Germany is a stunning country no matter whereabouts you visit – but especially the South of Germany boasts some beautiful locations that you should consider for your next trip. Home to a blend of towns untouched by time but also some spectacular futuristic cities, here are five of the best places in Southern Germany to explore, along with and some site and travel tips for visiting Southern Germany.
Visiting Southern German: The Cities
It would be hard to talk about Southern Germany without mentioning it’s largest and most popular city, Munich. Munich is a beautiful city home to centuries-old buildings and numerous popular museums.
Economically the country’s strongest city, Munich formally became a city 1175 and was destroyed by allied bombing during the Second World War. However, the buildings were restored in the same style so that the city still has its old charm.
There are many reasons to visit Munich that are universal if you ask anyone who has spent time in the city. When I visited, I made a point of seeing all the museums, for the history of course, but also for the architecture. Lavish architecture is on display in every corner of this city, but in locations like The Residenz, Frauenkirche and Neues Rathaus really speak volumes for the beauty of the city. If you like surfing, you can try your luck on the Eisbach. You need to be very experienced though – the small wave on the river is very difficult to approach.
Sampling the food and drink in the city is also a must for any keen visitor. Of course, there is the iconic Oktoberfest that you can visit, but outside of that The Hofbräuhaus am Platzl, the world’s best-known beer hall, is 100% worth a visit in my book!
Tourists are drawn to Bamberg, a medieval town in Northern Bavaria, known for its historic charm and quaintness. This little gem is situated over the span of seven hills where the River Regnitz and River Main meet.
In fact, this beautiful old town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site thanks to its stunning architecture and wealth of culture. There are several places worth visiting whilst you’re in Bamberg. A few favourites include Altes Rathaus, Little Venice, Schloss Seehof, Neue Residenz and Rosengarten.
If you are only visiting the city for a short time, then there are plenty of short activities you can take part in – many of which are available in English, too, which is great for someone like me who (unfortunately) doesn’t speak fluent German! There are guided boat tours, historical walking tours and guided tours of some of the city’s most popular landmarks.
Well known for its traditional Alemanic Fasnacht (a celebratory carnival influenced by history), Gengenbach is a very popular tourist destination on the western edge of the Black Forest. This smaller town has about 11,000 inhabitants.
In the winter, this pretty town goes all out. The Town Hall becomes a giant advent calendar every year as the beautiful building has 24 windows.
Generally, the whole town is really cute. The area was unaffected by any bomb drops during the Second World War, so all the old houses are still there. Then, of course, a walk through the vineyards is a must for any nature lovers. If you go up to the hills, you have a wonderful view of the city and the vineyards.
If you are still bored, the roller coaster park “Europa Park” is close by, so make sure you go and visit! This theme park is Europe’s second most popular yet isn’t as well known in the UK – which is a shame! This fantasy-themed version of the continent boasts 100 rides spread over 13 different lands.
Rothenburg ob der Tauber
Situated in North Bavaria, this German town is small but well known; in fact, it has been unanimously decided that it is the prettiest town in Bavaria and one of the prettiest in all of Germany with lots to do.
Known for its medieval architecture and history, this little town’s walls include preserved gatehouses and towers and there’s even a covered walkway on top is a must-see. Rothenburg ob der Tauber truly is the definition of a ‘fairytale town’ with mazes of cobbled alleyways and bright houses with complete with cute flowerbox windows, small shops and wonderful stores of Christmas ornaments.
The town also hosts a variety of annual festivals that welcome you to get involved. For example, there is the Master Draught, the Franconian Wine Festival, the Imperial City Days e renowned Rothenburg Christmas Market.
Stuttgart is as rich with entertainment and culture as it is beautiful. Home to world-class galleries and museums as well as two famous automobile museums – Mercedes Benz and Porsche – this city has something for everyone and is definitely worth a visit.
Nature and/or animal enthusiasts amongst you may know Stuttgart as being home to the Wilhelma, the only combined zoo and botanical garden in Europe. The Wilhelma is a fantastic place for visitors of all ages and is somewhere to add to your itinerary when visiting Stuttgart definitely.
If nature isn’t your cup of tea, you could always venture to the Fernsehturm Stuttgart (The Stuttgart TV Tower) where you can explore the tower right to the top, where you’’ enjoy stunning views of the city below. There is even a café and gift shop to commemorate your visit.
Travel Tips for Southern Germany
While Germany is a fantastic country for travel, there are some things to remember.
Try to Learn Some Very Basic German
The first language in Germany is, of course, German and while many people may be able to speak English, it would be wise for you to learn at least some very basic German words and phrases as some regions of the country are exclusively German speaking. Here’s a helping hand: “Was kostet das?” means “How much is that?”, “Ja/nein” for “Yes/no”, “Danke” is “Thank you” and “Es tut mir leid, ich spreche kein Deutsch” for if you’re really struggling means “I’m sorry, I don’t speak German.”
Have Some Form of Travel Cover
All this adventuring is fun, but you never know what is around the corner. Britons have access to EU healthcare through our EHIC cards, so you should be okay if anything goes wrong and you get hurt or ill while in Germany. However, as you know, Brexit happened, which means that your EHIC card is only guaranteed to be valid until December 31st, 2020, after that, you may need to invest in insurance. If traveling from the U.S. , do check with your health insurance provider; travel insurance that covers some health benefits may be the way to go.
No Shopping on Sundays
Germans are very strict about this rule: no shops are to be open on a Sunday – even grocery stores and pharmacies, so make sure you get everything you need on a Saturday. However, if you really need to buy groceries or need a pharmacy: the train station shops are open on Sundays. It’s advisable that you don’t, as they will be extremely crowded and usually more expensive, but they are an option if you desperately need something!
Know Your Transport Zone
Travel in Germany operates much like the London underground. There are different zones for travel that are split into three areas: the inner city, outer city and the outskirts. Each zone will require a different ticket at a different price. Good news is you can use your ticket for different transports at the same time. So, you don’t need to buy separate tickets for the subway and busses as they are all connected.
Cash, Not Card
Many small shops and businesses will not have card machines in Germany, and if they do, they will likely only accept German cards, so make sure you always keep cash on you, just in case!
Visiting Southern Germany
Germany is a stunning country to visit, and it’s one that I know I will be visiting again and again. I hope that through this article you may have found your next port of call for a German getaway.
- Plan your trip with the help of Destination Germany, Germany’s official tourism board
- On our site: 10 Reasons to Take a European Cycling Trip
-All photos as credited. Cover photo: “Gengenbach Hilltop” courtesy of Chris Smith is in the Public Domain