Planning Your Trip to Germany
At nearly 140,000 square miles (362,500 sq km), Germany is the fourth-largest country in the European Union. As a player in European and world history from the pre-Bronze Age to the present, a modern economic powerhouse, and a country with diverse landscapes and architecture, Germany offers something for almost any traveler.
To get a thorough taste of Germany, you need to spend at least two weeks, which will allow you time to explore its major cities, take in picturesque medieval towns and highlights along the Rhine Valley, and perhaps visit a few of its mighty castles. If you have less time, in a week you can visit a big city like Berlin or Munich and then one or two other destinations. And even in only five days or so, you can still dip your toe into German history, culture, and cuisine by starting with a big city and tacking on a side trip to another area.
Germany in 5 Days
How you spend five days in Germany largely depends on where you start your trip. If you're traveling to Germany by plane, you'll most likely arrive in Berlin, Frankfurt, or Munich. If traveling by high-speed train from other European capitals, one of these cities may also be your starting point.
Kick off your holiday in Berlin, one of the most exciting capitals in Europe. Spend a few days exploring Cold War sites like Checkpoint Charlie and parts of the Berlin Wall, the Brandenburg Gate, and the Holocaust Memorial, plus the treasures of Museum Island, a complex of art and archaeological museums on the Spree River. Stroll through Tiergarten Park, enjoy a hearty German meal, and have a night out in the Kreuzberg district. From Berlin, head to Potsdam and Sanssouci Palace, a rival to France's Versailles. End your five days in Hamburg, with its vibrant port and charming Altstadt (old town).
Alternatively, if you start your trip in Frankfurt, you can allow a day to explore its old town and modern skyline and take in the Städel Museum, one of Germany's most important state art collections. After Frankfurt, your itinerary would include some of the beautiful smaller cities and towns on the way to Nuremberg, including Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Heidelburg, and Worms.
If you start in Munich, you can easily spend two or three days in the Bavarian capital, taking in its ancient old town, the colossal Munich Residenz Palace, a biergarten or beer hall, and Nymphenburg Palace. From Munich, head to one of the most recognized castles in the world—Neuschwanstein, and then continue your trip along Lake Constance, wrapping up at Freiburg im Breisgau, on the western edge of the Black Forest.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Germany in 1 Week
If you have a week to spend in Germany, you can combine a bustling city, like Berlin, Frankfurt, or Munich, with one or more historic towns, plus get a taste of its rural areas.
With Berlin as your starting point, you can continue to Hamburg and maybe spend a day or two at a Baltic Sea beach—Rügen Island and Usedom are popular options. You could also head to Frankfurt by way of Nuremberg, and take in the city's historic center, rebuilt after the World War II bombings. From there, stop in Rothenburg ob der Tauber, an exquisitely preserved medieval town where colorful gabled and half-timber houses create a storybook setting. Wind down your week in Frankfurt or one of the historic cities nearby, such as Worms or Heidelberg.
After a few days in Munich, you can slow it down a little bit, perhaps adding Hohenschwangau Castle, which is near Neuschwanstein, and taking more time to enjoy watersports or a cruise on Lake Constance—you can even hop over to Switzerland for a few hours. From Lake Constance, dive into the Black Forest and emerge at Freiburg im Breisgau on the eastern edge of the Rhine River.
Germany in 2 Weeks
By car or train, a 14-day tour of Germany allows you to circumnavigate the country, either starting and ending in Berlin or ending the trip in Munich. This itinerary can also be done in reverse.
From Berlin, loop up to Hamburg, then head to Bremen, an important former mercantile city, before heading to Dusseldorf or Cologne, both historically and commercially important cities (and fierce rivals) on the Rhine River. Next, hop over to Trier, Germany's oldest city and then return to modern Germany in Frankfurt stopping for a spa break at Baden-Baden. The Black Forest and Freiburg im Breisgau are next, followed by Lake Constance. Then it's on to southern Bavaria and Munich. Base yourself here for your last few days, exploring the city and nearby towns, or make your trip a full circle and go on to Berlin, stopping at Nuremberg and Leipzig.