Old town and the Cochem (Reichsburg) castle on the Moselle river, Cochem, Germany.

9 of the Quirkiest Towns in Germany

Thanks to its long history, rich culture, and well-established traditions, Germany is home to some of the most interesting places to visit in Europe. Dotted across the country are countless small towns that each boast their very own charm and character, and each of which offers curious travelers no end of fun things to do and see.

From picturesque small towns like Rothenburg ob der Tauber and Lindau with their well-preserved medieval architecture and fairy-tale ambiance to the scenic setting of Cochem on the Moselle River, these nine quirky towns, along with others like Baden-Baden, Friedrichshafen, and Boppard, together paint a compelling picture of a Germany that thrives on its uniqueness.


Lakeside promenade of Lindau, Germany
Lakeside promenade of Lindau, Germany. Image credit Olgysha via Shutterstock

The charming island town of Lindau on Lake Constance (Bodensee) in Bavaria is easy to get to from Munich and its international airport. Perfect for a three-day stay, it is connected to the mainland by a bridge and a causeway used by vehicle traffic, trains, as well as pedestrians. Lindau’s recorded history goes back as far as the 9th century, and it’s known to have been fortified by the Romans at one point, too, to protect the empire’s trade routes.

The town’s picturesque Harbor Entrance is unique for its lighthouse (Neuer Leuchtturm) and the Bavarian Lion statue (Bayerischer Löwe), which stand as guardians over the town and boat traffic that come and go. In addition to the spectacular views over Lake Constance and the Alps in Austria and Switzerland, it is a great place to hop aboard a tour boat, or simply sit at a café and watch the world go by.

Baden Baden

Historic buildings at the famous old town of Baden-Baden, Germany
Historic buildings at the famous old town of Baden-Baden, Germany.

Less than two hours south of the major airline hub of Frankfurt, Baden-Baden is another must-visit destination for those wanting to explore the quirkier side of Germany. Located in the country’s scenic Black Forest region, this historic spa town dates back to Roman times and has attracted tourists for centuries for thermal baths such as the Friedrichsbad. Constructed in 1877, this elegant spa offers visitors a ritualized bathing experience that promotes wellness and relaxation.

A more contemporary take on thermal bathing can be enjoyed at Caracalla Spa, with its large indoor and outdoor pools, whirlpools, saunas, and steam baths set amidst beautiful gardens. Other quirky things to do in Baden Baden include visiting the Kurhaus, an architectural marvel housing the old-school Casino Baden-Baden; and the Festspielhaus, Europe's second-largest opera and concert house.


Old Town of Quedlinburg, Germany
Old Town of Quedlinburg, Germany.

Quedlinburg’s location, mid-way between Hanover and Leipzig, makes it a great destination for a day trip or overnight getaway. This UNESCO World Heritage Site (one of an impressive 52 in Germany, all told) is worth visiting for its large collection of over 2,000 well-preserved half-timbered houses and landmark buildings spanning six centuries. The Fachwerkmuseum im Ständerbau museum is a must-visit and delves into the history and construction of these half-timbered houses.

The centerpiece of this amazing architectural collection is Quedlinburg Abbey. Also known as the Collegiate Church of St. Servatius, this Romanesque masterpiece sits atop Schlossberg Hill. It houses the tombs of the first German King, Henry I, and his wife, Mathilda. It’s also worth visiting for its treasury, which contains medieval art and religious artifacts. Other must-visits include Quedlinburg's Market Square (Marktplatz) and its Renaissance Town Hall (Rathaus).

Rothenburg ob der Tauber

Beautiful streets in Rothenburg ob der Tauber with traditional German houses, Bavaria, Germany
Beautiful streets in Rothenburg ob der Tauber with traditional German houses, Bavaria, Germany.

Usually referred to simply as “Rothenburg,” Rothenburg ob der Tauber is every inch the traditional German fairy-tale town. Located on the spectacular Romantic Road scenic driving route in the heart of beautiful Bavaria, it is a delightful town to explore on foot. Highlights include the Plönlein, a yellow half-timbered house at a fork in the road, which, along with the fountain in front and the Siebers Tower and Kobolzeller Tower framing the scene, is one of the most photographed spots in Germany.

The Market Square (Marktplatz) serves as the heart of Rothenburg. Photographic highlights include the Town Hall (Rathaus) with its impressive Renaissance façade and tower (be sure to climb the tower for its views); St. Jakob's Church, home to the Holy Blood altarpiece by Tilman Riemenschneider, a masterpiece of wood carving; and walking the old town walls. Two quirky museums to visit include the Medieval Crime and Justice Museum (Mittelalterliches Kriminalmuseum), and the Christmas Museum (Weihnachtsmuseum), which celebrates the town's year-round Christmas spirit.


Ravensburg downtown, Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany, Europe
Ravensburg downtown, Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany.

Known as the "City of Towers and Gates," Ravensburg is an often-overlooked gem that should be included on any Southern Germany travel itinerary. The townscape is blessed with 10 historic towers, all well-preserved, and many able to be visited as you explore the Old Town (Altstadt) area. Two of the best, the Mehlsack Tower and the Blaserturm, were part of the town's original fortifications and today offer panoramic views of the town and the surrounding countryside.

Ravensburg’s role as an important trading and market center is evident in the Marienplatz, the main square, which is surrounded by historic buildings, including the Waaghaus and the Rathaus (Town Hall). The town’s quirkier side can be explored at Museum Ravensburger, a fun attraction dedicated to the history of the iconic board game and puzzle maker, as well as at Ravensburger Spieleland, their theme park.


Wine town Cochem at the Moselle in Germany
Historic buildings along the Moselle River, Cochem, Germany.

Its stunning Moselle Valley setting makes Cochem a must-visit in the Rhineland-Palatinate region. This picture-perfect small town, a regular stop for passing river cruises, is home to the spectacular 12th-century Reichsburg Castle. Perched on a commanding hilltop overlooking the river and the town, guided castle tours paint a fascinating look into the times of knights and nobility.

Exploring Cochem's old town center is a must for its half-timbered homes and market square (Marktplatz), home to St. Martin's Church and the Baroque town hall (Rathaus). Enjoy a good wine? Cochem is a gateway to the Moselle wine region, renowned for its Riesling wines, with numerous vineyards and wineries offering tastings and tours. Another quirky attraction is the Cochem Chairlift (Cochemer Sesselbahn Talstation), which transports visitors up to the Pinnerkreuz lookout point for panoramic views of the area.


Buchhornbrunnen fountain at Adenauerplatz, main square in Friedrichshafen, Germany.
Buchhornbrunnen fountain at Adenauerplatz, main square in Friedrichshafen, Germany.

While much of Friedrichshafen’s town center was destroyed during WWII due to its industrial importance, there is a very good reason for tourists to want to include this interesting Baden-Württemberg destination on their list of top places to visit in Germany. It was here, in 1900, that the very first Zeppelin took flight… and it’s here, some 124 years later, that tourists can experience the thrill of flying in a Zeppelin airship for themselves.  Zeppelin flights are available from the town’s airport and boast breathtaking aerial views of Lake Constance and the surrounding region.

Whether before or after a flight, a visit to the Zeppelin Museum is a must. Housed in the former Harbor Railway Station (Hafenbahnhof), this fascinating attraction features the world's largest collection related to airship travel and the history of Zeppelin aviation, including details of the ill-fated Hindenburg disaster of 1937.


Buildings in city center of Gorlitz, Germany
Buildings in city center of Gorlitz, Germany.

Görlitz is Germany's easternmost town and makes for a great jumping-off point for those wanting to explore Czechia and Poland. Set overlooking the Lusatian Neisse River, the town is a popular destination due to its architectural diversity, reflecting styles from Gothic to Renaissance to Baroque. Examples include the Church of St. Peter and Paul (Peterskirche), famous for its Sun Organ (Sonnenorgel); constructed in 1703, this elegantly decorated instrument is still in use for recitals that are open to the public and provide a somewhat quirky musical journey back in time.

Exploring the town’s picturesque Lower Market Square (Untermarkt) is time well spent, with its colorful buildings. Check out the Görlitz Schönhof, the oldest Renaissance building in Germany and home to the interesting Silesian Museum with its displays relating to local history and culture.  


Boppard is the town in the Rhine valley in Germany.
Boppard, Germany and a bend of the Rhine River.

Boppard sits along the picturesque Rhine River in the Rhineland-Palatinate region and is the closest community to the spectacular Rhine Loop. Best seen from the vantage point of the Vierseenblick (Four-Lakes View,) just a 30-minute walk from the town center, this panoramic bend in the Rhine gives the impression you are looking at a series of interconnected lakes rather than a river.

The town is also famous for the Boppard Chairlift (Sesselbahn Boppard), which carries visitors up to the Gedeonseck viewpoint for even more views of the Rhine Loop. Allow time to explore Old Town Boppard, too, as it has been designated part of the UNESCO World Heritage Upper Middle Rhine Valley.

Exploring the quirkiest towns in Germany offers a superb opportunity to experience a journey through some of Europe’s most impressive countryside and historic landmarks. From the well-preserved half-timbered houses of Quedlinburg to the fairy-tale streets of Rothenburg ob der Tauber, these charming communities embody the spirit of a bygone era and invite adventurous travelers to venture off the beaten track and explore.

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