Top Tips for Motorhome Touring in Germany
A motorhome tour of Germany offers incredible adventures. From the stunning Alps, the Black Forest with it’s gorgeous romantic road to medieval cities, fairytale castles and magical Christmas markets this surprising and interesting country is a must-see road trip destination for campervans and motorhomes.
Whether you’re planning a motorhome route through Europe with Germany as just one destination, or a longer tour, the country is a popular one with Brit motorhomers.
Germany’s ease of access, fantastic driving roads and unexpectedly beautiful landscapes and cities make the country a perfect motorhome destination. Bypass the central industrial belt and head for the Black Forest and Bavaria, or go north for the beautiful islands and tranquility of Germany’s only coast.
Germany Motorhome Resources
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German Motorhome Routes
Crossing the Channel
There are a number of ways of taking your motorhome or camper to Germany.
- The Dover-Calais ferry takes around one hour 30 minutes to cross, loading can be time-consuming but you’ll have time on the boat for a meal and be able to rest from driving.
- Folkestone-Calais is the most frequent channel crossing. As with the the ferries, the queue can be horrendous in peak season and at peak times. This is a good crossing if you’re travelling with pets or are happy not to leave your van.
- Check out the slightly more obscure campervan travel routes which are a little longer but often cheaper and with more special offers to tempt you away from the more well-known routes. Try departing from Newhaven for example, or arriving at Dieppe or Le Havre, although this has you further away from the German border, so you may lose any savings in fuel.
- More expensive and quite a bit longer than the Dover-Calais route, the crossings from Harwich, Hull and Newcastle to the Netherlands may prove to be cost effective for your motorhome road trip, but only if you don’t live in the south east of England.
- The Stena Line Harwich-Hook of Holland route operates daily at 9am, with the crossing taking around seven hours.
- If you cross from Hull to Rotterdam with P&O, their daily crossing departs at 20.30pm and takes around eleven hours, meaning you arrive refreshed and ready for a full days drive.
- The DFDS Newcastle to Amsterdam crossing is also overnight, but takes nearly 16 hours and is a but more expensive, although ideal for those starting their German motorhome tour in the north of the UK.
Getting to Germany
Once you’re on the continent, there are a number of routes to Germany, depending on your destination.
From Calais, the quickest routes are the E42 and E411 via Luxembourg, crossing the border near Trier and the E40 and E42 route via Brussels. Both will take around five hours and are cost effective from a toll point of view.
A longer, but more scenic (and more expensive) route, takes you through France on the A26 and A4 via Reims and Metz. From here you can pick up one of the many autobahn routes in Germany, or maybe take the slow road and enjoy the countryside.
From the Netherlands
From the Dutch ports, it’s an easy two hour drive to the German border west of Dusseldorf, although once into Germany, this route does mean negotiating the busy road network around the industrial and built-up cities of the Rhine, before you can continue your onward journey.
Fly & Hire a Motorhome or Campervan
Flying and hiring a motorhome is the best way to tour Germany if you don’t own one.
Our recommended German campervan hire company is Indie Campers and they have depots in Berlin, Cologne, Essen, Frankfurt, Munich, Leipzig, Hamburg, Hannover and Stuttgart.
Check out their special offers here.
More information about motorhoming in Germany;
- Tips for Campervan Rental and Motorhome Hire Germany (and Europe)
- Five Unmissable Germany Road Trip Routes
- Visit Zugspitze Germany – Find Out How!
- Motorhome Wild Camping in UK and Europe – All You Need to Know
- How to Tour Europe in a Motorhome 2021
- Motorhoming in Europe After Brexit
- The Best Motorhome Holidays in Europe
When to Visit Germany in a Motorhome
The ideal time to tour Germany is from May to September.
Summer will give you the best weather, snow free hiking, and long days – but the roads and sites will be much busier.
Travel during the shoulder seasons of spring and autumn is easier and can be a bit less expensive, with campsite and ferry costs reducing. You’ll find quieter roads and stop overs but still enjoy great weather.
The more adventurous will be happy to visit in winter, for the amazing Christmas markets and dustings of snow creating a fairy tale landscape.
The German’s are also good with snow, and their roads and services continue as normal. You’ll need heating in your van and winter tyres to tour at this time of year.
Driving a Motorhome in Germany
German drivers are confident and assured and generally drive very well, although fast. The roads are well maintained and without speed limits on much of the autobahn network.
German camper vans are popular (Germany is, after all, the home of Hymer and VW) and regularly seen, you will often receive the obligatory wave from fellow van lifers, motorhomers and even caravan towers!
German Speed Limits for Motorhomes
Always observe the speed limits when campervanning in Europe. There are speed cameras just as in the UK, and the Spanish (and other EU) authorities have been known to pursue Brits for non-payment of fines. This has not changed since Brexit as the information sharing agreement with the DVLA continues.
Motorhomes < 3,500 kg
- In urban areas: 50 km/h
- Main roads: 100 km/h
- Motorways and autobahns: 130 km/h (recomennded)
Motorhomes > 3,500 kg
- In urban areas: 50 km/h
- Main roads: 80 km/h
- Motorways and autobahns: 80 km/h
Documents You Need to Travel & Drive in Germany
- You must have at least three months remaining on your passport (issued in the past ten years) at your intended date of departure from Germany.
- You must have at least 3rd party insurance for your vehicle. Update August 2021 – you no longer require a green card to prove you have vehicle insurance cover when travelling in Europe.
- Your UK licence allows you to drive in all EU countries. If you only have a paper driving licence or a licence issued in Gibraltar, Guernsey, Jersey or the Isle of Man then you will need an International Driving Permit.
- Breakdown cover documentation (not compulsory).
- Vehicle V5 logbook (which must show your correct address).
- Trailer certification if you are towing.
- Personal travel and medical insurance (we recommend True Traveller), EHIC or GHIC card (not compulsory).
- Animal Health Certificate if you’re travelling with a pet.
Vehicle Safety Equipment for Germany
- Warning triangle
- Reflective jacket (for the driver and all passengers).
- Spare wheel and the tools to change a wheel, or a tyre repair kit.
- If you wear glasses you must carry a spare pair.
- First aid kit (only compulsory for four-wheeled vehicles registered in Germany).
- Spare bulbs and fuses (not compulsory).
- Fire extinguisher (not compulsory).
- Headlight beam converters (unless you can adjust your’s automatically).
- From 28th September 2021, you will have to display a UK sticker on the rear of of your vehicle, instead of a GB sticker, unless you have a new style UK numberplate which displays the Union Jack flag.
- You may carry a load, such as bikes on a rack, extending by up to 10% of the length of the vehicle to the rear. The load must be indicated by an aluminium panel with diagonal red and white stripes, manufactured to ECE70 standard.
- Germany introduced regulations in 2010 requiring all passenger cars and motorbikes to be fitted with winter or all-season tyres in wintry conditions.
Check here for more information about equipment required when driving in Germany.
Driving a Motorhome in Germany Tips
- The German’s drive on the right.
- The UK Department for Transport advises that A-frames are not legal for use by UK motorhomers abroad. In practice, this could mean towing your car while it’s fixed to a trailer, although there is ambiguity around this and differing advice can be found on the internet.
- Loads mustn’t exceed 11.5 tonnes at the driving axle and 10 tonnes at a single axle.
- Campervans or motorhomes and cars with caravans or trailers are not allowed to exceed 18.75m in total length, 4m in height and 2.55m in width.
- You may carry bikes on the rear of your motorhome as long as they do not obscure your numberplate, GB sticker or lights.
- Even though speed is not limited on 70% of the autobahn network, the roads are often so full that a de facto speed limit has been established. The main cause is stop-and-go traffic or congestion around towns, so don’t expect to be barrelling down the German autobahn at 200kph on your motorhome trip!
- Check your mirrors frequently; if a German driver wishes to overtake you or let you know they are coming up fast behind you, they will flash their lights and indicators to show their intent.
- If you see hazard lights up ahead on the autobahn, this means there is a traffic jam. Slow down and activate your hazard lights also, if the person behind you is travelling at high speed they will appreciate this courtesy and be able to stop in time.
- If you have a GPS navigation system that shows you where any fixed speed cameras are, you must deactivate this function. It’s illegal to carry or use any radar detection equipment when driving through Germany.
- All vehicles turning right have to give priority to bikes (on their inside) going straight on.
- Unless you weight more than 7500kg, there are no tolls to pay, making motorhome routes through Germany a really cost effective way to access Italy and most easterly parts of Europe. If you are in a massive motorhome that is over this weight, then head here for more information.
- The German police are able to hand out on-the-spot fines of up to €55 to motorists who have been caught violating traffic regulations. The motorist must pay the fine during the following week or legal proceedings could commence.
- Be aware of umweltzonen (low emission zones) in some cities and built up areas. You need an umweltplakette (sticker) on the windscreen to drive into these in your campervan or motorhome, which shows the level of your vehicles emissions. Green is the best, followed by yellow and then red. If you have a green sticker, you can go into all of the zones, but if you have a yellow or red one, you won’t be able to enter some of them. Click here for more detailed information
- If you have an accident you’ll need to complete the EU Accident Statement, which you can find here to download if your insurer hasn’t provided one. Stop safely and use your hazard lights and warning triangle to alert other drivers. Exchange details (a translate app comes in handy here) and take lots of photos to add to your form when you submit it to the insurers. If the other party won’t give details or there has been an injury, you should call the police on 112.
Motorhome Services in Germany
Motorhome services are generally widely available across the country. Some garages and supermarkets will have fresh water and a place for grey water. You’ll often see the typical pictogram sign by the side of the road pointing you to a service point, this may be a dedicated area, within an aire or a built-in box type service like those you see in France. Use an app like Park4Night to locate motorhome and campervan services.
LPG & Bottled Gas
LPG (called GPL is most European countries) for refillable systems is available in many garages, use the myLPG app to search near where you are.
Gas bottles are also widely available, with propane generally being more popular because of the climate (propane is better than butane for cold climates as it burns at lower temperatures).
For German gas bottles you will need a different regulator, available from most DIY or camping shops.
Most garages will require you to pay electronically for fuel at the pump, usually you can adjust the instructions to English. Super 95 is Regular Unleaded, Super Plus 98 is Premium Unleaded and Diesel is Diesel.
Motorhome Stopovers in Germany
Aires in Germany are called stellplatz. Not all stellplatz offer a service point, their primary objective is to provide somewhere to sleep.
Some are free, but where they are not, they’ll always cost much less than a campsite. It’s normal to pay for additional services, such as showers and electricity, if they are provided. If you use a stellplatzthere will usually be a set of rules displayed.
There are over 3,600 stellplatz so the chances are there will be one for every place to visit in Germany and they’re common on the outskirts of cities, making visiting easy.
If this is not the case, follow the usual rules of courtesy regarding noise, waste, washing and so on. Many stellplatz will only allow you to stay for a minimum period. If this is not displayed, then you should stay no longer than 2-3 nights.
A good alternative to motorway service stations (which are not recommended as a place to spend the night) and stellplatz are Autohof, a network of private-run service stations. Autohof are not directly accessible from the autobahn, but always very close to an exit and usually signposted from the autobahn.
Most of them allow overnight stays, a growing number also offer sanitary stations for motorhomes and even electric hookup. Their parking areas are fenced and guarded with CCTV.
Autohof’s do charge a fee, but this is sometimes be refunded when buying something in their shops, restaurants or petrol stations.
Wild Camping in Germany for Motorhomes
Overnight parking in Germany in a motorhome is permitted.
This means you must not place anything outside your vehicle, or you will be ‘camping’ and this is illegal.
Motorhome Campsites in Germany
If you are looking to stay on a site, book with EuroCampings who have over 1,100 member sites in Germany.
Usually the standard is very high, with modern and clean sanitary facilities and well managed restaurants and site shops, although this is also reflected in the cost.
With CampingCard ACSI you can save up to 60% on the cost of a German campsite out of peak season, making the card really great value for money.
Similar to the France Passion scheme, Landvergnügen helps you get off the beaten path into rural Germany and discover over 1,100 idyllic places in nature where you can stay in a campervan or motorhome on a farm.
You must buy the book and vignette to be able to use the scheme and handy app.
Another such scheme is WinzerAtlas or Wineegrowers Atlas.
Billed as a connoisseurs scheme, WinzerAtlas covers over 200 winemakers and taverns in the wine growing regions of Germany, Austria and Alsace.
You’ll also find lots of information about wine, grape varieties by region and things to see and do near each stopover.
German Motorhome Routes & Destinations
From Calais, you can be across the German border in around five to six hours. These are some of our favourite regions to explore when we’re travelling in our motorhome in Germany.
Home to the spectacular Black Forest, Baden-Wurttemberg actually has so much more to offer. It is also home to the charming historic university town of Heidelberg, the famous spa town of Baden-Baden and the Black Forest Ridgeway – a must do road in a motorhome!
Located in the southwest of Germany, the region is packed with beautiful nature, as the Black Forest gives way to lovely Lake Constance (the Bodensee) and the lush Swabian Mountains. There are lots of great outdoor activities in the region, with watersports on the many lakes, hiking, and mountain biking all very popular.
Other cities of note are Stuttgart, Freiburg, and Konstanz, and tucked away amongst the glorious scenery are lots of impressive and atmospheric castles just waiting to be explored.
A firm favourite with many motorhomers, Bavaria is a wealthy region and home to stunning city architecture, interesting historical monuments, and of course, the world-famous Oktoberfest. The region boasts a rich folk culture and for many, the stereotypical image of Germany comes from Bavaria’s unique traditions and cultural heritage – think lederhosen and beer steins!
The largest region in Germany, Bavaria is set in the south is home to charming cities such as Augsburg, Bamberg, and Regensburg the Zugspitze and the delightful Chiemsee, which offers fantastic swimming and sailing.
In addition to all this, there’s also the gorgeous Romantic Road perfect for motorhomers and stopping off at imposing castles and medieval villages as you go, as well as the fairytale Neuschwanstein Castle, the daddy of them all!
Surrounding Berlin and bordering Poland to the east of the country, the Brandenburg region is the historic heart of Prussia.
Full of beautiful forests, lakes, and rambling countryside, Brandenburg is delightfully underpopulated in comparison with other parts of Germany, and perfect for motorhome touring. Nestled amongst the picturesque landscape you’ll find pretty villages and towns waiting to be discovered.
Of particular note is the Spreewald, a biosphere reserve with forested areas, cycle paths and wetlands which are crossed by canals fed by the Spree River. Potsdam, with its magnificent palaces and parks is also a must see, and the whole region is dotted with castles and palaces to visit in your motorhome.
Located in the centre of Germany, Hesse is full of stunning nature, with 40 percent of the region covered in forest, and the rivers Main and Rhine running through it. There are lots of great outdoor activities to choose from, with hiking, mountain biking, and boat trips on offer.
The Rhine-Main area in the southwest of Hesse is peppered with charming towns and villages, with the Rheinsteig and Bergstasse routes particularly worth exploring, as they take you through some breathtaking countryside and lovely vineyards, home to many WinzerAtlas stopovers.
The most northwestern region in Germany and a natural addition to any motorhome tour of the the Netherlands and Belgium, Lower Saxony is home to diverse landscapes including plains, meadows and farmland, and the rivers Elber and Weser. The North Sea coastline and the scenic East Frisian Islands make it one of the country’s most popular holiday destinations.
Among all the natural scenery, the region is also home to some interesting cities and towns, such as Hanover, Celle, and Luneburg. Two of its main population centres – Bremen and Hamburg – are now considered regions in their own right.
Lower Saxony really does have a wide range of things to see and do. You can go hiking through the beautiful hills of the Elm Lappwald, swimming in the Wadden Sea and visit the medieval towns of Hildesheim and Gottingen.
Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania (as the region is known in English) consists of the most northeasterly part of Germany, which is home to the wild and hauntingly beautiful Baltic Sea coastline.
As it is the least populated region in the country, there is lots of unspoilt nature, with lovely islands, lakes, forests, rugged cliffs, and picturesque beaches dotting the coastline – it makes a perfect motorhome destination if you like to be off the beaten path.
The main draw are the beautiful beaches and seaside towns, such as Rostock, Stralsund and Wismar – but there is a lot of history to be found here too. Visiting the castle at Schwerin is a must do, as is taking a trip to Rugen, Germany’s largest island – you’ll have to leave the van behind though!
North Rhine-Westphalia is the most populated region in Germany with over 17 million inhabitants. The western state is home to some of Germany’s largest and most visited cities, such as Dortmund, Dusseldorf and Cologne, and makes up Germany’s busy industrial belt.
While most people come for its wealth of historical and cultural city sights, the region also boasts the wonderful Teutoburg Forest and the Eifel Mountains, as well as lots of pretty waterways and Germany’s longest cycle highway – it is possible to escape the traffic and people here if you get off the beaten track a little.
In the west of the country bordering Belgium and Luxembourg is Rhineland-Palatinate. The region is carpeted with rolling hills, sweeping valleys and vineyards, and the Rhine and Mosel rivers snake through the gentle landscape. This region makes a great motorhome trip from the UK if you only have a week or 10 days to spare.
The countryside is very picturesque and amongst the stunning scenery are elegant castles and historic towns such as Mainz and Koblenz. The Palatinate Forest alone is home to over 50 castles and crumbling ruins.
As the region is best-known for its wines, taking a trip along the German Wine Route in your motorhome is a must. As well as sampling delicious local wines and admiring the natural beauty of the region, you can also go hiking and cycling through the scenic countryside.
Lying in the east of the country bordering both Poland and Czechia, Saxony is home to Leipzig and Dresden, two of eastern Germany’s most important cities.
Away from these two must-visit cities, Saxony is blessed with breathtaking scenery. Picturesque valleys and hills give way to crystal clear lakes and waterways, while in the southeast, the Ore Mountains dominate the skyline.
In addition to its beautiful nature, there are many castles, monasteries and historic towns for you to explore.
Packed with historical and cultural sights and fascinating medieval towns and cities because of its central location in the heart of the former German Empire, Saxony-Anhalt is a wonderful region for a motorhome road trip.
While the three major cities of Magdeburg, Dessau, and Halle are worth visiting for their museums, monuments, and historical sights, further afield you’ll come across some hidden gems such as Merseburg and Naumburg.
Although the fascinating medieval towns and cities will dominate your trip, there is lots of nature to get lost in. The Elbe-Radweg is one of the most popular cycling routes in Europe, while Brocken Mountain and Bode Canyon are an outdoor lover’s paradise.
The northernmost region in Germany, Schleswig-Holstein borders brooding Denmark. One side of its gorgeous coastline is home to the North Sea, while the other lies next to the Baltic Sea.
Due to its proximity to Scandinavia, the region and its many cities and towns have their own distinct look and feel, with Kiel and the Hanseatic city of Lubeck being good examples of this hybrid Nordic-German atmosphere.
With many beautiful beaches, the region is a popular holiday destination amongst Germans, with the seaside towns of Gromitz and Sankt Peter-Ording see huge numbers of visitors every summer.
Slap-bang in the centre of Germany, Thuringia is often overlooked by holidaymakers. For those in the know, the wonderful forests, mountains, and historic cities pull them back year after year.
The four most important places to visit are Erfut, Eisenach, Gera, and Gotha. Each of these richly historic cities has its own fascinating story, monuments, and museums for you to delve into.
Tucked away amongst its vast forests are some beautiful little towns, such as Weimar and Rudolstadt, which is home to the largest folk festival in the country. Offering the perfect combination of history, culture, and nature, Thuringia is an off the beaten path destination that will introduce you to the authentic side of Germany when you visit in your motorhome.
German’s place a high priority on structure, privacy and punctuality. The German people embrace the values of thriftiness and hard work. Life in Germany is well organised and German’s are usually very compliant with the rules. Although this may sound constraining, it means that everything works as it should; life is peaceful, the environment clean and you know what to expect, when to expect it and how to deal with it!
- If you stay in a small rural town or village, you may come across strange rules; no hanging your washing out or vacuuming on Sundays, and no loud music between noon and 3pm on any day, for example. If you are motorhome wild camping rurally, make sure you know the local rules. German people are not known for holding back when you have done something ‘wrong’!
- In Germany, it is considered rude to stand too close to another person; one to two metres would be a good distance. This unwritten rule applies to people you know and also strangers, for example when you are queuing in a shop. Do not gesticulate too much when talking, this invades personal space even more!
- Public transport in Germany will be on time, every time. Do not allow yourself to run late or you will miss your bus or train. Oh, and once you’re on public transport, any conversation louder than a whisper will earn you stern looks, tutting and shaking of the head!
- German people rarely admit fault, even jokingly, and don’t usually hand out compliments. This attitude may seem unfriendly, but there is a keen sense of community and social conscience in Germany; self-containment is just part of their culture. Take the time to make contact and chat with locals and you will be rewarded with friendly, kind and helpful interactions.
- Jaywalking (crossing the road where there is no crossing or where the lights are not green) is illegal in Germany and whilst unlikely, you may get fined if caught.
- Shops and many bars and restaurants do not open on Sundays, even in tourist destinations. If you need a pint of milk or loaf of bread on Sundays, the only places where you will find a grocery shop open are train stations, airports and petrol station forecourts.
- Despite Germany being a first-world developed country and at the fore-front of the banking world, cash is king here. Lots of smaller places still don’t accept credit cards, especially if you are travelling rurally in Germany in your motorhome. Visit the cashpoint regularly.
- If you go to any type of beer festival, you will be charged a pfand (from pfenig, the equivalent of a cent prior to the euro currency). This is the deposit for the glass, which will not be returned until you give the glass back; if you are a typical beer festival goes this will mean a huge collection of glasses!
- Germany is very open about their war history and younger people especially, are happy to discuss how it has affected their recent history. However, using the Nazi salute, shouting “heil Hitler” and displaying the swastika or other symbols of the Third Reich is a criminal offence, punishable by up to five years in prison.
- Do not be disrespectful at concentration camps or Jewish memorials by taking selfies or climbing on memorial stones or buildings. Such places should be visited if possible; they do not always make for the most comfortable of tourist attractions but nevertheless, the holocaust and its victims should not be forgotten.
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Food & Eating Out in Germany
German’s love rich, hearty food. Pork is the most commonly eaten meat and any type of wurste (sausage), of which there are over 1500, is extremely popular. Beer is the most popular alcoholic beverage, with brandy and schnapps following closely.
- Beer is taken very seriously; Germany is known as the birthplace of a number of beer varieties, including Pilsner, Weizenbier (wheat beer) and Alt. These beers are crafted according to Reinheitsgebot, or the “Purity Law,” a 16th-century Bavarian law that decreed that beer could only be brewed from barley, hops and water.
- When visiting a restaurant or bar, don’t wait to sit, order or pay! Germans are efficient and like to get things done, so find a seat and don’t linger over the menu too long. Asking the waiter to return several times whilst you chat is considered rude and a waste of everyone’s time.
- Don’t ask for tap water, this is considered stingy and a bit weird. Mineral wasser (sparkling water) or stilles wasser (still water) should be ordered instead.
- German meal times tend to mirror the UK, with mittagessen (lunch) being between noon and 2pm and abendessen (dinner) being taken between 6 and 9pm.
- If the food and service has been good, then you should tip somewhere between 5 and 15%. If the restaurant does take credit cards (not all do), it is easier to leave the tip in cash otherwise you have to tell the server the amount (awkward!) and tips taken this way do not always end up in the right pockets.
- If you are looking for fast food when touring Germany, other than McDonalds et al, find a schnellimbiss (quick snack) for a bratwurst mit pommes (sausage and chips), be sure to have the chips with mayo not ketchup, as is the local way. Germany’s favourite fast food, the döner kebab, is a flatbread filled with grilled meat, onions, tomatoes, salad and various sauces. The meat can be lamb, beef or poultry, but never pork. There are over 16,000 kebab restaurants in Germany, and altogether they sell 30 döner kebabs a second. The döner arrived in Germany from Turkey at the beginning of the 1970s and has become a staple over the years.
- Try sauerkraut (pickled cabbage). Yes, I know the name doesn’t do it any favours, but it really is delicious …who knew cabbage could taste so good?