Germany road trip

Five Unmissable Germany Road Trip Routes

Germany is an incredible country in which to road trip. From the drama of Bavaria to the soft beauty of the Mosel Valley and the fairytale castles and towns in between, explore this often overlooked country on the road trip of a lifetime.

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German Road Trip Basics

Germany makes taking road trips easy, with well maintained and free autobahns, excellent regional and minor roads and great services for drivers. Contrary to popular belief though, there are speed limits on the autobahn (just one of the things you need to know before visiting Germany!) Many autobahn sections have limits between 120km/h (75mph) and 110km/h (68mph) or lower, especially in urban areas.  Look out for the signs as you drive through Germany, and don’t get caught out.

Germany is an easily accessible country from the UK and could make for an epic road trip to Germany, followed by one in the country itself! For those flying in, the centrally located airports of Frankfurt and Munich are ideal for car rental or even hiring a VW campervan (what else?) and starting your German road trip. Tourists driving in Germany need a driving license and an international driving permit if visiting from a non-EU country.   

Our Germany road trip planner will help you decide whether you want drama, fairy tale castles and towns, vineyards or something a bit different.

The Mosel Valley

Explored by James from The Travel Scribes

Koblenz - Cochem - Beilstein - Zell am Mosel - Traben Trarbach - Trier

Distance
172km

Duration
5 -7 days
When to Go 
All year round
Germany road trip map

A beautiful river snaking through it, soaring medieval castles dotted across it and almost vertical vineyards nestled on it’s hills. It’s the Mosel (or Moselle) Valley, one of the most picturesque places in Germany.

Punctuated by the small but beautiful Mosel river, the valley essentially stretches from the small city of Koblenz, a fairy tale German town, to Trier along the water’s edge. This breathtaking valley is best explored by taking a least a week, the pinnacle of slow travel as you hop from one riverside town to the next.

Kick it off in Koblenz, where the mouth of the Mosel meets the Rhine, to walk along the ancient Roman walls or just amble through the Altstadt (old town), before heading to visit the first traditional town of Cochem. On the way there, avid Instagrammers and history buffs should definitely make a turn at Burg Eltz, one of the most spectacular castles and hidden gems in Germany, to take the requisite snap. Once in Cochem, you’ll slow the pace. You can marvel at the unique vineyards (a signature of the entire Mosel road trip), where the vines crawl up the hillside at 90 degree angles. If you go in harvest time, you’ll see the workers strapped into harnesses with spiked boots just to be able to pick the ripe grapes.

Cochem also boasts a legendary castle looming above it, plus it’s the best place to just take a walk along the promenade, stopping in at one of the riverfront cafes for a plate of zwiebelkuchen (onion cake) and a sparkling glass of federweisser, a traditional fizzy grape drink. Your next few nights should definitely see you stay over in one of the many lovely towns sprinkled along the river: Beilstein for the Burg Metternich castle, a climb up the hill (and more traditional German food) in Zell am Mosel and our favourite stop on the entire itinerary, Traben Trarbach.

This gorgeous little town used to be two villages, Traben and Trarbach, on opposite sides of the river, which were eventually united with the construction of a short bridge. Before you hit your final destination of Trier, stay overnight in Bernkastel-Kues, a spa town peppered with wood-timbered houses, many a hot spring and the ruins of the Landshut Castle.

Before you know it, your German road trip is at an end, as it culminates in the beguiling town of Trier. An old Roman city with landmarks like the Porta Nigra black gate, an old-school amphitheatre, the Roman baths and a towering cathedral, just to name a few. It’s here that you should raise a(nother) glass of perfectly poured Riesling in celebration of the Mosel valley, one of the best road trips in Germany.

Where to Stay

Cochem ⇒ Hotel Villa Vinum for it’s highly rated service, perfect riverside location and quirky decor.

Traben Trarbach ⇒ The Goldene Traube for it’s traditional exterior and modern interior, rooftop terrace and fabulous breakfast buffet!

Trier ⇒ Vienna House Easy for it’s excellent location close to the old town,   modern and funky style and private parking garage.

Cochem Castle one of the best places to visit Germany
Cochem Castle | The Travelling Scribes

The Fairy Tale Road

Frankfurt - Steinau - Marburg - Kassel - Gottingen - Hamelin - Bremen

Distance
660km

Duration
One week

When to Go
All year round

Map of the Fairy Tale Road and some of the best places to visit in Germany

This famous road trip from Frankfurt does not technically start in the city, but Frankfurt is the perfect place to fly into and pick up a rental car. If you’re spending the night, make sure you visit the the South Bank, where you’ll find an eclectic selection of restaurants, bars, and clubs.

The Fairy Tale road officially starts in the pretty town of Steinau an der Strasse where the Brothers Grimm lived until they were aged twelve. The setting is straight out of their own fairy tales, complete with typical half-timbered houses, twisting cobbled alleys, and the turreted Schloss Steinau which overlooks the whole town. Visit the Brüder Grimm Haus and Museum Steinau, both of which showcase the works of the brothers.

Take the back roads to Marburg and enjoy the gorgeous landscapes and slower pace for a few hours. Marburg’s alstadt is full of medieval houses and the hilltop Landgrafenschloss, a dramatic castle holding exhibits on sacred art and local history. Lively bars and restaurants line the Marktplatz and the narrow streets surrounding it, making this a great location for an overnight stop.  

From Marburg, head to Kassel, where the Brothers Grimm spent their teenage years whilst working as librarians for the King of Westphalia, Jerome Bonaparte, the younger brother of the infamous Napoléon. There is very little left of historic Kassel but there are two worthwhile attractions to visit; the Brüder Grimm Museum, and the Schloss und Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe, a tranquil green space and the largest hill park in all of Europe.

Gottingen is home to the University of Gottingen, where the Grimm Brothers once served as professors. Make for the traditional and atmospheric central market square, where the statue of Ganseliesel, the little goose girl of German lore, is one of the most kissed statues anywhere in the world. It is said that the kisser is rewarded with good luck, but maybe post-virus this practice will change!

Hameln (or Hamelin) is next up and one of the most famous fairy tale destinations in Europe. Hameln is the home of the Pied Piper, or Rattenfänger, who rid the town of rats in 1284, only to be cheated out of his payment. The Pied Piper returned to Hameln a year later and lured away all the children. The story is re-enacted in the town centre every Sunday between May and October and is a fantastic spectacle.  The Weser Renaissance architecture of the Rattenfängerhaus and the Hochzeitshaus makes a fitting historic backdrop for the streets which are thronged with locals dressed the part, stalls selling food and live music playing. 

Finally, on to the Hanseatic city of Bremen, your final stop. Good places to visit in Bremen include the traditional Marktplatz, which is located in the city’s charming altstadt, the Roselius-Haus Museum; and St. Petri Dom, the 11th century gothic cathedral. Another busy landmark can be found in the city’s central town square, a statue of the Bremen musicians and heroes of the Brothers Grimm story, “The Town Musicians of Bremen.”  

Where To Stay

Frankfurt ⇒ Kempinski Hotel Frankfurt Gravenbruch for it’s proximity to the airport and city centre, fantastic spa and beautiful surroundings.

Marburg ⇒ The Vila Vita Rosenpark for it’s central location, excellent regional restaurant and stylish bedrooms.

Bremen ⇒ Atlantic Grand Hotel for it’s perfect riverside location, bike rental from reception and ultra-stylish bathrooms.

Marburg on the Fairy Tale Road Trip in Germany
Marburg
Germany Travel Ideas

The Romantic Road

Explored by Carolyn from Holidays to Europe 

Wurzburg - Weikersheim - Rothenberg - Dinkelsbühl - Augsburg - Fussen

Distance
340km

Duration
One week

When to Go
All year round

Romantic Road Germany Route map
One of the best southern Germany road trips is along the scenic route known as the Romantic Road. This Bavaria road trip stretches for 340km from Wurzburg to Fussen, the route has many highlights and passes through some of Germany’s prettiest landscapes and most fairy tale towns and villages.
 
Whilst you could travel this entire Bavaria itinerary in one or two days, to make the most of your Romantic Road drive, I suggest you allow at least 5 days in Bavaria, which will give you the chance to stop and explore many of the 29 towns along the route, of which the best six are listed above.
 
The first stop on Germany’s Romantic Road is Wurzburg, an attractive city that was almost totally destroyed in WW2. Highlights include the Marienberg Fortress, Wurzburg Cathedral, the Old Main Bridge (which crosses the River Main), and the stunning UNESCO World Heritage listed Wurzburg Residence.
 
Wurzburg, and the Franconia region is also well-known for its wines. You’ll see vines planted in front of the Marienberg Fortress and in the surrounding countryside, so be sure to sample the local drop.
 
After a couple of days in Wurzburg, head south to the fairytale town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber, one of the most beautiful places in Germany. I recommend you stop in the charming town of Weikersheim en route, there’s a beautiful castle you can visit and a small but very pretty old town.
 
In Rothenburg, you’ll see why visitors flock here from all over the world. The brightly painted timbered houses that line the cobbled streets and the medieval city walls with their watchtowers, ooze romanticism and entice people on day trips from all over southern Germany.
 
Other highlights include St. Jacob’s Cathedral, the castle gardens, the views from the tower of City Hall and the Kathe Wohlfahrt Christmas Store and German Christmas Museum. With numerous nearby towns and villages worth a visit, too, you could easily fill three days in Rothenburg ob der Tauber.
 
Next, drive further south to your final stop at Fussen. Along the way you’ll want to stop at Wies to visit the Wieskirche, a small baroque church with an interior so impressive it is UNESCO listed. 
 
In Fussen, explore the old town and head to Schwangau to visit Germany’s most famous schloss, Neuschwanstein Castle, built by mad King Ludwig. If you have a few extra days, enjoy some city life by heading to Munich, where you’ll find fantastic Bavarian culture and a lively social scene.  Base yourself here for a few days and enjoy some of the day trips from Munich on offer, to experience the best of the surrounding landscapes and attractions. We think this could well be the best road trip in Germany.
 
Where to Stay

Wurzburg ⇒ Hotel Grüner Baum for it’s great location, traditional Franconian decor and outstanding breakfast.

Rothenburg ⇒ Hotel Herrnschloesschen for it’s gorgeous and unique decor, fantastic restaurant and beautiful garden.

Fussen ⇒ Hotel Das Rübezahl for a real treat. This luxury hotel has amazing views across the Alps and both Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau castles.  There is also a fantastic spa and restaurant, making this the perfect hotel to end your German road trip.

Fussen, stopover on a Munich road trip
Fussen
German Road Trip Essentials

The Castle Circuit

Explored by Becki from Meet Me in Departures

Koln - Frankfurt - Mespellbrunn Castle - Stuttgart - Bad Wildbad - Heidelberg - Koblenz - Eltz Castle - Rheinstein Castle - Cochem Castle - Köln

Distance
950km

Duration
Long weekend

When to Go
All year round

This southern Germany itinerary covers a whole mix of destinations in a fabulous circuit, visiting some of Germany’s best castles on route. Starting and finishing in the graceful city of Cologne (Koln in Germany) this road trip covers the south-west of the country. It takes you south as far as Stuttgart, before circling back north towards the Mosel Valley. To make the most out of this road trip, I suggest three to four days, which will give you time to enjoy the castles as well as the wine in the Rhine region; perfect for a long weekend. 

This part of the country is one of the best places to visit in Germany and offers some of Europe’s best road trips. You’ll get to see some of Germany’s prettiest castles, the stunning and verdant forests, the Rhine river, as well as a number of picturesque cobbled towns. Stay off the autobahns for the best driving, through beautiful landscapes and scenery.

Start in Koln, making sure to visit the simply stunning cathedral, and head south-east towards Frankfurt. Spend some time in the altstadt wandering around the pretty and atmospheric streets. From here head towards Mespellbrunn Castle. It’s located pretty much in the middle of nowhere, however, it’s a stunning castle, which looks a lot like the Sleeping Beauty tower, located on a lake. 

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From Mespellbrunn Castle, keep heading south-east towards Stuttgart, a beautiful city full of green and open spaces. Be sure to spend plenty of time here exploring the town and elegant buildings. It’s worth stopping over night and taking advantage of the fantastic restaurants, bars and beer gardens which line the narrow cobblestone streets of the old town.

From Stuttgart, start to head back north-west. Spend time visiting the lovely Bad Wildbad in the Black Forest and maybe indulging yourself in one of the many thermal baths there. Head for historic Heidelberg and spend some time admiring and visiting the imposing Heidelberg Palace before crossing the wide river Neckar on the famous old bridge. This is another great town for an overnight stay.

Stop by the pretty and very German town of Koblenz, before heading to Eltz Castle. If you’re looking for a quintessential fairytale castle, then Berg Eltz is it! When you’re done swooning over Eltz, head to the small complex of Rheinstein Castle high on the banks of the the Rhine (or Rhein in Germany) river.  Make for your last stop of Cochem on the gorgeous Moselle, and the impressive Cochem Castle. Stay for the night and try some of the delicious wine produced in this region or take a guided tour of a vineyard with a wine tasting.

This is a fully packed itinerary covering all the best bits of Germany. I’m sure you’ll agree, this makes a fantastic German road trip! 

Where to Stay

Koln ⇒ Hotel Lyskirchen for it’s ideal old town location, boutique vibe and modern rooms.

Bad Wildbad ⇒ Mokni’s Palais Hotel and Spa for some of that thermal action, as well as old fashioned elegance and service.

Heidelberg ⇒ NinetyNine Hotel Heidelberg City for funky and modern design, super-comfortable beds and a lively, sociable bar.

Eltz Castle on the Castle Route Germany
Eltz Castle | Meet Me in Departures

Iconic German Cities

Frankfurt - Munich - Koln - Munster - Hanover - Frankfurt

Distance
1700km

Duration
10 – 14 days

When to Go
All year round

Map of the best places to tour in Germany

If you really can’t decide which road trip to take and you have a few weeks. then why not consider taking a driving tour of Germany, hopping between some of Germany’s most historic and beautiful cities, and taking in elements of all our road trips on the way?

This road trip route will take you past, or in close proximity to some of the most beautiful places in Germany including fairy tale castles and towns, famous landmarks, stunning rivers and wine regions. You’ll drive on fantastic roads and if you choose not to use the autobahns, you’ll enjoy a relaxed pace and be able to enjoy the ever-changing scenery and small historic towns of this surprisingly gorgeous country.  

If you’re road tripping Germany in winter, you’ll love the clear crips days, frosty landscapes and of course, the traditional Christmas markets that the country is famous for.  Fairy lights, gluhwein, traditional artisan gifts and hearty, warming local food will make your winter road in Germany really memorable.. 

Don’t forget Germany’s history either. This route will take you close to both Dachau and Bergen Belsen concentration camps, which make for harrowing visits that nevertheless should be taken, lest we forget the past, which must never be repeated.

You’ll also find the opportunity to tour the top car museums of BMW in Munich and Porche and Mercedes in Stuttgart. Why not test yourself and take a drive around the famous Nurburgring on your way past?

If you are lucky enough to have three weeks or longer, then add the eclectic and fascinating city of Berlin to the mix, or head south from Munich for the incredible Deutsche Alpenstrasse, or German Alpine Road, one of the most scenic drives in Germany.

Where to Stay - Our Top German Hotels

These are luxurious, treat yourself hotels, known for they sumptuous decor, opulent furnishings and outstanding service.

Frankfurt ⇒ Hotel Villa Kennedy for it’s incredibly gorgeous rooms, comprehensive spa and superb, discreet service.

Munich ⇒ Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten Kempinski for it’s high-end location on the fashionable Maximilianstrasse, architectural grandeur and first class service. 

Koln ⇒ Excelsior Hotel Ernst am Dom for it’s fabulous cathedral location, love of tradition and and impeccable service.

Koln at sunset, a perfect stop over on a roadtrip Germany
Koln
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