Germany is the country where I was born and raised. As a child I had the privilege to travel around the northern and southern parts of Germany on a regular basis. As a teenager and even until graduation I did not really pay a lot of attention to the beauty of my own country anymore. My trip around the world and Social Media opened my eyes and made me want to explore and photograph some iconic places in Germany. Honestly, I never would have thought to find so many beautiful places here.
In this article I want to introduce you to my favorite spots in Germany which are definitely not a secret anymore. Anyways, I hope this list will help you to extend your bucket list and perhaps even want to make you visit Germany - I would love to see some of you guys here!
1. Pilgrimage Church Maria Gern in Bavaria.
The first location is this beautiful church called 'Maria Gern' which is located just outside Berchtesgaden and is an incredibly easy-to-reach spot to do some photography. The best time to visit is the early morning - if you arrive an hour before sunrise you can get an astro-shot done and the moment the first light hits the Watzmann is an unforgettable experience, trust me.
I have taken these two images during a full-moon-night which came in quite handy to illuminate the main subjects of the image just enough and which gives the image this special feel to it.
When it comes to gear I highly recommend a sturdy tripod, a 24-70mm lens and a camera which allows you to do long exposures.
2. Brockenbahn in the Harz Mountains.
I must have been 7 years old when I first went to the Harz Mountains with my parents to go on a ride with this amazing train which takes you all the way up to the highest hill in mid Germany. Since then I always loved going back there - even if it's just to watch this stunning steam train passing by. The smell, the sound and the thought of history or a Harry Potter movie makes you feel this special something which is difficult to explain.
With regards to shooting, I would highly recommend you to do your homework: Make sure you know the times when the train passes you (going up the Brocken) and from where you want to shoot it (you can find the actual schedule of the train for summer 2018 here).
A focal length between 20mm and 200mm should do the job - depending on what you want to achieve.
3. Devils Bridge in Kromlau.
I bet you have seen an image of this bridge before, right? It is perhaps the most popular Instagram location in Germany but for a good reason. The shape of this bridge with it's beautiful reflection surrounded by a mystic forest is absolutely incredible. Walking around the calm lake on a day in autumn makes you feel like you are part of a fairy tale or the latest episode of Netflix' Dark or Stranger Things.
When it comes to shooting this bridge I would recommend a focal length between 24mm and 70mm. There are several different angles to shoot from and one tip is: try to be creative and shoot something different. This image was taken in early November when the fall colors were still quite vivid - a dream of a landscape, really.
4. Basteibrücke in Saxon Switzerland.
Have I told you that I have spent an entire year volunteering in the worlds most beautiful country? The country I am talking about is Scotland - which has been voted the most beautiful country on the planet in 2017. When in Scotland I started to take photography seriously for the first time. I bought filters, invested in a good lens and most importantly, I did my homework and scouted locations online before I actually went to a place! While scouting locations and figuring out where to shoot next I came across this particular view in Saxon Switzerland in Germany and couldn't believe my own eyes...
The question for the first location to shoot after returning to Germany was a no brainer - the famous view of Bastei Bridge at sunrise. And boy was this an experience. The viewing platform is relatively small and barely offers enough space for more than 3 photographers at the same time so make sure you are there before the sun comes up and it gets too crowded!
Shooting this scene requires a wide variety of lenses such as a 16-35mm for the big vista and perhaps a 70-200mm to go for the intimate landscape. Make sure to explore the entire area around the bridge as well, it's breathtaking!
5. Eltz Castle in Wierschem.
Is there a castle in the world which you have seen on the internet and immediately thought: "I HAVE TO GO THERE!"? Then you haven't seen a photo of Eltz Castle yet.
Getting there is easy. Being there in the early morning gives you enough space to roam around and set up some great images for either yourself or for your girlfriend (who definitely wants a photo taken of herself there).
Tripod. 16-35mm. 50mm.
6. Devils Wall in Timmenrode.
Having this spot literally right outside my doorstep is fantastic! When I first visited the Devils Wall in Timmenrode I would have not expected to see anything spectacular like that. No matter what conditions you are dealing with, these rock formations are always a great subject for landscape photography.
Nevertheless I would recommend you to visit the place for sunrise and bring a 16-35mm lens and perhaps a drone if you got one.
7. Wernigerode Castle in Wernigerode.
Once more a scene which could come straight out of a Disney Movie. Wernigerode Castle is not just worth the amazing view you get from Agnesberg but it is great to stroll the grounds of that ancient masterpiece.
Pro Tip: Shoot the castle at sunset time and try to make it down to the marketplace of Wernigerode to capture some amazing city shots during blue hour.
Regarding gear I would recommend a sturdy tripod and anything between 24mm-70mm.
8. Hintersee in Berchtesgaden.
No place in Germany has impressed me more than Hintersee. It can easily compete with places like the Old Man of Storr in Scotland, Tre Cime di Lavaredo in the Italian Dolomites or Reine in Lofoten in Norway - even though these places are difficult to be compared.
This location can be shot during any time of the day but I would say sunrise time is the best because the chances of great reflections are higher in the morning than in the evening. When it comes to gear I can recommend a 16-35mm lens, a circular polarizer and if you like the effect of a neutral density filter then take one along.
9. At least one of the major cities such as Dresden, Cologne or Erfurt.
Every country has got it's own charme and usually the major cities sort of represent a country - culture, art, music, infrastructure, architecture and people are just some factors which make a city either exciting, worth visiting or boring.
German cities are a great way to dig deeper into German culture and get to know other likeminded people. German fast food is cheap and good (Bratwurst, Kebab), the nightlife is insane (especially in Berlin) and the old historic buildings are just super photogenic. I am not a city guide and can't provide you with tons of useful information of where to eat and where to sleep but I can tell you, from a photographers standpoint, that German cities are beautiful and a great excuse to spend some time out with your camera.