Germany is full of quaint medieval towns that are overflowing with culture and history. We’ve compiled a list of the five must-see medieval German towns to help you make the best of your German adventure!
There is no shortage of beautiful scenery in Germany. Modern-day Germany has been occupied for a few millennia, which has allowed a plethora of quaint towns to develop. Definitely consider visiting some, if not all of these towns if your travels take you to Germany. The easiest way to travel between these towns are either by the punctual German train system, or by renting a car to see things at your own pace! They are all steeped in a rich history that has helped to shape Germany into the nation that it is today.
Best German Fairytale Towns
- Rothenburg ob der Tauber
Heidelberg is home to the oldest university in Germany and has been an important spot in the country due to its mild climate and nearby river. In the 1200s, Germanic royalty built a castle on the mountain above the city. The current castle was rebuilt during the Renaissance and was subsequently bombed by the French but still remains fairly intact. The castle is one of the most popular things to see in the city.
Heidelberg is a place that will truly capture your heart. The Allies in World War II saved it so the city thankfully avoided destruction. The old city is home to many beautiful and quaint houses. There is even an old bridge that was partially destroyed by war but has since been repaired. Heidelberg is nestled in a valley and the views from either mountainside are unparalleled. For the travelers who enjoy a bit of a hike, be sure to hike up the hill across the river from the town. Hikers will be rewarded with the most spectacular view of the old town, bridge, and castle. It’s easy to see why even Mark Twain fell in love with the city and wrote about it!
Yes, I’m biased to include Heidelberg because I used to live there. But it really is one of the best German fairytale towns! I wouldn’t include it if I didn’t think it was worthy of being on the list. If you do manage to make it to Heidelberg, check out my previous post on the city here! Heidelberg is definitely a place you must visit and that’s why it’s at the top of my list of German fairytale towns.
2. Rotenburg ob der Tauber
Rothenburg ob der Tauber likely comes to mind when you think of a medieval town. It is incredibly picturesque and visitors truly step back in time as soon as then enter the town’s medieval walls. Up until a few years ago, residents still housed livestock in the walls. Today, those barns have been turned into charming hotels for the 2.5 million tourists who visit the city every year. Rothenburg’s walls are an important part of the city. The walls and the town that lies inside are Germany’ best-preserved examples of medieval architecture. In addition to its architectural charm, Rothenburg ob der Tauber is an incredible place to do lots of shopping. Many stores will even ship it home for you! Käthe Wohlfahrt is a German store that sells nothing but Christmas decorations all year long and is a huge hit in Rothenburg.
If you’re planning to go to Rothenburg, make sure that you go to Rothenburg ob der Tauber (on the Tauber river). Otherwise, there are several other Rothenburgs in Germany that aren’t nearly as quaint. The best way to experience Rothenburg is to stay the night there. You will be able to avoid lots of the tourists who are there for just a day and not fight through crowds. A Rothenburg hotel can sometimes be pricy, but this Skyscanner tool can help you score the best deal There’s a reason that Rothenburg is considered one of the best places to visit in Germany!
The town of Bamberg is known as the Venice of Germany and it is easy to see why. It is spread out over seven hills and sits on top of the Regnitz River, which makes it look like a real life fairytale town. Bamberg’s city hall is even directly over the river! The town also has the Schlenkerla Brewery that has been in operation since the 15th century and it creates a very special type of smoked beer that isn’t found anywhere else. Bamberg is one of the best German towns to enjoy the local brewery, so grab a stein and drink up!
Bamberg also is an extremely historical city. It’s location in northern Bavaria means that it switched empires frequently, from being ruled by a king for centuries, to the Nazi rule, and to its inclusion in to modern Germany. In 1926, Adolf Hitler went to Bamberg and held the Bamberg Conference. This conference was intended to bring dissidents of the Nazi party to light and convince them that Hitler was the man of the future. The Bamberg Conference was a turning point in the years before World War II to push Hitler to power. Bamberg has seen so many things throughout its time as a city and still remains one of Germany’s most picturesque cities.
Nuremberg is another town with magical walls surrounding the heart of its medieval town. It has so many small and winding streets that are filled with half-timbered houses. The cathedral has a beautiful and massive organ and if you’re lucky, you may even get to hear it play! There are medieval dungeons underneath the city that are open for tours. Unfortunately, the town was heavily bombed during World War II. The town’s residents were so resilient that they were able to rebuild the city from what was left and it is becoming a tourist hotspot once again.
The dark history of Nuremberg sometimes overshadows its beauty and charm. In the 1930s, Nuremberg was the site of Adolf Hitler’s Nazi party rallies. He built massive rally grounds that sometimes held up to 100,000 people as he flexed the Nazi’s power. After the end of the war, Nuremberg was the site of the Nuremberg Trials, where Nazis were tried and convicted for their war crimes. The courthouse that held the Nazi criminals is still standing and has an excellent museum attached to it.
After the somber museums and doom and gloom of Nuremberg, you can cheer yourself up exploring the Christmas side of Nuremberg. The town is known throughout the world as having the best Christmas Markets in Europe. Its Christmas markets are only during the Christmas season but shops around the town capitalize on the Christmas tourists and still offer great souvenirs!
Despite the unappealing name, Worms (pronounced Vorms) is an extremely important town in German history. It was the capital of the Burgundians and became an important palatine under Charlemagne. The cathedral in Worms was built in the 1100s in the Romanesque style and was the seat of the bishop until 1800. The town is best known for its 1521 Diet of Worms. It wasn’t an actual food diet, but a meeting that declared Martin Luther to be a heretic. The Diet of Worms cemented the town’s place in history forever.
To this day, there are still lots of churches throughout the town that adds to its medieval charm. The Jewish Quarter is a beautiful part of Worms and has been around since 1034. Many points of interest in Worms are within walking distance, which is extremely convenient for visitors. Worms is also in the heart of wine country and a trip to Worms isn’t complete without a glass of its wine!