It is difficult to compile a ranking of the most beautiful German cities, especially when moving to Germany. That’s because every tourist, immigrant, and even every German prefers a different German city. All big cities in Germany provide a wide variety of restaurants, architecture and culture. It’s the nuances that make the difference. Primarily, the local habits, traditions, and customs make the different cities unique. In addition to that, a Bavarian, for example, especially the older ones, could hardly imagine moving to Hamburg or Berlin. Similarly, a north German would probably not move to the south if he didn’t have to. So the best advice is to take a close look at the cities and then make your choice.
The Bavarians will, of course, call Munich the most beautiful city, while a Hanseatic city probably won’t let go of its beloved Hamburg. For many, not just young people, Berlin is surely the place to be. Perhaps that’s why many expats in Germany prefer moving to Berlin when starting their stay in the nation. In the past decade, cities in the east of Germany have grown into lovely places like Leipzig, and of course, Dresden. The difficulty in this ranking is with each one’s personal preference, which means considering what kind of city I prefer. In all the bigger cities in Germany like Berlin, Hamburg, Munich, Frankfurt, Cologne, Düsseldorf, Leipzig, and Dresden, you can enjoy a well-developed nightlife. Each of these cities has numerous sights, which makes each city interesting for different persons. For instance, if moving to Munich is on the cards, you would do well to know a few things about the city. To begin with, Munich is well-known for the Oktoberfest and its numerous beer gardens, which are the places to be during spring and summer. Then, you do have the English Garden where people like to meet all year long. But people in Munich are sometimes unfriendly in the beginning, though that’s sort of a Bavarian tradition. But if they get to know you, they’ll soon become very warm-hearted. If you like winter sports, Munich is the ideal city because the Alps are pretty close, which let many go there just for one day. Another fun fact about this town is the “Schicki-Micki” or “Bussi, Bussi” society. You are called this way if you like to dress well, spend money in fancy restaurants, and simply try to look as good as possible.
Munich: Heart of Bavaria
The completely opposite of Munich is supposed to be Hamburg. Though it’s as beautiful as Munich, the city is different than other big German cities. Its inhabitants are often regarded as a bit stuffy and conservative by the rest of Germany. It means they are not as open-minded as others. But this is a typical prejudice. It is right that they are not very friendly in the beginning, but that can change within minutes. The complete opposite of Munich and a must-do activity in the city is visiting the Hamburger fish market. It opens every Sunday at 5 o’clock and all fishmongers of Hamburg are there to get the freshest fish. But basically, everyone can visit it. There, you can get to meet the “normal” people of the city. Another place everybody should visit at least once is the world-famous Reeperbahn. Known for its extensive nightlife, it has to offer something for everybody. In addition, Hamburg has a fantastic harbour, and outstanding architecture when you visit the Speicherstadt or the Elbphilharmonie. So, if you are not annoyed by the fact that it might take a little bit longer to get to know the people, Hamburg is a good place to start in Germany.
Berlin the Geman Capital
Speaking about important German cities, we have to take a closer look at the capital Berlin. No other German city has changed so dramatically over the past few decades than Berlin. Today, it is known for its cultural diversity and somehow for being different than other cities. If you’re moving to Berlin, you’ll soon get to know the “Berliner Schnauze”, which is the slang of the locals that’s really hard to understand, even for Germans who move there. “Dit find ick knorke” for example means I find it really great. So, moving there involves the challenge of understanding the locals. But generally, the people of Berlin are easy to come along with and very helpful to foreigners. Berlin is the most international city in Germany and many foreign tourists visit the city every year. Every “Kiez” or neighbourhood in the city and district is different and so are the people living there. You can find both wealthier districts and poorer districts in Berlin. But what they have in common is that they give the impression of being a little village within the city. The city has also many interesting sights like the Museumsinsel (museum island), the Reichstag, the Pergamon museum, and the television tower.
Carnival and cathedral metropole Cologne
If you are interested in the so-called fifth season, the carnival, you must move to Cologne or Düsseldorf. Both cities are famous for exuberant partying between November and February. But both cities have more to offer than the celebrations. Both are located at the Rhein, a wonderful river. Both cities have many small galleries and extraordinary art museums. Both cities are linked by a rivalry because Cologne is bigger than Düsseldorf but Düsseldorf is the capital of North Rhine-Westphalia. And another “dispute” between them is the question of which town has the better and more famous beer. The inhabitants of Düsseldorf would say their Alt is the best beer in the world whereas the inhabitants of Cologne would insist that their Kölsch is the best one. If you want to decide which one it is, you’ll need to move or travel there.
Frankfurt the financial centre
The financial centre of Germany is definitely Frankfurt am Main. Its skyline is shaped by skyscrapers and it has the biggest airport in Germany, which is helpful if one has to travel a lot. In the old town, you can enjoy Äppelwoi and grüneSoße. Äppelwoi is a bit like cider and the sauce comes along with all sorts of dishes. Frankfurt has many interesting sights like the Paulskirche. On May 18, 1848, in the course of the German Revolution, the first freely-elected National Assembly met in the Paulskirche, which is regarded as a cornerstone for democracy in Germany. Nowadays, a permanent exhibition provides interesting background information on the beginning of democracy through to the development of German unity.
Dresden & Leipzig: Eastern Germany
If you think about moving to East Germany, I would recommend Leipzig or Dresden. Both towns are very modern with interesting old towns. Dresden has a bit more historical sights to offer though. The Frauenkirche, which was completely destroyed during World War II, offers an outstanding view over the old town. The Zwinger provides space for several museums and the Semperoper speaks for itself.
Leipzig also has quite a lot to offer for its inhabitants. For example, the old trading exchange, the Bavarian railway station, the central station, and of course, the Augustusplatz with several buildings from different decades of the last century are worth a visit. At the Nikolaikirche, the Monday demonstrations against the DDR and the Stasi started in 1989. This was the beginning of the German reunion. But just as in Berlin, you have to get used to the Saxon dialect. For example “Eiverbibbsch” is a typical expression you will hear in both cities. Its meaning is you shouldn’t curse.
Lovely small cities
But besides all these major cities, you shouldn’t forget that Germany has also interesting towns, which are smaller than the major cities. When moving to Germany, you should also consider these towns. Nürnberg with half a million inhabitants, for example, is famous for its Christkindlmarkt (Christmas market) in December. Freiburg is famous for its alternative way of life due to the many students who live there. Weimar and Erfurt are well-known for Goethe and the Bauhaus. Thus, as you can see, German cities have a huge variety to offer and there’s a place for everybody moving to Germany to feel comfortable and cosy.