Celebrate Thanksgiving with a staycation in Germany

by Jessica Zen
Stripes Europe

While all of your friends may be jetting off to famous or exotic locations for the Thanksgiving holiday, sometimes that’s just not feasible. If you are located in Germany, there are plenty of options right in your backyard for amazing day trips, or even two-day adventures. Take this time to explore Germany and learn more about your beautiful host nation. Check out these locations as viable options for quick trips over the holiday:


Rothenburg ob der Tauber is a beautiful medieval town in Bavaria. | Photo by lauradibiase. 

Rothenburg ob der Tauber

Located in the Franconian region of Bavaria, this walled city is part of the Romantic Road and exudes traditional German charm. Known as the red fortress on the river, this town is strewn with half-timbered houses, towers, oriels, and cafes. An excellent example of customary architecture can be seen at the Baumeisterhaus (master-builders house). This house has a Renaissance exterior that features the seven virtues and seven deadly sins.  Another prime example of German architecture is Hegereiterhaus (Hegereiter house). Located in the former hospital area, this house has a steep, canopied roof, narrow tower and lantern-style turret. For a truly unique picture, visit the sky blue Topplerschlossen (little castle), which was built in 1388 as a residence and fortress. It was once home of legendary mayor Heinrich Toppler and is still fully intact. This narrow, tall and square castle is a bit of an oddity, as it looks like a house perched on a stone pedestal. Everywhere you turn in Rothenburg ob der Tauber there is a photograph just waiting to be captured of this idyllic German town.

Neuschwanstein

The Bavarian town of Füssen sits less than a mile from the Austrian border and is a hub for travelers looking for one of the most famous castles in Germany, Neuschwanstein. Construction on this Romantic medieval castle began in 1869, but sadly, was never finished. Sleeping Beauty fans will love that Neuschwanstein was the model for Aurora’s castle in the Disney film. Nature enthusiasts will enjoy Lech Falls, located just outside of Füssen, where the water cascades over five tiers before effortlessly flowing down the Lech River. Inside the 700-year-old town of Füssen are Baroque churches, Gothic houses, a medieval town wall, museums, and a High Palace. The landscape creates the perfect backdrop with the Bavarian Alps reaching towards the sky. This town is ideal for anyone looking to capture the ultimate castle snapshot in perfect harmony with the essence of German nature. 


Herrenchiemsee Palace located in Chiemsee, Germany. | Photo by pabkov.  

Herrenchiemsee New Palace

Like something out of a fairytale, the Herrenchiemsee New Palace stands as a monument to the monarchy on Herreninsel and has no practical function, making it all the more amazing. The palace was modeled after Versailles, and the intention of King Ludwig II was to create a “Temple of Fame” for King Louis XIV of France. Despite never being completed, it is proudly referred to as “Bavarian Versailles.”

Christmas Markets

Though you have yet to make it through the Thanksgiving holiday, Christmas markets have already started by the end of November. The ambiance of Christmas markets everywhere is nothing short of magical. Lights, torches and candles glisten in the moonlight to illuminate the scene of holiday cheer. Vendors sell their lovingly made goods in various locations on-site, while market-goers sip Glüwein to warm their hands and souls. How many can you hit up before Christmas arrives? 


A beautiful view of the Cologne Cathedral at night. | Photo by euregiocontent.

Cologne Cathedral 

This stunning piece of Gothic architecture is a Catholic cathedral and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is currently the tallest twin-spired church, standing tall at 515 feet. Though construction on this massive structure in 1248, it was not completed until 1880. During WWII the cathedral was bombed fourteen times but refused to fall. It took until 1956 to repair the cathedral, and today ongoing repairs constantly take place in order to correct wind, rain and pollution damage. The outside is beautiful, but the inside boasts another amazing view. Climb up 533 steps to the viewing platform and look out over the Rhine and the city of Cologne. 

Bamburg 

Nestled along river Regnitz, Bamburg is a prime example of medieval and Baroque architecture in Bavaria. In 1007, the Duke of Bavaria became King of Germany and set out to make Bamberg the Franconian “second Rome.” The layout of the town is marked by five churches in the shape of a Latin cross. The Imperial Cathedral of St. Peter and St. George boasts four towers and the tomb of Pope Clement II. All three parts of old town Bamberg, the episcopal town, the island town, and the market gardener’s town, are part of the UNESCO World Heritage site. Since the 1950s, Bamberg has been in a continuous state of restoration. Though it may not entirely live up to the “second Rome” title, it certainly has something unique to offer visitors.


Bastei Bridge in Saxon Switzerland National Park. 

Saxon Switzerland National Park

Located between Pirna and the Czech Republic border is Germany’s only rock national park. The region is home to over 700 summits and is an outdoor enthusiasts dream. Hike, cycle or rock climb your way through the park. Don’t miss seeing Bastei Bridge, a rock formation and bridge combination that seems to have effortlessly melded together. You can also visit the ancient Königstein Fortress. Relax and become one with nature while you make your way through this outdoor wonderland. 

Black Forest

Known for its dense green forests and picturesque villages, the Black Forest region in southwest Germany is the perfect place to spend a day or two. Follow a hiking trail that leads to a waterfall or search for the perfect cuckoo clock. Live a real-life fairy tale by exploring the landscape that inspired the Grimm Brothers or relax in one of the many thermal spas. There’s a little something for everyone, and certainly no shortage of astoundingly beautiful forests here! 

There’s no need to travel far when you are living in (or near) a country as beautiful as Germany! Spend the holiday exploring with your loved ones. From towering castles to sprawling forests, there is a variety of options for all ages and interests!

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