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This ultimate Germany bucket list has been in the making for several months. I’ve now lived in Germany for a total of almost four years in five different locations – Mainz, Bonn, Tübingen, Heidelberg, and Hamburg. Along the way, I’ve been able to accomplish 34 out of the 50 items on this list (although my personal list continues to grow daily!). While these are some of the most cliche and typical German experiences, I’ve also listed many off-the-beaten path adventures as well. Enjoy!
1 | Drink a beer in Munich’s famous Hofbrauhaus (bonus points if you do it during Oktoberfest). Make sure to order a Maß of beer (1 liter!) with a side of warm pretzels to soak up all the beer.
2 | Cheer on your favorite boat at Tübingen’s annual Stocherkahn race in June. Each member of the last place team of this boat race must consume a half of liter of cod liver oil in public.
3 | Walk down the longest pedestrian street in all of Germany – the Hauptstraße of Heidelberg. This main street is lined with cafes, shops, and restaurants with the gorgeous castle of Heidelberg overlooking it.
4 | Visit the world-famous Christmas Market of Nuremberg (named Christkindlesmarkt). Established in the 16th century and lined with almost 200 Christmas stands, this is one of the oldest and largest Christmas markets in all of Germany.
5 | Sail at Kieler Woche in Kiel. While it is notoriously rainy every Kieler Woche, this sailing event on the Baltic Sea is one of the biggest in the world.
6 | Stroll the old city walls of Rothenburg ob der Tauber. A traditional German town that has maintained its medieval charm, make sure to visit the Christmas market if there in December.
7 | Admire the gorgeous old warehouses in Hamburg’s Speicherstadt. Still one of the most important ports in the entire world, the city of Hamburg has more bridges than Amsterdam and Venice – combined!
8 | Dress up in a crazy costume for Karneval in Cologne. As one of the largest carnival celebrations in the entire world, this festival caters to families, children, and adults!
9 | Take in an opera or ballet in Stuttgart. Stuttgart State Opera continues to be one of the premier opera houses in all of Europe.
10 | Relive your Disney childhood by visiting Schloss Neuschwanstein (the inspiration for Cinderella’s Castle!). Though it was never finished, it is still the most popular castle in all of Germany!
11 | Ponder the historical and political ramifications of the Berlin Wall through the East Side Gallery. This section of the wall is now a symbol of freedom and the reunification of Germany in the 1990s.
12 | Walk the dome of the Reichstag in Berlin for amazing views of the city. The center of Germany’s government, this building has seen some of the most horrific and uplifting moments in Germany’s history.
13 | Remember the tragedies of WWII at Dachau Concentration Camp outside of Munich. A moment in Germany’s history that must never be forgotten by mankind.
14 | Attend a concert at Hamburg’s newly-opened Elbphilharmonie. One of the most expensive buildings ever built, its presence on Hamburg’s waterfront is breathtaking and stunning.
15 | Explore your family’s German history at the Deutsches Auswandererhaus in Bremerhaven. This is high on my personal bucket list due to my German ancestry!
16 | Run away for a beach vacation to the posh island of Sylt. I’ve dubbed this island the Hamptons of northern Germany!
17 | Step into a fairy tale by taking the Brockenbahn to the top of the Harz Mountains. This magical journey winds up to the highest peak. I also recommend taking a side trip to the charming town of Goslar.
18 | Relax at one of Germany’s famous spas in Baden-Baden. Don’t worry, nudity is totally normal in Germany (and expected!) ;)
19 | Take a weekend adventure down to the Bodensee (also known as Lake Constance). Bordering Switzerland, Austria, and Germany, it is a popular summer vacation destination!
20 | Culture yourself on the museum island of Berlin. My personal favorite museums are the Old National Gallery (Alte Nationalgalerie) and the Pergamon Museum.
21 | Watch the famous Glockenspiel ring at Munich’s city hall. Lasting 10-15 minutes, it chimes at 11 am, 12 pm, and 5 pm (in the summer).
22 | Drive along the romantic road in southern Germany. Pass through some of the most gorgeous and idyllic towns in all of Germany!
23 | Climb the highest church steeple in the world in Ulm at the Ulm Minster. Be prepared – there are 768 steps and it is quite claustrophobic.
24 | Revisit the tragic past of Dresden at the rebuilt Frauenkirche. A city totally destroyed during WWII, it has been rebuilt as authentically as possible.
25 | Stand in awe of the impressive Kölner Dom. It is the most visited landmark in Germany and was relatively untouched during WWII.
26 | Go to Germany’s number 1 tourist attraction – Minatur Wunderland. This model railway museum brings cities and countries to life through 50,000 feet worth of tracks.
27 | Take a boat trip down the Rhine River to view all the castles. While most are partially destroyed, you still get gorgeous views of all the vineyards and small towns lining the riverfront.
28 | Indulge in wine tasting in the Mosel region. Particularly famous for Rieslings, there are many tours and bike routes through the region.
29 | Stand in awe of Marc Chagall’s blue windows at St. Stephen’s Church in Mainz. As a Jew who fled France during Nazi occupation, these windows were meant to assist Jewish-German reconciliation by depicting scenes of the Old Testament between Christians and Jews.
30 | Explore Germany’s financial sector in Frankfurt. The most famous of these institutions is the European Central Bank.
31 | Visit West Germany’s old capital city of Bonn. Once a flourishing epicenter of German politics, this city is now home to many United Nations institutions.
32 | Take a brewery tour at the popular Flensburg Brauerei. It is one of the few large-scale breweries not under control of a brewery group (it is still family owned).
33 | Learn about Germany’s famous Ruhr region by visiting Essen’s Zollverein. As the main coal industry of Europe, it was a huge source of contention between France and Germany leading up to WWII. Now, most of these factories have been converted into restaurants, shops, etc.
34 | Drink Bamberg’s famous Schlenkerla beer while viewing the Bamberger Reiter. Warning – the Schlenkerla beer is…a very acquired taste ;) (shout out to Uli who better be reading this!)
35 | Eat world-famous marzipan in Lübeck. Although the recipe is a closely-guarded secret, bonus points if you eat the marzipan while wandering Lübeck’s adorable Christmas market.
36 | Attend the Maschsee Lake Festival in Hannover. A three-week festival of culinary delights and musical entertainment centered around the lake.
37 | See Schwerin’s impressive castle which is also the seat of Mecklenburg-Vorpommen’s state parliament. It has been nicknamed the Neuschwanstein of the North.
38 | Cheer on the F.C. Bayern soccer team in Munich at the famous Allianz Arena! Too bad Manuel Neuer just got married…
39 | Hike through the mysterious Black Forest in southern Germany’s Baden-Württemberg. It is also home to waterfalls and ski resorts.
40 | Visit Rügen Island’s chalk cliffs. These cliffs were formed exactly the same way as the White Cliffs of Dover although they are even taller!
41 | Wear your dirndl and lederhosen, and head to the world famous Oktoberfest in Munich. Not much else is needed for this bucket list item ;)
42 | Watch the fireworks over the Heidelberg Castle. Taking place three times a year in the summer months, this celebrates the union of Elector-Palatine Friedrich V to Elizabeth Stuart, the daughter of King James I of England. Their grandson, King George I of Great Britian and Ireland, was the first monarch in the House of Hanover. King George I’s grandson, King George III, famously lost the U.S. colonies.
43 | Ski in the German Alps and Germany’s highest peak, Zugspitze. Even if you’re not a skier or snowboarder, you can take a cable car to the summit for some gorgeous views!
44 | Admire the impressive car museum of Mercedes-Benz in Stuttgart. Even if you’re not a car fan (like me), the history and setup of this museum is absolutely fantastic!
45 | Cure your hangover at the Fischmarkt after a night out on Hamburg’s infamous party street, the Reeperbahn. Over 70,000 people attend the Fischmarkt every Sunday.
46 | Unleash your inner Princess at Sanssouci in Potsdam. A rival of France’s Versailles, this was the summer residence of Frederick the Great and Frederick William IV, Kings of Prussia.
47 | Eat as much schnitzel, bratwurst, currywurst, spätzle, and wheat beer possible (any and every bar will do!). Plus, no specific location is required ;)
48 | Ride a bike through the beautiful city of Münster, the bike capital of Germany. Beware, Germans are very strict about their biking rules – and never walk in the bike lanes!
49 | Listen to the music of Richard Wagner at the Bayreuth Wagner Festspiele, an annual festival attended most notably by Angela Merkel. Although a controversial figure due to his anti-semitic views, he built the Bayreuth Festival Theater to specifically debut his works.
50 | Visit Hohenzollern Castle, the often overlooked but absolutely magnificent castle in southern Baden-Württemberg. Originally built in the 11th century, the modern-day castle was built in 1846. It is now a museum filled with art and historical artifacts.
*** Bonus Item | Fall in love with a German. They’re well worth it ;)
I know this bucket list is barely scratching the surface of everything one can do in Germany! The longer I live here, the more items I continue to add to my ultimate Germany bucket list. What would you add to this list? How many of these have you done?