Downtown Weimar. / Photo by Sukainah Abid-Kons

Five Places to Visit in Germany (That Aren’t Berlin)

When you think of visiting Germany, there’s a decent chance that your first inclination is to visit Berlin, and who could blame you? The city offers endless activities related to history, art, culture, and fun. However, if you’ve already visited the amazing city in the past and are looking for an updated itinerary for your next Tour-de-Deutschland, look no further. Below are five German cities with cultural and historical significance, all of which can help create or add to your next vacation itinerary.



Just 40 kilometers (about 25 miles) from Berlin, Potsdam is a picturesque and charming city with a rich history. Capital of the State of Brandenburg, Potsdam is smaller than Berlin, with a population of around 185,000, and the city can be a great day trip stop. The 1,000-year-old city boasts a lot of activities: historical sites like churches and palaces, lakes and parks for outdoorsy explorers, and cafes and boutiques for shopping and a snack.

One of the more popular attractions is the Sans-Souci Palace. Don’t let the French name fool you; this feat of architecture was built by the Prussian King Fredrick the Great as a summer residence. Its beauty is considered by some to rival even the Palace of Versailles. The palace still has much original artwork and furniture, and a guided audio tour allows you to become immersed in 19th-century Prussian luxury and history.



Germany is a perfect vacation spot for history buffs of every era, and Trier is waiting for them. If you ever took Latin in school or had a Roman Empire phase, this city has to be on your itinerary.

Founded by the Celts around the year 16 B.C., Trier is considered Germany’s oldest city and is filled with ruins from the Roman Empire (and actually served as one of its four capitals). During your visit, you can see the ruins of Porta Nigra or Kaiserthermen, admire the beautiful interior of Saint Peter’s Cathedral, or even Karl Marx’s house, which has been turned into a museum about the philosopher’s life and work.



Dresden is a unique stop on your trip, because you can see hundreds of years of German history through a comparative lens. Much of the city was destroyed during World War II and the rebuilding that took place afterward in the East German city meant that much of the architecture is still in the Cold War-era Soviet style. The downtown area, however, has been rebuilt to replicate what it looked like before the war, meaning that in a short walk or bus ride, it can feel as if you’re traveling from the late 20th century Soviet Union to the Middle Ages.

There are many things to do in the capital of Saxony and the following list includes only a glimpse of what one could do with a day or weekend trip.

The Frauenkirche (“women’s church” in German), which was named in honor of the Virgin Mary and is not open only to women, as is a common misconception, was a very old structure that was destroyed in the war, but reopened in 2005 after a decade-long rebuilding process.

The Hygiene Museum gives you a chance to learn about the history of the introduction of modern hygiene processes to Europe, the different ways experts have thought about “healthy lifestyles” over the past century, and even the ways that biological science can be used as a tool for propaganda. The museum also hosts temporary exhibitions, such as the Fake News exhibit which was open during the summer of 2022.

Visiting the Dresden Castle, which was used as a place of residence for the Kings of Saxony, allows you to learn about the history of the region, which was once considered an enemy of the Prussian Empire. Now, it is home to The Green Vault, one of the largest collections of treasures in Europe, which were acquired by Saxon Kings. The artifacts have been preserved in excellent condition and allow you to become immersed in the splendor of old-world bourgeois European life.



Bookworms, this one’s for you! Mainz is most famous for two things: its history of hosting one of the most extravagant Carnival celebrations in Germany and the fact that it was home to Johannes Gutenberg, father of the modern printing press. The Museum of Printing is now located where Gutenberg used to work and is a stop that could easily take up half a day. You’ll have the opportunity to see a live demonstration of an original printing press model, learn about how it changed the Western world, see the feats of printing (including rare early editions of famous books), and even see a Gutenberg Bible, of which there are fewer than 50 left in the world.

After you’ve visited the museum, you’ll have the opportunity to see Roman ruins, walk through the picturesque town center, stop at one of the many cafes, or even get some shopping done.



Weimar is famous because it’s the namesake of, you guessed it, the Weimar Republic. Known as the birthplace of Weimar Classicism (a cultural movement that had impacts on music and literature), the city has hosted some of the cultural icons of Germany, including musician Franz Liszt and writers Friedrich Schiller and Johann Wolfgang Goethe. In the town center is a monument to the writers and visitors can even visit Goethe’s house, which has been turned into a museum that focuses on his life, work, and the massive impact his writings had. If writing isn’t your thing, you can also visit the Bauhaus Museum, where the art school was originally founded.

Finally, just outside the city is the Buchenwald Concentration Camp Memorial Site. This is definitely a heavy stop, but the tour guides walk you through what remains of the former camp and offer excellent insight into the history of the physical place while explaining the historical context of World War II Germany.