When planning a trip to Germany, Berlin probably jumps to the top of most travelers’ destination list. And with good reason – Berlin is a huge city, sprawling across fantastic, eclectic neighborhoods that are home to some of the best museums in the world. However, Germany has so much more to offer beyond its bright capital city. This guide details three unique German cities that are well worth their own trip.
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For some strange reason, most travelers leave Hamburg off their list of ‘must-see’ cities in Germany. Perhaps they are unaware that Hamburg is actually Germany’s second largest city (after Berlin, of course) and houses one of the largest ports in the world. Sitting at the mouth of the River Elbe, Hamburg has been historically destroyed by Vikings and Polish kings, ransacked by Danes, and enjoyed its role as an imperial city of the Holy Roman Empire. The city has a palpable historic aura that can be felt among the lavish villas and houses in the old mercantile neighborhoods. If you love that old-world charm, you’ll enjoy getting lost in this city. Check out these cheap hotels in Hamburg for a great list of budget hotels. Don’t forget to look for flights to Hamburg while booking your hotel as well.
Beyond its history, Hamburg offers thriving, urban neighborhoods full of eclectic boutiques and artsy cafes. You can also stroll along the huge harbor or spend a Sunday at the fishing market. For weekends, you can people-watch in the infamous Reeperbahn (Hamburg’s red-light district). Aside from the typically scandalous and touristy aspects of the Reeperbahn, there are quite a lot of theaters, concerts, and restaurants well worth a visit. You may be surprised to find a good number of locals spending their evening in this lively area of town. Whatever your interests may be, this affluent city has something to offer.
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Potentially the most idyllic city in Europe, Nuremberg also represents a harrowing look at the past. You’ll experience a variety of emotions passing through various parts of this city, which makes it all the more complex and intriguing. Starting off in the old town, you’ll be sucked in by the Old Bavarian charm and the majesticNuremberg Castle. Perched upon a craggy rock, the castle offers a fantastic view of the city from its watchtower. You’ll also find a variety of gothic churches clanging out the hour with fantastically ominous bells. When you feel like arriving back at the twenty-first century (albeit begrudgingly), you can hit up the shopping district or one of the many quaint restaurants in town.
One of the more interesting and sobering parts of a trip to Nuremberg is visiting the Nazi Party Rally Grounds. This huge expanse features old grandstands, small monuments, and other buildings that once housed Nazi rallies and celebrations. It was also the location of the haunting Nuremberg Trials. Today there is a fantastic museum built on the site that gives an extremely in-depth and informative audio tour about Nazis in Germany, World War II, and the Nuremberg Trials. Take a day out of your trip to visit the Rally Grounds and spend the rest of your time soaking up the city’s Old Bavaria vibes.
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The city of Cologne is a cultural mecca in Germany. You’ll never be short of things to do given the multitude of museums, art exhibits, Roman cathedrals, brewery tours, and trade fairs in the city. Perched along both sides of the Rhine River, you can spend sunny days taking in the gorgeous skylines. However, the best part about this city is exploring. Peruse the swanky, Bohemian neighborhoods and you’ll come up with all sorts of gems: art cafes, hole-in-the-wall eateries, authentic international food, and gorgeous boutiques. If you like to get lost among the winding streets of a city, then Cologne should be on your travel agenda.
These cities each offer a unique side to Germany that most travelers miss on the way to Berlin and Munich. So take some time out to give these cities, rich in both history and culture, the love they deserve.