For many visitors, one of Germany’s cities will be where to go first. Berlin is genuinely exciting – a metropolis on fast-forward, growing into its rediscovered role as the nation’s capital yet preserving evidence of its sometimes unhappy role in European history. Many other cities have proud histories as independent city-states or as capitals in their own right: thus, there’s nothing remotely “provincial” about ancient, liberal Cologne, Dresden’s restored Baroque splendour or the proud Bavarian metropolis of Munich. The financial capital, Frankfurt, impresses with its dynamism and international spirit, while Bonn, the former West German capital, charms with its scenic setting and excellent museums. Elsewhere, chic Düsseldorf and laidback Stuttgart embody aspects of the German economic miracle, while the eastern city of Leipzig fizzes with fresh energy. Mercantile Hamburg looks askance at the rest of the country, maintaining the worldliness of a great port, while Nuremberg evokes the triumphs and tragedies of Germany’s past.

Cultural attractions of capital city-quality are not limited to the bigger cities, and many of the most rewarding places are quite small: the cathedral cities of Bamberg and Regensburg; the Hanseatic ports of Lübeck, Stralsund and Wismar; the “Prussian Versailles” of Potsdam; and micro-capitals like Weimar, Schwerin and Eichstätt. Germany has university towns as evocative as any: Heidelberg is the most famous, but Freiburg, Marburg and Tübingen are just as charming. As for the spa towns, at their best – in Baden-Baden, Bad Homburg or Wiesbaden – they combine health benefits with turn-of-the-century elegance and lovely natural settings. For a potted digest of Germany’s cultural riches the Romantic Road is deservedly popular, a road journey linking Rococo churches with medieval cities and eccentric royal castles. Other themed “roads” are devoted to fairy tales, half-timbering or wine. Often, the most magical places – a fortress on a crag, a placid village rising above vineyards, an ancient market square of improbable quaintness – await discovery on such routes. Nor should Germany’s undeniable natural beauty be overlooked. The Bavarian Alps, the Black Forest and the valleys of the Rhine and Mosel have long been celebrated, but the talcum-powder softness of Rügen’s beaches, the smart resorts of Sylt and the lonely splendour of Mecklenburg’s lakes have yet to make it onto the international agenda: the world’s loss is, for the time being, the independent traveller’s gain.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Germany features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Video: is Leipzig the new Berlin?

Video: is Leipzig the new Berlin?

There's been a lot of hype about Leipzig lately, with many dubbing Saxony's capital "the new Berlin". But can little Leipzig honestly compete with Germany's la…

11 Jul 2018 • Colt St. George videocam Video
Leipzig reborn: discovering the city by Trabant

Leipzig reborn: discovering the city by Trabant

Leipzig, more markedly than most cities in eastern Germany, has experienced an upswing in recent years. It's now a dynamic university city with a colourful, wel…

05 Jul 2018 • Stuart Forster local_activity Special feature
The 10 best Baltic beach resorts

The 10 best Baltic beach resorts

European beach holidays haven’t always been just about the Mediterranean. A century ago, the resorts along the Baltic Sea were just as likely to attract the E…

16 Mar 2018 • Jonathan Bousfield insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Privacy Preference Center

Necessary

Mandatory - can not be deselected. Necessary cookies help make a website usable by enabling basic functions like page navigation and access to secure areas of the website. The website cannot function properly without these cookies.

PHPSESSID,aelia_cs_selected_currency,cookie_notice_accepted,RS,bp-message,bp-message-type,id,UIDR,w3tc_logged_out,__cfduid
__cfduid

Statistics

Statistic cookies help website owners to understand how visitors interact with websites by collecting and reporting information anonymously.

__utma,__utmb,__utmc,__utmz,_ga,_gid,__atssc,__atuvc,__atuvs,di,dt,ssc,ssh,sshs,uid,uit,xt
__utma,__utmb,__utmc,__utmz,_ga,_gid
__atssc,__atuvc,__atuvs,di,dt,ssc,ssh,sshs,uid,uit,xtc

Marketing

Marketing cookies are used to track visitors across websites. The intention is to display ads that are relevant and engaging for the individual user and thereby more valuable for publishers and third party advertisers.

__gads,PISID, BEAT, CheckConnection TempCookie703, GALX, GAPS, GoogleAccountsLocale_session, HSID, LSID, LSOSID, NID, PREF, RMME, S, SAPISID, SID, SSID,__utmv, _twitter_sess, auth_token, auth_token_session, external_referer, guest_id, k, lang, original_referer, remember_checked, secure_session, twid, twll,c_user, datr, fr, highContrast, locale, lu, reg_ext_ref, reg_fb_gate, reg_fb_ref, s, wd, xs
__gads,PISID, BEAT, CheckConnection TempCookie703, GALX, GAPS, GoogleAccountsLocale_session, HSID, LSID, LSOSID, NID, PREF, RMME, S, SAPISID, SID, SSID
__utmv, _twitter_sess, auth_token, auth_token_session, external_referer, guest_id, k, lang, original_referer, remember_checked, secure_session, twid, twll
c_user, datr, fr, highContrast, locale, lu, reg_ext_ref, reg_fb_gate, reg_fb_ref, s, wd, xs