Explore eight of the best attractions in Germany: from UNESCO World Heritage Sites to natural wonders. Many of these attractions are free, and are easy to reach from cities like Berlin, Munich and Dresden. Don’t worry if your German language skills aren’t very advanced yet, all the attractions listed have English audio tours, signage or tours available.
- Neuschwanstein Castle
- Cologne Cathedral
- Bastei Bridge
- Brandenburg Gate
- Rothenburg ob der Tauber
- Eltz Castle
- Porta Nigra
One of the most famous castles in Germany, Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria is a relatively new castle. Built in the late 1800s for King Ludwig II of Bavaria, it towers over the town of Füssen near the Austrian border. Opened to the public only weeks after Ludwig’s death, the castle now hosts an impressive 1.4 million tourists a year. To see the incredible interiors, you have to take a guided tour and these sell out weeks in advance, so make sure you book ahead.
The incredible cathedral dominates the center of Cologne with its impressively ornate spires towering over the surrounding buildings. The cornerstone for the building was laid in 1248, but it would take a further 600 years for the cathedral to be finished. The remains of the Three Wise Men are said to lie in the spectacular reliquary inside the cathedral. In 1996, the cathedral was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it is one of the top sites to see in Germany.
Huge ragged rocks reach out of the earth with a stone bridge threading its way through them in Saxony. The Bastei Bridge has been a favorite of content creators for over 200 years, whether they were painters in the 19th century or Instagram influencers in the last decade. You can reach this popular spot from Dresden by taking a paddle steamer down the Elbe river, for the complete photogenic experience.
One of the most iconic places in Germany, Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate was commissioned by Frederick William II of Prussia in the late 1700s. Its design is inspired by classic Greek and Roman architecture, which was a popular trend at the time. The statue on top is Victoria, the Roman goddess of victory, driving a chariot with four horses. In the period following the Second World War, the gate was in an exclusion zone, which made it impossible to access. Today, it is an important symbol of the reunited Berlin.
Rothenburg ob der Tauber
Along the Romantic Road tourist route is the medieval town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber. Around 970, a castle was built in the area by the Franks, and the town sprung up around it. The ruins of that castle are long gone, but the medieval town and its walls remain. Beautifully preserved and partially reconstructed after the Second World War, Rothenburg is picture-perfect in any season and one of the must-visit places in Germany. One of the best ways to explore is after dark with the nightwatchman’s tour.
Close behind Disneyland Paris in popularity is a theme park most people outside of Germany have never heard of: Europa-Park. Nearly 6 million people per year visit this huge, family-run theme park spread over 95 hectares with 18 themed areas, six hotels, and a huge water park. Both kids and adults love this theme park in Baden-Württemberg.
Right up there with Neuschwanstein Castle for Instagram popularity is the beautiful Eltz Castle. Nestled in its own little valley near the Mosel river, the castle is owned and lived in by the same family that took it over in the 12th century, 33 generations ago. You can see the interiors of the castle wing that is not inhabited by the family on a guided tour from spring to late autumn. It’s definitely one of the best tourist places in Germany.
Roman ruins are not what comes to mind when visitors think about Germany, but the giant Porta Nigra gate built in the second century in Trier is worth seeing. Trier, near the border with Luxembourg in Western Germany, was an important administrative center for Roman Gaul, and impressive structures are sprinkled throughout the city including an amphitheater and unfinished baths complex. This incredible structure was designated a UNESCO Heritage site in 1986.
Make your top sites to see in Germany list
Whether you’re ticking off UNESCO Heritage sites or looking for those impressive Instagram shots, these famous sites in Germany are a good way to see the country. Plus, you can practice your German language skills!
Erin McGann is a Canadian freelance writer focusing on travel, living abroad, parenting, history, and culture. After nearly a decade living in the UK, Erin settled in Heidelberg, Germany with her husband and son. Dragging her family to every castle and open-air museum is a favorite activity, along with sewing, cooking, and weaving. You can check out her travel blog, and follow her obsession with half-timbered houses on her Instagram account.