Top 10 Largest Cities in Germany

By | March 12, 2023

Germany is officially called the ‘Bundesrepublik Deutschland’ or ‘Federal Republic of Germany’. It is a federal, parliamentary republic, consisting of sixteen states or unions. With a total of 80.6 million inhabitants, Germany is the most populous area in Europe and, together with France, the main driving force of the European Union. In addition to beer and bratwurst, there are plenty of reasons to get to know the country better. In this list we therefore visit the ten largest German cities. Check getzipcodes for list of the world’s most populous countries.

10. Bremen

The Stadtgemeinde Bremen is located in the northwest of Germany. It is a commercial and industrial center. With an important harbor at the mouth of the river Weser in the North Sea, the city itself is located about sixty kilometers south of this mouth. Bremen is part of the metropolitan region of Bremen/Oldenburg, which has a total of 2.4 million inhabitants. Of this number, about 547,340 inhabitants live in Bremen itself (2010).

9. Essen

The city of Essen is centrally located in the unavoidable Ruhr area, in North Rhine-Westphalen. It is even located right on the river Ruhr. With a population of 574,635, Essen is the ninth largest city in Germany (2010). Founded in 845, it remains historically linked to the Krupp family, whose iron enterprises brought great prosperity to the region. Until 1970, Essen remained Germany’s most important coal and steel player. Since then, the city has developed mainly in the field of services, in the tertiary sector. That is why Essen is sometimes referred to as ‘the desk of the Ruhr area’. In 2010, Essen was the European Capital of Culture, in the name of the entire Ruhr area.


In terms of land area, Dortmund is the largest city in the Ruhr area, which is the largest urban conglomeration in Germany, housing more than 5.1 million Germans. In addition, Dortmund is also part of the even larger Rhine-Ruhr region, which is home to more than 12 million people. The river Ruhr flows just south of the city, while the smaller Emscher runs right through it. That is why Dortmund can also be called a port city. In that port, for example, the Dortmund-Ems Canal has its terminus and direct access to the North Sea is made possible. In fact, Dortmund is the largest canal port in Europe. Thanks to this abundant presence of waterways, forest land and agricultural land, the city is sometimes referred to as the ‘Green Metropolis’ – despite a rich history of heavy steel and coal industries.

7. Dusseldorf

With 588,735 inhabitants (2010), Düsseldorf is the capital of North Rhine-Westphalia and the center of the Rhine-Ruhr region. The city is also an international business and financial leader and is particularly known for its fashion and trade fairs. The Düsseldorf Messe even accounts for the organization of almost one fifth of all premium trade fairs worldwide. As part of the Blue Banana – this is the trade center of Europe, stretched between Liverpool and Genoa across Brussels, Rotterdam, The Hague and the Ruhr area – Düsseldorf is home to five Fortune Global 500 companies and several DAX-listed groups.


Stuttgart is the capital of the state of Baden-Württemberg, in southern Germany. It has a population of 613,392 inhabitants (2011). The larger state of Baden-Württemberg has a population of 5.3 million people (2008). That makes Baden-Württemberg the fourth region of Germany. In that region, Stuttgart is in the center of the center, surrounded by a trio of smaller towns. This region, simply called the Stuttgart Region, has a population of about 1.8 million people. The city itself is spread over a number of hills (including mainly vineyards), valleys and parks. This makes Stuttgart a rather atypical German metropolis, in which a green outlook houses heavy industries such as car manufacturing.

5. Frankfurt am Main

With a population of 687,775 inhabitants (2012), we dive into the German top five via Frankfurt-am-Main – ‘Frankfurt’ for short. Frankfurt is the capital of the state of Hesse, which has a population of 2,300,000 million people (2010). The city is also central to the greater Frankfurt Rhine-Main region, which is home to a population of 5,600,000 people. Frankfurt is the financial heart of continental Europe and a global player in the financial market. It is home to the European Central Bank, the German Federal Bank and the Frankfurt Stock Exchange.

4. Cologne


With Köln (Cologne or Cologne) we leave the thousands behind and turn to the millions: 1,007,119 inhabitants to be precise (2010). Cologne is therefore the largest city in the whole of North Rhine-Westphalia and the Rhine-Ruhr area. Its surroundings are home to more than ten million Germans. The city itself straddles the Rhine and is still best known for its Kölner Dom (Cologne Cathedral), which contains the headquarters of the Catholic Archdiocese of Cologne. The University of Cologne – the Universität zu Köln – also remains renowned today as one of the oldest and largest universities in Europe.

3. Munich


Munich is the capital of the state of Bavaria (Bayern). The city is located north of the Bavarian Alps, on the river Isar, which will be better known to us as the Yser. About 1.5 million people live within the city limits of Munich (2012). The city name is said to be derived from the Old High Germanic word ‘Munichen’, which means ‘monks’ or ‘near the place of the monks’. The monks in question were of the Benedictine order. They are known as the founders of the city and are depicted as such on the Munich coat of arms. They adorn it in the famous gold and black, the colors of the Holy Roman Empire.

2. Hamburg


The Freie und Hansestadt Hamburg is not only the second largest city in Germany, but also the eighth largest city in Europe. It is home to more than 1.8 million Hamburgers (2012). The Hamburg metropolitan region is even home to as many as five million. Hamburg is located on and near the river Elbe. This also makes the city the second largest port in Europe, after the port of Rotterdam. The name Hamburg reflects the city’s origins as part of the medieval league of trading towns or Hanses and as an independent imperial city within the Holy Roman Empire. Before the unification of Germany in 1871, Hamburg was therefore a fully autonomous city-state, governed by Hanseatic offices and the well-to-do bourgeoisie, both of whom passed on their power from generation to generation through inheritances. And yes: Hamburg,

1. Berlin

Berlin is the capital of Germany and also our number one. The city itself is also one of the sixteen German states. With a population of more than 3.4 million people (2010), Berlin is one of the most densely populated areas in Europe. It is also simply the largest city in Germany. Berlin is located in northeastern Germany on the river Spree. It is the center of the Berlin-Brandenburg region. Yet one third of Berlin’s territory consists of forests, waterways, parks, gardens and lakes. They are one of the reasons why the quality of life in Berlin is exceptionally high; together with an extraordinary public transport network and an inimitable cultural wealth of universities, research centers, orchestras, museums, arts, festivals and architecture.