Updated: January 5, 2022
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 a wonderful 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 through 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. If you’re planning a trip to Germany, follow along as I’m sharing 9 of the most beautiful places to visit.
Germany Road Trips
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 about driving 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 central 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.
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! The process was a breeze, and the car was in good condition.
We didn’t care to stay in Munich because we wanted to focus on the small towns this time around. However, we did spend a few hours in the city center before picking up our rental. If Munich is on your schedule, 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. Since I was aiming for small towns during this first trip to Germany, I chose to stay in Fussen to visit the castle.
People usually visit Fussen as a day trip (from Munich) to or from the castle. But that day trip becomes a whole day ordeal because of the distance; more info is below.
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.
Read more about Fussen HERE.
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 staying 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.
Read my detailed guide on how to get to Neuschwanstein Castle HERE.
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 we couldn’t make it due to drama from a hotel.
Read about more things to do in Rothenburg HERE.
FAVORITE STOP: Gasthof Butz, we had a great traditional German dinner here with a generous side of Riesling.
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 we can return to explore it by boat one day.
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
We made a quick stop in Rüdesheim am Rhein on our way to Mosel Valley. Rüdesheim is another town located in the Rhine Valley. It’s only a 40-minute drive from Bacharach along the Rhine River.
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 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 is an excellent 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. Just look at it! Both Jorge and I loved our stay here and truly enjoyed the views we got from the top.
FAVORITE STOP: Alte Gutsschänke, a 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. We gasped and wowed as soon as the castle peeked out at us. It was worth the morning struggle.
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 quickly 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.
So I see by the wine you drank it was early September? It pays to re-read slowly lol! Thanks again.
Hi Lily….you did a FABULOUS job on this Germany trip report, the photography, the information, all simply wonderful, Thank-you! I was wondering what time of year you traveled? Everything is green and the flowers are in full bloom but somehow you got shots without all the crowds, so Im thinking it wasn’t Summer? I plan to use your post as my Germany travel guide next year and fingers crossed we will have a similarly amazing trip. Thanks again!
Hi Debbie, so sorry for the delay! Yes, I did visit in September. It was September 9th, I believe, right after the summer crowds.
Hi Lily, what an amazing article! You’ve truly sold me on these 9 beautiful towns.
Do you know what traveling to these places looks like now that COVID is such a factor?
Hi Olivia, thanks so much for reading! Unfortunately, I don’t know much about their covid situation since I went before the pandemic.
Hi Lily – Amazing article with awesome information!! My family and I are planning a trip to Germany for February Break.. I was wondering how long the 9 cites took you? We might have to only pick a few you listed since we are going for a week!
Hi Jenna, as mentioned in the post, I visited all those places in 5 days! We didn’t explore much of Munich, though. The cities aren’t far apart, so a week should be plenty.
Great information and I love your gorgeous photos! Ever since my first time visiting Germany just before COVID (Cologne, Essen, Dusseldorf), I’m dying to go back! Love your helpful insights on driving too; we might try a road trip! And I agree – Germans are so friendly and hospitable!
Thanks so much, Kellee! I can’t wait to return either. The road trip is definitely worth it.
What beautiful pictures. We are headed to Denmark in July and have decided to fly into Germany and take a road trip north. Your comments about feeling safe driving in Germany were exactly what I needed to hear before deciding to fly into Munich as our starting point. Thank you for sharing your travels with us!
Thank you so much for reading and for your comment! I’m glad the post was helpful that’s always my goal. Enjoy Germany, I can’t wait to return!
Muchas gracias por esta entrada, la he leído con el traductor en español, con una traducción muy buena, eso significa que el original es un muy buen relato, me encantó, con datos específicos y entretenidos, otra vez gracias! Vivo en el sur de Alemania, y estos datos son para mi muy útiles, para fines de semana.
Muchas gracias por tu comentario. 🙂 Me alegra que esta entrada te haya ayudado. Disfruta tus fines por Alemania, ¡me encanta ese país!
Germany is amazing! I didn’t believe it either, but after moving to Germany I’ve discovered so many charming places. It sounds like you had a great time and your photos are really beautiful!
Lucky to be living in Germany! That was my dream for a while but wasn’t able to make it happen. Hoping to return soon enough!
Yes, yes and yes! This is the road trip I want to make. Last time I went to the Rhine-Moselle area, the trip was ruined by torrential rain. And, of course, I was looking forward the most to those days spent there. But, I am hopeful another opportunity to visit will present.
Oh man I’ve had several trips ruined by rain and it’s so disheartening. Hope you get to return soon!
Reading through this post made me so happy, I love all of the buildings in Germany, they are so beautiful! The places you visited were stunning, great photos!
Excellent post! I’d love to explore more of Germany one day. I’ve only been to Munich, but I did take a trip to Neuschwanstein Castle!
These places are incredible! You make me want to go back to Germany even though I have been countless times. I need to go see these places in real life now! Thanks for sharing!
I have had the same thoughts about Germany. I wasn’t too interested until I heard about this Bavarian road trip a few months back. And your experience here has made that trip bump up to the top of my bucket list. I am going to pin , bookmark and save this blog. Thank you for inspiring me! Love love love your pictures..
What a beautiful experience, Lily! 💛 You’ve been to beautiful places in Germany, one better than the other. But I wonder how much time you spent in Munich, since you didn’t share many details about this lovely city.
I have the honor to call it home! And, as time went by, I discovered hidden spots and super interesting stories that locals told me. If you come back to Munich, let me know and I’ll take you out!
I’m so sorry for the delay in response, as you see life has been crazy lately😣 Hope you’re all well in Germany! I loved visiting so much last year and would love to return to Munich one day♥️ we only stayed for a few hours before picking up our rental car since our plan was to visit the smaller towns first. Thanks so much for reading!
Just happened upon your great blog, thanks for all the info. I have already planned our 23 day road trip starting in Berlin and ending in Frankfurt, but what is so timely is we will be staying in 5 of the towns ( Munich, Fussen, Rothenburg ob der tauber, Beilstein, Ruedesheim am Rhein) you wrote about and visiting for the other places. We are even staying at the Hotel Hirsch for 2 nights.
Loved your pictures, too!
Oh man your trip sounds amazing!! You’re going to love love love Germany, especially the wine region — it’s such a dream! And Hotel Hirsch looks so cool, good choice! Thanks for reading 🙂
Loved your article! Since living in Germany for 5 years now I know that 12pm usually means our 12am and filling up at a gas station right off the autobahn is a no, no! The other gas stations a little bit in town will be much cheaper!
Thanks for reading! Lucky you get to live in Germany, can’t wait to return one day. 🙂
All these German towns are so pretty!! I really need to go explore some more of Germany.
For sure, definitely check out the small towns!
Federweißer Season usually goes until mid-October at least, thankfully! And when you see long stretches on the Autobahn with no posted speed limit, it is because it’s unlimited.
Next time, definitely check out the Weinstraße in the Pfalz (Rhineland-Palatinate in English). It’s a gorgeous collection of small towns in the second largest wine region. Glad you had a good time, Germany is so lovely!
Whaaa? That’s awesome! Yeah I had read somewhere that it was only a few weeks, but it’s good that it lasts longer lol it’s so good. And I’ll save that place for next time cause we’ll definitely be back! Thanks 🙂
Love your pictures and recommendations! especially the castles – they look amazing!
Thanks Daria!! No shortage of amazing castles in Germany, I loved it.
We are headed to Germany this November and this post is giving me lots of ideas for itinerary planning (we will be staying in Rothenburg and Munich)
Yay! I’m glad I was able to give you a few more ideas. You’re going to LOVE Germany!
Oh man!!! Some of these were already on my list, but I’d never heard of Berg Eltz or Beilstein and they look like an absolute DREAM!! I have a good friend near that area, and she wants to do a road trip around Scotland, so I’m gonna take her on a road trip here, and then she can take me on a road trip there!! Haha.
Hahaha I love this idea!!! Scotland is incredible so it sounds like two amazing road trips!
Wow, Germany looks like an absolute dream! It’s super high on my bucket list and your photography is amazing. I will deff be using this guide when I get to go. I really want to see the Neuschwanstein Castle. I prob wouldn’t want to do the tour inside either. Great post!
Thank you, Sam! 🙂 Yeah I’ve read and felt like going inside would be a waste of time – at least for my travel style.
Beautiful photography! You probably could’ve said “There’s absolutely nothing to do in this entire country” and I would still want to go just to see these pictures in real life!
LOL, I love this comment! Thanks so much for reading 🙂 I hope you make it to Germany soon.