A land of sea, mountains, medieval towns, and more, Germany can be found in Western Europe and has a population of over 80 million residents. As such, there’s plenty to explore when it comes to getting off the beaten tourist track. Here’s your guide to the best of hidden gems and secret spots in Germany.
- Church of St Ursula Ossuary, Cologne
- Thai Park, Berlin
- Blautopf, Blaubeuren
- Berlin Tempelhof Airport
- Burghausen Castle
- The medieval town of Goslar
- Rostock & Warnemünde
- Bad Homburg
- Eifel National Park
- Bonn Cherry Blossom
- Luisenberg Rock Labyrinth
- Hiking near Hannover
- Bacharach Wine Village
Church of St Ursula Ossuary, Cologne
By Sophie of solosophie
Boasting no fewer than twelve Romanesque churches, Cologne is a Western German city famed for its iconic Christmas Markets and staggering Gothic cathedral, which took no fewer than seven centuries to build. Of course, popular attractions aside, Cologne also has a secret side, if only you know where to look for it.
Hands down, one of the most unusual things to see in Cologne is the Ossuary chapel, which is located in the church of St Ursula. Alleged to be the final resting place of 11,000 martyred virgins, today the chapel is known as the ‘Golden Chamber’.
If you wish to see the bone chapel for yourself, then know that it costs €2 to enter. There was little information on how to visit online and, when I called the tourism information office, I gleaned little more.
Instead, we headed to the church and asked a lady working in the office to see the chapel for ourselves. We were promptly led to a small room away from the main body of the church, where the Golden Chamber was located.
Thai Park, Berlin
By Ali from Berlin Travel Tips
Berlin has some really great food, but one of the more unique places to eat is Thai Park. The real name of this park is actually Preußenpark, but since it is home to vendors selling delicious Thai food, it’s more commonly referred to as Thai Park. If you’re looking for interesting things to do in Berlin, this should be on your list.
Legend has it that decades ago, Thai families, as well as families from other Asian countries such as Korea, Vietnam, and China, gathered here to spend time together.
This was not food locals were familiar with, and their food smelled so good that a passerby stopped and asked if he could buy some food from them. Eventually this morphed into a street food market in the park where anyone can buy Thai food, among other cuisines, made right before your eyes.
For decades, Thai Park has operated a bit outside the law. There was no official business license or other formalities required of businesses operating in Berlin. The local officials simply tolerated it. But in 2021, Thai Park was made official.
At Thai Park, you can find a wide variety of dishes. From noodle and rice dishes to dumplings and skewers, from sweets to soups, from familiar to exotic, there’s sure to be something you’ll enjoy.
The food vendors are at the park almost every day from spring to fall, but it’s best to go on the weekend when more vendors show up. Bring a towel to sit on if you don’t want to sit in the grass. Preußenpark is located between the Fehrbelliner Platz and Konstanzer Str Ubahn stations. For more Berlin inspiration, check here for the best cheap things to do in Berlin.
By Diana of the Globetrotting Detective
Blautopf is a drop-dead gorgeous emerald green karst spring hidden in the medieval town of Blaubeuren, in the Swabian Alps, in the state of Baden-Württemberg, in southern part of Germany. It is the source of the 22-kilometer-long Blau River which is one of the tributaries of River Danube.
This sparkling little jewel has day-tripping proximity to many fascinating cities in Germany. Some of these beautiful cities full of historic places are the Bavarian city, Ulm, just 20 minutes far from Blautopf, Stuttgart, the capital of Baden-Württemberg, which is only 75 km from Blautopf and the famous Bavarian capital, Munich, 185 km away from Blautopf.
Blautopf is easily reachable both by train and by car. If you use public transport, you will need to change in Ulm, then take a local train to Blaubeuren. From the train station of Blaubeuren is just a 20-minute casual walk.
The best time to visit this unique shiny gem is spring, summer and early autumn when it’s sunny and nature is dazzling green and colorful. Make sure you get there early in the morning when the colors and hues of the water of the spring are the most vibrant.
For lunch, the best option is the café right next to Blautopf. Order an authentic German local dish such as Flammkuchen (tarteflambée with bacon and onion straight out of the oven) and a delicious German beer and enjoy the magical view over Blautopf.
After lunch, continue your magical tour walking around the old town of Blaubueren. Its half-timbered medieval houses from the 15th century will take your breath away. The most stunning part of the old town is Little Venice which looks like a place straight out of a fairy tale.
Berlin Tempelhof Airport
By Dymphe of Dymabroad
One of the best hidden gems of Germany is the Berlin Tempelhof Airport. This is a former airport and one of the first of the city. Moreover, it played a large role in the history of Berlin. It was one of the largest airports in the world, and it was the center of the Berlin Airlift just after World War II.
Since the year 2008 the airport isn’t in use as an airport anymore, and it stopped all operations. Nowadays Tempelhofer Feld is here, which is a recreational area that is great to be at. It’s possible to still see the former airport buildings and the former runways are accessible to the public.
Moreover, it is possible to walk here or do any other recreational activities. Many people go here to bike, roller skate, run, or to fly kite. Furthermore, it is a great place to hang out when in the city of Berlin. It’s amazing to bike on the runway, because it is such a unique experience.
There were plans to use the field for other purposes, but these plans were canceled. There is no admission fee to enter the park, and the park is open from sunrise till sunset. Besides being used as a park, also many events take place at the site. For example, there are concerts, sports events, and other types of events
By Christine Rogador of Romantic Places Insider
Burghausen lies in Upper Bavaria, around 110 kilometers west of Munich. Unlike many other European medieval castles, Burghausen Castle retains nearly all of its defences. The castle complex is the world’s longest, stretching over half a mile (1.05 km).
Burghausen Castle is located on a narrow slope between the Salzach River and the Wöhrsee, an oxbow lake, high above the town of Burghausen. The structure is divided into five huge courtyards, which provide the setting for the large main castle, clustered around an inner courtyard in its southern tip.
This area retains its defensive walls, gates, and towers, as well as service and residential structures for court officials and craftsmen. The castle has stood as a magnificent example of a Gothic fortress for more than a thousand years, dating back to the 8th or 9th centuries.
From the prospect of a Turkish siege to the defense against the Swedes in 1632, Burghausen Castle has seen it all. Despite its history as a defensive castle, Burghausen is still one of the most romantic places to visit in Europe.
Today, the castle serves as both a museum and a residence. Furniture, weaponry, and art from the fort’s heyday can be found in the state collections. The House of Photography meanwhile, has over 300 exhibits in over 15 rooms including the camera used on the first manned space journey . There is also a viewing platform on the top, with views of the entire castle grounds and the breathtaking scenery around it.
Burghausen Castle takes at least two hours to explore, so be sure to visit the museums, all five courtyards, the lawns and gardens, and take in the sights from the rooftops. If you’re visiting Burghausen around the holidays, don’t miss the castle’s spectacular Christmas market.
Burghausen castle grounds are free to visit, however the Castle Museum admission costs 4.50 euros per adult. 3.50 euros for seniors (age 65 and over). Children and students (with proper identification) are admitted free of charge.
The medieval town of Goslar
By Vicki Franz of Vicki Viaja
The imperial town of Goslar is a real gem, which is still widely underestimated in international tourism. The small town is located in the state of Lower Saxony, in the central north of Germany, and borders on the stunning Harz Mountains, clearly the most beautiful mountains in the north.
But a visit to Goslar is not only worthwhile as a starting point for unique day trips to the Harz Mountains, such as long hikes in amazing landscapes, walks, mountain biking, and winter sports. Because the city center also has so much to offer.
The historic centre of Goslar, which has been designated as a UNESCO site, looks back on a long history. As the summer residence of several influential German emperors, the imposing Imperial Palace, in particular, is one of the city’s most important sights. Inside the impressive building, there is a museum, but also some works of art that date back to historical times.
But you also shouldn’t miss the other parts of the center. Magnificent buildings surround the market square. In the centre of the square, you can find the market fountain.
Until a few years ago, the eagle, the city’s heraldic animal enthroned on the fountain, was still made of natural gold. The town’s Christmas market is also held here during the winter. Every year, it receives the award as one of the most beautiful Christmas markets in the country.
Stroll through the city’s winding narrow streets and admire dozens of picturesque half-timbered houses that will transport you back to ancient times.
Lastly, be sure to visit the city’s UNESCO-designated mine, the Rammelsberg. It was only because of this mine that the small town in the Harz Mountains gained its great wealth in the Middle Ages, making it possible to erect so many beautiful buildings.
Rostock & Warnemünde
By Bridget of The Flashpacker
Visit Rostock and Warnemünde for two destinations for the price of one, offering outstanding medieval architecture, a sensational beach and great food. Oozing historic charm, Rostock is one Germany’s loveliest cities.
Formerly a important Hanseatic city, much of Rostock’s heritage escaped WWII bombing raids and today’s visitors can enjoy its cobblestoned main square, (Neuer Markt) and the pink collonaded town hall (Rathaus). The city’s St. Mary’s Church is home to one of Europe’s oldest astronomical clocks.
Nearby Warnemünde on the Baltic Sea coastline is the loveliest beach town in Europe that you have never heard of. Its five kilometres of fine-white sand beach, flanked by a beach promenade and dotted with the town’s characteristic deckchairs, is made for strolling and relaxing.
But Warnemunde is more than its beach. Don’t miss the enchanting Alexandrienstrasse with its wooden fishermen’s houses, and Neuer Markt, lined with Renaissance-era gabled merchants’ houses.
When it’s time to refuel head to Warnemünde’s canal side, to select a portion of fresh seafood, a juicy brätwurst or fischbroetchen (a type of fish sandwich), washed down with a local Rostocker beer.
Top tip: To get between Rostock and Warnemunde, catch the frequent S-Bahn train. The journey time is 20 minutes. Alternatively, there is a passenger boat service between the two locations.
By Chris of Explore Now or Never
Beautiful Regensburg, nestled up against the Danube River and not far from Munich, is an exceptionally well preserved medieval town in Germany. Walking through the narrow lanes of Old Town is like meandering through 11th to 13th Germany. In fact, Old Town is designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Not just that, but Regensburg can trace some of these historical structures all the way back to the 9th century. There are so many things to do in Regensburg! Be sure to walk the 12th century Old Bridge here and explore the famous cathedral first built around 700 and then re-built in high Gothic style after a fire in 1273.
There are Roman architectural vestiges here too…like part of a tower from Castra Regina, a fortress during the Roman Empire back in 179 AD/CE. The biggest surprise?
Touring the torture chamber which resides in the basement of the current town hall. Think one-way mirrors in an interrogation chamber. Racks for torture and a dark cell for those unfortunate souls about to be hanged or pilloried.
Beyond the history here though are beautiful sunny biergartens spilling into sunny courtyards and cute cafes along the cute cobblestone streets. Cafe Prinzess, Germany’s very first coffee house back in the 17th century is famous today for its chocolates.
With more time, rent a bike in Regensburg and ride along the Danube to the striking Walhalla Memorial to see the neoclassical memorial that honors more than 2,000 notable Germans. Regensburg is just right-sized for visitors looking to experience an authentic slice of German history.
By Ann of The Road Is Life
The colourful medieval village of Dinkelsbühl is one of the lesser known gems of Germany’s Romantic Road. Dinkelsbühl dates back to the 12th century and its buildings have been incredibly well preserved considering its age. The town walls and towers are still fully intact, adding to the town’s fairy tale charm.
Once you enter the village, the cobbled streets and traditional buildings will immediately take you back in time. Wander along the main street to find the prettiest, timber-framed houses, each one with its own story to tell.
Learn about the history of Dinkelsbühl by visiting the 14th century town hall, Haus der Geschichte. Inside is a museum which showcases 800 years of the town’s history.
Another unmissable building along the main street is the Deutsches Haus. This 15th century timber framed house is easily the most beautiful one in the town. Step inside to enjoy a traditional meal or stay a while longer and book a room for the night.
If you time your visit right, you will catch the Kinderzeche festival which takes place in July every year. Parades and traditional dancers liven up the cobbled streets of the town centre. With food and drinks tents, music and performances, it is an excellent way to experience true Bavarian culture.
Dinkelsbühl can be reached on a day trip from Munich or can easily be included on a southern Germany road trip itinerary. If you’re driving from Munich, allow 2 hours to get there. The other option is to take a Romantic Road day tour from Munich which includes a few other stops in addition to Dinkelsbühl.
By Tom of Travel Past 50
One of the possible disappointments of visiting Germany is that so much of Germany’s art and architecture was destroyed during World War II. That’s especially true of the tall church towers, which were often used as targeting bullseyes for Allied bombers and artillery men.
Moreover, although small towns along the French-German border had no strategic value, Hitler ordered that they be defended to the last man because they were the Allied entry points into Germany.
Consequently, towns such as Breisach, which is a frequent stop on a Rhine River cruise, suffered awful damage all out of proportion to their military importance. So, it’s a real history lesson to visit places like Breisach to see a couple of things: what the locals were able to preserve from the bombardment, and, perhaps even more optimistically, what they’ve built up to replace what they lost.
In St. Stephen’s Cathedral, you see a restored church restored to its original architectural basics, but with little or no inside decoration. The windows are all modern.
The side altars all gone, the crypts collapsed. But, by foresight, the magnificent carved wooden altarpiece was removed from the church and hidden. And so, it’s there again today for us to enjoy.
But perhaps even more joyful than the preservation of the old is the celebration of the new. Modernist sculptures proliferate in the old town center. And, the old pump from the water tower building (which also served once as the town jail and torture chamber) has been turned into a whimsical piece of modern sculpture that recalls Breisach’s history–both medieval and modern.
By Sasha Naslin of The Alternative Travel Guide
Gorlitz is the easternmost city in Germany and one of its hidden gems. Not many tourists come here in comparison to popular German cities. Everyone knows that Berlin was divided between the two countries, but few know that the city of Gorlitz has a similar, even more impressive history.
Gorlitz is quite an ancient city. The date of its foundation is unknown, but under the name of Gorelis, it was first mentioned in a charter of the German king and Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV in 1071. There is one peculiarity of this town.
Until 1950, it was a single German city. After the end of World War II, part of Silesia was annexed to Poland. The borderline on the Neisse River passed through Görlitz, and the city was divided into two parts. Most of it, together with the Old Town, became part of the German Democratic Republic, while the eastern part called Zgorzelec became Polish territory.
During World War II, the town suffered very little. Only during the liberation of Görlitz by the Soviet forces on May 8, 1945, hours before the surrender of Nazi Germany, the retreating Nazi troops blew up all the bridges over the River Neisse. This is how they facilitated the future division of the city between the two countries.
Start your walk on the Polish side, at the footbridge that used to serve as a border crossing. Today, the premises that served that purpose are occupied by restaurants.
This city is notable not only for the fact that it is divided between the two countries. It is also a popular filming location for Hollywood movies. Around the World in 80 Days, The Grand Budapest Hotel, and many other iconic movies were filmed in Gorlitz.
By Daniel and Ilona of Top Travel Sights
If you want to go off the beaten path in Germany, you should head to Bad Homburg. This town next to Frankfurt is famous for its hot springs and spas. King Chulalongkorn of Siam visited Bad Homburg in the early 1900s and fell in love with the town. Here in Germany, he recovered from an illness. To thank the village where he had regained his health, he gifted a Thai sala, which you can still visit in the spa gardens today.
One of the highlights of Bad Homburg is to enjoy the spas yourself. The biggest one is the Kur Royal Spa, which you can find in the Kaiser-Wilhelms-Bad. Emperor Wilhelm I had his own private bathing area in this spa. Today, everything is open to the public, and you can enjoy a day of relaxation and wellness there.
Bad Homburg has a lot more to offer than just the spas and the spa gardens. One of the town’s main attractions is the Landgraves’ Castle. Don’t miss the Orangerie behind the castle, which is just as pretty as the main building.
Below the castle, you can find the castle gardens. Make sure to stroll along the lake, from where you have a fantastic view of the building. On a clear day, the white tower and its reflection in the water make for a stunning sight.
Bad Homburg is also a great town if you want to see traditional German architecture. Head to the Old Town, where you can find many half-timbered houses.
The oldest ones date back to the early 1500s. Due to a large-scale renovation project, most houses are well-maintained, making the Old Town one of the most charming neighbourhoods. The easiest way to get to Bad Homburg is by taking a train from Frankfurt. The line S5 only takes 25 minutes.
Eifel National Park
By Zoe of Together in Transit
For a hidden gem in Germany, find yourself visiting the beautiful Eifel National Park with a highlight of exploring Vogelsang. Located in the West of Germany close to the French border, the area is a dream to be at in all seasons, but Spring and Autumn is the best.
Vogelsang is a unique and historical place of interest within the National park. When arriving by car, park at Vogelsang for a wander around the 100-hectare location that was once a Nazi training military school and castle.
It was constructed in 1933 when Adolf Hitler demanded for new military schools to be built before the war. You can walk freely to see the housing area, sports facilities, tower lookouts, a community house and more. From the museum area you can also join a local tour where you will learn more in depth about the location.
From Vogelsang, it’s a great advantage point for the view of the Eifel National Park too. For hiking in the area, there are some gorgeous routes through the forest areas for those with a good fitness level due to the elevation. Else there is a flat accessible route around the lake.
There is also a lovely hiking (and cycling) route in a loop to the Eifel-Blick water dam while starting at Vogelsang. This is the hike most enjoyable as you can stop at the restaurant half way for a nice cold or warm drink.
Top tip: Don’t wander off the forest paths as some of the land was used for the military training and there is a still a risk of undiscovered mines and buried live ammunition. There is signage to see what parts are dangerous and what to avoid.
Bonn Cherry Blossom
By Sophie of Solo Sophie
The delightful town of Bonn can be found in the West of Germany and is best-known as being the birthplace of the famous composer Beethoven. Visit during the spring, and visitors will soon discover that one of the best places to see cherry blossom in Germany is in this quaint and charming settlement.
Straight out of a storybook, thousands upon thousands of flowers are in bloom, raining down light leaves and coating the ground as if they were snow. As I’m sure you can well imagine, the Bonn cherry blossom trees are growing more and more popular each year, resulting in more and more people turning up to see the week-long or so spectacle.
The best time to enjoy the Bonn cherry blossoms is completely weather dependent, and so it’s hard to give an exact time as to when the trees will bloom. Typically, the blooms will reach their peak within the first two weeks of April.
Luisenberg Rock Labyrinth
By Corinne Vail of Reflections Enroute
In northern Bavaria, not far from Bamberg, is a small and unusual hiking park. The Luisenberg Rock Labyrinth is a park full of paths that take you around, over, and even through huge granite boulders. These boulders have been shaped by erosion, and surprisingly some have been stamped with German sayings and quotes.
The labyrinth has an interesting history. It has been a popular tourist attraction since the the early 1700s, when noblemen and noblewomen would venture out to wander the paths, and doing un-noble-like activities such as stooping and climbing.
People of all ages will enjoy traipsing around the paths, climbing to the top of some of the rocks, and stooping to pass through some smaller openings. Even though the name implies that there may be a way to get lost, there isn’t. All trails are marked, and the most popular thing to do is climb to the highest point for a view of the gorgeous surroundings.
The Labyrinth is only open from March to November. During the summer, there is also a small, natural amphitheater that is the perfect place to catch a play or music production.
However, the best time to go and hike is in fall when the leaves are turning and the air is crisp. There are many mushrooms and other plants to search for as well.
When visiting, be prepared. Dress in layers, wear sturdy shoes, and bring water and lunch. There is no place to buy food on site.
By Bec of Wyld Family Travel
If you are looking for a beautiful, picturesque, unique hidden gem in Germany then head straight to Staufen. Staufen is an easy day trip from Freiburg and one that has a little something for everyone. Surrounded by fields of grapevines, Staufen Castle sits guarding the town.
You can park your car and walk up to the castle for views over the town and into the distance on a clear day. In winter the castle can be shrouded in mist giving it an eerie, mysterious feeling as you wander the ruins.
If you prefer not to visit the castle you can walk through the streets of Staufen in search of the perfect gift from some of the locally made handicrafts on offer in the shops.
Here you can also find some shops that sell local wines for you to sample and purchase. You can stop at one of the best cafe’s for amazing coffee and delicious cakes at Cafe Decker.
The interior of the shop is inviting on a cold day and soothing in the heat of summer. The only problem you will have is being able to pick what amazing slice of cake you want to eat! You can also choose some of the amazing handmade chocolates to take home with you too.
Across from Cafe Decker is the local butcher shop. If you are lucky they will have a bain marine with some hot local treats in it like pork knuckle, wurst or some other house-made delicacy for you to take and try. If you are lucky the town market may be being held while you are there where you will be able to buy fresh local produce at great prices.
Fresh fruit and vegetable always taste better when they come straight from the farm. Staufen is also home to the world-famous Schladerer distillery. The Schladerer brand has been producing world-class schnapps and Brandies since 1844.
Not only do they have a small shop that sells their products in Staufen you are also able to tour the distillery to see how this amazing product is made. On the tour, you are also able to sample some of the schnapps so you can take some home with you.
Hiking near Hannover
Victoria of Guide Your Travel
Hannover and the surrounding area are an incredibly beautiful and underrated part of Germany. Northern Germany is known for being very flat with lots of fields and meadows.
There are stunning lakes like the Steinhuder Meer which is perfect for an afternoon walk or a picnic. Brokeloh is a small town located 45 minutes from Hannover’s main centre.
This is the start of one of the area’s most beautiful hiking trails. The trail is nicknamed “Herman Löns Wanderweg” after a German journalist and writer who resided in the area in the late 1800s.
He is reported to have hiked here for inspiration, and some of his most well-known pieces are based on this stunning location. The hike takes approximately 2.5 hours to complete and is best done in the spring, summer, or early autumn.
You’ll be able to appreciate northern Germany’s natural splendour, which includes beautiful fields, lush forests, and hidden gems. Take a stroll through old tiny villages and take in the tranquility of this magnificent location.
You’ll see blueberry farms, antique farmhouses, and even some hills along the way, which is unusual for this region of Germany. This is not a tourist trap and can perhaps be regarded as the local’s best kept secret.
There is no better way to spend an afternoon outside than with a good book. The area around Hannover is all about nature and you can even spot rare birds so don’t forget to pack your camera.
Bacharach Wine Village
By Paulina of Paulina on the Road
Bacharach is a beautiful town located in the upper middle Rhine valley in Germany. This UNESCO World Heritage site is popularly known as the wine village because it is full of vineyards and is recognised for its wines. The town is surrounded by half-timbered buildings and castles on every hilltop with cobblestone streets.
It is one of the best-preserved medieval towns in Germany and has a great significance in history thanks to the local wine trade. Nowadays, the town still maintains its importance as the centre of wine and that is what makes it unique.
In the 14th century, Bacharach was a middle stop for the small ships transferring wine to upstream places. It is here where the wine barrels were offloaded. Due to its strategic location, it was considered ideal as a shipping station for exporting wines of different kinds. The town was originally set by Celts and recognised as Baccaracum. Its name was derived from the word Bacchus, meaning the god of wine.
Today, visitors can still see some of its fortifications. They can visit this world heritage town by reaching Frankfurt Hahn Airport. Or, they can also take a train from Koblenz or Mainz.
Another way to reach Bacharach is by boat as it is the most scenic and enjoyable way to reach there. The boat service runs regularly and connects to Mainz and Cologne. Despite the small size, this hidden gem of a medieval town has a lot to offer.
From a Rhine river day cruise to discovering the symbol of Bacharach, it offers a wholesome vacation. The travelers can visit Wernerkapelle, which is standing still even after its roof collapsed in 1689. After that, they can discover the architecture by Cologne archbishops- Burg Stahleck. It was built in the 12th century and has been recognised to protect the town.
The town is filled with castles alongside hills. After exploring each of them, the travellers can conclude the trip with the most important part- wine tasting. They can visit Fritz Bastian’s Zum Gruner Baum to taste more than 16 different Rieslings.
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