Planning a Germany road trip? We’ve got you covered with our extensive road trip itinerary. Germany is a large country with plenty of adventures to be had and incredible sites to be seen. It’s home to Oktoberfest, fairytale castles, dreamy lakes, lush forests, Roman ruins and so much more. We’ve chosen to map out a detailed road trip that will take you through a huge portion of the country. Feel free to pick and choose parts of the road trip if you don’t have the time to explore it all.
The Perfect Germany Road Trip Itinerary
Renting A Car For Your Road Trip In Germany
Driving in Germany is the perfect way to see as much of the country as you possibly can. You’ll be flying both in an out of Munich (though Berlin and Frankfurt are also good airport options if your time restrictions don’t allow you to return to Munich). Upon arrival we suggest you rent a car to begin your journey. Sixt is a great car rental option. It was founded in Germany and will take care of all your rental car needs. This is one of the BEST ROAD TRIPS IN EUROPE so you are in for a real treat and a memorable experience!
In much of Europe, driving a manual car is more common than driving an automatic. If you’re not familiar with or comfortable with driving a manual car, don’t test your manual skills now. Stick with what you know, particularly when you’re driving in Germany, a country with an autobahn that has no speed limit. Lucky for you, Sixt offers an array of automatic cars so you won’t have to worry about struggling with a manual.
Don’t forget to check out our Detailed Road Trip Packing List so you don’t forget any essentials for your trip!
Stop 1: Begin Your Germany Road Trip With A Beer And Gothic Architecture in Munich
Your Germany road trip will begin in Munich, Bavaria’s capital and the birthplace of Oktoberfest. Though Oktoberfest attracts a staggering number of tourists each year, Munich is far more than just beer and lederhosen. It’s also home to excellent museums and lavish palaces. There’s Gothic architecture, markets, impressive churches and long stretches of green park space. It is a special city and a worthwhile stop on your Germany road trip.
People around the world often associate Munich with Oktoberfest, the most famous beer festival in the world held in the Theresienwiese fields from late September to early October. Oktoberfest celebrations happen around the world but the original and largest festival of them all happens in Munich every year. The first Oktoberfest was in 1810 and was held as a celebration of the marriage between King Ludwig and Princess Therese. Thanks to the original celebration being such a hit, the festivities continued the following year and beyond. Today’s celebration is full of parades, endless beer, plenty of good food, singing, rides and games.
It is no surprise that like many German cities, Munich is also home to a lavish, ornately decorated palace. We’re speaking of the Muenchen Residenz (Munich Residence), the former home of the Wittelsbach monarchs of Bavaria. The palace continued to be expanded over the years by the various monarchs and so today it is an amalgam of architectural styles. Though WWII wrecked havoc on the Residence, the palace was gradually reconstructed beginning in 1945. Today, much of the Residence is a museum where the public comes to admire the craftsmanship and architecture of the rooms, the furniture, the stunning artwork, and various remaining treasures. The Residence Museum, Treasury and Cuvilliés Theatre require admission tickets to access.
Just in case one palace wasn’t enough, we have another strikingly beautiful Baroque-style palace for you to visit, Schloss Nymphenburg (Nymphenburg Palace). The palace was initially constructed for Ferdinand Maria and Henriette Adelaide after the birth of their son and heir to the throne. As new royalty inhabited the palace, expansions and remodels took place so the palace you see today is a combination of Baroque, Rococo and neoclassical designs. Inside the castle you’ll want to visit the Steinernen Saal (Great Hall) and King Ludwig I’s “Gallery of Beauties.” The park outside the palace is also particularly stunning with beautiful gardens, a handful of museums, fountains and smaller summer residences.
The two domed towers of the Frauenkirche (Cathedral of Our Dear Lady) are prominent, easily visible landmarks in Munich. This Gothic cathedral is the largest church in the city. When entering the cathedral be sure to look for the Teufelstritt (Devil’s Footstep), a black footprint like shape said to belong to the Devil. There is no one agreed upon story as to why the Devil made such a footprint, though one theory suggests that the Devil stamped his foot in approval upon discovering the cathedral was windowless (it actually has windows, but they’re blocked by columns). Regardless of how it appeared, the mark remains a defining feature of the cathedral today. We also suggest climbing up to the south tower for spectacular views of Munich and the Alps.
In 1933, Dachau became the first Nazi concentration camp. It is located just outside of Munich and makes for a sobering, educational stop on your Germany road trip. The camp was originally used to hold political prisoners but quickly expanded to inter other groups and the camp soon became well overcapacity. The entrance gate to Dachau reads “Arbeit Macht Frei” (Work Makes You Free). Dachau is now a memorial that you can either tour yourself or pay for a guide to take you through. Inside you’ll find the crematorium, gas chamber, barracks and the Memorial Museum. Plan to spend at least a few hours here to give yourself enough time to complete your tour, read all the available information and have a moment to reflect on the heavy events that occurred here.
Berlin is not the only city with fantastic museums. Munich is home to the three Pinakothek Museums, the Alte Pinakothek, Neue Pinakothek, and the Pinakothek der Moderne. The Alte Pinakothek opened in 1836 and is one of the oldest and largest art museums in the world. Here you’ll find all the best artwork from the 14th to 18th century. The Neue Pinakothek opened in 1853 and contains 19th century artwork. German works are well represented here along with the heavy hitters of the art world like Van Gogh and Monet. The Pinakothek der Moderne opened in 2002 and is filled with spectacular modern art. All three are located nearby each other and are definitely worth a visit.
The Englischer Garten (English Garden) is a sprawling, beautiful park in the heart of Munich. It is perfect for typical park activities such as recreational sports, long walks, biking, etc., but the English Garden is far from your average park. Some particularly noteworthy aspects of the park include the Schönfeldwiese, an area of the park known for its nude sunbathers. There’s also the Chinesisher Turm (Chinese Tower), which is a very distinctive park landmark and houses one of the largest beer gardens in Munich. Though it’s the largest, there are a handful of other beer gardens within the park, a clear reminder that you are in fact still in Germany. The park has a Japanese Teahouse, with tea ceremonies once a month, restaurants, a beautiful lake (Kleinhesseloher See) and paddleboats. There’s no shortage of fun activities for all age groups in this wonderful park.
Munich’s Old Town is centered around Marienplatz, the main square. When in the Marienplatz you’ll inevitably spot the Neues Rathaus, the neo-Gothic style ornately decorated New Town Hall. The Neues Rathaus also houses the famous Glockenspiel. The Glockenspiel shows that feature dancing figurines happen at 11am, 12pm, and 5pm (the 5pm is only March-October) every day. While exploring Marienplatz you should also take note of the beautiful reconstructed Altes Rathus (Old Town Hall) and the Mariensaule (column of St. Mary) that features a golden statue of the Virgin Mary. Marienplatz is a great base for exploring Munich, as it is within walking distance of many of Old Town’s biggest attractions and is connected to the rest of Munich by train.
Peterskirche (St. Peter’s Church) is located in Munich’s Old Town and is the oldest Catholic church in the city. Once a largely wooden church, the current church building is a combination of Gothic and Baroque architecture. Many tourists are drawn to the second chapel on the left where you’ll find the chilling skeleton of St. Mundita decorated in gold and precious stones. When you’re done touring the inside of the church we suggest climbing the church tower (Alter Peter) to see spectacular views of Old Town Munich from above.
Also located in Munich’s Old Town is the Viktualienmarkt, an impressive daily outdoor farmer’s market. The market first existed in the Marienplatz Square, but it soon outgrew the spot and was relocated at the demand of King Maximilian I to its current location. Today’s market is 244,000 square feet with over 140 stalls for you to browse and enjoy. As you wander the aisles you’ll find fresh produce, delicious pretzels, dairy, beautiful flowers, lunch spots and plenty of Bavarian specialties. Unsurprisingly there is a beer garden in the Viktualienmarkt, a perfect spot to rest, refuel and people watch.
Munich is known for its beer halls and beer gardens and the Hofbräuhaus is the gold standard of beer halls worldwide. The Hofbräuhaus is Munich’s oldest and largest beer hall, and plays a major role in Oktoberfest. If you’re looking for a party atmosphere with enough food and beer to fill your belly to its utmost level of contentment, the Hofbräuhaus might just be the place you’re looking for. If you’d prefer enjoying your beer surrounded by the beauty of nature, the Hirschgarten, Munich’s largest beer garden, is the perfect spot. There are plenty of tables, trees and green space and even a deer park. This is a great spot to rest your feet, enjoy great beer, and take in your surroundings.
To wind down from an exhausting day of sightseeing we suggest heading to the Müller’sches Volksbad, the most beautiful Art Nouveau indoor swimming pool, sauna, steam room and plunge pool. The architecture alone is enough to warrant a visit, but the pools are a relaxing and wonderful treat. The spa costs extra money but is worth it for the experience especially on a cold winter day. Be sure to bring your own towel.
Where to stay in Munich:
Stop 2: Take A Boat Tour On The Picturesque Lake Königssee Surrounded By The Alps
Germany’s beauty goes far beyond its stunning castles. Your Germany road trip will continue at the fairytale location of Lake Königssee, the epitome of Germany’s natural beauty. You’ll find this breathtaking lake in the Berchtesgaden National Park (Germany’s only Alpine National Park), surrounded by forests and the striking Alps. Tourists flock to this crystal clear lake to soak in the picturesque surroundings and relax on one of the quiet electric boats that take visitors on a tour of the lake with two stops along the way.
Once you’ve enjoyed your initial views of Lake Königssee, we suggest buying a ticket for the boat tour down the lake. You’ll glide across the emerald green lake to your first stop of the tour at the St. Bartholomew’s pilgrimage church (Sankt Bartholomä) on Hirschau peninsula. When you spot the reddish dome roof you’ll know you’ve arrived. This was a favorite spot of Bavarian Kings where they would come to hunt and stay the night. Before continuing on to the next stop you might consider hiking the roughly 3.5 mile trail to the Ice Chapel (Eiskapelle). You’ll be greeted with an absolutely beautiful, uniquely textured, shimmering ice cave.
In the summer you can continue on the boat to Salet where people disembark and hike 15 minutes to Lake Obersee. In addition to the still, mirror-like lake reflecting the Alps, you’ll find the Röthbach waterfall, Germany’s tallest waterfall at around 1,540 feet streaking down in the distance. If you continue along the trail next to the lake you’ll reach the waterfall after about 1 mile of hiking. Give yourself plenty of time to complete the boat tour and have time to explore at each stop. And bring hiking shoes! You’ll find the ticket prices and boat timetable on the Lake Königssee website.
Where to stay near Lake Konigssee:
Stop 3: Tour The Fairytale Neuschwanstein Castle Along Germany’s Romantic Road
Neuschwanstein, a hillside castle commissioned by King Ludwig II of Bavaria in 1868, is a textbook example of a fairytale castle. It is iconic and majestic with a gorgeous backdrop of mountains, trees, the lake and a waterfall. As you’re driving in Germany, you’ll find this striking castle along the Romantic Road by the village of Schwangau. The beauty of the castle and the surrounding area draw thousands of visitors from around the world every day particularly during the summer.
Be aware that it’s a steep climb up to the castle so if you’re traveling with small children or less able adults, this could be a challenging castle to access. Visitors average 30-40 minutes for the hike up. If you’re not up for walking the full length to the top you have a couple other options. The first is to pay to take the horse drawn carriage. This will get you a good portion of the way up, but you’ll still need to hike another 5-10 minutes from the drop off point to the top. The other option is to purchase a ticket on the shuttle bus which takes you up past the castle where you’ll then walk 10-15 minutes downhill.
If you’re trying to beat the crowds and travel during the off-seasons, the good news is that the spectacular natural surroundings are beautiful all year long. The winter is dreamy with everything covered in snow (though Mary’s Bridge, the best viewpoint of the castle, is often closed during this time). The fall brings spectacular autumn leaves and surrounds the castle with vibrant color, while the spring is green and pleasant.
Seeing the inside of the castle is not crucial but can be interesting if you’re interested in the castle’s history. If you choose to buy a ticket to tour the inside you’ll have to go to the ticketcenter in the village of Hohenschwangau at the base of the castle. This is also where you’ll park your car and begin the climb up to the top. Make sure you purchase your ticket before climbing up to the castle. You will be given tickets for an available timeslot and do not have the luxury of choosing the time for yourself, so get your ticket and then plan the rest of your visit accordingly. Ticket lines are often long, so prepare to wait.
If you’re willing to pay an additional price, you can reserve a ticket in advance with a specific time slot. This may be a good idea during July and August when the probability of tickets selling out is higher. If you decide that you’d rather just view the castle from the outside, head to Mary’s Bridge (as long as it’s not the winter) for the most famous viewpoint of the castle with its stunning natural backdrop.
Where to stay near Neuschwanstein Castle:
Stop 4: Enjoy The Lakes, Spa Towns And Outdoor Activities In Germany’s Black Forest
Germany’s Black Forest covers an extended region of the country full of majestic mountains and lush forests. The area is home to world-class spas, the world’s largest cuckoo clock, picturesque lakes, and was the inspiration behind many of the Grimm Brother’s fairytales. On this Germany road trip itinerary we are covering just a portion of the Black Forest. However, our itinerary includes some truly spectacular stops and finishes in Baden-Baden to set you on your way to Stuttgart.
Lake Titisee is one of the most popular spots in the Black Forest, and a tourist hotspot in general for people visiting Germany. It can certainly get crowded, but it’s worth it for the experience. The lake surrounded by forests and mountains is incredibly picturesque. There’s an abundance of possible outdoor activities such as hiking around the lake, paddle boarding, taking a cruise or electric boat, kayaking, biking, and playing mini golf. In the winter you can ice skate and ski. The area has become very touristy, but if you’re willing to brave the crowds and the somewhat steep prices at the shops, you’re in for an excellent day of fun at the lake.
Where to stay near Lake Titisee:
Schluchsee is a larger, quieter lake than Titisee, in fact it’s the largest lake in the Black Forest. If you’re looking for a more peaceful escape among the beauty of nature, this might just be your spot. You can relax on the beautiful beaches and enjoy the scenery, bike or hike around the lake, or take a boat out on the water. Unlike Titisee, Schluchsee does not have the same kind of bustling village accompanying it, but if you’re less concerned about the resorts and shops and more focused on the lake, then Schluchsee is the perfect opportunity to enjoy the serene nature of the area.
Where to stay near Lake Schluchsee:
With seven cascades resulting in a roughly 535 foot drop into the Gutach river, the Triberg Waterfalls combine to make up one of Germany’s tallest waterfalls. From the main entrance, the first part of the waterfalls is easily accessible. Reaching the rest of the waterfall will require a little bit of hiking, so be sure to wear suitable footwear. Exploring the whole waterfall is worth the uphill trek through the beautiful forested landscape. Note that there is a 5 Euro entrance fee to see the waterfall.
Where to stay near the Triberg Waterfalls:
You’ve seen the natural beauty of the Black Forest today, but what about the history of the region? The Schwarzwalder Freilichtmuseum Vogtsbauernhof (Open Air Museum) is the perfect place to learn about the farming history and day to day rural life of Black Forest residents through tours, demonstrations, hands on activities and more. The museum’s buildings include but are not limited to a storehouse, bakery and sawmill.
This is a great stop for both adults and children with a remarkable amount of information at your fingertips as well as interactive activities, animals and a playground. If you’re hungry there’s a restaurant and food kiosk. Be sure to try the Black Forest cake. The region is famous for this cherry tart that is a favorite among German’s throughout the country. It can be found at most cafés and restaurants in the area.
Where to stay near the Open Air Museum:
Adventure lovers rejoice because for the next stop on your road trip in Germany, you’re headed to the Mehliskopf Adventure Park. This park is perfect for an individual or group of travelers including families. The ski area is particularly popular, but the park also has bobsledding, tree climbing at the Forest Adventure Playground, bungee trampolines, High Rope climbing and downhill bullcarts. It’s the perfect place to just let loose and have fun.
Where to stay near Mehliskopf Adventure Park:
Get excited for the famous German spa town Baden-Baden. Baden-Baden revolves around preserving and improving your physical and mental health. Does relaxing in a thermal bath sound like the perfect plan to you? You’ve come to the right place. The Caracalla Spa, the more contemporary of the two most famous spas, has everything you can possibly think of including indoor and outdoor pools, jets, steam baths and so much more. The more historic of the spas, Friedrichsbad, is a classic Roman-Irish bath following a 17-step circuit of baths, soaks, and massages. The water is healing and rejuvenating. Be aware that the Friedrichsbad is a nude spa.
Though Baden-Baden is known for its spa culture, its charm stretches beyond that to stunning architecture including a casino, beautiful natural landscapes, and delicious food. The town is also home to Germany’s largest opera house, Festspielhaus Baden-Baden. The homes are cute and colorful and the Old Town is full of Baroque style architecture. And you’re in for a real treat if you visit the Rosengarten auf dem Beutig, Baden-Baden’s dreamy, romantic rose garden. There’s no shortage of activities and sites to enjoy while here. It’s no wonder Baden-Baden attracts royals, celebrities and an abundance of tourists.
Where to stay in Baden-Baden:
Stop 5: Continue Your Germany Road Trip With Stuttgart’s Modern Architecture, Palaces, and Automobile History
Stuttgart is the capital of the state of Baden-Württemberg. The city has a rich history in the automobile industry and boasts both a Mercedes Benz and Porsche museum. It’s also home to palaces, art museums and a top-notch zoo and botanical garden. It displays impressive modern architecture unlike anything you’ve seen on your Germany road trip so far. And due to its location among many vineyards it also has a thriving wine industry. You’re sure to be impressed with this underrated German city.
Architecture lovers rejoice because we have the perfect stop for you. Stuttgart’s Stadtbibliothek am Mailänder Platz (Stuttgart’s Public Library) is an architectural feat and the heart of the city. The stunning library was designed by Korean architect Eun Young Yi and completed in 2011. The books line the outer walls of the white, cube shaped library. Staircases connect each level and the word library is written on the building’s outside walls in German, English, Arabic, and Korean. There are 9 floors and plenty of books and newspapers to peruse. The outside of the library is made of square, glass brick panels that light up blue at night. When you’re done admiring the building, head to the rooftop terrace for a spectacular view of the city.
Schloss Solitude (Solitude Palace) was a hunting palace and luxurious summer residence for Duke Carl Eugen von Württemberg whose splendor you won’t want to miss seeing. The interior of the castle is spectacularly designed in the Rococo and early neoclassical style. One of the highlights of the interior is the White Hall where the Duke held balls, gala dinners and receptions. A 13 km avenue called Solitude Allee connects the Solitude Palace to the Residential Palace in Ludwigsburg, which is also worth your time. Solitude once held a school for sons of Würrtemberg’s elite families. Today it houses the Akademie Schloss Solitude, a residency program for artists around the world. You can choose to take a guided tour, or tour the palace on your own time.
As we mentioned, an avenue connects the Solitude Palace to the Residenzschloss Ludwigsburg (Ludwigsburg Residential Palace). The Ludwigsburg Palace is even larger and more impressive with its decadent Baroque style. We suggest taking the guided tour through the palace to learn more about the life of the royals living there and the palace rooms themselves, secret staircases and all. As you walk through the Marble Hall, in addition to the walls dripping in splendor, take a minute to look at the ceiling and the impressive painting you’ll find there. Outside the palace are the Blühendes Barock (Blooming Baroque) gardens adding natural beauty to the palace’s impressive architecture.
If you’re a car enthusiast you’ll want to check out the Mercedes-Benz Museum. Mercedes has a big influence on the city of Stuttgart including the Mercedes-Benz Arena, home field of Stuttgart’s Bundesliga soccer (football) team. The museum’s architecture is striking and almost as intriguing as what you’ll learn inside. The museum covers over 130 years of the company’s history. The history is divided into 7 legends starting with Pioneers and followed by Mercedes, Times of Change, Post-War Miracle, Visionaries, New Start and Silver Arrows. In addition to the legends, there are 5 collection rooms. The audio guide is very well done and incredibly informative. You’ll learn enough information about the company and its cars to last you a lifetime!
Venture to the heart of Stuttgart where you’ll find the Schlossplatz (Palace Square). Once used as the grounds for military parades, it is now a Baroque park open to the public. It’s the perfect place to relax, enjoy a picnic and people watch. In the square is the Jubilee Column with the goddess Concordia on top and behind that is the Neues Schloss (New Palace).
The palace, which was once the home of the Kings of Württemberg, is fascinating to look at. Unfortunately it’s not possible to explore the inside as it now houses two ministries of the Baden-Württemberg state government. Next door in the Schillerplatz is the Altes Schloss (Old Castle). It’s now the Württemberg State Museum where you can learn about the history of the state. Exploring the museum’s artwork and archeological treasures is worth your time.
Today a popular tourist spot is the Fernsehturm (TV Tower), the first TV tower in the world made from reinforced concrete. It began its service in 1956. Many people had doubts about the concrete construction, but the tower still stands tall today. With observation decks and a Panorama Café, visitors from around the world can enjoy spectacular views of Stuttgart and beyond including the Black Forest and the Swabian Alb. Be sure to bring a jacket, as it’s often windy at the top. For a particularly wonderful view, head to the top around sunset and watch the brilliant colors descend on the city.
Whether or not you’re traveling with children, you’ll want to spend time at the truly spectacular Wilhelma Zoologisch-Botanischer Garten (Zoological and Botanical Gardens). Wilhelma used to be the summer residence for Württemberg royalty and eventually included a Moorish style bathhouse at the request of King Wilhelm I. After the land became the property of the city, the grounds became a botanical garden and later a zoo. The botanical gardens are beautiful and well manicured and the impressively wide range of animals have spacious enclosures and toys to keep themselves entertained. The whole complex is extremely large so plan to block out a good portion of your day wandering through flowers exploding with color and admiring the animals.
Where to stay in Stuttgart:
Stop 6: Drive Through The Dreamy, Fairytale Towns And Landscapes Of The Mosel Valley
We’ve used the word fairytale a lot in this article, and it’s not about to stop now. The Mosel Valley is another of Germany’s fairytale landscapes along the Mosel River. Majestic castles and castle ruins line the route along with storybook houses, cobblestone streets, vineyards and lush trees. You can hike from one town to the next spending the night along the way, or drive to each point of interest. We’ve highlighted two towns in particular as well as the best of the region’s castles. You’re in for a real treat in this charming, romantic stretch of Germany.
Explore The Roman Ruins In Trier
Trier is a remarkably interesting city established by the Romans, complete with many UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The city is full of Roman history, ruins and treasures including some that happen to be remarkably intact even after all these years. It also happens to be the oldest city in Germany. Here are some of the points of interest you’ll want to explore while in Trier.
The Porta Nigra (black gate) is one of the most recognizable landmarks of Trier. This Roman city gate was built after 170 AD out of sandstone. You can pay to go inside and climb through the structure observing its construction up close while also learning about the history of the gate including the Greek monk who lived in the gate as a hermit until his death. A church dedicated to the monk, Simeon, was built beside the gate and a chapel was built on the upper floor. It’s remarkable that the gate remains in such good condition after all these years. It even survived Napoleon’s quest to tear it down. Today it continues to stand tall, with its mottled grey and black walls making it a prominent and easily recognizable presence in the city.
The Kaiserthermen (Imperial Baths) is an impressive Roman bath complex that allows visitors to take a look back in time through the ruins left behind. Before exploring, you can look at city maps and watch an introductory film. The Roman bath complex is remarkably large and can be explored above ground as well as below ground by traveling through the service tunnels. You’ll see where both the cold and warm water was kept as you wind your way through the structure. The baths were an important part of Roman life where people could socialize and relax and even play sports on the field next to the baths. The whole complex is a fascinating piece of history to explore.
Dom St. Peter (The High Cathedral of St. Peter) is a remarkable Roman Catholic cathedral in Trier and is the oldest cathedral in Germany. The cathedral was originally constructed in a Romanesque style. Sections of the cathedral today have visible Roman influence and original Roman brick, but the building has undergone considerable restoration over the years and now includes Gothic and Baroque style pieces as well. The mixture of styles make the architecture particularly fascinating. The inside of the cathedral is stunning and is said to house the Holy Robe of Christ though it is rarely ever shown to the public. This cathedral and the Liebfrauenkirche (Church of Our Lady), the oldest Gothic church in Germany, make up one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Trier.
For a look into the history of the life and work of the German thinker, Karl Marx, spend some time at the Karl Marx House. It was here that the co-author of the Communist Manifesto was born in 1818. The property passed through many hands including the Socialist Democratic Party of Germany (SPD), the Nazi Party and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation. On the 100th anniversary of Marx’s death, the house was opened to the public. The house is now a museum where you can not only learn about Marx’s life, but about the impact his ideas continue to have on the world today. There is plenty of information at your fingertips, and you’re sure to walk away with a better understanding of the life, failures and successes of Karl Marx.
The Kurfürstliches Palais (Electoral Palace) and its accompanying gardens are worth a visit while exploring Trier. The palace, once home to the Arch-bishops of Trier, was built from 1615-1676 for the Electoral Prince Lothar von Metternich in a late Renaissance style. Construction of the High and Lower Castle continued beyond his death and was taken over by his successors. By the 18th century, the palace had a distinctly Rococo architectural style and the south wing was replaced with a new and improved version designed by Johannes Seiz. The exterior of the palace is beautiful and worth a moment of your time to examine the intricacies of its façade. When you’re done observing the palace, take a moment to relax in the fabulous gardens full of statues, a duck pond and vibrant flowers and trees.
Though Trier’s Amphitheater isn’t quite as elaborate as some other Roman Amphitheaters, the ruins are still a fascinating glimpse into the past. The Amphitheater was the sight of disturbing gladiator and animal fights and held roughly 20,000 people. Perhaps the most interesting part is the underground cellars where animals and prisoners sentenced to death were kept. You don’t need to spend an extended amount of time here, but it’s definitely worth a visit.
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See The Confluence Of The Mighty Rhine And Mosel Rivers In Koblenz
Koblenz is noteworthy because it’s the meeting point of the Rhine and Mosel rivers. The town was once a Roman military stronghold. Today it’s a natural beauty with impressive views of the powerful rivers. It also has mountains, lakes, castles and delicious wine. There’s plenty to keep you busy and entertained in this beautiful old town.
You can’t go to Koblenz and not see the Deutsches Eck (German Corner), which is the confluence of the Rhine and Mosel rivers. At this junction is an impressively large statue of the German Kaiser William I riding his horse in honor of the role he played in the unification of Germany. Though the statue was destroyed in WWII, a replica was eventually built after the fall of the Berlin Wall and Germany’s reunification. The view from the statue is quite spectacular, and the rivers are truly mighty. It’s the perfect blend of history and nature and is unsurprisingly a very popular tourist attraction.
The Koblenz Cable Car gives you the perfect opportunity to see the Deutsches Eck and the spectacular surrounding scenery from above. The cable car has the capacity to take a remarkable 7,600 passengers/hour. The ride over the river is short, but it gives you plenty of time to take photos and soak up the views. You’ll be transported from the Rhine riverbank to the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress, another site you’ll definitely want to explore. We suggest buying the combo ticket for both the cable car and the fortress.
The Ehrenbreitstein Fortress is a UNESCO World Heritage Site perched on a hill on the east bank of the Rhine, making it a spectacular spot to view the confluence of the two rivers. The fortress that stands there today was built on the site of an earlier fortress. The original fortress withstood attacks by the French as they battled the Germans for the Rhineland (though the French eventually captured it for a brief time), and it even protected the Holy Tunic at one point. The current fortress was never attacked. Now it houses the museums Haus der Fotografie, Haus der Archäologie and the Landesmuseum Koblenz as well as the Koblenz Youth Hostel. The architecture is not particularly beautiful, but the thick fortress walls, which are remarkably well maintained, are impressive.
What’s not to love about a French classical style castle along the Rhine river? The Kurfürstliches Schloss (Electoral Palace) was built between 1777-1793 as the residential palace for the last Archbishop and Elector of Trier. If you walk through the building, you’ll find the spectacular, well-manicured gardens on the other side. Other than walking through the lobby, you cannot tour the inside of the palace, but the gardens alone are reason enough to visit. Pair that with a walk along the river and you’re in for a romantic time.
The Basilica of St. Castor, honoring St. Castor, is worth a visit as Koblenz’s oldest church. It is a building of real historical significance. The basilica played a role in the division of the Carolingian Empire, which lead to the Treaty of Verdun. The empire was eventually divided into an Eastern and Western empire, later becoming The Holy Roman Empire, Germany and France. In addition to the history, the building is an architectural beauty of Romanesque design, with two prominent towers on the outside and beautiful artwork and ceilings on the inside.
Where to stay in Koblenz:
The Best Of The Mosel Valley’s Intact Castles
Burg Eltz is the medieval castle of your dreams. There are many castle ruins in the Mosel Valley, but this is one of the few castles that has remained completely intact. Beyond that, it has been owned by the same Eltz family for 850 years. There are a number of ways to get to the castle including a handful of hikes meant for avid hikers. The most common ways to get to the castle however are short strolls with stunning views either by the private road (10 minutes) from the car park or the footpath (15 minutes), which also starts at the car park.
We suggest walking because it’s a wonderful experience immersing yourself in the nature of the area and the spectacular castle views. You do however have the option of paying to have a shuttle bus take you to the castle instead. Take a lot of pictures as you approach the castle. Unfortunately you won’t be allowed to take photographs during your castle tour. Tours are offered in both German and English and take you through the castle rooms as well as the treasury.
Where to stay near Burg Eltz:
Another of the Mosel Valley’s most impressive castles is Schloss Reichsburg in Cochem. Unlike Burg Eltz, the Cochem Castle has not withstood the test of time. The original castle was destroyed by the French in 1689, and the completed castle you see today was rebuilt on top of the ruins in 1890 by Louis Jaques Ravené and his son Louis Auguste Ravené. As a result, the current castle is a mix of neo-Gothic and Romanesque style architecture. The original castle passed through many hands along the way, and though it no longer stands today, you’ll still have the chance to learn about its history on the guided tour as well as the more recent history of the reconstructed castle.
Most of the castle tours are done in German, so if you require an English speaking tour, check ahead of time so you schedule your visit during an available English speaking tour. The most common way to reach the castle is by walking up the steep hill from the parking lot, though you can pay to take a shuttle bus to the top. The views from the castle of the Mosel Valley and river are spectacular and the castle itself is impressive. Despite its relative newness, the castle with its architectural splendor and surrounding natural beauty is well worth a visit.
Where to stay near Schloss Reichsburg:
Stop 7: Enjoy The Charming Streets and Buildings In The Riverside City Of Bremen
Bremen is Germany’s eleventh largest city and it lies along the Weser River. The city is full of fantastic, charming buildings and streets and plenty of interesting history. Bremen is not on everyone’s radar when visiting Germany, which means the streets aren’t too crowded and are easy to navigate. Bremen is known for its history as a port town, but today it’s a fairytale-like city-state with an impressive city center, delicious restaurants, interesting architecture and historical sites. When visiting Bremen, the city center is a great place to start.
The Marktplatz is the square in the center of Bremen featuring the Town Hall, Roland Statue (both UNESCO World Heritage Sites) and St. Peter’s Cathedral. The outside of the Town Hall is an impressive work of art showcasing Gothic and Weser Renaissance architectural styles. At night the building is equally beautiful all lit up. You can also choose to join a guided tour to see the rooms and artwork of the building’s interior.
Bremen’s Roland Statue is one of the oldest Roland statues depicting Roland, paladin of the first Holy Roman Emperor Charlemagne and hero of the Battle of Roncevaux Pass. You’ll find him directly in front of Town Hall standing guard over the city as a proud symbol of its freedom and independence. Also in the Marktplatz is St. Peter’s Cathedral standing between the Town Hall and State Parliament. The church was originally built out of wood, but a fire brought it down and it was replaced with sandstone. Later as new bishops took over and WWII inflicted its damage, the cathedral was built in a Romanesque style and later a Gothic style. Inside, you’ll find two crypts, the remnants of choir stalls, beautiful stained glass windows, altars and organs.
To the left of the town hall you’ll find the Town Musicians of Bremen Statue, a bronze statue of a donkey, dog, cat and rooster based on the Brothers Grimm fairytale Die Bremer Stadtmusikanten. The story tells of these four aging animals whose fates were to be killed or abused, who set out for Bremen in hopes of finding a better life for themselves there as musicians. When you visit this famous statue, take a moment to rub the donkey’s legs for good luck.
The Schnoor quarter is the oldest quarter in Bremen with a string of buildings lining the small but quaint passageways. Remarkably the Schnoor escaped WWII with minimal damage and today, the quarter has been restored to its original medieval charm. The quarter is filled with museums, art galleries, restaurants and shops. It’s the perfect place to collect a treasured souvenir and explore historic landmarks. These comparatively quiet cobblestone streets are the perfect contrast to the bustling Marktplatz, and whether you’re shopping, strolling, learning, or eating a hearty Bremen meal, you’re sure to enjoy your glimpse into Bremen’s past in the Schnoor.
Böttcherstrasse is a 100m street stretching from the Marktplatz to the Weser River. The buildings on this street in the heart of Bremen were constructed in the 1920’s and 30’s and differ significantly in style from the Schnoor quarter. Böttcherstrasse translates to Cooper’s street in reference to those who once worked there. Ludwig Roselius bought every building on the street and rebuilt the area in a Brick Expressionist/Art Deco style. Today, Böttcherstrasse is full of a variety of shops and is a fun street to stroll. Just off the main street is the Haus des Glockenspiels where you can stop at noon, 3pm and 6pm to hear the beautiful Meissen bells chime in song in conjunction with rotating, storytelling panels.
For beer fans you might enjoy a fascinating tour of the famous Beck’s Brewery. The brewery offers 3-hour tours in both German and English including films about beer making, a museum, and beer tasting at the end. Make sure to wear comfortable shoes as you’ll be on your feet for awhile, and be aware that the English tour is only offered at 3pm. Beck’s offers some really wonderful beers for tasting, some of which are only offered in Germany. It’s a unique experience learning about the brewery and its beer production from the original source.
For families visiting Bremen with children, or adults interested in science, you’ll definitely want to check out Universum Bremen, the impressive science center. The outside of the building will be the first thing to capture your attention. As you approach, it looks as though you’ll be entering some kind of futuristic stainless steel whale. Next, you’ll find roughly 250 interactive exhibits both inside and outside of the museum.
The museum is constantly offering new exhibits, so even if you’ve been before, you’ll be equally entertained on your return trip. You can also be a part of any number of the museum’s events including “Dinner in the Dark,” talks by guest lecturers on science and pop culture topics relating to the exhibitions displayed in the museum, and science shows. There is plenty to learn and plenty of fun to be had at this remarkable science center.
Where to stay in Bremen:
Stop 8: Immerse Yourself in Recent and Distant History in Germany’s Capital City, Berlin
The next stop on your road trip in Germany takes you to the capital city of Berlin. Berlin is truly a remarkable city with an astounding amount of fascinating history and plenty of information at your fingertips. There are more things to do in the city than you could possibly have time for from museums and castles to cathedrals and memorials. Much of Berlin’s history is far from pleasant, and there are many reminders of its disturbing past, but these reminders serve to enlighten people and further encourage continuing unity and peace in the future. Today Berlin is a happening city full of life and color and one we know you’ll enjoy visiting.
You can’t go to Berlin and not see the formidable Brandenburg Gate. The gate has stood the test of time (albeit with some renovation after WWII) and has been a staple of Berlin throughout Germany’s history. The gate was constructed from 1788-1791 at the request of Prussian King Frederick William II complete with the impressive Quadriga, a chariot drawn by four horses.
Napoleon marched through the gate and took the Quadriga in triumph in 1806. For many years the gate was only a passageway for royals. And in 1933 as Hitler rose to power, Nazi’s marched through the gate in celebration. Crowds at the gate heard famous speeches from both Kennedy and Reagan. And when the wall fell between East and West Berlin, the gate became a symbol of unity throughout the country and the spot where spectators watched the spectacularly moving concert lead by the conductor Leonard Bernstein.
Since then, the gate has seen speeches from President Clinton and President Obama and has been lit or unlit in support or protest of events and other countries. It also lights up spectacularly at the annual October Festival of Lights celebration. Today it remains a symbol of peace, freedom and unity and the healing of a country once divided. The gate continues to attract tourists from around the world who long to see the striking piece of architecture, and remember a little slice of Berlin’s history.
For your fix of culture and art, head over to Museum Island, the UNESCO World Heritage Site featuring five museums on a small island in the Spree River in Berlin. The museums are all beautifully impressive architectural feats and the island uniquely unites the arts and sciences in one publicly accessible place. The five museums include the oldest museum on the island, Altes Museum (Old Museum 1830), the Neues Museum (New Museum 1859), the Alte Nationalgalerie (Old National Gallery 1876), the Bode Museum (1904), and the most famous of them all, the Pergamon Museum (1930).
The Altes Museum once housed the Prussian royal family’s art collection, but now features Greek and Roman sculptures and artwork. The Neues Museum features Egyptian, early history and pre-history collections including the much admired Nefertiti Bust. At the Alte Nationalgalerie you’ll be met with stunning artwork from the Neoclassical, Romantic, Biedermeir, French Impressionism and Modernism periods. You can enjoy works by the famous Monet and Renoir among others.
The Bode Museum takes you through different time periods with its Sculpture Gallery, Museum of Byzantine Art and coin collection. The famous Pergamon Museum that has people flocking to Museum Island allows you to immerse yourself in the history and artifacts of the Ancient East. You can buy one ticket for all 5 museums or buy tickets for each museum separately. You’ll find more detailed ticket information on the museum website.
Located right on the edge of Museum Island is the Berlin Cathedral (Berliner Dom). It is said to be the largest church in Berlin and one of the most prominent protestant churches in all of Germany. It is easily recognizable with its turquoise dome, golden cross and Baroque style. If you wish to see the beautiful interior of the cathedral you can pay an entrance fee to go inside. Guided tours are included in the entrance fee or you can choose to explore on your own. Visitors have access to the Sermon Church, the Baptismal and Matrimonial Church, the Hohenzollern family crypt (an eerie but fascinating experience) and the Cathedral Museum. For a particularly spectacular 360-degree view of Berlin and Museum Island, climb the 270 steps to the top of the dome. It’s breathtaking and worth all of those stairs.
The Reichstag Building, home to Germany’s parliament, is a historical building that with advance registration is open to the public for free. The Reichstag was originally constructed to house the Parliament of the Second Reich. At the end of WWII the building was abandoned, but after the reunification of Germany, the Reichstag Building once more became the meeting place for the Bundestag, Germany’s current Parliament. The roof terrace and glass dome (with a spectacular 360 view of Berlin) are open to the public along with an audio guide. Be sure to book your tickets in advance to ensure being able to see the dome.
The Berlin TV tower (Fernsehturm), located in Alexanderplatz, Berlin’s main public square, is the tallest building in Germany (368m) and is still a functioning TV tower. The East German government began construction on the tower in 1965. Now, millions of tourists flock to the tower every year. When visiting this impressive tower, we suggest buying a ticket to the observation deck, which is 203 meters high and gives you a spectacular view of Berlin and the surrounding federal state, Brandenburg. The views can also be particularly striking during sunset. You can choose to have a meal in the rotating restaurant for the same great views while dining. The restaurant rotates once every 30 minutes.
For a darker, more sobering look at Germany’s history, spend some time at the Hohenschönhausen Museum and Memorial built in remembrance of the political prisoners tortured and interrogated at the Stasi prison there. Hohenschönhausen was originally a Soviet prison before it was taken over in 1951 by the Ministry of State Security (Stasi). At the museum you’ll hear the stories of former prisoners, walk through the prison cells and rooms and begin to get an idea of the extent of political persecution that happened there.
Be prepared to hear harrowing details of the treatment of the prisoners and the horrifying ways in which the prison was run. It’s not a pleasant experience but a deeply moving and informative one. Self-touring the permanent exhibit is free, but you can also pay for a guided tour from a former inmate.
The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe (Holocaust Memorial) is placed prominently and strikingly in the heart of Berlin very near the Brandenburg Gate. Constructed by the architect Peter Eisenman, this memorial differs from most in that there are no names carved into the stone blocks. A total of 2,711 concrete slabs make up the memorial. They are all equal in width, but differ in height, mimicking the slope of the land they’re built on. The abstract, nameless nature of the memorial is controversial, but there’s no denying the effect the design has on you as you wander through these stelae resembling tombs or coffins, and slowly disappear from view. There’s an information center located underground below the memorial. Here you’ll find the names and stories of victims as well as artifacts.
The Tiergarten is one of the largest parks in Berlin at 519 acres, and is an integral part of the city, much like New York’s Central Park. Before it was a park, the land was used as the hunting grounds for the Elector of Brandenburg. It later was turned into a park and is enjoyed tremendously by Berlin residents and tourists today. The park has been redesigned and revived over time particularly after the damage it suffered in WWII.
Now it is a beautiful forested park with an abundance of green space for games and relaxation and plenty of paths/trails for walking and running. In the center of the park is the Victory Column commemorating Prussia’s 19th century victory over France. Also located in the Tiergarten is the popular Berlin Zoo. There’s never a shortage of activities to do in the beautiful Tiergarten.
Germany is jam packed with spectacular palaces, and you’ll find another one in Berlin at the Charlottenburg Palace (Shloss Charlottenburg). The palace was initially constructed in 1699 for Sophie Charlotte, a Prussian queen, and is the oldest and largest Berlin palace. Visitors can buy a ticket to tour the inside of the palace and receive an audio tour while marveling at the ornate decorations and lavish furniture within. Just as beautiful are the gardens surrounding the palace that include the Mausoleum, the Belvedere Tea House (now a ceramics museum) and the Palace Theatre (now a prehistoric and early history museum). The palace grounds also make for a wonderful Christmas market in the winter.
Potsdam is located right outside of Berlin and is home to the spectacular Sanssouci Palace. Sans souci translates to carefree which was exactly what this summer palace of Frederick the Great was supposed to represent, carefree living. Sanssouci is everything a charming retreat should be. It is intimate and surrounded by a beautiful garden and expansive park.
Within the park is the Neptune Grotto, The Temple of Friendship, The Chinese House, the Historic Mill, the Belvedere of Klausberg Hill, the Belvedere on Pfingstberg Hill, and the Orangery Palace. Frederick strongly preferred Sanssouci over the luxury of the Neues Palace which he used to house guests and entertain. The Neues Palace is a great Prussian Baroque palace and is worth a visit to observe its splendor and opulence. It is located at the west end of the park.
For the most delicious döner kebabs in Berlin, head to Mustafas Gemüse Kebap. Because Mustafas is notoriously the go-to kebab place in Berlin, the lines can be out of this world long. The average wait time is about 30 minutes and you could easily end up waiting for an hour or more. The food is outstanding, but if you’re in a time crunch, check the length of the line and if it’s not extraordinarily long, the food is worth it. Right next-door is the king of currywurst, Curry 36. This is a simple but delicious meal. The lines here are also long, sometimes intersecting with the Mustafas line, but the line moves quickly so the wait isn’t too painful.
Where to stay in Berlin:
Stop 9: Visit Nuremberg For Its History and Stay for Its Christmas Market
Nuremberg is the second largest city in Bavaria and continues to be a major tourist draw. Its history is rich including its connection to Nazi Germany through the Nuremberg Rallies and later the Nuremberg Trials. The city is also home to impressive churches and one of the best and most famous Christmas Markets in the country with Glühwein that will warm your soul. Enjoy your time in this ancient city learning about the horrors and splendors of the past.
The Imperial Castle (Kaiserberg) is an important part of Nuremberg’s history as an imperial city. The castle, dating all the way back to 1050 was also arguably the most important castle of the Holy Roman Empire, and at one time or another housed all of the Holy Roman emperors up until 1571. You’ll want to immerse yourself in the history of the castle through an audio tour starting with the double chapel. Be sure to take a guided tour to the Deep Well, the castle’s source of water. We also suggest climbing the staircase of Sinwell’s Tower for a 360 degree city view from the top. For a complete experience you can even spend the night at the Youth Hostel at the Imperial Castle.
You might need to mentally prepare for your next stop, because you’ll be headed to the Nazi Party Rally Grounds (Reichsparteitagsgelände). This site remains standing as a reminder of Germany’s dark history. As the name states, these grounds were the sight of Nazi Party rallies and parades honoring and celebrating Hitler. Beside the rally ground you’ll find a Roman Coliseum-like structure which was once the unfinished Nazi Party Congress Hall and is now the Documentation Center Museum.
You can explore the museum using an audio guide and learn all about Nazi Germany and Hitler’s rise to power. Due to poor craftsmanship, many of the structures still standing are now crumbling, but their presence is no less disturbing. Some of the grounds including the Zeppelin Field have now been transformed into park space and sports fields. On whole, it may not be your most enjoyable stop on your Germany road trip, but it’s incredibly informative and worth your time.
Nuremberg is home to a number of impressive and important churches, one of which is Lorenzkirche (St. Lawrence Church). You’ll want to carve out about 30 minutes of your day to explore this medieval church in the middle of Old Town Nuremberg. Construction of the church started around 1250. Though much of the church was destroyed in WWII, it has been beautifully restored. The gothic architecture outside is striking and intricate. Inside, for a small fee you’ll find a collection of treasured artwork, an impressive Gothic choir, one of the largest organs in Europe, and beautiful stained glass windows. You’re sure to enjoy your time here soaking up the history and captivating architecture of this church.
Sebalduskirche (St. Sebald Church), a Lutheran Parish Church, is another of Nuremberg’s most prominent churches. It also happens to be one of the oldest, with construction of the church starting back in 1225. Important changes to the church were made over time including widening the aisles, raising the steeples higher, adding the two towers, etc. Like Lorenzkirche, much of the church was destroyed in WWII, but some of the church was spared including the original Shrine of St. Sebaldus. The church definitely looks old and is perhaps not the most stunning church in Europe, but the architecture is still striking and the history of the church is worth discovering.
Completing the trio of Nuremberg churches is Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady) in the Hauptmarkt (main square). The Imperial Regalia was displayed here for the first time in 1361 when Charles IV’s son was baptized in the church. Frauenkirche is smaller than the other two churches, but it is remarkably unique in its construction. The church is a hall church with impressive Gothic architecture and a beautiful mechanical clock (Männleinlaufen). We suggest trying to arrive at the church around noon when the glockenspiel commemorates the Golden Bull of 1356 decree as 7 electors surround Emperor Karl IV as he sits on his throne.
Germany is known throughout the country for its exceptional Christmas markets, but none is more famous than the Nuremberg Christkindlmarkt (Christmas market). Walk through the market and you’ll be greeted with everything there is to love about Christmas from gingerbread, sausage and Glühwein (spiced, hot wine) to ornaments that will brighten your family’s tree. A remarkable 180 stalls make up the market in Old Town Nuremberg. The stalls are brilliantly lit up, and you truly feel like you’re surrounded by the magic of Christmas. If you’re visiting Nuremberg sometime from the end of November up until Christmas, a stop at the Christmas market should definitely make your itinerary.
For a glimpse into the life and history of the famous German artist Albrecht Dürer, head to the Albrecht Dürer House where the artist resided and worked from 1509 to 1528. The house has five stories and is a half-timbered house located nearby the Imperial Castle. The home contains copies of the artist’s paintings, a workshop with printing equipment, and information on how he made his wood block carvings. You have the choice of walking through the house with an audio guide, or being a part of the guided tour led by an actress portraying Dürer’s wife, Agnes. Staying completely in character she’ll give you insights into their life together and her role in it all.
Where to stay in Nuremberg:
Stop 10: Walk The Town Walls In the Charming Medieval Town, Rothenburg ob der Tauber
For the final stop on your Germany road trip before heading back to Munich, you’ll continue on to Rothenburg ob der Tauber. It is a charming Bavarian town along Germany’s Romantic Road. The medieval architecture of the small town is enchanting, like something out of a fairytale. Add cobblestone streets and vibrantly colored buildings and you can’t help but fall in love. Rothenburg is particularly noteworthy as Germany’s most well preserved medieval walled town.
We suggest walking the 2-mile wall trail (Turmweg) yourself to transport you back in time while observing the town and its historic buildings from above. You can choose how much of the wall to walk as there are entry and exit points throughout the trail. Rothenburg is a bustling town during the day with large quantities of visitors, but even the crowds can’t distract from the town’s allure. We’ve chosen some truly special parts of the town that we feel deserve a closer look.
If you’ve previously seen a picture of Rothenburg ob der Tauber it’s likely you’ve seen the Plönlein. Images and photographs of this square are all over postcards, instagram, puzzles, you name it. If you’re looking to get the quintessential picture of Rothenburg, this is it. The Plönlein includes the easily recognizable yellow half-timbered-frame house, the fountain in front of it, and the Kobolzeller and Siebers Towers on either side. The town’s charm goes well beyond this picturesque square, but it’s a good place to start.
Rothenburg’s Burggarten is slightly deceptive as it is translated to “Castle Garden,” but no castle actually exists there anymore. The garden is the perfect place to rest your feet, and maybe even have a picnic among blooming flowers, butterflies and lush trees. The views of Rothenburg and the surrounding countryside from the garden are wonderful. The garden becomes particularly popular around sunset when the sky lights up and creates an even more romantic setting. From the garden you’ll also see the charming Burgtor (castle gate) leading back into town.
The Marktplatz (Market Square) is the heart of Old Town Rothenburg. It’s a beautiful square with cobblestone streets and striking buildings including the most prominent of them all, the Rathaus (City Hall). The Rathaus was originally constructed in the Gothic style before being added on to in the Renaissance style. The historic building is impressive, but the real highlight is climbing the 220 steps of the Rathausturm (City Hall Tower). The steps are steep and narrow particularly as you approach the top. When you get to the top you’ll have to pay a small fee, but the spectacular views from the platform are well worth it.
The Mittelalterliches Kriminalmuseum (Medieval Crime Museum) is fascinating but requires you to be in the right mindset to visit. Essentially the museum covers 1,000 years of crime, punishment and torture. What you’ll see is truly disturbing. There are torture devices, shaming masks, and descriptions of witch-hunts. The content of the museum certainly shows the dark side of humanity and is not for everyone, but there’s plenty of information available if you’re interested in the history.
The most famous church in Rothenburg is Jacobskirche (St. James’ Church). Besides being a church on the pilgrimage route to St. James’ Church in Santiago de Compostela, it is particularly noteworthy for the Altar of the Holy Blood, a masterpiece created by the wood carver Tilman Riemenschneider depicting the Last Supper. The High Altar and the stained glass windows in the east choir are also remarkable. For information on the history of the church you’ll want to purchase an audio guide. The interior of the church is beautiful, and you could easily spend the entire visit admiring the detailed artwork and architecture.
Rothenburg is beautiful during the day, but have you ever wanted to explore the town at night? You might consider joining Hans Georg Baumgartner for the Night Watchman Tour. As you walk around the town at night you seem to be transported back to the Middle Ages without the bustling daytime crowds around. Decked out in full costume, he leads tourists through the streets of Rothenburg. He does a wonderful storytelling job explaining the history of the town as well as the history of the night watchman. The tour is funny, entertaining and informative and worth your money and time.
Where to stay in Rothenburg ob der Tauber:
Germany Road Trip Map:
If you’re more of a visual person, we’ve provided this Germany road trip map below so it’s easier for you to see where each stop is located. For the driving route, check out the link to the map.
We’re thrilled that you’ve chosen to embark on a Germany road trip. It’s a fascinating country with so much history. Not all of it is pleasant, but it’s worth learning about. And what’s more remarkable is you can visit castle ruins and elaborate churches as well as lakes reflecting the Alps all in one trip. The range of things to see and do in Germany is staggering. We know you’ll enjoy your time in this beautiful country. Please leave a comment if you have any questions or wish to tell of us of your own Germany road trip adventures!