10 Amazing Summer Travel Destinations in Germany
Germany is – let’s be honest – rarely thought of as a top European summer vacation destination. By the time June rolls around, most German residents start making plans for Italy, Spain, Greece, Portugal, Croatia – in short, anywhere but home. But what if I told you that this is actually a great oversight – that Germany has something fantastic in store for every manner of summer traveler? Whether you’re a culture vulture or a beach bum, looking to beat the heat or to embrace it, this list of ten summertime destinations in Germany is guaranteed to please.
ROMANTISCHER RHEIN (ROMANTIC RHINE)
One of Germany’s first and most beloved tourist destinations, the Rhine River region between Rolandsbogen and Mäuseturm is sure to satisfy the whole family. With riverboat tours, a riverside cycling route, more than 60 castles, fortresses and palaces, and plenty of vineyards renowned for their iconic Riesling, the only problem will be fitting everything into one trip.
ROMANTISCHE STRAßE (ROMANTIC ROAD)
Loosely based on a path through the southern regions of Germany dating back to Roman times, the Romantic Road winds its way through medieval villages with plenty of stunning castle views along the way. Highlights include the Würzburg residence in the north, Rothenburg ob der Tauber toward the middle, and the iconic Neuschwanstein Castle in the south.
BODENSEE (LAKE CONSTANCE)
Situated on the borders of Germany, Austria and Switzerland, Lake Constance is one of the largest freshwater lakes in Europe. Whether you prefer to relax and luxuriate or to keep active, there are plenty of ways to make the most of your time both on the water and off. Canoeing, paddle-boarding, windsurfing, sailing – or a gourmet dinner and wine cruise! Lake Constance caters to all tastes. On the lake, Mainau Island is a must-see; along the shore, Meersburg is one of many wonderful lakeside destinations. And for you hardcore cyclists: the Bodensee-Radweg cycle path encircles the entire lake in about 260km.
Located on the North Sea coast at the uppermost point of Lower Saxony, Cuxhaven is the gateway to the Wadden Sea National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that spans Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands. Sandy beaches, expansive mudflats, and a plethora of plant and animal life define this popular tourist destination. Twice daily, when the tide goes out, you can walk for up to 20km across a surreal landscape of exposed seabed.
The Rheinsteig Trail from Bonn to Wiesbaden is one of the most beautiful and varied hiking trails in all of Germany. Over the course of 21 daily stages, you’ll hike through the Siebengebirge, experience the dramatic Middle Rhine Valley, and enjoy the meandering vineyard views of Rheingau. The magnificent Rhine River is your companion the entire way: often you’ll find yourself close enough to dip your feet; occasionally it’ll flow hundreds of feet below you as you trek cliffside; sometimes, as you move through the green slopes of the Westerwald, you’ll only glimpse it from afar. If you don’t have three weeks to complete the entire journey, don’t worry. Almost all of the stages can be reached by train from Cologne, Bonn, Koblenz, and Wiesbaden.
If atmosphere, architecture, cafe-hopping and people-watching is your thing, then Rostock is for you. This beautiful university town on the Baltic coast in northern Germany is perfect for a summer getaway, especially when combined with the nearby seaside resort of Warnemunde. Rostock is located about two hours from both Berlin and Hamburg by high-speed train.
Situated on the Baltic Sea in northeastern Germany, Rügen is the largest – and, to many, the most beautiful – island in Germany. Here you’ll discover a mixture of secluded and touristy white sand beaches, charming seaside resorts, ample cycling routes, a national park, and much more. Rügen Island is accessible by ferry from Stralsund.
SANKT GOAR (ST. GOAR)
A trip to St. Goar and its surrounding area is a hidden gem among summer getways in Germany. St. Goar is located on the west bank of the Middle Rhine in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Rhine Gorge. A small and cute town in itself, many people come to St. Goar to visit the Rheinfels Castle, one of the largest and most romantic castles in the region.
SCHWARZWALD (BLACK FOREST)
Known for its dense evergreen forests and picturesque villages, the Schwarzwald region of southwest Germany near the Swiss and French borders has something for everyone. Want some of the best hiking Germany has to offer? Take your pick from dozens of beloved trails. Feel like being pampered? Set up base camp in Baden-Baden, one of Europe’s most stylish spa towns. Maybe wine is your thing? If so, then you’ll want to meander down the 99-mile-long Badische Weinstraße for a sampling of the best the region has to offer. You can find pretty much whatever you’re after in the Schwarzwald, all within the enchanting atmosphere that inspired the Brothers Grimm to dream up Germany’s most classic fairy tales.
Comparable to the Hamptons in the United States, the island of Sylt on the North Sea is a hidden gem in Germany. Surrounded by sand dunes, quaint (in one case even thatch-roofed) villages, lighthouses, and ritzy seaside nightlife, Sylt is as idyllic as a summer getaway can get – and also as expensive. Sylt is a notoriously expensive island, boasting the highest housing prices per square meter in all of Germany.