The best places to stop during a road trip in Germany
Road trips are just the best way to experience a country like a local. A road trip in Germany is no exception to this rule. Of course tourists will as tourists must and therefore certain places and stops of interest might be more attractive to tourists than they are to the locals. Germany has a big area to navigate by road so one will have to be discerning. It would be unreasonable to expect to visit every part of this diverse and beautiful country in one trip.
Since no road trip in Germany can encompass all of the cities to visit in Germany, this first section of the route will focus on the stops between Munich and Stuttgart.
Munich to Frankfurt
Traveling to German cities, with stop off along the way. Including Andechs, Blaubeuren, Lake Constance, Black Forest,
Marienplatz is the central square in Munich encompassing the old and also the new town hall as well as a beautiful fountain. Timing a visit between eleven in the morning and noon means catching the mechanical figures during the hour that they dance to a song and move about on the front of the New Town Hall. The Mariensäule is here too and is a column to the Virgin Mary dating back to 1638.
Nymphenburg Palace is an interesting pop-in on the route. With little time to see all there is to see here, make sure to see the interior of the palace and take a walk through the gardens. The chance to ride a gondola on the canals surrounding the palace should not be wasted.
English Garden is a spacious park in Munich that provides the perfect setting for a picnic in the spring or summertime. This is also where surfers can be seen mid-city at the Eisbachwelle.
The Hofbräuhaus in Munich is the place to satisfy any hunger with authentic Bavarian tucker and traditional German food that is only to be found in this beer hall that dates back to 1589. This is the place to stop for a meal while road-tripping, to be sure. Weißwurst with pretzel and the Schweinshaxe or pork knuckle are among the various traditional dishes that are highly recommended. Of course, washed down with a German brew or two – but not for the driver.
Andechs is a small town near the city of Starnberg in Bavaria.
Andechs Abbey or Kloster Andechs is a Benedictine monastery that is open for tours and renowned for making beer in its brewery, Klosterbrauerei Andechs, since 1455. Visit the church & medieval pilgrimage center while you are here.
Germany‘s Romantic Road
No road trip in Germany is complete without experiencing Germany’s Romantic Road or at the very least a section thereof.
Harburg Castle is a haunting site on Southern Germany’s Romantic Road which is a 220-mile scenic route running through Bavaria’s vineyards, medieval towns, and castles between Wurzburg and Fussen. The 11th Century castle started its long life as a military stronghold between 1079 and 1272 and is rumored to have retained some spectral residents.
Legoland Germany, the theme park and resort in celebration of the colorful kids’ building blocks turns twenty in 2022. Exciting rides and rollercoasters include the Flying Ninjago, Power Builder, Fire Dragon, and Lego Rennen (The Great Lego Race). There are stages through the park offering magic shows, singers, and the like. Playgrounds are dotted all about for the pleasure of the smaller visitors. There are also movie cinemas, a sea life aquarium, mini Lego Cities, and the Lego Factory.
Blautopf is both a natural wonder and a must-see after leaving Munich for Blaubeuren on the road trip to Stuttgart. It might appear to the uninitiated as a small lake, this pond is far deeper than one would imagine. Limestone particles cause the shimmer on this pond in bright shades of green and blue, with the colors at their most amazing in the morning. An added surprise is the entrance to a giant cave system some seventy-two feet or twenty-two meters below the surface of the water.
Blaubeuren Abbey sits piously beside the Blautopf with the Bathhouse of the Monks tucked away behind the Abbey. To see the interior of the Abbey will cost a nominal entrance fee. The Bathhouse of the Monks reveals the long past life of the monks all the many hundreds of years ago. The unusual wall decorations are also of interest.
Hohle Fels Cave is very near Blaubeuren and worth the drive to see the shelter place of choice of our prehistoric ancestors. Proof of human habitation dates back 65000 years, and archaeological finds include the oldest instrument in the world. This find and many more man-made exhibits going back 40000 years can be viewed at the URMU museum in Blaubeuren.
Bad Urach Waterfall
Hike or walk to the Urach waterfall from the hiking park Maisenal in Bad Urach, following the well signposted gravel road for a little more than a mile or 2 kilometers long the Brühlbach to the Maisental. Climb the stone steps and winding path upwards to the Hochwiese Wasserfall point. Of the Swabian Alb, the Urach waterfall is very likely the most famous, dropping 131 foot or 40 meters over the Albtruffkante. It is a special attraction of the UNESCO Global Geopark Swabian Alb. When you reach the top stop off for a rewarding treat from the snack hut pr strike up a BBQ while relaxing and enjoying the views.
Lake Constance & The Black Forest
Lake Constance lies within the borders of Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. It is Germany’s biggest lake. Germany’s UNESCO World Heritage Site, Unteruhldingen, is the site of the prehistoric pile dwellings of Lake Constance. Dating back to around 4000 BC, the oldest of these stilt houses can be visited in the area. Archaeological finds include settlements in nine different locations. Walk along the boardwalk o view reconstructed pile dwellings dating back to various time periods.
Vogtsbauernhof offers insight as an open-air museum into life in the Black Forest over a century ago. An interactive guided tour makes allowance for getting involved in tasks and chores of the time. Staff members wear traditional clothing that is native to the area.
The world’s largest cuckoo clock is to be found on the road between Hausach and Triberg. Pull into the Eble Uhren-Park to get a look at a variety of cuckoo clocks where you get the chance to buy one of your very own.
Triberg Waterfalls are the highest in Germany. Walk the trail to the very highest point for the best view. The Grimm Brothers were said to be inspired by the Black Forest when they penned their fairytales that have stood the test of time. Visitors are invited to hike through the Black Forest which boasts hiking trails that are quite literally the stuff of fairytales.
The Panoramic Road of the Black Forest which goes by the German name of Panoramastraße is most probably the very best road trip option in Germany. The mountain road winds through the Southern Black Forest, taking travelers to its tiny hamlets.
Marktplatz Freudenstadt (Größter Marktplatz Deutschlands)
Freudenstadt has the largest market square of all the German cities. Positiones as it is in the heart of the city, it is very much a prime landmark. It is divided into three, Oberer Marktplatz, Unterer Marktplatz and Postplatz. The upper market square is where the markets are. All around the market square are buildings featuring arcades.
The lower market square is relaxing with its plentiful green areas and fifty water fountains. All of the market square has restaurants and cafés with shops under the arcades lining the square.
The Treetop Walk Black Forest on the Sommerberg in Bad Wildbad gives visitors the opportunity to experience the Black Forest at eye level. Take it and enjoy the unique views from the architecturally unique observation tower 44 yards or 40 meters up in the air.
Stops in and around Frankfurt
Römerberg and the Old Town:
Around Römerberg road trippers get to experience the impressive half-timbered houses. This is one of the cities to visit in Germany that rebuilt historic houses after the destruction of World War II which verily razed a good part of this neighborhood. The Town Hall is well worth a look, too.
Of all the German cities, Frankfurt has the most skyscrapers, and the view from the bridge Eiserner Steg affords an iconic view of the city’s skyline. Sunset is a great time to be here.
If you are spending the night in Frankfurt or have a designated driver, be sure to partake of the local specialty which is Apfelwein. This apple wine is similar to cider, only with more of a tart aftertaste. The Southern side of the river Main, in Sachsenhausen, is the best place to order and enjoy Apfelwein pubs and traditional regional food
Frankfurt boasts so many museums: the Städel Museum with its impressive collection of art; the Goethe House in which the famous writer was born; and the Palmengarten which is actually not a museum but the city’s botanical garden.
When on a road trip in Germany, the old town of this city on the Rhine River is a must-see. Take in the half-timbered houses, Romanesque Mainz Cathedral, and medieval market squares. The Marktbrunnen is a Renaissance fountain with red columns that takes center stage. The Gutenberg Museum homes two of the original bibles printed here by the inventor of the printing press.
Pop into Wiesbaden if only to get a feel for the perfect combination of modern and traditional in this 19th-century spa town that is known as the “Pearl of Historism”. The location was known for its 26 hot springs which the Romans recognized 2000 years ago for the beneficial effect of the thermal water. Take a break in the hot springs at the Kaiser-Friedrich-Therme or Emperor Friedrich Baths. Since 1888 people have enjoyed the unique experience of the cable car ride up the Neroberg, Wiesbaden’s very own mountain.
There are only three castles along the Rhine River’s left bank, and they are all from the Middle Ages built in medieval times: Lissingen Castle, Burg Eltz, and Castle Büreeshei. Castle Büreeshei is nestled in the valley and the tour welcomes visitors to experience its interior. Inside the castle, one can view the original furniture from back in its heyday, thanks to the fact that this castle is one of the rare few to have avoided destruction over its many years of standing in the valley.
Of all the German cities to include in a road trip in Germany, Monreal is definitely among the most magical, seemingly straight out of the pages of a fairytale. I say city, but it is really a small town with big beauty. The old town sits astride the Elzbach river with the ruins of the Löwenburg and Philippsburg castles responsible for the fairytale aura, looking down as they do over the 14th-century half-timber houses. The colorful green, red, and white of the houses stand out against the tranquil colors of the river. Reading up on the two brothers who built the castles before finding yourself in the town presents the advantage of a bit of a backstory on which to base a point of view. A stroll down the town’s Untertorstraße affords an ideal perspective, with a trajectory up to Löwenburg giving more of a historic spin.
This city standing astride the Rhine river is the birthplace of the composer Beethoven. Beethoven House is open to the public as a memorial and museum in his honor. Bonn Minster is another tourist attraction with its Romanesque cloister and Gothic elements. Altes Rathaus or the old city hall stands in all its pink and gold splendor for you to view. Also catch the mineralogical museum in Poppelsdorf Palace and the historic post-World War Two exhibits in Haus der Geschichte.
A magnificent option for experiencing Cologne is from a boat sailing down the Rhine. With firmly back on terra firma, climb up the tower of the 12th-century gothic church, Cologne Cathedral. This affords a most amazing view over what must be one of the most interesting cities to visit in Germany. You can do this as part of the historical tour of Cologne. Another beautiful 12th-century church of interest is Groß St. Martin or the Great St Martin Church as it lords over the colorful houses at Fischmarkt, the Fish Market.
Cologne also has a Cable Car, the Rhein-Seilbahn, which is a fitting reprieve for anyone spending any length of time in a vehicle while on a road trip in Germany. The cable car runs north to south from Cologne Zoo and Botanical Gardens to Rhein Park and affords spectacular views over the Rhein River.
Instead of eating in the car, have a picnic in Rhein Park with its grassy meadow and beach overlooking the city’s skyline.
The Cologne Chocolate Museum or Schokoladenmuseum Köln takes visitors on a journey through the process of chocolate making. Exhibitions highlight the location of bean growing and the sustainable, ecological farming of other beans like coffee. The Farina Fragrance Museum or Duftmuseum im Farina Haus enlightens visitors as to the aromatic history of Cologne’s celebrated and scented perfume industry. Fun fact: the German city lent its name to the smelly stuff!
Cologne Cathedral or Kölner Dom towers over the inner city and is well worth a look-see. On the banks of the Rhine stands One of the continent’s largest cathedrals, the Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Mary. In all its High Gothic stylishness, she quietly plays her role as the region’s most impressive landmark. Back in 1248 when construction began, it was a tremendously ambitious undertaking for the Middle Ages. The talk is that, so immense was the task, that it took more than 600 years to build.
The Ahr Valley
A hiker’s paradise, well appreciated too by wine lovers, this fantastically scenic valley is ideal for a stroll. Take Ahrsteig track runs from Mayschoß to the destination in Rech. The track takes visitors to the hilltop ruins of Saffenburg castle where one can partake of the well-situated wine vending machine. What better way to enjoy the sunset over the valley than from this lofty position taking in the scenery, than with a glass of wine in hand?
This cobble-stoned hamlet cum village has a fairytale appeal accentuated by the curiosity raised by the local stone cottages. A meander along Stintmarkt, the medieval fishing harbor is a must. This was where traders used to be found aplenty, offloading pickled herring and salt. Lüneburg has so many great walking opportunities and cycling paths. A scenic walk to the heath allows one to enjoy the pretty meadow awash in purple heath. Lüne Abbey is a Benedictine monastery that dates back to the 1100s and houses a textile museum that runs a guided tour that brings the history of the village to life.
Miniatur Wunderland in Hamburg
The historic Port of Hamburg is home to the wonderful Miniatur Wunderland. This is the largest massive scale model railways in the world that features over 9.5 miles or 15 kilometers of model railway track. With 1300 trains, over 50 thousand microscopic lights, and way more than 400 thousand figurines, the model includes dedications to England, Scandinavia, the USA, and of course Hamburg.
While travelers don’t need authorization once they are in the country to road trip in Germany, it is best to research the requirements of entry before leaving home. Applications for ETIAS are not to be feared as it is an easy enough process for those who require this travel authorization to visit Germany.