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Germany is a country jam-packed with romantic villages and majestic castles that are the stuff of fairy tales. Enjoy this comprehensive collection of the 21 most magical places to visit in Germany. In a rush? Pin for later!
magical places to visit in germany
- schloss heidelberg
- rothenburg ob der tauber
- eibsee lake
- black forest
- berlin cathedral
- burg eltz
- nuremburg christmas markets
- elbe sandstone mountains
- dresden city center
- charlottenburg palace
- drachenburg castle
- rhine valley
- berchtesgaden national park
- neuschwanstein castle
- mainau island
- hohenzollern castle
- pin it
Contribution: Vicky S., Buddy the Traveling Monkey
Schloss Heidelberg is one of the most magical places to visit in Germany. Located high above the Neckar River, it offers stunning views of the town below.
There are two ways to get to Heidelberg Castle, either by walking or taking the funicular railway. Those on a budget and interested in simply walking the castle grounds for free should walk. It is a steep climb, but well worth it.
Those planning to tour the inside of the castle should take the funicular. The price of admission includes the railway, as well as the German Apothecary Museum, located inside the castle.
The castle itself has suffered damage due to war and lightning, but overall it is beautifully preserved. As visitors walk the castle grounds, they will notice that the castle has many different architectural styles. This is due to the fact that almost every prince-elector added a structure of a different style to the castle.
A favorite pastime of both locals and tourists is to hang out on the lawn of the grounds. Visitors have picnics, read books, and even take naps. It’s a very relaxing place to spend the afternoon. Having the beautiful Heidelberg castle in the backdrop makes it all the more magical.
Without a doubt, Schloss Heidelberg is among the best castles in Germany.
rothenburg ob der tauber
Contribution: Carolyn, Holidays to Europe
Towns in Germany don’t come much more magical than Rothenburg ob der Tauber, a real-life fairytale town in southern Germany. With its attractive and brightly painted half-timbered medieval houses, Rothenburg is the poster child for the Romantic Road scenic driving route, on which it is ideally located.
Surrounded by fortified city walls dating back to the 12th century, Rothenburg’s Old Town is picture perfect. You can still walk around the city walls to retrace Rothenburg’s history. At the heart of the town is Marktplatz, which is dominated by the City Hall with its imposing 52-metre tower. It’s worth climbing the tower’s 220 steps for fabulous views over the town.
Close by you’ll find a number of other interesting sites. The Kathe Wohlfahrt Christmas Village and German Christmas Museum (both open year-round) are not to be missed., St. Jacob’s Church, with its twin towers and stained glass windows will leave you breathless. The Medieval Crime Museum is interesting, if not a little gruesome!
One site you won’t want to miss is Plonlein. This is a small square which is overlooked by two of Rothenburg’s most photographed buildings. A pretty, slightly crooked, yellow half-timbered house and the red-roofed Siebers Tower are jaw-droppingly beautiful.
Rothenburg is very accessible and easy to reach by car! It sits on the crossroads of both the Romantic Road and the Castle Road. It’s just one hour fifty minutes from Frankfurt and two hours fifteen minutes from Munich.
The Romantic Road Coach operates daily between Frankfurt and Fussen (and vice versa), stopping at Rothenburg en route.
Contribution: Darek, Darek & Gosia
Germany is a country of many attractions and beautiful places. While castles are the most popular magical sites, don’t forget about Germany’s natural wonders – Eibsee Lake should be on any fairy-tale destination list!
Eibsee Lake lies in the Bavarian Alps, just 9 kilometres south of Garmisch-Partenkirchen – a well-known winter sports resort. You might have heard about the famous 4-Hills-Tournament, which takes place there every year. The highest peak of Germany, Zugspitze (2,962 m above sea level), rises just above the Eibsee Lake surface. This makes the whole area look absolutely incredible!
You can go easily for a walk around the lake, which takes on average just over two hours. However, this does not mean that the trail is extremely long. It’s only 8 km on relatively flat terrain – but believe us, you will stop many times to take pictures.
The best time to visit this lake is either September or October. With tree leaves turning yellow and many days with fog above the lake – the whole area looks like a fairy-tale. A truly magical experience!
This is definitely one of the most magical places to visit in Germany. Are you ready to visit Eibsee Lake?
Contribution: Ann K., The Road is Life
Set along the banks of the Moselle River, the little town of Cochem is one of the prettiest, most magical places to visit in Germany. With a row of colorful, half-timbered buildings lining the riverfront and a majestic castle dominating the hilltop above the town, the sight of Cochem is truly like something from a fairy tale.
Cochem can easily be reached on a day trip from Cologne in 1.5 hours by car or 3 hours by train with multiple train changes. It also makes a great stop if you’re planning to drive around Germany on a road trip.
During the summer months, you can take a cable car up to a stunning panoramic viewpoint that overlooks the town, castle and river below. At the top of the cable car there is a little restaurant where you can grab a drink and take in your surroundings.
Another fun thing to do in Cochem is to take a relaxing boat cruise along the Moselle River. One hour cruises operate regularly throughout the summer months and it’s the perfect way to take in the picturesque scenery of the town and surrounding countryside while learning about its fascinating history.
Make sure to take a wander through the charming streets of the town center and stop for a drink or a meal in the beautiful market square. There are many restaurants and cafes with outdoor patios so that you can admire the old town’s beauty as you dine. If you have some extra time while visiting Cochem, the breathtaking Burg Eltz Castle is only 25 minutes by car from the town! Burg Eltz is one of the most popular and beautiful castles in Germany and definitely worth a visit if you have the time.
Contribution: Hannah G., Hannah’s Happy Adventures
The Black Forest is located next to Freiburg in Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany. Exploring the Black Forest is the ultimate thing to do in the area. It offers ample beauty for very different reasons in both winter and summer. Furthermore, there are so many activities available such as hiking and skiing.
During summertime, spend some time hiking through the Black Forest. Schauinsland is the closest mountain to Freiburg, if you’re short on time. You can choose to take the full day hike up, or take the cable car. If you choose the cable car, there are endless hiking opportunities when you arrive at the top.
In winter, another mountain, Feldberg, is transformed into a ski resort. While small, it’s the perfect resort for beginner or advanced skiers alike. There is also the option to do some cross-country skiing or snowshoe hiking from Feldberg.
If outdoor activities aren’t your thing, there are numerous other options available. A great choice is Todtnau Waterfalls. These beautiful falls are great in summer, where you can also take a dip. There is also the option of visiting the Hasenhorn coaster afterwards. After a ski lift to the top of the mountain, you’ll take the alpine rollercoaster down. This is perfect for all ages!
The Black Forest is best visited by car. However, the public transport is widespread, and is easily visited without. Take the train from Freiburg to Titisee and switch onto the various bus routes that run throughout the Black Forest.
Contribution: Nina, Lemons & Luggage
When talking about magical places to visit in Germany it’s probably wise to include one of Germany’s many UNESCO World Heritage Sites – the Speicherstadt in Hamburg. You might not think that the center of Germany’s second-largest city could have anything enchanting to offer. After all, city centers are usually crowded and noisy. But the Speicherstadt offers a charming escape from the hustle and bustle of downtown Hamburg. Walking through this historic warehouse district transports you 100 years back in time.
All the buildings in the Speicherstadt were built on oak logs between 1883 and 1927. Since Hamburg was a major trade city, this part of the port was built in order to be able to store goods without having to pay customs. So it is here that spices, coffee, and rugs from all over the world were stored.
It’s fascinating to tour the Speicherstadt on a boat ride. Getting up close to the buildings by water allows you to understand the history of one of the world’s largest warehouse complexes. And at night, there are wonderful illuminations that make the Speicherstadt even more captivating to both locals and visitors.
Several underground lines lead to the Speicherstadt, including U1, U3, & U4. No matter which of the Hamburg neighborhoods you’re staying in, you will easily be able to reach the Speicherstadt.
Contribution: Oksana & Max, Drink Tea & Travel
Located in the center of Berlin, on Museum Island, and backed by the River Spree, Berlin Cathedral is a must-see. This ornate building is known for its opulent architecture, long history and is one of the most magical places to visit in Germany.
Construction on the current structure began in 1894 but was not completed until over ten years later in 1905. It replaced a more modest building, which the Emperor at the time deemed to not live up to his empire’s prestige. In his eyes, the new building would be Berlin’s answer to London’s St. Paul’s Cathedral or St. Peters in Rome.
Unfortunately, the current Berlin Cathedral underwent some damage during World War 2 but restoration efforts began on the structure shortly after the Berlin Wall fell.
Today, you can enter the cathedral and admire the Baroque style interior, see the Hohenzollern crypt (the final resting place of the Hohenzollern royal family), and explore the cathedral’s onsite museum. Visting Berlin Cathedral is a magical experience and one of the best things to do in Berlin.
Don’t miss the incredible views from the roof, overlooking Berlin’s historic center! Berlin is sheer magic for all lovers of history.
Contribution: Michelle S., That Texas Couple
There are so many magical places to visit in Germany, including one of Germany’s most romantic castles, Burg Eltz. Burg Eltz is one of the castles of the Romantic Rhine and Mosel Valley in Germany.
Burg Eltz is unique in the fact that it has been owned and cared for by the same family since it was built. Not only that, but Burg Eltz also survived all of the historical wars in Germany completely untouched.
Today, visitors can visit the castle by train, bus or boat from Koblenz. A car from Frankfurt, Mainz, or Cologne is also an option. Due to its isolated nature, there is some hiking required no matter what form of transportation you choose to take. Once arriving at the castle, you are treated to a breathtaking view of incredible medieval architecture.
Explore the 850 years of history by taking a tour of the castle. During the tour, you will see antique furnishings, an armory collection, amazing artwork, and the 15th century kitchen.
Touring Burg Eltz also allows you to pull the curtain back on the unique and interesting history associated with the castle and the family that still calls it home.
nuremburg christmas markets
Contribution: RJ, RJ on Tour
The German city of Nuremberg is considered one of the most Christmas-y places in Germany. The city has a great atmosphere, is decorated to the nines, and is an overall fun place to visit. The Imperial Castle overlooking the city sets the backdrop for the festivities, and the Church of Our Lady frames the Christmas market perfectly.
Nuremberg’s streets are lined with seasonal stalls, selling a variety of food and drink, including the famous Nuremberg Sausages. The aroma of the city’s famous gingerbread is everywhere you go, tempting visitors to eat, drink, and be merry. Drinks are enjoyed by revellers, mostly consuming local beer or a mug of some warm, mulled concoction.
As the sun goes down, performances of traditional festive songs from a stage enhance the feeling of magic. People tour the city on foot, or, if you’re one of the lucky ones, on a horse and carriage. The iconic riverbanks fill up with tourists and locals alike, enjoying a tipple under the many lights adorning Nuremberg.
Half a million visitors come each December to share in the magic of Christkindlesmarkt and the other goings-on in the city. Nuremburg Christmas Market is definitely worth adding to your list of epic Christmas Markets in Europe.
The city is easy to get to on the ICE train from many places in Europe. Alternatively, the city has an International airport for those travelling from further afield.
Contribution: Kamila N., My Wanderlust
Goerlitz is a real gem that not many people seem to know about. The city was founded in the 10th century and with such a long and rich history it is packed with monuments.
In fact, Goerlitz is known as the city with the highest number of monuments in Germany, you can find over 4.000 historical buildings here! Wandering around narrow, picturesque lanes filled with history and the spirit of old times is a pure pleasure.
When visiting Goerlitz, you might feel like you know the place – and that might be true. Numerous movies, both German and international, were filmed here. Some of the titles you might know include “Grand Budapest Hotel”, “The Reader” or “Inglorious Bastards”.
Goerlitz is located right on the Polish-German border and a short walk across the river can take you to Zgorzelec. These two cities used to be one but after World War Two they were divided by the border.
The Czech Republic isn’t far away either, so you can enjoy all three countries when visiting Goerlitz. It’s also a perfect day trip from Dresden!
You should stay here longer than a day, however, to enjoy the city to the fullest and discover all its magic. Be sure to also check out the hidden gems, such as Kaufhaus where “Grand Budapest Hotel was filmed or the Upper Lusatian Library of Sciences.
elbe sandstone mountains
Contribution: Elisa, World in Paris
The Elbe Sandstone Mountains is a fairy-tale natural area located by the river Elbe, well known for its rocky formations and beautiful forests. The Elbe Sandstone Mountains are located in Saxon Switzerland National Park, in the German state of Saxony.
The park is very close to the Czech border so it is also possible to visit on a day trip from the Czech Republic.
Within the Elbe Sandstone Mountains, the Bastei Bridge is the most popular site. This man-made bridge crosses an impressive precipice and the mountains around are really spectacular. The Bastei Bridge is the most popular guided day tour from Dresden. You’ll find the surrounding area is quite popular with tourists.
Despite its beauty, the Bastei Bridge is just a site in the national park. To get the most out of this area, it’s best to explore over the course of a day or multi-day hike.
Among all the hikes around the Bastei Bridge, the Painters Hike is the most popular one. This multi-day hike is well marked and goes through the forest but also through small towns so there’s accommodation and good food everywhere.
Public transportation in this area is scarce. If you want to do more than the Bastei Bridge, renting a car or hiring a driver is your best option.
dresden city center
Contribution: Inma G., A World To Travel
Fully rebuilt after being destroyed in WWII – something that took almost 80 years – Dresden won’t be a hidden gem for longer. The city center is also one of the most magical areas to visit.
It would not do justice to relate the complex recent history of this city, capital of the eastern German state of Saxony, in just a couple of paragraphs. So it will suffice to say that the Second World War – towards its end – was especially cruel to the architecture and inhabitants of this beauty in the German region of Saxony.
Thus, the British / American aerial bombing attack from February 13 to 15, 2045 left it practically in ruins and it was not until recently that the historic center regained the glory it once had after being completely rehabilitated.
Thanks to this effort of enormous proportions, it is once again possible to enjoy impressive buildings and architectural ensembles such as the Zwinger, the Semper Opera, the Albertinum, the Katholische Hofkirche, the Green Vault, the Old Masters Picture Gallery, and my favorite, the bright and impossibly shaped – in true baroque style – Lutheran church Dresden’s Frauenkirche.
Highly recommended for lovers of the always – with Hegel’s permission – exciting first art. Enjoy all of the magic that Dresden has to offer for anyone who pays a visit.
Contribution: Daniela, Ipanema Travels
Monschau is perhaps the most romantic little town in Germany. With its half-timbered houses and the castle perched on a hill, it feels as if you are stepping straight into a fairy-tale setting. Monschau is located in the beautiful Eifel region and can be used as a base to explore the area. Equally, it can be visited on a day trip from the nearby Aachen (30 km), or from Cologne (100 km), Bonn (100 km) and Dusseldorf (110 km).
For the most beautiful view, take the panoramic trail that leads to the ruins of Der Haller tower and stop midway on the panorama terrace. From there you can marvel a bird’s eye view of the town, the meandering river and the surrounding green hills.
Take a walk along the cobbled streets and delight in the view from the numerous bridges on the Rur River. Stop at one of the cafes on the Market Square and enjoy the lively atmosphere with a glass of your favorite drink. If you are into museums, you can visit the Red House museum or the Mustard Mill, where you can learn everything about the production of mustard.
During the most magical time of the year, Monschau turns into the perfect snow-globe Christmas village, welcoming visitors eager to prove the authentic German Christmas market atmosphere. Let the smell of roasted chestnuts and mulled wine lead you through the maze of Christmas stalls as you wander through one of the most magical places to visit in Germany.
Contribution: Stephanie, History Fan Girl
While most people visiting Berlin know to take a day trip from Berlin to Potsdam to see the palaces there, fewer tourists know that Charlottenburg Palace (within the city limits) is also a must-see.
This baroque German palace is located in its eponymous Charlottenburg district. It dates to the end of the seventeenth century with substantial additions made during the eighteenth century.
The palace was the brainchild of Sophie Charlotte (hence, Charlottenburg) the wife of the Elector Frederich I. Frederick the Great would go on to make significant contributions to the palace during the 1740s.
Opt for the audio tour in order to fully grasp the history while learning about the function of each of the rooms. The bedrooms and chapel are especially sumptuous.
To get here, take bus 109 or M45, train RE4, or the U7 subway line. Of course, you can also take an Uber or a taxi, but they’re overpriced in Berlin compared to the cost-effective and efficient public transportation.
Contribution: Gizelle, Our City Travels
Germany, despite its modern and industrialized cities, still has romantic and laid back areas worth exploring. Drachenfels (Dragon’s Rock Hill) in Königswinter near Bonn, is one worth visiting whichever season. The Drachenburg Castle sitting atop the middle of the hill, although a private villa, can be toured when you want some hours away from the hurly-burly city life.
Going up the Drachenburg Castle is a treat itself. The Drachensfeldbahn is one way to go up the castle, it is Germany’s oldest cog railway, so make sure to hop on this historical transport system when you go. You will definitely enjoy the view while going up.
The castle was built in 1882, but there’s a ruin of an older castle when you go further to the top of the hill (the last stop for the cog railway). There are a number of tours one can book for when you choose to explore the inside of the castle.
Taking photos of the interior is not allowed, but the staircases and stained-glass windows are worth staring at. There are also many spots where you can have a wonderful view of the Rhine river and valley, most beautiful at sunset.
Contribution: Wendy W., The Nomadic Vegan
Konstanz, which sits right on the shores of the Bodensee (“Lake Constance” in English) and within walking distance of the border with Switzerland, is the perfect base for exploring this charming area. Lake Constance is an outdoor lover’s playground, with plenty of opportunities for cycling, hiking, swimming and other activities.
It’s actually two lakes in one, which are linked together by the Rhine river. To the west of Konstanz is the smaller of the two, called the Untersee, and to the east is the much bigger Obersee. The circumference of both lakes combined is 260 kilometers, so doing a full loop on foot or on a bicycle is a pretty big undertaking. But there are lots of shorter hikes and cycle rides to nearby villages and towns, including some easy outings that are ideal for families.
Reichenau Island and its medieval abbey is a must for history and culture lovers. Mainau Island, on the other hand, is full of flowers, birds and butterflies, so it’s a perfect place to commune with nature. And of course, you’ll want to leave some time to explore the city of Konstanz itself. Its most notable monument is probably the Imperia Statue. In this controversial work of art, a scantily-clad woman holds up images of Emperor Sigismund and Pope Martin V, both of whom are stark naked!
Contribution: James I., Travel Collecting
One of the most magical places to visit in Germany is the Upper Rhine Valley. The Rhine River runs through a gorge for about forty miles that would be incredibly picturesque all by itself. However, add vineyards, colorful villages and about forty castles and you have pure magic.
A train line runs alongside the river and there are roads that allow for random wandering, but perhaps the best way to see the river valley is on the river. Cruises on the Rhine River leave daily April – October between Koblenz and Rudesheim. The trip takes about six hours, but you can get off along the way and spend a couple of hours – or, even better, a couple of day – along the way.
The villages are right down on the riverbanks and most of the castles are perched high above on the hills. In between are woods or striped vineyards that produce wine that the region is famous for (Riesling, anyone?).
An exception is Pfalzgrafenstein Castle, a ship-shaped castle on an island in the middle of the river that is one of the highlights. Another famous landmark is Lorelei Rock, site of the famous siren who lured unsuspecting sailors to their doom in German folktales.
Whether you love to explore villages, to sail, to immerse yourself in history or just to drink wine, you will adore the magical Rhine Valley.
berchtesgaden national park
Contribution: Toccara, Forget Someday
Berchtesgaden National Park in Germany is 81 square miles/210 sq km near the border of Austria. Renting a car is your best option for getting to the park. However, there are relatively accessible bus and train routes from both Munich and Salzburg as well. Once you arrive at the central bus/train station in the town of Berchtesgaden, hop on RVO bus (839, 841 or 843) to the national park.
Within the park, there are several options for exploring. Take the cable car to the peak of Jenner Mountain (6,148 feet/1,874 meters) and enjoy absolutely breathtaking views of the surrounding Bavarian Alps and Lake Königssee below. There are also hiking trails that guide you to the top of the mountain if you’re feeling extra adventurous. Of course, you can always take the cable car up and enjoy a leisurely stroll down.
Lake Königssee is Germany’s cleanest and deepest lake. Swimming is permitted. You can also rent a row boat or enjoy a guided tour of the lake on an electric boat (though the commentary is in German). There are three stops on the boat tour, though one simply stops at the trailhead of a strenuous hike and must be requested in advance. Probably the most popular stop on the lake is St. Bartholomä Church. The final stop is Salet, which provides stunning hiking opportunities for all fitness levels.
Complete with authentic Bavarian restaurants and beer gardens, along with unrivaled gorgeous views, Berchtesgaden National Park is a truly magical place in Germany that you’ll definitely want to add to your list!
Contribution: Kathryn B., Wandering Bird
If you’re looking for a magical location, nowhere compares to the real-life Disney castle– Neuschwanstein.
Neuschwanstein Castle is perched on top of a hillside, with awe-inspiring views of the surrounding countryside. It’s in southern Germany and easily accessed from Munich.
The best way to visit the castle is to drive, but you can also get there by bus or organised tour. Prepare for it to be busy – millions of people visit the castle every year and wait times are often over an hour.
Don’t forget to buy your tickets at the bottom of the hill before you start going up. Photos inside are forbidden, but it’s incredibly opulent- especially the throne room. There’s even a fairy grotto!
If you want the best view and photograph of the castle exterior, you need to walk up the (very steep!) hill past the castle to Marienbrucke Bridge. You can access the bridge by walking to the right of the castle and following the path. Go here first, before the castle tour, so you can (hopefully) avoid the crowds.
Opening times vary throughout the year, so check on the website. The best time to visit is first thing in the morning- before the tour buses arrive.
Contribution: Diana, Travels in Poland
At the very southern tip of Germany near Lake Constance and the border with Switzerland is the majestic Mainau Island. With over 111 acres of land to roam, this “flower island” is a beautiful place to visit as it contains hundreds of different kinds of flowers all across the island that visitors can enjoy year round. There are paths and gardens dedicated to specific flowers, including entire rose, dahlia, and peonies. The island is for people only and is a car-free zone.
Mainau is also home to giant sequoia trees that were planted around the island and create a spectacular pathway. There is a butterfly garden, arboretum, a church as well as a castle and towers. There are several restaurants spread out throughout the island that offer a variety of different dishes.
The island also has a massive Kinderland where children have several playgrounds located in one area. The playgrounds include a small river boat crossing and echo houses. Mainau Island draws in thousands of visitors every year, and is best visited in spring, summer or early fall.
Contribution: Diana, Travels in Poland
Located about an hour outside the southern German city of Stuttgart, Hohenzollern Castle is one of the best and most preserved castles to visit in Baden Wurttemberg – truly one of the most magical places to visit in Germany. The castle sits very high atop a hill, Mount Hohenzollern, which looks out over the beautiful German landscape. From the hilltop you can see far out into the distance, which creates a magical experience.
The castle itself used to be a refuge and was rebuilt several times, being a home for the House of Hohenzollern, as well for crown princes and other members of the monarchy. It dates back to about the 1000s, and by the 1400s it was completely destroyed and rebuilt. The castle interior holds a library, kitchen, a treasure chamber and several other rooms. The exterior is quite majestic, with several looming towers which give it a very palatial feel.
As the castle sits atop a very tall hill, it is accessible by car only to a certain point, where vehicles must be parked. From there, a bus can take tourists to the top, or they may walk as well. There are guided tours in both German and English, as well as a variety of events at the castle throughout the year.
What recommendations do you have for most magical places to visit in Germany? Drop a comment below!