Things to do in Germany

Must-see Germany sights

While the likes of Berlin and Munich are great in their own respects, the rest of Germany is generally underrated, despite its quaint medieval villages, thriving modern cities and rolling countryside. Those who venture further afield will be rewarded with a rich regional diversity, unique customs, fun festivals and plenty of castles to discover. Germany celebrates dynamic modern architecture as much as it respects its past, so whether you want to check out a cutting-edge art gallery or trek to a hilltop fortress, you certainly won’t be stuck for things to do in Germany.

  1. Neuschwanstein Castle
  2. Berlin Wall Foundation
  3. Cologne Cathedral
  4. English Garden, Munich
  5. Reeperbahn, Hamburg

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Rough Guides

1. Neuschwanstein Castle

Undoubtedly, one of the best things to do in Germany is pay a visit to the superlative Neuschwanstein Castle. Located on a jagged cliff near Schwangau and Füssen in the mountainous Allgäu region, in southwest Bavaria, the castle dates back to the late 19th century and is steeped in history. Take it easy on the second floor with their shop, cafe and multimedia room, before taking a guided tour of the third and fourth floors, which were once the king’s apartments and state rooms. You can only visit the Castle as part of a guided tour, but you’ll be happy to have an expert to guide you through the Bedroom, Salon, Throne Hall and more.

Best for: Fairytale awe.

While you’re there: Explore the surrounding Ammergebirge nature reserve.

2. Berlin Wall Foundation

Over in Germany’s capital city, Berlin’s East Side Gallery provides an evocative way to get to grips with the city’s tumultuous history – but also its incredible street art. This open-air gallery displays different, colourful murals across remnants of the Berlin Wall, and makes for a fun way to pass an hour or so. The Gallery is part of the Berlin Wall Foundation, which also includes the Berlin Wall Memorial. This is a more sombre account of the lead-up to 1989, when the wall finally came down and Germany was united again. There’s a small visitor centre where you can browse various exhibitions exploring themes and displaying artefacts from the period. There’s also an upper observation floor where you can view a remaining section of the wall.

Best for: Understanding Berlin’s turbulent history

While you’re there: Continue the tour at Checkpoint Charlie.

3. Cologne Cathedral

The Catholic Cologne Cathedral is Germany’s most visited landmark, and the second highest building after the less-appealing telecommunications tower. This striking, Gothic cathedral, with its twin spires (roughly around 160m high) piercing the sky and broad bulk spanning nearly 8000 sq m, makes a visit here one of the most breathtaking things to do in Germany. Construction began all the way back in 1248 and wasn’t completed until 1880; but a visit today is a truly awe-inspiring experience. Visitors have the chance to climb the 533 steps up the South tower and past St Peter’s Bell, the largest free-swinging church bell in the world, before heading up to a viewing platform for fab views across the city. Back down on ground level, you can nosy through the cathedral’s treasury which is filled with items dating back to the 4th century.

Best for: Stunning architecture

While you’re there: Take a guided tour.

4. English Garden, Munich

Wondering what to do in Germany that gives you a brief respite from the urban city centres? Munich’s English Garden calls for a break from the city, in the middle of the city. This sprawling public garden has loads going on: there’s a tranquil Japanese garden, a 25m-high Chinese Tower (with a 7000-seat beer garden next to it), and even a gushing flow river where surfers (yes, that’s right) like to tackle the current; either stand on the riverbanks or watch over the bridge for the best views. The English Garden is fun for all, as there’s plenty of space to kick a ball about, chill out over a beer or two and even consider the nudist section of the park. For great city views, head to the Monopteros, a white, neoclassical-style rotunda at the top of a small hill.

Best for: Chilling out.

While you’re there: Check out the Hirschau and Aumeister beer gardens, also in the park.

5. Reeperbahn, Hamburg

In Hamburg’s rebellious St Pauli district lies the nightlife entertainment thoroughfare, Reeperahn. It’s legendary for its party scene, and although it’s pretty touristy, it’s still pretty fun. Come nighttime, the streets are filled and drenched in neon signs offering cabarets, clubs and more. This is also the spot where many once-unrecognised artists performed, such as The White Stripes, The Killers and even The Beatles. If you’re looking at cheap holidays to Germany and want something lively, Hamburg is the ultimate German city to party in.

Best for: Letting your hair down.

While you’re there: Aside from its seedy red-light district, there are trendy cocktail lounges, hipster bars and dance-till-dawn nightclubs.

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