Germany. Land of castles, Schnitzel, beer, the Black Forest, and oompah bands. For this article, we will focus on a 1 week itinerary Germany, including historic Heidelberg and parts of Bavaria from Baden Baden to magnificent Munich.
For this Germany itinerary, we will be arriving in Frankfurt and flying home from Munich. For each city on our trip, we will feature a place to stay if it is an overnight, a great place to eat, and some of the major attractions and tours in each area. In some cities, we will stay two nights, some one night – and some, we will just stop and visit before continuing to another city to rest our tired minds and bodies.
If you don’t want to drive in Europe, you can use this website to book your train tickets between the city and for day trips. It is super easy and in English.
1 Week Itinerary Germany: Heidelberg (Days 1 and 2)
After landing at Frankfurt Airport and collecting your bags, it is only a
one hour drive (or 1½ hours on the train) from the airport to the intriguing historic town of Heidelberg and our first stop on our 1-week tour of Southern Germany.
Heidelberg Castle is considered the most important attraction in this wonderful medieval town. The castle draws more than three million visitors a year, and upon arriving at this beautiful city it is easy to see why. The castle ruins are nestled in the hills 300 feet above the Neckar River, overlooking a panoramic view of the city of Heidelberg. It is a memorable experience to walk around the gardens and enjoy the beautiful views over Heidelberg and the Neckar, with several excellent vantage points you shouldn’t miss. When describing Heidelberg Castle, avid traveler and famous author Mark Twain said in his 1880 book A Tramp Abroad:
A ruin must be rightly situated, to be effective. This one could not have been better placed. It stands upon a commanding elevation, it is buried in green woods, there is no level ground about it, but, on the contrary, there are wooded terraces upon terraces, and one looks down through shining leaves into profound chasms and abysses where twilight reigns and the sun cannot intrude. Nature knows how to garnish a ruin to get the best effect.
You could easily spend a full day visiting the castle grounds. In addition to the castle itself and the wonderful views, visitors can see the Heidelberg Tun, the world’s biggest wine barrel. Built in 1751, the Tun holds 220,000 liters (58,100 U.S. gallons). Anybody thirsty? Another fascinating stop is the German Pharmacy Museum in the Ottheinrichsbau, which displays a large collection of pharmacy paraphernalia used in earlier times. Or how about a palace wedding? Couples can arrange that storybook wedding at this medieval castle from February to December.
Visitors can view the medieval castle of Heidelberg while cruising aboard the delightful 21st century nuclear powered Neckarsonne. The world’s largest solar catamaran, the Neckarsonne departs from the Alte Brucke and provides a magnificent view of Heidelberg. Also, if you have time, take a guided tour of the Old Town. Even without a guide, it is fascinating, but with a guide, you will learn so much more that brings this ancient town alive. Browse through Heidelberg University, the Student Prison, historic buildings, and see the marker dedicated to religious reformer Martin Luther, who came to Heidelberg in 1518.
At The Hip Hotel, you can choose to stay in Rome, Delhi, London, Dublin, Amsterdam, or any of the 27 city-themed rooms. Yes, the theme of each room of the eclectic Hip Hotel is based on some international city. Try the fun and unique Down Under room, where everything is upside down – paintings, beds, and furniture. The location is perfect for exploring the Old Town, the castle, the Neckar River and other points of interest. For additional hotel recommendations, take a look at the EuropeUpClose Where to Stay in Heidelberg guide.
Where to eat: Hackteufel
Take a short walk to the wonderful Hackteufel restaurant, just down the street from the old bridge. Try the delicious Schnitzel with cheese sauce and sliced potatoes. Other great dishes include the vegetarian Flammkuchen, roast pork with gravy or the ravioli. Be sure to try the fresh white asparagus with hollandaise sauce when it’s in season, usually in May. And, of course, don’t leave till you have tried one of their tantalizing desserts, like the freshly baked apple strudel or chocolate mousse. Hackteufel also has a good selection of wine and beer. Because this place is so popular, be sure to make reservations to guarantee yourself a table.
If you prefer to book a tour to explore Heidelberg, here are some great tours options for you. Especially the Walking Tour with the Night Watchman is a treat. If you are want to visit multiple sights and museums in Heidelberg, the HeidelbergCard might be worth it for you.
1 Week Itinerary Germany: Baden-Baden (Days 3 and 4)
On to Baden-Baden, on the edge of the famous Black Forest, just an hour drive southwest of Heidelberg. Baden-Baden is known for its beautiful terrain and natural spas and is often referred to as the summer capital of Europe. Some of the great natural attractions in Baden Baden include picturesque Merkur Mountain and the beautiful Lichtentaler Allee, where visitors can take a peaceful walk through this garden paradise along the Oos River. The town also features the ancient Roman Bath Ruins, several spas, the world famous Kurhaus Casino, and many excellent shops and restaurants.
With more than 4,000 square meters of hot thermal water, the Caracalla Spa offers many options to unwind. The waters rise from deep springs, reaching the surface at temperatures up to 68°C, where visitors can relax and enjoy its magical effects on body and soul. Find out for yourself why Baden Baden has been known for centuries for the unique effects these mineral rich waters have on bathers as they gently relax the entire mind and body.
The Roman Bath Ruins are another fascinating attraction. One of these early baths, known as the Soldiers’ Bath, is found beneath today’s Friedrichsbad. Still, in excellent condition, visitors can view the bath’s remarkable floor and wall heating systems. Visitors will pass by 2 meter high Roman walls and experience more than 2,000 years of history, getting a personal insight into the ancient Roman bathing culture.
The landmark Kurhaus Casino is an architectural masterpiece in the heart of Baden-Baden. The Kurhaus has attracted day-trippers, spa guests, tourists, gamblers and locals since back in the 18th century. It was built in 1766 for noblemen and spa guests and was recently given a new, completely modernized appearance while preserving the historical setting.
Hotel Merkur, in the heart of Baden-Baden, is recently renovated and on a quiet, peaceful street. In close proximity to the hotel you can find many of Baden-Baden’s most popular attractions, including the Kurhaus with its famous casino, the theatre, the Frieder Burda museum, art galleries, shops, cafes, and the alluring Lichtentaler Allee, Baden-Baden’s lovely central park.
Hotel Merkur has its own parking for guests, free Sky TV, and wi-fi, and has its own restaurant and in-house tapas bar. Come see why Hotel Merkur was voted number 3 in a recent competition for Germany’s favorite hotel, and how they have consistently maintained superb hospitality over many years for their valued guests.
Where to eat: Wirsthaus zur Geroldsauer Mühle
Housed in a large, stately building framed with silver fir, the Wirsthaus zur Geroldsauer Mühle is a very attractive restaurant that also has its own butcher, bakery and grocery store under the same roof. The service is warm and friendly, and the wait staff is knowledgeable and professional. Traditional German fare is served in the large but cozy interior, filled with impressive woodwork, fireplaces, and innovative décor. When the weather is nice, there is a large beer garden in a comfortable surrounding for outdoor dining.
Try the crispy roasted pork shoulder with a savory gravy, served with homemade potato dumplings and white cabbage. Other items on the full menu include Weiner Schnitzel, pan-fried salmon trout, and a selection of fresh salads. For the hearty appetite, try the huge Tomahawk Veal Chop, served with garlic herb butter, ragout of beans and French fries. And for dessert, how could you not try the Black Forest Cake, a tastey sensation of chocolate, cherries and fresh cream.
1 Week Itinerary Germany: Stuttgart
Traveling from Baden-Baden to Stuttgart is just over an hour if you take the faster A5
and A8, or you could double your time by taking the more scenic southern route through Bad Wildbad and some of the smaller villages. The imposing Hohenzollern Castle is about an hour south of Stuttgart.
A popular tourist destination, Hohenzollern castle has over 300,000 visitors per year, making it one of the most visited castles in Germany. For car enthusiasts, the Mercedes Benz and Porsche Museums are must-see attractions.
Nature lovers will be enthralled with The Wilhelma Zoo and Botanical Gardens, Neckar Park, and other green areas of the city. Another very popular place with visitors as well as locals is Palace Square, located in the middle of the town. There is a large fountain with many open places where the locals go to relax. Culture lovers will enjoy the many ballets, operas, concerts and art exhibitions in this German jewel.
1 Week Itinerary Germany: Füssen (Day 5)
The lovely drive from Stuttgart to Füssen is just over 2 hours on Autobahn A8 and A7. Enchanting Neuschwanstein, just outside of Füssen, is one of the most famous of the German castles. Often called the fairytale castle, this unfinished castle built by crazy King Ludwig is a top attraction, and can be very busy. When visitors purchase a ticket for this castle, they are assigned a time when they can expect to gain entrance. In the meantime, they can enjoy the beautiful landscapes and views enveloping the castle.
Even though Neuschwanstein is the most famous attraction, the charming Bavarian village of Füssen also has several features appealing to tourists. Beautiful scenery, framed by the majestic Alps, the pristine River Lech, cobblestone streets, nice cafes, and shops all keep visitors smiling.
For those with time in their schedule, travelers can visit Garmisch-Partenkirchen, host of the 1936 Winter Olympics. This lovely town sits at the base of the Zugspitze, the tallest peak in Germany, and is known for world-class skiing, hiking, and spectacular views from the gondola stop atop the Zugspitze.
Hotel Schlosskrone has a great location in the romantic old town district in Füssen. Guests can walk to the train station in a couple of minutes and enjoy free wi-fi, spa with a Finnish sauna, and a steam room. The spacious rooms at the Hotel Schlosskrone Füssen are colorfully decorated and some feature Bavarian décor. All rooms include cable TV and a private bathroom, and all offer individually-controlled air conditioning. A full breakfast buffet and a selection of Bavarian and international dishes are served in the elegant Himmelsstube restaurant, while Mediterranean dishes are offered at Chili Restaurant.
Where to eat: Madame Pluesch
Madame Pluesch, located in the town center, is a charming period style restaurant decorated with local antique furniture. Popular Bavarian dishes include the beef and onions with Spätzli, delicious duck, and a flavorful sampler platter. It can be very busy during peak season, so you may want to reserve a table.
1 Week Itinerary Germany: Munich (Day 6 and 7)
Our final town in Germany will be Munich, just an hour north of Garmisch. Munich is the capital and largest city of the German state of Bavaria, on the banks of River Isar north of the Bavarian Alps.
Munich is the third largest city in Germany, with a population of around 1.5 million.
The city is a major center of the arts, technology, finance, media, culture, education, business, and tourism in Germany. World-class museums, historic buildings, city parks and other attractions are plentiful.
Our first stop was the fabulous BMW Werks and Museum. The BMW complex is located adjacent to the Olympic Village, where Munich hosted the 1972 Olympics, site of the infamous Munich Massacre. A large area is devoted to modern, contemporary cars, from the full BMW line to Rolls Royce and Mini Cooper, also owned by BMW. A short walk across the skyway brings you to the BMW Museum.
BMW has long been one of the premier car makers in the world. The museum is both a visual extravaganza as well as a fascinating history lesson. For millions of car fanatics, BMW is indeed the “Ultimate Driving Machine.” After visiting the spectacular BMW Museum in Munich, Germany, I have to agree. From the well-known coupes, elegant sedans and SUVs, and the futuristic prototypes, this car museum will wow every family member from the youngest child to the oldest adult.
Munich is a heavily populated city but still offers numerous public parks. The Englischer Garten, close to the city center and covering an area larger than Central Park in New York, is one of the world’s largest urban public parks. You can do a nice walking tour of Munich that includes the English Garden as well.
Munich has a reputation as a surfing hotspot, offering the world’s best-known river surfing spot, the Eisbach wave. Located at the southern edge of the Englischer Garten park, the Eisbach wave is used by surfers day and night and throughout the year.
Hotel Opera is in a quiet part of central Munich, just a 10-minute walk away from Marienplatz Square.
The elegant 4-star hotel provides classically furnished rooms decorated with antiques. Our suite on the 4th floor had a balcony overlooking the beautiful courtyard. Breakfast is served in the Opera’s luxurious dining room or on the peaceful patio, elegant with its white tablecloths and marble columns. In the evenings, Restaurant Gandl offers Italian, French and regional dishes.
The location of Hotel Opera is perfect. It is in a quiet, tranquil neighborhood, yet is very convenient to Munich’s main attractions. The Lehel Metro Station is just 650 feet from the hotel, and trains run to Munich Central Station in 5 minutes. Great restaurants, shops, and Town Square are only a 10-minute walk away. For additional hotel options in Munich, please take a look at our Where to stay in Munich guide.
Where to eat: Augustiner Am Platzl
Munich is well known for their excellent culinary options. From traditional Bavarian fare, to fine dining, various ethnic choices, and boisterous beer gardens, you won’t go hungry. We ate at the Augustiner Am Platzl, a cozy traditional Bavarian restaurant, just a short walk from the town square. I had the flavorful tender roasted chicken with home-made potato salad, and my son had the butcher’s grill pannikin, a typical Bavarian sausages skewer with sauerkraut and grilled mashed potato. My wife tried the tasty home-made goulash soup. Service was quick and friendly, and we had a very enjoyable dining experience.
For other great restaurants, Ratskeller, located on the Town Square, offers excellent
cuisine in an authentic Bavarian setting. And just across the street from Augustiner Am Platzl, the often loud, boisterous Hofbräuhaus provides a unique German eating and drinking experience, complete with oompah band.
Best Tours and Day Trips from Munich
Munich offers lots of things to do and you could spend a few days exploring the city and its surroundings. Here are some guided tours that will show you some beautiful spots in Bavaria’s capital and the best day trips from Munich.
If you are extending your stay and want to explore a little more of Bavaria, I recommend staying in Munich as a base and then going on a few day trips, like Salzburg, Herrenchiemsee or Germany’s tallest mountain, the Zugspitze, for example.
After a full week in southern Germany, your mind will be full of images of castles, historic buildings, sausage and beer gardens, automobiles, and beautiful landscapes. It’s time to pack your bags. Relax on your flight back home, and relish all the sweet memories you made on your one week stay in beautiful southern Germany.