The largest city in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Rostock straddles the Warnow River on the north coast of Germany. It’s home to one of the oldest universities in the world and a beautiful botanical garden, as well as an atmospheric old town and cobblestoned main square.

At the heart of Rostock lies the Neuer Markt (New Market Square), which is home to the 13th-century Rathaus (Town Hall) that fuses both Gothic and Baroque styles. The square is lined with beautifully restored gable houses that date from the 15th and 16th centuries, together with Hanseatic homes that were rebuilt following Allied bombings in 1942.

Of particular note is the 15th-century Kerkhofhaus behind the Town Hall that is considered the city’s best-preserved Brick Gothic-style house, as well as the Marienkirche on Ziegenmarkt that dates to the 13th century. Don’t miss a visit to St. Nicholas Church, which stands as the oldest church in Rostock and houses a small museum.

To the west of the Neuer Markt is Universitätsplatz where the ornate main buildings of the historic Rostock University are located. Founded in 1419, today the university includes the old Franciscan monastery of Michaeliskloster where the University of Rostock Library houses its special collections, as well as a botanical garden to the west of the city center that features an alpine garden, an arboretum and a herbarium where around 20,000 families are represented.

Rostock’s seaside port of Warnemünde is one of its most popular destinations and is located where the Warnow River meets the Baltic Sea. It’s home to a 19th-century lighthouse and old fishermen’s houses that have been transformed into cafes and boutiques while the former home of Norwegian painter Edvard Munch is now open as a museum and modern art gallery.