Visitors to Germany predictably flock to the cosmopolitan centers like Berlin, Munich, Hamburg, and Frankfurt. River cruisers who enjoy the well-traveled Rhine, Main, and Danube corridors also get a taste of the many small cities that flank the shores of these rivers. However, there is so much more to see in Germany. In addition to these busy metropolises and bustling river towns, visitors who are looking to experience Germany’s history, exciting cities, and a taste of nature have plenty of options. Below is just a sample of the many lesser-known destinations well worth a visit.
Monschau and Eifel National Park
Hikers would do well to explore Monschau, a quaint town on the Belgian border, as it is situated along the Eifelsteig walking trail. The town itself has much to attract visitors. Its charming cobbled streets are dotted with timber houses, and the town includes a traditional main square which hosts a renowned classical music festival and a traditional Christmas market. For nature lovers, the proximity to Eifel National Park—just outside of town—is perhaps the biggest draw.
Münster is considered the cycling capital of Germany. More than 100,000 cyclists travel through the city daily. Perhaps that is why in spite of its age—the history of the city dates back some 1,200 years—the city has a refreshingly youthful vibe. The city’s historical center and expansive Prinzipalmarkt, retail-heavy Salzstrasse, and municipal wine house provide the perfect itinerary of must-see attractions.
World War II history buffs are drawn to Dresden, though others may overlook it. History aside, there is enough there to justify a visit, especially at Christmastime. The city offers the longest-running Christmas markets in Europe. It also has a funky hipster-laden neighborhood to check out and a unique Kurt Vonnegut-inspired walking tour. Visitors likely won’t hear any English spoken here, which contributes to a thoroughly authentic German atmosphere.
Nature lovers take note! Featuring a stunning turquoise, crystal-clear natural pool in the city center, Blaubeeren is widely considered one of the most scenic towns in all of Germany. Its history is long and storied. The Neanderthals inhabited the area in prehistoric times and the Benedictine monks during the Middle Ages. Today, it remains one of the most underrated sites in Germany.