The 11 Most Underrated Towns and Cities in Germany

Regensburg I © Karsten Dörre/WikiCommons
Regensburg I © Karsten Dörre/WikiCommons
Photo of Evelyn Smallwood
22 February 2018

Though Munich, Berlin and Hamburg are among the big city attractions in Germany, the country’s smaller destinations have a relaxing, picture-perfect allure all of their own. Here are 11 places to consider when planning a holiday that’s not so mainstream.


Regensburg has been a settlement of one sort or another since the Romans turned up in 179AD, and is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. Whether by luck or management, Regensburg has remained untouched by war, and now functions less as a town and more like an outdoor museum, with monasteries, churches and houses of the gentry all having pride of place among its residents.

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This tiny town (pronounced with a soft ‘ch’) has been going since the Celts were exploring the Moselle some couple of thousand years ago. In addition to the dozens of historical buildings nestled on a bend in the Moselle river, Cochem has the distinct advantage of being right in the middle of white wine country. The steep hills right at the river’s edge made excellent terraces, which in turn make Riesling worth the hike to procure.

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In the Cute Old Town department, there is not much in Germany that beats Quedlinburg. Equidistant between Hanover and Leipzig, the half-timbered houses have sagged with time -1200 years- but have not lost an ounce of their charm. Residents have not been shy with the paint can or the flower pot and the result is a place made for the camera, or a romantic weekend away.

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The fairytale aesthetics of rural, unbombed Germany are difficult to resist. The half-timber Fachwerkhäusen houses, gabled roofs, cobblestone streets (be sure to wear sensible sneakers), gatehouses, towers and lovely town churches – Rothenberg, 80 km (49.7miles) west of Nuremburg, has it all. In spades. For an extra bit of magic, visit at Christmas and enjoy the twinkling lights and Christmas market.

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The former capital of West Germany during the Berlin Wall years, Bonn has a thriving culture and lively bar scene thanks to its large student population and the many outdoor cafés and beer gardens. In May, the city is home to beautiful cherry blossoms and 2.5 meter (8.2 feet)-tall rhododendron bushes in full bloom, making it a must-see for any garden lover.

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Trier is the oldest city in Germany, dating back to the first century BC. Roughly 180 km (111.9 miles) from Cologne or Frankfurt, its position right up against the Luxembourg border makes it the largest German city off the beaten path. The trip is especially rewarding for those who love Roman history, as Trier has the best preserved city gate north of the Alps, three Roman batch ruins, the original Roman court and a 2nd century Roman bridge.


The Eiffel region in the northwestern state of Nordrhein Westphalia is a bit like Tennessee or Kentucky – rural and extremely beautiful. Monschau is a small resort town 30km (18.6 miles) south of Aachen right on the Belgian border that looks as if it has been frozen in time. Visit the coffee roaster, the mustard mill and the one of the many fantastic bakery-cafés.

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