We embarked on an ambitious week-long road trip from Munich to Berlin, with stops along the way in different Bavarian towns, the Austrian Alps, Martin Luther sites and the sleek city of Berlin.  It was a whirlwind, but a very exciting and beautiful way to discover Germany.  If you’re looking for a fantastic German road trip, I would definitely recommend it.

Overview

Itinerary

  • Munich, 1 day and 1 night
  • Hall in Triol (Austria), 1 day and 1 night
  • Stop in Neuschwanstain Castle
  • Rothenburg, 2 days and 2 nights
  • Stop in Wartburg Castle
  • Erfurt, 1 day and 1 night
  • Stop in Wittenburg
  • Berlin, 2 days, 2 nights

This itinerary, for us, was the perfect mix of churches, museums, nature and Medieval history.  I purposefully did the itinerary this way so we wouldn’t be in the car more than 3 hours at a time.  For us, that’s just too much time in the car, and not enough time seeing the sites.  There are other ways to do a road trip through Germany from Munich to Berlin, and we could have chosen a number of different stops (Dresden, more Bavarian towns, etc).  We wanted to see the Martin Luther sites during the 500th anniversary of the reformation this year, so that’s why we were heavy on those sites.  Driving is a much better way, in my opinion, to have more control over your itinerary.  Yes, their trains are great, and we even dropped our car off at the airport when we arrived in Berlin, and didn’t even bother with it after that.  However, when you’re visiting some of these smaller towns, you’re going to be using a lot of buses that don’t run as often as they do in bigger cities, which means a lot of waiting time.  With only a week, we wanted to have more control over our time table.

Practicalities of Driving in Germany

If you’re going to drive from Germany to Austria, you have to get a pass to put on your windshield that costs about 10 euro.  If you don’t get this, you could get fined up to 250 euro.  You can pick it up at any gas station.  Driving on the audubon means at times you can drive up to 100 mph.  It’s pretty scary.  If you see a posted speed limit, however, you have to abide by that.  All rest areas off the audubon have bathrooms that cost .70 euro.  Make sure to get cash at the ATM from the airport so you have plenty of cash.  The cool thing is the toilets have a self-cleaning function that cleans the seat after each use.  Additionally, it printed a .50 euro coupon that you could use in the station for coffee or a snack.  So we definitely cashed those in.  Parking is pretty expensive everywhere we were, but we were able to find some free street parking areas.  Just as a warning, some of the Google directions were not right.  For the most part, Google was a great ally, but not all times.  With being able to drive fast, you do get to places rather quickly.  

Munich

A lady there told me Munich deserves much more than a day, and I do agree.  However, with a good audio guide, we walked around the entire city, saw the major sites, ate a lot of food, walked up a Cathedral to get an amazing view of the city and drank beer at the famous Hofbrauhaus.  This is a very modern city and easy to navigate.  There are countless reviews on this city, so I won’t review everything!

Hall in Triol

We chose to stay here instead of the touristy Innsbruck, and I’m so glad we did.  The restaurants were fantastic, and packed with only locals.  We even went to a bar, and people knew we weren’t from the town, so were interested to talk to us.  One of them thought I might be Austrian, until I opened my mouth of course!  The town itself is a 30 min drive to Innsbruck, so we stayed here, but we drove there to go to Nordkette tram where we saw beautiful views of  the Austrian Alps.  We tried to take a hike nearby, but the local roads were closed to the farm areas.  (It’s just that time of the year.)

Neuschwanstein Castle 

This is probably one of the most famous spots in Germany (part of the “Romantic Road”).   It’s extremely touristy and expensive, so we decided to hike up to the top (as opposed to taking a taxi or horse drawn carriage).  It’s very steep, but we had the trail to ourselves!  We got to Mary’s Bridge and took pictures, then walked around the castle and got an ice cream.  We decided not to tour the inside, because from what we’ve heard, it’s not that great.  What we really wanted to see was what’s around it!  And we saw that!  We also went to Alpsee Lake (or should I say Swan Lake?) and it was beautiful.  The area around it is definitely worth a stop.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber

Probably our favorite destination of the entire road trip was this amazing little city.  The medieval history alone is worth a trip, not to mention the great restaurants and museums.  I highly recommend going to the Medieval Crime and Justice Museum.  (As an added perk this year, they have an exhibition on “Martin Luther and Witches” which was really interesting.)  It was extremely well done, and very informative.  I’ve never read that many text panels at a museum, but everything was so interesting.  This town was featured in the movie Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (along with Neuschwanstein Castle), and the wagon is actually held in front of the museum.  We took the nightwatchman tour, which was incredible.  8 euro a person, and you learn lots of stories and history.  We also went to “Hell” or Zur Holl for dinner. The foundation of the restaurant was built in 950, and one room was built in 1100s.  It’s incredible to eat somewhere so old.  We loved this city, and will definitely go back next time we’re in the country!

Wartburg Castle, Erfurt and Wittenburg

I wrote an article last week specifically on “Lutherland” and visiting these sites.  If you want to know our itinerary, what we did and what we saw, read the article here.

Berlin

What can I say about Berlin that hasn’t already been said?  Some of the most thought-provoking history you can learn about is right here in this city.  We stayed in East Germany, which is historically significant all on its own.  We took the “Discover Berlin” tour with Original Berlin Walks.  We had a fantastic British guide, who managed to sum up some of the most complicated history in an easy-to-understand way, and told some great stories along the way.  The city is enormous, and we barely scratched the surface.  With the walking tour, however, I feel like I got a healthy dose of the city, and have specific places I’d like to see next time I’m in the country!

If you decide to take a German road trip, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.  There isn’t anything I would change about our itinerary, I loved it all!

Nina Thomas

Travel lover and writer

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