Germany's top 21 coolest attractions - chosen in a public survey - will surprise you
Munich's magnificent Marienplatz. Picture: Michael Nagy/Presse- und Informationsamt München
Mary is the Patrona Bavariae, the patron saint of Bavaria, and Marienplatz with its towering St. Mary's column is the oldest and most central square in the heart of Munich.
At the centre of the pedestrian area, it provides a setting for a number of major events and is the ideal base from which to explore the city.
The square is dominated by the neo-Gothic New Town Hall with its imposing facade and the sound of the delightful carillon in the town hall tower.
Close by are some of Munich's most exclusive shopping streets, markets and beer gardens, as well as the trio of famous city gates – Isartor, Sendlinger Tor and Karlstor.
Koblenz, the Deutsches Eck. Pic: Gauls die Fotografen
It may sound like a German bar, but the Deutsches Eck (German Corner) is actually a spit of land at the confluence of the Rhine and Moselle.
It got its name from the Teutonic Order of Knights which settled here in 1216 and a monument to Kaiser Wilhelm I was built here to commemorate the unification of the German Empire.
Dedicated in 1897, destroyed in 1945, declared a memorial to German unity in 1953 and reconstructed in 1993, the 37m-high monument now attracts more than 2 million visitors every year and since 2002 it has been part of the Upper Middle Rhine Valley UNESCO World Heritage site.
The 'Flying Cowshed' at Karl's Village of Discovery. Picture: Karls Erlebnisdorf - Germany's top attractions
Karl's Village of Discovery is an all-weather, year-round destination for the whole family, offering farm-themed fun in Rövershagen near Rostock on the Baltic coast.
Suitable for children aged three and over.
At Karl's Village of Discovery kids can run around and play – inside and out – all day long.
The park has tractor rides, a 'flying cowshed', adventure playgrounds, a children's farm, a daily animal show in the live arena, a butterfly garden with more than 200 tropical residents, a Bobby Car circuit, an inflatable bouncer, a zip wire and Cap'n Karl's playland with slides, climbing frames, a ball pit and much, much more.
A view over the beautful Lake Königssee. Pic: Nationalpark Berchtesgaden
Speyer Cathedral. Picture: Tourist-Information Speyer
The imperial cathedral in Speyer, officially known as the Cathedral of St. Mary and St. Stephen, is the town's most prominent landmark.
Laid out in the form of a Latin cross, it is one of Germany's largest and most important Romanesque buildings, and was intended to be no less than the largest church in the western world when building work began in 1030.
Speyer Cathedral in the Rhineland-Palatinate region has long since ceased to be the largest church in the western world.
However, it is still the world's largest surviving Romanesque church.
Trier's Roman Porta Nigra (Black Gate). Picture: DZT, Rainer Kiedrowski
Founded as Augusta Treverorum in 16 BC, Trier is Germany's oldest town and a true monument to history.
Historical buildings of international standing, remarkable churches and magnificent Roman remains all make a visit to this romantic city on the Moselle an unforgettable experience.
Trier, which is over 2,000 years old, presents an amazing range of cultural and historical attractions for art lovers and history buffs alike.
Resident Roman emperors, bishops, electors and ordinary people have all made Trier what it is today, and the city's long list of World Cultural Heritage sites bears witness to its colourful past.
Visitors to Ravensburger Spieleland. Picture: Ravensburger Spieleland
Open since 1998, Ravensburger Spieleland is home to the 'biggest playroom' in the world and is absolutely ideal for families with children aged three and above.
The 25-hectare park is located in Upper Swabia between Ravensburg and Lake Constance.
At Ravensburger Spieleland, little ones can whizz along the Fix & Foxi toboggan run at lightning speed, have a go at the giant puzzle or hurtle down the 60m waterslide in Professor Knox's turbo boats.
What captivates people most about the Black Forest National Park is its untamed beauty.
As you explore the deep-green forests, you'll be spellbound by the wild and dramatic scenery and the far-reaching views.
This 10,000-hectare national park in Baden-Württemberg is situated in the North/Central Black Forest Nature Park, and with mountains reaching up to 1,000 metres it offers enjoy glorious views of the Rhineland Plain and the hill ranges of the Black Forest.
Erfurt. Picture: Thüringer Tourismus GmbH
Churches, towers and bridges, great culture and glittering festivals: Erfurt offers medieval charm in abundance and a rich history combined with a lust for life and a warm welcome.
Situated at the crossroads of ancient German and European trade routes, the regional capital of Thuringia has always been popular with important intellectuals and is a self-assured, proud centre of innovation, as well as a magnet for visitors from around the world.
There have been churches on the site of Cologne Cathedral since the 4th century.
However, it was not until 1248 that this city on the Rhine became home to one of the foremost cathedrals in the Christian world – a masterpiece of Gothic architecture.
When it was completed in 1880, it was the tallest building in the world.
Hiking along the slopes of the beautiful Moselle Valley. Picture: Mosellandtouristik
The Moselle Valley is the oldest wine-growing region in Germany and a diverse recreational area that offers something for every taste.
When travelling along the Moselle Wine Route, visitors should definitely stop off at one of the nearby castles, many of which even host banquets and offer accommodation.
You can enjoy exquisite wines in the idyllic wine-growing areas – the region's winemakers have been taking the top spots in national and international rankings for years.
An elephant hug at Munich's Hellabrunn Zoo. Picture: Marisa Segadelli
Munich's Hellabrunn Zoo opened in 1911 in the Isar floodplains conservation area.
With more than 19,000 animals in around 40 hectares of grounds, it is one of the biggest and most bio-diverse zoos in Germany and was the world's very first 'geo-zoo'.
Hellabrunn Zoo is home to more than 19,000 animals from around 750 species.
Penguins, elephants, kangaroos, sea lions, birds of prey and tigers: from the most comical of monkeys to the cutest of cubs, animals from all continents are grouped together here with other creatures from the same geographical regions.
MORE: Info and photos of Munich Zoo's CUTEST animals
A ride at the theme park in Brühl. Picture: Phantasialand
A whole host of international stars, including Michael Jackson, have visited Phantasialand, the multi-award-winning, family-friendly theme park in Brühl, some 20km from Cologne.
It also opens for a winter season that features a programme of unmissable shows.
There's something for all the family at Phantasialand in Brühl: from the steam carousel, exciting playscapes and activities for the little ones to the log flume, loop-the-loop rollercoaster and spectacular live shows.
Heidelberg Castle. Picture: DZT
One of Europe's most famous landmarks, the romantic ruins of Heidelberg Castle have been attracting visitors since the 19th century.
It is the paradox of seeing something so magnificent in a state of such beautiful ruin that gives Heidelberg Castle and its park such a captivating aura.
A panoramic view of Dresden at night. Picture: Deutsche Zentrale für Tourismus e.V. (Keute, Jochen)
There are many ways to interpret or define culture. But it can be easily summarised with just one word: Dresden.
The sheer abundance and splendour of the city's cultural treasures are enough to take your breath away.
And since Dresden also just happens to be set amidst a stunning river landscape, your amazement is soon accompanied by pure delight.
Plönlein square in Rothenburg ob der Tauber. Picture: Willi Pfitzinger
Rothenburg ob der Tauber is a small town with a big reputation.
Nowhere else will you find such a wealth of original buildings dating from the Middle Ages.
You can't help but ask yourself whether time has stood still, as you amble past the beautiful old houses, secluded squares and tucked-away corners of the old quarter, where towers, taverns and town gates alternate with fountains, fortifications and former storehouses.
Castle and Parc Arenenberg during autumn. Picture: Achim Mende Internationale Bodensee Tourismus GmbH
The Lake Constance region, where Germany borders Austria and Switzerland, is a holiday paradise set around Central Europe's third largest inland lake.
The most popular excursion is to the Flower Island of Mainau, famous for its magnificent park and gardens surrounding the baroque family residence of Count Bernadotte.
Discover an oasis of natural beauty, harmony and relaxation.
A panorama over Neuschwanstein Castle. Picture: DZT
Neuschwanstein is known all over the world as a symbol of idealised romantic architecture and for the tragic story of its owner.
After losing sovereignty in his own kingdom, Ludwig II withdrew into his own world of myths, legend and fairytales.
Ludwig II's ambitious project, begun in 1869, united aspects of Wartburg Castle with those attributed to the Castle of the Holy Grail from Wagner's 'Parsifal'.
MORE: See inside Neuschwanstein Castle
The Pegasus rollercoaster at Europa-Park. Picture: Europa-Park
If you haven't already been to Europa-Park in Rust, then what are you waiting for!
Located in south-west Germany between Freiburg and Offenburg, Europa-Park is the biggest theme park in the German-speaking countries and one of the few that is open in winter.
If you come to Europa-Park looking for fun, excitement and adventure, you won't be disappointed.
There are all kinds of exciting things going on at Europa-Parks' 95-hectare site.
Looking over the displays at Hamburg's Miniature Wonderland . Picture: Miniaturwunderland
There's only one way to describe Miniature Wonderland in Hamburg: the biggest model railway in the world.
Visitors are taken on a journey through different countries and continents, through realistic miniature landscapes and worlds of fantasy.
There are discoveries to be made everywhere you look.
From Hamburg with its port, it's just a few short steps to the Grand Canyon, intersected by a long-haul train crossing a huge wooden bridge.
So what's your favourite of these top German attractions? Or is your real favourite missing from the list? Please let us know in the comments below.
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• Frauenkirche - Munich's grand cathederal with a weird stamp of approval.
• Juliet Statue - A tribute to a star-crossed lover.
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