10 great UNESCO sites to visit in Germany

When creating an itinerary for a specific country, I prioritise finding the top attractions to visit. One of the things I consider is whether the place is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. While this is not the only criterion I use, I take pride in exploring these sites. As of 2024, Germany boasts 52 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, showcasing the nation's cultural and geographical diversity. So far, I have visited ten of these sites. Feel free to take a look at my list of these ten remarkable sites and consider visiting them yourself. The number next to each site indicates the year it was added to the UNESCO World Heritage list.25 bamberg thesanetravel.comP1520598

1 Museumsinsel (Museum Island), Berlin, 1999

The five museums located on Museum Island in Berlin, constructed between 1824 and 1930, represent a visionary project that highlights the evolution of museum design. Each museum was specifically designed to create a seamless connection with the art it houses, emphasising the significance of the collections that showcase the development of civilisations throughout history. The Altes Museum, the first museum on Museum Island, was established in the early 19th century and is situated at Lustgarten, across the Berlin Cathedral and the new Humboldt Forum.74 museum island thesanetravel.comP1400140 The concept of a museum accessible to all can be traced back to the Enlightenment period and its emphasis on education. The Neues Museum, designed by Friedrich August Stüler, was built in 1855, followed by the Alte Nationalgalerie in 1876, featuring architecture reminiscent of a Greek temple.70 museum island thesanetravel.comP1400064 The ensemble was completed at the beginning of the 20th century, with the opening of the Bode Museum in 1904 and the Pergamon Museum in 1930.71 museum island thesanetravel.comP140007172 museum island thesanetravel.comP1400078So far, I have visited the Pergamon Museum, currently closed for renovations, and the Bode Museum, which exhibits a delicate collection.75 bode museum thesanetravel.comP137238576 bode museum thesanetravel.comP1372391. Make sure to include a visit to Museum Island in your Berlin itinerary.

2 Palaces and Parks of Potsdam and Berlin, 1990

Potsdam's palaces and parks, covering 500 hectares, feature 150 buildings dating from 1730 to 1916, creating a unique and eclectic artistic complex. This extends into Berlin-Zehlendorf, along the River Havel and Lake Glienicke. Potsdam was a favoured residence of the Prussian kings in the 18th and 19th centuries. 19 potsdam thesanetravel.comP166092318 potsdam thesanetravel.comP1660881The World Heritage Site includes Sanssouci Park, Russian Quarter Alexandrovka, New Garden, Babelsberg, Sacrow, Peacock Island and Glienicke Park. Churchill, Truman and Stalin significantly impacted global history at the Cecilienhof Country House during the summer of 1945. Their meeting at the Potsdam Conference played a crucial role in determining the future of Germany and Europe. 17 potsdam thesanetravel.comP1660689Alexandrovka is a charming village in the northern Postdam home to 13 traditional Russian wooden houses built in the early 19th century for the Russian singers of the 1st Prussian Guard Regiment at the request of King Friedrich Wilhelm III. Today, only four houses are inhabited by direct descendants of the singers, including the 7th generation of the Anisimoff family.16 potsdam thesanetravel.comP1660629

How to get there?

The RB22 regional train departing hourly from Berlin Brandenburg Airport will transport you to Potsdam.

3 Cologne Cathedral, 1996

A masterpiece of Gothic architecture, the construction of Cologne Cathedral began in the mid-13th century and was completed in 1880 after multiple stages. Over seven centuries, builders remained faithful to the original plans, inspired by a common faith. Standing at 157 metres tall and boasting 10,000 square metres of windows, it is the world's third-largest Gothic-style cathedral, which attracts 20,000 visitors daily. The construction required 300,000 tonnes of various types of stone, including trachyte, sandstone and limestone for sculptures and canopies. The black patina on the cathedral is a result of centuries of weathering, soot and biofouling, which adds to its character.60 cologne cathedral thesanetravel.comP108023367 cologne cathedral thesanetravel.comP2150658The 97-metre cathedral tower, which lacks an elevator and thus requires you to ascend the 533 steps, offers a panoramic view of Cologne, the Rhine and, on clear days, the Siebengebirge mountain range.
61 cologne cathedral thesanetravel.comP108041062 cologne cathedral thesanetravel.comP108041864 cologne cathedral thesanetravel.comP1080468The cathedral is open to tourists on weekdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Sundays from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., with updated Mass times available for reference before visiting.

How to get there?

Cologne Cathedral is located a short two-minute walk from Cologne railway station.

4 Castles of Augustusburg and Falkenlust at Brühl, 1984

The Brühl World Heritage Site features three remarkable architectural and art-historical landmarks: Augustusburg Palace, Hunting Lodge Falkenlust and a palace garden in the French style. Augustusburg Castle and Hunting Lodge Falkenlust, set in a picturesque garden landscape, are early examples of Rococo architecture in 18th-century Germany.53 falkenlust thesanetravel.comP108065955 falkenlust thesanetravel.comP108069159 falkenlust thesanetravel.comP108088756 falkenlust thesanetravel.comP108072557 falkenlust thesanetravel.comP1080787

NB!  Be aware that Augustusburg and Falkenlust castles are located in Bruhl town near Cologne and Bonn, not in Augustusburg city in Germany.

How to get there?

To reach the site, you can take the Köln/Cologne – Bonn train or the MittelrheinBahn train to Brühl station, followed by a brief five-minute walk to Augustusburg Palace. Alternatively, you can take tram No. 18 from Cologne or Bonn to Brühl-Mitte and walk approximately 800 metres to the palace.

5 The Great Spa Towns of Europe (Bad Ems), 2021

The Great Spa Towns of Europe, a World Heritage Site, consists of eleven spa towns spread across seven European countries: Baden bei Wien (Austria); Spa (Belgium); Františkovy Lázně; Karlovy Vary; Mariánské Lázně (Czechia); Vichy (France); Bad Ems; Baden-Baden; Bad Kissingen (Germany); Montecatini Terme (Italy); and City of Bath (United Kingdom). These towns were developed around natural mineral water springs and reflect the European spa culture that flourished from the 18th century to the 1930s. They showcase the evolution of grand international resorts centred around spa buildings designed to harness mineral water resources for bathing and drinking. These sites represent the exchange of values and advancements in medicine, science and balneology. Among the listed German spa towns, I have visited Bad Ems, known for its historical significance, political events, musical heritage and therapeutic hiking trails. The town's spa district features thermal springs and a spa landscape with a rich history dating back to the Middle Ages. In the 19th century, the spa castle served as a royal residence and today houses Häcker's Grandhotel and the Maharishi Ayurveda Health Centre.52 bad ems thesanetravel.comP140081750 bad ems thesanetravel.comP140076551 bad ems thesanetravel.comP1400788

How to get to Bad Ems?

Take a 20-minute train ride from Koblenz railway station.

6 Upper Middle Rhine Valley, 2002

The area along the Middle Rhine between Bingen and Koblenz has been influenced by centuries of trade between the Mediterranean and northern regions, resulting in a landscape dotted with around 40 hilltop forts and castles. Some of these structures were restored during the 19th-century Romanticism movement, attracting writers and artists to the area for inspiration. I took a boat trip along the Rhine from Boppard to Rudesheim am Rhein, with a stop in St. Goar, and I highly recommend the experience. The views of the towns and castles from the boat's open deck were stunning.40 rhine thesanetravel.comP140098041 rhine thesanetravel.comP141000642 rhine thesanetravel.comP141008044 rhine thesanetravel.comP141029545 rhine thesanetravel.comP1410306 In St. Goar, I visited Rheinfels Castle via the tourist train, which offered breathtaking views of the town and river. The castle itself was an impressive sight. Afterwards, I continued my journey to Rudesheim am Rhein on the boat. This fantastic boat trip was a part of my Rhine castles and vineyards tour.

7 Würzburg Residence with Court Gardens and Residence Square, 1981

This grand Baroque palace, one of Germany's largest and most beautiful, was commissioned by prince-bishops Lothar Franz and Friedrich Carl von Schönborn. Constructed in the 18th century by a team of international architects, painters, sculptors and stucco workers under the supervision of Balthasar Neumann, it is recognised as one of Europe's most significant palaces. The unique combination of architecture and interior design sets the Würzburg Residence apart. 30 wurzburg thesanetravel.comP152092033 wurzburg thesanetravel.comP1520973One of the highlights of the residence is the ceiling frescos by Venetian artist Giovanni Battista Tiepolo in the grand staircase and Imperial Hall. The vestibule, staircase, White Hall and Imperial Hall, which were decorated by skilled artists and craftsmen, showcase the magnificent architecture of the palace. 31 wurzburg thesanetravel.comP1520930Guided tours are recommended to view the impressive south wing of the Imperial rooms. The Wurzburg city and Wurtzburg residence is a highly recommended stop you can include on your Bavaria travel itinerary.

How to get there?

Take a twenty-minute walk from Wurzburg railway station.

8 Town of Bamberg, 1993

Bamberg, similar to Rome, is situated on seven hills and was selected by Holy Roman Emperor Henry II as the capital of his empire. It is one of the few towns in Germany that was largely spared from bombing during World War II, preserving its authentic atmosphere. In its heyday, starting from the 12th century, the architecture of Bamberg had a significant influence on northern Germany and Hungary. In the late 18th century, it was a hub of the Enlightenment in southern Germany, attracting renowned philosophers and writers like Hegel and Hoffmann. Upon approaching the old town of Bamberg, what immediately catches the eye is the impressive Old Town Hall situated in the middle of the Upper Bridge. Although the town hall dates back to the late 14th century, the current structure was reconstructed in the mid-18th century. It is a remarkable piece of architecture, particularly notable for its beautiful frescos illustrating the story of its construction on the island.25 bamberg thesanetravel.comP152059820 bamberg thesanetravel.comP152035822 bamberg thesanetravel.comP152046724 bamberg thesanetravel.comP1520553

How to get there?

The closest airport to Bamberg is Nuremberg (NUE) Airport, located 47 kilometres away. From there, you can take a train from Nuremberg railway station to Bamberg.

9 Old town of Regensburg with Stadtamhof, 2006

With its historical sites such as the Regensburg Cathedral and Thurn and Taxis Palace, Regensburg is considered a top destination in Germany. Situated at the confluence of the Danube, Naab and Regen rivers, the town boasts a rich history dating back over 2,000 years. The town's architecture from the 11th to 13th centuries, including its market, city hall and cathedral, gives it a unique character. 11 regensburg thesanetravel.comP152012110 regensburg thesanetravel.comP152010512 regensburg thesanetravel.comP1520173The Stadtamhof district, surrounded by rivers and canals, offers a peaceful atmosphere with attractions such as churches, galleries, cafés and beer gardens. It is worth exploring this charming town and experiencing its many offerings first-hand.

How to get there?

The closest airport to Regensburg is Munich Airport, located less than 80 kilometres away. From there, you can take a train from Munich railway station to Regensburg.

10 Monastic Island of Reichenau, 2000

The island of Reichenau on Lake Constance next to Constance city is home to a Benedictine monastery founded in 724, which significantly influenced the spiritual, intellectual and artistic development. The churches of St. Mary and Mark, St. Peter and St. Paul, and St. George, constructed between the 9th and 11th centuries, showcase early medieval monastic architecture in central Europe. The wall paintings within these churches reflect impressive artistic achievements. Additionally, the island features four museum buildings that offer a comprehensive look into its religious history. The Old Town Hall, which houses the main museum, Reichenau, is one of the oldest half-timbered houses in Southern Germany. It provides a unique opportunity to explore the Middle Ages. During my visit, I explored St. Mary and Mark, located near the main museum, and St. Peter and St. Paul. St. The church of St. Mary and Mark also has a vine cellar where visitors can purchase Reichenau wines.81 reichenau thesanetravel.comP134544680 reichenau thesanetravel.comP134543883 reichenau thesanetravel.comP134549082 reichenau thesanetravel.comP1345483

How to get there?

Ride the S6 train from Constance railway station to Reichenau Baden station and transfer to bus No. 204. Note that the bus operates on an hourly schedule.

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What did you think? Have you visited UNESCO heritage sites in Germany? I would love to hear from you, so please add your comment below.

  • Published by Anita on March 29, 2024
  • Author: Anita Sane

    Anita 03 18

    About the author
    Anita is a part-time traveller, passionate photographer and a retired career woman from Latvia, 
    travelling mostly solo for more than 15 years. She is a skilled travel planner who plans and executes her travels by herself. Anita wants to show you how to travel the world and open your mind to new experiences. Follow her on FacebookInstagramPinterestTwitter and Bloglovin.


    Visiting g UNESCO sites is my #1thing to do on vacations. This is an incredibly helpful guide for Germany. Do you also have a post for Latvia?
    Thank you Terry! Latvia has three UNESCO World Heritage sites including historic centre of Riga, Struve Geodetic Arc and Kuldiga town. I have posts about all these places in Latvia section of my blog.
    What a great list! I love Germany & I think that there's so much to see there. If you add all of these amazing UNESCO sites it's even more worth visiting!
    This is a great list! I've visited a handful of these spots. I'd like to make it to Bamberg and Bad Ems on one of my next Germany visits.
    Germany has so many beautiful places to visit! I love how many charming towns there are. I feel like you could spend weeks just driving around to see them all. These sights all look great!
    I sit here in Munich for a connecting flight to Cape Town. Reading your post sure makes me wish I had planned more time in Germany as we passed through. But we are back this way in September and I will keep your post for some great UNESCO sites to visit in Germany.
    Love the list. I wish to make a similar list about all the destinations that I visit.

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