The historic old town of Regensburg Germany is a UNESCO World Heritage site
Germany

12 Best UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Germany

Welcome to Germany! A country known for its lively cities, half-timber towns, and romantic castles. Its diverse landscape of the coastline in the north through the river valley in the middle to the dense forest and mountains in the south. There’s a lot to offer any traveller.

With its rich history, culture and architecture, Germany has a total of 46 designated UNESCO World Heritage sites. That places them fourth overall for the top number of sites. All of these places are recognized for their natural, historic and cultural significance, selected by representatives of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as a way to preserve and protect for future generations. So, let’s learn more about some of the best ones to visit while in Germany. 

Aachen Cathedral

The Aachen Cathedral located in the historic old town of Aachen, Germany, is a UNESCO World Heritage site

Contributed by Eric from Penguin and Pia

Located in the historic old town of Aachen, the Aachen Cathedral – called Aachener Dom in German – is definitely a sight to be explored. Due to its cultural importance, the cathedral was actually one of the first places added to the World Heritage List back in 1978!

This beautifully designed cathedral – which survived heavy bombing during World War II – was completed back around the year 805. It was originally commissioned by Emperor Charlemagne – who is buried there – and has since been added to over the centuries, incorporating various architectural styles along the way.

The cathedral’s original uniqueness was influenced by the elaborate Eastern churches in the Holy Roman Empire. The grandeur of the early building – along with the fact that Aachen was a popular spa town – helped to solidify the city as an important centre of Western Europe at that time.

The cathedral is one of the top attractions in Aachen. Visitors can venture inside for free to gaze at the iconic octagonal dome, detailed stained glass, and numerous other stone features like statues.

Less than an hour from Aachen is the charming town of Monschau. Time has stood still in Monschau. Just as if it was torn from the pages of a fairy tale book. Although it is not on the UNESCO World Heritage list, it is still worth seeing and adding it to your intinery when visiting Aachen.

Bamberg

The beautiful historic town of Bamberg in Germany is a UNESCO World Heritage site

Contributed by Diana from The Globetrotting Detective

Bamberg, located in Bavaria in southern Germany, is a beautiful medieval town designed and built in the 10th century. It was Henry II, the King of Bavaria, who started building Bamberg and he even made it the centre of the Holy Roman Empire for a short period of time.

Bamberg is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1993 for three main reasons. First, Bamberg is one of the most unique medieval towns featuring outstanding not only secular but ecclesiastical buildings in central Europe that survived.

Second, its medieval and baroque style town layout had a huge influence on urban planning and architecture generally in Central Europe. It exerted the strongest influence on the architecture of northern Germany and Hungary.  

Third, Bamberg being a major center of the period of Enlightenment in Germany in the 18th century, boasts renowned German writers, philosophers and composers such as E.T.A. Hoffmann and Georg Wilhelm Friedrich who created some of the most important masterpieces of German musical and literary history.

Cologne Cathedral

The Cologne Dom, located in the historic city of Cologne in Germany is a UNESCO World Heritage site
Contributed by Emma from Emma Jane Explores

The incredible Cologne Cathedral in the beautiful city of Cologne has been on the UNESCO World Heritage list since 1996. Its dual spires are the second tallest in Europe and tower over the surrounding city and the cathedral itself is a perfect example of Gothic architecture.  

The cathedral is Germany’s most visited landmark and is a significant monument to German Catholicism, which is why it has been designated an  UNESCO site. Visitors can wander through this largest church in Northern Europe and admire the expansive interior and they can also choose to climb up to a viewing platform which provides picturesque views over Cologne and the Rhine.  

The Cologne Cathedral has been a fixture in the city since construction commenced in 1248, however the church was not finished until much later in 1880. It is situated next to the iconic archways of the Hohenzollern Bridge and is easily walkable from Cologne Station which is serviced by high-speed rail, keeping the city easily accessible on a European rail journey.

Historic Town of Golsar

The historic city of Goslar in Germany is an UNESCO World Heritage site

Contributed by Vicki of Vicki Viaja

Goslar is a beautiful small town in northern Germany and one of the most beautiful towns to visit in the Harz Mountains. Even though international visitors usually haven’t heard of this small town in the Harz Mountains, it is already very popular with local tourists.

Goslar’s old town resembles one of those towns out of an old German fairytale book. And you’ll have a hard time walking through the city’s narrow streets without being enchanted by its half-timbered houses and medieval charm.

The old town, which has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1992, is imposing. Particularly popular is the Imperial Palace, where important German emperors once lived during the summer. A visit here is mandatory when visiting Goslar. Conveniently, however, the palace is located very close to the city centre.

But also the Rammelsberg mine is considered a UNESCO attraction. Even today, you can visit the mine that once brought so much wealth to the small town. On a tour, you can descend underground and explore the narrow tunnels of the mountain.

Museum Island in Berlin

Museum Island in Berlin, Germany is a 21-acre island jam-packed with culture, unique architecture, and of course, incredible works of art.

Contributed by Sydney of A World in Reach

Museum Island in Berlin is a 21-acre island jam-packed with culture, unique architecture, and of course, incredible works of art. There are five museums on the island: the Altes Museum, the Neues Museum, the Alte Nationalgalerie, the Bode Museum, and the Pergamonmuseum. The island is also home to the beautiful Berlin Cathedral.

Museum Island is one of the top visited sites in Berlin for a good reason. You could easily spend days wandering through the five museums, admiring the artwork and antiquities on display.

Museum Island was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999. The complex received the designation not only for its collections, but also for the architectural design of the museum buildings. The museums were built between 1824 and 1930, thus showing an evolution of architectural and museum design over more than 100 years.

A visit to Museum Island is a must for any Berlin itinerary. Make sure to explore at least one of the museums, as well as admire the museums’ architecture. For a great view of Berlin, head to the dome of Berlin Cathedral, which offers panoramic views of the city.

Old Town of Lübeck

The historic city of Lubeck Germany, an UNESCO World Heritage site

Contributed by Lance and Laura Longwell of Travel Addicts

The Old Town of Lübeck is one of the best and most complete heritage cities in Germany. This waterfront city on Trave River near the Baltic Sea has been one of the most important maritime centers for centuries. Lübeck was a member of the Hanseatic League and one of the most important trading cities in the north of Europe.

In honoring the city, the UNESCO World Heritage inscription honors both the nautical history of this maritime city and also the incredible Hanseatic architecture. Throughout the city, the beautiful roof gables can be found everywhere, but the best examples of this distinctive style are the Hospital of the Holy Spirit, the salt storehouses and the Holsten Gate.

While 20% of the city of Lübeck was destroyed during World War II, UNESCO has omitted entirely reconstructed areas of the city, while embracing the authentic reconstruction of many of the city’s monuments.

Old Town of Regensburg

The historic old town of Regensburg Germany is a UNESCO World Heritage site

Contributed by Soumya from Stories by Soumya

One of the best places to visit in Bavaria, the city of Regensburg is a picturesque river town with a well-preserved medieval city center.

The historic centre, also known as Old Town of Regensburg with Stadtamhof, is filled with medieval old buildings displaying Roman, Romanesque, and Gothic architectural styles.

The old town hall, a historic corn market, and the impressive St. Peter’s Cathedral, all constructed between 11th – 13th centuries are some of the most notable buildings. Medieval patrician houses and numerous other churches also dot the city skyline.

However, the most iconic attraction of Regensburg is its 12th-century Old Stone Bridge which has become a symbol of the city over time. For several long years, it was the city’s only passageway over River Danube and still serves the same purpose.

Old Town of Regensburg is unique because it is the only intact medieval city in Germany and because of  this was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in July, 2006. 

An hour away from Regensburg is Germany’s third largest city – Munich (after Berlin and Hamburg). This modern cosmopolitan city has everything one might expect. But all within the beautiful backdrop of the Alps and the Isar river winding through it. Although it is not on the UNESCO World Heritage site, you will want to add this to your intinery. 

Palaces of Potsdam

The Palaces of Potsdam Germany have deservedly earned a spot on the UNESCO World Heritage site

Contributed by Noel Morata of Travel Photo Discovery

The palaces of Potsdam, located just outside the city of Berlin, makes for an easy day trip. All within walking distance of the town’s centre, you will be find 2,064 hectors of parks, gardens, street promenades and palaces.  This includes Sanssouci, the Neues Palais, Babelsberg Palace and Charlottenhof Villa. The UNESCO World Heritage status was designated in 1992 and 1999 for this area. 
 
Evident in each of the palaces is that Prussian kings of Germany loved to flaunt their wealth and power. The interiors feature elaborate details of the finest materials in marble, gold and silver, as well as, intricately carved wood. Artisans were brought in from across the country to create a wow effect. Its architectural style, popular of the times, was mainly Baroque and Rococo.
Along with that you can see the impressive paintings, sculptures and other over the top collections preserved at the palaces for you to see some of the the amazing details, craftwork and excessive design and influence the kings showcased to their wealth and power. 
 
In addition to the palaces, are the expansive and elaborate gardens. Everything from annual gardens to wild gardens to vineyards to an oriental tea house along with the impressive orangeries.

Rhine Valley

The beautiful Rhine Valley in Germany is an UNESCO World Heritage Site

Contributed by James Ian from Travel Collecting

The Upper Middle Rhine Valley – also called the Rhine Gorge – is a 65-kilometre section of the Rhine River between Koblenz and BingenForty medieval castles are perched on the hilltops, historic villages with half-timbered walls line the river banks, and ancient terraced vineyards form picturesque stripes on the steep slopes. 

The entire area was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2002 due to its historic importance as a transportation route between the northern Nordic and the southern Mediterranean regions. In addition, its cultural significance with its castles, villages and agriculture; and the special way it epitomizes the evolving traditional way of life along the river valley.

Today, it is possible to see the entire valley in a day on a river cruise between Koblenz and Bingen (the island Pfalzgrafsenstein Castle is a highlight).  However, to truly appreciate its incredible beauty and cultural and historic value, it is worth exploring the area in more depth.  You can visit several of the castles, even stay overnight in some of them, such as, Reichenstein Castle. Be sure to sample the wine at the vineyards, and wander the streets of the tiny riverside villages Boppard and Bacharach. 

Speicherstadt and Kontorhaus District in Hamburg

Speicherstadt and Kontorhaus District in Hamburg are an UNESCO World Heritage Site

Contributed by Sonal of Drifter Planet

Speicherstadt and Kontorhaus in Hamburg are two separate districts but are right next to each other. To understand the importance and the beauty of these two historical areas, one needs to be aware of the fact that Hamburg was, and still is, one of Europe’s biggest ports. Its the city where massive ships arrive from all over the world and as a result, require a big warehouse.

Out of the two, Speicherstadt, is more famous and is often the cover photo for numerous travel articles about Hamburg. It is the world’s biggest warehouse district. Because of its old building, Speicherstadt has somewhat of an old-world charm. The buildings here were mostly built between 1880 and 1920 as a group of narrow islands on the Elbe River. 

Right next to Speicherstadt is Kontorhaus, where the buildings date back to the 1920s to the 1940s. In contrast to Speicherstadt, Kontorhaus, it has large-sized official buildings. One of the most famous and the earliest buildings here is the Chilehaus, which was finished in 1924. Another interesting building in Kontorhaus is Montanhof. Both were designated as UNESCO World Heritage sites in 2015.

Town Hall and Roland Statue in Bremen

The Town Hall and Square in Bremen Germany are UNESCO World Heritage sites

Contributed by Arzo of Arzo Travels

In the beautiful city of Bremen, you’ll find two sites that have been designated as UNESCO World Heritage – the town hall and the Roland statue.

The Bremen town hall (or Rathaus) consists of two adjacent buildings. The old town hall was built in the early 15th century and the new building was erected in the early 20th century. For the past 600 years, and still to this day, it is where the seat of the President of the Senate and Mayor meet. 

The stunning architecture is an example of Brick Gothic and Weser Renaissance.  The figure of Roland is a global symbol of freedom and trading rights. Bremen’s Roland statue is over 600 years old and it is widely regarded as one of the oldest and most impressive examples.

Würzburg Residence

The Wurzburg Residence in Germany is an UNESCO World Heritage Site

Contributed by Carolyn of Holidays to Europe

Despite being located in a city that was 85% decimated during World War II, Würzburg Residence survived. And, in 1981, was granted UNESCO World Heritage status, thanks to its cultural and historical significance.   Construction of this stately building began in 1720 when Prince Bishop Phillip Franz von Schönborn commissioned architect Balthasar Neumann to design him a new home. The result was nothing short of magnificent.
 
Inspiration was drawn from across Europe with elements of design from palaces from Vienna to Paris and from Genoa and Venice incorporated into the building.  In total there are 40 rooms including the White Hall and Imperial Hall as well as apartments and a chapel. The curved staircase, with its vaulted ceiling adorned with frescoes by renowned artist Giovanni Battista Tiepolo is one of the Residence’s many highlights.
 
Throughout the palace, a mix of French château architecture and Viennese baroque styling can be seen, thanks to the work of some of Europe’s most accomplished craftsmen who worked on the construction. Entry to the Court Chapel and garden is free. One-hour guided tours of Würzburg Residence are available to visit the Palace and are amongst the best things to do in Würzburg.

As a holidaymaker…

Visiting Germany with so much variety can be overwhelming as to what to see and do. Perhaps looking at the designated UNESCO sites might be a way to help plan your next intinery. As these places are carefully selected for their historic and cultural significance, and always are worth visiting. 

Visit some of the best UNESCO World Heritage sites in Germany
Visit some of the best UNESCO World Heritage sites in Germany

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54 Comments

  • Sue

    Great post! I have so much more to see of Germany & have never apprecaited how beautiful it is. You have pursuaded me that it needs to be on my radar!

  • Kristina

    I love UNESCO sites! I always check to see if there are any sites where I’m planning to travel. I’d really like to check out that section of the Rhine valley someday.

    • The.Holidaymaker

      I do as well Kristina, especially when I am undecided on what and where to go, I always let the UNESCO sites be my guide. Glad you liked the article.

  • Linda (LD Holland)

    It is sad to think that we really have seen nothing of Germany. It is on our plans one day for a long road trip. Good thing to know there are so many great UNESCO sites in Germany to plan our trip around. I love the variety in the architecture that is showcased. And that so many small towns are included on the list.

    • The.Holidaymaker

      I agree Linda. I lived in Germany for almost 6 months and thought I had seen a lot of it, but I too found many places still I need to visit. Thanks for stopping by.

  • Alison

    This makes me long to go to Germany, and the rest of Europe – for the history and the old towns. It’s just something we don’t have in Western Canada. The buildings are amazing.

    • The.Holidaymaker

      Indeed there is so much history and architecture in Europe much more so than in Canada. All the more reason to go!

  • Jen Rogers

    I wish I had read this before our trip to Germany a couple years back. I guess I’m just going to have to bookmark it and go back! A perfect excuse! Thanks for sharing!

  • kmf

    I’m all about history so love this post. I can see why these 12 places made your best Best UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Germany list.

  • Ildi

    There is a lot to see in Germany. We’re stuck here during the lockdown but we saw two things from your list, besides our back yard, during the relatively free months of the summer of 2020. Actually, it’s a great idea to visit the UNESCO world heritage sites, if things go well, we’ll probably do that this summer. Thank you for the great idea.

    • The.Holidaymaker

      So glad you liked the idea of visiting UNESCO sites when travelling, and hopefully we will all be doing much more of it soon!

  • Krista

    I’ve been to the Cologne cathedral but I didn’t know that it was a heritage site! I’m definitely going to be adding the rest of the sites to my bucket list for when I head to Germany next!

    • The.Holidaymaker

      The Cologne Dom is a pretty incredible site isn’t it?! So glad you were inspired to add more of these sites to your list for future travels.

  • Chloe Beaver

    I would love to take a road trip around Germany to check out all these sites! So much history and culture to learn about. Thanks for putting this list together!

    • The.Holidaymaker

      I’m so glad you liked it Chloe. We did a fantastic road trip through the German Alps that I highly recommend.

  • Barry

    I never knew Cologne Cathedral was so tall and the most visited tourist site in Germany – you learn something new every day. I’d never heard of Golsar before this article, so it has opened my eyes to what is a beautiful town. The pics here are great, and gives me a yearning to get to Germany again and discover the places you mention here in such great detail. Never knew Hamburg has the world’s biggest warehouse district. I’m a stickler for facts and I’ve learned many more here. Lovely article and a unique and novel theme too.

    • The.Holidaymaker

      I’m so glad you were inspired both by the places but also by the facts. Thanks for your comment Barry.

  • Riana Ang-Canning

    I love this UNESCO series you’re doing! I’ve only been to 3 on this list so seems like I have a lot of Germany left to see. I remember being totally blown away by the Cologne Cathedral. I think the Aachen one would be awesome to see too!

    • The.Holidaymaker

      Thanks Riana, I’m so glad you are enjoying the monthly series, I’ve enjoyed it too! Yes, I lived in Germany for 6 months and there are many of these places that I wasn’t able to get to either. So many more reasons to travel.

  • Ildiko

    What an awesome and useful post. I love visiting UNESCO sites wherever I go, and Germany is on my bucket list. So this post will definitely be well studied as I plan my trip. Thanks.

  • Emma

    I just love German style architecture and this part just made me basically plan my next trip because it all looks so good. I really need to go to Cologne, and time it with a Christmas market. The Rhine Valley looks absolutely stunning though

    • The.Holidaymaker

      Yes, agreed, would love to see some of these towns at the Christmas market time. Thanks for stopping by.

  • Sherianne

    Germany is my favorite country in Europe but I had no idea there are 46 UNESCO sites! I have been to most you have listed and had a stop planned for Hamburg before COVID stopped travel. I’m really looking forward to exploring Speicherstadt. Great list!

    • The.Holidaymaker

      I’m so glad you liked the list! Hopefully you’ll be able to get to Hamburg soon.

  • Clarice

    Wow! I did not realize there were this many UNESCO world heritage sites in Germany. I would love to visit all of them especially the Cologne Cathedral which has been part of my bucket list. It would be cool to visit the Palaces of Potsdam too.

    • The.Holidaymaker

      Thanks for stopping by Clairice! The Cologne Dom is pretty incredible. Hopefully you’ll be able to visit it one day.

  • Raksha

    I love visiting UNESCO sites. And I did not know that Germany had so many sites that one could visit. I love Cologne Cathedral and I have already added it to my list. My best friend from college stays in Germany and she has been inviting me over for a long time. I think I will plan it first when we can travel.

    • The.Holidaymaker

      Oooh, you’ll have to go! It’s a great country to visit. So much diverse things to see and do!

  • Agnes

    An impressive list of places to see UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Germany. I’ve only been to a few of them. One of my favorites is Museum Island in Berlin. I would love to visit Bamberg and Lübeck. On my dream list is also Rhine Valley.

  • Indrani

    We did 2 out of these 12 mentioned. Seeing your pictures I am regretting of not having visited them. Bamberg looks beautiful especially the facade you clicked. Bremen too looks amazing. I hope I will have time enough to see them all.

    • The.Holidaymaker

      There are always so many great places to visit that we never seem to have enough time to visit.

  • Umiko

    Aachen and Cologne Cathedrals look majestic, but I fell in love with Bamberg and Golsar. Both cities have unique architectures that caught my eyes right away. The two UNESCO sites in Hamburg are also beautiful, as well as the Town Hall in Bremen. I would like to visit them in person.

    • The.Holidaymaker

      It sounds like a lot of these sites are meant to be seen by you! Hopefully you get the chance one day.

  • Candy

    I didn’t know that Germany is in 4th place for the most UNESCO sites. Now I’m curious what countries placed 1-3. I would love to visit Germany as it’s where my ancestors are from. The Cologne Cathedral looks spectacular even in pictures so it’s no wonder that it is a very popular attraction.

  • Kevin

    I love the more rural and small-town UNESCO sites, and Bamberg in particular is really catching my eye. The famous bridge there is just so stunning. I also did not know that the Rhine Valley was a UNESCO site! We are planning to do a cruise there in 2022 and will be taking your suggestion to explore in depth! I’m looking forward to seeing castles there!

  • Shireen

    I love your UNESCO feature on your blog. I would love to visit Bamberg from this list and I can see why Germany has so many UNESCO sites! 🤩

    • The.Holidaymaker

      Bamberg is indeed a pretty special place to visit. Hopefully you’ll get there one day.

  • JoJo Hall

    I loved Germany when I visited in 2015 but didn’t have the chance to visit any UNESCO sites (I went for Oktober Fest lol). But these are beautiful locations that I need to put on my list for when I return to Germany in the future.

    • The.Holidaymaker

      I recognize that HB logo in your profile photo! It’s a good reason to visit Germany that’s for sure!

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