Churches & Cathedrals

More than places of worship, Germany's churches and cathedrals are also great architectural monuments often filled with priceless treasures reflecting artistic acumen through the ages.

Kölner Dom The riverside twin spires of the Germany's largest cathedral dominate Cologne's skyline.

Aachener Dom Some 30 German kings were crowned where Charlemagne lies buried in an elaborate gilded shrine.

Schlosskirche Martin Luther is buried inside the church where he pinned his 95 theses in 1517.

Wieskirche Rococo church rising from an Alpine meadow where a miracle-working Jesus statue was found.

Frauenkirche Dresden’s harmoniously proportioned church rose from the ashes of WWII with this spitting-image replica.

Ulmer Münster The world's tallest steeple tops this Goliath of cathedrals, which took 500 years to build.

Castles & Palaces

Over centuries, Germany has collected castles and palaces the way some people collect stamps – a legacy of the feudal system that saw the country divided into hundreds of fiefdoms until its 1871 unification.

Schloss Neuschwanstein Germany's most famous palace was the inspiration for Disney's Sleeping Beauty castle.

Wartburg Martin Luther translated the New Testament into German while hiding at this Eisenach medieval castle.

Schloss Heidelberg Destroyed repeatedly throughout the centuries, there's still a majesty surrounding this red-sandstone hilltop Gothic pile.

Burg Hohenzollern Every inch the fairy-tale dream, this castle’s the ancestral seat of the Prussian ruling family.

Romantic Rhine Castles More than a dozen medieval robber-baron hang-outs straddle craggy hilltops along this fabled river stretch.

Schloss Sanssouci Frederick the Great sought solace amid the intimate splendour of his Potsdam summer palace.

Enchanting Villages

There's no simpler pleasure than strolling around a charismatic village laced with time-worn lanes, peppered with ancient churches and anchored by a fountain-studded square.

Quedlinburg Drift around this medieval warren of cobbled lanes lined by more than 1400 half-timbered houses.

Lindau Pastel-painted Lindau has a 9th-century pedigree and a to-die-for location on a Lake Constance island.

Bacharach Pint-sized medieval Moselle town flanked by vineyards and lorded over by a mighty castle.

Schiltach In the Kinzig Valley, this romantic Black Forest town oozes history from every flower-festooned facade.

Görlitz Germany's easternmost town is so pristinely preserved that it's often used as a film location.

Celle A radiant old-world gem with colourfully painted and ornately carved half-timbered buildings.

Cochem Petite, pretty Moselle town with a hilltop castle and pastel houses.

WWII Sites

Shudder at the atrocities committed by the Nazis, then honour those who gave their lives to rid the world of the Third Reich at these original sites.

Berchtesgaden Alpine town home to Hitler's southern headquarters at the Dokumentation Obersalzberg, and the 'Eagle's Nest'.

Concentration Camps WWII's darkest side is commemorated at Bergen-Belsen, Buchenwald, Dachau, Mittelbau Dora, Sachsenhausen and Neuengamme camps.

Haus der Wannsee-Konferenz Nazis plotted the ‘Final Solution’ – the systematic deportation and murder of Jews – at this villa.

Historisch-Technisches Informationszentrum The deadly V2 rocket was developed in a Usedom Island research facility, now this museum.

Nuremberg See the site of Nazi mass rallies at the Reichsparteitagsgelände, then visit the Nuremberg Trials courtroom.

Laboe Clamber around WWII-era U-Boat 995 in this town on Kiel Firth.

Denkort Bunker Valentin This former submarine factory, built with slave labour, was one of Nazi Germany’s largest military projects.

Topographie des Terrors The site where the Gestapo headquarters and SS central command once stood.

Hamburg A window into Nazi horrors at Bullenhuser Damm Schule and former concentration camp Gedenkstätte Neuengamme.

Jewish Sites

Jewish history in Germany is often equated with the Holocaust, but not even the Nazis could wipe out 1600 years of Jewish life and cultural contributions to this country.

Holocaust Memorial Peter Eisenman poignantly captures the Holocaust’s horror with this vast undulating maze of tomb-like plinths.

Jüdisches Museum Extraordinary zinc-clad building that’s a powerful metaphor for Berlin’s chronicle of Jewish life in Germany.

Ulmer Synagogue Ulm's architectural showstopper sits near where the former synagogue was destroyed during Kristallnacht in 1938.

Judenhof The oldest, largest and best preserved Mikwe (ritual bath) north of the Alps.

Museum Judengasse This recently revamped museum traces Jewish life, with remains of Frankfurt's former ghetto.

Stolpersteine Blocks embedded in pavements throughout Germany marking the last residences of Jews deported by Nazis

Alte Synagoge Dating partly to the 11th century, this synagogue in Erfurt is one of Europe's oldest.

Train Journeys

Slow travel was never more fun than aboard Germany's historical trains, some of them more than 100 years old and pulled by steam locomotives.

Zugspitzbahn Have your breath literally taken away on this pulse-quickening journey up Germany's tallest mountain.

Molli Schmalspurbahn This pint-sized train has shuttled through gorgeous scenery from Bad Doberan to Heiligendamm since 1886.

Harzer Schmalspurbahnen The mother lode for narrow-gauge train fans traverses the Harz Mountains on three scenic routes.

Lössnitzgrundbahn The most scenic approach to Moritzburg Castle near Dresden is aboard this historical steam train.

Chiemseebahn Dating from 1887, this is the world’s oldest narrow-gauge steam train.

Schwarzaldbahn The Black Forest opens up like a kids' picture book on this scenic ride between Konstanz and Offenburg.

Wine Tasting

Be it at estate tastings, vineyard hikes, cellar tours or wine festivals, an immersion in German wine culture should be part of any itinerary.

Rüdesheim Sample the renowned Rieslings of the celebrated Rheingau region.

Kaiserstuhl Sun and fertile soil create ideal conditions for Spätburger (Pinot Noir) and Grauburgunder (Pinot gris).

Deutsche Weinstrasse The bucolic German Wine Route is famous for muscular Rieslings and robust Dornfelder reds.

Moselle This meandering region grows light-bodied whites and has a wine-growing tradition rooted in Roman times.

Mittelrhein Wine tasting here is as much about the romantic Rhine Gorge setting as the wonderful vintages.

Freyburg This lovely riverside town is the home of Rotkäppchen, Germany's largest producer of sparkling wine.

Historisches Museum der Pfalz The world's oldest wine is among the fascinating exhibits at this well-curated museum in Speyer.

Great Outdoors

Germany is an all-seasons outdoor playground – whatever your adrenaline fix, you'll find it here.

Black Forest Fir-cloaked hills, steep gorges, misty waterfalls and sweeping viewpoints await in this fabled region.

Spreewald Dip your paddles into this timeless warren of gentle waterways near Berlin.

Altmühltal Radweg Stop at a pebbled beach after pedalling past rock formations carved by this Bavarian river.

Saxon Switzerland Rock hounds can choose from hundreds of climbs on soul-stirring sandstone cliffs and rockscapes.

Zugspitze Only seasoned mountaineers should make the breathtaking ascent to the 'roof' of Germany.

Oberstdorf Downhill, cross-country or boarding: this pretty region has a piste with your name on it.

Kellerwald-Edersee Immerse yourself in the ethereal wilderness of ancient beech forests in this national park.

Spa Time

Soothe achey bones or simply take time to relax in one of Germany's sumptuous day spas, many fed by naturally heated mineral water.

Friedrichsbad Taking the thermal waters doesn't get more regal than at Baden-Baden’s 19th-century Roman-Irish bath.

Bade:haus Norderney Indulge in thalassotherapy at Europe's oldest seawater wave pool in grand Bauhaus style.

Meersburg Therme Relax in thermal waters and sweat it out in replica Stone Age huts at Lake Constance.

Kaiser-Friedrich-Therme Work out the kinks in naturally heated mineral water-fed pools in Wiesbaden’s baronial spa.

Carolus Thermal Baths Relax in oriental pools and enjoy honey rubs and deep-tissue massages in Aachen's elegant spa.

Vabali Spa In dreary weather, this Berlin spa with Balinese village and saunascape is the ultimate pick-me-up.

Islands

For an authentic experience off the usual tourist track, catch a boat to these offshore escapes.

Rügen Germany's largest island has sandy beaches, white chalk cliffs and historical resorts.

East Frisian Islands There are more seals than people on these flat-as-a-pancake islets in the North Sea.

Mainau This garden island has an enchanting profusion of tulips, dahlias, roses and orchids.

Sylt Big wind and waves translate into world-class windsurfing on this glamorous North Sea island.

Hiddensee For a genuine sense of happy isolation, visit this car-free Baltic island in the winter.

Herreninsel This island in the Chiemsee is home to Ludwig's II grandest palace, Schloss Herrenchiemsee.

Norderney The most accessible of the East Frisian Islands has enough soft white sand for everyone.

German Flavours

Sure, there are pizzas and hamburgers everywhere, but for a true taste of Germany try one of these traditional dishes.

Bratwurst Nuremberg's finger-sized links, grilled and served in a bun or with sauerkraut, are top dogs.

Pork knuckle Tackle this classic gut-buster in a Munich beer hall such as the Augustiner-Grossgaststätte.

Doner kebab A Turkish immigrant in Berlin first came up with this classic late-night snack.

Klösse Also called Knödel, these are dumplings found in different guises around Germany. Perfect comfort food.

Spätzle Noodle dish from the Stuttgart region; it’s often smothered in cheese or topped with lentils.

Black Forest gateau Enjoy this creamy liqueur-drenched sponge cake at the Triberg cafe where it was invented.

Haute cuisine Baden-Württemberg has the country's greatest density of Michelin-starred restaurants, including two three-star temples in Baiersbronn.

Breweries & Distilleries

Beer is as popular as ever, natürlich, but muscling in on the action are craft microbreweries and distilleries quenching the thirst for small-batch spirits.

Monkey 47 For German craft gin, this Black Forest distillery is at the top of the tree.

BRLO One of Berlin's foremost craft breweries – head straight for the beer garden in summer.

Preussische Spirituosen Manufaktur Keeping locals in high spirits since 1874, with handcrafted gins, vodkas and other potent tipples.

Zum Uerige Pull up a chair in this old-world Düsseldorf boozer for hoppy, malty Altbier brews.

Jägermeister Factory Tour Learn all about the famous green herbal liqueur at the HQ in Wolfenbüttel.

Brauerei zur Malzmühle A Cologne brewpub classic, where you can quaff malty Mühlen Kölsch.

Beck’s Brewery Factory Tour Tours and tastings at one of Germany's most internationally famous breweries.

Staatsbrauerei Weihenstephan The world's oldest operating brewery, rolling out the barrel in Bavaria since 1040.