Germany has over 79 cities with a population at least 100,000, some of them are perfect for day trips, some might require more time to spend in.
If you are looking for a town to simply wandering and admire the architecture, here are the best walkable cities in Germany where your own two feet are more than enough to get around:
- Rothenburg ob der Tauber
Germany is indeed a tourist paradise because there is just so much to discover. But some places can be quite overwhelming if you are aiming for a quite city trip. These cities are perfect for a day of the walk and maybe some shopping with the stops in cute cafes or coffee shops.
Size: 108.8 km²
Heidelberg is just crazy perfect for walking. I had been there twice and enjoyed every minute. No traffic, no subway, no busses, whole old town, and bridges to explore. There will be only you, history and…other tourists!
Heidelberg is a beautiful and very touristy famous university town on the Neckar River in the southwestern region – Baden Württemberg.
It’s worth to visit all-time in the year and surely must-do if you are in Frankfurt. About 45 minutes south of the Frankfurt Airport, Heidelberg is easily accessible by the train/car.
Heidelberg is one of the few German cities that wasn’t destroyed in World War II and also one of the mine favorites. It’s known as a romantic city, thanks to its well remained medieval and baroque architecture.
Heidelberg one of the most picturesque destinations in Germany. You will enjoy not only gorgeous buildings and castles but also surrounded nature.
Despite the size of the city, around 12 million visitors come each year to experience all this beauty, such as Old Bridge, Philosophers’ Way, Heidelberg castle and Old Town.
Even Mark Twain was inspired by the environment of the city so he could finish his novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, which translates like blueberries, and Heildelbeere is the German name for it. So you see all connected.
Heidelberg is a student city, meaning you will see many young people during your trip, hence many student bars and cafes to hang out. In fact, Heidelberg University is the oldest university in Germany.
Size: 80.76 km²
Regensburg is a Bavarian city on the Danube river, where I have spent a significant amount of my time as I lived there for about a year.
It’s a relatively small and well preserved medieval town close to the border with the Czech Republic. Historically, it always had significant importance for both Germany and Europe.
The Danube river adds charm to the city and serves as a meeting point in summer for thousands of students. Therefore you can also spend your weekend walking, biking along the river or just enjoy the view on the oldest bridge in the entire country – Stone Bridge.
The entire city center is proud to be a UNESCO World Heritage site and Roman ruins can be found scattered throughout the city.
In Regensburg’s old town you can find many cute cafes, coffee shops, and delicious ice cream. Regensburg also has a few Beergardens, where you relax with the glass of excellent beer.
Size: 297.6 km²
Leipzig is the second biggest city in eastern Germany after Berlin and therefore the biggest town on our list. Despite this fact, the city center is perfect for walking, looking around and taste some delicious food.
Leipzig is Saxony’s coolest city, some people call it the second Berlin, a playground for nomadic young creatives. For this reason, you will see a lot of art and modernism in this city.
The city has a long history behind, and many prominent people were a part of it, Goethe was a student in Leipzig, Bach worked here as a cantor, and Martin Luther debated here.
Today, Leipzig is one of the most popular tourist destinations in eastern Germany, and thanks to its rich cultural and musical heritage, it is regularly named as one of the most livable cities in Europe.
Leipzig is a popular day trip from Berlin, but also a good weekend destination whatever you are coming from.
Being an important place for German art and culture, the city is perfect for young and old. Although it’s very popular by students due to budget-friendly prices.
How to get there
Leipzig has its own airport, so you can fly directly. Its also easily accessible from other big German cities via train.
Size: 80.76 km²
Lubeck is founded in 1143 medieval city in the Schleswig-Holstein region, the northern state of Germany.
Cosmopolitan Hamburg just 58 km away, so don’t miss this cute small city while visiting it. From there you can catch a 1,5-hour train which runs every 10 min.
Location is one of the Lubecks highlights: on the Trave River, and is the largest German port city on the Baltic Sea.
The main walking attractions are in the medieval Altstadt (old city) located on an island surrounded by the Trave river and channels. It’s on the list of the UNESCO heritage site. The streets of Lubeck are a delight for an expert in architecture.
In other areas of Lübeck’s old town, you will find many beautiful old buildings intertwined with modern ones and modern infrastructure. Lubeck’s architecture has very noticeable red colors.
The courtyards also worth visiting, and mostly found in the well-preserved Kober area (island) in the north along Engeslwisch, Glockengießerstraße, and Engelsgrube, and in the south around the cathedral.
Even Lucbecks Hospital is a historical sight and worth to visit once you are there (Hospital of the Holy Spirit). Founded in 1286 as a hospital for the poor, it served as a retirement home during the Reformation.
Today, it is open to public tours and hosts a popular arts and crafts market during the Christmas season.
The 15th-century red-brick Gothic structure, Holstentor, is the icon of Lübeck. Burgtor – another ancient gate guarding the former north entrance of the city is also worth visiting.
Lubeck’s marzipan is known Europewide, ist marzipan industry dates back hundreds of years. The 212-year-old Café Niederegger serves 100% pure marzipan (with no additives) and a host of delicious marzipan-infused treats, including tarts, cakes, beverages, liqueur, and chocolates.
Size: 186.5 km²
Nuremberg is the second-largest city of the German federal state Bavaria after it’s capital Munich, and the second biggest city in our list.
Nuremberg is over 950 years old and very popular for tourists seeking culture and enjoyment. Same as Leipzig it has an airport, but you can also take an hour-long ride from Munich.
City also has a comfortably sized Old Town where you can find anything your heart desires: interesting shops, cozy taverns, sociable beer gardens, and charming squares with history-charged houses in between.
The city has very well preserved northern bavarian architecture. The Christmas Market and Albrecht Dürer are only two of the many sights of the city.
Nuremberg has been an important brewing city for centuries; whether it’s a pale ale, dark beer or a genuine red beer – there is something for everyone’s taste.
Not to forget the Original Nuremberg Rostbratwurst, known far beyond the borders of Nuremberg, are nationally and internationally unique.
As one of Bavaria’s biggest draws it is alive with visitors year-round, but especially during the spectacular Christmas market.
This market is one of the famous in Germany and receives thousands of foreign visitors each year.
Despite having been severely damaged in WW2, many of the medieval buildings in the Old Town (Altstadt) have been restored to their former glory.
Nuremberg can appear as a big city, but if you stay within the old town you don’t need any transportation source. Except for travel back in time: historical roads and buildings will make you feel back in the past.
Size: 33.18 km²
Lindau is a very small slow-paced Bavarian town on Lake Constance (Bodensee). Technically its an island connected by the road with the mainland.
Situated on the border with Switzerland and Austria, Lindau offers a stunning landscape. The perfect day in Lindau will be like:
- Walk in the historic town center
- Sip coffee in one of the cafe by the lake
- Grap an excellent Italian gelato (by the lake)
- Take a ferry across the Constance lake
- Swim, Boat, and Bike on or near Constance lake
First, head to the old town. Narrow cobblestone streets cover the way to Medieval merchant houses that are perfect to wander and looking around.
This little island was a Roman settlement and used to be a free city until the beginning of the 19th century, therefore there is a lot of history behind.
Maximilianstrasse is the main, pedestrian-only promenade. There are family-run shops, quaint cafes, and restaurants, as well as row after row of beautiful homes. Enjoy walking and sampling some local products on the Alten Markt (old market).
Another standout building is the Romanesque Peterskirche; this church is over 1,000 years old with frescoes of the Passion of Christ.
After you walked enough take a break by the lake. Lindau’s picturesque Harbour and a lighthouse by the most popular place to visit.
The best views of Lindau are from the water. Jump on one of the many ferries between the cities on the lake, like Bregenz, Konstanz, or Friedrichshafen.
Moreover, you can do many activities around it. Some people just jump in the lake, since there is a beach and also four freibads (open-air pools) available.
You can also rent a canoe, kayak, motorboat, or electric boat—or even a paddleboard—and spend your time moving around the blue sky waters. As you can see summer is the best time to visit Lindau.
To journey around the scenic island, many visitors choose to bike. There are multiple bike rental shops and paths around the island, as well as the opportunity to travel onto the mainland and continue riding around the massive lake.
How to get there
Lindau has direct rail Eurocity connections from Munich, Stuttgart, Ulm, and Zurich, as well as regional rail services from Austria, other parts of Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg (Friedrichshafen).
Frequent trains run from Bregenz to Lindau and back during the day.
Situated on the lake, Lindau is accessible by ferry from neighboring harbor towns of Austria (Bregenz) and Switzerland in the summer months for a short trip.
Friedrichshafen Airport is easily reachable by rail via Friedrichshafen station.
Size: 108.1 km²
Tübingen is a small university town, located in the Baden-Württemberg state, just 30 km southwest from Stuttgart and it takes only 45 min to get there.
You can consider visiting Tübingen as a day trip from Stuttgart. That will be fairly enough to cover all walkable sights.
The University of Tübingen has almost 30,000 students, so expect the mix of students, researchers, academics and medical specialists in town.
Many people say that Tübingen resembles the town of Oxford in England – both are home to a prestigious university, are studded with historical buildings and on a sunny day, people sail down the river in traditional punts.
The highlight of Tubingen is the city center full of crooked half-timbered houses, which are typical south German-style, but also small alleys and nice old churches.
Hohentübingen Castle was built in 1037 but was heavily extended in the 16th century which resulted in today’s architectural mix of medieval and modern-day elements.
It’s worth to hike up, because of the scenic view on the red-shingled rooftops of the old town on one side, and the Neckar River on the other.
The other is the river Neckar next to the city center, the favorite meeting spot for students. There’s no better way to spend a sunny day in Tübingen than jumping aboard a pedal boat, canoe or one of the old punts, and sailing up and down the Neckar River.
Rothenburg ob der Tauber
Size: 41.68 km²
Rothenburg ob der Tauber is the smallest town on our list but nevertheless, it deserves your visit.
Rothenburg is a small town but over time has deserved big attention from local and international visitors. You probably also have seen this picture, but you might didn’t know that it’s Rothenburg ob der Tauber. Over two million tourists come each year to see this tiny picturesque city.
It’s categorized as one of the best-preserved medieval towns in Europe and also one of the most popular stops on the country’s Romantic Road tourist route.
Plönlein is the most famous place in this city, very picturesque and pretty, looks like you have traveled in time.
Rothenburg is known for its medieval center (Altstadt), seemingly untouched by the passage of time, encircled by the undamaged 14th-century town wall.
In the Middle Ages city had a population of 6,000 – much larger than Frankfurt and Munich at that time. Now Rothenburg is a small town and a big tourist attraction.
Market Square (Marktplatz) is the center of urban life in Rothenburg. The square is framed on the west by the Town Hall (Rathaus), on the north by the Councillors’ Tavern (Ratstrinkstube) with its tourist information center, on the east by shops and cafés, and on the south by St. George’s Fountain. All these sights worth paying attention to.
There are walking tours offered, many tourists take this opportunity to explore hidden gems and learn more about history.
How to get there
Inconvenient location (halfway in between Frankfurt and Munich) makes it difficult to reach the town, but still, there are some ways:
- Tour bus (especially in the summer)
- Car – autobahn A7 and exit 108
- Take Romantic Road for a more scenic drive from Würzburg
Expect to make a change or even a few if traveling by train.
Size: 302.9 km²
Münster founded as a monastery in 794 is one of the wells remained cities in the state North Rhine-Westphalia. The nearest big city is Düsseldorf, Münster can be considered as a day or weekend trip.
If in the rest of the cities the best way to explore is walking, Münster is best by bike, therefore there are 500,000 bicycles on 300,000 inhabitants.
It might even feel like little Amsterdam. But don’t worry if you are not in the mood for bike, walking is still very enjoyable there.
The Promenade is the way to explore, it goes all around the city center, following the route of the long-gone medieval walls, and it makes for a very nice walk, taking you past the lovely Aasee (a large artificial lake surrounded by a park).
St. Paul’s Cathedral or Münster Cathedral is by far the biggest highlight and symbol of the city.
Münster is also known for its vast number of churches, including St. Lambert’s Church and Klemenskirche. St. Paul’s Cathedral is one of the city’s most impressive features and is well worth a visit.
Also, the City Museum on Salzstrasse can give you a glimpse of how the city has developed over the years. And lastly don’t forget to taste some Altbier at many breweries city has. The Pinkus Müller restaurant and bar has its own brewery producing some really tasty beers.
How to get there
Münster has good connections to the rest of Germany via rail. Düsseldorf Airport is about 1,5 hours by train, whereas Münster-Osnabrück Airport is about 30 min. drive from the city.
The second has grown significantly in recent years, offering flights throughout Europe including to London, Berlin, and Amsterdam.
Size: 123.9 km²
Marburg located in the state of Hessen, it’s a small university town north of Frankfurt in the Lahn valley.
Fortunately, it was almost untouched by bombs during the second war. The small, but jet vibrant university town of Marburg is known for its German medieval flair.
City of the Grimm Brothers will relive your childhood fairy tales or take in the town’s history. Follow Grimm Path to really understand fairy tales figures from the famous Grimm stories. Also, don’t forget to visit the romantic Marburg Castle, there’s something for everyone.
The old city is a labyrinth of narrow, cobblestone streets lined with extremely well-preserved examples of 17th and 18th-century “Hessische” architecture.
Marburg’s University was build in the 15th century and is a significant part of the city’s history. Many legendary personalities have received their education at this university, including the Brothers Grimm.
Another wonderful experience is hearing nearby church bells toll while walking through this part of Marburg. The city atmosphere is very peaceful and relaxed.
How to get there
The easiest way is by train: regular InterCityExpress trains go from Frankfurt and Kassel. The nearest airport is in Frankfurt.
Size: 153.1 km²
Freiburg is the south-western German city, also called Freiburg im Breisgau. It is a laidback, beautiful university city with miniature canals and cobbled alleys, beautiful mountains and stunning architecture.
Known throughout Germany for the Albert Ludwig University of Freiburg, thanks to good weather, and vineyards, Freiburg considered by Germans to be a desirable place to live.
But also due to its secluded location at the border triangle of Germany, France, and Switzerland.
Exploring Freiburg is best on your two, only this way you will see all the beauty of the city’s architecture. Take a stop on Münsterplatz to grab a coffee or typical Freiburg street food an enjoy a view on Münster.
Visit Hausbrauerei Feierling brewery if interested in beer to see how its produced and taste some.
Must see are:
- Freiburger Münster (cathedral) is Freiburg’s biggest sight, one of the oldest and most beautiful cathedrals in all of Europe.
- Bächle are small canals that line the streets of the inner city. These canals were once meant as a way to fight fires in medieval Freiburg.
- Augustiner Museum – learn about the history and art through featured works from the Middle Ages to the Baroque period.
How to get there
You can easily access Freiburg by train from many countries and main cities in Germany, especially from Switzerland, Austria, the Benelux countries, and France.
The nearest airport with a good selection of international destinations is the “EuroAirport” Basel/Mulhouse/Freiburg, located 75 km away on the borders with 3 countries. Buses run frequently from Basel airport to Freiburg. You can also fly to Zurich airport and take a train from there.
Size: 55.65 km²
Konstanz located very close to the mentioned above Lindau and also got a piece of the Constance lake. You probably can hear that Konstanz is German Constance so the lake and city have the same name.
It lies on the border with Switzerland, often visited by swiss people for tourism or passing through reasons.
Due to its proximity to Switzerland, Konstanz was not bombed during the world the second war and its historic old town remains undamaged. It is a historic city with charming architecture and could be called the jewel of the region.
Konstanz is a perfect stop while visiting Zurich, a good switch from the big city to the lower passed medieval town. With German prices, you can also afford more, than inexpensive Switzerland.
The city center is very suitable for roaming and exploring the tiny streets. The Münster (Cathedral) is so far a highlight of the old town. Built between 1100 and 1854, the church is a magnificent example of architectural styles of the centuries. Climb up the tower for a fantastic view of Konstanz and Constance lake.
Same as in Lindau you can take a boat trip on the lake or just enjoy a view in one of the cafes nearby.
How to get there
The closest airport is Zurich Airport, from there, it takes 1 to 1.5 hours by train.
Friedrichshafen Airport in Germany is a 1-hour car ride away but doesn’t offer that many flights. Konstanz has good rail connections with many cities in Germany and Switzerland.