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When you step into any one of these towns, you may have a hard time believing they’re real. For a vacation filled with postcard-perfect photos, a chance to delve into German culture, taste plenty of tasty cuisine and more, be sure to put at least one or two of these destinations on your itinerary. We pretty much guarantee an experience you won’t soon forget.
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Quedlinburg is a must-stop for anyone traveling through Saxony-Anhalt. This incredibly charming place just north of the Harz Mountains still evokes the Middle Ages. At it managed to survive the Second World War unscathed, you’ll find some of the most well-preserved medieval and Renaissance buildings in Europe. A wonderful destination to just get lost an wander through, you’ll feel as if you’ve stepped into another time, walking through rambling, cobblestone streets that meander around countless red-roofed half-timber houses, ancient structures, and then suddenly, situated on a sandstone cliff, is the more than a thousand year old Romanesque collegiate church, St. Servatius, which towers as an imposing landmark over the city.
This picturesque medieval Bavarian town that lies on the Wornitz River is a lot less touristy than many of the nation’s other medieval towns. Sometimes referred to as the little sister of Rothenburg, it’s smaller and less crowded than its so-called sibling. Immaculately preserved, it dates back to the 8th century and was also spared damage in World War II. A fortress was built in the tenth century to protect the trade route as it crossed the river. A must-experience here is to walk the circumference of the city along its fortified walls. Visit the Dinkelsbuhl Wine Market and enjoy the 16th-century buildings that surround it, like the half-timbered Deutsches Haus, a fine example of German Renaissance architecture. Other highlights include the magnificent St. George’s Minster that sits in the heart of the city, the Old Town Hall, the Bauerlin Tower and the Castle of the Teutonic Order.
Situated at the edge of the vineyards and wooded slopes of the alluring Black Forest, Freiburg is known as Germany’s sunniest city, blessed with some 2000 hours of sunshine each year. It’s characterized by small streams, or Bachle, that run through the old town as well as boasting a storybook feel with cobblestone lanes and gabled town houses. In addition to spectacular scenery, it has a thriving food scene with especially tasty cuisine. Local farms turn into small pop-up eateries throughout the summer, serving their own wine and food. Griestal Strausse is in a vineyard, just a few winding roads outside the village of Opfingen. You’ll find a lot more than beer and sausage here, menus offer local specialties in huge portions, like Spatzle (homemade egg noodles), Bragele (sautéed potatoes) and other tasty dishes.
This enchanting Bavarian mountain resort town that lies less than 90 minutes by train from Munich was once two separate towns, one Roman and the other Teutonic. The 1936 Winter Olympics forced them to combine, though the two sides still have distinct personalities. Partenkirchen dates back to 15 AD and is filled with narrow, cobblestone streets that are lined with historic buildings in Bavarian gasthaus style: three or four floors, swept open shutters and facades painted with pastel colored imagery or pastoral, regional and religious scenes.
One of most charming towns in all of Germany, here you’ll find legend, folklore and a rich history in practically every nook and cranny. Tucked within the scenic Mosel river valley between the Eifel and Hundsruck, it’s surrounded by steep vineyards and quaint wine villages. The soil and climate conditions make the Mosel Valley a prime area for cultivating the Riesling grapes that are used to produce some of Germany’s finest white wine, with numerous opportunities to stop and sample them available throughout this beautiful river valley.
Boasting one of the largest areas of half-timbered houses in Europe with 400 of the picturesque structures as well as a magnificent palace, Celle is a 13th-century white-and-pink Ducal Palace that’s graced with an idyllic town center considered one of the most attractive in the region. It’s a striking contrast against the very modern Kunstmuseum, which is illuminated after dark as the world’s first 24-hour museum, exhibiting works from the Robert Simon collection. The Schloss features Hanoverian links and the oldest working theater in the country, as well as the Bomann Museum with its relics of local folklore from nearby Lüneburg Heath too.
This beautiful small town not far from the border of Belgium in the Eifel region is known for its historic town center with its pretty narrow streets lined with well-preserved half-timbered houses. In the summer, all the restaurants and hotels have tables outside, making dining al fresco a joy, with the especially scenic vistas and fresh air. In the winter, it’s transformed into an idyllic Christmas town where the aroma of warm apples and shortbread fill the air, luring visitors into bakeries, while wooden games and other toys spill out doorways looking as if they were just made by one of Santa’s elves. In its famous Christmas Market, wooden huts are packed like stockings, providing everything from hand-carved nutcrackers and elaborate music boxes to ginger cookies and mulled wine.
Nestled in the cradle of violin-making in Bavaria, this magical town that sits under snow-capped peaks has long been celebrated as the most beautiful in the Bavarian Alps. Its Geigenbaumuseum showcases a collection of over 200 locally crafted violins and the tools used to fashion them, as well as being a venue for occasional concerts. In addition to being world-renowned for its master violin makers, Mittenwald offers a host of outdoor activities and incredibly fresh air to enjoy them in. Hikers can take a cable car up to the granddaddy Alpspitze, the Wank, Mt Karwendel and the Wettersteinspitze.
Weimar is a small town with a big history. Visitors come to see where the legendary poet Johann Wolfgang Goethe lived and followed his muse as well as to see the Buchenwald concentration camp with their own eyes. The haunting ruins of the camp provide an eerie reminder of the terrors of the subsequent Nazi Regime. This is also the site where the constitution of the Germany Reich was drafted. Just some of the intellectual and creative giants who lived and worked here, in addition to Goethe, include Bach, Nietzsche, Gropius and Schiller.