Berlin, Munich, and Hamburg – the big cities usually jump to mind as top German travel destinations. While I love the hustle and bustle of any European metropolis and the countless sightseeing opportunities they offer, there’s something to be said for the smaller, quainter cities and towns scattered all across Germany. The pace is slower, the streets are less crowded and the Old Towns are overflowing with history and charm. Here are five of my favourite southern German towns and cities that are definitely worth a spot on your German travel itinerary:
Scenic Bamberg lies in Upper Franconia in the state of Bavaria on the Regnitz River. The Old Town (Altstadt) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its authentic medieval appearance. The beautiful Town Hall (Rathaus), built in 1386, is one of the most photographed sights in the city. Located right in the middle of the river, the Town Hall is accessible by two bridges on either side. This young and vibrant university town has a large student population and thus offers many delicious and affordable restaurants, bars and cafés. Beer connoisseurs flock to Bamberg to visit its many breweries (ten in total). Rauchbier, a smoked beer with a polarizing distinctive taste, hails from Bamberg. This city makes a great daytrip if you find yourself in northern Bavaria.
To do list – spend more time outside! Lovely spring day at the Würzburger Residenz. #Würzburg #Franconia #Franken #Germany A photo posted by Kaffee und Kuchen (@kaffeeundkuchenblog) on
Located on the Main River, this lovely city in Lower Franconia, Bavaria lies roughly equal distance between the larger German cities of Frankfurt am Main and Nuremberg. Würzburg is the first stop along the popular Romantic Road (Romantische Straβe), a 350-kilometre stretch of highway linking picturesque southern German towns, castles and landscapes. The Würzburg Residence (Würzburger Residenz), a gorgeous palace and UNESCO World Heritage site, as well as the Marienberg Fortress (Festung Marienberg), are prominent landmarks in the city. In the summertime, Würzburg boasts numerous lively festivals, including the Africa Festival and the Stramu, a large street music festival. Come for the scenery, stay for the relaxed and easy atmosphere in Würzburg.
Nördlingen is a small town in the Swabia region of Bavaria which dates as far back at 898. This historical town is one of only three towns in Germany to have a completely intact and connected city wall. The Saint Georg’s Church (St.-Georgs-Kirche) lies in the centre of town and its 90-metre steeple offers sweeping views of the Nördlinger Ries, a 24-kilometre diameter circular crater left from a meteor impact over 14 million years ago. The Ries Crater Museum (RiesKraterMuseum) in Nördlingen features artifacts and information about meteor collisions all over the world. This town is definitely worth a visit if you’re in the area!
Esslingen am Neckar
Esslingen am Neckar, often referred to as simply ‘Esslingen’, is a city located on the Neckar River in the Stuttgart region of Baden-Württemberg. Esslingen was damaged very little in World War II and thus is one of the best preserved medieval cities in Germany. As you stroll through the narrow cobblestone streets, you find yourself surrounded by colourful old half-timbered buildings straight out of a storybook. Esslingen boasts many quirky festivals throughout the year, including an Onion Festival and the hugely popular Medieval Market and Christmas Market. There’s lots to see and do in Esslingen where medieval meets modern.
Tübingen is a beautiful old university town located in central Baden-Württemberg. The town lies 30 kilometres south of the state capital, Stuttgart, between the Neckar and Ammer rivers. Approximately one in three people living in Tübingen is a student and the city has the youngest average age in all of Germany. Visitors can wander through a completely intact Old Town (Altstadt), admire the crooked cobblestone lanes and crane their necks up at the countless well-maintained half-timbered houses throughout town. The Town Hall (Rathaus) and Market Square (Marktplatz) are popular landmarks, as is the castle, Schloß Hohentübingen. Like many German towns, Tübingen hosts a plethora of festivals year-round, such as the Summer Nights Cinema and the ever popular chocolART Chocolate Festival in early December.
Have you visited any of these German towns or cities? What is your favourite German town or city? I’d love to hear in the comments below!