Heidelberg is a student town but it somehow turned into a travel destination because it is pretty. It is small, yet is one of the most picturesque towns in Germany because of the castle, old bridge and an old town that boasts of baroque architecture. Yes, it is like a mini Prague.
We visited Heidelberg in August 2020 during the Corona pandemic. Honestly that was one of the lighter months because there were hardly any restrictions and the number of cases were low. Everything was functioning like normal except one had to wear a mask for even walking in Heidelberg’s old town.
Our visit to Heidelberg was as a family because we were with our 1 year old girl. We arrived here with our camper van and found a nice river side camping place. I will talk more about that at the end, but let’s talk about Heidelberg first.
The romantic Heidelberg with Castle, river and old town via unsplash
Heidelberg looks like it was plucked straight off a tin fudge box. Also, because it is a student town then it has a decent nightlife. We weren’t able to bar-hopping for German wines and beers in the old town because of our baby girl but we did end up doing more than we thought we would. Here are some of the best things to do in in Heidelberg for every kind of a traveler.
Fun Fact for all the Potterheads out there – Heidelberg actually has a professional Quidditch team and they are called the Heidelberg Harriers. Insane right?
What is Heidelberg in Germany known for & Why visit it?
Heidelberg is situated on the serene banks of the winding Neckar River in the southwest region of Germany. It is a 14th-century town renowned for its local university, but also for its romantic and idyllic cityscape surrounded by green forested hills. The local castle is one of the most famous landmarks in the area and a stellar example of Renaissance architecture. I have mentioned Heidelberg as a prominent part of Germany’s “castle route” road trip.
Despite welcoming many students each year, Heidelberg is not the cheapest German city because it attracts tourists. You may want to keep an eye on the Forex exchange rates before you travel if you’re coming from overseas. But it’s certainly not as expensive as some other European destinations like Frankfurt, Paris, Amsterdam or Rome.
The romantic Heidelberg with Castle, river and old town
How to Reach Heidelberg
As mentioned before on this website over and over, the best and the most convenient way to travel in Germany is by road because public transport can be very expensive. Just rent a car and drive to Heidelberg if you don’t have one.
If you arrive in Germany by air, then Heidelberg is 1 hour train ride away from Frankfurt and the train ticket costs EUR 25 – super expensive. Yes, German trains are. You can also look for bus tickets from DeinBus and Flixbus. A one way bus ticket is usually 10 Euros from the nearby Frankfurt or Stuttgart.
Best Things to do in Heidelberg, Germany
1) Philosophenweg (the Philosopher’s Walk) + Heiligenberg
We just happened to walk along the Philosophenweg just by chance because we found a nice path along the river Neckar and decided to take it. It happened to be the most memorable thing that we did in Heidelberg. We were able to take our baby on her stroller for almost the entire part but not all. Which was ok, because we were 4 adults so we could just lift her up and her pram together.
Philosophenweg – Philosopher’s walk in Heidelberg via Unsplash
A little info for you – the Philosopher’s Walk is named as such because it was a walk taken initially by the Heidelberg University’s professors and philosophers. Thanks to them for popularizing this walking path for not just the students but also the visitors, dogs and solo travelers.
View from the Philosophenweg, Heidelberg via Unsplash
The Philosopher’s walking path has some of the most amazing views of the Castle and the old town. It overlooks the winding river beneath so you will have a lot of photo opportunities on this path. Most of the two-kilometre walk is not physically challenging, although there is a steep part towards the end. Take some water and your camera for a great hour outside the hustle and bustle of the town.
2) Admire Schloss Heidelberg – Heidelberg Palace
The Massive Heidelberg Castle over the city – via Pixabay
You can’t visit Heidelberg and not admire the Schloss Heidelberg with its mix of Gothic and Renaissance architectural styles. Schloss is a German word that means castle. Actually Heidelberg Castle is many times referred to as the Heidelberg Palace too. Even if you don’t want to visit it from the inside, you will definitely look at it with awe because it is massive.
Entering Heidelberg Castle is not free. In case you’re visiting the city and are going to do some of the other activities then I highly recommend you get the HeidelbergCard. It includes the public transport, Heidelberg castle entry, cable rail to and back from the castle and a discount on many other attractions.
Click for the HeidelbergCard
This card is valid for 1 – 4 days so make sure you get it if you’re going to visit the castle and ride the cable train to it.
Here’s a little dose of history for you which I found very interesting. Heidelberg Castle was initiated as a royal residence by Prince Elector Ruprecht III who lived from 1398–1410. It was further built in the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries by different Princes. However, post that the castle suffered. First, it was destroyed several times during the Thirty Years’ War. Second, it was stuck by the lightning during the restoration attempts. Third, the stones from the castle were taken apart to build new houses. Thankfully it came to an end in 1800 under Count Charles de Graimberg.
Despite its tragic history, today Schloss Heidelbergis the biggest tourist attraction in the town. If you take time to see the castle from inside, you will be charmed by it and love the breathtaking views of the region from the top of its towers. Also on-site in this 14th-century structure is a restaurant and German museum. You’ll be able to spend an entire day here and keep everyone entertained.
The Heidelberg Castle Festival is held every year in the summer months here where one can enjoy concerts, musicals and theatre performances in the courtyard.
3) Ride the Heidelberg Bergbahn Funicular (Cable Rail) to Königstuhl-Mountain
The Heidelberger Bergbahn funicular railway runs from the Heidelberg Altstadt to the Königstuhl viewpoint via the castle. “Bergbahn funicular” is actually mountain cable railway, Königstuhl means King’s Chair and Altstadt means old town. So, this train runs from “Kornmakt” in the Old Town to Heidelberg Castle and to the Königstuhl.
If you’re taking the train from the old town to the Königstuhl, then you will have to change the train once. The best part of the journey is the upper section of this cable rail – it is called Königstuhlbahn. It has a 100 year old engine and historical looking wooden cars – so truly a historical ride. The service starts at 9 am and ends late during summer but much earlier during the winter months. You will end up paying around 10-15 euros per person for a return ticket, depending on how many people are together. You can find the updated info and tickets for the train here.
If you’re thinking of riding the cable rail and also entering Heidelberg Castle then we highly recommend you get the HeidelbergCard to save money.
Click for the HeidelbergCard
Königstuhl is 567.8 meters high and is the highest peak in the Lower Odenwald forest. The view from the top at Königstuhl is known for the views of Heidelberg, the Rhine Valley, the Neckar River and Katzenbuckel mountain. Once you’re up there, look out for the two walking paths – Königstuhl Route and the Kohlhof route. They are almost the same length which is between 4.5 to 4.8 KMs and are easy to cover. There is also a 2 KM long nature trail that you can take if you’re here with small children.
Don’t all the famous European cities have famous bridges? Prague has the Charles Bridge, Istanbul has the Bosporus bridge, Paris has the Pont des Arts, Amsterdam has 1200 and Hamburg has 2400 of them. Heidelberg has an awesome one too that goes over the River Neckar.
Heidelberg’s bridge Karl Theodor Bridge is usually known as Old Bridge. It is an 18th-century sandstone bridge with interesting arches and located in the northern part of the town. The bridge has Baroque tower helmets and some strange looking structures that make interesting photo subjects. Make sure you spot the Bridge Monkey (Brückenaffe) – it is a funny looking bronze statue of a monkey which is a part of many Instagram photos.
Heidelberg Brückenaffe – the monkey on the bridge – via Pixabay
This bridge is actually a very good starting point if you’re entering the Old Town – Altstadt, because you can see a lot of places from here already. The view from the bridge captures the old town at a glorious angle.
Heidelberg Old Bridge with Baroque tower helmets – via Unsplash
There’s something super romantic about walking on a bridge with your partner and just like most famous bridges all over the world, here too you will see couples. Of course a lot of tourists too who want to click an Instagram-worthy photo. Many things are closed on Sundays in Germany, so this is an excellent time to explore the bridge.
Even if you don’t do some of the above mentioned activities, you will surely do this. Heidelberg’s old town is unmissable and you definitely will end up spending most of your time here. After all, it is the city’s historic heart. Heidelberger Altstadt is long and narrow and has the typical “European-old-town” vibes – cobbled streets, beautifully preserved old buildings, main square, and even a castle.
I do talk about getting lost in the old town but still, here are the things to do (and see) in Heidelber’s Old Town during your first visit.
Church of the Holy Spirit
The first thing that you will see in the Old Town is probably the Heidelberg Castle even before you walk on the old bridge. From the old bridge as you walk to the Altstadt, you will see the famous Church of the Holy Spirit.
Walk through the Old Town and make sure you also see Montpellierplatz. It is a very peaceful park with a very interesting looking old building. Sit here to relax for a few minutes before you move further.
When you’re in the old town, you will definitely end up walking on the famous Hauptstrasse. It means the main street and is around 1.5 KMs long pedestrian street which is more than just the town’s shopping street. You will definitely see fashion to cosmetics and handmade treasures. The Hauptstrasse has some very interesting stores where you can buy super fun and quirky gifts, like we did. There is even a booth within the street where you can go to exchange books. Take your used ones and pick up a new title for free.
Enjoy a Roadside Cafe in the Market Square
Heidelberg Main Square, Altstadt Heidelberger – via Unsplash
If you don’t feel like climbing the towers of the castle and would prefer a relaxing few hours, you may like to spend time in the town’s market square. The square is full of life and vibrancy with scores of bars and cafes. Yes, town squares and market squares are touristy but there’s usually a lot of funny stuff going on to watch. Grab a seat outside, a coffee and watch the world go by in this fabulous location. Once refelled, go and explore the old town.
Heidelberg University Library & Studentenkarzer
I suggest spending some time here with an aim to get lost. We did too and we wandered off inside a part of the Heidelberg University and saw the beautiful Heidelberg University Library building. Another place to see in Heidelberger Altstadt is Studentenkarzer. It was once a university prison cell that’s now covered with graffiti.
Visit a Brauhaus and Drink Locally Brewed Beer
We just happened to visit Vetter’s Alt Heidelberger Brauhaus by chance while waiting for a friend and bought extra beer for the road. It ended up being the best tasting beer and we felt stupid for not having bought more. It is in the beginning of the old town and even if you’re not stopping here for a meal, I highly recommend you buy a bottle to try it.
6) Neckarwiese Heidelberg – the Park with a View
Neckarwiese Heidelberg along the Neckar River via Pixabay
Neckarwiese is maybe one of the best places to spend a few hours “on your own terms” while you look at the lovely city. I say in your own terms is because you get to sit, you don’t have to pay a restaurant or a cafe and you’re out in the open. Of course, this is a place to be if it is a sunny day.
We visited Heidelberg during an especially warm weekend so we did see a lot of sun bathers in Neckarwiese. It is along the Neckar river and on the opposite side of the Old Town, so it is very easy to reach. Due to it’s location, you will have a nice view of Heidelberg castle, the Old Town right behind the river Neckar.
If you’re traveling with children to Heidelberg, you will be happy to know that this park has a play area of children. There are also toilets and shower areas. Of course, like most of the German areas there is also a skate park here. This park also has a sandy beach volleyball area.
Where to Stay in Heidelberg?
NH Hotel chain is lovely, I have stayed in their Amsterdam one and I highly recommend the Heidelberg one too. It is located just outside the Old Town and hence is super convenient if you don’t have a car. You can read the reviews about this place on TripAdvisor here.
We drove to Heidelberg with our camper van, so of course we found a camp ground since our van has two beds for sleeping. We camped in a place called Camping Heidelberg Fa. Weber and it was right next to the Neckar river. It was actually very peaceful to stay here because it was away from the hustle bustle of the main city. Yet, it wasn’t too far from the city centre too.
There was a REWE Supermarket right next to the campground, which turned out to be super convenient. Also there was a bus stop literally right outside the camp ground. We walked from the camp ground to the old town, it was totally doable because we enjoyed the views. We came back with the bus in the evening.
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I love German people, they are really the best. BUT it took me a while to understand them because they are culturally very different from the country where I have initially lived (India), or the country that I first traveled to for work (USA) or people from other countries that I met while traveling.
It took me a few years of living in Germany after I started understanding them. There were quite a lot of things that I didn’t notice in the first years but more things became visible after a few years of living here.
Don’t get me wrong – most of the below points don’t make anyone better or worse. I’m not saying that they are the best or the worst – these are just my observations about how Germans are different from the rest of the world. I have grown to love most of these things about Germans, and you will too if you live here.
1) Germans Love Rules (Even The Ones That Seem to Hate Them)
I can not write an article about Germany and Germans without the #1 point being about the rules. I have said it before and I will say it over and over – Germans really do love their rules.
Now it is pretty normal that you’d meet a German who would say that they don’t like rules but don’t be fooled. If you spend time with them, you will see that they actually follow every single one of them. The same people will also go out of their way to remind someone of the rules if the other person is doing something to beak them.
They can’t help it because the rules are ingrained so well in their minds they subconsciously follow them. They like how the system runs so efficiently when they all follow the rules.
2) A True German Can Open A Beer Bottle with Just About Anything
It is really a true german skill when one can open a beer bottle with just about anything. Who needs a bottle opener when they have a bunch of random things that work just as well?
Cigarette lighters are the most commonly used but I have even seen plastic bottles, remotes, phones, or keys being used in place. Wondering if I can do it too? I try from time to time but my success rate is 30%.
3) Unfit Germans are Rare ‘Cuz Germans love to “Make Sport”
This section isn’t just about how Germans are but also how they talk. The German language is interesting and I love when they translate it directly into English and say they’re “making sport”.
Yes and Germans ARE sporty. They are a country of physically active people as compared to many other countries. It is hard to meet a German who isn’t in any kind of a sport and even those rare ones are super active in every way. People of every age like to ride bicycles, and almost everyone here likes to at least run, swim and ski. It is hard to find a fat person here.
I’d also like to add that I’m a Yoga teacher and I am always in awe of how fit my German Yoga students are as compared to the ones from other countries.
4) Germans are Highly Efficient
You may think that I’m, talking about the German workers here. Sure – they are known to be efficient but this is bigger than that. They are efficient on so many different levels for every random thing that it is as if they are robots. Be it time management, packing, designing systems, or organizing, the Germans are incredibly efficient.
It is as if the knowledge of how to do even the most random things in the most time-saving manner with maximum results has been passed down from generation to generation. If you live in Germany, you will see an example of this daily.
There seems to be an important life lesson that others have failed to receive except the Germans. German supermarket cashiers are known to scan the items at a lightning speed and a typical German will pick them all up one by one at that same super-fast pace and yet efficiently stack them neatly in their carts or bags.
One can easily spot a newcomer in Germany because they are the only ones who can’t match the pace while stacking the shopping in neat piles in their carts.
Yes, Indians are spoiled and we have the supermarket staff doing this stacking for us but I’m not alone in this observation, my American, Australian, as well as other Asian friends who live in Germany, have also noticed it.
6) Germans Know Their Alcohol Good
In a country where drinking in public is allowed, you’d think that you will often see crazy drunk people walking around but that’s not usually the case.
They can legally drink from the age of 16 and they know how to handle it. They can drink down just about anyone without looking drunk, except maybe a Russian or a Polish. (Haha)
If there’s one thing that German love more than rules it is maintaining social decorum. Believe it or not but generation after generation they have been conditioned to behave well in public, hence they do even on alcohol.
Just to clarify, I’m not talking about the general “drunk-happy” people, but “out-of-control-crazy-drunk” – the kinds who yell around on the streets for nothing. Actually, you will see the latter quite often in New Delhi (where I come from) and without even alcohol. Haha
The only times when you’d see someone who’s out of control drunk is when there’s the carnival, or a soccer match.
When I first arrived in Germany, I realized that without even trying I ended up being the most colorful one because of my clothes. I’m not just talking about normal supermarket visits but also special events where I’d notice that most of the people actually wore muted colors.
If you’re a German and you’re reading this, then maybe you will shake your head in disbelief. But I have a question for you, what color are you wearing right now? If it isn’t black, grey or white then it is most likely another form of muted color.
Of course, there are exceptions to this. If you walk around in an arty city (like Hamburg) then you will actually see people wearing different bright colors but still not too much like the locals from the warmer countries do. More exceptions would be music festival people, the pseudo hippies, or the frequent backpackers.
Older Germans Love Jack Wolfskin and Younger Ones H&M. Yes, it actually does work like this with the majority of the germans, it looks like a dress code.
8) Germans and their English
Germans can speak decent English, but many of them don’t know that they can. A majority of Germans hesitate when it comes to speaking in English and they say “Oh sorry, my English isn’t good”. But in reality, they can speak basic English pretty well.
You see, Germans are inherently perfectionists. If they do something, it has to be perfect and “correct” and the same applies to the language They would rather not speak in English than make a tiny grammatical error. They have been taught English in their schools, many of them listen to English music and English is definitely a part of their life more than they realize it is.
On the other hand, I have met a few native English speakers like Americans or Australians who sometimes speak grammatically incorrect English more often but they don’t care. Even many of my Indian people do the same but their confidence level is crazy good.
Dear Germans, we don’t care if you make a grammatical error from time to time. Speak more English with newcomers please because your language isn’t the easiest to learn.
On the other hand, I absolutely love how Germans completely convert their language into English sometimes and say something that means something else. Actually, most of us who are not native English speakers are guilty of this, but since this article is about German people, I’d mention some of my observations here.
I love how Germans use the verb “become” for “getting it”, for example – “Oh did you become a letter today?” – just because there is a verb called “bekomme” that means getting something. Certain German words are so similar to English words with a different meaning. For example, Peperoni in the German language is chili pepper, whereas “Pepperoni” means an American salami. Imagine my surprise when I visited a vegan restaurant in Germany that was named Peperoni.
9) Most Germans Think Ginger is “Spicy”
Ask any Asian what they think spicy is and they’d say chili. Ask a South American or a Mexican, they’d say habanero. Even Italians, Americans, Australians, and Brits can handle spicy food. But Germans, of course, are a little different than everyone.
An Asian would never find ginger spicy, because that the base of 80% of our food. No, we don’t overuse it but it is there in a small quantity in most of the things we eat. In India, we even put it in our chai.
During my first months in Germany I asked someone if they wanted to try Indian food. They said yes but not spicy, so I offered them a bite. It was actually very funny for me when they said — oooh, the ginger is spicy. No, that’s not just one person but many other Germans too think ginger is spicy. Hilarious!
10) Germans Don’t Like Small Talk
If you’re a german then maybe you don’t know the meaning of small talk, because you are just not used to it. Small talk doesn’t have a purpose. It is actually a waste of time but is done to break the ice, even if you know the other person.
For example, if you were in America then most likely even a work colleague would say something random and unimportant to start the conversation – like how was your weekend, etc. After 1-2 minutes, the work colleague would actually come to the point and say that they need your help with an excel sheet or something.
It isn’t just Americans who do this but also Indians and many other people from all over the world because it is a part of our culture. We may not even realize it but we do it. Germans just don’t do it. Honestly, I really like it without the small talk because I don’t enjoy it when people don’t get to the point.
11) Germans may appear cold, but they are very “REAL”
Ok so if it is your first time in Germany then you’d probably say that Germans don’t smile much, or they are too cold. I thought so too at first. It took me a year or so to realize that Germans aren’t cold or unfriendly – they are just very real. They’d rather not fake a smile or indulge in small talk. They take time to open up to someone but when they do, you would realize that they actually have a very amazing (and sometimes wicked) sense of humor.
On the other hand, many other people from other countries can’t help but indulge in small talk. Also, if you meet an Indian, they’d smile a lot more than a German. I’m not saying that one is better than the other, but it is so interesting to notice the cultural differences.
I did mention in the earlier point that Germans are highly efficient. But somehow they just don’t offer even mildly decent customer service. I’m talking about industries like retail, hospitality, banking and even travel. Whatever you ask anyone at any customer service rep in Germany will seem to annoy them and the nicest answer you will get is a shrug of the shoulder with “what can I do, it isn’t my job.”
Before I quit my job, I worked for a decade in a multi national industry in India and also spent a few months in USA. I wasn’t into customer service but it is a known fact that “the customer is the king” or “the customer is always right”. Of course none of these concepts ever work in Germany.
Here if you actually go to a normal staff member and complain about something that’s not working in their supermarket / store / bank – they’d say “what can I do, that’s not my job” instead of actually getting up and asking their coworker who is in charge to do this.
This was actually a big cultural shock for me and every time my (German) husband would sweetly tell me that I’m wrong to complain and “what can they do”. I was so happy when I discussed this with an American friend and then a Thai friend who are all living in Germany and they have the same observation. I even found so many threads about this on Reddit and an article by DW.
Guess what, I have somehow grown to accept this aspect and sometimes I even like it. Why? Because Germans are conditioned not to complain. It is when I visit other countries after living here is that I notice how many people complain too much and maybe it is a good thing that the German customer service sucks, because it conditions the people here to never complain.
13) Germans are Super Punctual
If you invite a German friend to visit you at 5 pm, most likely they will come 1-2 minutes before and wait outside and then ring the doorbell at exactly 5 pm. Isn’t that adorable? Well, it is a little freaky too. How are they so time efficient and how do they plan everything so perfectly?
14) Germans are Very Trustworthy
Have I mentioned a few times already how honest Germans are? Well their honestly makes them highly trustworthy. I feel very safe around Germans and I feel that they aren’t going to scam me. Don’t get me wrong but when I visit my own country, I can’t trust so many people because there are scammers around that are looking for an easy target. The only German city where I don’t trust as many people is Berlin because that’s the city where you can actually get scammed.
15) Strange German New Year Tradition: Dinner for One
This is actually an insanely strange but very funny. There is a tradition in Germany where Germans watch the same video every single New Years Eve and laugh a lot. (NYE is called Sylvester in Germany by the way.)
The video is called “Dinner for One” and is a small 5-10 minute long old English comedy video without any significant dialogues. It is so old that it is black and white.
I love quirky traditions and this one really is the best because it is the same effing video that the Germans watch every year and laugh so much. I wish we had a tradition like this in India too but I can’t think of any. I will leave the video for you below and let you decide how funny it is. Have a few beers and you will find it funnier than it actually is.
So, do you know any German people too? Share this post with them to make them smile. Pin the below image to save the post.
15 Things I learned about German People after Moving to Germany
Ever seen a list of the most visited destinations in the world? Most of them in the top 10 are in Europe. Yep, Europe is one of the most touristy continents. Why do I even mention it? Read on.
When a destination becomes even mildly famous in Europe, it kind of turns into Disneyland. It is not just with destinations that have been famous for decades – such as Amsterdam, Paris or Prague – but also newly famous destinations thanks to the power of Instagram such as Bucharest.
Same happened with the most famous lakes in Europe too. Yes, I’m talking about the ever famous Lake Grada of Italy, Lake Bled of Slovenia and Lake Camo of Italy again. Yes, they are definitely lovely but it is hard to enjoy the raw natural beauty of these lakes when the area all around is so developed and busy.
If you’re anything like me, then you seek peace and raw natural beauty of a lake destination instead of the hustle bustle of an overly developed town. Moreover, you would want to see the lake without too many boats in or around it.
For me, a stunning lake is the one that’s in the wilderness – or even better mountains. It is not surrounded by developed towns but you can only see empty areas if you sit next to the water. An absence of commercial boats is definitely an added advantage because it adds to the peace element. Calm and clear water so that you can see inside. Yes, that’s what it takes for a lake to be truly stunning.
Maybe I sound like a nature snob, but the thing is exploring natural landscapes is our thing. San and I are living in Germany and we often travel within the Europe on our campervan. We avoid big cities and instead head to National Parks. And guess what, some of the most beautiful lakes in Europe are found in National Parks. Yes, we have seem many European lakes and we’d like to tell you about the most beautiful ones.
The easiest way to reach most of these lakes is by car. If you live in Europe, then you can drive your own car to these destination. Alternatively, you can fly to the nearby destination and rent a car. Traveling by car is usually cheaper and more convenient in Europe.
Click the above button to see a comparison of car or van rental prices for your preferred destination from many different providers.
Europe’s Most beautiful Lakes
1) Lake Bohinj, Slovenia (Triglav National Park)
The spectacular Bohinjsko jezero – Lake Bohinj in Slovenia
Slovenian’s Lake Bled gets all the attention, but Lake Bohinj is the one that will truly take your breath away. This lake has all it takes to be on top of our list. Bohinj is the highlight of Triglav National Park so you can rest assured that the natural beauty of the area around the lake is preserved.
So what makes Lake Bohinj so special? The water is insanely clear, it is away from the main towns and is surrounded by big mountains. Mount Triglav is the highest peak of the Julien Alps. Yep, so Lake Bohinj is one of the most beautiful lakes in the Alps. Bonus point – Lake Bohinj has some ridiculously stunning beaches.
Mountains, clear lake and pretty beaches – Lake Bohinj, Slovenia
You can not just sit on the side of Lake Bohinj on one of its beaches and not get stunned by the jaw dropping beauty of the mountains around it. They are so high! I wasn’t even able to capture the complete height of the mountains even with a wide angle camera except only at one spot where I walked way far back.
One of the many beaches along Lake Bohinj – Bohinjsko Jezero – Slovenia
There are definitely many stunning lakes around the world but not many that you can camp right next to. Yes, you can actually put up your tent or park your camper van next to the lake in Camp Zlatorog Bohinj. For all these reasons, Lake Bohinj is one of the most beautiful lakes in Europe.
Many visit Montenegro for its beaches but in our experience this country’s mountains is so much better. Montenegro’s Durmitor Mountain range within the Dinaric Alps is a destination that will wow you over.
Within the Dinaric Alps, there’s a protected area called Durmitor National Park which has many glacier lakes. One of the most famous glacier lakes here is called Crno jezero (the Black Lake) near Zabljak, which should actually be called the Blue Lake. The water is extremely clear and is blue-green in color.
Crno jezero or Black Lake entry area, Durmitor National Park, Montenegro
Black Lake is actually a set of twin lakes that is joined by strait. There are trees and mountains around most of the lake so the resulting landscape is super stunning. There is also a walking path around the twin lakes with many benches. You can walk around both the lakes in 1,5 hours if you make a few resting stops.
You can’t swim in the Black Lake or Camp right next to it. For more information on Black Lake, read my post about Durmitor National Park.
3) Lake Zaovine, Serbia (Tara National Park)
Swimming in Lake Zaovine in Tara National Park, Serbia
A lot of the lakes in this list are surrounded by high mountains and pine trees but Serbia’s Lake Zaovine is a bit different. Yes, there are mountains but they aren’t as high on all the sides and we definitely did not see pine trees. As a result, there is a high visibility of the landscape around Lake Zaovine.
Lake Zaovine is in Serbia’s Tara National Park, which is literally on the border of Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. It is situated in Tara National Park which is known for its mind-blowing viewpoints.
Lake Zaovine in Tara National Park, Mokra Gora, Serbia
Talking about touristy, this place definitely isn’t. It is perhaps the least touristy destinations that are mentioned on this list. As a result, you can have the gorgeousness of this lake to yourself like we did. You can swim in it, spend a few hours around it, click endless photos without bothering about other tourists. For us, Zaovine is one of the best lakes in Europe for swimming.
Yes, Italy’s lakes are super famous and touristy, but Lago di Tovel isn’t. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t gorgeous. It has the bluest water and was semi frozen when we visited in spring. It is surrounded by snowy mountains and has everything you imagine in a typical alpine lake. The best part, you can usually see a reflection of the snowy mountains on the surface.
Lake Tovel is in Italy’s Trentino region which is known for the Dolomites. As with most of the lakes on this list, it is in a protected area – Adamello-Brenta nature park. As per the legends, this lake was once red in color. Spooky!
Lago do Tovel – the stunning lake in Val di Non, Trentino – Italy
It is possible to walk al around Lago di Tovel in 1.5 – 2 hours to discovered other scenic spots. We couldn’t because I was pregnant when we visited and I wasn’t in a mood for so much exercise. The lake is triangular in shape. No, you can not swim in Lake Tovel.
In order to get to Lago di Tovel, you need to visit Italy’s Trentino region. Stay in Val di Non to enjoy its romantic beauty and drive to Lago di Tovel.
5) Plitvice Lakes, Croatia (Plitvice Lakes National Park)
Water so clear that you can see the bottom of the lake – Plitvice Lakes Croatia
How can I write a post about the most beautiful lakes in Europe and not mention the Plitvice Lakes? It is a National Park in Croatia with 16 lakes that are formed on different levels that are interconnected. They are on different levels and as a result there are waterfalls and cascades. These lakes are stunning with insanely clear water. This area is truly a natural wonderland.
The 16 lakes of the Plitvice Lakes complex are divided in two segments – the Upper Lakes and the Lower Lakes. Some of the lakes are really big but in my experience the smaller lakes were better than the bigger ones because you could really see the clarity.
Plitvice Lakes National Park has 7 hiking routes that vary in length. Because of the size of the national park, not all trails cover all the lakes but just 1 of them does. That’s the hiking route we took but it took us all day and we ended up walking for 15-20 kilometers in total. You can also pick one of the smaller trails. I mention all of the Plitvice Lakes’ hiking routes in detail in my post. Be sure to read it before you go.
Maybe you were only looking for Europe’s most beautiful lakes but for me it is an added bonus when you get to enjoy the beauty of the waterfalls too. Yes, you will find a lot of them in this national park.
Sadly you can not swim in the Plitvice Lakes but it is really a good thing because that’s how the water is so clean and the biodiversity is truly protected. These lakes collectively are some of the cleanest lakes in Europe. The water is so clean that you can actually see the bottom of the smaller lakes.
Perhaps the Plitvice Lakes are the most touristy lakes on this list and the crowd peaks in the months of August and July. But you can visit them in other months and that will help you avoid crowds.
For more information, read my post about the Plitvice Lakes where I also mention how to avoid crowds.
6) Seealpsee, Switzerland
Recommended by Continent Hop
Seealpsee Switzerland – Most Beautiful Lakes in Europe
Switzerland’s Seealpsee that’s sat at an altitude of 1141 meters above sea level, is one of the prettiest lakes in Europe. The lake is located amongst the Appenzell Alps in Switzerland and reflects the nearby surroundings like a glass mirror.
To add to the magic, this alpine lake doesn’t get a lot of visitors. The only ones to be found here are ones that head off on the Wasserauen -Seealpsee hike.
You could take a picnic here and in summer possibly go for a boat ride; however, the postcard-perfect location is best enjoyed by taking a walk around it and admiring the dense trees and the glass reflections in the lake while the cows lazily graze around. On some days, the clouds almost descend on the lake, making it look unbelievably stunning.
There’s numerous options for stay here if you’d rather not spend just a single day at the lake.
7) Xhema’s Lake, Valbonë, Albania
Xhema’s Lake in Valbona, Albania – Travel the Balkans – by Robert Figgen
Albania’s Valbonë River and the Albanian Alps create a stunning natural landscape in Valbonë Valley National Park. The most famous lake in national park is Shkodër (Lake Skadar) and that’s massive. But there is a smaller lake in Valbonë village called Xhema’s Lake which is stunning.
It is easy to reach Xhema’s Lake from Valbona village. You will see the signboards in the village itself and from there it is a 30 minute walk. The lake is super clear and blue. The water is icy cold. It is surrounded by limestone cliffs that adds to a strange rugged beauty to this spot.
Please keep in mind that Xhema’s Lake dries up in late summer heat and it is a better idea to see it in spring or early summer. The above picture was clicked in late June. The locals say that the lake is at it’s best in spring because that’s when the winter ice freshly melts and as a result the water is clear blue.
When it comes to lakes, Germany doesn’t have a shortage of them and some of the best ones are in Bavaria. While Bavaria’s Königssee is definitely a more famous one, we’d like to mention Eibsee on this list, which is smaller.
Eibsee is special because not only it has crystal clear water but you can also see the Zugspitze (the highest mountain peak in Germany). It is said to be one of the purest and most beautiful lakes in Bavarian Alps.
You can visit Eibsee in all the seasons, each has something unique to offer. This lovely alpine lake freezes in winter and the water starts melting in spring. Summer is a very good time to visit with a family because the weather is warm. Bonus: you can swim in Eibsee in summer. Autumn can be a really interesting time to visit because of the contrast of warm red leaves against the cold blue water.
The landscape around Eibsee is rocky and you should take some time out to walk around the lake. You can reach Eibsee from Munich. We suggest you read Bayern Ticket Guide by Germany’s travel specialist – Happy to Wander.
9) Lago di Braies, Italy
Lago di Braies or The Pragser Wildsee, or Lake Prags, Lake Braies in North Italy
Did we save the best for the last? Maybe. Yes, it is the second one from Italy on our list and totally deserves to be here because Lago di Braies is one of most beautiful lakes in the Alps. It is also called the Pragser Wildsee.
Lago di Braies is often called the “pearl among the Dolomite lakes”. As with most of the alpine lakes on this list, you can enjoy a surreal landscape of mountains too.
Lago di Braies suddenly became extremely famous because of Instagram. This resulted in a massive spike of visitors and traffic jams. Thankfully there is now a restriction on the number of visitors from 10 am to 3 pm. If you arrive by car, you can only visit if you get a parking place in one of the valley car parks in Fanes-Senes-Braies Nature Park. Another way of visiting would be by booking a bus ticket to the lake in advance from Dobbiaco or Monguelfo. Another option would be to hike from Ferrara to the lake.
During your visit to Lago di Braies, you can take some time out to walk around the lake. The walking path is 4 kms and this way you can get to enjoy the surreal beauty of this lake from different perspectives.
Did something catch your eye? Let us know which one of the above mentioned European lakes you have visited already or are planning on visiting next. Comment and let us know.
It has now been close to five years that I have been living in Germany. The last five years have been extremely eventful. I have learned a new language, lived with Germans, made many friends, traveled within the country, celebrated many festivals, taught Yoga in a studio here and done much more than what can even be put on a list like this.
There have been moments when I have been bewildered by German rules, excited at the start of spring or snow season, hated everything when I missed my home country too much – but most of my moments were spent enjoying the joy of living in this country.
If you’re on this page, then most likely you are considering moving to another country. Is Germany the country for you? Read on to see my experience of living in Germany.
Germany is a Country Full of Rules
Every country has rules for everything, but not everyone follows them. In many cases, the people aren’t even aware of the rules in the first place. Things run very differently in Germany. In fact, things run exactly the way they should.
There is a reason why public systems or many other processes run very efficiently in Germany. It is because the people have a very high regard for the rules and hardly ever break them. There is a process for everything and it is black and white hence highly efficient. If only every other country functioned like this, the world would have been very different.
If you break a rule in Germany, then it is very likely that a fellow resident will point it out to you instead of turning a blind eye. Take it with a smile because they are just trying to help you.
Trash Management is Insane but Awesome
Yeah so almost every developed country and some developing countries have a trash management system that starts with people segregating their trash, but things are a little too extreme in Germany.
Broadly speaking, all households need to sort out their trash into bio, plastic, paper, diaper, glass, old batteries, old electronics, paint, and drink bottles. Yes, you need to segregate trash in these categories in your house. This is a very broad bifurcation because there are many “if”s and “but”s to this segregation in terms of rules.
There are recycling boxes for old clothes and shoes in many parts of the city so you can get rid of everything that you don’t use as long as you plan accordingly.
I don’t know if there’s any country that beats Germany in terms of trash management but I have heard that the Scandinavian countries are pretty good too.
Clean Air and Forest Reserves
Germany is so green
I love how Germany as a country protects and preserves the environment. The country is full of forests. There are plenty of nature reserves and they aren’t just close to small towns but also big cities. Yes, you could be living in a busy city on some 4th floor of an apartment building but you may still be able to find a small forest reserve nearby where you can go for a run and feel alive in the nature.
Everything is Closed on Sundays (+ Holidays)
In most of the countries, offices are closed on Sundays but the big shopping areas are open because that’s when a lot of people finally get the time to step out and buy things. Of course, the things are very different in Germany. Here everything is shut on Sundays. Really, everything.
It took me some time to get used to the fact that there is one day in a week where almost all the shops are closed. Sometimes there is a holiday that’s on Monday or Saturday, so one has to be prepared for two days of supermarket closure and buy the important things from before.
This required a bit of planning from me in the beginning because in India the stores are open literally everyday. Even on Diwali. Yes, this is one of the things that I miss about living in India.
Drinking in Public is Normal
Drinking in Public in Germany is very normal
Yes, shockingly you can drink beer in many public areas in Germany, including trains. No, that doesn’t mean you see wasted people everywhere.
German people know how to handle their alcohol well because beer is a very important part of their culture. They seem to respect the social decorum and you’d hardly ever seen anyone overdoing it unless it is a special occasion. But yes, occasionally you will see people who are drunk as hell.
No Work After Hours: Work Life Balance is Super
Do you have a 9-5 job? It is highly likely that you don’t leave your workplace at exactly 5 everyday. It can be 5:15 on some days or 4:50 on the others. Even after you leave work, it is likely that on some days your team or colleagues will call you or email you about some important work. It is very normal to work after the hours in most countries. It sucks!
Having experienced corporate life in India and the US, the German way of working came as a pleasant surprise to me. If someone’s work ends at 5 pm here, the person WILL leave at 5 pm, and not a minute after that. No boss will call or email after the work hours or on a weekend. That just doesn’t happen in Germany, unless it is a highly exceptional case.
This system really works well in Germany because Germans are highly efficient during their work hours. They really do work like machines because being efficient is in their blood.
Silence on Buses or Trains
Berlin Train Station
Things may be different in bigger cities that are international, but when you travel within a smaller city or a town, you will notice how silent the public places are. Coming from India, this was a big change because on a train in India, you’d normally hear a few people talking excitedly and loudly, a group laughing, somewhere a kid whining and his mother yelling.
Most of the Germans don’t talk loudly and if they are in a public place, they observe an unwritten but mutually understood rule that they’d lower their voices to a level that no one else can hear them.
I do remember traveling with a group of blogger friends on a train in Berlin and all of us were from different countries. Someone from the USA, someone else from the UK, a couple from Spain, and me from India. Yes, all from the countries where people talk loudly. Of course we were the loudest group on the train but we weren’t even talking loudly.
Getting a Doctors Appointment Isn’t Always Easy
This isn’t always the case but it happens a lot. Don’t be surprised if it takes you 6 months to get an appointment with a doctor. Because it is 6 months away, you are highly likely going to forget it and miss it. Good luck getting another appointment within the next few months.
Lovely Old Towns with Fachwerkhäuser
Typical Old Town in Germany with Old Towns with Fachwerkhäuser
Most of the people who travel to Germany end up visiting the most expensive and touristy cities like Munich, Frankfurt, Heidelberg, Hamburg or Cologne. No doubt these cities are lovely but so are the smaller towns.
No matter where you live in Germany, you are never going to be far from old town areas and traditional timber framed houses a.k.a. Fachwerkhäuser. Even my completely under the radar boring town has two breathtaking old town areas with some historical houses. Some of the houses are from as early as 1300 AD.
The old town areas are super dreamy and they will make you feel like you’re starring in your own romantic movie. You will most likely find old buildings, small shops with lovely but expensive handmade things, benches strategically places in scenic spots and an amazing atmosphere.
Talking about the timber framed houses, yes – they exist in other countries too. BUT, as per wikipedia, the country that’s most known for these kind of houses is (drumroll) – Germany.
If you’re traveling within Germany then you will not really face a lot of language barriers. It is only when you start living in the country, you will realize that you will need to learn more than just the basic level German to do things here. I’m talking about paperwork, visiting different government offices like the town hall, tax office, etc.
In order to live in Germany, most of the visas have a prerequisite of basic German language skills. Trust me, you NEED to learn the basic level German, else you will feel stuck.
If you know English, then learning basic German isn’t that difficult because many nouns and verbs are same. What’s different is how the verbs are used and the endless articles. The good thing is, that German words sound exactly how they are written, which can’t be said about a lot of English words. The bad thing is that German language is highly complicated if you compare it to English.
Honestly, it doesn’t matter if you slightly mess up the grammar. If you make an effort to speak a few sentences in German then the locals will highly appreciate it and help you.
Paperwork Never Ends
Get ready to drown in a lot of paperwork if you end up living in Germany. Yes, paperwork exists in every country but in Germany it seems to never get over.
If you live in Germany, you will notice that there’s something new that comes up every month that needs immediate attention. Hence, more paperwork. Thankfully, the paperwork in Germany is pretty straightforward because all the rules and procedures are always black or white.
The Food in Germany
Food in Germany – Schnitzel
Potatoes, meat, eggs, bread and dairy are things that truly rule the German food scene. If you eat in a restaurant in Germany, you will find very limited vegan food options unless it is an Asian restaurant.
In India and many other Asian countries you will find an entire section of vegetarian and vegan dishes, even if it is burgers. I have spent 3 months in the USA and I always noticed a lot of veggie items in the menu too. In comparison, here in Germany you will notice barely 1-2 dishes in the entire menu that are vegetarian and just one out of that would be vegan.
However, when it comes to the availability of vegetables and fruits in the supermarkets, then Germany is awesome. Even the smaller super markets in small towns have German as well as a lot of international produce so you can find almost anything. If you love vegetables as much as I do, you are going to really enjoy cooking while you live in Germany. I didn’t know I could cook before I arrived in Germany!
Trains are Good BUT Expensive
German trains are awesome. They are clean, comfortable, 98% on time and extremely fast. You can travel very easily within Germany and nearby countries on trains. But they aren’t cheap.
It is sometimes cheaper to take a flight than travel by train. In many cases, if you’re looking for an affordable train ticket, you may have to change trains a few times in your journey.
Bicycle Will be Your Best Friend
Cycling in Germany in Spring
Forget driving, or buses but the best way of getting around in Germany is on a bicycle. The bike lanes are everywhere and in many cases you can take an inside “walking / cycle only” path that’s more scenic. You can also take your bicycle on a train and travel to other places within Europe. San and I once also traveled to Amsterdam from our town in Germany on our bicycles.
Carry a lock, learn how to take care of your bicycle and enjoy riding one.
You Can Travel all Over Europe
Us three with van in Croatia – we drove all over Europe with our camper van
I’m sure other Europeans who are reading this would just say – “yeah of course”, but for a non European the ease of traveling within Europe is unbelievable. Yes, one of the best things about living in Germany is the possibly of reaching a new country in just a couple of hours. Not just by air but very easily by road or train without any need for visa paperwork.
Depending on where you live in Germany, a few hours of driving can take you to Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, or the Czechia. If you take a flight, you can reach most of the European countries in just 2 hours. How awesome is that? San and I ended up traveling in most of Europe on our camper van while living in Germany. Check out our post about the most beautiful lakes in Europe.
Tap Water is Safe for Drinking
The tap water in Germany is safe for drinking even in big cities. It is the most controlled beverage in Germany and it should be. I wish it was the same all over the world. Everyone should have the access to clean and safe drinking water from their taps.
Strangely enough, not many Germans that I know drink tap water. They buy bottled water or carbonated drinks and choose to drink that over tap water despite its consequences on the planet (and their health).
Tap water gets tested periodically to check the quality and as per many reports it is as good and sometimes even better than the bottled mineral water.
BUT You Can Never Order Tap Water in Restaurants. Never.
For a country where the tap water is safe for drinking, it is super strange that you can never ask for a glass of it in a restaurant. You are expected to order drinks with your meal and water isn’t always cheap. Also, bottled water creates unnecessary plastic waste.
If You Ask for Water, You Will Most Likely Get Soda
For non-Europeans, water means just water. But that’s not the case with most of the Europeans. If you order water in a restaurant or ask for it somewhere, you will get a glass or a bottle of soda. In some places, they’re nice enough to ask if you want your water with or without bubbles. No, plain water doesn’t have bubbles, that’s soda.
Highways have no toll.. and no speed limit
German highways are awesome. They are very well maintained, have resting stops after every few kilometers and are toll free. The only time we remember ever paying toll was when we used a bridge that connected Germany’s mainland to Rugen island.
Guess what, Germany’s highways are world famous and some people come come here from surrounding countries with their fancy cars. All because the highways (Autobahns) have no speed limit.
School System is Very Weird
There are just a few things that I dislike about Germany and one of them is the school system. It is very weird and it feels wrong. There are separate schools based on the intelligence level. There is a school for very bright kids and only those who finish this school can go to college. Rest others have to go to a school that’s not for the smartest kids. If they fail, they get thrown into a school that’s for below average kids.
I understand that this may be an efficient system for managing education but it is a horrible system for developing smarter all rounded children. In real life, everyone has something to learn from the other. When children aren’t given the opportunity to study with those who are smarter than or not as smart as them, then they will miss out on some important life lessons.
Customer Service Doesn’t Normally Exist
You know what’s the only word that comes to my mind when I think of German customer service? It’s non-existent. Unlike Asia or Americas where the service mantra is that the customer is the king, in Germany it is completely different. Apart from the Deutsche Post and DHL, if you seek help from anyone at any office at any time, they will act as if they are doing YOU a big favor or they will just say no.
You Get to Enjoy All the Seasons
Snowy Winter in Germany
You’re probably thinking – huh, so that’s in many other places. Yes it is but I felt a need to add this here because this is a very big deal for me. You see, while living in New Delhi (India), I thought I was experiencing every season but I realized what I was missing after moving to Germany.
Because Germany is in the Northern Hemisphere, the winter is really cold with shorter days. It doesn’t snow throughout the winter but it does snow at least once or twice per season. When it does, the world turns absolutely magical and white. Because of the extreme winter, spring feels more alive and the sudden burst of color because of the flowers is eye-popping.
Spring in Germany – Rapeseed Flower Field
The summer is warm in Germany and sometimes the temperature can go till 35-40 degree celsius. Those are the times I miss an air conditioner but I made do with a fan here. Right after summer, the autumn season is pretty intense.
Honestly, my first Autumn experience was in Germany. I never realized I was missing out on Autumn beauty in India till the time I moved to Germany. Autumn in Germany is beautiful because there are so many trees everywhere. They all turn yellow, then red and then brown. It is insanely beautiful to see autumn foliage in Germany.
When it Snows, You Gotta Shovel the Sidewalk next to your House
No, I’m not talking about shoveling the driveway – that’s something you will need to do anyway if you want to take out your car after it snows. If you live in a house then most likely it would have a sidewalk for bicycles or pedestrians. In Germany, if anyone walks on the sidewalk next to your house and hurt themself bad if they slip on the snow then it is your responsibility. So, enjoy the snow but keep shoveling the sidewalk.
Don’t get me wrong – this isn’t a rant about Germany but just an observation about how life is different here than my own country. I like the fact that the residents are accountable for the area around their house in the immediate vicinity.
Celebrations and Festivals
Carnival in Germany
I thought India had too many festivals and celebrations but Germany isn’t any different. There’s something that happens every month in Germany. Everyone knows about the Oktoberfest? Well that’s just one of many. There’s the Carnival that’s crazier than anything you can imagine. It is like a psychedelic festival where everyone dresses up crazy and participates.
Christmas time in Germany is like no other. Guess what, many famous international Christmas traditions actually came out of Germany., Santa Claus is from Germany too! Christmas festivities start in Germany at the end of November and last till Christmas.
There’s St Martin where children walk with the lanterns. Apart from this, there are so many smaller monthly celebrations and some are region specific. In my area we celebrate Kirmes, Schützenfest, Medieval Fest, Plum festival and many wine festivals to name a few.
The only time of the year when I haven’t seen any celebrations is between the New Years Eve to Carnival and that’s just one month. Carnival occurs in mid February every year.
Germany Has Bad Internet
You will find it unbelievable but you will find better internet in most places in Asia as compared to Germany. This comes as a shock because Germany is a highly advanced and developed country but the internet situation has evolved in a strange manner.
You see, Germany has an Oligopoly market situation when it comes to the internal. That means, there are just a handful of providers that rule the market. The speed is slow, service is horrible and faster internet is obscenely overprices as compared to many other countries.
Conclusion – Life in Germany – Yay or Nay?
I didn’t particularly love every aspect of living in Germany right away. It took me some time to adjust, and I kept comparing it to life in India. I missed the food, the color, the sensory overload and my people from India. I don’t know how it happened but two years after living in Germany, I started to miss it while I was traveling in India. When I was at the airport, I felt an odd connection to people who were talking in German. This is how I usually felt when I saw Indians talking in India.
Hamburg Nightlife Guide has been written our Germany and Netherlands content specialist – Alara Benlier. This post has been further expanded by the editor.
Young, hip and fun – those are just some words that can describe the “Gateway to the World”, aka Hamburg. Located along the River Elbe, this radiant city has the second busiest harbor in Europe.
Over the years, Hamburg went through a lot of big historical moments. The city’s largest part was destroyed during World War II, but the historical value has been preserved. And today, the city is one of the main cultural hubs in the World. In my opinion, it is Germany’s most interesting city.
Just a random spot in Hamburg – gorgeous like other random spots
Hamburg has a lot to offer if you are someone who has a colorful mind and wild at heart. In Hamburg, you can unearth your creative soul by day and dance like there’s no tomorrow at night. Not only that, Hamburg’s green cityscape with its 2,500 bridges, expressionist architecture, and spectacular botanical gardens will make you never want to leave the city.
Does Hamburg Have a Good Nightlife?
Enough about what Hamburg is all about, let me come to the point. The nightlife in Hamburg is insane! If you don’t believe me, believe the statistics, because Hamburg is ranking higher than Amsterdam, Berlin, and Barcelona when it comes to nightlife! As per a survey by Hostelworld, Hamburg’s nightlife is really the best in Europe.
Hamburg Harbor at night – Hamburg Nightlife Guide
Filled with amazing music venues, wild nightclubs, interesting exhibitions, techno concerts, and cultural events, you can find something for every taste. What’s better is that there’s a typical Hamburg style thing to do right after the party in the early morning hours. I won’t won’t spill all the beans here, but you can read about this in the “party like a local” section.
Whatever your idea of fun, Hamburg seems to have always the right alternatives, both day and night. This young and multicultural city is definitely suitable for all ages and all budgets, with many cheap (some even free!) alternatives. Not just Europe, Hamburg is one of the best places in the world for an epic night out. With its outstanding bars and nightclubs for every budget, this lively port city offers a crazy night out experience for every taste.
Whether with its famous red-light and party district of St Pauli (with wild Reeperbahn), or alternative Sternschanze, Hamburg offers one of the best experiences to everyone, no matter your gender or age.
Hamburg Nightlife Tips + Info
What Time Do the Clubs Close in Hamburg?
Germans love to party and their typical party starts and ends very late. It isn’t unusual for the bars to remain open till the wee hours of morning. Nightclubs go a step further and in some places, the party really begins after 1 am. Many Bigger clubs (like Grosse Freiheit 36) aren’t open on all days of the week and are functional on mostly Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Most clubs remain open till 6:30 am on Friday and Saturday nights and till 4 am on
Which part of Hamburg has the best nightlife?
Everyone knows that the hub of nightlife in Hamburg is the St. Pauli district. This district also contains Reeperbahn, which is Hamburg’s red-light district. Hamburg’s St. Pauli attracts tourists at any time of day or night, with a wide choice of entertainment for all tastes.
If you walk all the way through St.Pauli, you will reach the World-famous Reeperbahn, which is almost a kilometer long road full of bars, night clubs, theatres, and burlesque shows! If you are looking for alternative vibes, you have to check out the Sternschanze.
The best part is, it is just further from the Reeperbahn. With its entirely different atmosphere, you can enjoy many trendy cafés and cocktail bars. If you can’t choose where to party, here is the extensive Hamburg nightlife guide!
Most of Hamburg’s nightclubs can be found in bizarre but extremely cool locations. Even Hamburg’s famous river, the River Elbe, is a nightlife location with swimming bars and clubs in many fancy ships for party people! You can probably have fun anywhere in Hamburg, but there are some cult places that you shouldn’t be missing out on.
Where to Stay in Hamburg for Nightlife?
Our private room in Superbude St. Pauli, Hamburg
The best place to stay in Hamburg to experience the nightlife is Superbude St Pauli. You can get private rooms and dorm beds – whatever works for you. The place is hip, vibrant and completely matches the vibe of Hamburg. I can not think of a better place to stay in Hamburg than this.
The best part about Superbude is the location. It is directly in St. Pauli, you can walk for barely 2 minutes and you will reach the boho Sternschanze. If you walk in the other direction, you will reach the red light area – Reeperbahn. Want to know more? Read my blog post about my experience in Superbude.
Getting Around: Hamburg Public Transport
The buses in Hamburg have bookshelves full of books
It’s very easy to travel within the city, that’s why the public transport in Hamburg is the most popular method of getting around. You can use the metro trains – S-Bahn and U-Bahn (underground) to reach literally anywhere. Buy a ticket at the Ticket Automat at the station and make sure you validate the ticket using the machines at the station before boarding.
There are also many frequent buses both during the day and night. So, you don’t have to worry about how to reach your accommodation, after a wild night out. A special night bus – “Nachtbus” connects the city centre with the far off districts.
Guess what – as of this year, you can also use Uber in Hamburg. If you didn’t know, Uber is an app that connects taxi drivers to passengers. Uber rides are much cheaper than normal cabs and you can easily call one using just the app on your phone.
Experience the Nightlife in Hamburg Like a Local
Before beginning this epic list of nightclubs, let’s talk about the inevitable truth about having a crazy night out, the next morning, aka hangovers. And trust me, even the locals have excruciating hangovers! But of course, Germans made even hangovers a tradition.
To experience Hamburg’s nightlife just like the locals, you have to go to “Der Fischmarkt” – the fish market, after partying. There, you will meet a lot of crazy party people.
Der Fischmarkt – Hamburg Fish Market
While you’re in the Fischmarkt, be sure to eat the traditional bun with Fischfrikadelle, which is basically a fish cutlet with bread. It is yummy. (Or as Germans say, lecker). Oh, and let’s not forget the beer on the side! Not my personal hangover cure, but it is the tradition. So, when in Rome do as the Romans do!
Best time to visit Hamburg
Located in northern Germany, Hamburg tends to have a gloomy weather, so the best time to visit Hamburg is during the summer. Moreover, there are many street parties and open air festivals during summer. Some of the most famous street parties are Bergedorfer Stadtfest in Bergedorf, Osterstraßenfest in Eimsbüttel, and Schanzenfest in Schanzenviertel.
Open Air Festivals or Parties
A typical open air festival or a party is usually referred to as just “open air” in Germany. If you like rock music, you should check out the Wutzrock festival thats lasts for 3 days in August. Another notable festival is Vogelball, which literally just translates into “Bird Ball”. You can let your inner creativity show by dressing up in feathers. During easter, you can check out the Oster open air. Other open air festivals and parties are Wilhelmsburg, Come Dance, Humpty Dumpty and Dockville.
Hamburg Neighborhoods to Experience the Nightlife
St Pauli – the Nightlife hub
The Lively St. Pauli in Hamburg
The famous red-light and party district, which is also known as St Pauli, is at the heart of Hamburg. During the day, this district is very cool, but here comes to life after midnight.
Did you know that the Beatlesmania actually started in Hamburg? It all began right here in St Pauli. With its erotic bars, sex shops, old sailors’ pubs, and hip discos, here offers something for everyone. It is great for every budget too, you can find many cheap student bars or fancy cocktail bars in every corner.
Just a quick tip: if you end up in an erotic bar, be careful about the ladies inside. They might charge you for a lot of stuff (like walking with you inside the bar, drinking with you, etc.)
Reeperbahn – the Sin Street
Dollhouse and other clubs in Reeperbahn – Hamburg’s Red Light area
Along the calm Elbe river and located within St Pauli, Reeperbahn has always been a hot-spot for entertainment. This historic ropemakers’ district was a very popular destination for seamen, who were looking for some fun at night.
During the 1960s, the red light district turned into a very exciting spot for musicians as well. The legends like The Beatles, The Jets, and Rory Storm and The Hurricanes performed here. Today, you can still find many live-music venues, but also nightclubs, bars, and restaurants. If that is not enough, you can enjoy many art galleries, cabarets, and theatres!
Don’t have enough time to go through each of them? Well, then you have to check out the Panoptikum wax figure museum, the Beatles monument, Große Freiheit street, and Hans-Albers-Platz, or if you are only interested in drinking, you can simply join a pub crawl.
If you love outdoor concerts or markets, you also need to check out the Spielbudenplatz, which is a large square at the center of the Reeperbahn.
Also in late September, Reeperbahn hosts a massive festival full of amazing concerts, art exhibitions, and a music industry convention annually! This festival attracts around 25,000 visitors each year, so if you are visiting Hamburg in late September, you have to check out the amazing Reeperbahn Festival.
Sternschanze – the Boho Zone
Sternschanze – right outside Superbude St. Pauli hostel
Just a short walk from the Reeperbahn, you will be in an entirely different atmosphere, because the Sternschanze will salute you with its boho and leftist vibes. In here, you can check out the multicultural Karoviertel, which is known for its trendy cafés and cocktail bars.
Get yourself a yummy bite to eat, because the food here is more affordable than other areas. I recommend a place called Fischimbiss. You will most likely meet a lot of Erasmus students, and tourists here. If the weather is good, you can join the people who will be partying out on the streets too.
Best Hamburg Clubs & Bars
As per Lonely Planet, Hamburg’s party places can be broadly segregated into pubs, cafe-bars, cocktail bars, music bar, brewery bars, and nightclubs. We don’t want to confuse you with an exhaustive list, so here’s a short and curated list of best places to party in Hamburg:
Docks, St Pauli [Techno, House and R&B]
Opened in the early 1900s as a cinema with a capacity of more than 1500 people, today, the Docks is one of the most famous clubs in Hamburg. And not only the visitors love this crazy nightclub, but also the bands. The world-famous metal band Metallica called the Docks the “damn best club in the world” when they performed in 1997.
In this entrancing nightclub, you can enjoy Trance, Techno, House and R’n’B music every Friday and Saturday night. So, if you want to dance till the morning where some of the greatest music artists like the Red Hot Chili Peppers, David Bowie, Bob Dylan, and Black Sabbath have performed, then you have to check out the Docks!
Grosse Freiheit 36, Reeperbahn [Multi Sectional]
Grosse Freiheit 36, Reeperbahn – Best Hamburg Clubs
By far the most popular club in Hamburg is the world-famous Grosse Freiheit 36 club. This epic club is known as a real nightlife hub in Hamburg for years. With its extravagant live concerts, the Grosse Freiheit 36 has been attracting many party people for more than four decades. The club owes its fame to the epic band, the Beatles, which was also performed in this venue.
The Grosse Freiheit 36 has three separate sections; the Galerie 36, Kaiserkeller, and the Grosse Freiheit 36. The Galeria 36 is located on the upper floor and can be reached via its own entrance from the outside. In this section of the club, you will find a cocktail bar and exciting art exhibitions. You can enjoy many delicious cocktails and shop for amazing art pieces, while listening to exotic Latin music.
The second section is the Kaiserkeller. This is where the epic band, the Beatles have performed for 6 hours. Today, the concert stage of the Great Freedom 36 offers a forum for young musicians. With a good mixture of gothic, metal, rock, hip-hop and chart parties, the Kaiserkeller turns into a popular party location at the weekend.
Last but not least, Große Freiheit 36! You might have heard the name of the club from the famous movie called “Große Freiheit Nr. 7” from director Hans Albers. But today, with over 100 concerts annually, various wild parties and event programs, here is one of the best-known clubs both in Germany and internationally.
Golden Pudel Club, St. Pauli [Underground]
Golden Pudel is small underground club that’s right next to the fish market (Der Fischmarkt) in St. Pauli. This place is for serious party goers who can handle being in a small room that’s packed with people. This place is open almost everyday till 6 am in the morning.
This club has quite a history. It was once a smugglers’ prison and later turned into an underground club. The building caught fire and it was non operational for many years but then it reopened.
Südpol, Süd Hamburg [Techno]
Love techno? Then Südpol is the place for you. Many say it is the best techno club in Hamburg and has the most amazing atmosphere. Just like Berlin’s Berghain, the queues outside Südpol can be extremely long. It isn’t very easy to get inside, so make sure you’re not overly drunk and overdressed – else you may be denied entry.
If you somehow manage to enter, congratulations – you’re one of the few. At the point of entry, your cell phone camera will be taped by the security to ensure you do not click photos.
Prinzenbar,St. Pauli [Electronic and Rock]
In 1906, part of this Art Nouveau discos premises belonged to one of the first cinemas in Germany, the Kinosaal Spielbudenplatz 19. With this history and the partly preserved interior, the ambiance of this dazzling club captivates its visitors.
With ornaments in stucco and chandeliers hanging from the high vaulted ceiling, the Prinzenbar offers a very interesting experience to not only the party people, but also photographers and filmmakers.
In Prinzenbar, you can enjoy electronic and rock music, a large selection of concerts on the crowded dance floor. The prices also don’t break the bank. You can enjoy the live performance of many young musicians by paying a modest admission price.
Fundbureau, Sternschanze [Punk, Jazz, Hip-Hop, Reggae and Electro]
Being originally a lost and found office, today, the Fundbureau is known as one of the busiest underground clubs in Hamburg. With its vaulted ceiling, walls covered with graffiti, and the narrow corridors, this nightclub offers a great atmosphere for party people.
In the Fundbureau, you can enjoy live popular DJ shows or wild live concerts. If you are lucky, you can also attend the clubs famous Datschaparty, which is a themed party organized by the club itself! At the Datschaparty, you can taste many different Russian beers, vodkas, and local produce while listening to electronic music.
Uebel und Gefährlich, St. Pauli
Looking for unforgettable concerts and long nights of dancing? Then you have to check out the famous Uebel & Gefährlich. In this massive nightclub, you can attend many fascinating concerts, wild parties, and interesting events.
This nightclub stands out from other famous nightclubs in Hamburg by its breathtaking view over the roofs of Hamburg. Located on the fourth floor, Uebel & Gefährlich is divided into three locations which host 1000 people; the ballroom, the tower room, and the roof terrace. And if you are into techno and 20s jazz, you have to check out this amazing nightclub.
Cotton Club, Alter Steinweg [Jazz]
If you are into jazz music, then you have to check out the Cotton Club. This legendary club is the oldest and most famous jazz clubs in Hamburg. In the Cotton Club, you can get to enjoy an exquisite program full of the finest exponents of Trad, Ragtime and Dixieland jazz from both national and international artists.
The program usually starts around 20.30 with a welcoming atmosphere. So, if you would like to enjoy great musicians like the Schnelsen Stompers, the Hot Shots, and the Boogie Connection while sipping your drink, then you have to check out the House of jazz in Hamburg, the Cotton Club!
Mojo Club, Reeperbahn [Mainstream]
Back in the 1990s, Mojo Club was the most popular place to party in Germany. It was the place to be if you loved clubbing. Like Massive Attack? They performed here too. Mojo Club closed in 2003 but then reopened in 2013 in a basement under “Tanzende Türme” – the dancing towers. Today it is the place to be to if you like jazz, alternative rock, and dub. You can also sometimes hear the 90s music and Bossa Nova.
Bar Hamburg, St. Georg
Want to chill with Robert De Niro on one of the chicest bars in Hamburg? Then, you have to check out the celebrity bar, aka the Bar Hamburg. In this bar, you can hang out with international stars, while choosing the best cocktail from 90 other cocktails. Whether you are looking for a chill night out or crazy dance parties, you can have them both in Bar Hamburg.
The party boat – Ms Hedi / Frau Hedis Tanzkaffee, St Pauli
I know partying on the famous nightclubs is a must, but have you wondered how cool it would be if you can party on a boat while gazing at the spectacular view of Hamburg? If yes, then you have to check out the party boats!
These tour boats offer parties or some kind of fun programs every night. If you are into live music performances, you can attend the party boat on every Tuesdays and Thursdays, or enjoy DJ performances on the other days of the week. Another cool thing about the party boat is that you can hop and hop off any time you want! The prices don’t break the bank either.
How to Reach Hamburg
Hamburg has 4 airports, so it’s not hard to get in here. You can fly to Hamburg from any major European city, with cheap flights.
If you are traveling within Germany or from any other close countries, environmental friendly options like trains, or buses like Flixbus are also nice alternatives. Hamburg is also only three hours away by bus from Berlin.
Did follow our nightlife recommendations for Hamburg?
My name is Alara Benlier, and I am a passionate traveler who is in a constant search for delicious foods and historical places. Currently living in Germany, I visited many places in Europe and met lots of lovely people from different cultures. Before Germany, I lived in Rotterdam for a year and traveled all around the Netherlands. I am excited to share all my experiences in Drifter Planet.
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Jasmund National Park is on Reugen Island, which is the biggest island in Germany. It is on Germany’s Baltic Coast in Mecklenburg-Vorpommerns state. In Germany, the Baltic Sea is called the Ostsee and Reugen Island is called Insel Rügen.
Having lived in Germany for a while, I had no idea about this island. Even when talking about Germany’s beaches, most of the people mention Nordsee – or the North Sea. Not many people end up visiting Rügen Island, but those who do absolutely love it.
Introducing Jasmund National Park and the Chalk Cliffs
Jasmund National Park is famous for its dramatically high chalk cliffs. The chalk cliffs go as high as 160 meters above the sea level. The chalk cliffs are along the coast, so the chalk coast runs from Sassnitz via Lohme to Glowe. There is also a beech forest behind the cliffs.
Baltic Sea Coast in Jasmund National Park on Rugen Island
Reugen Island is pretty big and there’s a lot more to see and do here apart from just Jasmund National Park. This post however only focuses on the smallest national park of Germany – Jasmund National Park.
One of the Chalk Cliffs of Jasmund National Park along the Baltic Coast, Germany
The chalk cliffs of Jasmund National park are eroding continuously. Wissower Klinken, one of the most beautiful parts of Jasmund National Park collapsed in 2005 because of a landslide. Chalk being a porous and soft sedimentary carbonate rock, can not withstand aggressive storms. [/box]
How to Reach Jasmund National Park
Wild Poppy field on Rugen Island and a car with a caravan in the background
The easiest way to read Jasmund National Park is by road. Drive your own car or rent one to reach here. Here’s a search engine for cars where you can find cheap rentals. We actually did this trip on our camper-van – check out these tips for Van Life Europe. Now you must be thinking how is that possible if Jasmund National Park is on an island, no? Well, there is a bridge that connects Reugen Island with mainland Germany.
In order to reach Jasmund National Park by road, you have to drive to Stralsund town and from there drive over Germany’s longest bridge, called the Rügenbrücke. After entering the island, you have to follow the signs to Jasmund National Park – it is that easy. The national park is on the North East of the island.
If you’re looking for a way to reach Rugen Island by train, then please note that the journey isn’t exactly easy or cheap. You have to first reach the closest town Stralsund and from there catch a train to Sassnitz. You can also take a train to Ostseebad Binz, but that is a little outside Jasmund National Park but on the Rugen island.
The thing is, if you’re traveling anywhere in Germany, it is much easier if you drive. The trains are expensive and sometimes you have to change many. Trains make sense when you’re heading to a big city like Berlin / Hamburg / Frankfurt, etc. Check out our post about 5 amazing short road trips in Germany.
What to do in Jasmund National Park
1) See Königsstuhl (the King’s Chair)
The King’s Chair or Königsstuhl in Jasmund National Park
At 118 meters above the sea level, Königsstuhl is one of the highest chalk cliffs in Jasmund National Park. Königsstuhl means “King’s Chair”. This spot is the most famous point of the entire national park.
Once you enter the Königsstuhl National Park Centre, you can climb the narrow granite staircase to a flat area that’s almost the top of the cliff. From here, you can get an amazing view of the Baltic Sea.
There is also a small museum inside that provides information about Jasmund National Park’s history, flora, and fauna. Entering Jasmund National Park is free but if you want to go inside Königsstuhl National Park Centre, you will have to pay a small fee.
You can also see the Königsstuhl from the water. Some boat tours can take you along the chalk coast and you can see the Königsstuhl from another perspective.
View of the Königsstuhl from the Baltic Sea
Honestly, if your motive is just to see and admire the King’s Chair cliff, I’d recommend you skip entering the Königsstuhl National Park Centre. You can’t see the Königsstuhl from there. For a free and faster option, see the next point.
Admiring the view from Victoria-Sicht in Jasmund National Park
When you enter the Königsstuhl National Park Centre, you can’t really see the Königsstuhl because you’re on top of it. However, the best spot to see the Königsstuhl is Victoria-Sicht.
Victoria-Sicht translates to Victoria’s view or Victoria viewpoint, is right next to the Königsstuhl. You can choose not to enter the Königsstuhl National Park Centre but head to the Victoria-Sicht directly to see the amazing view. Even the Lonely Planet says that this is the best spot to see Königsstuhl.
If you’re short on time (or money), I’d recommend you avoid going inside the Königsstuhl National Park Centre but head to Victoria-Sicht instead. There are many benches where you can sit and relax.
Königsstuhl or the King’s Chair in Jasmund National Park
The viewing platform on Victoria-Sicht is pretty small. At one time just one person can stand and look. You can also spot the Königsstuhl viewing deck from Victoria-Sicht.
In case you want to click photos or create a video, then you should come here early. I remember I was here around midday and I stood on the viewing platform and clicked barely just five photos. When I turned around, I noticed there was actually a queue behind me. I couldn’t, of course, be shameless and hog this spot and let everyone else wait.
Jasmund Park’s chalk cliffs get all the attention but the Beech forest should not be overlooked. This particular forest is centuries old and is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The forest inside Jasmund National Park has many trails, which can be explored by walking or cycling. We were here with our 7 month old baby so we decided to walk with her on the pram.
The Beech Forest in Jasmund National Park
As you walk inside the forest, you will cross ponds and small lakes. You will also notice several patches of wildflowers, especially wild poppies. Of course, this totally depends on the season. We visited in the month of June.
Wild Poppy field in Jasmund National Park, Germany
One of the first things that amazed us about Jasmund National Park was the abundance of wildflowers, especially poppies. We saw many poppy fields that looked stunning from a distance, like a sea of blood (eww but looked fab).
If you love photographing flower fields, then you will love these poppy fields. I have seen many flower fields but I will never forget the stunning sight of red poppy fields
5) Herthasee (Hertha Lake) and Herthaburg
View from the Herthaburg over the Herthasee in Jasmund National Park on Rügen Island by Lapplaender – [cc-by-sa-2.0-de] via Wikimedia Commons
Herthasee is not very far from the Königsstuhl and we crossed it on our way back to Kruger Nature Camp from Victoria’s view. It is 170 meters long and 140 meters wide. This lake also has a Slavic hill fort – Herthaburg which was inhabited between 8th and 12th century.
I wasn’t very impressed with this lake and I think it is avoidable if you don’t have enough time. Of course in our case, if we had another few days and if our little baby wasn’t restless at this point, maybe we would have loved the Herthasee.
6) Waterfall at Kieler Shore
It is said that the waterfall at Kieler Bach is the biggest one in the entire Mecklenburg Vorpommerns state. We did not visit this waterfall but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. This point is on this list so that you are aware of this waterfall’s existence and you can include it in your itinerary.
The view from Ernst-Moritz-Arndt-Sicht in Jasmund National Park – CC0 by micpicee via Pixabay
The Ernst-Moritz-Arndt-Sicht or viewpoint can be reached by getting on the path that connects Sassnitz with the Königsstuhl. You will also see the remains of Wissower Klinken on this path.
The Ernst-Moritz-Arndt viewpoint is towards the south of Jasmund National Park. I wasn’t able to find this spot on Google Maps but you will see it on local maps. You can find more information about this viewpoint here.
The Ernst-Moritz-Arndt-Sicht or viewpoint in Jasmund National Park
Where to Stay in Jasmund National Park
Kruger Naturecamping in Jasmund National Park
If you’re visiting Jasmund National Park on your camper van or car, then you should definitely book a spot in Krüger Naturcamping (or Kreuger Nature Camping in English). This place is HUGE with really big individual camping / van parking per van. Perhaps the biggest I have ever seen. Exactly as the name suggests, you’re in the middle of nature in Krüger Naturecamping.
Early morning deer sighting in Jasmund National Park – do you see the antlers?
If you’re staying in Krüger, then you’re not far from Königsstuhl. You don’t even have to get out of the camping area to go there. There is a path that goes from the inside of Krüger Naturecamping that will take you to the Königsstuhl and Victoria-Sicht.
Krüger has a restaurant, kitchen area, play area of children and really good toilets that are new. I did not use the restaurant because it was closed when we were there.
Red Sky in Jasmund National Park near Krugar Nature Camping
There is a good sunset spot that’s right outside Krüger Naturecamping. In order to find it, you just have to get out of the camping area and move on the right side. There’s a very small hill with a bench where you can sit. This bench directly faces west, so it is a perfect spot for sunset.
Bench near Krugar Nature Camping in Jasmund National Park – ideal for sunsets
Not interested in camping areas?No worries. Below are some more places inside Jasmund National Park. I haven’t stayed in these places personally but I have handpicked them for you based on the word of mouth and reviews by other travelers: