The former socialist East of Germany is often ignored by tourists and expats alike, who prefer the known comforts of the wealthier west. But from Rügen to Saalfeld, the east is full of hidden treasures.
1. The Elbsandsteingebirge in Saxony
The stunning sandstone formations of Saxony are known as the Sächische Schweiz, or Saxonian Switzerland, due to their similarity to the highest peaks of the Alps. These epic pillars will transport you to another world.
2. The Saalfeld Fairy Grottoes in Thuringia
These caves of former alum shale mines near Saalfeld were described in awe-inspired terms by the scientists who discovered them in 1913.
“When the light of the lamps penetrates the darkness – who dares to say a word! The Fairytale Dome stands before its discoverers with its Holy Grail Castle, awe-inspiring, sublime, illustrious in untouched purity and glory,” wrote Hermann Meyer, one of the discoverers.
3. Abbenrode in Saxony-Anhalt
Nestled on the edge of the Harz mountain range, the village Abbenrode will offer you unparalleled glimpses over Germany’s second highest mountain range.
4. The Old Town of Dresden in Saxony
The Old Town of Dresden was almost completely destroyed by Allied bombing in the Second World War and was only rebuilt after the fall of communism in 1990. But the results are spectacular nonetheless.
5. The white chalk cliffs of Rügen
Located in the Baltic Sea, Rügen is Germany’s largest island. Besides the stunning white chalk cliffs, there are idyllic bays and white sandy beaches washed over by turquoise seas.
6. Schwerin Castle
The seat of power on Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Schwerin Castle is a sight to behold. Dating back to the 10th century, this beautiful structure sits on the edge of a gleaming lake.
7. Potsdam harbour, Brandenburg
Potsdam is full of delights – from lakes to manicured parks to several palaces, the former seat of the German emperors has more sightseeing opportunities than you can shake a stick at.
8. Quedlinburg, Saxony-Anhalt
This town just north of the Harz mountains is a UNESCO World Heritage sight – and it’s not hard to see why. The town stands out for its remarkable Romanesque and half-timber structures.
9. Uckermark, Brandenburg
The Uckermark is a tranquil get-away just over an hour north of Berlin. Dotted by lakes, it is the perfect escape from the bustle of the capital.
10. Fürst Pückler Park in Saxony
This stunning park is the largest park designed in the English style in central Europe. Partly in Saxony, partly in Poland, it is a UNESCO world heritage site centred around the gorgeous Muskau Palace.