With its picturesque towns, fairytale castles, romantic Rhine river, rich history, old world charm, beer gardens and some of the greenest natural surroundings, Germany is one of the best places in Europe to take a road trip. The country itself is the largest country in Central Europe, so knowing where to start planning your route might feel overwhelming. This two-week itinerary allows you for the perfect amount of time to see the exceptional landscape, enjoy unparalleled adventures, and explore its fairytale towns all while having enough time to relax and indulge in thermal spas and savour its splendid cuisine.
Our route began in Stuttgart where we picked up our classy old-timer at Mercedes-Benz museum and continued to Frankfurt where our route officially began.
We suggest setting aside at least 10-14 days for this road trip. The itinerary you will roughly follow for this road trip is as follows: Stuttgart – Frankfurt – Essen – Koblenz – Rüdesheim am Rhein – Wiesbaden – Bad Wimpfen – Stuttgart.
Frankfurt is not just the financial centre of Germany; it also features an Old Town full of half-timbered houses, a pretty riverside, and lots of traditional pubs where you can spend your evenings.
Even though we spent just one night (and it would deserve at least three days to truly explore everything it has to offer), it allowed us to get a good glimpse of the city and its main attractions.
Sights you can’t miss:
- One thing you cannot miss when exploring Frankfurt is the Main Tower. Head 200 meters off the ground (or 56 floors high) for the best 360 city views! Most stunning during golden hour, but expect people
- Spend some time in the Altstadt wandering around the pretty and atmospheric streets (Franfkurter Römer, Neue Altstadt, Alte Oper)
- Rent an e-scooter and enjoy the ride through the town
- Top pick for evening is a romantic sky-light river cruise and beautifully lit-up skyscrapers
- For shopping go to MyZeil – you can buy all your favorite things under one roof at six beautiful floors of this shopping complex. It also features Europe’s longest escalator.
Where to stay
Steigenberger Frankfurter Hof
With the ideal central position in the heart of the financial district and the historical city center, the main attractions are literally steps away from the hotel’s front door. It is the perfect place to stay if you love to explore the city on foot! Impressive and elegant at first sight, it offers a sumptuous buffet at the stylish Hofgarten restaurant, generous spa that will keep you occupied for a full afternoon, and impeccable service. The Michelin-starred Restaurant Français is the culinary highlight of the hotel.
Eat & Drink
Authentic German restaurant, which is famous for its Frankfurt green sauce and apple wine. The beautiful ambiance welcomes locals and tourists while the kitchen cooks some delectable German dishes. Don’t forget to try the Tafelspitz mit Frankfurter Grüner Soße, stewed beef, and a green herb sauce.
Main Tower Restaurant & Lounge
This restaurant on the 53rd floor of the Main Tower was on top of our go-to list but was unfortunately closed at the time of our visit. On a regular day you can visit either for a midday lunch or a cozy dinner. It guarantees a memorable culinary experience with fantastic city views!
Don’t forget to dip your feet in the pool and indulge in exotic cocktails at the Citybeach Rooftop Bar. The skyline views from this place are incredible.
GAIA is another ideal rooftop bar and lounge for good times with friends. You will find a variety of drinks, wines, and the best Mediterranean cuisine. So grab a seat, enjoy the soothing music and impressive view of Frankfurt. Quick note: prepare to pay 5 EUR entry fee per person (no drinks included).
MUST TRY: Along with local specialties Grüne Soße (Green Sauce) and Apfelwein (Apple Wine) mentioned above a must try is also a Frankfurter sausage while in Frankfurt. It is said to be the original birthplace of the modern hot dog and the frankfurter was supposedly invented here over 500 years ago.
Just under 3 hours’ drive up north, next up was Essen, a city in Western Germany. Once a major industrialization hub, Essen has turned its former industrial landscape and mine dumps into cultural scenes. Some of the best things to do in Essen, varies from visiting historic old town to art museum appreciation. We based ourselves in Essen for a total of 4 days. We gathered below the best things to do and see.
Sights you can’t miss:
TIGER & TURTLE
Basically a large roller coaster, but with staircases that you can climb (except for the vertical looping). It is very cool and supposedly looks even more magical when night falls. More than 800 LEDs trace the turns and twists of the steel sculpture. It is the coolest, most unique thing we saw in Essen!
SLINKY SPRINGS TO FAME BRIDGE
This unique bridge sculpture lies between Emscherinsel and Kaisergarten. It is a work of art that instantly transports you back to youth. Especially fun to visit with children, or for a cool photo opportunity! 🙂
LANDSCHAFTSPARK DUISBURG NORD
This former steel and coal plant is now a neon-lit industrial fantasia. The facilities were refurbished and turned into a public park that celebrates the site’s productive heritage. Many of the facilities were repurposed into grand spaces such as a massive concert hall and one of the gas holders has even been transformed in Europe’s largest indoor dive site with a reef. You can walk, cycle, climb, dive, take in a movie, eat, drink, sleep all without leaving the park! From Friday – Sunday you can also enjoy the neon light show from dusk until 1AM. Otherwise the park is open all day, every day and it’s a free admission (diving, outdoor cinema etc. is payable).
An old coal mine that has become part of the UNESCO family as a world heritage site in 2001 is a must-see. The whole area is about 100 hectares and you can easily spend half a day here. I would suggest joining a guided tour of the old facilities and learn more about the coal industry and the Ruhr area. You can also do a self-guided tour (free), however without a guided tour you will not understand the full picture of the region.
The 19th-century mansion, designed by Alfred Krupp himself, was once the home of the Krupp family. But today, it is one of Germany’s most popular tourist attractions. The property stretches over 28 acres of land and is breathtakingly beautiful.
Good to know: The entrance costs 5 euros pp and card payment is not available, so bring cash.
We loved the charm and serenity of this historical small town. It is worth visiting because of its picturesque half-timbered houses lining cobbled streets. Favourite thing to do here is lunching at one of the local yummy cafes (Icecafe for a gelato or Lavendel im Brückencafe for a coffee/lunch) on its riverside promenade or simply roam around the quiet streets with camera in hand!
If you’re a nature lover like us, then Grugapark (or so-called “the green lungs of Essen”) is the perfect place to unwind, or have a picnic. We personally were set on visiting once we saw there’s a waterfall, but were surprised to see that the rest of the park is breathtakingly beautiful as well. You can find lovely themed gardens, fountains, a splash pool, observation tower, playgrounds, cafes, etc. The park is gigantic! Entry for adults is 4 EUR.
Pristine spot for strolling, cycling or a picnic, especially on a sunny day. It hosts a lot of rowing and canoeing events throughout the year and there are several wonderful gastronomic options surrounding the lake.
Another perfect place to quiet the mind. Or go for a run/walk. TIP: Bring a picnic basket! You can also go up the tower to enjoy the view.
MOVIE PARK BOTTROP
If you’re after the adrenaline, action and fun-filled day, then you will love the movie-themed amusement park in Bottrop. A wooden roller-coaster, a 4D cinema, action-packed shows and many other provide for a thrilling experience! TIP: Go on a weekday for shorter queues.
Where to stay
the niu Cobbles
Very comfortable, artsy and with a great location just steps away from the Folkwang museum and the Alto-Theater, this was the perfect place to stay during our time in Essen. They offered an incredible breakfast buffet and some very healthy choices, too.
Hotel friends Zeche-Zollverein Essen
We also stayed at this four-star hotel right on the site of UNESCO World Heritage Site “Zeche Zollverein”. The hotel features a private parking and offers a very comfortable stay. We loved their buffet breakfast and the variety of local dishes available.
Eat & Drink
Situated in the old industrial flair with the view of the inner harbor and terrace by the water, this restaurant serves classic-modern cuisine with international influences in an urban atmosphere. It offers a unique culinary experience and menu-wise, we are confident you cannot go wrong. Not surprised they earned a Michelin recommendation!
Tip: visit the Küppersmühle Museum right next door.
They’re known for their exquisite steak dishes and American burgers but the other dishes are also exceptional. The welcoming ambiance and classy decor add even more charm to this restaurant.
It was now time to continue our trip to Koblenz – one of Germany’s most beautiful and oldest cities. Famous for great wine, it offers many attractions for locals and tourists. Below is a look at everything we did during our two days there!
Sights you can’t miss:
CABLE CAR RIDE
It makes for a panorama like no other and it’s a must-do when you’re in town. It offers spectacular view of the Upper Middle Rhine Valley and it also takes you straight up to the Ehrenbreitstein fortress where you get the most fantastic views over Koblenz. If you’re looking to take nice photos, the most beautiful time of all is early morning or sunset golden hour. TIP: If you take a cable car no.17 it has a glass table.
Sample some of Germany’s best wines from Rhine Gorge and Moselle Valley vine-clad hills. We visited the Schwaab winery and were left impressed – not only by the wines, but the entire wine cellar was under an actual rock! It genuinely made for a very special atmosphere (needless to say it makes for a nice break from the heat in the summer months) and one could say it is a hidden gem. Tip: LX Riesling was our favourite wine!
Visit an old town, stop for an ice cream and continue your stroll through the lavish gardens to Electoral Palace and along the Rhine waterfront towards the Deutsches Eck (German corner).
It is one of those spots definitely worth making a trip. It lies just outside of the city and sits high atop a hill that overlooks the river below. You will have to hike for 10-15 minutes to reach the entrance. The highlight for us was the stunning Pergola garden within the castle walls – a true work of art.
Another beautiful castle in the upper middle valley of the Rhine waiting to be explored.
Where to stay
The elegant FÄHRHAUS hotel provides a stunning view of the river Moselle, bright and modern rooms, and a beautifully designed wellness area with panoramic indoor pool and sauna. The hotel also features a free private parking, and the rate includes amazing breakfast. Top-tier rooms feature a balcony and river view! A Landgang restaurant is a Michelin recommended restaurant and one of the best options for a gourmet treat while in Koblenz.
Eat & Drink
It is a great stop for a bite in-between visiting castles or after hiking. It provides flavorsome German dishes (from tasty bratwurst with sauerkraut to amazing flammkuchen). Wine is really delicious and the ambience is nice. Quick note: this is a “self-service” restaurant, so you will order food & drinks at the bar and serve yourself. The view is one of the best at the middle Rhine valley!
As mentioned, this contemporary restaurant belongs to the Hotel Fährhaus. Thanks to its fantastic location, it is already a hit among fine diners. The French-Mediterranean cuisine has regional influences, and there is a wide selection of the best wines you will taste in Germany.
Others restaurant suggestions: Restaurant La Mer mit Aquarium, Bernhard’s Restaurant, Stadl-Wirges, Gerhards Genussgesellschaft
After Koblenz, we were now ready to continue making our way down south slowly and discover the rest of the fairytale castles of the Rhine Valley, also famous (as you figure by now) for wine and cute villages. Honestly, it felt like we’ve walked into a picture postcard every step of the day and this was probably our favourite part of the trip. Even just going for an aimless drive… This area left us hypnotised, irrespective of the direction we choose.
Rüdesheim am Rhein
The most picture perfect smaller town you can imagine. Surrounded by vineyards, this enchanting and quaint medieval village (also a part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site) makes for a perfect romantic 1 night stopover.
Sights you can’t miss:
We began with a gondola ride up to the mountain, overlooking acres of wine vineyards and Rhine river with castle views on both sides. At the top, there was an impressive Niederwald monument and amazing vistas. We continued our walking trail through a forest and found a ski lift for the ride down to Assmannshausen (cutest wine town). Lastly, we picked up one of the river cruise boats (included in the Ring Tour) and cruised back down the Rhein to Rüdesheim where we started. It was a perfect 3-4 hours trip.
WINE TASTING AT RheinWeinWelt
If you want to do something truly unique, go for a wine tasting at RheinWeinWelt where »The game with aromas is a jackpot”. You can purchase packs of 10 (€10) or 20 (€19) coins and for each coin you get a taste of 20 ml of your chosen wine. The best thing about this activity is that you pour the wines yourself, which makes the wine-tasting experience very personal. You will have the option to choose from 160 wines from 80 wineries from the wine growing regions Rhine Palatinate, Middle Rhine and Rheingau along the 180 Rhine kilometres! Coins can of course be „topped up“ at any time. 🙂
WALK THE STREETS OF RÜDESHEIM OLD TOWN
The narrow cobblestone streets with half-timbered buildings give this town that fairytale feel and they’re perfect for walking around with no plan, getting lost and sipping on a local riesling or famous Rüdesheimer coffee! YUM!
Where to stay
Breuer’s Rüdesheimer Schloss
If you’re looking for an authentic and romantic hotel in Rüdesheim am Rhein, look no further than Breuer’s Rüdesheimer Schloss. It’s a family-run hotel within an 18th-century building that features a traditional restaurant in a beautiful garden with live music. The restaurant specialises in food from the Hesse region, and a variety of wines from the hotel’s own winery. In total there is a selection of 450 wines from 20th and 21st century. The hotel is located in the midst of the Old Town with pretty streets waiting to be explored. It’s also a great base for a boat trip along the Rhine or gondola ride up to the mountain.
Eat & Drink
Wine Restaurant: Breuer’s Rüdesheimer Schloß
When you are in Rüdesheim, dining in at this restaurant is a genuinely memorable must. This place offers a cosy atmosphere with live music. It’s the perfect setting to end a day of sightseeing in the historic town, tasting the homemade apfelstrudel and sipping on Rüdesheimer coffee. A must try, trust me!
Other restaurant suggestions: Restaurant Burg Klopp, Restaurant Mundart
The wellness capital in Europe. Wiesbaden (which literally means “White Baths”) is one of the oldest spa towns in Europe. It featured twenty-six hot springs at one time, out of which fourteen of the springs still flow today. We spent a brief day in Wiesbaden, but this small city has lots of charm to offer so we would recommend staying at least 2 nights. If not for exploring, then definitely for indulging/healing in the thermal baths.
Sights you can’t miss:
- If you want to understand the history of the city then you must book a guided tour – ask for Peter Birthler at the tourist office! We usually avoid guided tours but we genuinely thought he was the most knowledgable and fun guide! We strongly encourage you to do this on your first morning here, as it will help you make sense of everything else you do for the remainder of your visit.
- Kurhaus (referring to the thermal “cure”) was built at the request of Kaiser Wilhelm II between 1904 and 1907. Its famous Spielbank (casino) is a favorite tourist attraction. The grand Kurhaus has event space and an upscale traditional gambling hall, where polished wooden roulette wheels.
- Hessisches Staatstheater: If you find yourself in the mood for classical concerts, opera, ballet, musical theatre, the Hessian State Theatre is a venue with prestige, splendid architecture, and a lot of history.
- Schloßplatz: The Schloßplatz, or the Palace square in the center of the city, is surrounded by several Gothic and Roman architectural buildings. A beautiful place which also hosts numerous weekly markets on the Market Square.
- Opelbad (pool over the city) – one of Wiesbaden’s many leisure swimming facilities. This beautiful outdoor swimming pool is designed in a Bauhaus style, lies on the hill and gives a fantastic view of Wiesbaden.
Where to stay
Hotel Nassauer Hof
There is truly no better place to stay here than Hotel Nassauer Hof. It is one of the few grand hotels still left in Germany today. It has an amazing spa with thermal water located on the rooftop with a spectacular terrace. There is no denying that the view over the city from here is breathtaking. It is also perfectly situated in the centre of Wiesbaden, so you can explore this beautiful town on foot. I would also say this could make for a perfect place to end our Germany adventure – diving in thermal waters and splashing out on a massage.
Eat & Drink
Restaurant Ente (located in Hotel Nassauer Hof)
Experience the best Mediterranean and European dishes at the Michelin-starred Ente Restaurant. You can relax beside the fireplace and choose from a fine selection of cigars at Nassauer Hof Bar.
Cafe del Sol
This modern and chic restaurant is trendy among foodies of all ages. Be it breakfast, lunch, or dinner; you get the best food at this affordable cafe.
Other restaurant suggestions: Benners Bistronomie, La Rucola, Café Maldaner
Last, but not least, on our itinerary was Bad Wimpfen, Germany’s best-hidden gem. Not many tourists make it here but it’s definitely worth the visit. Below you can find out where we stayed and the things we did in this historic spa town.
Sights you can’t miss:
THE OLD TOWN
Bad Wimpfen has a medieval setting. The old town’s hilly and its cobblestone streets are everything we needed to enjoy our trip. As these streets are very photogenic, we loved taking pictures and going on long walks.
Once we had explored Old Town, it was time to see the sights around town. We love touring on an e-bike because you can cover a lot of ground. Bad Wimpfen is specifically known as a great cycling destination, so we decided to rent our e-bikes from Lauterbike and rode out of town for a half a day. See more in our IG Story highlights!
Where to stay
Hotel Neues Tor
Bad Wimpfen is so small and walkable that it doesn’t really matter where you choose to stay. We stayed at Hotel Neues Tor because it comes with private parking garage which we found very convenient. It was just recently renovated, had an awesome design and felt very homely.
Eat & Drink
The homemade cuisine, courteous service and the cosy beer garden make it an absolute pleasure to visit this beautiful restaurant.
The homemade cakes, friendly staff and fantastic location highlight this dining spot. It’s in a small square surrounded by half-timbered old buildings. Must try on a hot summer day is the refreshing lemon + soda drink with elderflower.
Other restaurant suggestions: Wirtshaus zum Wilddieb, Restaurant Schlotzerstube
It was now time to wrap up our road-trip and catch the flight back home. Below you will find some general tips for your road trip in Germany.
For slow travel along small roads and through quaint German villages where public transport isn’t available, you’ll want to a rent a car. Road trips through Germany give you a chance to take a quiet path and travel at your own pace. Quite expectedly, roads are well-maintained, and you also have the Autobahn, the highway, connecting major points of interest. (Also known as the highway without speed limits). As on our previous trip to Germany last year, we rented from Mercedes-Benz Museum. We drove a beautiful old-timer Mercedes C123 (1977), allowing ourselves to see the country from a whole different perspective. If you’re tempted to experience one of these beautiful classic cars, we recommend booking a unique tour here.
HOW TO GET THERE
Germany is an easily accessible country from most of Europe, with an excellent network of autobahn’s to deliver you right where you want to be. It’s well connected for domestic and international airports, also making it easy to fly in for a quick getaway! For this itinerary, you can either fly to Frankfurt, Stuttgart or Cologne. From there, you can take a train, shuttle, taxi, or rent a car and drive.
WHEN TO GO
You can visit Germany at any time – all four seasons enchant in their own way. But the best time to visit Germany is from June through September, when the weather is pleasantly warm, with temperatures typically in the low to mid-20s, and very long days. There are also most options for activities and events in the cities during this time. Especially during the peak of summer, expect thick tourist crowds and accommodation and airfare rates to be at the highest prices of the year. So if you’re travelling on a budget, the best time to visit is from January to March. You’ll also find that you’re one of the few visitors in town and won’t have to deal with long lines or wait times, even at popular establishments and attractions.
HOW MANY DAYS
If you only have around two weeks or even less, you won’t be able to see all of Germany. That is why we have focused our itinerary to cover a certain part of Germany for this road trip. With this itinerary you’ll see Germany’s cities that are certainly the main draw for tourists, but you’ll also get out of the cities and get to explore the countryside and historic architecture which will make your trip even better. If you have less/more time, you can easily adapt it.
Germany is reasonably priced, with varying accommodations and activities for every price point. There’s a range of hotels (and hostels) that can suit budget travelers, and more luxury accommodations if you’re looking to splurge! We found the restaurants to be well-priced and the overall quality of food was fantastic!
WHAT TO BRING
- Driver’s license and other documents for your road trip
- Phone Holder: It’s easier to pay attention to what is happening on the road
- Car Phone Charger: Remember you will spend some time on the road and it might be useful to be able to charge your phone in the car, especially if using it for GPS and as your camera.
- Clothing Considerations: Depending on the season you’re visiting and variability of temperature changes and other climatic conditions – which sometimes can be unforeseen and entirely beyond your control, do plan to pack one or two sets of heavy and light clothing. Of course, include a swimwear and a set of rain protection gear. You never know when you might need it.
Doing a Germany road trip was one of the most memorable travel experiences we’ve ever had. We loved traveling by car – having the freedom to stop when we want at scenic lookouts and take detours to explore hidden gems is what really made our travels through Germany special.
We hope you got all the information you need to plan an epic road trip in Germany! For more recommendations about Germany’s epic locations and experiences, check out this page.
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Until next adventure!
This project was done in partnership with Germany Tourism. All of the above is, as always, our own opinion.