Best Cities in Germany for Every Type of Trip
The home of famous writers, philosophers and emperors, Germany has long influenced the history and culture of Europe. Visitors come to tour castles and palaces, visit the birthplace of figures like Beethoven and, of course, partake in the tradition of sausages and beer.
As the second-largest country in Europe, Germany is varied and diverse, providing travelers with ample choices for the type of trip they want — be it a romantic getaway, a shoestring backpacker adventure or a museum-filled cultural vacation.
These are the best cities in Germany for every type of trip.
Why Baden-Baden Is Great for Luxury Travel
Baden-Baden is a favorite German destination for celebrities. The small city has attracted wealthy visitors since the 19th century, when it became a premier thermal bath resort destination.
Today, Baden-Baden still receives visits from European and Middle Eastern royalty, as well as people like the Obamas, the Beckhams, George Clooney and Richard Branson. But this isn’t a regular old spa town. Besides soaking up the benefits of mineral water, visitors can enjoy Michelin-starred restaurants, state-of-the-art spas and a casino designed after the palace of Versailles.
For a truly luxurious experience, stay at Brenners Park-Hotel & Spa. Going a billion miles above and beyond the usual wellness offers, the hotel has an in-house medical team that provides guests with annual check-ups, physiotherapy, nutrition consultations, and even aesthetic treatments — all nestled in a private natural parkland.
Best for Budget Travel: Frankfurt
Known for: European Central Bank, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's birthplace
Where to stay: Five Elements Hostel Frankfurt
Why Frankfurt Is Great for Budget Travel
Germany's financial hub is, surprisingly, a fairly inexpensive city to visit. Savings begin with your flight, since flights to Frankfurt's large international airport tend to be reasonable.
Once in the city, you'll be able to get around quickly and cheaply with its large public transit system. The Altstadt, or Old Town, is where most travelers concentrate their time, but if you're into modern cities, the city also provides a cosmopolitan skyline along the Main River.
Make sure you visit the house of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, one of the country's most acclaimed writers. And don't forget to eat as many frankfurter sausages as you can.
Why Nuremberg Is Great for Families
Nuremberg is mostly associated with the post-World War II trials that took place in it. So why does it rank as the best city for families?
For one, travel to Germany — especially with kids — should include age-appropriate lessons about the country's history, including its darkest period. The city has been central to politics since the Holy Roman Empire and is dotted with cool historical landmarks kids will enjoy, like the imposing Imperial Castle of Nuremberg.
Its traditional half-timbered houses will make your children feel as if they're walking in a gingerbread village.
Plus, Nuremberg's Christmas Market is among the most beautiful in Europe, so a winter trip will get the family ready for some holiday magic.
Best for Couples: Fussen
Known for: Neuschwanstein Castle
Where to stay: Hotel Alpengluehn
Why Fussen Is Great for Couples
You may not have heard of Fussen, but you've definitely seen its most famous landmark: the Neuschwanstein Castle, also known as the Cinderella Castle. What could be more romantic than visiting a breathtaking attraction that has literally inspired fairy tales?
Besides Neuschwanstein, Fussen is also near the gorgeous Hohenschwangau Castle and St. Mang's Benedictine Monastery. Nestled within the Alps, the town is surrounded by astonishing mountain and lake landscapes, while its Old Town exemplifies the beauty of a typical German town.
In the winter, you can bond through fun activities at the nearby ski resort. At any time of year, you could also go on a spontaneous day trip across the border to Austria.
Best for Solo Travelers: Bremen
Known for: Friendly locals, being featured in a Brothers Grim fairy tale
Where to stay: H+ Hotel Bremen
Why Bremen Is Great for Solo Travelers
Germans aren't exactly known to be the warmest people on the planet, but anyone who visits Bremen comes away with a different impression. The city is known in the country for its friendliness and hospitality, something that is always good to have when you're traveling on your own.
Bremen's old town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with Bottcherstrabe street's unique brick architecture particularly gaining attention. The Renaissance City Hall, however, does not fall behind, being the centerpiece of the main square. At the square (and throughout the city), you'll also find a reference to the animals featured in the Grim's fairytale, "Town Musicians of Bremen."
Safe, easily walkable and very friendly, Bremen is a destination that entices solo travelers who want a unique experience in Germany.
Best for Partying: Berlin
Known for: Berlin Wall, Brandenburg Gate, Museum Island
Where to stay: Michelberger Hotel
Why Berlin Is Great for Partying
Let's get something clear first. Berlin is much, much more than just a party city. It isn't Las Vegas or Macau, but rather a center of culture and history that houses some of Germany's (and Europe's) most important landmarks.
That being said, partying is a lifestyle in Berlin. The city is known for its night clubs, like the famed Berghain, often called the capital of techno. If clubbing isn't your scene, you can still enjoy the city's nightlife at its literally countless pubs and bars, which cater to every budget and style.
During the daytime, Berlin exudes electric energy that infects you, getting you ready for a night that will probably not end until after the morning breaks.
Why Leipzig Is Great for Cultural Travel
This Saxon city is known for being the heart of the protests that eventually led to the fall of the Berlin Wall and the reunification of Germany.
More than 30 years later, Leipzig maintains its irreverent attitude and desire to challenge, explore and create. This makes it incredibly enticing for cultural travelers who want music and art from the past and the present.
Historically, the city has been the home of numerous famous composers, including Johann Sebastian Bach and Richard Wagner. Follow the curved white lines on the ground of the city center to do the Leipzig Notenspur, or the music trail, which takes you around the main sites connected to the composers who lived here. You can also hear Bach's music performed at St. Thomas Church, where he led the choir.
For modern cultural experiences, don't miss the Baumwollspinnerei. An almost 24-acre space built on a former cotton mill, the site houses galleries, artist studios, exhibition spaces and even an art house cinema.
You'll find other alternative galleries throughout the city and will very likely get to go to a music festival or concert, no matter what time of the year you visit.
Best for Beer Lovers: Munich
Known for: Beer gardens, Oktoberfest
Where to stay: Hotel Muenchen Palace
Why Munich Is Great for Beer Lovers
Do we even need to explain this one? Munich is known for many things, but the most famous of them is beer.
Throughout the year, beer gardens like the large Hofbrauhaus welcome patrons who sit down at long tables and order pint after pint. But at the end of September, droves of thirsty people from around the world descend on the city to celebrate Oktoberfest, the largest beer festival on the planet.
Leaving without trying Munich-style beer, helles, is practically a crime that merits jail time.
Best for Beach Vacations: Sylt
Known for: Sandy beaches
Where to stay: Sol’ring Hof
Why Sylt Is Great for Beach Vacations
Most people wouldn't think Germany has access to nice beaches, but it's true. If you want a European beach vacation that's not plagued by having to fight for sand space, head to Sylt.
Part of the North Frisian Islads, Sylt gives you access to the Wadden Sea and a 25-mile sandy beach. Sand dunes border the beach, making the landscape even more scenic. Of course, the water is the center of attention for both people looking to sunbathe and relax and those wanting to get active and do water sports.
There also are plenty of things to do on land, with nature reserves, hiking trails, bike rides, restaurants serving local cuisine and bars.
Needless to say, this is one German destination you'll want to visit in summer.
Why Heidelberg Is Great for Philosophers
Germany has no shortage of beautiful cities, but Heidelberg leaves even the most seasoned travelers breathless. Crossed by the Neckar River, the southwestern city boasts Gothic church towers, a beautiful old castle and a backdrop of forested hills.
Career or hobby philosophers come to the city to follow in the footsteps of philosophers like Hegel and Karl Jaspers, both of whom taught at the University of Heidelberg, the oldest in the country. The institution is respected around the world, with no less than 56 Nobel laureates who are associated with it in different capacities.
From the old town, you can take a short 1.3-mile stroll along the Philosophers' Walk. The path takes you across the Old Bridge into the nearby hills, from where you can enjoy a beautiful view of the city. It is said that every philosopher who has lived in Heidelberg and every professor at the university has walked the path at least once.
Best for Outdoors Enthusiasts: Oberstdorf
Known for: Adventure sports, hiking trails, ski slopes
Where to stay: Das Freiberg Romantik Hotel
Why Oberstdorf Is Great for Outdoors Enthusiasts
Historic old towns are gorgeous and all, but sometimes you crave a little adventure in the great outdoors. With tall mountains, dense forests and 16 national parks, Germany is definitely a perfect destination for active travelers who want some time in nature.
If this is you, head straight to the Central Bavarian town of Oberstdorf. Located in the Alps, the town is best known for skiing, boasting the country's longest downhill slope and comfortable ski resorts.
During warmer months, thrillseekers come to enjoy extreme sports like hang gliding and paragliding. Hiking around the mountains, gorges and waterfalls is also a great way to enjoy the charms of this region.
Best for History Buffs: Trier
Population: 106, 284
Known for: Roman ruins
Where to stay: Hotel Eurener Hof
Why Trier Is Great for History Buffs
The Romans founded Trier (then known as Augusta Treverorum), in 15 B.C., making this the oldest city in all of Germany. Roman emperors, including Constantine the Great, favored it as a residence, which is why they left behind so many awe-inspiring Roman ruins.
Some of the city's most famous landmarks include the Basilica of Constantine, the Imperial Baths, Ports Nigra and St. Peter's Cathedral. If you want to learn more about its Roman history, check out the Archaeological Museum, which guards several artifacts from this time.
Besides Roman history, the city can be proud of its pretty old town and its picturesque Moselle River.
Why Wiesbaden Is Great for Relaxing
Traveling is great, but it can often be exhausting. If what you need is a relaxing vacation that will leave you renewed and refresh, you'll want to follow in the footsteps of Goethe, Dostoyevsky and Brahms and go to Wiesbaden.
A very popular spa town in the 18th and 19th centuries, Wiesbaden continues to attract people who want to bathe in hot springs, and get pampered with spa and wellness treatments. For even more relaxation, you can try sekt, or German champagne, for which the region of Hesse is known.
We also recommend taking day trips around the surrounding area and enjoying German fine wines.
Best for Off-the-Beaten Path Travel: Bamberg
Known for: Medieval and baroque architecture
Where to stay: Ventura's Hotel und Gastehaus
Why Bamberg Is Great for Off-the-Beaten Path Travel
At first sight, Bamberg seems like a regular picture-perfect Bavarian town with half-timbered houses, a scenic river and a main square dominated by a cathedral and a town hall.
But what makes this underrated city so special is that, in a lot of ways, it was the origin of many of the styles that have now come to define German towns. UNESCO listed the city as a World Heritage Site because its medieval and baroque architecture and layout influenced much of Germany — and Central Europe.
Why go for the copy when you can go for the original?
Best Overall: Munich
Munich was already listed as the best city for beer, but it also has made it as the best overall city in all of Germany.
To make this decision, we took into account cities that provided a bit of something for everyone and that could have ranked for any of the categories we listed. The No.1 city also had to be easy to access, aesthetically superior and extremely welcoming.
In all of these criteria, Munich stood out. How, exactly?
Why Munich Is the Best Overall City in Germany
Beer defines Munich, but it isn't the only thing the city offers. Built along the Isar River in the 12th century, the city somehow manages to be quiet yet buzzing, historic yet modern, and quintessentially German yet unique.
For history, visit Nymphenburg Palace and spend time at Marienplatz, the main square, which may just be the most famous in Germany. In the square, you'll find the Glockenspiel, the City Hall clock, known for the show put on by wooden figures on the hour throughout the day.
Enjoy sunny days in one of the city's parks and gardens, the best of which is probably the English Garden. Expand your mind at the German Museum, which boasts being the largest science and technology museum in the entire world.
Other museums include the Pinakothek der Moderne, a gigantic modern art museum, the Kunsthalle Munich, which displays contemporary art and the State Museum of Egyptian Art.
For luxury shopping, there are the boulevards of Ludwigstrasse and Maximilianstrasse, but you'll also find many flea markets throughout the city.
To all of this, Munich also has a very distinctive regional culture. Locals are very much Bavarian first and German second. You may see people wearing their traditional lederhosen while eating sausage and drinking beer. No, we're not joking. This really is a thing.
Add it all up, and you have an amazing place. If you were to choose one single city in Germany to visit, make it Munich.