Last Updated on 20 July 2022
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Where are the most beautiful small towns in Germany?
Fairytales don’t just exist in between the pages of children’s storybooks – they come to life in Germany. Germany has an abundance of beautifully preserved fairytale towns which should definitely be on your European bucket list. Bursting with medieval half-timber cladded buildings, cobbled streets, and quaint lanes, these towns make for perfect weekend breaks in Europe or stops on any motorhome trip to Germany (given the availability of overnight parking and/or campsites)! So, here are 7 of the most beautiful small towns in Germany (including a true hidden gem and best kept secret that you probably haven’t heard of before)!
Tip: Some of these towns can easily be combined with other countries due to their close proximity to neighbouring European borders such as Belgium, The Netherlands and Austria, making them perfect stops on any multi-destination trip across the continent!
The most beautiful small towns in Germany
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1. Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Bavaria
If you are wondering where to visit in Germany, then Rothenburg ob der Tauber is the quintessential fairytale town and major stop on the Romantic Road! Entering Rothenburg through its fortified town walls is like strolling straight into the pages of a children’s storybook. A town so perfectly picturesque, it almost feels unreal; like it has been built there to look pretty for you and I! But, protected by its historic walls and towers, Rothenburg is one of the most beautifully preserved medieval towns in Bavaria.
The cobbled-streets are lined with colourful buildings that are adorned with flowers and intricate wrought-iron signs. The city walls have a wooden walkway, offering distant views across the cladded red roofs of the half-timbered wonky houses that fill the town. In the Marktplatz you will find the charming clock on the front of the Ratstrinkstube (or Councilor’s Tavern) which chimes every hour from 10am-10pm. As it does, people will gather to watch figures pop out of the two doors either side of the clock face. The Marktplatz is also the place to be to spot the night watchman who leads guided walks around the town!
Tip: If you are lucky you might spot the resident stalk in their nest on top of the buildings opposite the City Hall. Make sure you head to the beautiful gardens for a wander too!
Nearest major cities to Rothenburg ob der Tauber: ~100km west of Nuremberg, ~150km northeast of Stuttgart, ~200km southeast of Frankfurt, ~250km northwest of Munich.
2. Bacharach, Rhineland-Palatinate
Overlooked by Stahleck Castle, Bacharach is an undeniably charming and characterful town. Surrounded by vineyards and valleys, it lies on the shores of the roaring River Rhine. Stepping through the walls that secrete the settlement is like wandering into a small tardis which time forgot. In Bacharach, medieval half-timbered buildings and cobble-stones line the quaint streets, and unique craft and antique shops dot the town.
A town so perfectly picturesque and peaceful, it is a haven for wine-lovers and connoisseurs alike, as it is blessed with an expanse of vineyards which follow the River Rhine valley. Be sure to head up through the vineyards to the Postenturm Tower which is perched upon the hillside, to enjoy panoramic views across Bacharach and beyond.
The expanse of flat riverside paths make Bacharach the ideal place to base yourself for a day or two of cycling. From here, you can reach the nearby quaint towns of Oberwesel and Sankt Goar (be sure to look out for the huge cuckoo clock which sits outside one of the shops there). What’s more, Bacharach’s riverside campsite makes it the ideal place for a stopover on a European motorhome road trip!
Tip: If a visit to Bacharach takes your fancy (and, quite frankly, why wouldn’t it) then why not visit Cochem (most beautiful small towns to visit in Germany #5) before or after? It is an easy drive in between the two riverside towns. Or, public transport is an option, as there are train stations at both towns!
Nearest major cities to Bacharach: ~50km south of Koblenz, ~90km west of Frankfurt, ~150km south of Cologne.
3. Monschau, North Rhine-Westphalia
Monschau is a tiddly town located in northern Germany state of Rhine-Westphalia. It boasts a beautifully preserved historic old town full of half-timbered houses (a staple of any traditional German town, which you may have gathered by now) and is divided by a petit river that flows adjacent to the buildings.
A scenic town that is now very much dedicated to tourism, there is no shortage of little shops to wander, or quaint cafes and restaurants to stop in to soak up the charming atmosphere. As Monschau lies a stones throw away from the border with Belgium and is a short drive to The Netherlands, it is a perfect place to factor in to any European road trip. Plus, it makes for a great first stop if you’re arriving in Calais to begin your road trip!
Nearest major cities to Monschau: ~32km south of Aachen, ~110km southwest of Cologne and Dusseldorf.
4. Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Bavaria
Garmisch-Partenkirchen is a Bavarian beauty, hidden deep in the south of Germany in mountain country. Although most notably a ski resort, it is definitely somewhere you should consider as a year round destination and is one of the best places to visit in Germany in the summer. Garmisch-Partenkirchen is situated in an awe inspiring location, surrounded by high snow capped peaks and lush green sound-of-music-style hills!
The town itself is uniquely charming and characterful, as it is abundant with trickling fountains and muralled facades, each depicting a different scene. The murals make Garmisch-Partenkirchen one of the most unique towns to visit in Germany! If you do visit (which you must) then be sure to take the thrilling cable car ride up to the summit of Wank Mountain. Here you will be spoiled with absolutely breathtaking views across Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Zugspitze, and the mountains beyond!
Tip: Garmisch-Partenkirchen is not at all far from the border with Austria, making a it a great place to include on any multi-destination trip to the Alps!
Nearest major cities to Garmisch-Partenkirchen: ~60km northwest of Innsbruck (Austria), ~90km south of Munich.
5. Cochem, Rhineland-Palatinate
Cochem is a town located on the Moselle River (a tributary to the River Rhine) approximately 170km west of Frankfurt, in amongst rolling green vineyard-lined valleys. Overlooked by Cochem Castle perched high upon the hillside, the perfectly-preserved fairytale town is hidden away behind medieval fortified walls where it feels like time has stood still for centuries. The pedestrianized Old Town is brimming with a muddle of charming half-timbered and pastel coloured tall and narrow buildings, decorated with flower boxes. It also features a maze-like network of narrow alleyways and winding lanes that lead to quaint squares with delightful fountains.
The Mosel Promenade boasts colourful building fronts and from the opposite side of the river bank, offers a postcard-perfect view of the town with Cochem Castle sitting above (like a cherry on top of a cake). Be sure to hike up to Cochem Castle for stunning views over Cochem and down through the Moselle Valley, which alone make it one of the most beautiful towns in Germany to visit! Make sure you see Enderttor, which is perhaps the most picturesque medieval city gate in the town.
Tip: Cyclers assemble! Just like Bacharach, Cochem is a paradise for cyclers given its flat riverside paths that go to and from the town. So if you’re on an RV trip in Europe be sure to take your bicycles. Or, why not find a local rental shop?
Nearest major cities to Cochem: ~60km southeast of Koblenz, ~120km south of Cologne, ~170km west of Frankfurt.
6. Linz am Rhein, Rhineland-Palatinate
I think that by now, you might realise that there are some beautiful towns in Rhineland-Palatinate, making it a good region to visit if you want to see some German fairytale towns. Along with Bacharach and Cochem, Linz am Rhein is located in this region and sits on the banks of the mighty River Rhein.
Linz is an attractive little market town full of wonky half-timbered buildings decorated with brightly coloured striped shutters and flower boxes. Unique shops line the uphill streets which lead to a market square scattered with fountains and eateries with outdoor seating, offering the perfect place to sit and enjoy the warm atmosphere! Make sure you don’t miss The Neutor, which is a beautifully preserved tower of the old city wall fortifications, soaring high above the town.
Tip: Don’t mistake Linz am Rhein in Germany with Linz in Austria – make sure you include the ‘am Rhein’ bit!
Nearest major cities to Linz am Rhein: ~40km northwest of Koblenz, ~60km south of Cologne, ~150km northwest of Frankfurt.
7. Ladenburg, Baden-Wurttemberg
A true hidden gem in Germany, Ladenburg is the wild card for this list! Ladenburg was a completely accidental find for me whilst I was on a campervan road trip in Europe and in need of a stop for the night after a long days driving. I consulted the bible that’s essential for every European motorhome tourer, my much beloved Camperstop book, and ended up stumbling across this beauty!
Ladenburg is located in the Baden-Württemberg state of Germany, just under a 15km drive to University-famed town of Heidelberg. You won’t find tourist shops in Ladenburg (at least I didn’t) and probably not a whole lot of tourists, as it is a completely off the beaten path town! Nevertheless it is completely worthy of being on this list of the most beautiful towns in Germany! It is a quiet and quaint residential town that is full of historic half-timbered houses, scattered with statues, pathed with cobble-stoned streets, dotted with a few cafes and boutique shops, and boasts a peaceful market square with a trickling fountain and the historic St Gallus Church in the backdrop. There may not be a whole lot to do, but it is a beautiful town to enjoy some slow travel and is situated close to Heidelberg (so you could split your time between the two).
Tip: Ladenburg has an abundance of cycle routes and it is very easy to reach Heidelberg by bicycle, alongside the river and through the fields. You won’t need to worry about cars along this route (until you reach Heidelberg), so you can take time to fully enjoy the peaceful landscapes that surround you!