15 Exciting Things to Do in Germany on Your First Visit

15 Exciting Things to Do in Germany on Your First Visit

From scrumptious delicacies to breathtaking natural scenery, be spoilt for choice in one of Europe’s most vibrant countries, Germany.

Very few nations have had as much influence on the world as Germany. From the Hanseatic League to the automobile, as well as darker memories such as Hitler and the Holocaust, Germany’s beautiful blend of medieval and modernity is incredibly charming. While old towns and significant historical monuments serve as reminders of Germany’s past, modern skyscrapers and state-of-the-art buildings offer a look into the country’s future.

It’s incredible how Germany can please both nature seekers and history enthusiasts with equal gravity. Explore the north to enjoy the bitter maritime breeze of the North Sea. Travel southwards to the centre and you’ll be treated to dark forests and romantic river valleys. If that isn’t enough, the majestic Alps in the south will take your breath away. Wherever you are, Germany makes sure your cameras are hard at work.

For the ultimate blend of nature and history, here are ten things in Germany that will promise you an experience unlike any other.

1. Let mountains in Garmisch-Partenkirchen leave you speechless

If you think snow-capped mountains with greenery at its foot only exist in fairy tales, you have to check out Garmisch-Partenkirchen. It’s incredibly scenic and far from modernity and the city bustle.

The towns of Garmisch and Partenkirchen used to be separate but were combined to host the 1936 Winter Olympics. It’s crazy cool to say you were skiing in Garmisch during winter, so don’t forget to spread the word upon your return. In summer, the green fields are peppered with fresh flowers, resulting in a beautiful sight to behold!

South of Garmisch lies Germany’s highest mountain, the Zugspitze, where you can take the cogwheel up to the peak. Prices for the cogwheel range from 56 Euros (~S$87) for adults to 32 Euros (~S$50) for children aged 6 to 15.

2. Indulge in fairytales at the Neuschwanstein

Did this dreamy white castle or the iconic Disney logo come first? Fortunately, this is not as mind-boggling as the chicken or the egg dilemma! The spires and curved sides of the Neuschwanstein castle in Füssen actually inspired the Disney franchise, most apparent in the design of its imaginary castles we see on screen.

The Neuschwanstein, literally translated to New Swanstone Castle, rises from the trees below it with such grandeur. With such a picturesque background to add on to an already amazing sight, this experience will leave you enchanted for days. The castle was commissioned by Bavaria’s Ludwig II from his own wealth, who was known to have grandeur taste for most of his life before he was declared insane. While Germany is known to have many impressive castles, none quite captivates as much as this. For best views of the castle, walk across the Marienbrücke (Queen Mary’s Bridge) to have a full side view of the castle.

To get to Neuschwanstein castle, you can take a regional train from Munich to Füssen, which takes slightly over an hour. Buses will take you from Füssen train station to the base of the castle grounds.

3. Soak in the energy of Berlin

While you might think that Berlin is stuck in the sombreness of its dark past, you’ll be amazed at how well the capital of Germany has reinvented itself. Some joke that Berlin has more museums than rainy days with its 175 museums.  With the overflowing stream of history, traditional art, and culture, Berlin has something for everyone!

The city now bursts with creativity, design and the kind of energy that leaves you feeling cooler than everyone else. With legendary nightclubs, underground fashion outlets and even a cartoon museum to commemorate the Currywurst, you know you’re in for a fresh treat.

Stroll down Kastanienallee to visit cafes, vintage shops, and street art. Berlin’s capacity for rebranding and moving towards the future while still keeping its important past close is a compelling reason for you to fall in love with this exciting city.

4. Catch a soccer game in one of Germany’s many iconic stadiums

Remember Brazil’s 7-1 defeat to Germany? Not to upset any Brazilian soccer fans here but nothing is quite as exciting in the world of sports as watching the German team dominate the field with their seamless teamwork. Germany is also home to some of the most successful and famous clubs in the world such as Borussia Dortmund and FC Bayern Munich. Fun fact: Germany is the only country in the world to have won both the men and women’s FIFA World Cup.

More than that, Germany has some of the most iconic stadiums in the world, having hosted the FIFA World Cup and Olympic Games. The atmosphere is set to send chills down your spine since Germans are some of the most enthusiastic supporters around.

Some of the most iconic stadiums include the Allianz Arena (Munich), Olympiastadion Berlin and the Olympiastadion Munich. Catching a soccer game while in Germany might be a fun thing to add on to your list and of course, you get to watch all these soccer superstars in action with your very own eyes.

5. Explore the mysterious Black Forest

While the name of the forest has an eerie ring to it, don’t be frightened! The Black Forest is actually a magnificent sight to behold.

Don your athleisure clothing and trek these beautiful grounds. If you’re a fan of nature, this is the place for you. Think clear streams, sharp peaks, and fresh mountain pines, the Black Forest will invigorate your senses. Be sure to put on proper trekking shoes as well and you might quite like the sound of your boot’s soft clumping on mossy mountain soil.

And if you’re not an adventure buff, pacify your taste buds by hunting down the famous Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte, also known as the Black Forest cake. If you’re travelling by train, the scenic Black Forest rail route between Offenburg and Konstanz will serve as icing on the cake! It’s undeniably one of the most beautiful train journeys in Europe.

6. Marvel at the historic district of Speicherstadt

Located in Hamburg, northern Germany, the Speicherstadt is the world’s largest contiguous warehouse complex and one of Germany’s 42 UNESCO World Heritage sites. Be captivated by the Wilhelmine brick Gothic from the late 19th century, strange-looking gables and turrets that line the canal.

Historic warehouses at the Speicherstadt are built on oak pines and the district is crossed by what is called as fleets –– canals that are flooded depending on tides, which can then be travelled by ships. Visitors can certainly explore the narrow canals in small barges to enjoy the intricate architectural details through canal tours.

After the sun sets, the Speicherstadt exudes an aura of mystery. Some 800 spotlights illuminate the red brick buildings and steel bridges, making it a wonderful display that is sure to provide a sense of tranquillity after a long day of exploration. Around the area, other attractions worth your visit includes the Elbphilharmonie, which is Hamburg’s new iconic concert hall, the Miniatur Wunderland, and the Hamburg Dungeon!

7. Reinvigorate yourself in the island of Sylt – Queen of the North Sea

If you’ve already made plans to visit Hamburg in northern Germany, be sure to leave some time for the beautiful Island of Sylt just five hours away! 40km of sandy beaches westwards and the vast Wadden Sea eastwards, Sylt is filled with vibrant spa resorts perfect for health and witness. It offers an opportunity to relax and leave the bustle of mainland Germany behind.

This “queen” is part of the Schleswig-Holstein Wadden Sea National Park and is the fourth-largest island in the country. While the island is offshore from the mainland, it remains well-connected, so don’t worry about not being able to get there if you aren’t driving.

How to get there? Westerland Bahnhof lies on the Westerland-Hamburg and the Westerland-Lübeck lines with frequent connections. 17 trains arrive from Hamburg daily, taking approximately three hours depending on the train.

8. Revisit history’s dark past in Nuremberg

Nuremberg carries on its shoulders one of the worse legacies in the world, after being Hitler’s favourite rally spot for his National Socialist Party in the past. But it also has one of the best, since becoming the pioneer base for human rights work and site of the monumental Nuremberg trials.

The old town remains beautifully charming and was heavily restored after significant damage from bombs during the war. You can now enjoy the endless crisscrossing cobbled pavements lining the array of houses painted in every colour of the rainbow. Furthermore, you can visit the Nazi rally grounds which has fallen into disrepair in the outskirts of Nuremberg. The city has so much to offer visitors today, including the rebuilt Nuremberg Castle and the globally renowned gingerbread at Hauptmarkt. Two people who would have loved this place? Hansel and Gretel.

9. Get crazy in too-much, too-wild Munich!

If it’s one word Munich knows how to play well on the world stage, it’s fun. While the rest of Germany may look down its nose at it – with frowning brows and judgy eyes – Munich just doesn’t care.

It does everything on a larger-than-life scale. Ever heard of Oktoberfest? Why stop at one or two jugs of beer when you can call over your friends from the rest of the world, pitch large tents, and keep them there for two weeks? Enjoy Christmas? Why be content with just a little bit of gingerbread biscuit and tinsel when you can flood the streets with melodic choirs singing, sweet-smelling delicacies and revelling in one of the continent’s largest annual Christmas markets?

Munich is always over the top, and that means no one gets left behind! There is always something for everyone and for the guys, try donning the iconic Bavarian outfit. You’ll be the coolest chip off the block, at least in Munich.

10. Have a great time with friends at the Englischer Garten

Parks may be quiet and peaceful but who said a trip to the park can’t be exciting? The Englischer Garten (English Garden) in Munich is one of the largest urban parks in the world. While numerous changes have been added throughout the centuries, it remains a favourite among locals and visitors and locals alike.

Cyclists and joggers train on the numerous network of paths and soccer players create a lively atmosphere on the fields. If you’re looking for a great place to hang out with friends and have a joyful time, this beautiful garden in the middle of urban Munich is the perfect spot.

11. Take beautiful shots of the Cologne Cathedral during sunset

If you’re a photography buff, the Cologne Cathedral will definitely spark some joy during your travels in Germany. It can be seen from almost every point in the city centre and is understandably used as a point of orientation by many people.

Since the panorama of Cologne has been dominated by the structure’s gigantic pair of towers since its completion, you definitely won’t miss it. Also, isn’t it a miracle how the cathedral survived World War II despite suffering extensive damage and episodes of bombings? That’s one tough cookie!

12. Miniatur Wunderland: Good things come in small packages

If you think that is a picture of an airport, don’t be fooled. Well, technically, you’re right. But, it’s actually a replica of the Hamburg Airport in the Miniatur Wunderland (otherwise known as the miniature wonderland). It’s the largest of its kind in the world and is located in Speicherstadt, the historic district of Hamburg.

If small things make you happy inside, then you definitely have to pay this awesome exhibition a visit. From replicas of the Alps to a whole section dedicated to Italy, you’ll find yourself immersed in a whole new world of wonders and sights. Perhaps, you won’t feel so small in the bigger scheme of things this time. Fun fact: Come 2020, there will be 400,000 human figurines around. That’s more than the population of Iceland, mind you.

13. Paddle your boat in the Konigsee

Something for your memories and the gram – a paddle boat session at the Konigsee. Noted for its clear water and one of the cleanest lakes in the whole country (and there are a lot of lakes in Germany), this experience will definitely be a highlight.

If you’re into hiking, the picturesque setting of the lake and the surrounding parklands will indeed satisfy your craving for a scenic experience. Furthermore, it has become a custom during boat tours to play the flugelhorn, a traditional instrument, in the middle of the lake. Why? To demonstrate the echo that will resonate around the area. Sounds really cool to me.


14. Explore the beautiful island of Mainau

Imagine majestic trees and the therapeutic rustling of leaves in the wind. At Mainau, such imagination is manifested in reality. This beautiful island located near Konstanz is a must-visit if you’re in Southern Germany.

This year, the island takes you on a journey with its amazing initiative, the Flower Year 2018. The extravaganza is themed “Baobab and Bonobo – Fascination of Africa.” Expect a rich diversity of nature and cultures that will not fail to fascinate your imagination. Don’t forget to indulge in a wonderful collection of flora and you’ll be captivated at first sight.

15. While jokes about German food are the wurst, your taste buds will agree it’s the best!


Well yes, Germany might not be on the same tier for food as neighbouring France or Italy. But it offers more than just wurst and beer, I promise! When you are visiting Germany, excite your taste buds by trying more common everyday delicacies that local families feast on. For instance, the Käsespätzle (grated noodles with cheese) is a popular meal in Bavaria. In east-central Germany, German potato dumplings called Knödel are an irresistible staple. Some restaurants invite tourists to make their own dumplings for an amazing opportunity for cultural immersion.

The leberkäse, made by baking corned beef, pork, bacon, and onion until a dark brown crust is formed is said to originate from Bavaria. A soft pretzel is typically served with this meal. During Christmas, don’t forget to indulge in the special Lebkuchen – a cinnamon, usually heart-shaped, biscuit decorated with fine icing sugar and all kinds of slogans.

Germany is truly one of the best destinations in Europe, with its efficiency and modernity that will put you on track when you’re travelling. At the same time, the rich history and amazing natural wonders will leave you captivated and enthralled from start to finish!

About Author

Alif Amsyar
Alif Amsyar

Alif is that friend you’ll catch searching for new places to explore during lectures. With a penchant for both travelling and writing, he carries the world in his trusty backpack and a small journal. He believes in the saying “who lives sees, but who travels sees more” and hopes to share his adventures with other people. Other times, he’s just dreaming of taking the perfect selfie with a Quokka.

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