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Physical map of Germany

Germany is the eighth-most-visited country in the world,[1][2] with a total of 407.26 million overnights during 2012.[3] This number includes 68.83 million nights by foreign visitors, the majority of foreign tourists in 2009 coming from the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and Switzerland (see table). Additionally, more than 30% of Germans spend their holiday in their own country. According to Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Reports, Germany is ranked 3 out of 136 countries in the 2017 report, and is rated as one of the safest travel destinations worldwide.

In 2012, over 30.4 million international tourists arrived in Germany, bringing over US$38 billion in international tourism receipts to the country.[4] Domestic and international travel and tourism combined directly contribute over EUR43.2 billion to the German GDP. Including indirect and induced impacts, the industry contributes 4.5% of German GDP and supports 2 million jobs (4.8% of total employment).[5] The ITB Berlin is the world's leading tourism trade fair.[6]

According to surveys, the top three reasons for tourists to come to Germany are the German culture, outdoor activities, German holidays and festivities, the countryside and rural areas, and the German cities.


The history of tourism in Germany goes back to cities and landscapes being visited for education and recreation. From the late 18th century onwards, cities like Dresden, Munich, Weimar and Berlin were major stops on a European Grand tour.

Spas and Seaside resorts on the North and Baltic Sea (e.g. Rugia and Usedom islands, Heiligendamm, the islands Norderney and Sylt) particularly developed during the 19th and early 20th century, when major train routes were built to connect the seaside spas to urban centers. An extensive bathing and recreation industry materialized in Germany around 1900. At rivers and close to natural landscapes (along the Middle Rhine valley and in Saxon Switzerland for example) many health spas, hotels and recreational facilities were established since the 19th century.

Since the end of World War II tourism has expanded greatly, as many tourists visit Germany to experience a sense of European history and the diverse German landscape. The country features 14 national parks, including the Jasmund National Park, the Vorpommern Lagoon Area National Park, the Müritz National Park, the Wadden Sea National Parks, the Harz National Park, the Hainich National Park, the Saxon Switzerland National Park, the Bavarian Forest National Park and the Berchtesgaden National Park. In addition, there are 14 Biosphere Reserves, as well as 98 nature parks.

The countryside has a pastoral aura, while the bigger cities exhibit both a modern and classical feel. Small and medium-sized cities often preserved their historical appearance and have old towns with remarkable architectural heritage – these are called Altstadt in German.


Bavaria is the German state with the most visitors.
Mecklenburg-Vorpommern with its beaches at the Baltic Sea has the highest density of tourists. It is favourably located between Germany's major cities Berlin and Hamburg.
The Harz with its rugged terrain extends across parts of Lower Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, and Thuringia and has a long history of mining and being a seat of German political power, represented in the Unesco world heritage sites of Goslar and Quedlinburg.
The Black Forest is a large forested mountain range in the state of Baden-Württemberg in southwest Germany, bounded by the Rhine Valley to the west and south and close to the borders with France and Switzerland.

The table below shows the distribution of national and international visitor nights spent in each of the sixteen states of Germany in 2017.

Germany overall had 178.23 million visitor nights in 2017, of which 37.45 million were of foreign guests (21.01 percent). With 94.3 million nights spent in hotels, hostels or clinics, Bavaria has the most visitors. With 18.472 nights per 1.000 inhabitants, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern has the highest density of tourists per population (German median: 5.568 nights per 1.000 people).[7]

State Nr. of nights
in 2017
in million
of whom
foreign visitors
in million
nights per
Germany 178,23 37,45 5,568
Baden-Württemberg 52,93 11,39 4,833
Bavaria 94,36 19,12 7,298
Berlin 31,15 13,98 8,714
Brandenburg 13,09 0,962 5,247
Bremen 2,44 0,49 3,607
Hamburg 13,82 3,44 7,635
Hesse 34,1 7,67 5,489
Mecklenburg-Vorpommern 29,75 1,0 18,472
Lower Saxony 43,49 3,73 5,474
North Rhine-Westphalia 51,51 11,00 2,879
Rhineland-Palatinate 22,22 5,24 5,466
Saarland 3,08 0,46 3,099
Saxony 19,51 2,05 4,781
Saxony-Anhalt 8,13 0,63 3,638
Schleswig-Holstein 29,89 2,01 10,372
Thuringia 9,92 0,62 4,600

Most visitors arriving to Germany on short-term basis are from the following countries of nationality:[8][9]

Rank Country 2014 2016
1  Netherlands 4,237,865 4,477,100
2   Switzerland 2,778,455 3,115,456
3  United States 2,371,086 2,558,495
4  United Kingdom 2,415,477 2,551,061
5  Austria 1,725,259 1,818,872
6  France 1,617,901 1,725,854
7  Italy 1,642,443 1,651,933
8  Denmark 1,466,561 1,592,500
9  Belgium 1,310,693 1,424,482
10  China 1,256,800 1,363,979
Total international arrivals 32,999,298 35,555,391


The official body for tourism in Germany is the German National Tourist Board (GNTB), represented worldwide by National Tourist Offices in 29 countries. Surveys by the GNTB include perceptions and reasons for holidaying in Germany, which are as follows: culture (75%), outdoors/countryside (59%), cities (59%), cleanliness (47%), security (41%), modernity (36%), good hotels (35%), good gastronomy/cuisine (34%), good accessibility (30%), cosmopolitanism/hospitality (27%), good shopping opportunities (21%), exciting nightlife (17%) and good price/performance ratio (10%) (multiple answers were possible).



See also: List of spa towns in Germany and List of seaside resorts in Germany

About 242 million nights, or two-thirds of all nights spent in hotels in Germany, are spent in spa towns.[10] Germany is well known for health tourism, with many of the numerous spa towns having been established at a hot spring, offering convalescence (German: Kur) or preventive care by means of mineral water and/or other spa treatment. Spa towns and seaside resorts carry official designations such as Mineral and mud spas (Mineral- und Moorbäder), Healthy climate resorts (Heilklimatische Kurorte), Kneipp cure resorts (Kneippkurorte = water therapy resorts), Seaside resorts (Seebäder), Climatic resorts (Luftkurorte), and Recreation resorts (Erholungsorte). The largest and most well known resorts also have casinos, most notably at Bad Wiessee, Baden-Baden (Kurhaus), Wiesbaden (Kurhaus), Aachen, Travemünde and Westerland (Kurhaus).


See also: Geography of Germany and List of national parks in Germany

Dune on the North Frisian island of Sylt
Stubbenkammer on the Baltic island of Rügen

The most visited tourist regions in Germany are the East Frisian and North Frisian Islands, the Baltic Sea coasts of Holstein, Mecklenburg and Vorpommern, the Rhine Valley, the Bavarian and Black Forest, and the Bavarian Alps.

The table below shows the five most visited rural districts in 2008:[11]

rank district # of nights in 2008
1 Nordfriesland 6.96 million
2 Rügen 5.57 million
3 Oberallgäu 5.29 million
4 Ostholstein 5.27 million
5 Breisgau-Hochschwarzwald 4.41 million

Other popular regions include

Theme routes

A cuckoo clock, symbol of the Black Forest

Since the 1930s, local and regional governments have set up various theme routes, to help visitors get to know a specific region and its cultural or scenic qualities. The table below shows some of the most prominent theme routes. Other popular German theme routes include parts of the European Route of Brick Gothic and European Route of Industrial Heritage, the Harz-Heide Road, Bertha Benz Memorial Route and Bergstrasse.

List of theme routes (incomplete)
Route Established Theme Length
German Wine Road (Deutsche Weinstraße) 1935 Palatinate wine route 85 km
German Avenue Road (Deutsche Alleenstraße) 1993 Tree-sided avenues and lush countrysides 2900 km
Romantic Road (Romantische Straße) 1950 Romanticism 366 km
Black Forest High Road (Schwarzwaldhochstraße) 1952 Black Forest 60 km
Castle Road (Burgenstraße) 1954 Castles in Germany 1,000 km
Road of Weser Renaissance (Straße der Weserrenaissance) Weser Renaissance 350 km
Romanesque Road (Straße der Romanik) 1993 Romanesque architecture 1,195 km
German Ferries Route 2004 Fords, ferries, bridges and tunnels 250 km
German Timber-Frame Road 1990 Timber framing (Fachwerk) 3,000 km
German Clock Road (Deutsche Uhrenstrasse) Cuckoo clock Manufacturers, clock-face paintings workshops,
museums, Black Forest and Baar villages, landscapes
320 km
Industrial Heritage Trail (Route der Industriekultur) Industrial heritage of the Ruhr area 400 km
German Fairy Tale Route (Deutsche Märchenstraße) Fairy tales and legends of the Brothers Grimm 600 km

Winter sport

View of Bolsterlang, Oberallgäu

See also: List of ski resorts in the German Alps and List of ski resorts in the German Central Uplands

The main winter sport regions in Germany are the Bavarian Alps and Northern Limestone Alps, as well as the Ore Mountains, Harz Mountains, Fichtel Mountains and Bavarian Forest within the Central Uplands. First class winter sport infrastructure is available for alpine skiing and snowboarding, bobsledding and cross-country skiing.

In most regions, winter sports are limited to the winter months November to February. During the Advent season, many German towns and cities host Christmas markets.


See also: Metropolitan regions in Germany

In terms of numbers of overnight stays, travel to the twelve largest cities in Germany more than doubled between 1995 and 2005, the largest increase of any travel destination.[12][citation needed] This increase mainly arises from growth of cultural tourism, often in conjunction with educational or business travel. Consequently, the provision and supply of more and higher standards of cultural, entertainment, hospitality, gastronomic, and retail services also attract more international guests.

The table below shows the ten most visited cities in Germany in 2012. Other cities and towns with over 1 million nights per year are Rostock, Hannover, Bremen, Cuxhaven, Bonn, Freiburg, Münster, Lübeck, Wiesbaden, Essen and Regensburg.

Frankfurt am Main
Top 10 city destinations in 2018 by nr. of overnight stays (millions)[13]


Tourist biking in Berlin

See also: List of sights in Berlin

Berlin has a yearly total of about 135 million day visitors, which puts it in third place among the most-visited city destinations in the European Union. Berlin had 781 hotels with over 125,000 beds in June 2012.[14] The city recorded 20.8 million overnight hotel stays and 9.1 million hotel guests in 2010.[15] In the first half of 2012, there was an increase of over 10% compared to the same period the year before.[14]


See also: Category:Tourist attractions in Munich


See also: Category:Tourist attractions in Hamburg and List of museums and cultural institutions in Hamburg

In 2007, more than 3,985,105 visitors with 7,402,423 overnight stays visited the city.[16] The tourism sector employs more than 175,000 people full-time and brings in revenue of €9.3 billion, making the tourism industry a major economic force in the Hamburg Metropolitan Region. Hamburg has one of the fastest-growing tourism industries in Germany. From 2001 to 2007, the overnight stays in the city increased by 55.2% (Berlin +52.7%, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania +33%).[17]

A typical Hamburg visit includes a tour of the city hall and the grand church St. Michaelis (called the Michel), and visiting the old warehouse district (Speicherstadt) and the harbour promenade (Landungsbrücken). Sightseeing buses connect these points of interest. As Hamburg is one of the world's largest harbours many visitors take one of the harbour and/or canal boat tours (Große Hafenrundfahrt, Fleetfahrt) which start from the Landungsbrücken. Major destinations also include museums.

The area of Reeperbahn in the quarter St. Pauli is Europe's largest red light district and home of strip clubs, brothels, bars and nightclubs. The Beatles had stints on the Reeperbahn early in their careers. Others prefer the laid-back neighbourhood Schanze with its street cafés, or a barbecue on one of the beaches along the river Elbe. Hamburg's famous zoo, the Tierpark Hagenbeck, was founded in 1907 by Carl Hagenbeck as the first zoo with moated, barless enclosures.[18]



The table below shows some of the largest annually recurring events in Germany:

Event Location Season # of visitors Notes
Volksfest Oktoberfest Munich September/October 6.0 million
Volksfest Cannstatter Volksfest Stuttgart September/October 4.2 million locally called "Cannstatter Wasen"
Fair Largest Fair on the Rhine Düsseldorf July/August 4.0 million
Sailing regatta Kiel Week Kiel last week of June (ending the last Sunday in June) 3.5 million Largest sailing event of the world, one of the largest "Volksfeste" in Germany
Volksfest Nürnberger Frühlingsfest [de] Nuremberg April 2.3 million[19] locally called "Frühlingsfest"
Volksfest Nürnberger Herbstfest [de] Nuremberg August/September 2.0 million[20] locally called "Herbstfest"
Volksfest Libori Paderborn End of July 1.7 million 9 days, one of the biggest and oldest city center fests
Techno music festival Love Parade varies June/July 1.6 million canceled following the Love Parade disaster in 2010
Carnival parade Cologne Carnival Cologne February 1.5 million number of visitors for Rosenmontagszug
Gay pride Cologne Pride Cologne June/July 1.2 million
Maritime festival Hanse Sail Rostock 2nd weekend of August 1.1 million one of Europe's biggest events for sailors
Rock music festival Bochum Total Bochum June/July/August 1.0 million
Anniversary Port of Hamburg birthday Hamburg 7 May 1.0 million
Fireworks show Kölner Lichter [de] Cologne July 1.0 million
contemporary art exhibition documenta Kassel Kassel 0.9 million only held once every 5 years
Rock music festival Rock am Ring and Rock im Park Nürburgring & Nuremberg May/June 0.8 million
Wine festival Wurstmarkt Bad Dürkheim 2nd—3rd weekend
in September
0.6 million
Film festival Berlinale (Berlin International Film Festival) Berlin February 0.5 million Film festival
Rhine river fireworks Rhein in Flammen Bonn May 0.5 million
Classical music Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival throughout Schleswig-Holstein July/August 0.2 million
World Marathon Major Berlin Marathon Berlin September
contemporary art exhibition Quadriennale Düsseldorf [de] Düsseldorf September/January only held once every 4 years

Note: This list only includes the largest, annually recurring events in selected categories. This list may be incomplete.

Trade fairs

Visitors at IAA 2007
The Leipzig Book Fair in 2012

Germany is home to several of the world's largest trade fairgrounds, and many of the international exhibitions are considered trend-setters or industry leaders. Thousands of national and international trade fairs, conventions and congresses are held in Germany annually. In 2008, 10.3 million people visited the 150 largest trade fairs alone. More than half of these visitors come from abroad, more than one third from countries outside Europe. The table below shows some of the most visited trade fairs.

Trade fair ground City Trade fair Industry # of visitors[21][22] Notes
Messe Frankfurt Frankfurt, Main Internationale Automobilausstellung (IAA) motor show 850,000 in 2009 held in Hanover every other year as a truck show
Frankfurt, Main Frankfurt Book Fair books 300,000 in 2008
ISH heating, ventilation and air conditioning 201,000 in 2009 biennial
Messegelände Hanover CeBIT computer expo 334,000 87,000 foreign visitors
Hanover Hannover Messe industrial technology 250,000 in 2011 world's biggest industrial fair
Messe München Munich BAUMA construction machinery 530,000 in 2013 triennial
Munich BAU architecture, materials, systems engineering 212,000 in 2009 biennial
Messe Nürnberg Nuremberg Consumenta consumer goods 214,209 in 2003 biennial
Nuremberg Holz-Handwerk machine technology, equipment and supplies for woodworking 193,169 in 2001 biennial
Messe Berlin Berlin International Green Week (IGW) sustainable agriculture 425,000 9,000 foreign visitors
Berlin Internationale Funkausstellung (IFA) consumer electronics 240,000 in 2012
Messe Düsseldorf Düsseldorf Drupa print media 390,000 230,000 foreign visitors, quadrennial
Düsseldorf Boot Düsseldorf boats 267.000 43,000 foreign visitors
Düsseldorf Kunststoffmesse (K) plastics 242,000 in 2007 triennial
Koelnmesse Cologne Gamescom video games 345,000 in 2015 organised by Leipzig Trade Fair until 2008 as Games Convention

Note: This list only includes trade fairs with 250,000 visitors per year or more. This list may be incomplete.

Most visited

Protected areas

The table below shows the most visited protected areas in Germany.

The Western Pomerania Lagoon Area National Park
Lilienstein at Saxon Switzerland


Rank Protected area Location Type # of visitors in 2002[23] # of visitors in 2008
1 Western Pomerania Lagoon Area National Park Mecklenburg-Vorpommern National park 2.50 million 3.00 million[24]
2 Saxon Switzerland National Park Saxony National park 2.15 million 2.90 million[25]
3 Bavarian Forest National Park Bavaria National park 2.00 million
4 Jasmund National Park Mecklenburg-Vorpommern National park 2.00 million
5 Lower Saxony Wadden Sea National Park 1 Lower Saxony National park 2.00 million
6 Berchtesgaden National Park Bavaria National park 1.50 million
7 Harz National Park Lower Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt National park 1.50 million
8 Schleswig-Holstein Wadden Sea National Park1 Schleswig-Holstein National park 1.50 million
9 Mainau Island Baden-Württemberg garden island 1.30 million
Note: This list only includes protected areas with 1 million or more visitors per year. This list may be incomplete.
1 World Heritage Site in Germany


The Cathedral of Cologne is Germany's most visited landmark.
Neuschwanstein Castle was the inspiration for Disneyland's Sleeping Beauty's Castle.
The Zwinger in Dresden

The German Tourism Association (Deutscher Tourismusverband) irregularly publishes statistics on the most visited landmarks. With an average of over 6 million visitors entering Cologne Cathedral per year, the cathedral is Germany's most visited landmark. Second and third places go to the Reichstag building in Berlin and the Hofbräuhaus in Munich. Other much visited architectural landmarks include the Drosselgasse in Rüdesheim (3.0m), the medieval old towns of Rothenburg ob der Tauber (2.5m), Regensburg (2.0m), Frauenkirche in Dresden (2.5m), Bad Münstereifel (2m), the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin and the Holsten Gate in Lübeck 1.

Rank Landmark Location Subject # of visitors
1 Cologne Cathedral 1 Cologne Gothic Cathedral 6.0 million[26] (2004)
2 Reichstag building Berlin Bundestag 2.70 million[27] (2006)
3 Hofbräuhaus Munich Brewery 1.80 million[28]
4 Heidelberg Castle Heidelberg Renaissance architecture
5 Neuschwanstein Castle Schwangau Bavarian King Ludwig II's castle 1.5 million (2018)[29]
6 Zwinger and Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister Dresden Dresden State Art Collections
7 Fernsehturm Berlin TV and observation tower
8 Aachen Cathedral 1 Aachen Holy Roman Imperial Cathedral 1.5 million[30]
Note: This list only includes physical landmarks with 1.0 million visitors per year or more. This list may be incomplete.
1 World Heritage Site in Germany

Theme parks

The table below shows some of the most visited theme parks or related facilities in Germany.

Atlantica SuperSplash in Europa-Park
Name Location Type # of visitors in 2002[23] # of visitors in 2008
Europa-Park Rust Amusement park 3.5 million 4.0 million[31]
Berlin Zoological Garden Berlin Zoo 3.0 million
VW Autostadt Wolfsburg Automobile park 2.1 million
Nürburgring Nürburg Formula One park 2.0 million
Therme Erding Erding Water park 1.5 million
Movie Park Germany Bottrop Amusement park 1.3 million
Legoland Deutschland Günzburg Miniature park 1.3 million
Leipzig Zoological Garden "Zoo of the future" Leipzig Zoo 1.2 million 2.1 million
Phantasialand Brühl Amusement park 1.75 million
Heide Park Resort Soltau Amusement park 1.6 million
Deutsches Museum Munich Museum 1.4 million
Hamburg Planetarium Hamburg Planetarium 0.4 million

Note: This list only includes the largest theme parks/facilities in selected categories. This list may be incomplete.

See also


  1. ^ "Interim Update" (PDF). UNWTO World Tourism Barometer. April 2011. Archived from the original (PDF) on 1 January 2015. Retrieved 26 June 2011.
  2. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 October 2013. Retrieved 11 July 2013.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ Zahlen Daten Fakten 2012 Archived 1 January 2015 at the Wayback Machine (in German), German National Tourist Board
  4. ^ "Tourism Highlights 2013 edition" (PDF). UNWTO. Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 November 2013. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
  5. ^ "2013 Travel & Tourism Economic Impact Report Germany" (PDF). WTTC. Archived from the original (PDF) on 3 December 2013. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
  6. ^ "ITB Berlin: The World's Leading Travel Trade Show". M+A Expo Database. Archived from the original on 20 October 2019. Retrieved 13 September 2016.
  7. ^ DeStatis: Tourism in Numbers Archived 9 December 2018 at the Wayback Machine, 2017
  8. ^ Tourismus in Zahlen 2014 Archived 11 December 2017 at the Wayback Machine, Statistisches Bundesamt
  9. ^ Tourismus in Zahlen 2016 Archived 4 March 2017 at the Wayback Machine, Statistisches Bundesamt
  10. ^ Overnight stays by groups of communities Archived 18 November 2010 at the Wayback Machine, Statistisches Bundesamt, Wiesbaden
  11. ^ "Tourismus- und Hotelatlas 2009–2010" (PDF) (in German). Georg & Ottenströer. p. 8.[permanent dead link]
  12. ^ Städte- und Kulturtourismus in Deutschland Archived 19 August 2006 at the Wayback Machine, German Tourism Association (DTV)
  13. ^ Tourismus in Zahlen on]
  14. ^ a b Tourist Attractions In Germany (August 2023)
  15. ^ "Berlin-Tourismus 2010 mit neuem Rekord" (PDF). Amt für Statistik (in German). Archived from the original (PDF) on 19 July 2011. Retrieved 19 February 2011.
  16. ^ Staff (29 February 2008), Newsletter Nr. 18 (PDF) (in German), Hamburg Tourismus GmbH, archived from the original (PDF) on 10 September 2008, retrieved 13 August 2008
  17. ^ Staff (11 July 2008), Umsatzbringer und Jobmotor Tourismus (in German), Behörde für Kultur, Sport und Medien, archived from the original on 9 August 2010, retrieved 13 August 2008
  18. ^ Rene S. Ebersole (November 2001). "The New Zoo". Audubon Magazine. National Audubon Society. Archived from the original on 6 September 2007. Retrieved 1 October 2008.
  19. ^ Über zwei Millionen Besucher kamen zum Frühlingsfest on, from 12 May 2019
  20. ^ Herbstvolksfest zieht Bilanz: Abends war es brechend voll on, from 8 September 2019
  21. ^ Euro Fair Statistics 2008 Archived 18 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine, Society for Voluntary Control of Fair and Exhibition Statistics (FKM)
  22. ^ Audited Trade Fair and Exhibition Figures 2008 Archived 27 February 2012 at the Wayback Machine, Society for Voluntary Control of Fair and Exhibition Statistics (FKM)
  23. ^ a b Deutscher Tourismusverband Archived 19 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine, German Tourism Association (DTV)
  24. ^ Mehr als drei Millionen Besucher jährlich Archived 3 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine, Die Welt, 15 October 2008
  25. ^ Immer mehr Besucher im Nationalpark Archived 21 April 2010 at the Wayback Machine, Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk, 12. March 2010
  26. ^ Der Kölner Dom Archived 30 June 2007 at, Hessischer Rundfunk
  27. ^ Das Parlament[permanent dead link], February 2008
  28. ^ Zapfhahn 2007[permanent dead link], Hofbräuhaus, page 9
  29. ^ Neuschwanstein Castle is top, again Archived 6 February 2019 at the Wayback Machine, Deutsche Welle (5 February 2019).
  30. ^ Tourismus-Barometer[permanent dead link], Aachen district, 2008
  31. ^ Europa-Park Facts Archived 4 October 2011 at the Wayback Machine, March 2010
  1. Statistisches Bundesamt Deutschland (Federal Statistical Office)
  2. DZT / World Travel Monitor
  3. World Tourism Organization

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