Last updated on Jan 3, 2023 bywandering around our world
TThe question many ask themselves when trying to decide between France or Germany is what separates these European holiday destinations?
However, while both nations have similar climates and iconic cities, they each have their own unique histories, cultures, places to visit, and cuisines that set them apart. And because of this, a vacation in any country can be quite different from a vacation in another.
For example, if you're looking for a vacation that encompasses beaches, exceptional food, wine and coffee culture, and great day trips, France may be a better choice than Germany.
France also has iconic cities, such as Paris, and diverse regions such as the wine country and the French Riviera.
However, if you want a much more nature-focused vacation, with opportunities for hiking, camping, and spectacular scenery, then Germany is likely a better choice than France. As we will explain later.
Although, honestly, that's just scratching the surface when it comes to why a country might be a better fit for you on your next vacation. That's where we can help! After spending significant time on each, we put France v Germany below.
We take a look at what each country has to offer and compare them against each other, as well as the food you can try, the natural attractions you can see in each, as well as some amazing cities you must visit. Everything so you can make the right decision for your trip.
- A quick overview
- How the landscape compares
- How culture and environment compare
- How the kitchen compares
- Which is the best option
A quick recap of France v Germany
Both France and Germany are known for their distinct cultures, unique cities, and stunning landscapes, so you're guaranteed a great vacation, whatever you choose.
However, if you are looking for a holiday destination that includes some sun, sea and sand, then France will be the best choice. That's because France has some wonderful beaches and coastal towns, especially on the French Riviera.
Away from the coast, France seems to have it all too. This nation has a rich history and has iconic cities like Paris and La Rochelle, and old fairytale cities and towns like Annecy and Yvoire.
In addition, the different regions of France have unique qualities and charms, as we will show below. Some even have a German "feel" as a result of sitting on the French/German border.
However, Germany is one of those countries that gives France a run for its money when it comes to vacations. While this nation is not a beach destination, although the northern German islands have some beautiful stretches of coastline, it still has a lot to offer.
In fact, Germany is very much a nature lover's paradise, and its landscape is arguably more beautiful than France's.
The region of Bavaria, in the south of Germany, is made up of mountains, castles and picturesque towns that look like something out of pictures. While the mysterious Black Forest region and the mountain range have inspired stories and fairy tales for generations.
Related:Hiking in the Black Forest
In our opinion, Germany's countless mountains, forests and lakes make it one of the best destinations in Europe for hiking, biking and camping. Therefore, if you are looking for an active holiday in nature, Germany is probably a better option than France.
Germany is also the unofficial home of beer, with the annual eventoktoberfestattracting thousands of tourists every year. The traditional costumes, fantastic beers, food and lively social gatherings at this event are worth experiencing in your lifetime.
However, if you are a foodie, France will probably suit you better. France is the home of cheese and wine, and a culinary giant in its own right.
However, in terms of spending, we found that Germany is slightly cheaper than France when it comes to accommodation and food. In particular, it is often easier to find affordable accommodation in German cities than in French ones.
Below, we take a closer look at what each country has to offer, so you can decide which one is best for you.
How does the landscape compare?
France: the landscape
With a pleasant climate for most of the year, along with regions as diverse as they are beautiful, France is one of those countries to which we have been returning for years.
For beach lovers, the French Riviera, or Côte d'Azur as it is also known, is the place to be for sun, sea and sand.
This coast of the Mediterranean Sea is perfect for swimming, sunbathing and relaxing. One of our favorite beaches isPraia de Pampelonnewhich is a long stretch of coast to the sideSaint Tropezwith beautiful soft sands and beautiful clear waters for swimming.
For a more secluded beach, head toCalanque of En-vau, which is south of Marseille. This secluded beach can only be reached by boat or by trail which takes 2-3 hours, so you won't find any crowds there. The beach is in a cove, and the water, trapped on either side by dramatic cliffs, is different shades of blue. It is the perfect place to swim.
However, France has much more to offer than sun, sea and sand. The country's meandering canal system means you can travel around France by boat, which in itself is a great way to see just how varied this country is from region to region.
In the Normandy region of northwestern France, a trip to the stunning tidal island ofmount st michaelis a must (see photo above). The seemingly gravity-defying abbey is a pilgrimage destination and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. (Related:camping in normandy)
In Alsace, which borders Germany and Switzerland, you'll find centuries-old villages that seem to have been ripped from the Swiss Alps. All around you is a landscape filled with wild flowers and forests that looks like something out of a Van Gogh painting.
For avid hikers and hikers who want a real challenge, thefrench alpsmiPyreneesThe mountains feature numerous trails that cover a variety of difficulties and lengths.
OTrator High RoadStarting in Chamonix, France and ending in Zermatt, Switzerland, it's a very demanding multi-day hike, but arguably one of the best in Europe, which is why you can find world-class hiking in France, too.
And if you're a wine aficionado, visit the French wine regions ofBordeauxmiBurgundyit will be a pleasure. Vineyards are scattered throughout these areas and dotted between spectacular medieval towns. For food and wine, France is hard to beat.
As you probably guessed by now, France is a country where there is much to explore from one region to another. Each area has its own unique culture, allowing you to experience and see a lot if you choose to visit different parts of the country.
Or with such diversity, just choose what suits you best! I love wine: go to Bordeaux. If you want to improve your tan, take a trip to the Côte d'Azur. Indulge in France's famous café culture as you immerse yourself in world-famous galleries and museums, then catch that flight toParis. Simply put, it's almost impossible not to find a part of France that doesn't satisfy your holiday cravings.
Although Germany is not known as a beach destination, there are actually around 50 German islands off the north coast.
These islands are beautiful, have a slow and relaxed pace of life and many are nature reserves due to their pristine landscape and unique flora and fauna. And it's no surprise that Germany's islands are more nature reserves than sun loungers: this country goes to great lengths to protect its natural landscape.
the island ofJellyIt's become a hot destination in its own right - head there for sprawling beaches, water sports and great food. For a relaxed atmosphere and the perfect place for a leisurely bike ride or walk, then the picturesque island ofhidden seeit would be the perfect place.
Back on the mainland, but at the opposite end of the country, is the stunning region ofBavaria. The culture there is very different from the rest of Germany, but what makes it so special are the alpine lakes, lush forests and impressive mountains that make Bavaria the most beautiful region in Germany.
be sure to visitKoenigssee, a lake in southern Bavaria considered by many to be the most beautiful in Germany. This lake is surrounded by spectacular steep mountains on all sides and is our favorite swimming spot in Europe. There are also some lovely hiking trails around Königssee.
To find another great hiking spot, head northwest to theBlack Forest. This region has been the inspiration for stories and legends for centuries, and is an attraction for hikers from all over the world. In fact, the trails on offer are regularly chosen as some of the most inspiring hikes in the world and help make Germany one of the best hiking and camping destinations in Europe.
A beautiful hiking trail is the Belchensteig, a 15 km circular route through the southern Black Forest to the top of theBelchén Mountain. The third highest peak (1414 m) in the Black Forest is also often described as one of the most beautiful climbs in Germany and offers fantastic panoramic views from the top.
Related:Hiking in the Black Forest
Be sure to visit thetriberg waterfallsIf you go through the Black Forest, this set of waterfalls, 163 m high, is a landmark in the region.
For something more unusual, visit the geyser atAndernach. While geysers are most often associated with places like Iceland, this one in western Germany shoots water out of the ground every two hours and reaches up to 60 meters high.
This geyser really sums up Germany too. This country is full of natural wonders, surprises and geographic landmarks all around.
So if you want to spend more time in nature than in cities or restaurants, Germany is probably a better option for you than France.
How do culture and environment compare?
France: Cities and Culture
If you're looking for a country with exceptional cities brimming with culture, France has probably surpassed Germany. In fact, cities likeParisthey are unique and worth a multi-day visit in their own right.
The capital's stylish cafes and coffee shops are great places to watch the world go by. This city also has one of the most famous shopping streets in the world: theElysian Fields– next to numerous museums and galleries. It is a city where there is culture in every corner.
the iconicRed windmillin Paris it also remains a popular nightspot for tourists, all scrambling to visit the place where the modern form of can-can was invented.
However, French cities likestrasbourg,tolosa, miBordeauxall offer their own charm and insight into French life too.
Strasbourg, capital of the Grand Est region, is a fascinating city that mixes French and German influences due to its proximity to Germany.
little francein the city that is worth visiting. This pretty postcard district of Strasbourg sits on the banks of the Rhine River and is made up of century-old houses, some made of wood, and full of quirky cafes and shops. It is historically a chocolate manufacturing district, and some small chocolate shops with delicious products still exist here.
Far removed from the French cities are the medieval towns that dot the countryside. Some are built around the wine trade, like dazzlingSan Emilion. With its many outdoor cafes and bars, this town is one of the best places in the wine region to sample France's most famous export.
Further north, take a trip to the colorful city ofcolmarin the northeast that looks like something out of a Hans Christian Anderson storybook.
Colorful buildings, cobbled streets and flowerbeds hug the canals that make up the old town. It is arguably the most beautiful city in Europe and one of the jewels in the crown of France.
Germany: cities and culture
It's hard to compete with a city like Paris, but the capital of GermanyBerlinit's iconic in its own way.
This city is probably the most diverse in Europe and as a result of the mix of cultures, religions and nationalities, a lively and exciting art, music and food scene has emerged.
Subsequently, Berlin became the most fashionable city in Germany to live in, and the district ofPrenzlauerbergit's the place for stylish cafes, independent shops and bars.
Of course, theBerlin WallIt's still a big draw for tourists visiting the city, and a trip to the barrier that used to divide Germany is well worth it. The visit to the wall is free, but you can take guided tours for a few euros, which is worth it for history lovers.
Bavaria is where you will find traditional villages that look like something out of a fairy tale book and beautifulRegensburg, known for its impressive 300-meter-long 13th-century stone bridge and surrounding medieval buildings, is no exception.
Much of the old town remains intact, unlike many other German cities due to bombing in World War II, and a walk along the river in the city is very special.
The traditional beer gardens that line the river in Regensburg are a hotspot for tourists and locals alike, serving up generous portions of food along with cold Bavarian beer. Go there to get a real taste of Germany..
further west isHeidelberg, a cobbled town that is considered one of the most beautiful in the country. The city has been home to philosophers and writers for centuries and has inspired many, like Mark Twain, to write some of his best works.
the red sandstoneCastillo de Heidelberglooms over the city and is worth visiting for the view of the city alone.
Back in Bavaria, you'll find countless villages with wooden houses and cobbled streets that look like they came straight from a movie set.
rothenburgit is one of our favorites and in fact parts of the town were used for scenes from Harry Potter due to the perfectly preserved old walls and buildings here.
However, the crown of the most special German city has to go tonoerdlings, a city encrusted with diamonds!
An asteroid struck compressed rock near the city millions of years ago, producing a rock studded with impact diamonds. This stone was used in the construction of the old town of Nördlingen and the result is a settlement that literally shines in the light. Climb the towerSt. George's Church- attended by a very friendly tower watchman - and see the city in all its splendor from above.
This is where Germany probably surpasses France. The small towns that dot the German countryside, especially in the south, really look like pages from a fairy tale. So while France arguably has the best cities, Germany has the most beautiful cities.
How does the kitchen compare?
The traditional food of France and Spain is a cocktail of the various civilizations that inhabited these nations.
But France, thanks to its rich wine and cheese-making tradition, is probably the star of the show.
France: the food
French cuisine is famous all over the world, mainly due to two exports: cheese and wine!
There are wonderful region-specific cheeses all over the country, fromqueso camembertin the north to the powerfulRoquefortIn the south.
The latter is one of the most famous blue cheeses in the world, and you can visit the caves where Roquefort is matured by visiting the town where it is made –Roquefort-sur-Soulzon.
If you are looking for something more substantial, trybeef burgundy. This dish comes from Burgundy and is a beef stew braised in red wine and cooked with a selection of vegetables such as carrots and mushrooms.
You're spoiled for choice when it comes to what to drink, and most red wines from the Bordeaux region will beat any other wine region in the world.
However, if you want something other than wine, tryChassis– this sweet currant liqueur is a popular after-dinner drink.
If you're a food and wine aficionado and haven't been to France yet, we think finally visiting this global culinary giant is a good reason to choose France over Germany this time around.
Germany: The food
When it comes to German cuisine, expect dishes that are high in carbs and meat. What more from a nation that produces so much beer!
embeddedIt is a traditional meal, and it is a sausage made with pork and spices. To use full German, combine it withsauerkraut– raw fermented cabbage that is extremely good for you.
In Bavaria, expect lots of grilled meats andveal cutlet– Breaded and fried meat (usually in fat). It is common for the schnitzel to come withgermany dough, which is a noodle-like garnish made with eggs.
Beer is of course synonymous with Germany. One of the best beers in the country isWeihenstephaner Hefe Weissbier. It is brewed in an old abbey and the brewery that makes this beer claims to be the oldest in the world, having been formed in 1040.
Fancy the thought of indulging in hearty beers and high-carb meals after a day of hiking in the Bavarian Hills? Then a trip to Germany will be perfect for you.
France or Germany: which is the best option?
Both France and Germany are great vacation destinations, but they offer very different vacations.
If you're looking for a vacation that's all about sun, sea, sand, and relaxation, as well as great day trips, France may be a better choice than Germany. France has iconic cities, such as Paris, and diverse regions such as the wine country and the French Riviera.
However, if you want a more nature-oriented vacation, with hiking opportunities and spectacular scenery, Germany will be a better choice than France.
Besides being a country full of mountains, lakes and waterfalls, Germany also has many charming cities and towns that look like something out of a fairy tale.
Germany also tends to be cheaper than France, although France is probably the best destination if you're a foodie.