I must admit that before visiting Germany for the first time many years ago, the European country wouldn’t pop into my mind as a travel destination. 10 years later and after plenty of visits, I give to you a list of pretty small German villages you need to see to believe!
Pretty small German villages you must see
Nuremberg – by Marta & Milosz at BackpackersWro
Nuremberg is the second-largest city of the German state of Bavaria and the unofficial capital of Franconia.
In our opinion, Nuremberg is a picturesque city with beautiful medieval architecture, many attractions, and cultural events at every time of the year.
It is also very safe, even for solo travelers. Nuremberg is an ideal place for long walks, tasting local cuisine, and visiting museums.
If you are interested in history, in particular, World War II, you like trains and historic architecture, you will love the local museums!
Once there, don’t miss Imperial Castle, Tiergärtnertorplatz, Albrecht Dürer’s House, Old Town and the Beautiful Fountain, and Nuremberg Transport Museum. If you travel with kids, they will love the Toy Museum.
If you like to try real Bavarian cuisine, “Drei im Weggla,” “Bretzel” and “Schaufele” are a must!
Most attractions in Nuremberg are located within the city center, so instead of using public transport, choose walking and get a feel for the beat of the city.
Walk on the cozy Nuremberg streets, meet the locals, and feel like you are a part of the town. Also, you can discover things the city guides don’t mention.
If you are planning a visit to Nuremberg in winter, try to visit the Christmas Market, which is one of the best known and most beautiful markets in the region.
Konigswinter – by Chelsea from The Portable Wife
Nestled along a pretty stretch of the Rhine River, Konigswinter is a small German village packed with fairytale charm.
While Konigswinter has your typical Instagrammable features – colorful timbered buildings, cobblestone streets, cute cafes – the main highlight is the castle that towers over the village.
Taking a day trip to Castle Drachenburg is a must if you’re staying in Cologne or Dusseldorf.
This opulent villa was supposed to be the home of a wealthy German banker and his family, but they never actually moved in!
Today, visitors can explore the beautifully manicured gardens and fully furnished rooms, and imagine what life was like in the late 1800s. Keep your eyes peeled for opportunities to climb the turrets, which offer stellar views over the surrounding valley.
While the hour-long hike from Konigswinter to the castle is lovely, it’s also fun to take the Drachenfelsbahn. This vintage green tram runs along Germany’s oldest cog railway and riding it feels like a roller coaster cart being pulled uphill. To get the best of both experiences, ride the Drachenfelsbahn up and walk back down after visiting the castle.
Before you leave Konigswinter, be sure to stop into Café NICE for a coffee and bienenstich, a custard-filled pastry with sweet almond topping. It’s the perfect way to refuel after a day of walking.
Bremen – by Smita Bhattacharya
Bremen is a four and half hour bus ride from Berlin, often ignored by tourists, which is one of the reasons you should visit this picture-perfect cozy German town that offers a bit of everything.
Bremen is located in north-western Germany, in the middle of the Berlin-Amsterdam bus route.
My first inkling of Bremen was the Grimm fairy-tale: the Musicians of Bremen. The town makes good use of the fairy tale with the four statues of the ‘Bremer Stadtmusikanten’ at the Townhall as well as postcards and fridge magnets everywhere.
There’s also a musical gutter (!) that cries out like the characters when you throw coins in.
So what can you do in Bremen?
Go to the old market square and experience what it feels like to journey back through the ages.
The UNESCO world heritage sites of the ‘Bremer Rathaus’ and Roland statue, the imposing St. Peter’s Cathedral, the Schütting or the Chamber of Commerce, the unusual red-bricked architecture of Böttcherstraße and the Stadtmusikanten, all make for a stunning 3D panorama.
Gorge on delectable handmade dark chocolate truffles at Hachez and tour the oldest repository of German wines in the ‘Ratskeller’. Lose yourself in the by-lanes of Bremen’s oldest fisherman’ quarter—the ‘Schnoor’—lined with pretty little-timbered houses dating back to the 15th century.
When done admiring, browse through the arts and craft collections on the streets around. Magic is all around you in Bremen. And by the way, the Christmas market in Bremen is quite something else.
Erfurt – by Scott at 4Degreesofdestination
Erfurt is one of the most picturesque cities in all of Germany. Its architecture has been beautifully maintained and grouped together so it’s easy to explore on foot. While there are trams for easy transportation we prefer to walk the cobbled stone streets.
We love spending time here either in winter or summer. In winter Erfurt hosts one of Germany’s best Christmas markets and is a must for any traveler. The market is set mainly around Domplatz and it has the two churches of Erfurt Cathedral and St. Severus as its stunning backdrop. There are plenty of Christmas treats to buy as well as local handicrafts to Christmas ornaments. There is even an amusement park that our kids love.
During summer we love walking around the city especially Krämerbrücke (Merchants bridge), home to cafes, galleries, and shops selling traditional local handicrafts. In fact, it’s the longest inhabited bridge in Europe. We spend a good few hours relaxing on the river’s edge watching the world go by and enjoying a coffee from one of the many coffee houses along with some tasty treats from the delicatessens.
Other great sites to see are Thuringian Zoo, home to over 800 animals and is a lovely way to spend an afternoon with the kids. Egapark is stunning with a wide range of gardens, a children’s farm, and a water park and Cyriaksburg castle.
Also check out Petersberg Citadel, a baroque fortress that has been impeccably preserved, behind Domplatz. Here you can stroll around the grounds or take a guided tour.
If you are visiting Germany then make sure Erfurt is on your list of places to visit, you won’t be disappointed.
Oberammergau – by James at Travel Collecting
The Bavarian village Oberammergau is one of the prettiest towns in Germany. Almost all of the houses, shops, and hotels are adorned with beautiful colored paintings. Windows are emphasized with elaborate scrolls, mountain scenes bring the local surroundings into town, and children’s stories are told through sequences of scenes covering the walls.
Painting houses is an old tradition in Bavaria, but it costs money to make and maintain the artwork.
Oberammergau has more wealth than most other villages because it is also home to the famed passion play, which brings money into the village. Every decade, most of the villagers stop their day jobs for about six months to participate in daily performances of the passion play.
This tradition started about four hundred years ago when the villagers promised that if they were spared the plague, they would perform the play outdoors forever. The plague did indeed pass them by, and the promise has become a tradition that is religiously maintained every ten years.
Today, there is an enormous theater built on the outskirts of town, with the stage open to the sky. The next performance dates are May 16 – October 4, 2020. It sells out, so if you want to see the play, you should buy tickets well in advance.
However, the fairytale village is worth visiting any time of any year to see the beautiful houses and to buy locally produced souvenirs. Woodworking is the other village tradition.
You can get to Oberammergau as a day trip from Munich easily, though staying overnight will give you more time to soak in the town’s charm.
Many of the tours of Neuschwanstein Castle stop here, and there are also several trains daily between Munich and Oberammergau. It takes just under two hours each way and you need to change trains in Murnau.
Monschau – by Moon and Honey Travel
Monschau is a delightful town in Western Germany, very close to the Belgian border. The historic old town (Altstadt) is uncommonly beautiful with its cobbled roads, flowering window boxes, and half-timbered houses crouching over the narrow river Rur. Dating back to 1195, Monschau exhibits all the character of a Rhineland medieval town. So, the best thing to do here is ambling through the town whilst admiring the storybook-like architecture.
To learn more about Monschau’s history, you can visit the Museum Rotes Haus. Here, you’ll get insight into the textile industry that dominated life in Monscahu in the 18th century.
Next, you can also venture up to Burg Monschau (Monschau Castle) for some lovely views. Though the castle’s interior isn’t open to the public, there is a classical music festival that takes place at the castle each summer.
You can visit Monschau at any time of the year. However, December would be optimal as Monschau hosts a lovely Christmas Market each year in the Advent season.
Monschau is located within Germany’s Eifel region. For a memorable Eifel trip, definitely combine your trip to Monschau with visits to Monreal and Bad Münstereifel. Other highlights of the Eifel region include Burg Eltz, Wildlife Park in Daun, and Eifel National Park.
Kassel – by Svetoslav Dimitrov
A Hercules statue, the biggest hillside park in Europe, and a monument of the world-famous Brothers Grimm. You can find them all in Kassel, a small city in the German region of Northern Hesse.
Standing at an almost equal distance from both Frankfurt and Hannover, Kassel is great for a day trip, but I suggest you spend at least a couple of days as there’s a lot to cover.
The thing that really fascinated me was Kassel’s Bergpark, a sprawling park that dates back to the 18th century. Bergpark is home to a Roman aqueduct, numerous water cascades and fountains, a mind-blowing castle, and a gigantic Hercules statue that overlooks the hillside park. Plan at least 5-6 hours to be able to cover everything.
The city is great for shopping, too. Just stroll by the Fulda River and Kassel’s main street, Königsstrasse. There, you’ll find numerous shops and malls.
And when you grow tired of exploring, hit one of the city’s many restaurants. If you love Bavarian food, I highly recommend Komödien-Stadl on Karthäuserstraße 5 A. Expect enormous food portions and, as you can imagine, lots of beer.
If you’re not a fan of German food (hey, I’m not judging), don’t worry. Kassel has countless other restaurants that can live up to the most fastidious of gourmet lovers.
When you’ve had enough of Kassel, a good idea for a day trip is Hannoversch Münden. The small town packs a powerful natural punch due to the confluence of three rivers. The town’s center is equally gorgeous, too.
As you can see, Kassel has a lot to offer to everyone, so plan at least two days to be able to see everything.
Garmisch-Partenkirchen – by Darek & Gosia
If you are looking for the prettiest towns in Germany, Bavaria region must be your 1st choice. And if you go to Bavaria then Garmisch-Partenkirchen is the place to visit. Not only you get to see one of the most beautiful German towns, in fact, but Garmisch-Partenkirchen is also a twin-town so you get a double amount of stunning spots to explore!
This pretty market town, located in the middle of the Bavarian Alps, is mainly known as the host of the Winter Olympics in 1936. You can really see how winter sports influence the whole region. With many ski trials and the Große Olympiaschanze – a popular ski jumping hill, there is a bit of everything for everyone!
GaPa, as local people call the town, is beautiful! It is very clear that in the past they were two separate towns: Garmisch and Partenkirchen. There are two town centers separated from each other by a wider street, which is next to the railway station. Garmisch seems to be more compact. Here are several squares, a nice park, a charming church and a number of nice cafes.
In Partenkirchen you can find the most beautiful street in the town. Ludwigstrasse is famous for dozens of beautiful houses decorated with the “Luftlmalerei technique”.
Quedlinburg – by bulgarianonthego.blog
Tucked away in the Harz Mountains and not too far from Hanover, Berlin, and Leipzig, you will find the town of Quedlinburg. With its 1,300 traditional half-timbered houses, dating back to 6 centuries ago, Quedlinburg is considered one of the best-preserved medieval towns in all of Germany. This is also one of the reasons why the city is on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1994.
Despite its impressive history and incredibly charming atmosphere, Quedlinburg is still off most tourists’ radars. I was quite surprised to encounter very few travelers when I visited in the summer.
The fact that it is still a more or less ‘undiscovered’ destination makes Quedlinburg even more attractive. What’s better than having a stunning medieval German town all to yourself? The architecture and beautiful views around every corner would leave me in awe throughout my whole stay, no matter how often I walked past the same buildings.
Quedlinburg is easily reached by car, train or bus, especially if you’re already located in the northern region of Germany. It’s only 3 hours away from Berlin and less than 2 hours away from Hanover and Leipzig.
Some of the must-sees are the castle with its Schlossmuseum, the region of Munzenberg, the countless churches, as well as the beautiful market square in the center of the city. Read the full list of the best things to do in Quedlinburg here.
Goerlitz – by Mywanderlust.pl
Goerlitz is one of the hidden gems of Germany. Located in the east part of the country, right on the border with Poland, Goerlitz you probably have seen the town before, even if you might not know its name.
The city wasn’t destroyed during the war and today is one of the German cities with the biggest number of monuments in various styles, there are over 4.000 historical buildings here. In Goerlitz, you can find churches from the 13th century, 16th century’s town hall or 19th century’s department store.
The cobbled streets are lined with colorful houses and when you wander around the town you might feel like the time has stopped here. Goerlitz is also one of the favorite places for filmmakers and numerous movies were made here, some of the more famous ones are “Grand Budapest Hotel”, “Inglorious Bastards” or “Around the world in 80 days”.
The city was even named European Movie Location of the decade! Don’t miss also a quick trip to Poland – a few minutes’ walks from the old town can take you across the border on the Lusatian Neisse river to another country.
In the past, Goerlitz and Zgorzelec used to be one city but after World War Two the state border was created on the river, dividing the city. While the Polish part is nice and worth a visit, most of the attractions remained in Germany and that’s where you should spend most of your time when visiting Goerlitz.
Augsburg – by Laura at Adriftaesthetic
When I think about the prettiest towns to visit when traveling through France and Germany, the first spot that comes to mind is Augsburg. This town, just 30 minutes outside of Munich, is an incredibly underrated destination in Germany that more people should consider exploring.
But what makes it so gorgeous is the history that the city is steeped in and the old-world architecture you can find along every street. The most stunning part of the town is the Augsburg Fuggerei, a social housing complex that has been in existence since the 1500s.
Plus, many of them have become overgrown with lush vines over the years, providing a remarkable contrast of green that envelopes them on all sides. Even when I visited and the weather wasn’t cooperating (meaning it poured with rain 24/7), the beauty of these buildings took my breath away.
This allows you to easily check out some of the other gorgeous landmarks as well, including the Augsburg Town Hall or the gardens and parks nearby.
Either way, the cozy vibe of this smaller German city will make you feel right at home, and its beauty will be something you’ll remember forever.
Wasserburg am Inn – by Slavka from On2Continents
Nestled on a small peninsula hugged by the River Inn, Wasserburg am Inn is a cute Bavarian town that should be on your itinerary when you explore the region between Munich and Salzburg.
This pretty little gem is from the off-the-beaten-path list and you won’t see any tourist crowds. You can enjoy a leisurely stroll and admire picturesque medieval architecture. The whole town is very walkable with one low hilltop.
While you explore Wasserburg am Inn, don’t leave without crossing the Brucktor and the Innbrucke (Bridge Tower and River Bridge) for a lovely photo. Notable architectural beauties include Rathaus (Town Hall), beautifully decorated Kernhaus and impressive Frauenkirche. Beer lovers shouldn’t miss the intriguing underground beer catacombs which is a complex of seven beer cellars connected by pathways.
Just walk around, enjoy a meal in a local beer garden or a nice cup of coffee on an outdoor terrace. You can climb up the hill with the Ducal Palace for a nice town view. But for the best view of the town, you’ll have to cross the river and follow the main road to the viewpoint. From this spot, you’ll have Wasserburg on your palm and you’ll see how the River Inn snakes around the town.
Rothenburg ob der Tauber – by Kristen and Jeff Miller at Our Passion For Travel
Traveling along the Romantic Road you’ll come across one of the most beautiful little towns you’ll find, Rothenburg ob der Tauber. Straight out of a fairy tale, the town is filled with cobbled stone streets and half-timbered homes. It has long been considered as one of the best-preserved medieval towns in Germany, and a visit here will show you why.
If you spend at least one day in Rothenburg ob der Tauber, you’ll be able to see all the city highlights. One of the best things to do is to walk along the old city walls, looking out across the red rooftops. It circles almost the entirety of the town as it passes by 42 towers and city gates.
The town is famed for its Christmas markets, but if you’re visiting in a different season, you’re still in for a treat. Make a visit to Kathe Wohlfahrt, which is a Christmas shop from your dreams. A massive store filled with the most ornate decorations, tinsel and Christmas trees everywhere. It will get you into the Christmas spirit any time of the year.
Finally, make sure you stay in the evening to join the Night Watchman’s tour. This is not your standard European walking tour. You’ll be led around by your guide dressed in a black cape. With a lantern in hand, you’ll be taken back to medieval times to understand what it was like to live in this quaint little city.
Finish off with a hearty German meal in one of the cozy restaurants and you’ll be happy you visited this pretty town.
Germany travel resources
- Make the best out of your trip to Munich with my one day in Munich itinerary
- Take the prettiest pictures in the most Instagrammable places in Munich
- Check out my ultimate list of the best hotels in Munich, based on my travels to the city for the past 5 years.
- Drive Germany’s Romantic Road and be enchanted by castles and vineyards
- See why the Christmas Market in Munich is worth seeing!
- Get your ultimate list of useful tips worth knowing before visiting Munich and everything you need to know about getting around Munich
- Take an epic day trip from Munich
- Find out the best 10 things to do in Munich during winter