12 Pretty Towns and Small Cities in Germany

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From Berlin to Münich, Germany boasts several famous big cities. But it is worth venturing out of these urban jungles as well to some of the smaller but equally impressive places.

Germany is home to countless charming towns, villages, and small cities. Picturesque fisherman villages on the coast, fairytale towns on the river, and remote mountain settlements.

Exploring the countryside is a great way to experience German culture and learn about German history. Not to mention snap some great shots for Instagram! With so many places to choose from, we’ve selected 12 pretty towns and cities in Germany you should visit on your next trip.

1. Heidelberg

The university city of Heidelberg is a popular tourist destination and also for Germans to live. Who wouldn’t want to wake up to such fairy tale views every day?

The history of Heidelberg dates back to before the 12th century, and the university is the oldest in Germany, from 1386. The picturesque old city centre is beautifully preserved and boasts elegant buildings and cosy little side streets.

From the Old Bridge over the Neckar you can see the town and the castle above it. But the best views are to be had from the Königstuhl, one of the hill peaks surrounding Heidelberg. You can get there by climbing the 1000+ steps of the stone stairs or hop on the funicular.

But don’t let the long history fool you; Heidelberg is vibrant and lively! Almost a quarter of the inhabitants are students, so there is no shortage of cultural events and cool bars.

Location: See on Google Maps

View of the Heidelberg skyline
Photo 65975383 / Heidelberg © Sborisov |

2. Lüneburg

Just south of Hamburg lies the town of Lüneburg. The North German city was once an important salt mining and textile industry location but now relies heavily on tourism. Thanks to a beautiful historic city centre and the vicinity of the nature reserve Lüneburger Heath, Lüneburg is a popular destination for foreign and domestic tourists.

Lüneburg is a Medieval town with beautiful architecture. The style is typical for northern Germany, with Dutch and Danish influence due to the town’s time in the Hanseatic League.

Aside from the city centre and old harbour, the St. Johns Church and Town Hall are worth visiting. To learn more about the history of Lüneburg, head to the German Salt Museum. Nature-lovers should also go for a walk on the Lüneburg Heath.

Lüneburg is more than just a living museum, though, thanks to the local university, the city has a lively atmosphere and plenty of bars. Lüneburg also has one of the highest concentrations of pubs in all of Europe.

Location: See on Google Maps

Architecture in Luneburg
Photo 192495117 © Gabriele Rohde |

3. Rothenburg ob der Tauber

When you think of pretty towns in Germany, Rothenburg ob der Tauber is probably one of the first that comes to mind. This incredibly picturesque city has graced the Instagram feeds of many. And with good reason! Rothenburg has that fairy tale look that doesn’t seem quite real. It is part of the Romantic Road, which passes many charming towns and castles between Würzburg and Füssen.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber is a Medieval city and one of only three in Germany where all the old city walls are still intact. The best way to spend a day in Rothenburg ob der Tauber is to wander through the little streets, taking in the historical atmosphere and architecture. But there are also a few good museums and landmarks to visit, such as the Medieval Crime and Justice Museum, the Rathaus, and St. James Church.

While the city is beautiful year-round, it has an extra dose of charm in the winter. Every December, Rothenburg ob der Tauber hosts one of the most magical and popular Christmas Markets in the world.

Location: See on Google Maps

Streets of Rothenburg ob der Tauber
Photo 43211796 © minnystock |
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4. Bacharach

Germany has a rich cultural and artistic history. One of the most important periods was during the 18th and 19th century. While Romanticism swept Europe, Germany developed a substream known as “Rheinromantik”.

Poets, writers, and painters travelled through the Rhine Valley to capture the landscapes, myths, and charm. One of the most beloved towns in that area was Bacharach. From Victor Hugo and Heinrich Heine to William Turner, all came here to be inspired by the village’s beauty and surroundings.

These days, Bacharach is just as popular. No time seems to have passed since the height of Romanticism, and it is easy to see how the beautiful town enchanted all those artists. The well-preserved buildings of the UNESCO World Heritage Site invoke a fairy tale atmosphere, complete with a towering castle and Gothic ruins.

Bacharach is also surrounded by vineyards that produce delicious German wines, so be sure to try a few of them. Travellers can hike the Rheinburgerweg that runs along Bacharach, take a train from Koblenz or visit the town as part of a relaxing river cruise.

Location: See on Google Maps

Photo 132093352 / Bacharach © Saiko3p |

5. Nuremberg

Nuremberg is the second-largest city in Bavaria and a popular tourist destination. Unfortunately, most of the historic inner city was destroyed during the Second World War but has been beautifully reconstructed.

The beauty of the city hides a dark past. Nuremberg was an important city for the Nazi’s who held rallies and wrote their race laws in Nuremberg. After the war, party leaders were sentenced here during the Nuremberg Trials. You can learn more about this at The Documentation Center Nazi Party Rally Grounds (Dokumentationszentrum Reichsparteitagsgelände).

Of course, there’s also plenty of lighthearted fun to be had in Nuremberg. Wander through the picturesque inner city and marvel at monuments and historic sites, such as Nuremberg Castle, Hauptmarkt, St. Lawrence Church, Albrecht Dürer’s House, and the Frauenkirche.
Be sure not to miss out on the Old City Walls, among the few remaining original city walls in Germany.

Nuremberg is also an excellent destination for families. With fun attractions like the Toy Museum, Playmobil Funpark, and the Nuremberg Zoo, the kids will love it as well.

Location: See on Google Maps

Photo 62149306 © Photopassjonata |
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6. Cochem

Cochem is a small town on the river Moselle in the west of Germany. The region is famous for its wine, and wine tastings and visits to local vineyards are an absolute must during a trip to Cochem.

Settlement in Cochem dates back to as early as Celtic and Roman times. Unfortunately, much of the historic inner city was destroyed during the Second World War. Most of it was restored to its former glory, with gorgeous traditional German architecture styles. Above this picturesque town lies the impressive Reichsburg Cochem, a Medieval toll castle, which can be visited as part of a guided tour.

Cochem is also a great starting point for active travellers. The surrounding landscape is popular for hiking and mountain biking. The high slopes of the hills offer a beautiful view of the river valley below. Or opt to admire the beauty of Cochem during a boat trip.

Location: See on Google Maps

View of Cochem in Germany
Photo 165059856 © Sorin Colac |

7. Marburg

Marburg is another colourful and pretty town in Germany. Like some other cities on this list, it was founded on a strategic position in a river valley and Medieval trading routes.

Much of the city’s Gothic architecture has stood the test of time, giving it a fairy tale atmosphere. It isn’t surprising then that the Brothers Grimm, who studied at Marburg University, collected many of their stories here. Just walking through the historic inner city with its half-timbered houses, you can feel the magic. The castles in the vicinity only add to this.

With a fresh supply of young students annually, the local university contributes to Marburg’s vibrancy and good nightlife. The elegant university building themselves are also worth a visit.

Location: See on Google Maps

Marburg skyline
Photo 198425551 © Boris Breytman |

8. Wernigerode

On the north slopes of the Harz mountains in central Germany lies Wernigerode. The Gothic architecture and half-timber houses make it one of the prettiest towns in Germany. It is so beautiful that it is nicknamed “The Pearl of the Harz”.

The crowning glory of Wernigerode is the castle. Perched on top of the hill, this impressive building overlooks the city and valley below. It was initially built as a fortress but later remodelled in a baroque style. You can visit as part of a guided tour.

Wernigerode is also a stop on the Harz steam railway that goes up to the top of the Brocken, the highest peak of the Harz Mountains. Beer lovers should visit the Hasseröde brewery founded in 1872 and one of Germany’s most popular beer brands.

Location: See on Google Maps

Wernigerode at night
Photo 91809986 © Catuncia |

9. Bamberg

Bamberg is, without a doubt, one of the prettiest towns in Germany. The city was founded in the 9th century in the north of Bavaria and has the largest intact old city walls in Europe. Unsurprisingly, it gained UNESCO World Heritage status in 1993.

The Medieval town with its beautiful half-timbered houses is sprawled over seven hills along the Regnitiz river. The most famous building in Bamberg is the old Town Hall which sits on a little island in the river (see below). The Cathedral and several castles and palaces are also well worth a visit.

Bamberg is also known for its cosy beer gardens and speciality beers. The most famous local brewery is Schlenkerla, which makes smoked beers. An acquired taste!

Location: See on Google Maps

Bamberg City Hall
Photo 37999794 © Scanrail |

10. Füssen

Most people know Füssen from the world-famous Neuschwanstein Castle, which lies just above the town. It is the ultimate dreamy fairy tale castle and very popular with photographers. It takes about an hour to walk up from Füssen, or you can take local public transportation. Don’t miss its neighbour Hohenschwangau Castle either.

Füssen lies at the end of the Romantic Road through Bavaria at just a kilometre from the Austrian border! The area is popular for hiking and mountain biking as well, and the mountains provide plenty of gorgeous views.

Of course, there’s plenty to do in the town itself as well. Check out the oldest fresco’s in Germany in the St. Mang’s Abbey. Next door lies the High Castle with 15th and 18th-century architecture, a dungeon, and an art gallery.

Location: See on Google Maps

Fussen Town at night
Photo 47004609 © Sean Pavone |
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11. Heppenheim

From beer to wine, we arrive in Heppenheim in central Germany. Heppenheim lies in a German wine region called the Hessische Bergstraße on the edge of the Odenwald forest.

The whole town feels like a movie set with beautifully restored, colourful half-timbered houses and cobblestone streets. The winding passageways lead to cosy squares of which the central Market Square is undoubtedly the prettiest.

Every corner of the town is picturesque beyond belief, and you can easily spend the whole day wandering around. Don’t forget to check out the old street lamps with depictions of fairy tales on them. The Museum of Local History and Folklore and the St. Peters church are worth a visit as well. And be sure to taste some of the local wines!

Location: See on Google Maps

Heppenheim Market Place
Photo 67131808 © Whosegallery |

12. Potsdam

Just outside of Berlin lies Potsdam. It is only a quick train ride away, but this charming city couldn’t feel further removed from the grungy German capital. The short distance and easy connection make it the perfect destination for a day trip from Berlin.

Potsdam was once the capital of the Prussian empire, and that glamour and elegance persist today. The town centre is quaint, with traditional architecture, cute cafés, and boutiques.

The main draw of Potsdam is UNESCO World Heritage Site Park Sanssouci. Here you’ll find several opulent Baroque palaces and elegant royal gardens.

Location: See on Google Maps

Sanssouci Palace in Potsdam
Photo 26546813 © Plotnikov |

Tours and Activities


If you’re planning a trip to Germany, then be sure to venture out of the big cities to discover all the charming small towns, village and smaller cities as well. Whether you want to feel like you’re in a Grimm Brothers fairytale, a painting by William Turner or a Christmas wonderland, Germany has you covered.

There are many options to choose from, and each of these pretty small towns and cities in Germany deserves a spot on your list. So next time you travel to the country of bratwurst and beer, be sure to explore a few of them.

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Written by

Sophie Van Der Meulen

Sophie is a travel blogger from the Netherlands. After traveling the world for two years as a digital nomad, she moved to Berlin as an expat. She is passionate about sustainable tourism and is hooked on the freedom and adventure of solo travel. In her free time, she loves to explore new places by getting a little lost and trying strange new foods. You can follow her travels on Instagram and her blog[Read full bio]

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