The best places to visit in Germany

See the best places to visit in Germany with free Germany travel guides in PDF format. Download in-depth guides to the best cities to visit in Germany below. These guides save time, effort and money for independent travellers, every day – plus hours of planning and travel time.

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A traveller’s guide to German city tourist cards

In every large German city travellers have a choice – to buy or not to buy the city’s package tourist card, or pay for daily transport tickets and full entry charges at tourist attractions.

It’s impossible to generalise about the decision. These products vary in their benefits and value is about travellers’ plans and expectations.

Common benefits of a city tourist card will be:

● Free travel on public transit services for the period of the card (which is usually expressed in days but may be for an equivalent number of hours)

● Admission or discounted admission to major city tourist attractions such as museums

● Discounts for city sightseeing tours (occasionally the full cost will be covered)

● Discounts or special offers at listed cafes, restaurants or shopping discounts

● A city guide or map

The convenience factor for visitors using multi-modal transport is obvious. But sometimes it is difficult to squeeze value from tourist cards in the time allotted.

A quick calculation of admission prices at the favoured attractions provides an obvious comparison, but it is not the whole solution.

Visitors should expect to have to fill in names of tourist card users, or the users of a group card, and ages for younger visitors where relevant. It's best, by the way, to always carry identification that proves the age of children.

Where to buy tourist cards

Tourist cards are generally available at tourist offices and often at the customer service centres of city transit authorities. Sometimes, such as in Hamburg, the cards are readily available from transit ticket machines. In some cities, hotels might sell cards, while Heidelberg’s card can be bought at the city’s main youth hostel.

But part of the benefit is often to have the card in hand on arrival and cards are often bookable online and can be printed at home, or can be shipped – check for any postage fees. HamburgCARD has an e-card option that can be texted to a smartphone.

German transit tickets for travellers

The comparison between the price of day or multi-day transit tickets and the city tourist card is the other way to measure the benefit of the card. Day transit tickets (especially for families in situations where children can travel free anyway and get discounted or free admissions at attractions) might work out as a better all-round solution. Travellers should ensure the relevant transit zones are covered by the ticket they are buying. Typically, children aged 6-14 will pay about half-fare on city public transport, younger children ride free.

The smaller the price differential between a tourist card and a day transit ticket, the better the card’s wider benefits look, but one principle of good travel planning is minimising the necessary amount of travel. Travelling across Berlin in a day to see certain attractions is rarely necessary given their grouping in certain city quarters and easy walking distance. Travellers can see the antiquities of Museumsinsel one day, and the art museums of the Kulturforum another, without needing more than a one-way transit ticket to and from accommodation.

It is natural to be over-ambitious about how many sites can be visited in day – especially when estimating intervening travel time. Travellers who can visit more than four main city venues – such as palaces or museums – in a day are doing well, without counting things such as churches that are mostly free to visit anyway.

What travellers can expect from tourist cards

Details of periods and benefits are posted on city tourist websites.

The Berlin Welcome Card covers all transport plus discounts up to 50% at attractions. It covers children travelling with card-holding adults – up to three aged 6-14 – but the value component could lie in transport only as the main museums admit visitors 18 and under free. Museumsinsel, the UNESCO-listed “island” centre of Berlin’s ancient historical, cultural and art collections, and other key Berlin museums are in this category. Cards including Potsdam attractions and travel through Potsdam’s outer transport zone cost €3-4 extra. There is also a four-day option. There are bonus partner discounts. The “all-inclusive” card option adds free entrance at 30 attractions and the one-day €22 hop-on, hop-off bus tour, while a Museumsinsel option includes full admission to those museums.

The slightly cheaper Berlin City Tour Card covers transport plus discounts up to 30% at attractions. Potsdam attractions and travel through Potsdam’s outer transport zone is €2-3 extra.

Hamburg CARD is available at the Hamburg transit authority HVV’s ticket machines and customer centre, on buses and at major stations. Hamburg harbour tours and city museums offer up to 50% discount on admission at attractions.

Transport is second-class on trains but includes harbour ferries and users can add Hamburg’s outer region for one three-day cards at double the price. Validity is to 6am on the day following the last day.

Munich has three options. Both Munich Card and Munich City Pass cover transport and offer discounts at Munich attractions. There is a quite complex matrix of benefits and prices that offer plenty of flexibility for adults, teenagers, children or groups. Munich Card covers city transit and discounts entry to 90 attractions. Munich City Pass covers transport and admission in full to 45 attractions, including museums, castles and tours, over periods from 24 hours to five days. These offers can be compared with the MVV CityTourCard, covering transport and discounts to 80 attractions – typically 15-25% – and offered for individuals or groups for periods from 24 hours to six days. There are also mobile phone options for these passes.

For the Cologne pass Köln Card, discounts at attractions range between 20% and 50%, paired with free travel in a straightforward system.

In Dresden, there are two city discount tourist cards on offer, one including transport in the Dresden region, in addition to two museum package tickets. These can be combined for “super-saver” discounts. Delivery methods for the card combinations differ.

In Nuremberg, the Nürnberg Card (extended to include its neighbour city Fürth) is available for adults (with small children free) or children aged 6-11 for two days. In Bremen, the ErlebnisCARD range covers travel plus admission discounts up to 50% over one or two days for adults with children or groups up to five people.

The Stuttgart offer StuttCard is available for 24, 48 or 72 hours, with or without a travel component, admission to attractions and some tour discounts.

Smaller cities such as Heidelberg also offer cards covering all transport with entry discounts, as well as bonus discounts. HeidelbergCARD is available for adults or families, for periods of one, two or four days.

Museum passes are an option

This is where museum passes come in. Berlin, like many cities, offers a card specifically covering museum entry. A three-day Museum Pass Berlin (€29/14.50) covers more than 50 museums including special exhibitions in key Museumsinsel museums, while an adult Museumsinsel pass, at €18 for a booked day, allows full access. The list is available at the Visit Berlin website. The days of use must be consecutive but it is easy to squeeze value out of this deal. For museum buffs prepared to concentrate their visits this way the pass could be quite valuable given admission costs. Special exhibitions might incur an added charge.

In this case the only decision would be weighing up Museum Pass Berlin against the combination tickets on offer for some museums and the entry discounts (plus free travel) available with the city's Berlin Welcome Card. It is also important to check that Monday museum visitors can see what they want– in Germany, Monday is often a closed day.

In Dresden a day museum card issued by Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden for €30 (accompanying children enter free) covers most major attractions, which are grouped within easy walking distance in the city centre.

Combination tickets for associated attractions are a common feature in German museums, varying by city. For museum fans, the biggest trap could be a tourist or museum card that includes a Monday, the day many German museums are closed. But that aspect of travel planning should also be accounted for at the itinerary stage. The likelihood of free museum entry for children should always be considered.

Things for travellers to check

It is important to check whether admission to museums and other sights are fully or part-covered.

There are also other factors that vary by city. There is the issue of transport zones and how far out of the city a particular card will operate. The airport factor has to be considered in Hamburg and Munich, where there are separate cards, the wider, more expensive cards covering an outer zone that includes the city’s airport. In Berlin, the question of which zone to cover could revolve around the two airport alternatives.

There is nothing wrong with tourist card fringe benefits such as a restaurant discount, but they are unhelpful if the restaurants on the list are out of the traveller’s budget range.

It’s a question of how much research the buyer is keen to do, but the best rule is likely to be: weigh up the cost-benefit equation of a tourist card on the basics and decide on these alone. Then, enjoy dinner at the eatery of choice.

A day might be measured from time of purchase until midnight and the transport component is important. Always check terms and details. Berlin offers its welcome card for 48 or 72 hours – from the minute of validation – but its four, five or six-day cards are valid only until midnight on the last day of validity. Hamburg offers validity until 6am the following day – ideal for night owls – and Bremen’s card allows travel until 3am next day.

For a full matrix of prices and categories for the above cards, visit the Raven Travel Guides Europe Facebook page.

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Culture Encounters

Jewels of the Past

Berlin

Great Cities of Germany

Füssen

Füssen travel guide PDF in 3 pages

The tiny town at the foot of the Alps has its own medieval castle and Baroque monastery as well as being the jumping-off point for visits to the famous Romantic castles nearby.

● How to visit Schloß Neuschwanstein and Schloß Hohenschwangau

● The Wieskirche, a UNESCO-listed Rococo pilgrimage church, is a short ride away

● The town’s own castle, churches and museums

Hyperlink access to essential tourist and accommodation information

Aachen

Aachen travel guide PDF in 5 pages

The Romans developed the hot springs at the site, then 1200 years ago the Frankish king Charlemagne set up his court there and Aachen became the centre of his empire. The 2018 Raven Guide to Aachen is available for free download now.

● A guide to Charlemagne's church, which grew to become the present Aachen cathedral, one of the first world heritage sites

● The Roman and medieval survivals of the city and details of the city tour

● Essential services with hyperlink access to further tourist information and accommodation websites

Eisenach

Eisenach travel guide PDF in 4 pages

The new Raven guide to the Thuringian town, birthplace of Bach and hiding place of Martin Luther early in his revolt against the established church. It is also the site of one of Germany’s great medieval castles, with links to another great German composer, Wagner, and a centre of automobile making.

● Guide to the Wartburg castle

● Guides to the Bach museum of his life and work and museum of car manufacture

● Hyperlink access to further tourist information and accommodation websites

Lutherstadt Wittenberg

Wittenberg travel guide PDF in 4 pages

More than 500 years after Martin Luther's Reformation, this free guide covers the place where it all began. The town was the cradle of the religious movement that threw off the structures of the Catholic church and shaped new ideas and ways of worship, but also more than a century of bitter conflict that shaped Germany forever.

● Key sites, now world heritage monuments, include Luther's house and the castle

● The church where Luther's revolt began and churches Luther and his associates preached

● Hyperlinks to further tourist information and to websites for city accommodation

Bamberg

Bamberg travel guide PDF in 5 pages

The layout of the UNESCO heritage-listed city centre and a range of Baroque and medieval architecture makes Bamberg one of Germany’s most beautiful cities.

● The Romanesque cathedral, the opulent bishops’ Residenz palace, and its Renaissance predecessor dominate the old town

● The old town hall in the middle of the river Regnitz and the mysterious statue Bamberger Reiter attract millions of travellers

● Summaries of 35 historic sites and museums

● Information on tours, parks, food and the arts

● Hyperlink access to further tourist information and accommodation websites

Trier

Trier travel guide PDF in 7 pages

The Roman Trier was at one time second only to Rome itself. It was home to one of the most powerful Roman emperors, Constantine the Great, and later to Karl Marx. Signs of its past greatness remain for travellers to marvel at. Germany’s oldest city – and one of its oldest cathedrals – remain and are world-heritage listed.

● Read about the ancient Roman city gate Porta Nigra, the Roman bath complexes, a well-preserved amphitheatre and Constantine’s former imperial palace, plus the buildings of the medieval city

● The guide includes more than 30 sites, churches and museums, with essential services, *transport links, transit and tours

● Hyperlink access to further tourist information and accommodation websites

Rothenburg ob der Tauber

Rothenburg travel guide PDF in 4 pages

Completely walled with more than 40 towers, the cobbled pedestrian streets of the Romantic Road town perched above the Tauber valley are little changed since the 17th century, with medieval and Renaissance half-timbered houses and stone churches.

● The guide includes 17 sites and museums and an excursion to the Franconian open-air museum at nearby Bad Windsheim

● Essential services, transport links, food tips and tours

● Hyperlink access to further tourist information and websites for many of the town’s small accommodation houses

Potsdam

Potsdam travel guide PDF in 8 pages

The Stadtschloß palace was the first Prussian royal residence and more gradually multiplied in the city's extensive parklands. The city’s minorities grew with waves of immigration, leaving the Dutch quarter Holländisches Viertel and the Russian colony Siedlung Alexandrowka and its tiny Orthodox church.

● The delicate Rococo palace Schloß Sanssouci and the palaces and pavilions of Park Sanssouci with brief histories

● Potsdam’s ornate city gates, its Baroque streetscapes and 10 museums

● Essential services, transport links and fares, accommodation, food and tours

● Hyperlink access to further tourist information and accommodation websites

Regensburg

Regensburg travel guide PDF in 6 pages

The streets, archways and buildings of this medieval city, which grew from remains of a Roman legionary camp, remain. The range of ancient monuments and its streetscapes justify Regensburg’s world heritage listing.

● One of Germany’s classic Gothic cathedrals, several medieval churches, rare Gothic tower houses and one of Germany’s oldest stone bridges

Almost 30 sites and museums, including the nearby Walhalla gallery of great Germanic figures of history

● Information on essential services, transport links and urban transit and fares plus listings of travel essentials

● Hyperlink access to accommodation websites and further tourist information

Würzburg

Würzburg travel guide PDF of 7 pages

The prince-bishops who controlled Würzburg for centuries built wealth, power and influence expressed in Baroque by their huge palace, the UNESCO world-heritage Residenz. Their medieval castle still commands the city, reached by a stone bridge.

● Summaries of Würzburg’s grand residences, the medieval cathedral, churches and other sites

Museums and galleries including one of Europe’s prominent Jewish museums

Tours, essential services, transport links, transit services and fares and food tips

● Hyperlink access to accommodation and further tourist information websites

Passau

Passau travel guide PDF in 4 pages

The border city of three rivers includes the Baroque cathedral of St Stephan, with one of the world’s largest organs, the fortress Veste Oberhaus and the well preserved old town.

● Descriptions of 13 sites and museums, including the exhibits of Passau’s Roman past and history of glass manufacture

● Details of essential services, transport links and urban buses including fares, accommodation, food, tours and spectacular views

● Hyperlink access to further tourist information and accommodation websites

Dinkelsbühl

Dinkelsbühl travel guide PDF in 2 pages

This short guide covers a tiny medieval walled town, left unchanged by a royal decree and now a favourite of artists and a small number of travellers.

● Dinkelsbühl’s town walls and many Gothic and Renaissance buildings keep its atmosphere alive

● Small hotels, pensions and restaurants complement the historical scene

● Essential services, tourist and transport information are included with hyperlinks to accommodation

Augsburg

Augsburg travel guide PDF in 6 pages

The wealth and influence of Augsburg’s powerful families brought the Renaissance to Germany at a time when the city was also the site of key events of the Reformation.

● The home of Germany’s onion-domed towers, museums with magnificent works of art, and one of the beautiful Renaissance streets of Germany, the Maximilianstraße

Guides to more than 30 sites, including monuments to Roman settlement

Transport links and fares, food and tours

● Hyperlink access to further tourist information and accommodation websites

Heidelberg

Heidelberg travel guide PDF in 7 pages

The most common description for Heidelberg is Romantic. This comes from its valley location, half-ruined castle and the towered stone bridge crossing the river Neckar.

● Explore Heidelberg’s cobbled streets in search of the essence of the city – Germany’s oldest university, the churches, monuments to its religious struggles, and its restaurants and cafes

● Discover the castle, its history, and thefunicular railway that makes the climb – and vantage points above the city – much easier

● Several budget hotel and private hostels that help make Heidelberg accommodation affordable, plus hyperlink access to other accommodation and tourist information sites

● Guides to 27 sites and museums

Goslar

Goslar travel guide PDF in 5 pages

The medieval town has hundreds of colourful half-timbered houses, Romanesque churches and the Kaiserpfalz, one of Germany’s oldest palaces. Its ancient Rammelsberg mines were the source of its wealth and are partly responsible for the town’s world heritage status.

19 sites and museums including the finest town houses

● A town walk and Rammelsberg tour

● Information on transport links plus listings of travel essentials and hyperlink access to further tourist information and accommodation websites

● An excursion to the nearby half-timbered Harz town Wernigerode

Lübeck

Lübeck travel guide PDF in 7 pages

Trade made Lübeck the centre of the Baltic and the red-brick Gothic old town its merchant wealth built is now UNESCO world heritage-listed. Its churches, town houses and civic institutions are preserved and restored.

● The commercial and civic culture of the city through guides to 30 sites, museums and galleries

Tours, the best views and food options with other travel essentials

● Information on transport links and transit services including fares

● Hyperlinks to further tourist information and to websites for city accommodation

Berlin

Berlin travel guide PDF in 31 pages

Berlin is used to crisis, novelty and immigrants – so any journey to Berlin is a journey to many Berlins. The city that the Enlightenment and industrial progress created survived years of destruction and division.

● Separate sections for the districts Mitte, Prenzlauer Berg, Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg and Neukölln, Schöneberg-Tempelhof, Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf and Spandau, with local food and accommodation and quick guides to essential services

● Summary of major transport links with Berlin

● How to use urban transit services with fares

● Descriptions of more than 60 historic sites, with guides to walking sections of the Berlin Wall and its memorials

● Summaries of more than 50 museums of history, art and culture, and information on all major performance groups including orchestras, opera and theatre

● Short history of the city and its precincts

● Parks, views, tours and cruises

● Hyperlinks to websites for accommodation houses and further tourist information

Bremen

Bremen travel guide PDF in 6 pages

One of Germany’s oldest cities includes UNESCO world heritage monuments, ornate Renaissance architecture with a regional stamp, the story of world travellers including emigrants to the US and arts precincts with works by some of the most innovative German artists.

● The ancient St Petri cathedral and 11 other sites including the giant Roland figure

17 Bremen museums including art and the remarkable Übersee-Museum, with exhibits of the wonders of the continents touched by Bremen’s worldwide trade interests

Transport links and the city’s complicated transit system explained

● Hyperlink access to websites for accommodation houses and further tourist information

Dresden

Dresden travel guide PDF in 11 pages

Twice over the centuries, Dresden has been an amazing place. The first period was the Baroque magnificence of the 17th and 18th centuries. The second is now, with much of the city’s splendour restored.

Dresden's city palaces with their museums and galleries, highlighted by the two Green Vault museums, are among the most remarkable in Germany

● The exquisite, rebuilt Frauenkirche

● The Saxon ducal and royal summer palaces of Pillnitz and Moritzburg

● In all, 30 museums and galleries of art and culture

● Information on tours, essential services, parks and views, food and performing arts

● Details of excursions to the medieval city of Meissen, centre of European porcelain, and the fortress of Königstein

● Hyperlink access to further tourist information and accommodation websites

Hamburg

Hamburg travel guide PDF in 8 pages

Germany’s mighty port city attracts travellers from all over the world and was the departure point for generations of migrants. ● 25 sites, ships, museums, monuments and churches that reflect Hamburg’s maritime and trading traditions

● The UNESCO world heritage Speicherstadt, centre of Hamburg’s former free port

● Essential services are listed with a choice of tours, including port tours

● Information on transport links and extensive urban transit services including fares

● Listings of essential traveller services

● Hyperlink access to further tourist information and accommodation websites

● The city’s arts and music scene, including opera

Nuremberg (Nürnberg)

Nuremberg travel guide PDF in 8 pages

Modern Nuremberg has preserved or restored many walled and historic areas. The city’s leading late medieval citizens were some of the best known German personalities. Then came the Nazis.

● Guides to 20 buildings, historic streets and monuments, among them the Kaiserburg, the castle of early imperial German assemblies

● 13 museums, including Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Germany’s leading cultural history museum

● The courts of the post-World War II war crimes trials, now also a museum

Transport links, urban transit, tours and essential services

● Hyperlink access to further tourist information and accommodation websites

Cologne (Köln)

Cologne travel guide PDF in 11 pages

Cologne is Roman, medieval and modern all at once, a city known for piety, carnival and perfume. Travellers can walk the historic centre and the remains of the Roman wall.

Germany’s mightiest cathedral, which took more than 600 years to complete

● Cologne’s Roman and medieval walls and gates picked out for travellers

● 12 precious Romanesque churches with historical background

● In all, 25 sites and 17 museums of art, history and culture including the Römisch-Germanisches Museum and associated archaeological sites

Transport links and urban transit services including fares

Tours, parks, views, food and performing arts

● Hyperlink access to further tourist information and accommodation websites

Stuttgart

Stuttgart travel guide PDF in 6 pages

The Baden-Württemberg capital is one of Germany’s beautiful lifestyle cities, surrounded by hills and some of the country’s most beautiful palaces and pleasure pavilions.

● 10 sites including Stuttgart’s castle complexes, Schloß Solitude and the magnificent palaces of Ludwigsburg nearby

● 10 museums and galleries of art

Tours, walks through the city’s extensive parks and views

● Guide to essential services and hyperlinks to tourist information and accommodation house websites and a guide to performance art

Munich (München)

Munich travel guide PDF in 13 pages

Munich was founded by monks and built up by dukes and kings, but became a centre of revolution as well as a home for arts, industry and travellers enjoying the good life.

● Germany’s largest museum, Deutsches Museum, and some of its richest art museums

● The city’s extensive palaces and palace gardens are featured

● Almost 30 museums of history, art and culture

● 30 historic sites in and around the city

● Information on major performance groups including orchestras and opera

Accommodation, food and a guide to essential services including transport links and urban transit services and fares

● A choice of city tours and some of its finest views

● Hyperlink access to further tourist information and accommodation websites