The Best Cities and Towns to Visit in Northern Germany

Wismar, Northern Germany, combines stately period architecture with modern shopping opportunities
Wismar, Northern Germany, combines stately period architecture with modern shopping opportunities | © dleiva / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Anwesha Ray
19 May 2021

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.

Berlin

Architectural Landmark
Map View
Berlin skyline with famous TV tower at Alexanderplatz in twilight at dusk, Germany
© Scott Wilson / Alamy Stock Photo
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.

Schwerin

Historical Landmark, Architectural Landmark
Map View
Schwerin Castle or Palace (Schweriner Schloss)  situated on an island in the city's main lake, Lake Schwerin
© Sergey Dzyuba / Alamy Stock Photo
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.

Rostock

Architectural Landmark
Map View

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.

Lübeck

Historical Landmark
Map View
Old city of Lubeck, Germany with Christmas decorations
© Michael Abid / Alamy Stock Photo

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.

Bremen

Architectural Landmark
Map View
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.

Stralsund

Historical Landmark
Map View
Historical buildings in Stralsund (Germany).
© RicoK / Alamy Stock Photo

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.

Hamburg

Architectural Landmark
Map View

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.

Binz

Architectural Landmark
Map View
Coastline, Beach Baskets, Binz, East Coast, Western Pomerania, Mecklenburg-West Pomerania, Germany
© Hans Blossey / Alamy Stock Photo

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.

Wismar

Architectural Landmark
Map View
WISMAR/GERMANY - OCTOBER 2018: Historical city center and old houses in Wismar during sunny day during fall
© Mano Kors / Alamy Stock Photo

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.

Wernigerode

Historical Landmark
Map View
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.
These recommendations were updated on May 19, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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