German Fairytale Villages You Need to Visit at Least Once

Quedlinburg, Germany
Quedlinburg, Germany | © Sergey Dzyuba / Shutterstock
Photo of Marion Kutter
5 May 2021

Got Germany on you bucket list? Then you’re probably picturing enchanting castles, alpine views, Berlin nightlife and Oktoberfest. But there’s so much more to the Land of Poets and Thinkers. The country is studded with small towns that spread their share of fairytale magic. Each of them feels wondrous with winding cobblestone alleys, medieval townhouses and countless memorable photo stops.

Ramsau bei Berchtesgaden

Architectural Landmark, Historical Landmark
Map View

The Berchtesgadener Land district in the southeastern corner of Germany is all about the scenery. Ramsau, a village with a population of about 1,800 people, lures people to the Alps with amazing vistas. Among the delights here are the purling river, the onion-domed church, and the tranquil Königssee and Hintersee lakes. With snowfall, the entire region transforms into a winter wonderland before vast meadows become flower fields in spring and summer.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber

Market
Map View
For a truly immersive experience, head to Rothenburg ob der Tauber
For a truly immersive experience, head to Rothenburg ob der Tauber | © bavariaimages / Alamy Stock Photo
This is the epitome of a German fairytale village, often feeling like a scene straight out of the medieval era. The old town of Rothenburg is a web of winding cobbled alleys which are seamed with immaculately-preserved half-timbered townhouses shining in all colours; regularly, it makes the list of the prettiest towns in the country. The fairytale atmosphere doesn’t just draw tourists; it even attracted the filmmakers of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (2010 and ’11).

Ahrenshoop

Architectural Landmark, Historical Landmark
Map View

A salty breeze, the sound of the Baltic sea and enchanting cottages along the shoreline are the essence of Ahrenshoop. Once a fishing village, it’s impressively established itself as a popular resort town without losing any charm. The small village of only 637 people occupies a spot on the narrow peninsula about an hour north of Rostock; it’s the perfect base for a relaxed weekend of dune walks, birdwatching and cycling.

Schiltach

Architectural Landmark, Historical Landmark
Map View
Spitalstrasse in Schiltach, Black Forest, Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany
© Juergen Wackenhut / Shutterstock

The dense forests, extensive hiking trails and high-end spa hotels are the biggest draws of the Black Forest, but there’s more to discover. If you venture to the eastern end of the national park, don’t miss out on Schiltach. It’s an idyllic village that curls up to the Kinzig River. It’s composed of medieval half-timbered houses so vibrant that they’ve earned Schiltach a spot along the renowned Timber-Frame Road, which celebrates the most picturesque historical spots in Germany.

Meissen

Cathedral
Map View
The claim to fame Meissen has – if you can even call it that – is high-end tableware and crockery. It’s where the long-established Meissen porcelain factory has its roots. But, there’s much more to the village than delicate china. It is studded with imposing architecture from a 1,000-year-long history, most notably Meissen Cathedral and Albrechtsburg Castle. The oldest castle in Germany, it overlooks the historic town and surrounding vine-clad hills.

Miltenberg

Architectural Landmark, Historical Landmark
Map View

An hour away from both Frankfurt and Würzburg, Miltenberg lies on the Main River. It was once a strategically important location, drawing the Romans to the site as early as 155 AD. Today only ancient ruins testify to the early settlement, which eventually developed into the Miltenburg fortress in the 13th century. The town itself charms with half-timbered houses, a historic market square and scenic river views.

Sieseby

Historical Landmark, Architectural Landmark
Map View
Schlei-Region, Schleswig-Holstein, Northern Germany
Schlei-Region, Schleswig-Holstein, Northern Germany | © Gerhard Roethlinger / Shutterstock

Sieseby is a gem of a town, known for white-thatched cottages divided by lush rose bushes and hedges. There’s also an undeniable maritime flair, which naturally comes with being located at the Schlei Fjord, a North Sea inlet. Life here is slow-paced – make the most of it by renting a small boat for the day.

Rüdesheim am Rhein

Architectural Landmark, Historical Landmark
Map View

That the Rhine River is the most romantic of German waterways is no secret; between Bonn and Rüdesheim the landscape shines with vineyards, castle-crowned hills and scenic ruins. Rüdesheim itself is a quaint town centred around the charming Drosselgasse and the historical buildings there. It’s also the perfect village to immerse yourself in German wine culture.

Meersburg

Market
Map View
Meersburg, a town in the southwestern German state of Baden-Wurttemberg. On the shore of Lake Constance (Bodensee), it’s surrounded by vineyards
Meersburg, Baden-Wurttemberg | © Elena Zarubina / Alamy Stock Photo
Lake Constance is encircled by several stunning German, Swiss and Austrian villages, but the small Meersburg is particularly charming. Wandering around the old town here holds some picture-perfect vistas, from lakeside views to alpine panoramas. Much of the fairytale-like flair is owed to the twisting alleys, timber-framed houses and 7th-century Alte Burg castle, which towers on a hill on the town borders.

Quedlinburg

Architectural Landmark
Map View
The Harz Mountains doubtlessly rank among the most beautiful German landscapes. You’ll find a large network of hiking trails and cycling paths, as well as ski slopes, bizarre rock formations and forested areas; the region is also known for some wonderful towns. Quedlinburg is the most magical of all, thanks to a townscape of higgledy-piggledy houses, gabled roofs and cobbled roads.

Dinkelsbühl

Architectural Landmark
Map View
Woernitztor gate, Dinkelsbuhl, Middle Franconia, Bavaria
Woernitztor gate, Dinkelsbuhl, Middle Franconia, Bavaria | © footageclips / Shutterstock

Somehow, Dinkelbühl escaped the World War II bombing raids, with the medieval town centre coning out unscathed. Located halfway between Nuremberg and Stuttgart, it attracts day-trippers from both hubs looking for pristinely-preserved remnants of an ancient city. Seeing the town illuminated by the festive lights of the annual Christmas markets is extra magical.

These recommendations were updated on May 5, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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