10 German towns worth your time
Once you arrive in Germany, it’s easy to be swept up in planning your travel adventures. Glamorous cities such as Berlin and Munich often beckon. However, sometimes the real gems are hidden right in front of you, within a day-trip distance. Here are 10 smaller German towns that are definitely worth your time.
Bernkastel-Kues ©TW Van Urk/123rf.com
Vineyards climb steeply among the hills above this charming and picturesque town. Located along the middle Mosel River in Rheinland-Pfalz, Bernkastel-Kues is made up of five districts. Take a sip of award-winning wines at the renowned Mittelmosel Weinfest, which takes place every first weekend in September. Bernakastel-Kues is approximately an hour and a half northwest of Kaiserslautern.
Stroll through the only remaining city gate, Unteres Tor, and enter a beautiful half-timbered city center. Halfway between Stuttgart and Heilbronn, Bietigheim-Bissingen is known for its impressive viaduct, which was built between 1851-1853 and still stands today. Bietigheim-Bissingen is approximately 30 minutes north of Stuttgart.
If you’re familiar with New Braunfels, Texas, visit the original in the Rhein-Main region. Founded more than seven centuries ago, Braunfels is home to the beautifully restored Schloss Braunfels. Walk below the impressive castle, and you’ll pass through several city gates to find a wonderfully preserved marketplace with a variety of cafes and shops. Braunfels is approximately an hour north of Wiesbaden and two hours northeast of Kaiserslautern.
The legendary Felsenkirche.
Tucked away just 30 minutes from the Kaiserslautern area, this hidden gem is known for just that — gemstones. From a booming agate industry in the 19th century, Idar-Oberstein has become an important hub along the Brazilian and African trade routes. Visit the Felsenkirche and learn the fascinating history behind this church into a cliff. Idar-Oberstein is approximately one hour northwest of Kaiserslautern.
Stunning architecture in Ingolstadt.
Beer history was made in this Bavarian city, when Duke Wilhelm IV and Duke Ludwig X signed Reinheitsgebot (German “purity” rules) into law. Located halfway between Nuremberg and Munich, this city houses a collection of impressive gothic-style buildings. Mary Shelley based much of her classic masterpiece, “Frankenstein” in this remarkable city. Ingolstadt is approximately one hour from Hohenfels, an hour and a half from Ansbach, Vilseck and Grafenwöhr.
Ruins of Löwenbrau Castle in Berpark Wilhelmshöhe.
Located on the banks of the Fulda River in northern Hesse, Kassel is where the Brothers Grimm wrote the majority of their fairy tales. Visit Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe, a beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Site that took more than 150 years to complete. This unique park is home to Schloss Wilhelmshöhe and a massive monument dedicated to the Greek hero, Hercules. If you prefer more modern flair, check out one of Germany’s largest contemporary art museums, the Documenta. Kassel is approximately two hours northeast of Wiesbaden.
Stunning Limburg at dusk.
From the medieval-era stone bridge, you can see the striking Limburger Dom perched upon a hill above the Lahn River. This unique and colorful cathedral is a wonderfully preserved example of late Romanesque architecture. Be sure to catch a glimpse of the House of Seven Deadly Sins in the Altstadt, which features intricate carvings of the the seven deadly sins on its exterior. In the summer, cool off on the river with friends in a BBQ Donut Boat. Limburg is approximately 45 minutes north of Wiesbaden and an hour and a half northeast of Kaiserslautern.
Colorful buildings in Regensburg
Sitting on the confluence of the Danube, Naab and Regen rivers, Regensburg dates back to the Stone Age. The Romans later saw the potential strategic success and built a fortress in the city. In 2006, Regensburg was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Altstadt is full of many original buildings from the 11th century, as the city center sustained little damage during WWII. Regensburg is approximately an hour and a half southeast of Ansbach, an hour south of Vilseck, 40 minutes south of Hohenfels and an hour south of Grafenwöhr.
Cascading waterfalls in Triberg.
Outdoor enthusiasts will fall in love with Triberg. Located in the Black Forest, it is home to Germany’s tallest waterfalls (163 meters tall). Explore the Black Forest Museum or let the littles loose at the Nature Discovery Park, complete with a ropes course. Take a ride back in history on the Wald Schwarzbahn (Mountain Railway), before perusing cuckoo clocks or tasting the sumptuous Black Forest delicacies. Triberg is approximately two hours southwest of Stuttgart.
Ritter Sport is one of Germany's favorite chocolatiers.
Located a mere 30 minutes south of Stuttgart, the small hamlet of Waldenbuch is home to one of Germany’s most delicious companies — Ritter Sport. The company was founded in 1912, with more than 40 varieties of chocolates and candies. Learn about the history of the company, as well as how chocolate is made. There is a hands-on workshop for children, which includes a lesson in how to make their own chocolate bar. Work up your appetite walking or biking along one of the many excellent paths throughout the city. Waldenbuch is approximately 30 minutes south of Stuttgart.