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When I initially moved to Germany, the allure of castles and fairy tales dictated my travels. And let’s be honest, after living in Germany for almost five years, my love of castles and small German towns has only increased. I’m constantly on the hunt for the most beautiful German towns, especially the charming fairy tale towns of Germany. While some of the below towns might actually be the inspiration behind some of the Brothers Grimm’s fairy tales, they all look like they could come directly out of a fairy tale with the colorful architecture, cobblestone streets, and winding alleyways. Below, my readers and I have outlined the best fairy tale towns in Germany!
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If there’s one fairy tale German town that I could visit over and over again, it would be Heidelberg. Almost completely untouched during the World Wars, Heidelberg was beloved by both American and European writers, including Mark Twain. Walking down the cobblestone streets between the old buildings throws you back to an earlier era of these authors.
Heidelberg’s most charming feature is its castle, Heidelberg Castle (Schloss Heidelberg). Looming over the entire Old Town, this castle gives some of the most fantastic views. For a particularly good view of the castle, go over to the other side of the Neckar River. During the summer months, there are fireworks over the castle that illuminate the entire town.
On a personal note, Heidelberg was/is my fairy tale town – it’s where I met the Prince and a place that’s really special to both of us. We’re lucky enough to go back and visit at least once a year!
The place where I initially feel in love with Germany, Tübingen is considered one of Germany’s most photogenic cities. With a relatively small Old Town area, the entire town can be explored in half a day. However, don’t be alarmed by the small size – the town packs a punch with cobblestone streets and a stunning castle!
As one of Germany’s medieval universities, make sure to take time to explore the collegiate campus right next to the Old Town area. On a sunny day (contrary to the snowy picture above!), enjoy one of the many outdoor cafes that line the main square. This is a gorgeous fairy tale town that should not be missed!
Landsberg am Lech
Landsberg am Lech is a little town in southern Germany (Bavaria) that very much ticks every box in terms of being straight from a fairy tale. It’s set on a river, flanked by old town walls, full of cobblestone streets and pastel-colored buildings. It’s part of the famous “Romantic Road” and it’s not hard to see why. When you arrive via the train, you’re greeted with a picturesque scene – swans bobbing past on the river with the quaint town nestled on the hillside.
The main square of Landsberg am Lech is filled with a bustling market and independent shops perfect for browsing. It’s all overlooked by the Beautiful Tower (Schöner Turm) and the Town Hall (Rathaus). There are also plenty of cozy inns and cafés to break up your sightseeing. Enjoy some comforting Bavarian food or the German tradition of coffee and cake (Kaffee und Kuchen). The best thing about this magical little town is that it’s so easily accessible from nearby cities including Munich or Augsburg, with the scenic train ride taking under an hour from both cities.
Rothenburg ob der Tauber
Rothenburg ob der Tauber is a medieval, walled town popular with tourists in southern Germany (Bavaria). Hordes of tourists carrying Rick Steve guidebooks can be spotted on any given day. Since there are so many bus tours that visit this picturesque walled town, I recommend staying in the Old Town as there are many small cute hotels that don’t accommodate large bus tour groups. If possible, it is best to visit Rothenburg ob der Tauber in the morning or in the late afternoon and evening. For an evening visit, I highly recommend taking the Nightwatchman’s walking tour of the town (8 Euros for adults and 4 Euros for students). You will hear some of the stories from the town’s history including how this medieval gem was nearly destroyed in WWII and was only saved because officers on both sides (and the U.S. Assistant Secretary of War) recognized its value.
Rothenburg ob der Tauber is also known for its Schneeball round pastry (my favorite is the one with just a bit of sugar on it) as well as its Käthe Wohlfahrt Christmas shop and museum. Great views of the fairy tale town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber can be found by walking the wall or by climbing the Tower Hall Tower.
The compact city of Weimar in the state of Thuringia celebrates its associations with Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Friedrich Schiller. The polymaths stand together on a statue on Theater Square (Theaterplatz), outside of the theater where German politicians met to draft the constitution of the Weimar Republic.
Yet its the parks and palaces in and around Weimar that draw many visitors and gives it its fairy tale-like charm. The city palace is the site of a museum that conveys the history of the court that attracted several of Europe’s great minds and creatives during the Age of Enlightenment. A legacy of that era is the Duchess Anna Amalia Library. The Baroque building holds a valuable collection of rare manuscripts and books including an original Luther Bible.
The elegant Hotel Elephant was one of Adolf Hitler’s favorite hotels and overlooks Weimar’s cobblestone Market Square (Marktplatz). This square hosts the annual Onion Market (Zwiebelmarkt) each autumn. The event goes beyond being a celebration of just onions – there are food stalls and live music all around the city.
The interesting history of Bamberg begins in the year 1002 when the Duke of Bavaria became the King of Germany. He decided he wanted to make Bamberg his grand seat of government and, a few years later, construction of an impressive series of buildings began. These buildings can still be found at the top of the hill overlooking the town.
But it’s at the bottom of the hill where the fairy tale charm can be felt the most today. A river runs past small fishermen’s houses, the colorful facades of shops line the streets, and market stalls sell fruit and vegetables grown in the gardens of the town’s residents.
One of the highlights is the old Town Hall building, which sits in the middle of a bridge over the river. It was placed there for protection from attack but today, with its painted walls, has a charming allure.
It is easy to explore Bamberg by foot. If you arrive by train, you’ll walk through the traditional residential areas, then through the colorful commercial district, before heading up the hill to the cathedral and other grand old buildings.
Goslar is not only the town I grew up in but also one of my favorite towns in Germany. With its medieval charm, it truly looks like a town cut straight out of a fairy tale. It’s quite small, so you don’t need much time to discover the historical center and the impressive Imperial Palace that used to be the summer home of several German Emperors. However, you can spend hours getting lost in the narrow streets and the half-timbered houses that were built several hundred years ago when Goslar used to be an important and rich town in Germany due to its silver ore mines.
Nowadays, Goslar is the perfect place to spend a relaxed weekend having some ice cream or hot wine (depending on the time of the year) on its beautiful medieval Market Square (Marktplatz). Moreover, you can take a great day trip from Goslar to the surrounding Harz Mountains for amazing hiking, walking, skiing, and biking.
All in all, Goslar is not only a great fairy tale town to visit for everyone interested in history but also a perfect destination for couples and families.
Coburg, in the northern part of Bavaria, is a small fairy tale town that you’ve probably never heard of – but should consider checking out. If you’re interested in castles or historic buildings, you’ll love this town. Not only does it have a castle on top of a hill – called Coburg Fortress (Veste Coburg) – but there are three other castles nearby for you to explore.
Coburg is actually a well-known town among people interested in royal families because Prince Albert, husband of Queen Victoria of England, was born here. However, there are other royal families across Europe that can trace their lineage back to Coburg. If you were to tour the historic center, you’d be able to learn all about Coburg’s royal history.
If you are a fan of architecture, the Old Town of Coburg is for you. One of the highlights of the town center is the colorful Town Hall at the main Market Square (Marktplatz). Originally built in the 15th century, but having been renovated over the years, the beautiful exterior facade that you see today is still very similar to the one from 1750. From cobblestones streets to colorful Bavarian-style vibes, Coburg is like stepping into a fairy tale!
Würzburg, my proud hometown, is a charming and lively town in the north of Bavaria. The town is integrated into the romantic scenery of the Main River and surrounded by vineyards with the emblematic fortress sitting on one of them. A 45-minute walk from the town center, the Fortress Marienberg rewards you with stunning views over the town. Down in the heart of the town, the famous Residence Palace with its gorgeous gardens is one of Germany’s most beautiful baroque buildings and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The heart of Franconia awaits you with a lively wine culture – dotted with impressive cellars and cozy taverns to taste the local food. Zum Stachel is the oldest tavern in Würzburg and has a charming patio.
My personal fairy tale moment in Würzburg is enjoying a good glass of wine on the old Main River Bridge. When the sun comes out, you will be surrounded by the enchanting, almost Mediterranean, flair on the bridge where residents and tourists mingle – chatting, drinking wine, and enjoying the amazing view.
Contributor: Sue from 197 Travel Stamps.
The Rhine Valley is famed for its terraced vineyards, verdant hills, medieval castles, and charming villages around every river bend. While it’s hard to pick just one among the many gorgeous towns that litter the banks of the Rhine, medieval Bacharach struck me as especially picturesque and fairy tale-like.
Located 85 kilometers west of Frankfurt, Bacharach is easily accessible by car, train, and even by boat (on an excursion).
The little town captivates on a number of levels. I fell in love with its gorgeous half-timbered houses, cobblestone streets, hidden alleys along with St. Peter’s Church, and the fabulous Town Wall Walk (Stadtmauer-Rundweg).
The Town Wall Walk loops around the town, and you’ll need 1-2 hours to take it all in. The walk on top of the medieval town wall takes you from elevated, undercover walkways up into the sloping vineyards surrounding Bacharach – past old fortification outposts, historic houses in the painter’s corner (Malerwinkel), the gothic Werner Chapel (Wernerkapelle), and up to Castle Stahleck (Burg Stahleck, now a youth hostel!).
Both Castle Stahleck and the Lookout Tower (Postenturm) offer fabulous views over the town and the Rhine River Valley. Even if you don’t want to do the whole loop, it’s worth climbing up to either of these for panoramic views.
Just an hour and half drive south from Frankfurt, you will find the town of Baden-Baden. Upon entering Baden-Baden, you’ll feel as if you are transported back to what you imagined as the main town of a child’s fairy tale. Baden translates to “bath” and that is what this little gem is known for – healing spas. You must take a stroll through one of the most beautiful parks in all of Europe, the Lichtenaler Allee. The park is filled with bridges that cross over the Oos River, mature trees, statutes, and fountains. Every fairy tale town needs a castle and Baden-Baden does not disappoint with its two!
If you look up to the hills, you will see the Hohenbaden Castle built in 1102, also known as Old Castle (Altes Schloss). New Castle (Neues Schloss) was a private castle built in the 15th century that now serves as a luxury hotel. There is also the famous Royal Casino. Upon entering, you will find yourself in a crystal chandelier palace. Horse-drawn carriages will carry you on a ride through the town filled with fountains, outdoor eateries, and old shops with that wonderful fairy tale German touch.
Contributor: Sherrie from Travel By A Sherrie Affair.
What part of Quedlinburg isn’t fairy-tale like? There’s the historic castle and church that have been perched on a sandstone outcrop above the town for over a thousand years. Legend states the first German kings were offered the crown here, leading to the establishment of the first German kingdom. The abbesses from the convent on the hill ruled over the important market town for centuries, proto-champions of women’s rights. With a large collection of half-timbered houses, these buildings span more than five centuries. Whether it’s historic buildings, quaint streets, or hearty German fare that you’re looking for, a visit to Quedlinburg offers all these things. Once you visit, you’ll be instantly transported back in time to a fairy tale world.
Konstanz (Constance) is tucked into the southern corner of the country on the German-Swiss border, and typically forgotten or unnoticed by firstcomers to Germany. Directly on the Bodensee (Lake Constance), Konstanz has views of mountains from Austria, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein. Konstanz itself has beautiful architecture and painted buildings, all kept perfectly intact and fairy tale-like. During WWII, Konstanz purposefully did not turn off their lights during air raids, tricking pilots into thinking the town was part of neutral Switzerland.
Konstanz also has two nearby islands straight out of a fairy tale. Reichenau is home to a 1000-year-old monastery (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) as well as beautiful orchards, vineyards, and vegetable gardens. Mainau is home to a giant, vibrant flower garden attracting visitors from all over the world. During the summer months, Konstanz is one of the most charming places to be in all of Germany.
Located in the depths of the enchanting Black Forest, Schiltach is a charming little town that arouses thoughts of fairy tale, medieval stories and magical characters.
To get to Schiltach from the market hub of Freudenstadt 20 kilometers away, I took a bus driven by a man who spoke zero English – knowing where to get off required some guess work! However, this only added to the town’s fairy tale-esque mystery.
Picturesque half-timbered houses stand in front of the Kinzig River against a backdrop of lush evergreens. Dating back to the 11th century, Schiltach has a very authentic, unspoiled feel to it. You can follow paths along the gentle river and bathe in the tranquility of the evening sun without being disturbed by large crowds of tourists.
Schiltach maintains its medieval traditions by holding regular farmer’s markets. On New Year’s Eve, residents take part in a procession during which they hold lanterns and sing hymns.
Wandering through this fairy tale German town, I was transported to the setting of Hansel and Gretel, waiting for a trail of breadcrumbs to lure me into the surrounding dark forest.
Fairy tale towns mean something different from person to person. For me, a fairy tale takes me to a forest. As someone who is based in Germany, I am very fortunate to have the Black Forest at my disposal and I need to take advantage of it more often. Triberg is a town inside of the Black Forest that is known for three things – Germany’s highest waterfall (it’s not, but it is known for that), cuckoo clocks, and Black Forest ham. The waterfall is absolutely stunning and easily accessible to anyone who wants to visit, regardless of age, disabilities, and species (very dog-friendly!). Getting to Triberg is simple with public transportation and there are countless hiking opportunities around the town and waterfall that will leave you feeling like you’ve gotten lost in a fairy tale. Mother nature will quickly make you forget that there are no castles there – it really is that beautiful any time of the year!
Trier is one of the most ancient towns in Germany, nestled within the hills of the Moselle Valley. Founded by the Roman Emperor Augustus in 15 B.C., it quickly became well known for its viticulture and rich cultural life. When arriving in Trier, a fortified gateway – the 30-meter high Porta Nigra – leads the way to the historic center – a giant pedestrian area, famous for its many shops and busy restaurant life. Right in the center of this pedestrian area, you can find a flower-filled medieval marketplace and antique half-timbered houses. Flocks of white pigeons usually gather at the fountain’s foot and pick up bread crumbs under the carved saints’ gaze. When the weather is nice, several street musicians may hit a few tunes too.
All around the marketplace, high-peaked roof gables and gilded saint sculptures seem to overlap each other. This is the place where the true medieval heart of Trier beats and what makes Trier one of the most amazing fairy tale towns in Germany! Even the Italian ice cream parlors and the screaming kids can’t diminish the deep perception that Trier has a great story to tell…a story of grim Popes trying to destroy Roman arches and of maidens being secretly offered flowers at the amphitheater ruins. To extend the fairy tale effect in Trier, stroll along the ancient Roman fortification walls after sunset to feast on the view of the shadows that deepen and drop on the Moselle River.
Berchtesgaden is a very pretty alpine town located a few kilometers away from the Austrian border. Even though Berchtesgaden is very small (its population doesn’t exceed 7,000 people), it is still quite a well-known and popular fairy tale destination. Berchtesgaden is very colorful and cheerful any time of the year – people go there in winter to ski and in summer to hike and enjoy the warm Bavarian weather. There are plenty of things to do in Berchtesgaden – from hiking the Alps or fabulous gorges to visiting the salt mines and relaxing in the open-air spas. Despite its location on the edge of Germany, it’s easy to reach from Salzburg, Austria (it’s less than a 30-minute drive from Salzburg airport).
Contributor: Liza from Tripsget.
There are several fairy tale towns in Germany but our personal favorite, Cochem, has the best fairy tale castle in Germany. Cochem is located on the Moselle River and is home to only 5,000 people. The town is known for its well-preserved medieval and Roman buildings. Make sure to visit the market, go wine tasting, and ride the Mosel-Wein-Express. We suggest spending the night in Cochem so you have time to explore the town, taste some wine, and explore Cochem Castle. Cochem Castle is situated 300 feet above the river surrounded by sloping vineyards. There is a cute restaurant at the castle so make sure to stay for a snack after the guided tour. October is a great time to visit this fairy tale town as all the trees are changing colors!
If you’re looking for a beautiful fairy tale town in Germany, consider visiting Oberwesel. This adorable town in the Rhine Valley has stunning architecture with half-timbered houses and atmospheric cafes inside them. Although the buildings aren’t as colorful, the medieval architecture makes this town seem straight out of a fairy tale! The town dates back to the Celtic times and visitors walking around can see its sixteen towers, originally for defense, still intact. Some of the towers are even used as residences today. While visiting Oberwesel, consider walking along the original town walls for a stunning view of the Rhine River as well as the rolling hills of the Rhine Valley. The main reason to visit Oberwesel? It’s the perfect jumping off point for visiting the Rhine Valley by car or by public transit. Within the town, you’ll find numerous wine bars although the town can be a bit sleepy in the off-season. However, most hotels will have numerous wines in stock at their in-house restaurants. Enjoy a glass in this fairy tale town!
Contributor: Karen from Wanderlustingk.
Germany has no shortage of fairy tale towns that looks like they just popped right up out of a Disney storybook! The country is dotted with picturesque, half-timbered towns in an array of colors. Yet there was one that transported me back in time with its ochre-colored, double-spired, half-timbered medieval Town Hall, winding cobblestone alleyways lined with cotton candy colored houses, and quaint little cafes.
That Disney-esque town I fell completely head over heels for was none other than Wernigerode, located in the Harz region of Northern Germany amongst a plethora of other equally charming towns!
Living up to its nickname as the “Colorful Town in the Harz”, Wernigerode had no shortage of rainbow-colored, half-timbered houses, including Germany’s smallest house nestled at the end of Kochstraße at a whopping 2.95 meters wide (just over 9 1/2 feet) and only 4.20 meters (13 feet) to the gutter of the house.
To top it all off, the romantically-turreted Wernigerode Castle sits perched on a mountain overlooking Wernigerode that’s easily accessible by either foot or hopping aboard the castle train! This truly is a fairy tale town nestled in the Harz Mountains.
Zinnowitz, Usedom Island
Imagine the rough Baltic Sea and its breezes. Now add the sound of seagulls passing over your head and the slight smell of fresh fish that surrounds you. Welcome to Zinnowitz, Germany’s most beautiful Nordic town and the heart of the second biggest island in Germany, Usedom. Zinnowitz is home to a large boardwalk and an even larger sandy beach. It’s perfect for a weekend getaway or a quick day trip from Berlin as it’s only 2.5 hours away. Come here and enjoy freshly caught fish served in warm buns! If you can spare some time away from the beach, get lost in the plentiful woods that connect Zinnowitz with other cities on the island. Also, make sure to explore the Achterwasser, a lagoon located on Usedom, that offers a great spot for kayaking, canoeing, and short boat trips. Anything you’re missing for your fairy tale experience? Definitely nothing you cannot find here in Zinnowitz.
Narrowing down to only 21 fairy tale towns in Germany was an incredibly difficult task. How do you choose between all the charming, picturesque towns in Germany? Additionally, these photos of Germany make me want to visit so many places (besides the adorable fairy tale German towns!). While this post could definitely use a follow-up post in the future, I’d love to know some of your favorite fairy tale towns in Germany!