Year after year Deutschland, regarded as one of the crown jewels of world travel, is rated among the world’s most visited countries. Scenic landscapes, beautiful villages, quaint castles and a profound sense of history are just a few of the reasons travelers are attracted to this delightful country. Germany’s culture, which is both industrious and fun loving, mixes the old with the new, the common with the technologically innovative and, in the process, manages to create a society that is both unique and impressive.
München, although known as a large and sophisticated business center, is a city that carries a warmth and charm unlike many other of Germany’s major urban areas. It appears that the Prussian formalism ingrained in much of country’s north missed Bavaria and Munich. The inhabitants of Munich genuinely like to party (e.g. Oktoberfest) and the feeling is infectious.
- München offers numerous galleries, exceptional museums, wonderful opera and a world-class symphony orchestra. History is on display in the delightful Old Town, which is a charming area to walk.
- The city is a delight: compact and park-like, it offers much to see and do. In the nearby areas of Bavaria, you will find some of the best castles in Germany and other interesting attractions. You can visit the famous Neuschwansein Castle on a day trip from Munich (several companies run tours to southern Bavaria) or as part of an exploration of the Romantic Road, which we describe below.
- Crossing idyllic countryside and winding its way through quintessential “tourist Germany”, the Romantic Road, wanders from Würzburg to Füssen. The towns along the “Road” provide an atmosphere of times long past and are among the most visited in Germany.
- Contrary to the name, the attraction of the Romantic Road is not the road, but the towns that are loosely linked to it. We recommend that you s take the Autobahn between towns along the Romantic Road whenever you can do so.
- If you are just looking for an overview of the most interesting of the towns on the Romantic Road, continue reading below.
Offering fine churches, good food, and a pleasant location, Augsburg is one of the best-known towns on the Romantic Road. As one of Bavaria’s larger cities, it provides a broader range of lodging opportunities than you will find in most other towns in this section of Bavaria.
- Founded in 15 B.C., as an outpost of the Roman Empire, and named in honor of the emperor Augustus, Augsburg is the oldest city in Bavaria. The city was an important center of trade in the Middle Ages and its wealth helped create its important historic buildings.
- Today, Augsburg offers interesting museums (including the Roman Museum and the Maximillian Museum), as well as several attractive, historical buildings.
- Be sure the visit the Rathaus (City Hall). Although severely damaged in World War II, this beautiful building has now been restored to its former glory and its Golden Hall is worth seeing.
- Considered by many to be the most desirable and authentic medieval town on the “Romantik Strasse” (the Romantic Road), Rothenburg is the prototypical walled-town with dramatic architecture, ancient buildings, an interesting history, good food, and great trinket shopping.
- Many reviewers deride Rothenburg as too touristy, but we disagree. Rothenburg is universally acclaimed the best example of a medieval town in Germany and we think it would be a shame to miss this glorious village.
- The town is known for its “Christmas Market” but you will find Christmas decorations for sale here year round.
Once an important medieval center and an historic university town, the city is located in a noted grape growing region of Germany. Wurzburg offers a number of notable historic attractions, good food, interesting shopping and fine wine. We consider Wurzburg a pleasant, but short stop for tourists.
- See the Princebishops Palace (The Residence (Residenz)) and its Court Garden. The Fortress (Festung) Marienberg, across the river and up the hill from the center of the city, is worth a stop.
- Finally, the city has an amazing collection of historic churches that exhibit dramatic architecture.
- Ludwig II, King of Bavaria, was known for his castle building. His interest in architecture, however, was an attempt to recreate an earlier time when knights were heroes and chivalry was in bloom.
- Ludwig’s foremost creation was Neuschwanstein Castle in the town of Hohenschwangau. The castle was never fully completed, but what does exist is amazing and very popular with visitors.
- We cover Neuschwanstein Castle in detail in our Guide to the Romantic Road.
- In addition, the town of Hohenschwangau hosts Hohenschwangau Castle, which was Ludwig’s summer home when he was a boy. He later inherited his family’s home and stayed at this castle when he visited the construction site of the Neuschwanstein Castle on hill, across a the valley.
- If you want to see more of Ludwig and his whimsies, Linderhoff Castle is about 30 miles to the northeast of Fussen.
Linderhoff was Ludwig’s modest attempt to bring the grandeur of Versailles to the German countryside. For more information, visit Linderhoff Castle’s official website.
The official tourism website for Germany is “Germany – the Travel Destination .” The site includes information on the best places to visit in Germany that we describe here, as well as locations that did not make our list.
Links to the official tourism websites for the locations we mention are usually included in the detailed tour guides we produce, or on the page in which the locations are mentioned if we do not publish a detailed guide for these attractions.
For country facts and tourism information (driving rules, medical care, personal safety, etc) see this page on Germany from the U.S. State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs. We think you will find it a good tool for planning a trip to Germany.
Germany provides a wide range of destinations some of which are best seen while cruising Germany’s scenic waterways. If you have the time (and the budget) consider taking a river cruise on one of the many tour lines that ply the Rhine. The country offers an incomparable travel experience laced with good food, exciting festivals, and hidden treasures along most every road.
If a river cruise is not for you, rest easy as most of Germany is best seen by automobile: set out on a relaxed schedule that lets you experience the wonders of the countryside. Lodging is easy to find, but during summers reservations are a must at Germany’s best places to visit.
Many of the attractions in Germany’s cities were seriously damaged towards the end of Word War II. Most of the historic building that were damaged have been extensively renovated or completely rebuilt. The effort has produced amazing results and the historic glories of Germany, once again look like new.
While you can see some of these towns as long day trips from Munich, we advise renting a car and creating your own itinerary (be sure to visit Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Neuschwanstein Castle and Wurzburg.
Follow this with a jaunt over to the Rhine Valley (perhaps stopping at Heidelberg along the way) and be sure to take a Rhine River cruise, even if just for a day.
If you only have a week to see Germany, focus on Munich and the Romantic Road. If you have ten days, add in the Rhine Valley for a spectacular tour. Of course, while you are in Munich, you might want to cross the border to visit the delightful Salzburg, Austria.