Germany has had to endure a lot over the centuries and that is reflected in the cities. But that does mean that the appearance of the cities is quite different. The coolest cities in Germany are a mix of tangible history, beautiful architecture, nature reserves, and a large amount of art and culture.
Here are my picks for the best cities in Germany from the more famous ones like Berlin and Dortmund to the lesser known Fürth and Heidelberg!
The German capital Berlin simply cannot be missed in the list of the most beautiful cities in Germany. History, art and culture are some important pillars in this beautiful city in the northeast of the country. Berlin is raw — you see history reflected in all buildings, so you wouldn’t necessarily call them beautiful in the traditional sense.
In this city, looking beyond the outside is crucial, as you can see in my picks for where to stay in Berlin. Admire the street art scene, enjoy the bustling center, go cycling and visit the sights that make Berlin so unique.
Adjacent to the city of Nuremberg in Bavaria lies the historic Fürth. The city goes back at least to 1007 AD when it was named in an Ottonian document, so it’s seen quite a lot. Around 90% of the buildings in Fürth actually survived WWII. This particularly high number makes it immediately clear why this city is worth a visit. Many of the buildings have now become historic monuments.
Unlike the buildings, as you might expect, the Jewish community suffered greatly under Hitler. In the Judisches Museum Franken, take a sobering look at Jewish history within the city of Fürth.
If you want to enjoy the outdoors, the city park and the forest adjacent to Fürth are also worth a visit. Take a long walk or combine your city trip with a moment to completely unwind just outside the city.
One of the larger cities in Germany in Stuttgart in the east of the country. Most car enthusiasts knew of Stuttgart for its connection to Mercedes-Benz and Porsche. Both brands originated in this city, and, naturally, there are museums for them!
Stuttgart is also a beautiful city to see. Rent a bike and discover the streets of this German gem on one of the many routes. You can also admire the city from a great height from the Fernsehturm Stuttgart. It is the first TV tower in the world made of reinforced concrete (get tickets here). So you not only enjoy the view, but also a piece of history. You can also discover Stuttgart by simply strolling through the streets: visit small shops, enjoy a local beer, and enjoy the scenes.
The lively student city of Heidelberg is not only very cozy, but it’s also a romantic destination. In this charming city you can for example walk along the Neckar River via the Old Bridge (also known as Karl Theodor Bridge) towards Schloss Heidelberg. Until the destruction during the Nine Years War, this castle was home to the Electors of the Palatinate. You should definitely not skip the remains.
The University of Heidelberg is one of the oldest universities in Germany and dates from 1386. This university still provides a cozy atmosphere in the city. About a quarter of the inhabitants of Heidelberg are students, so the city often feels quite young. Admire the imposing university building, and then dive into the city center. Here you can shop excellently and enjoy delicious dishes in the restaurants and cafés of Heidelberg.
Munich, in the state of Bavaria, is a popular city trip. Rightly so! For many, it is the place to be from the end of September to mid-October, when the annual Oktoberfest beer festival takes place. If you visit outside this period, you can still enjoy all the beer. Enjoy half a liter of beer in one of the many Biergärten. Extra tasty when you are there on a nice summer day.
Munich is a beautiful city where the architecture gives the streets an almost fairytale-like atmosphere. This is best seen in the central square, Marienplatz and in its many churches. The Frauekirchen, Peterkirche and Michaelskirche are just a few churches that are worth admiring. You can also easily do a day trip to the famous Neuschwanstein Castle from here.
Discovering the city on foot is therefore the best tip you can get. Enjoy the beautiful surroundings, the delicious food and drinks and the good atmosphere.
As the second largest city in Germany, Hamburg is a popular location for a city trip. Located on the Elbe, it’s an important port city, because from here the Elbe connects Hamburg with international waters.
Stroll along the water in the evening while the city is lit up or enjoy an extensive dinner while overlooking the water. There are around 2400 bridges in Hamburg that provide that special atmosphere.
Hamburg had a hard time during the Second World War, as a result of which almost all historic buildings did not survive the bombing. Fortunately, Speicherstadt has survived (in part) and is well worth the visit.
When you visit you will discover that enjoying the music and culture scene is one of the nicest things to do in Hamburg. For example, it is one of the most important musical cities and there are many music stages and where I saw Hugh Jackman perform!
The rich history of Germany can also be found in Dortmund. Located in the west of Germany, the city was first mentioned in the history books around the year 882. It also saw a great deal of WWII, and as a result a large part of the inner city was lost. As many buildings as possible were saved but where they couldn’t, many green parks were built instead. This makes it a great city for cycling.
Some of the most popular sights in Dortmund are the football related locations. Borussia Dortmund is a famous football club, and you can visit their stadium, Signal Iduna Park. There is also the German Football Museum (get tickets here).
In addition to football, Dortmund also houses the LWL industrial museum and the DASA Museum, which revolves around working life. You can also go to this German city for a local beer. With the Bergmann Brauerei you not only taste different beers, but you also discover more about their creation.
From the Netherlands you can easily travel to Cologne. In Cologne, you can go for very different things. Around the holiday period you will find the crowded, cozy Christmas markets for example. People like to do Christmas shopping there, though you can find plenty of fun shops throughout the year.
As for some history, you can check out much of the museums and architecture in Cologne. The EL-DE Haus is the former headquarters of the Gestapo and has since become a very impressive museum.
A special piece of history is of course the famous Cologne Cathedral. Although the link with the Second World War was quickly made (the Dom was one of the few buildings to survive the war quite unscathed), it is of course a completely different piece of Cologne’s history. The impressive church dates from 1248 and can be visited free of charge. Definitely do it if you are in Cologne!
The old Hanseatic city of Bremen is located on the River Wezer. It is therefore no surprise that Bremerhaven is a real port city. Bremen is anyway a nice city to walk through. Discover the special buildings on Bremer Marktplatz and of course the Christmas market when you visit the city in December. You will also find the Roland statue on Bremer Marktplatz, which symbolizes urban freedom. The Roland statue looks towards the Bremen Cathedral which you can also visit for free.
In Bremen you will find cozy restaurants and terraces where you can enjoy one of the delicious German beers, a good cup of coffee, or an extensive dinner. The atmospheric Bürgerpark is a nice stop where you can completely unwind. The charming city park is full of trees, art, fountains and bridges that create beautiful pictures.
Dresden is known as one of the most beautiful cities in Germany. The river Elbe flows through the beautiful city center, splitting the city into Neustadt and Altstadt. In Neustadt, the industrial feeling prevails. There are many bars, terraces, and street art locations to discover. It is a nice city to discover by bike. Simply travel from Neustadt to Altstadt and enjoy the beautiful surroundings in the meantime.
You reach Altstadt when you cross the Elbe. It is the more touristy part of the city where many of the sights are. Visit the Frauenkirche, which was destroyed during the Second World War, but has since been restored to its full glory (get tickets here). There are also various palaces that are worth exploring. Most buildings have been given a new purpose. For example, Taschenbergpalais has become a hotel and Zwinger, a museum complex that houses the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister Art Museum.
The impressive and modern skyline of Frankfurt makes this German city also known as the Manhattan of Europe. The city lies on the Main (the city is officially also called Frankfurt am Main). This creates a photogenic skyline that gives a spectacular sight both during the day and in the evenings. Moreover, you will find many skyscrapers that give the nickname extra power.
For something quite unique, Frankfurt has a very special city beach on the roof of a parking garage. Between the palm trees, surrounded by swimming pools, beach chairs and bars, you can see a different side to Frankfurt from in the spring / summer months.
Frankfurt’s old town center, Altstadt, is full of sights that are worth seeing. For example, the Römer Town Hall is more than 600 years old and a beautiful building to see. Römer stands on the Römerberg which is the town hall square and also the center of the city. Close to the town hall you will find the Frankfurt Cathedral and the St. Paul’s Church that are also worth seeing.