The 20 Best Cities and Towns to Visit in Northern Germany

| Andrea Anastasakis / Unsplash
Anwesha Ray

Northern Germany attracts tourists with its amazing diversity – futuristic cities with a rich past, such as Berlin and Hamburg, as well as a multitude of beautifully preserved historic towns. We take a look at the most exciting destinations in this part of the country.

1. Berlin, Germany

Architectural Landmark

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Adam Vradenburg / Unsplash
Whether you’re going for a day or a month, the capital city of Germany is going to captivate you with its sheer diversity. Berlin, the cultural and intellectual hub of Germany, has art and history lurking around every corner, including a series of World War II memorials, amazing museums dedicated to art, architecture, sculpture, natural history and science, and some of the best nightlife in Europe.

2. Schwerin

Historical Landmark, Architectural Landmark

Grand building on the riverfront of Schwerin, Germany
Wolfgang Weiser / Unsplash
Schwerin is a stunning city punctuated by a large number of lakes. The most famous sight in the city – and a good enough reason to make the trip here – has to be the romantic Schwerin Palace, which stands proudly perched on its own island in Lake Schwerin and once served as the residence of dukes and grand dukes.

3. Rostock

University

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Photo by Samuel Svec on Unsplash
Rostock is worth a visit for its four historic gates and its beautiful churches, including St. Mary’s Church, Nikolai Church and St. Petri Church. But the main draw for tourists in summer is the beautiful Warnemünde Beach, a very short drive away from Rostock. When in Warnemünde, take some time to stroll along the Am Strom promenade, lined with cafes, restaurants and shops.

4. Lübeck

Historical Landmark

Foggy day on an atmospheric old street in Lübeck, Germany
Philippe Oursel / Unsplash

Lübeck is a Unesco World Heritage Site whose existence can be traced back to the Middle Ages. It boasts the largest historic old town in Germany, which is lined by Renaissance guild houses and crisscrossed by romantic alleys. The symbol of Lübeck is the Holstentor, a fairytale brick gothic gate from the 15th century.

5. Bremen

Architectural Landmark

Hustle and bustle at Bremen Christmas Market, Germany
Dyana Wing So / Unsplash
Bremen was made famous by the Brothers Grimm fairy tale The Town Musicians of Bremen, and sculptures of the four unlikely friends can still be spotted in town. The skyline of Bremen is composed of stunning historic architecture, the most noteworthy being the medieval Bremen Cathedral and the Unesco-listed city hall, deemed to be one of the most beautiful in Europe.

6. Stralsund

Historical Landmark

Pretty town square in Stralsund, Deutschland
Samuel Svec / Unsplash

The skyline of the Hanseatic city of Stralsund is punctuated by a series of evocative brick-gothic constructions, including churches, the elegant town hall, and patrician houses. The Ozeaneum aquarium, part of the German Oceanographic Museum, is a favourite with families, and houses countless sea creatures, mostly from the North Sea and neighbouring Baltic.

7. Hamburg

Zoo

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Photo by Moritz Kindler on Unsplash
Hamburg is truly a unique city, where historic and futuristic architecture have blended seamlessly, making it an absolute thrill to embark on an architectural tour of the city. Don’t forget to check out the Old Elbe Tunnel, which runs under the River Elbe, and was nothing short of pure engineering genius when it was built in 1911. Elsewhere, art lovers will be well at home in the many fantastic art museums and galleries in Hamburg.

8. Sylt

Natural Feature

View of the ocean and beach in Sylt, Germany
Mark-André Schulz-Niemax / Unsplash
Sylt, affectionately referred to as the Queen of North Sea, is an island in the Unesco-listed Wadden Sea. Sylt has all the ingredients for a perfect seaside holiday – miles of sandy beach, rolling sand dunes, delicious food, biking and hiking trails, nature reserves, relaxing spas, and plenty of water sports opportunities.

9. Kiel

Architectural Landmark

Aerieal view of the skyline of Kiel, Germany
Marvin Radke / Unsplash
Kiel is a port city situated on the Baltic Sea coast in North Germany. A perfect holiday in Kiel would mean strolling along the gorgeous sea promenade, learning about the town’s shipping history at the Kiel Maritime Museum, exploring a Nazi submarine and checking out one of the world’s busiest artificial waterways, Kiel Canal. If you are in Kiel in June you get to witness the largest sailing festival in the world.

10. Binz

Architectural Landmark

Pier in the ocean at Binz, Germany
Robert Wiedemann / Unsplash

The posh resort town of Binz, on the island of Rügen, promises powdery white sand, a lovely promenade and picturesque countryside – all of which prompt flocks of German sunseekers to head here for their summer holidays. Additionally, Binz has a series of marvellous architectural works, the most significant being Jagdschloss Granitz (Granitz Hunting Lodge) and the striking Prora complex.

11. Wismar

Architectural Landmark

View from a little bridge in the small city of Wismar in Northern Germany
Jan Bolz / Unsplash

The picturesque port city of Wismar on the Baltic Sea coast should not be missed if you’re interested in medieval architecture. The Unesco-listed city of Wismar has beautifully preserved its gabled patrician houses, Brick Gothic architecture and a massive medieval town centre. The colourful Old Hansa harbour is a particular highlight for a scenic stroll by the sea.

12. Wernigerode

Historical Landmark

A cobblestone street lined with half-timbered houses in Wernigerode, Germany.
Timothy Kindrachuk / Unsplash
Wernigerode is a jewel of the Harz Mountains and arguably among the most quaint towns in all of Germany. Its skyline is dominated by the hilltop Wernigerode Castle, which looks down at rows of adorable half-timbered houses and an impeccably preserved historic market square. When in town, don’t miss the panoramic train ride up to Brocken, the highest peak in the Harz Mountains.

13. Lüneburg

Historical Landmark

Pretty town square in the sun, Lüneburg, Germany
Philipp Deus / Unsplash
Lüneburg, on the river Ilmenau, achieved the status of an important Hanseatic town and an economically-sound city owing to its high level of salt production in the Middle Ages. Most of the architecture of this historic city have been maintained in an almost-original condition, which gives the city an impression of being untouched by time. The German Salt Museum in Lüneburg is the perfect place to learn all about the rich history of salt production in town.

14. Quedlinburg

Architectural Landmark

The view from the castle overlooking the medieval town of Quedlinburg, Germany
Timothy Kindrachuk / Unsplash
Quedlinburg, a prosperous town and a prized member of the former Hanseatic League, is today the very picture of a quintessential German medieval town. A thick air of romance hangs about its 1,300 timber-framed houses of Wilhelminian and Art Nouveau styles, lining cobbled alleys.

Flensburg

The charming port town of Flensburg is among Germany‘s best-kept secrets. It enjoys a picture-perfect location at the tip of the Flensburg Fjord in northern Germany. While the waterside is Flensburg’s most photogenic spot, the town has a lot more to offer. The atmospheric old town, bustling shopping streets, 1,900 hectares of nature, beautiful ancient architecture and interesting museums contribute to make it an offbeat yet enjoyable city to explore.

Neumünster

Neumünster is a perfect weekend getaway if you wish to slow down and relax in the midst of nature, without running around sightseeing. Neumünster Zoo, set in a lush woodland, is home to over 135 species of animals, reptiles and birds, and is a very popular family destination for locals and tourists. Another must-visit spot is the sparkling Lake Einfelder, a great place to sunbathe, row or sail.

Eckernförde

Thanks to its rugged cliffs, sandy beaches, and the shimmering Lake Windebyer Noo, this port town seems to have been pinched right out of a glossy travel magazine. And if that’s not enough to convince you to visit, what seals the deal is the candy factory! Eckernförde is a popular holiday spot for Germans, especially north Germans, but it hasn’t yet caught the attention of hordes of tourists. So go before word gets out!

Husum

We challenge you to find a more picturesque maritime setting than Husum. At this adorable harbor town close to the Germany-Denmark border by the North Sea, narrow alleys crisscross past colorful fishermen’s houses, cozy taverns and tempting seafood restaurants. A walk along the dikes will reward you with spectacular views of the UNESCO-listed Wadden Sea mud flats. Other than bountiful nature, Husum also offers generous doses of culture in the form of 32 sites of architectural and historical interest.

Eutin

Eutin is wrapped by several lakes and verdant forests on all sides, which makes the town a sight that must be seen to be believed. The skyline of Eutin is dominated by the beautiful four-winged Eutin Castle. When in Eutin, make a point to visit the Bridegroom’s Oak, a tree that has been bringing singles together for over 500 years! Even if you are not looking for love, the tree is worth a visit for its sheer uniqueness and legendary status.

Korbach

Korbach was one of the few members of the Hanseatic League that were not located near a river or on the coast. Despite this, Korbach quickly rose as a significant link in the Hanseatic League thanks to its location at the crossing of two significant medieval trading roads leading from Cologne to Leipzig and from Frankfurt to Bremen. Today, travelers can walk down history along the Goldspur Korbach (Golden Path), connecting all the major historic and modern architecture in town. When in Korbach, do stop by at the award-winning Wolfgang Bonhage Museum housed in an ancient warehouse dating back to the Hanseatic era.

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