From today onwards we navigate a bit deeper into the heart of Europe: Germany. Our next six blog posts will reveal our Top 10 tourist hot spots in Germany, we guide you thru Berlin, compare Germany with France, and we will visit the Baltic Sea.
Top 10 Tourist Hot Spots in Germany | In large parts Germany is not worth a visit. Due to the World War II there is barely a handful of places able to compete with Belgium, France or Italy. Furthermore Germany does not even have nice weather. For those of you still keen on taking a look, I recommend the following 10 tourist hot spots in Germany – most of them located in the southwest of “Deutschland” in either Bavaria or Baden-Württemberg …
Romantische Strasse (Romantic Road)
1: Romantic Road (Romantische Strasse) | Our no. 1 recommendation. Why? Because this route touches the medieval city of Rothenburg as well as Neuschwanstein Castle – two major tourist hot spots in Germany. The Romantic Road is just a ‘theme route’ born in the minds of promotion-oriented travel agents in the 1950s. Those 350 kilometres of highway between Würzburg and Füssen link quite a number of picturesque towns and castles. In medieval times it was just an ordinary trade road.
2: Heidelberg in Baden-Württemberg | If Heidelberg Castle ever will blossom again, this old city would probably be Germany’s answer to Ghent or Brugge. Until then it has to make room for other European top tourist sights, only getting the scrapes from the kitchen floor. But there are plenty. As a relic of the period of Romanticism, Heidelberg has been labeled a “Romantic town”. According to wikipedia, this and its beautiful location at the river Neckar attract 3 million visitors per year. Heidelberg was lucky. It remained undestroyed in WWII – almost. The citizens of Heidelberg burned down the two Jewish Synagogues in 1938, and German soldiers destroyed the historic bridge over the Neckar in 1945. What to do. Narrow minded people trapped in their small world.
Neuschwanstein Castle and Füssen
3: Neuschwanstein Castle and Füssen | Located at the endpoint of Germany’s Romantic Road, Neuschwanstein Castle welcomes about 1.3 million visitors per year. For security reasons the palace can only be visited during a 35-minute guided tour. Annual revenues are logged at €7 million. Once you are done with Neuschwanstein, take a look into Füssen. It’s a small but beautiful town, famous for its violin making industry, and the closest transportation hub for the castles Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau.
4: Rothenburg (o. d. Tauber) | Rothenburg is known for its medieval old town, a destination for tourists from around the world. Rothenburg is also part of the Romantic Road through southern Germany. As a sad side note I need to add: Rothenburg held a some significance for Nazi ideologists. For them, it was the epitome of the German ‘Home Town’, representing all that was quintessentially German. Throughout the 1930s, the Nazi organisation KDF (Kraft durch Freude) organized day trips to Rothenburg from all across the German Reich. This initiative was supported by Rothenburg’s citizens – both for its perceived economic benefits and because Rothenburg was hailed as “the most German of German towns”. In October 1938, Rothenburg expelled its Jewish citizens.
5: Regensburg in Bavaria | The medieval city center of Regensburg is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a testimony of the city’s status as cultural center of southern Germany in the Middle Ages. Regensburg is constantly listed among tourists top sights in Germany. Generally known in English as Ratisbon until well into the twentieth century, the city is known as Ratisbonne in French and as Ratisbona in Spanish, Italian and Portuguese. The Dom (St Peter’s Cathedral) is a perfect example of pure German Gothic architecture. It counts as the main work of Gothic in the state of Bavaria – founded in 1275, completed in 1634, with the exception of the two towers. Those were finished in 1869. The interior contains numerous interesting monuments, including one of Peter Vischer’s masterpieces. Adjoining the cloisters are two chapels of earlier date than the cathedral itself, one of which, known as the old cathedral, goes back perhaps to the 8th century. The official choir for the liturgical music at St Peter’s Cathedral are the famous Regensburger Domspatzen.
6: Bodensee (Lake Constance) | Germany shared this lake with Austria and Switzerland. The tourism and leisure industry is an important factor for this region. Overnight tourism reaches 18 million visitors per year with an turnover of whooping 1.9bn Euros. Lake Constance is also one of the few places where modern Zeppelin airships operate and 12-14 people can take a trip above the lake around various points of interests. This has historical reasons. Friedrichshafen at Lake Constance is the birthplace of the Zeppelin airship. A museum will tell you the entire story. The centerpiece of the zeppelin displays in this museum is a full-scale, partial model of the airship LZ 129 Hindenburg. The exhibition also includes an original engine nacelle of the LZ 127 Graf Zeppelin airship and a Maybach Zeppelin car.
Today, Lake Constance has a substantial touristic infrastructure as well as many attractions and points of interests. Most important cities: like Konstanz, Überlingen, Meersburg, Friedrichshafen, Lindau and Bregenz (Austria) as they are the big hubs for boating tourism. Other main tourism attractions worth mentioning are the Rhine Falls, one of the three biggest waterfalls in Europe, the Mainau Island and Reichenau Island (UNESCO world heritage), the pilgrimage church Birnau, castles and palaces like Salem Abbey, Meersburg Castle as well as another UNESCO world heritage site, the Pfahlbaumuseum Unteruhldingen (German for ‘Stilt house museum’).
Schwarzwald (Black Forest)
7: Schwarzwald (Black Forest) in Baden-Württemberg | The most heavily frequented tourist destinations and resorts in the Black Forest are Lake Schluchsee and Lake Titisee. Both lakes offer opportunities for water sports like diving and windsurfing. Baden-Baden with its thermal baths and festival hall is kind of the center of the Black Forest. Other thermal baths can be found in Badenweiler, Bad Herrenalb, Bad Wildbad, Bad Krozingen, Bad Liebenzell and Bad Bellingen. This is a list of the most popular tourist destinations of the region: the old imperial town of Gengenbach, the former county towns of Wolfach, Schiltach and Haslach, the flower and wine village of Sasbachwalden. Picturesque old towns may be visited in Altensteig, Dornstetten, Freiburg, Gernsbach and Villingen.
8: Berchtesgaden in Bavaria | Pretty interesting: The lowest point in Berchtesgaden is the Main Train Station at 520m above sea level, the highest point is “Eagle’s Nest” (Kehlsteinhaus) at 1,834m. That makes a difference of 1,314 meters. Now please climb up a ladder of 1,3 kilometers in length to get a feeling for this elevation. Nowadays tourism in and around Berchtesgaden is fueled by a truly beautiful landscape and by Adolf Hitler. This mentally unstable and syphilis ridden dictator had been vacationing in the Berchtesgaden area since the 1920s. He purchased a home in Obersalzberg above Berchtesgaden. As other top Nazi Party leaders such as Hermann Göring, Joseph Goebbels, and Albert Speer also began to frequent the area, the Nazi Party began to purchase more and more land in Obersalzberg. In order to serve as an outpost of the German Imperial Chancellery, Berchtesgaden saw substantial expansion of offices, security, and support services. Included in the town were a post office and a new railway station, with a dedicated reception area for Hitler and his guests. The Berchtesgadener Hof Hotel, where famous visitors such as Neville Chamberlain and David Lloyd George stayed, was substantially upgraded. The Kehlsteinhaus (Eagle’s Nest) atop the Kehlstein peak was built as a present for Hitler’s 50th birthday in 1939.
9: Lübeck | And there we go! Our last two Tourist Hot Spots in Germany are not located in either Bavaria or Baden-Württemberg :) Indeed we found two exceptions from the rule. Number 1: Lübeck. Much of the old north German town has kept a medieval appearance with old buildings and narrow streets. At one time the town could only be entered via any of four town gates, of which today two remain, the well-known Holstentor (1478) and the Burgtor (1444). The old town centre is dominated by no less than seven church steeples. The oldest are the Lübecker Dom (the city’s cathedral) and the Marienkirche (Saint Mary’s), both from the 13th and 14th centuries. Built in 1286, the Holy Spirit Hospital at Koberg is one of the oldest existing social institutions in the world and one of the most important buildings in the city. The Holy Spirit Hospital is in parts an old and nursing home.
10: Dresden | Dresden looks back at a long history as capital and royal residence for the Electors and Kings of Saxony, who for centuries furnished the city with cultural and artistic splendor. Dresden was once known as Jewel Box and Florence of the North, because of its baroque and rococo city center. But a controversial American and British bombing of Dresden towards the very end World War II destroyed the entire city. After the war, restoration work has helped to rebuild at least parts of the historic center, including the Katholische Hofkirche, the Zwinger, Semper Oper and Frauenkirche. Without this World War II desaster, Dresden would have probably topped our list of Tourist Hot Spots in Germany. It ended up on the bottom. Don’t get us wrong. Dresden’s post war remains are still worth a visit.
Top 10 Tourist Hot Spots Germany. By Chili and Chirp | © International Destinations | Visit more German Gems here -> Germany.