Almabtrieb, Viehscheid or Alpabtriebe, bringing the costumed cows home for winter in the alps

Looking for some of the very best attractions that the country of Germany has to offer? We have you covered! This article is cram packed full of some of the top things to see and do to add to your German bucket list.

Germany Bucket list

Germany is a wonderfully diverse location. They seem to have it all…mountains, forests, scenic meadows, and coastlines. Whether you prefer bustling modern cities, quaint villages, or would rather be surrounded by nature, you’ll have no trouble finding your perfect place. The country takes its tourism seriously, offering an incredible variety of activities, cultural experiences, and great things to see and do. There really is something for everyone and it truly is a great place for your next vacation! I hope you find the perfect experience for your travel bucket list in this article.

Let’s get started on planning your next adventure to this beautiful country!

bucket list experiences and activities in Germany

Cruise the scenic River Rhine (Rhein)

The famous Rhine River lazily winds its way through The UNESCO World Heritage Lorelei Valley (Loreley) in Germany. Its banks are dotted with dozens of majestic castles, terraced vineyards, historic towns, and charming storybook villages. One of my fondest childhood memories is of my very first cruise on the Rhine. Tour operators offer short trips on the most scenic section of the Rhine or if you’re looking for something longer you can book multi-day cruises! These cruises pass several of the best Rhine River Castles! Just a few options include:

Want to add a really special touch to this bucket list experience? Book yourself a room at one of the Castle Hotels on the Rhine! I’ve got a full list for you!

Ehrenbreitstein Castle Rhine River Germany
Ehrenbreitstein Castle

*Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links at no additional cost to you.

Make your way to the top of Germany’s highest Peak

If you are a fan of stunning scenery then you won’t want to miss out on the chance to journey to the top of Germany’s highest mountain! Make your way to the top for panoramic views of the stunning alpine landscape that surrounds Zugspitze, you’ll be able to see several European countries from the top! There are several ways to get to the top including a cable car / train combo. Zugspitze gets serious bonus points for the gorgeous emerald green alpine lake situated at its base, for me one of the best parts of the day! Visit both Eibsee Lake and Zugspitze Mountain in a single day for a truly bucket list worthy experience!

Photo: Zugspitze, Germany’s tallest Mountain, German Landmarks
Zugspitze, Germany’s tallest Mountain

go on a seal spotting expedition!

If you find yourself in the northern part of Germany, near the Baltic Sea, consider booking a gray seal watching tour! These scientific expeditions leave from Baabe Harbor (Island of Rügen) and are scheduled to take place every Tuesday and Thursday from early May 9 through late October. Book a seal watching tour on Get Your Guide here.

seal spotting Germany bucket list, Deutsch bucket list
seal spotting should be on your Germany bucket list!

sail around the Baltic Sea

Experience the beauty of the Baltic Sea from a sailboat. Tours leave from Rostock and can be booked here on Get your guide.

meet Neanderthal

You’re probably already aware that Germany has a rich history but their history reaches far beyond the Middle Ages or even Roman times! Neanderthal 1 was discovered in the Neandertal Valley in Germany, near the town of Mettman. At the LVR-LandesMuseum in Bonn you can see the actual skeletal remains of Neanderthal!

try some scrumptious spaghetti ice!

Spaghetti ice cream? Yes, it does sound a bit strange but you don’t want to miss out on this delicious treat! Spaghetti ice is vanilla ice cream that has been squeezed through a potato ricer to form long spaghetti like strands and then topped with strawberry sauce. SO GOOD! You can find it at just about any ice cafe in Germany.

New to German food? Tasty German foods you simply MUST try!

spaghetti ice cream german food germany
spaghetti ice!

order a boot of beer

Germany is known for its beer. German beers are some of the finest crafted beers in the world and each region has their own specialty. German’s have fun and unique beer vessels… on first glance the boot shaped beer glass may seem like a modern day novelty but archaeologists have found boot shaped drinkware from as far back as the Bronze Age.

a boot of beer, German boot shaped beer glass, the best German Souvenirs!
a boot of beer, German boot shaped beer glass

Germany bucket list experiences for adventurers and thrill seekers

drive a sports car on the autobahn!

Ah the autobahn, the world-famous freeway that plagues closet speed daemons with dreams of cruising along at dizzying speeds. Of course, you can drive just any old rental car on the autobahn but wouldn’t it be a whole lot more fun in a shiny sports car??? Reality check: there actually are speed limits on sections of the autobahn, and lots of road construction. You’ll have your best chance of achieving full throttle speed in the early morning hours or at night. Search for a Porsche rental location here.

drive a Porsche on the autobahn, Germany bucket list, Deutsch Bucket list
Bucket list German style: drive a Porsche on the autobahn! FARFIGNUGEN!!!

go paragliding

Adrenaline junkies can take in the stunning 360-degree panoramic scenery of the Bavarian Alps from a bird’s eye vantage with a paragliding tour. It’s the best view to be sure! Book a tour near Munich or search for more options here.

paragliding part of the perfect Germany bucket list, Deutsch Bucket list
Bucket list Germany: see the alps from a different perspective, paragliding!

take a thrilling ride on a mountain coaster

Picture yourself flying down a winding toboggan run with the wind in your face as you pass by dramatic mountain views and flower filled meadows. Some of the best place to experience a mountain coaster are:

  • Mountain Coaster, Oberammergau
  • The Alpsee Coaster, Immenstadt
  • Alpine Slide Alpspitzbahn, Nesselwang
Alpine Coaster Oberammergau

tackle Germany’s longest pedestrian bridge

Thrill seekers this one’s for you! Suspended from dizzying heights, Geierlay Suspension Bridge (Geierlay Hängeseilbrücke) is the longest pedestrian suspension bridge in Germany. Navigate your way along this 360-meter long pedestrian bridge that’s suspended 100 meters above the ground below. Maximum thrills and amazing views.

Geierlay Suspension Bridge longest in Germany
Photo: Geierlay Suspension Bridge

take a hot air balloon ride

Beautiful Germany is a great place to enjoy the landscape from a hot air balloon. Add it to your bucket list Deutsch edition! Popular places to book this activity include:

hot air balloon ride, fall travel bucket list
hot air balloon ride, fall travel bucket list

Get your thrills at Europa Park

Europa-Park is a theme park in Rust, Baden-Württemberg. Time and time again Europa-Park is listed as the top amusement park not just in Germany but in all of Europe. The park covers a total area of 95 hectares (0.367 square miles) and includes eighteen themed areas and around one hundred rides.

Bucket list festivals and German cultural events

Get into the holiday spirit at Germany’s Christmas Markets

Germany, the single most Christmassy place on earth during the holiday season, is home to Europe’s oldest Christmas markets. The Very first Christmas market was Dresden’s Striezelmarkt old town market. Experience Christmas lights, fresh greenery, snow dusted villages, and the tantalizing smells of gingerbread and cinnamon roasted nuts intermingle with those of spiced mulled wine and roasting meats. You’ll find grand markets in places like Munich, Dresden, and Cologne. The best quaint markets are held in Germany’s historic medieval towns like Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Regensburg, and Nuremberg. The Raveena Gorge market is Germany’s most unique and bucket list worthy market.

get more information:

Striezelmarkt Christmas Market Dresden Germany, oldest Christmas Market
Striezelmarkt Christmas Market Dresden

Guzzle copious amounts of German beer at Oktoberfest

Oktoberfest is a world-famous beer festival that takes place annually in the heart of Munich and attracts millions of visitors from around the globe annually. This festival typically takes place in late September and early October and has been a destination for beer and fest lovers since 1810. Festival attendees are treated to traditional Bavarian style music and abundant amounts of Bavarian beer. Gorge yourself on traditional Bavarian food like bratwurst, pretzels, and roasted meats to go along with your giant beers. It deserves a spot on any fall bucket list! Before heading out to the festival, stop in one of the local shops for some traditional clothing, lederhosen for men and dirndls for women.

Oktoberfest Germany
Oktoberfest Germany

attend a costumed alpine cow parade

Almabtrieb, also known as Viehscheid or Alpabtriebe in the Allgäu Alpine region of Bavaria, is a traditional event where farmers bring their cattle down from their summer pastures in the mountains to the valley for the winter. The cows are adorned with elaborate headdresses, flowers, and bells. The event is often celebrated with music, dancing, and traditional food and drink. Around 30,000 young cattle are driven down from the mountains in September each year. Some of the biggest of these “parades” are in Bad Hindelang, Oberstdorf, Oberstaufen, Gunzesried, Blaichach, and Obermaiselstein. Check here for dates.

Almabtrieb, also known as Viehscheid, Alpabtriebe in the Allgäu Alpine region of Bavaria
Cattle drive in the Allgäu Oberstaufen Tourismus
Almabtrieb, Viehscheid or Alpabtriebe, bringing the costumed cows home for winter in the alps
bringing the costumed cows home for winter in the alps

attend the world’s largest wine festival

The Wurstmarkt (Sausage market) in the spa town of Bad Dürkheim Germany is the world’s biggest wine festival. The festival originated in the year 1417 and is held annually on the second and third weekend of September. Be prepared for carnival rides, concerts, fireworks, fest food, and lots and lots of wine!

Get frightened at a Krampus event

Krampus is a horrifying horned mythical creature from Alpine folklore. Krampus, or Percthen as he is sometimes referred to, is said to accompany St. Nicholas during the Christmas season, punishing children who have misbehaved. While you’ll find the biggest Krampus themed events in Austria, the Regensburg area is host to yearly events and there’s a big Krampus event in Munich.

Krampus event in the Alps region of Europe, Germany bucket list
Krampus event in the Alps region of Europe

nature: the most beautiful places in Germany!

Königssee and Obersee Lakes

Konigsee is a fjord-like lake nestled in the German Alps. Scenic boat tours sail visitors across one of Germany’s prettiest lakes, a very good start to this amazing adventure! Once you reach the far end of the lake you have the option to disembark. From there, a lovely path leads to Obersee, an idyllic emerald green lake which was at the very top of my bucket list and I can tell you it did not disappoint! Continue on the path past Obersee where you’ll find Röthbachfall waterfall, Germany’s highest.

get more details: the best ways to see both Königssee and Obersee Lakes.

Obersee Lake Germany
Obersee Lake

Explore the Black Forest (Schwartzwald)

The Black Forest region of southern Germany is known for its dense forests and woodlands, charming villages, and rolling hills. My favorite spot in the Black Forest is Triberg, home to Triberg waterfall, one of Germany’s highest waterfalls. In addition to seeing the famous waterfall in Triberg, you can also shop for whimsical cuckoo clocks and get a taste of some delectable Black Forest cake! It’s quintessential “Black Forest!”

Triberg Germany waterfall
Triberg Waterfall in the Black Forest

explore one of Europe’s most unique rock formations

The Saxon Switzerland National Park (Nationalpark Sächsische Schweiz), located in Germany’s Elbe Sandstone Mountains, is home to one of Germany’s most unusual National Parks. The Bastei Bridge (Bastion Bridge / Basteibrücke) is a natural bridge that spans a one-of-a-kind ancient rock formation. Put this otherworldly landmark on your bucket list!

Bastei Bridge in the Saxon Switzerland National Park Famous Landmarks in Germany
Bastei Bridge in the Saxon Switzerland National Park

relax at Lake Constance (Bodensee)

Scenic Lake Constance is the largest and deepest lake in Germany. It may surprise you to know that Lake Constance has a Mediterranean climate so don’t be surprised to see palm trees growing! The lake is ringed by resort towns and offers activities like sailing, windsurfing, and swimming. It’s also one of the best places in Germany to relax! If you are looking for truly unique things to do, slip on over to the town of Bregenz Austria and attend a show at Seebruhne Opera House. This floating stage with the lake serving as a backdrop for each performance.

Lake Constance, Germany bucket list, Deutsch bucket list
Lake Constance

Moselle River

The Moselle, like the Rhine, is lined with terraced vineyards, castles, and picture-perfect little wine villages with half-timbered houses. The lazy Moselle cuts right through the small town of Cochem with its medieval town center and hilltop storybook perfect castle Reichsburg. The Mosel Valley is famous for its white Riesling wines. Enjoy wine tastings, come for the annual wine festival the last weekend in August, or take a 1-hour boat ride on the Mosel.

Reichsburg Castle in Cochem as seen across the Moselle River in Germany
Cochem Germany

bucket list churches and cathedrals in Germany

visit the famous Cologne Cathedral

The massive Gothic Cologne Cathedral (Kölner Dom) is the most visited landmark / tourist attraction in all of Germany according to the DW News. The famous cathedral is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is the “tallest twin-spire church in the world, the Second tallest church in Europe after Ulm Minster, and the third tallest church of any kind in the world.” Wikipedia. At the time of its completion in 1880 Cologne Cathedral was the world’s tallest building.

night view of the Koln (Cologne) Cathedral Germany
Köln (Cologne) Cathedral Germany

Visit the tallest church in the world

The steeple of the Ulm Minster (Ulmer Münster) Lutheran church measures 161.5 meters (over 500 feet) making it the tallest church in the world. This massive 19th century gothic structure holds up to 2,000 worshipers at one time.

step into a real-life painting at the St. Sebastian Church

The 16th century Parish Church of St Sebastian in Ramsau bei Berchtesgaden is an adorable little postcard perfect chapel idyllically situated in the foothills of the Bavarian Alps. It looks like something straight out of a painting! In the forefront of the church is a little wooden bridge that spans a delightful babbling brook. This one was at the top of my personal Germany bucket list!

Parish Church of St. Sebastian Church/ Ramsau Church/ Ramsau Kirche in Ramsau Germany
The Parish Church of St. Sebastian: Ramsau Church/ Ramsau Kirche in Ramsau Germany

stay the night in a castle

There are many castle accommodations in Germany, but the Rhine River Valley has a high concentration of them. Skim through my “Rhine River Castles” article which notes a few of the best, and then subscribe to my newsletter because I have an article on the best castle hotels on the Rhine in the works! One of the best things about choosing this area for your overnight castle stay is that the castles are all close together so you can choose one, two, or for a longer stay three, it’s up to you!

burghotel auf schonburg castle hotel germany
Burghotel auf Schonburg castle hotel

Drive one of Germany’s famous road trips

  • German Fairytale Route: The German Fairy Tale Route (Deutsche Märchenstraße), often referred to as the Brother Grimm Fairytale route, is a 600-kilometer road trip (so NOT a day trip) that winds through picturesque towns with storybook flair!
  • Romantic Road: The Romantic Road (Romantische Straße) is a picturesque 350 km route that winds through forests and mountains from Fussen, home to Neuschwanstein Castle, all the way to Wurzburg. This route include the amazing little town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber.
  • German Alpine Road: The German Alpine Road (Deutsche Alpenstraße) is a scenic drive that runs along the Bavarian alps between Lake Constance and Königssee.

Castles and Palaces

Visit Burg Eltz Castle, Germany’s best medieval castle!

There is just something so appealing about this perfect little 12th century castle that has remained virtually undisturbed, tucked away in a dense 300-acre forest for nearly 900 years. Eltz Castle, which has been in the possession of the same family through its entire existence, is a trip back to medieval times! You are simply going to adore its decidedly fanciful fairy tale exterior and don’t miss out on the network of trails that wind their way through that forest! Find out everything you need to know before visiting Eltz castle!

Berg Eltz Castle Germany, the Medieval Europe castle
Burg Eltz Castle, the Medieval Europe castle that has never been destroyed!

visit Germany’s famous fairytale castle

Neuschwanstein Castle (Schloss Neuschwanstein) is Germany’s most visited castle and most famous landmark. This decidedly fairy tale castle was built by King Ludwig, who was a real dreamer and visionary. The castle is beautifully situated with the mighty Bavarian Alps as its backdrop. Take the guided tour to see the opulent interiors! Neuschwanstein is often referred to as Sleeping Beauty’s castle. Walt Disney, inspired by this most beautiful castle, used Neuschwanstein as the model for both Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella’s castle in the animated Disney classics. Ludwig’s childhood home, Hohenschwangau, sits atop the opposing hill. Both castles can be toured in a day.

Plan your visit to this duo of castles: Neuschwanstein and Hohenscwangau, everything you need to know!

Neuschwanstein castle Germany as seen from Mary's Bridge
Photo: Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany’s most famous landmark

Nymphenburg Palace

This French Baroque style Palace in Munich is a contender for France’s Versailles! In fact, the palace has a facade that actually surpasses that of Versailles. (Nymphenburg: frontal width of 632 m (2,073 ft) Versailles: 402 meters (1,319 ft). Be sure to leave time in your schedule to explore the beautiful gardens that have remained virtually unchanged for over 150 years.

bucket list cities and towns in Germany

step back in time at Rothenburg ob der Tauber

The small town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber looks like something straight out of a fairy tale. With its winding cobblestone streets and half-timbered houses, it’s one of the most well-preserved medieval towns in Germany. A visit to Rothenburg is like taking a journey through the Middle Ages! Stop by Rothenburg and explore its crooked little streets, admire the gingerbread perfect buildings, and explore its 14th century medieval town wall, one of Germany’s most intact! Rothenburg is especially magical at Christmastime! and don’t miss the famous Night Watchman walking tour!

Marcus Tower and the Roder Arch Rothenburg ob der Tauber Germany, Rothenburg itinerary
Rothenburg itinerary: Marcus Tower and the Roder Arch

check off several bucket list items in Berlin!

Berlin is the largest city in Germany, so it’s not surprising that they have their fair share of bucket list worthy attractions, most of which are located right in the city center. Here are the best bucket list experiences in the German city of Berlin:

  • Brandenburg Gate (Brandenburger Tor): The Brandenburg Gate is an 18th-century neoclassical monument in Berlin just off of Pariser Platz on Unter den Linden. The city gate, built under the Prussian King Frederick William II, is just steps away from the famous Reichstag Building, Germany’s famous glass domed legislative headquarters.
  • The Berlin Wall: After World War II Germany was divided during the ensuing Cold War. The “Iron curtain” split the country into East Germany and West Germany…two separate countries! This was the Germany of my childhood. The split divided Berlin into East Berlin and West Berlin. After the Fall of the Berlin wall in 1990 the Berlin Wall Memorial was established. Remains of the wall can be seen at the East Side Gallery and Checkpoint Charlie.
  • Museum Island (Museumsinsel), a UNESCO site, is a one stop shop for museum goers. Museum Island’s five Museums offer things like classical antiquities, Greek and Roman art, royal art, fine art, sculptures and more! One of the most popular museums on the island is the Alte Nationalgalerie.
  • Classical opera dinner concerts: There are several concert halls in Berlin, but one unique experience really stands out from the rest. Put on your finest attire and attend a classical music dinner concert at Charlottenburg Palace, one of the most magnificent royal residences in Germany. Attendees enjoy a 3-course candlelight dinner prepared from recipes from the Baroque era, while the Orchestra, dressed in Baroque costume, performs classics from Bach, Handel, Mozart, and more. Catch one of their outdoor performances in the warmer months.
Brandenburg Gate, Berlin Germany Landmarks in Germany
Photo: Brandenburg Gate, Berlin

pay homage to the victims of the Holocaust

The Nazi Party was responsible for the extermination of 11 million men, women, and children in the single worst atrocity in the history of mankind. (source: Wikipedia) Those interested in history may want to visit to one of Germany’s Holocaust memorials where the murdered Jews of Europe are remembered:

  • Dachau Concentration Camp: (KZ-Gedenkstätte Dachau) is located north of Munich. In WWII over 40,00 prisoners of war were put to death at Dachau. Today it is open to the public as a museum and place of remembrance.
  • Holocaust Memorial: also known as The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe is located in Berlin. This park, dedicated to the murdered Jews, consists of 2 ,711 concrete slab monuments.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is bucket list in German?

Bucket list in German is “Bucket-Liste”

What are the best places to visit in Germany for a first timer?

If you are visiting Germany for the first time you may want to add some of the country’s best bucket list destinations to your itinerary. These include once in a lifetime experiences like driving a Porsche on the autobahn, attending Oktoberfest or the German Christmas Markets, taking a cruise on the Rhine River, or visiting one of Germany’s top landmarks like Neuschwanstein Germany’s fairytale castle, Germany’s highest waterfall, largest cathedral, or one of the many other amazing activities in this article!

When is the best time to travel to Germany?

  • In the summer months (through the end of September) everything is in full swing but it’s also the most crowded time to visit.
  • Winters are quiet, except for the Christmas Market season. Prices on accommodations and flights are often lower, but many attractions may be closed.
  • Spring and Fall are considered shoulder seasons. Most things should be open and there will be less crowds. I’m a huge fan of shoulder season!

Which airport should I fly into?

I generally find that flights to Frankfurt International Airport have the best rates and the most flight options. Check the Flight Connections website to see which cities have direct flights to Frankfurt, or any of these airports:

Germany’s largest airports:
Frankfurt FRA
Munich MUC
Berlin Brandenburg BER
Düsseldorf DUS
Hamburg HAM
Cologne/Bonn

Want to hear more about Germany and the rest of our amazing planet? You may be interested in my Germany page and be sure to submit your email address to my subscriber sign up at the end of the page. You’ll be the first to know when a new blog publishes!

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