There are many charming fairy-tale towns in Germany, scattered all around the country. Many of the most beloved fairy tales – Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty – were compiled for the first time together by two Germans: the Brothers Grimm. They spent years traveling the German countryside and collecting folk tales. Here’s 10 of the most picturesque, straight-out-of-a-storybook German towns you just need to visit.
Massive stone town walls studded with 42 towers; half-timbered houses with red-tiled roofs; cobblestone streets and flower-filled window boxes: That is Rothenburg ob der Tauber, located on the famous Romantic Road. The town is spectacular any time of the year, but really comes alive during Christmas when it transforms into a Winter wonderland. It is the one of the most charming fairy-tale towns in Germany. What a dream!
Rüdesheim am Rhein, Hesse
Rüdesheim am Rhein is a winemaking town in the Rhine Gorge and thereby part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Making the town worth visiting is, not only the wine or even the Old Town itself, but also the picturesque Rheingau landscape together with the romantic Rhine.
Inundated with visitors most of the year with a bank of pastel-coloured, terrace-fronted restaurants lining the waterfront. Its tangle of narrow alleyways and dramatic castle precipitously perched on a rock, however, are well worth a stop.
Immaculately preserved Dinkelsbühl proudly traces its roots to a royal residence founded by Carolingian kings in the 8th century. Saved from destruction in the Thirty Years War and ignored by WWII bombers, this is arguably the Romantic Road’s quaintest and most authentically medieval halt.
Known for its distinguished 14th-century university, Heidelberg was restored over several centuries, and red-sandstone Heidelberg Castle stands beside the river on Königstuhl hill. Visitors can ride the Bergbahn funicular to reach the castle and its gardens, which have sweeping views over the river and the baroque Altstadt (Old Town).
Saxony-Anhalt (Sachsen-Anhalt) divides into two distinct landscapes: to the east sandy plains are scattered with farms, pastures, pine forests and bogs, and a series of gritty, postindustrial cities; while to the west the land suddenly rises into the gentle Harz mountains where sleepy villages nestle in dark forests.
The main attraction of this town is the Lichtenstein castle, situated on a cliff located near Honau on the Swabian Alps. The first castle here was built in the 13th century but the present palace is a 19th century compound of a hunting lodge of King Frederick I of Württemberg and his nephew’s castle. One of the most enchanting fairy-tale towns in Germany.
In the middle of a clear lake, surrounded by a luscious green environment and snow-covered mountains, lies the historic island of Lindau with its unique charm. With historic buildings, lively squares and picturesque alleys, the old town of Lindau provides an almost Mediterranean flair. On each of the four weekends in Advent the harbour hosts the most magical Christmas markets straight out of a story book.
Though hailed as the birthplace of Saxony because it has the earliest castle in the state, Meissen never developed into a major city. It’s dominated by its soaring Gothic cathedral, the first residential 15th-century castle, Albrechtsburg, and wonderful Elbe valley views.
A 12th-century gem boasting more than 1000 historical buildings, Lübeck’s picture-book appearance was recognised by Unesco as a World Heritage Site in 1987. You’ll find streets lined with medieval merchants’ homes and spired churches forming Lübeck’s ‘crown’. Truly charming.