The German Destinations You Need to Have on Radar

It's time to veer off the well-travelled path and explore Germany beyond Berlin. From a white-sand island on the Northern coast to a fairy-tale village giving serious Disney vibes, here are five lesser-known Deutsch destinations we love.

Think Germany, think Berlin? Think again. We've pulled together a handful of Deutsch destinations that veer slightly off the well-travelled path. From fairy-tale villages that put Disney imitations to shame to pulsing cities that haven't yet fallen victim to tourist footfall, here's where to head when you're ready to quit queuing for Berghain.

Beat the crowds by visiting these under-the-radar German destinations



Why we can't wait to go back: It's like Berlin, but better. This city is filled with ex-Berliners who, outpriced by gentrification, went looking for a cheaper alternative to call home. By day, we'll catch a film at the Leipzig Panometer - a 360-degree cinema (yes, really) - before popping into the Museum of Fine Arts. After dinner at Umaii ramen bar, it's time for drinks at the spectacularly painted La Boum. Ready to make a night of it? Leipzig's techno clubs rival the German capital in their renown. See you beside the left-of-stage speaker.

Where we're staying: Hotel Fregehaus

Before you go: Read up on Spinnerei, a cotton factory turned artists' hub. It's a compound filled with more 120 artists' studios and home to the so-called "New Leipzig School" of art.

A sandy beach on Sylt, Germany



Why we can't wait to go back: Some have called it the "Martha's Vineyard of Germany", but this tiny island is most commonly known as "The Queen of the North Sea". It's teeming with salty-fresh seafood restaurants and a generous fringe of coastline loved by swimmers, surfers and kiteboarders alike. Rugged watersports sessions not your thing? A whopping third of the island is a protected nature reserve so pack your hiking boots. Lanserhof's latest medi-spa also opened here recently, which is testament to the island's wellness creds.

Where we're staying: Söl'ring Hof

Before you go: Take a moment to familiarise yourself with the artwork of Siegward Sprotte, who spent most of his life painting seascapes from his island studio.

The Disney-like architecture of this mountain village



Why we can't wait to go back: It's so cutesy you'll want to wrap it up in ribbon and stuff it in your carry-on. There's the Monschau Castle, which delivers all the fairy-tale turrets and cobbled inner passages you could want, the Rotes Haus museum which was once home to Germany's entrepreneurial Scheibler family, and a glut of small cafés to visit. We're not sure which part we like best about Monschau: that fact it sits on the edge of the dramatic Eifel National Park, or that it suffers from lack of phone signal. This is a Zoom-free zone, folks.

Where we're staying: Haus Barkhausen

Before you go: Get your hands on some guilt-free outdoors gear by kitting yourself out in second-hand Arc'teryx.

A waterway in Karlsruhe, Germany



Why we can't wait to go back: Heading for the Black Forest? Make sure to stop here en route. It might have a reputation as a destination for legal buffs, due to its high proportion of constitutional courts, but this historical city is far from dull. There's the State Museum of Baden, the glorious Karlsruhe Palace and ZKM, The Centre for Art and Media Technology - an innovative new take on the traditional museum and part of the reason why Karlsruhe was recently named Unesco's City of Media Arts. Also not to be missed: the eminently Instagrammable spa town of Baden-Baden, which is just a short drive away.

Where we're staying: 133 Boutique Hotel

Before you go: Tour a few of ZKM's virtual exhibitions - it was digitising collections way before the coronavirus struck so there is plenty to explore.



Why we can't wait to go back: This village might be on the cusp of the Black Forest, but it feels like the Italian Lakes. We'll spend 90 per cent of the time sunning ourselves in a lido or on the side of Lake Constance - cooling off from the later summer heat by dipping in the water and loading up on fresh gelato. The other 10 per cent will be spent ambling about the city's well-clipped gardens and paddling out to Konstanz's pretty neighbours. The vineyards and sugarplum-pink mansions of Meersburg are just across the bay.

Where we're staying: Riva

Before you go: Read up on Peter Lenk, the satirical artist behind Imperia, a rotating statue on the edge of Lake Constance which was met with much controversy upon its unveiling in 1993.

This article was updated 21 July 2022.

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