If there’s one thing to appreciate about Germany, it’s the cute German towns. And indeed, the country has so many secret little gems to discover that checking them off your bucket list seems like a never-ending activity. I personally love visiting small towns in Germany — they always bring peace and mindfulness, and nothing feels better than walking in the half-empty, narrow streets full of half-timbered houses, living their quiet life at the foot of a castle.
So in case you need to expand your definition of “towny”, here are 9 widely unknown German towns that I’ve hunted down for you!
Quedlinburg will be my all-time favourite German town for as long as I live, no kidding. I’ve been there a countless amount of times at this point and feel like coming back every year. Looking like a miniature, fairy-tale version of Edinburg, Quedlinburg is Europe’s best-preserved medieval town and one of the world’s most-renowned UNESCO gems. There’s no reason not to enjoy Quedlinburg, really — whenever you turn, you’re sure to stumble upon on something beautiful, be it an old crooked house, a church, or a little medieval cafe.
After a trip to Quedlinburg, do pay a visit to its neighbour, Wernigerode — the town is located just too close for you to ignore it (just some 20 minutes or so). If you’re a history buff, you’ll probably be interested in learning about the medieval dark past of this town, which was known to be a meeting place for witches. Every year, on April 30 (during the so-called Walpurgis Night), they would fly on their broomsticks to the mountain Broken for a huge celebration that made Halloween look like a party for kids. Ah, those were the days!
“Let’s go to Schwerin!” — said no one, committing a huuuuge mistake without knowing it! Schwerin has one damn gorgeous palace to visit, to remind you of the sophisticated, refined lifestyle that people used to have back in the day. Located on a tiny little island, the Schwerin palace is so separate from the rest of the town that it feels like a getaway inside of a getaway. You can’t escape any more than that!
A small resort town in the western Germany, Monschau is definitely more than just a wellness destination. Since its historical centre wasn’t touched by the destructions of War, the town still feels like a labyrinth of narrow streets and looks like a photo card collection of half-timbered houses — just the way it was centuries ago!
State: North Rhine-Westphalia
Now, you might have heard of Weimar before if you were paying attention at school. The city played an important role in the German history: it was both the origin of the Weimar Republic (aka the German Reich) and the centre of the German culture (as a whole) in the 18th/19th centuries. Weimar has left a huge mark on the development of music and philosophy, and such names are Goethe, Schiller, Herder, Liszt, Strauss will be forever associated with the town.
If you find yourself on the lookout for the world’s most recognisable — yet unknown — movie locations, go to Görlitz, the lovely German town that is also known as Görliwood. Nobody’s heard about it but everybody knows it: it appears in Inglourious Basterds, The Book Thief, The Grand Budapest Hotel, and other famous films. Görlitz’s popularity among directors is explained with its incredibly rich architectural heritage — the town has preserved the finest samples of Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, Art Nouveau architecture, making it an “all in one” kind of place.
Small town — big names! Ulm is the origin of the world’s tallest church, Ulm Minster, and the world’s most famous physicist, Albert Einstein. There’s also a super-beautiful, super-colourful town hall, which features some brilliant examples of ornamental medieval art. It’s huuuuuge! But for those who love something tinier, lay your path to The Fishermen’s Quarter where you can find the most crooked-looking house ever, Schiefes Haus. Built in the 14th century, now, in the year 2016, it’s inclined by 9-10°, which makes it a very picturesque scene. Difficult to photograph, though.
“Meersburg” literally means as “the Castle on the Sea”. Both upper town and lower town are reserved for pedestrians exclusively — quite a unique feature nowadays, which helps Meersburg to rock the “medieval look” like no other town. Meersburg also has a unique location — it is a getaway to the famously beautiful Lake Constance, which is just as pretty as a postcard! Wonderful choice for all types of travellers out there.
Cuteness alert! Carrying a well-deserved UNESCO label, Bacharach is where a towny lifestyle feels like a choice to commit to for no less than a lifetime. Bacharach is tiny, and yet you’ll need quite some time to explore it: there are two castles, remnants of a Roman road, ruins of some Gothic chapels, numerous wall towers — let alone plenty of charming Fachwerks to feast your eyes upon.
For a tiny unknown place that Füssen is, the town has two of the most incredible German landmarks: Hohenschwangau and Neuschwanstein (the one that served as a castle inspiration for Disney’s Sleeping Beauty). So, having merely a 14,000 something population, Füssen is a pass-by location for over 1 million people every year. And yet, you shouldn’t just pass Füssen by — the town is lovely on it own! There’s a beautiful lake Forggensee, which looks as romantic as it can get, Germany’s oldest fresco, in the crypt of St. Mang’s Basilica, the perfect-looking waterfalls at the river Lech… An ocean of charm!
Your turn! Which of these German towns will your add to your bucket list?
PS. If you liked this post, you will also like 10 Cutest Small Towns In Germany!