Travel Guides Crafted by Experienced Archaeologists & Historians

Germany Travel Guide

Few other countries have a past as rich and complex as Germany. From the Neanderthals who made some of Europe’s oldest Ice Age art to the Iron Age Celts and their exquisite gold work. From the Hanseatic League of the Middle Ages to the 20th Century and the Third Reich. Whatever your interest in history, in Germany you will be spoilt for choice with Roman forts, Gothic castles and churches, Bach’s Leipzig, the Berlin Wall and some of the finest museums in the world. 

Reasons to Visit Germany

Twilight view of the Hanseatic town of Stralsund and its Backstein Gothic buildings at dusk, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany.
Backstein Gothic,
Wartburg Castle Eisenach Thuringia
Castles & Palaces,
The Roman gate of Trier Porta Nigra in Trier.
Roman Ruins,
Traditional christmas market in the historic center of Frankfurt, Germany

… and traditional Christmas Markets.

About Our Germany Travel Guide

Interesting Things to Know About Germany

The nation state of Germany was founded in 1871, with the establishment of the German Empire. What existed before that for around 1,000 years was a confederation of autonomous princely states within the Holy Roman Empire. Today Germany has 16 constituent states. As the modern state of Germany was formed from a collection of a number of older states, it has a federal constitution whereby constituent states have retained a certain degree of sovereignty.

Archaeological evidence for the earliest ancient humans in Germany dates to around 600,000 years ago. The earliest known fossilised remains of non-modern humans, Neanderthals from around 40,000 years ago, were found in the Neander Valley. The earliest dated remains of modern humans are from Swabian Jura mountains. Here, archaeologists have also found what is thought to be the oldest musical instrument, a flute dated to around 42,000 years ago. As well as a carved statuette of a lion-human figure that dates to around 40,000 years ago.

In 1450 Johannes Gutenberg introduced movable metal type in Europe and printed the so-called Gutenberg Bible in Mainz. This is not the first use of movable type, that was in China. A couple of hundred years in Hamburg, the theologian and poet Johann Rist is widely accepted to have created the first magazine. Published regularly between 1663 and 1668 under the name of ‘Erbauliche Monaths Unterredungen’ (German for Edifying Monthly Discussions) it was not the first to use the word ‘magazine’, although it thought to have inspired many the publications that followed that were called magazines

Some of the Christmas traditions we now take for granted, particularly in the West, such as the Christmas tree and the Christmas market, originated in Germany. The first record of a Christmas Market is from 1434 in Dresden (Saxony). The modern practice of bringing a pine tree into the house and decorating it, is thought to have originated in Germany. Decorating the house with evergreen wreaths is known about in Europe as far back as the Romans and their festivities during Saturnalia. In the 16th century Martin Luther is supposed to have been the first to add candles to an evergreen tree. Certainly, by the 19th century it was seen as a part of German culture and an expression of Gemütlichkeit (warmth and friendliness).

Apparently there are 2,100 castles in Germany. That is more than double the 1,000 different types of sausage produced. And there are fewer different types of bread, 300 or so. As the second largest consumer of beer in the world, Germans make over 1,500 different types of beer.

What's On in Germany 2024

Ramses: Gold of the Pharaohs
13 July 2024 – 6 January 2025
BeethovenFest, Bonn
5 Sept – 3 October 2024
Christmas Markets
starting November 2024

Find Places to Visit in Germany

Featured Destination

Friedrichstadt Schelswig Holstein

NORTH FRISIA
Sustainable Travel in Schleswig-Holstein

Dykes and koogs, halligen and warften. These are the tangible traces of a way of life that for centuries has literally shaped this western edge of Schleswig-Holstein. Sandy beaches and the low, flat landscape at the heart of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Wadden Sea, make this a popular destination for cyclists and hikers. With Stone Age megalithic sites, historic gabled architecture and many quirky museums, there is no shortage of things for the history lover to do and see.

Five Popular Attractions in Germany

Limestone Bust Nefertiti
Bust of Nefertiti
The iconic painting of Leonid Brezhnev and Erich Honecker kissing on a remnant of the Berlin Wall.
Berlin Wall
Cologne Cathedral
Hohenzollern Castle Sunrise
Hohenzollern Castle
Hamburg Historic Port
Historic Port of Hamburg

Explore Germany more deeply

Where to Go in Germany

Baden-Württemberg

From Ice Age art to Imperial castles, Roman baths to 20th century car museums. With the spectacular settings of the Swabian Alps and the Black Forest.

Bavaria

Vibrant cities and medieval towns are home to some 100,000 historical monuments, 1,200 museums, 40 theatres and operas, and 7 UNESCO sites.

Brandenburg

Surrounding the German capital city of Berlin are 30,000 km of waterways and 3,000 lakes on which are Prussian castles and Cold War relics.

Bremen

Officially the Freie Hansestadt Bremen, Hansa’s maritime history is still very much in evidence in the twin cities of Bremen and Bremerhaven.

Hesse

The Messel fossil pit, the Celtic burial mounds of Glauberg, a reconstructed Roman fort at Saalburg and the European Space Operations Centre.

Lower Saxony

Natural contrasts in the Harz Mountains and the East Frisian Islands of the North Sea coast, historical richness in Romanesque and Bauhaus architecture.

Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania

Slavic settlements and medieval monasteries, Hanseatic cities and royal palaces, spread throughout a vast network of lakes, rivers and waterways.

North Rhine-Westphalia

Widely considered one of Europe’s main cultural centres with well over 1000 museums and theatres, as well as UNESCO listed cathedrals and industrial sites.

Rhineland-Palatinate

An area that has been at the historical heart of Europe for 100s of years. And one of the world’s finest wine producing regions, thanks to the Romans.

Saarland

Völklinger Hütte, one of the world’s few remaining iron steel works from the industry’s heyday now a cultural centre, in a region of forests and spectacular scenery.
Dresden and Leipzig, culture and history. The perfect destination for city breaks, and the place of origins for some of Germany’s many Christmas traditions.

Saxony-Anhalt

Germany’s historic heartland. UNESCO sites reflect a rich, diverse culture: Luther memorials and Bauhaus, medieval Quedlingburg and Naumburg cathedral.

Schleswig-Holstein

Between the North and Baltic Seas, a region with an extraordinary maritime history, from Hanseatic Lübeck to the dykes and koogs of North Frisia.
Bach and Bauhaus, Weimar and Wartburg Castle, Martin Luther and the Reformation. Ancient beech forests are home to scenic castles and palaces.

Historic Cities in Germany

Berlin

Cologne

Hamburg

Wismar

What to See in Germany

Entrance to the Roman fort of Saalburg, Germany.

Roman Germany - Germania

The defeat of the Romans in Battle of Teutoberg Forest brought ended their desire and attempt to conquer Germania. Varusschlacht is thought to be the site of that battle. The border of the Roman Empire, certainly in Germania, would forever remain at the Rhine River. Along the Rhine and south of it are some truly spectacular Roman sites. Trier has some remarkably well preserved Roman architecture. Germany has a number of exceptional museums displaying artefacts recovered locally. Berlin’s Museumsinsel has substantial collections of Roman artefacts from beyond Germany.
The Nymphenburg Palace at night, Munich.

Forts, Castles & Palaces

From defensive burgs to the Schlösser of medieval times and later, Germany has an extraordinary collection of fortresses, castles and palaces. Perhaps not surprising given the nation is made up of what was until the 19th century a number of independent princely states. Each with their own lords and nobles, royals and dynasties, and each requiring their own imposing, luxurious residences and palaces. Many of these historic buildings are attractions in their own right. Others, following extensive restoration, many have been transformed into museums and art galleries.
Reich former Nazi party rally grounds in Nuremberg, Bavaria region of Germany

Holocaust, WWII & the Third Reich

From the Nazi Party Rally Grounds in Nuremberg to the Schwerbelastungskörper in Berlin. From Templehof airport to the Colossus of Prora, the Nazi beach resort on the north coast. There are a number of Third Reich sites, either redeveloped since the war or left in ruins, that are open to the public. There are many more memorial sites, such as the Topographie des Terrors, the Sahsenhausen Conecntration camp near Berlin and the Dachau Concentration Camp near Munich.
Teufelsberg Listening station in Berlin.

Cold War Sites & Memorials

Perhaps the most well known and iconic Cold War historic site is the Berlin Wall. Despite official attempts to remove it, there are a number of places where original features of the Wall still survive. As do other parts of the Iron Curtain, such as the Marienborn border crossing on Autobahn 2. There is more to the Cold War than the physical barrier that divided East and West. Many towns and cities had Stasi offices and prisons, some of which are now museums and/or documentation centres. The Marienthal Bunker, intended to house the West Government in case of Soviet attack, is open to the public.
A head and shoulders photograph of Thomas Dowson at a Christmas market in Germany.
#MyArchaeologyTravelGermany - Thomas Dowson

Germany has so much to offer visitors throughout the year, whether you are interested in Roman ruins or castles and palaces, festivals or street art. Having been living in Germany since 2018, I still get excited for the start of Advent and planning trips to Christmas markets I have yet to visit. While nothing compares to the festive atmosphere of a Weihnachtsmarkt, a mug of steaming mulled wine and a tasty bratwurst in a fresh bread roll, it is the local traditions that vary from town to town that I find so enchanting.

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