I did not expect to love Germany as much as I did. That’s why I foolishly put off visiting for so long. But oh man what an amazing country! It quickly became one of my favorite places in the world. The food was incredible, the people were so kind to us, and the towns were beyond charming. And to think, we’ve barely scratched the surface of what Germany has to offer.
Neuschwanstein Castle from Mary’s Bridge
With just 5 short days to travel the southern part of the country, I planned the most efficient Germany road trip possible. I focused on Bavaria, castles, wine regions, and stops along the Romantic Road. With that, I’m sharing 9 of the most beautiful places to visit in Germany to help with your itinerary.
Germany Road Trip
While planning a trip to Germany, we had so many questions about the road. Is it safe? Are the roads easy to drive? Jorge has driven in 8 foreign countries and they’ve all brought their challenges. That is why research is key. We decided to drive instead of taking a train because it helped us save time and money.
views as we were driving to Cochem
Here’s what we learned about driving in Germany:
- Germany is the easiest place Jorge has ever driven. So much so that I would even consider driving, and I’m nervous to drive in foreign countries. It also helps that the other drivers are respectful.
- You drive on the right side of the road.
- Their roads are well taken care of. The ones we came across in southern Germany were super smooth, even in the small towns.
- There are no tolls in Germany.
- You don’t need an international driving permit to drive in Germany. Your US license is enough.
- Research the German driving laws and road signs before driving. None of the signs are in English and it can be hard to figure out what the symbols mean. I’m pretty sure we went down some roads that we weren’t supposed to.
- The speed limits we saw on the Autobahn went up 130 km/h (80 mph). Sometimes we’d go long gaps without seeing any speed limits at all.
- Gas can be pricey. We drove about 650 miles and filled up twice when we were at 1/4 tank for $120.
- Gas stations accept credit cards. Regardless of how you choose to pay, you pump first and then go inside to pay in person.
- Parking is easy to find!!* You’ll find parking lots right off the main roads before entering the towns or city walls. You can’t miss them. Parking is free in some places or around 2 euros per hour. *I can only speak for the towns we visited below.
saw this little guy during our drive
Germany Itinerary: Start in Munich
Munich was the cheapest airport to fly into, and the closest to all the towns I wanted to visit. It only made sense to start the itinerary there.
We flew into Munich and rented a car from Europcar near the main train station, München Hauptbahnhof. The exact location is called Europcar MUNICH CITY TILL 12PM. It’s a confusing name since they stay open way past noon.
The process was a breeze and the car was in good condition. We paid $220 for a 5-day rental that included all the necessary insurance and a drop off in a different city (Koblenz). Not a bad deal!
We didn’t care to stay in Munich because this time around we wanted to focus on the small towns. However, we did spend a few hours in the city center before picking up our rental. If Munich is on your agenda, here are some places we loved:
Man Versus Machine– Excellent coffee shop! Make sure to try a franzbrötchen (traditional German pastry) with your coffee.
Chocolaterie Beluga– A chocolate cafe that specializes in drinking chocolate. They have over 30 flavors in spoon shapes, choose your favorite and dip it in hot milk. It tastes amazing.
California Bean– I had a delicious breakfast here, but skip the coffee.
You’ll also find tons of food stalls in the Altstadt area selling a variety of German food. Jorge stopped for a bratwurst on our way out of the city.
Places to Visit in Germany
I have so much to share about all of these places, including many more photos. Individual blog posts for each of the regions are soon to come! For now, I wanted to kick things off with a general overlook of all the stops we made to help you plan your Germany itinerary.
1. Fussen, Germany
Füssen is a gorgeous Bavarian town located at the foot of the mountains near Austria. This small town can be considered the beginning or last stop of the Romantic Road in Germany. It’s also a 5-minute drive to the famous Neuschwanstein Castle.
People usually visit Fussen as a day trip (from Munich) on their way to or from the castle. But that day trip becomes a whole day ordeal because of the distance, more info on that below. Since I was aiming for small towns during this first trip to Germany, I chose to stay in Fussen to visit the castle.
Though it’s small, you’ll find great food and a pretty good coffee scene. The perk of staying in a place that’s regularly filled with day-trippers is that as soon as they’re gone you get to enjoy a quieter side of town.
FAVORITE STOP: Fussener Kaffeerosterei, a coffee roaster in Fussen! We were surprised to find this place and even bought a bag of coffee to bring home.
2. Neuschwanstein Castle
If you stay in Munich, it’ll take 2.5 hours each way by train + bus to visit Neuschwanstein Castle. If you have limited days and want to experience castles and fairytale towns, I recommend you stay in Füssen. Plus, the drive is beautiful!
When you arrive at the castle, you can park at any of the lots and take a shuttle bus or hike up to Mary’s Bridge where you’ll get this view. We had no interest in doing a tour of the inside.
3. Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany
Rothenburg ob der Tauber is another magical town located in Bavaria along the Romantic Road. This was the longest drive on our entire road trip, and it was only 2 hours from Fussen to Rothenburg. So just for reference, all the other towns are short distances away.
Rothenburg is a popular destination and one of Germany’s best-preserved historic towns. It’s full of great restaurants, shops, and unique museums including a year-round Christmas museum/store.
If you’re there in the evening try to catch the Rothenburg Night Watchman tour. It’s free and it’s supposedly quite entertaining and informative. We had it on our list but due to drama from a hotel, we weren’t able to make it.
4. Bacharach, Germany
Bacharach is the loveliest town located in the Rhine Valley. It’s nestled between hills of Riesling vineyards and the Rhine River. You’ll find fewer tourists in this area and more peaceful streets.
The Rhine Valley is the largest wine-producing region in Germany so the tastings are abundant and delicious. All that plus historic architecture, you know I fell in love.
One popular thing to do while in the Rhine Valley is to take a boat tour along the river to see all the castles that this area boasts. We didn’t get a chance to do that, but I hope one day we can return to explore it by boat.
Jorge walking through the vineyards
FAVORITE STOP: Views from Postenturm, we had this spot to ourselves and it was unforgettable. To see Bacharach from this angle is a must.
5. Rudesheim am Rhein
Rüdesheim am Rhein is another town located in the Rhine Valley. It’s only a 40-minute drive from Bacharach along the Rhine River. We made a quick stop in Rüdesheim on our way to Mosel Valley.
It’s a lively little town that seemed to get more visitors than Bacharach. I loved walking around taking photos, hearing all the live music, and of course, drinking the local and seasonal Federweißer wine.
FAVORITE STOP: Anyone who was serving Federweisser (Federweißer)! Federweisser is a young wine that is only available for the first few weeks of September in Germany. We learned about this treat while we were out there and I loved that I got to try something seasonal and uniquely theirs.
6. Cochem, Germany
Beautiful Cochem is located along the Mosel (Moselle) River and a great base for anyone looking to explore this scenic area.
The Mosel River flows through Germany, Luxembourg, and France, and meets up with the Rhine River in Koblenz. Koblenz is where we returned the car at the end of our trip. Cochem is also close to Burg Eltz, one of Germany’s most stunning castles.
In Cochem, you’ll also find a castle overlooking the town, unique architecture, and plenty of vineyards. Both Jorge and I loved our stay here and truly enjoyed the views we got from the top. Just look at it!
FAVORITE STOP: Alte Gutsschänke, cozy restaurant with a wine cellar ambiance. One night we were hungry and wanted to do a wine tasting cause when in Germany, right? We tried this place on a whim and loved it! The service was wonderful, the decor was perfect, and the wine was so good we brought some bottles home.
7. Burg Eltz
If you’re visiting the Mosel or Rhine area (even if you’re not) you need to see Burg Eltz in person. I wanted to experience it without any of the crowds so I planned accordingly. By staying in Cochem, we were only a 30-minute drive away.
So one morning we woke up early to visit this extraordinary castle that has been there for over 800 years. It was worth the morning struggle. We gasped and wowed as soon as the castle peeked out at us.
And here I am taking it in.
8. Beilstein, Germany
The tiny town of Beilstein is the main reason I was drawn to the Mosel Valley. I saw a photo of it online and knew my camera and I had to explore it. I was right, I loved it. It easily became one of my favorites even though it’s the size of a shoebox.
Beilstein is a quick 15-minute drive from Cochem along the Mosel River. It’s often referred to as the “Sleeping Beauty of the Moselle”. Every nook in Beilstein is picturesque, and the buildings are either covered in flowers or grapevines. The whole town is oh so charming, and I couldn’t stop taking pictures.
FAVORITE STOP: The whole dang town! Again, it’s tiny and we only spent a few hours there. But I guess if I had to choose a favorite, it’d be this nook below that inspired me to visit in the first place.
9. Bernkastel-Kues, Germany
Bernkastel wasn’t on my list, but I’m glad we had a chance to visit. It’s another medieval town located further south along the Mosel. It felt bigger than Cochem and more crowded. But it offered tons of beauty and plenty of wine bars! I’m telling ya, the Rhine/Mosel areas are like the Tuscany of Germany.
I wish I had more time in Bernkastel, I felt like there was still so much left to explore. I mentioned to Jorge that whenever we returned to this region, Bernkastel would be another great base. Since it’s a slightly bigger town than Cochem, there seemed to be more food options (which I always prefer).
FAVORITE STOP: The Spitzhausen, a unique building that’s now a wine bar. For anyone who’s been following the blog for a while, you know that I love facades. So imagine the joy when I stumbled upon this half-timbered pointy house! We didn’t try the wine bar, but it’s on the list for next time.
There you have it, 9 places to visit in Germany that I’m sure you’ll love as much as we did. I can’t wait to return to this country and explore further. If you’ve been, what place would you add to this list?