that display local treasures from this historical town.
9. Cologne’s Cologne Cathedral
Cologne Cathedral is an outstanding example of High Gothic architecture and an UNESCO World Heritage Site, housing treasures such as the Gero Cross, which is one of the oldest large-scale wooden sculptures north of the Alps; choir stalls from 13th-century carving; and triptychs by Stefan Lochner dating from 14th century.
Visitor can also ascend the South Tower for breathtaking views of the city, and ascend its 533 steps for spectacular cityscape vistas! The views at the top make every step worthwhile!
The cathedral’s treasury, opened in 2000, is another draw. Here you’ll find works in gold and silver as well as the beautiful Sarcophagus of Magi (Gilded and Jewelled Sarcophagus of Magi), housing bones from Magi who followed the Star of Bethlehem to Bethlehem stable. Visiting here should be included on any Germany tour itinerary.
Dachau Concentration Camp should not be missed by history lovers as a vital reminder of Nazism’s horrific acts, while acting to ensure its repetition does not happen again.
Here, prisoners gathered for roll call, while at the end of the memorial site stands an urn bearing the names of those who have perished – an experience which should not be missed by visitors to Germany.
The Rhine River runs through Cologne and visitors can appreciate its beauty from various viewpoints – be it from Cathedral towers or by taking a boat tour – as it flows by. Also popular as a tourist destination are old warehouses turned museums, restaurants and cafes in Speicherstadt district; in addition to Miniatur Wunderland (world’s largest model railway).