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14 Best Things to Do in Kaiserslautern, Germany

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Located in Southwest Germany in Rhineland-Palatinate, Kaiserslautern is steeped in history and beautiful scenery. Affectionally nicknamed K-Town, the Kaiserslautern area is home to many families of the US military community due to its proximity to Ramstein Air Base in Ramstein Miesenbach.

The city came to power during the reigns of Emperor Frederick Barbarossa and King Rudolf von Habsburg in the 10th and 11th centuries. Much of the city was destroyed during World War II and has been rebuilt in the decades following the war.

A few historical remnants, such as the Stiftskirche and the Pfalzgalarie Museum, have stood the test of time and make for incredible places to visit to learn about the city’s history.

Kaiserslautern and the surrounding area also offer many activities for the entire family. Kids will love playing at the public outdoor pool in Volkspark or learning about all the fascinating creatures who call the Kaiserslautern Zoo home.

The city sits just at the edge of the Palatinate Forest, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve (similar to UNESCO World Heritage Sites but for natural environments), which is a fantastic spot to get out of the city and into the outdoors.

With so many great activities for the entire family, the city is wonderful to explore whether you are visiting or living in Kaiserslautern. Keep reading to discover some of the best things to see and do in Kaiserslautern, along with some fantastic day trips nearby.

TL;DR

  • Most significant landmark – Humberg Tower
  • Best park – Gartenschau Kaiserslautern
  • Free activity – Wildpark Betzenberg
  • Best activity for kids – Kaiserslautern Zoo
  • Activity for adults – Museum Pfalzgalerie Kaiserslautern
  • Place to eat – Brauhaus am Markt
  • Best place to stay – SAKS Urban Design Hotel

Things to Do in Kaiserslautern, Germany

1. The Japanischer Garten

Japanischer Garten

Address: Am Abendsberg 1, 67657 Kaiserslautern, Germany

We have the Japanese Garden of Kaiserslautern, starting with some peace and tranquility. This beautiful spot includes a large pond home to over 250 koi fish, fascinating bonsai trees, and a relaxing zen garden.

Kaiserslautern’s Japanese Garden is modeled after three different kinds of traditional Japanese gardens – a pond, a dry landscape, and a tea garden, with strong water elements throughout.

The Japanese Garden hosts many incredible events throughout the year. Events include celebrations of Japanese culture like the Moon Festival and Star Festival, both in September, a Cherry Blossom Festival, and more casual events like yoga, reading walks, tea ceremonies, and forest bathing.

The Japanischer Garten is located in the city center of Kaiserslautern, just next to the town hall. Also next to the garden is the ALCATRAZ Hotel, a unique place to stay built in 1867. It is Germany’s first converted prison hotel and even features cell-style rooms with beds built by the actual former prisoners.

See Related: Day Trips from Nuremberg, Germany

2. Humberg Tower

Humberg Tower

Address: Bremerhof, 67663 Kaiserslautern, Germany

After spending time in nature, you can keep the theme going by scaling Humberg Hill. The hill offers incredible views of the entire city. And at the top, you can also enjoy another of Kaiserslautern’s tourist attractions – the Humberg Tower.

Humberg Tower has been an observation tower that Kaiserslautern’s residents have visited since its construction in 1900. Before it was constructed, locals loved visiting the hill to enjoy marvelous views of the city and the nearby Palatinate Forest. The tower was constructed of sandstone and features a spiral staircase to get to the top.

A hike up to the Humberg Tower takes approximately two hours round trip from the parking area in Bermerhof. It’s an awesome trail to enjoy year-round – just be prepared with good shoes and a rain jacket in the colder months. It’s suitable for kids and your furry friends.

3. Stiftskirche

Stiftskirche Architecture

Address: Marktstraße 13, 67655 Kaiserslautern, Germany

Located in the city center, Stiftskirche is one of the most important churches in the Palatinate. Construction work began on the Gothic church in 1250 and continued until 1350, but it needed extensive reconstruction after the Second World War. The collegiate church also ranks among the top things to see in Kaiserslautern.

The spires are impressive and can be seen from all parts of the city. The church’s Gothic-style architecture, distinctive to many historic European churches, is awe-inspiring. It also features gorgeous stained-glass windows, towering stone columns, and a fountain dating back to the 1500s.

In 1818, Lutherans and Calvinists from the surrounding area came together at this church to create a united city church. The church is still operating today and is touted as a main attraction of Kaiserslautern.

4. Heidelberg Castle

Heidelberg Castle Sunset Scenery

Address: Schlosshof 1, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany

Kaiserslautern has a number of fantastic day trips from the robust city. One of my favorites is Heidelberg Castle, located just one hour east of Kaiserslautern. Construction of this once-massive castle began in the 11th century as one castle. However, later expansion efforts resulted in two castles in 1294.

Unfortunately, the upper castle suffered immense destruction in 1537 after lightning struck it, leaving it in ruins. The castle ruins remained until 1697 when the initial reconstruction began after further destruction by French troops following the Thirty Years’ War.

Today, visitors can view much of the castle ruins along with parts of the castle that have remained well-preserved. Points of interest include the German Apothecary Museum, the Mountain Railway up to the castle, the famous garden, and the Imperial Hall.

5. Catch a FC Kaiserslautern game

FC Kaiserslautern

Address: Fritz-Walter-Straße 1, 67663 Kaiserslautern, Germany

Whether you’re interested in football (aka soccer for us Americans) or are just curious about the club, one of the most fun things to do in Kaiserslautern is to catch an FC Kaiserslautern game. The Red Devils are part of the second-division clubs in Germany.

The club’s home stadium is the Fritz-Walter Stadion, located in the southeastern part of the city. Buy your ticket and enjoy some action among thousands of cheering fans. There’s also an FC Kaiserslautern museum where fans can learn about the team’s history, which began in 1900.

If the excitement got to you a bit too much, don’t worry, there’s a great Best Western Hotel just a few minutes away from the stadium. This family-friendly hotel features a great outdoor terrace, a bar, and a fitness center.

6. Kaiserslautern Zoo

Zebra at Kaiserslautern Zoo

Address: Zum Tierpark 10, 67661 Kaiserslautern, Germany

Spending a day at the zoo is always a fun, family-friendly activity when visiting a new city. The Kaiserslautern Zoo covers 17 acres and is home to 110 species and over 600 individual animals, including kangaroos, zebras, porcupines, and camels.

You and your family can observe animals, like meerkats and otters, during feeding time or feed the goats and sheep yourself at the petting zoo. The tropical house creates a warm climate where marmosets, sloths, squirrel monkeys, and other fascinating animals live. The Savannah is where you’ll find animals native to Africa, like the African ostrich and zebra.

To learn more about these incredible animals, the Kaiserslautern Zoo offers guided tours and animal “adoption,” where you can sponsor an animal for a year and get up close and personal with them.

If you’ll be in Kaiserslautern for a while during the summer or fall, the zoo offers a “vacation” program for school-aged kids where they can spend all day Monday through Friday at the zoo learning about animals through play and adventures.

7. Wildpark Betzenberg

Herd of Deer at Wildpark Betzenberg

Address: Entersweiler Straße, 67657 Kaiserslautern, Germany

After spending time at the zoo, head to the Betzenberg Wildlife Park, where native animals roam. In 1970, the city set up the park to help locals and visitors enjoy watching animals in an area similar to the wild. There are species native to the place that once roamed freely but are currently faced with extinction.

There are grassy areas where the animals browse, water holes, walking trails, and where children can climb and explore. Though this is a human-made reserve, it has created a natural environment for animals. It covers over 70 acres and is home to deer, bison, wild cats, wild boars, and wild horses.

The best part? Wildpark Betzenberg is free to visit year-round! It’s one of the best free things to do in Kaiserslautern for those who love animals and the great outdoors.

See Related: Family Vacation Ideas in Germany

8. Day Trip to Palatinate Forest

Trail at Palatinate Forest

Bordering Kaiserslautern is the majestic Palatinate Forest, which spans over 700 square miles of land and is the largest continuous forest in Germany. The UNESCO-listed Palatinate Forest beckons every adventure seeker who wants to spend time away from the city. You can head there on foot, in a car, or on a bike.

This massive forest has incredible landmarks, including castles, unique rock formations, and beautiful walking trails. One of the most formidable castles is Trifels Castle, but you should also try to visit Burgruine Hardenburg and Altdahn Castle.

Other beautiful sights dot the landscape. One is the Devil’s Table, or Hinterweidenthal in German, plus scenic trails like the Dahner Felsenland.

9. Martinskirche

Martinskirche Interior

Address: Spittelstraße 4, 67655 Kaiserslautern, Germany

Many medieval castles and churches throughout Germany dating back several centuries. One of the oldest churches in Kaiserslautern is Martinskirche, built in the early 14th century and located in the city’s historic old town.

Unlike many other European churches, it is not grand in structure, but there’s a reason. The Franciscan Monastery was known for its modest ways, which are reflected in many structures.

Another difference the church has from many others is the tower’s absence. The order didn’t believe in showing off using architecture. Instead, the church has a Baroque-style steeple. Today, Matisnskirche is a Catholic church that welcomes visitors daily.

A five-minute walk to the church is SAKS Urban Design Hotel, an incredible modern juxtaposition to the old town. The hotel is also just a 15-minute walk from the main train station. If you’re looking for a bite to eat, be sure to stop by Brauhaus am Markt, a brewery that gives visitors an authentic taste of German cuisine.

10. Kaiserslautern City Museum (Theodor-Zink-Museum)

Kaiserslautern City Museum (Stadtmuseum) Building
Photographs by Radosław Drożdżewski (User:Zwiadowca21) / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0

Address: Steinstraße 48, 67657 Kaiserslautern, Germany

The Kaiserslautern City Museum, also called the Theodor-Zink-Museum, features a collection of artifacts and artwork that are important to the history of Kaiserslautern. The museum is named after Theodor Zink, a professor and researcher who collected many of the items displayed today.

All the artifacts inside are from the region and highlight the city’s most important events and people. There’s pottery, jewelry, and artwork to view. Some artifacts even date back to the 5th century BC, showcasing the earliest evidence of settlements in the area.

Another part of the museum features the Industrial Revolution in Kaiserslautern. Here you’ll see all the different products the city was famous for during that period. Most industries are represented here, including pottery, metalwork, stonework, and many more.

See related: Museums in Berlin, Germany

11. Museum Pfalzgalerie Kaiserslautern

Museum Pfalzgalerie Kaiserslautern Building

Address: Museumspl. 1, 67657 Kaiserslautern, Germany

If you’d like to visit Kaiserslautern’s most impressive contemporary art museum, check out the Museum Pfalzgalerie Kaiserslautern. The museum features three wings and focuses mainly on sculptures, paintings, and graphic art. It is in the city center, just north of the old town.

You can catch permanent exhibitions containing German art spanning over two centuries. Over 900 paintings, mainly from the 20th century, feature famous artists like Max Liebermann and Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. The museum also hosts a wide array of special temporary exhibits, including modern art and works from the past.

A visit to the Museum Pfalzgalerie Kaiserslautern is the perfect thing to do in this town when the weather is not ideal for outdoor activities. Tickets are affordable and make a great activity to spend quality time with your loved ones.

12. Gartenschau Kaiserslautern

Mammut in der Gartenschau in Kaiserslautern
dietwalther – stock.adobe.com

Address: Lauterstraße 51, 67659 Kaiserslautern, Germany

The best park to visit here has to be Gartenschau Kaiserslautern. This giant park includes many features, including a dinosaur sculpture garden, playgrounds, and flower gardens. You can easily spend two to three hours here just playing and running around.

A friend lives in the Ramstein area and loves bringing her toddler here at least once a week. There are many activities for kids, like a LEGO exhibit in a former spinning mill and a dinosaur park. There’s also a large wooden playground and lots of places for picnics.

Within the park, a small restaurant serves simple meals and treats like ice cream, french fries, and beer. Nearby, the charming Hotel Blechhammer sits on a peaceful lake, featuring elegant and classic decor.

See Related: Things to Do in Cologne

13. Attend a festival at Messeplatz

Festival in Messeplatz, Kaiserslautern
Brittney Liu / ViaTravelers

Address: Messepl. 67655 Kaiserslautern, Germany

Like many German towns, Kaiserslautern always has some festival or celebration. The city hosts many fairs and festivals at Messeplatz in the southeast.

When I visited the town in October, there was a giant folk festival. There were also a ton of carnival rides for kids and adults and delicious German food (I’m talking sausages grilled over an open flame. So good!). There are always rides, games, entertainment, and food booths.

Check out the Lautrer Kerwe Kaiserslautern website to discover events happening while visiting. If nothing’s happening, next to Messeplatz is Volderpark, another awesome park with an outdoor pool and lots of places to hang out and play. Nearby, the Hampton by Hilton hotel offers free parking, a fitness center, and comfortable guest rooms.

See Related: Music Festivals to Attend This Summer

14. Nanstein Castle

Aerial view of Nanstein Castle in Landstuhl, Germany
Marc / Adobe Stock

Address: Schlossruine Nanstein, Burgweg 1, 66849 Landstuhl, Germany

Just twenty minutes outside of Kaiserslautern lies the ruins of Nanstein Castle, one of the earliest castles in the Palatinate. The castle was first built in the early 1200s but has been destroyed and rebuilt numerous times over the centuries. It was the site of the violent death of Franz von Sickingen, known as “the last knight,” during a siege of the castle.

From the castle ruins, visitors can enjoy an incredible panoramic view of the area. In the summer, a guided tour of the castle is offered. The castle also has a large restaurant with a great terrace below the ruins.

Also, the town of Landstuhl hosts Castle Experience Days and Castle Games during the summer. These events are giant medieval festivals where the surrounding cities celebrate their heritage.

FAQ

What is Kaiserslautern famous for?

Kaiserslautern is a former imperial city known for its medieval buildings and large US military presence.

Are there any special events or festivals in Kaiserslautern?

Many special events and festivals are happening throughout the year in Kaiserslautern. You’ll almost always find a festival or fair happening in Messeplatz, the city’s fairgrounds.

Are there any historical sites or museums to visit in Kaiserslautern?

The main historical sites in Kaiserslautern are Humberg Tower, Stiftskirche, and Martinskirche. Great museums to visit include the Kaiserslautern City Museum and Museum Pfalzgalerie Kaiserslautern.

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