World Heritage sites in Germany

With a rich cultural legacy, historic towns and enchanting landscapes, it's little wonder that Germany is home to a staggering 46 World Heritage sites. The cradle of Modernism, Lutherism, classical music and fine art has Bauhaus gems, handsome cathedrals and charming old towns to marvel at. But this is also a country with strong industrial roots, so World Heritage sites in Germany come in the form of the Erzgebirge Mining Region and Völklingen Ironworks, and where cliff-top castles, manicured gardens and wild landscapes provide balance to Germany's cosmopolitan cities. From Bamberg's charming old town to Berlin's Modernist housing estates, Zollverein coalmine to resplendent Aachen Cathedral, Margravial Opera House to the vast Wadden Sea and the impossibly sited Wartburg Castle, prepare to be amazed.

Historic town centres

 Some of the best World Heritage sites in Germany come in the form of chocolate-box town centres with long and varied histories. Wandering through narrow streets to discover half-timbered houses, handsome town halls and Roman city gates, you'll be sure to have your imagination fired.

Bamberg: UNESCO World Heritage, The old Town Hall with bridge_Leitmotif German Summe Cities

Bamberg's Old Town Hall and bridge © GNTB/Francesco Carovillano

Architecture and design

Most famous as the birthplace of Bauhaus, Germany's architecture and design is something to write home about. The Bauhaus school was founded in 1919 in Weimar; several Bauhaus gems survive to be explored, while many of the country's Modernist housing estates are still lived in today.

Weisse Stadt

Weisse Stadt: Laubenganghaus, Berlin-Reinickendorf © CC BY-SA 3.0 Torstenww, WikiCommons

Industrial heritage

Germany's rich history and culture is tied up with its industrial heritage, and these World Heritage sites make fascinating places to visit. Pushing technological boundaries, Germany's industrial heritage sites range from mining regions to sophisticated water-management systems.

Essen: heritage-protected colliery Zollverein

Essen: heritage-protected colliery at Zollverein © GNTB/Francesco Carovillano

Churches and abbeys

Germany is home to some truly spectacular religious architecture. Cathedral spires, monastic islands and pretty abbeys are top pulls even in a stellar list of World Heritage sites.

Insel Reichenau: Herb garden with poppies

Insel Reichenau: Herb garden with poppies © Helmuth Scham/Tourist Office Reichenau

Cultural and intellectual history

From old Viking settlements to Martin Luther memorials and the Classical city of Weimar, helm of the German Enlightenment, Germany heralds a long cultural and intellectual legacy represented by a number of World Heritage sites. Don't miss Berlin's Museum Island, home to a clutch of world-class museums.

Bayreuth: UNESCO world heritage, Margraves' Opera House

Margravial Opera House in Bayreuth © Bavarian Palace Department/Heiko Oehme

Nature, gardens and landscapes

Nature, gardens and landscapes are well represented in Germany. Wide-open spaces such as the Wadden Sea and the country's ancient beech forests are juxtaposed with manicured formal gardens and landscaped parks. There's something for everyone here.

Chalk cliffs on the island of Rügen in Jasmund National Park

Jasmund National Park © Lookphotos/Guenther Bayerl

Palaces and castles

Lavishly decorated palaces and castles, from Potsdam to Würzburg, prove to be show-stopping German World Heritage sites. You can't fail to be impressed by the expense, expertise and extravagance on show.

Find out more about Germany's World Heritage gems by downloading our free eBook.

The Orangery Palace at Sanssouci © GNTB/Jens Wegener

GNTO-Logo-4-196x100 This content was created in partnership with the German National Tourist Board.

Planning your own trip? Prepare for your trip

Use Rough Guides' trusted partners for great rates

Rough Guides Editors

written by
Rough Guides Editors

updated 26.02.2024

Ready to travel and discover

Get support from our local experts for
stress-free planning & worry-free travels

Plan my trip ⤍