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Major cities in Germany

Thriving metropolises and charming ancient German towns

How do you describe the major cities in Germany? By size, attractions or popularity?
Here you get quick info about the largest German cities: Berlin, Hamburg, Cologne, Frankfurt and Munich. Plus, I introduce you to less-known places, including my personal favourite cities and towns.

German cities have an interesting history, and often a well-preserved historic centre, die Altstadt (old town). Impressive town halls (Rathaus), ancient churches and medieval fortification walls. There is a lot to discover for visitors interested in history and architecture.

fountain statue at roemer square
Fountain of justice (Gerechtigkeitsbrunnen) at the Römer square in Frankfurt.

But there is much more that adds to the fascination of the major German cities: museums and culture, great shopping opportunities, thriving nightlife and lots of fun!
What are you waiting for? Find the German city you would love to visit!

The six largest cities in Germany

Four cities have a population of over 1 million (December 2014), yet another ten cities have more than 500,000 inhabitants. About 80 cities are called Großstadt with a population of more than 100,000.

Berlin         Hamburg         Munich         Cologne         Frankfurt         Stuttgart            Travel Tips

My Favourite Cities

Don't nail me down on this list! When I start thinking, there are many more cities and towns I dearly love. I will definitely introduce you to all those lovely places in the future.

Aachen         Freiburg         Heidelberg         Bamberg         Rothenburg ob der Tauber         Dinkelsbühl         Wernigerode         Schwäbisch Hall

To jump to the quick overview of any of these German cities, click on a link above.

The Top 6 German Cities by Population

reichstag building
The Reichstag in Berlin


Size: 891 km²     Population: 3.484.995

The history of Germany's capital has been full of changes during the centuries. Berlin was capital of the Kingdom of Prussia (1701-1918), the German Empire (1871-1918), the Weimar Republik (1919-1933) and the Third Reich (1933-1945).

After World War II East Berlin became capital of East Germany. West Berlin, well, it was an enclave of West Germany (but not the capital), surrounded by the Berlin Wall.
Since the German reunification in 1990 Berlin has been the capital of Germany again, although it took until 1999 that the German government moved from Bonn to Berlin.
And yes, it is now the biggest city again, by size and population.

One third of Berlin's area is covered by forests, lakes, gardens and rivers. It is easy to escape the hustle and bustle of the city centre and relax in the beautiful environments around Berlin.
Discover Berlin's attractions

view of hamburg habour and the michel
Hamburg harbour and the Michel


Size: 755 km²     Population: 1.770.162

Hamburg, Germany's second largest city is also our "harbour to the world".
Although the harbour on the river Elbe is about 110 km inland from the North Sea, Hamburg's harbour is influenced by the tides. The flood disaster of 1962 with a death toll of 315 in Hamburg actually caused more damage in the city than along the coastline.

The harbour is one of the biggest attractions in Hamburg. During the 19th & early 20th century, the famous "Landungsbrücken" have seen millions of emigrants leaving Germany to make a fortune in the "new world" of America.
The old store house district (Speicherstadt), the Reeperbahn (red light district) and the Binnenalster are famous places to visit.

frauenkirche in munich
Famous Frauenkirche in Munich

Munich - München - Bavaria

Size: 310 km²     Population: 1.429.584     Capital of Bavaria

Well-known for the "Hofbräuhaus" and the "Oktoberfest" around the world, Munich is a popular tourist destination.

Most highlights of Munich are within the old city centre, between the Karlstor and Isartor. The "Frauenkirche" is the best known sight.
Munich's heart is the Marienplatz with the new townhall in neo-gothic style.

Discover Munich's attractions and fantastic tours

thr river rhine and cologne cathedral
Cologne cathedral and Hohenzollern bridge

Cologne - Köln - North Rhine-Westphalia

Size: 405 km²     Population: 1.046.680

Cologne's landmark is the huge cathedral, the largest gothic church north of the alps. The twin towers are 157m high. Enjoy stunning views over Köln from a viewing platform on the southern tower.
Stroll around the old town, and relax in one of the typical taverns over a local "Kölsch" beer.

The cracy days of Kölner Karneval (carnival in Cologne) start on the Thursday before Ash Wednesday every year. Fancy dressed people party in public, street parades, and pubs that won't close for six days, carnival in Köln is one big party.
If you don't want to take part in the fun, you better avoid Cologne during this week.

When you visit Cologne in Dezember, don't miss the many Christmas markets in the city.

river main and the cathedral in frankfurt
Scenery at the river Main in Frankfurt

Frankfurt - Hessen

Size: 248 km²     Population: 717.624

Frankfurt's importance as a trade centre dates back to the 12th century.
Today it is the seat of the main national and European bank headquarters. The annual book fare (Buchmesse) is the largest in the world.
Museums, culture, history and shopping opportunities abonund. Frankfurt offers a lot to its visitors.

Find the top sights and attractions in Frankfurt on this page.

new castle in stuttgart
The new palace in Stuttgart

Stuttgart - Baden-Württemberg

Size: 207 km²     Population: 612.441     Capital of Baden-Württemberg

The Schwabenmetropole (Swabian metropolis) is home of Daimler and Porsche, and a major industrial region.

However, Stuttgart's location in Neckar valley, surrounded by hills, vineyards and forests, gives the city a green and lush appearance. Stuttgart offers a lot of charme to its visitors.

Schlossplatz with the new palace is the central meeting place in Stuttgart, while the Königstrasse (King Street) is a long pedestrian mall and shopping paradise.

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My favourite cities in Germany

Aachen - North Rhine-Westphalia

Size: 160 km²     Population: 243.336

beautiful coffin

Charlemagne's coffin in the cathedral of Aachen

Germany's westernmost city is close to the Belgian and Netherland borders. Aachen is an ancient spa city, and an important place in German history.

Aachen was the favourite place of Charlemagne (Karl dem Grossen) who built a palatine chapel in 792. The chapel was part of Charlemagne's residence at that time. It is now part of the Kaiserdom (cathedral).
For 600 years the chapel was the church of coronation for German kings. Aachen is place steeped in fascinating history.

Freiburg - Baden-Württemberg

Size: 153 km²     Population: 222.203

al fresco restaurant area in freiburg

Freiburg im Breisgau is one of Germany's sunniest city, located in the southwest on the foothills of the black forest.

Freiburg has one of the oldest universities, a lovely old city centre, and several malls. Freiburg is known as an eco-city. You'll see more bicycles than cars in the city centre. Stroll around this relaxed city, enjoy the outdoor eateries and the sunny weather. If I could choose, I would live in Freiburg.

Read more about Freiburg Germany.

Heidelberg - Baden-Württemberg

Size: 108 km²     Population: 154.715

neckar, old bridge and heidelberg castle
The famous Heidelberg panorama

With its castle, the old town, and the beautiful location on the river Neckar, Heidelberg has been the epitome of German romanticism for centuries.
Heidelberg's university is the oldest in Germany, founded in 1386.

Explore Heidelberg's # 1 attraction, the beautiful castle.

Bamberg - Bavaria

Size: 54 km²     Population: 71.952

rose garden bamberg

Bamberg: New Residence, rosegarden & Kloster St. Michael

Like Rome, Bamberg has been built on seven hills which are part of the Steigerwald mountains. Bamberg is listed on the UNESCO World Heritage list for its authentic medieval appearance.

Explore an ancient city full of flair. Take a boat tour on the river Regnitz to appreciate Klein-Venedig (Little Venice), a picturesque row of restored fisher houses along the river.

Try the local specialty Rauchbier (smoked beer) in the Schlenkerla tavern where the beer is brewed. Discover Bamberg, the perl of old cities in Germany.

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Rothenburg ob der Tauber - Bavaria

Size: 42 km²    Population: 10.979

lively street in rothenburg

Herrengasse, Rothenburg

It is one of the best-known medieval cities in Germany, and loved by travellers from around the world.
Stay at least one day/night in Rothenburg to discover all the hidden treasures. Late afternoon and early mornings are the best times to explore, before the busses with day-visitors arrive.

Find more information about Rothenburg and a picture gallery

Dinkelsbühl - Bavaria

Size: 170 km²    Population: 11.389

row of historic houses in dinkelsbühl

Weinmarkt in Dinkelsbühl

This beautiful medieval town is my favourite on the Romantic Road. The colourful houses, the fortification wall and towers are just marvellous.
Like in Rothenburg ob der Tauber, you can join the night-watchman and discover the history and get insights about beautiful Dinkelsbühl.

Wernigerode - Saxony-Anhalt

Size: 75 km²    Population: 33.319

wernigerode castle

The castle in Wernigerode

Colourful half-timber houses, narrow lanes, the famous city hall and the castle, these are the main attractions in this picturesque city at the northern edge of the Harz mountains.

Schwäbisch Hall - Baden-Württemberg

Size: 104 km²    Population: 37.952

schwäbisch hall

Schwäbisch Hall

This historic city in the northeast of Baden-Württemberg is absolutely stunning. Visitors can explore so much in the city, beautiful old houses, the market square with the open-air staircase at St. Michael's Church, the scenery along the Kocher river.

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Travel Tips

Travel By Train

Discover the cities in Germany by train. It is stress-free, and a lot of fun.

rural train station and train

See my train travel guide for the useful tips

Guided Tours

Activities and fantastic tours to many attractions start in major cities. Join a tour, relax, and enjoy the amazing sights.

tour bus in frankfurt

Check out guided tours from Viator starting in

Berlin    Frankfurt    Munich

or see my tour page to plan your holiday in Germany

Hotels in Germany

Accommodation is plentiful, you can choose from a wide range of hotels, holiday flats and guest houses.

German Cities - Impressions

historic gate

Old Bridge Gate - Heidelberg

The first bridge over the Neckar was mentioned 1288 and build from wood.
The stone bridge you see today was built 1788, destroyed during WW II, and reconstructed 1947. It is a landmark in Heidelberg.
statue of the hammering man in frankfurt

The Hammering Man - Frankfurt

Jonathan Borofsky designed the kinetic sculptures series which can be seen in many cities around the world.
The 23 m Hammering Man in front of the Messe Tower in Frankfurt is one of the largest of the series.
tall ship

Tall Ship - Hamburg Harbour

I always get the travel bug when I see ships in a harbour.

Market place in Butzbach


More German cities and attractions that might interest you

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