Nestled in stunning scenery like the Bavarian Alps and the Rhine Valley, Germany’s small towns are great destinations all year round. They have magical Christmas markets to warm you up in even the coldest winters and outdoor adventures nearby for all seasons. Here we pick 5 German towns offering that quintessential fairytale charm. If you are thirsty for more, we highly recommend a look at some more destinations on the Romantic Road between Würzburg and Füssen in Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg.
1. Quedlinburg, Saxony-Anhalt
This ancient town is perched in two hills divided by the scenic River Bode in Saxony. Its fascinating history includes being the birthplace of the German nation, being ruled by women for 800 years and having the first female doctor in 1754. The market square is a delightful blend of medieval and renaissance architecture while houses such as the Gildehaus zur Rose are finished with ornate and detailed decoration. The abbey’s treasury holds some of the most valuable medieval religious artifacts in Germany. To add to Quedlinburg’s allure, the Harz Mountains are just a stone’s throw away and offer endless hiking trails through magnificent geological formations.
2. Füssen, Bavaria
Füssen is a fine historical town on Germany’s Romantic Road. Many people use the town as a base to visit the nearby 19th Century fairytale castle, Neuschwanstein and the equally impressive Hohenschwangau Castle. Situated in Bavaria’s beautiful countryside and next to the River Lech, the town is bursting with baroque churches and medieval houses. St. Mang’s Abbey is well worth a visit for the oldest mural in Germany and its opulent interior. The town also has a fascinating violin and lute display housed in the City of Füssen Museum.
3. Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Bavaria
In Bavaria’s Franconia region lies Germany’s best-preserved walled town, Rothenburg ob der Tauber. Once you pass through the towering city gates, the architecture inside is no less impressive. Huge half-timbered grain stores line the streets and you can walk the walls to get great views of the medieval architecture. If you’re into traditional Christmas crafts, Rothenburg’s seasonal market is known for authentic ornaments and the town is even home to the German Christmas Museum. Franconia also has superb wines grown in the nearby vineyards that are well worth checking out.
4. Mittenwald, Bavaria
If you’re into Alpine scenery, Mittenwald is a fabulous destination. The town’s pretty, colorful houses are set amid the Alps and forested paths lead you out of the town in all directions. The town has two fantastic mountain lakes nearby, Lautersee and Ferchensee, that are great for bathing in the summer months. Many of the houses and buildings are painted in colorful frescoes, a great example being the Geigenbaumuseum that also has an amazing collection of violins. We also recommend taking the Karwendelbahn, a gondola that runs out of Mittenwald to the top of Karwendel Mountain, with its staggering panoramas.
5. Monschau, Rhineland-Palatinate
Monschau is situated in the Eifel region near Belgium. Its half-timbered houses perch directly over the Rur river and the town is a gateway into the Eifel National Park with its cycling paths and wilderness walks. Narrow cobbled streets run through the historic old town and Monschau Castle dates to 1198. You can walk up to the Haller Ruin to get a great view of the Rur Valley, the castle and the town center. Monschau is also known for its al fresco dining, with restaurants and hotels moving their tables outside in the summer months.