- Join the locals in Munich's most ambient beer gardens
- Luxuriate in Baden-Baden's historic spas
- Explore the neo-Gothic splendor of Lichtenstein Castle
- Take in the views from the magnificent Zugspitze, Germany's highest peak
- Discover beloved hiking destination, Bechtersgaden's National Park
|Arrive in Munich, Sample Munich's Best Beers
|Trip to Dachau Concentration Camp
|Drive to Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Explore the Altstadt
|Rothenburg ob der Tauber
|Drive to Baden-Baden, Stroll the Lichtentaler Allee
|Spa Day: Friedrichsbad & Caracalla Baths
|Monkey 47 Distillery Tour
|Drive to Meersburg, Tour Schloss Lichtenstein
|Drive to Füssen, Tour Lake Constance's Villages
|Walking Tour of Füssen's Historic Buildings
|Drive to Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Zugspitze Cable Car Ride
|Drive to Berchtesgaden, Explore the Salt Mines
|Berchtesgaden National Park Hiking
|Drive to Munich, Culinary Tour
Day 1: Arrive in Munich, Sample Munich's Best Beers
Welcome to Munich, Germany! Pick up your rental car at the airport and drive to your accommodation in the city. Once you've checked in, relax or stroll around the Altstadt (Old Town). Stop by the Marienplatz to see the two charming town halls and the Glockenspiel clock. You're also within easy walking distance of other landmarks, such as the Peterskirche, Munich's oldest church. Its Alter Peter (Old Peter) tower is popular with tourists for its panoramic views over the city—just be aware that you'll need to climb over 300 steps to conquer it!
The evening brings a delightful introduction to what is arguably Munich's most famous export—beer crafting and culture. The home of Oktoberfest, Munich breweries produce some of the world's best beer, and on this four-hour small group tour, you'll sample three of the city's best brews as you tour its historic beer halls and ever-popular beer gardens—you'll also get to try some culinary specialties along the way. Highlights include the landmark Hofbräuhaus, consistently rated globally as a must-see. Get familiar with the history of brewing and the different beer styles as you taste what makes German beer so renowned.
Day 2: Trip to Dachau Concentration Camp
This morning, take a short drive (about half an hour) out of Munich to the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial. Although this site may not make it onto conventional tourist must-see lists, it's nevertheless a vital place to visit in remembrance of the 40,000 people who perished here. In Germany's first concentration camp, over 200,000 people were imprisoned here between 1933 and 1945. Since 1965, a memorial has sought to provide a free educational experience and give visitors the chance to honor those who suffered so horrifically.
Your guided tour will begin on the grounds and will take roughly 3-4 hours. Starting with a historical overview, you'll learn how Dachau became the blueprint for other concentration camps and how it was designed to hold Jews, political prisoners, and other "undesirables." You'll see the original barracks, guard towers, and administrative buildings before lingering at the memorials and sculptures erected on the grounds since 1965.
You'll be able to pay your respects at the crematorium and gas chamber, where thousands of innocent lives ended. Afterward, head to the museum, where you'll learn about the daily lives and routines within the camp, as well as its liberation by American forces. Take your time at this extraordinary exhibition, then return to the city.
Day 3: Drive to Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Explore the Altstadt
This morning, take a three-hour drive to your next destination, Rothenburg ob der Tauber. Undeniably charming, Rothenburg is known for it's medieval architecture, including a plethora of half-timbered houses. Germany's best-preserved walled town, you'll love the feel of its cobbled streets and historic buildings. The best way to explore this small, bustling town is on foot, so once you've arrived and settled into your accommodation, head out to meet your guide for a private walking tour.
Your first stop will be the Medieval Crime Museum, where you'll learn about the less-than-quaint methods of medieval law enforcement. Next, you'll head to the town's heart, the Flat Square. Surrounded by half-timbered buildings, this is the perfect spot for a few photos before you continue to the town's impressive walls and learn about its bloody history of battles and sieges.
The final stop is the impressive Jakobskirche—it famously houses the "Hold Blood Altarpiece" by carver Tilman Riemneschneider and other important carvings. After your tour, the evening is yours to continue exploring the town's quaint, narrow streets—and, of course, as dinnertime nears, its culinary scene.
Day 4: Drive to Baden-Baden, Stroll the Lichtentaler Allee
Today, you'll head away from Bavaria to the neighboring region, Baden-Wurttemberg—specifically, the Black Forest. After breakfast, take a 2.5-hour drive to your next destination, the historic spa town of Baden-Baden. A resort for the fashionable since the 19th century, it's the perfect place to unwind and appreciate life's finer side.
Once you've arrived and checked in to your hotel, stroll the picturesque Lichtentaler Allee, the town's most famous walkway. This 2.2-mile (3.5 km) path will sweep you past elegant mansions, tree-lined boulevards, and colorful floral displays. It's also the perfect route to the town's most famous monuments. Be sure to stop by the beautiful Belle Époque Trinkhaus with its frescoes and Corinthian columns, the neo-Baroque Theater, and Lichtental Abbey.
If you're lucky, you'll strike one of the regular open-air events held along the way, such as the Philharmonic Park Night. Make time to linger over modern art masterpieces at the Richard Meier-designed Frieder Burder Museum. As evening draws near, head to one of Baden-Baden's excellent restaurants for dinner and return along the Allee to the casino for a few hours of fun. Even if roulette isn't your thing, an evening in one of the world's most beautiful casinos is an experience not to be missed.
Day 5: Spa Day: Friedrichsbad & Caracalla Baths
Treat yourself to a full day of relaxation and pampering today, all in the name of cultural research —with a trip to the famous Friedrichsbad and Caracalla Therme spa complex. By combining the two, you'll experience the best ancient and modern treatments in a town with a wealth of experience in the matter—Roman ruins beneath the Friedrichsbad complex reveal that people have been taking the waters here for over 2,000 years.
Begin at the ultramodern Caracalla Therme, where you can relax in your choice of two pools, a large central fountain, hot and cold rock grottoes, whirlpools, swimming pools, saunas, a current channel, or water jets. Next, head to the Friedrichsbad. The full program here takes a few hours—a luxurious 17-step journey through elaborate 19th-century frescoes and architecture. You'll proceed through a circuit of Roman-Irish air and steam baths, showers, massages, and moisturizing and relaxation rooms. Round it off with a glass of sparkling wine in the Reading Room with views over the surrounding countryside.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 6: Monkey 47 Distillery Tour
Germany's beverage-producing prowess isn't limited to beer—today, you'll be impressed by the Black Forest's best-kept distillery secret, Monkey 47, about an hour's drive from Baden-Baden. Makers of internationally recognized fine gin, the local influence remains strong, with many of its 47 botanicals harvested from the surrounding Black Forest. This two-hour tour will guide you through the different botanicals used, get you up close to the beautiful copper stills, and give you plenty of opportunity to sample and purchase the specialty gins.
With the rest of your afternoon, explore the beauty of the surrounding Black Forest. Do one or two of the nearby hikes (Loßburg is known for its enchanted forest walk), or on the way back to Baden-Baden, explore nearby Freudenstadt with its multiple Renaissance-style market squares and arcades based on the layout of the board game "Nine Men's Morris." Back in Baden-Baden, head out for dinner at one of the many great eateries—from the Michelin-starred to the cheap and cheerful, you're bound to find something to suit.
Day 7: Drive to Meersburg, Tour Schloss Lichtenstein
After a leisurely breakfast, drive to your next destination, Meersburg, almost three hours southeast of Baden-Baden on the shore of Lake Constance. Add another half-hour onto your drive, and you can stop off at Schloss (Castle) Lichtenstein, near the town of the same name. Known as Wurttemberg's "fairy-tale castle" for its romantic style, this neo-Gothic castle was built on existing ruins in 1840 as an homage to medieval times. Take a 30-minute guided tour to hear the history of the place, or explore the opulent rooms and artworks for yourself before getting back on the road.
When you arrive in Meersburg, take some time to settle into your accommodation, then head out for a stroll. Meersburg lies directly on the shore of the lake, surrounded by vineyards and overlooked by the Alps. It's beloved for its medieval feel—linger a while in the historic town center with its picture-perfect half-timbered houses and explore the remains of the medieval walls. Round your day off with a dinner of freshly caught fish at a lakeside restaurant with good local wine.
Day 8: Drive to Füssen, Tour Lake Constance's Villages
Start today with a visit to Meersburg Castle, Germany's oldest inhabited castle. The tour through more than 35 furnished rooms will give you a fascinating insight into the lives of knights, servants, cooks, and criminals in the Middle Ages—if you're there on a weekend, you'll see the castle come to life with expert re-enactment. Next, take the ferry to Mainau Island. This little paradise, known as the "flower island," hosts an astonishing array of lush gardens. Finish your morning with lunch at the café here.
Continue to Lindau Island—start with the picturesque harbor, guarded by the Bavarian Lion and a lighthouse. Stroll along Maximilianstraße, a quaint cobblestone street that will take you through the medieval Altstadt with its half-timbered houses—grab an ice cream at one of the quaint cafés and savor the moment before heading to the Romanesque Church of St Peter, over 1,000 years old, famous for its frescoes of the Passion of Christ. Next door, you'll also find a fascinating 14th-century turreted tower, the Thieves Tower—formerly the town jail.
Spend the rest of your day exploring the shores of Lake Constance. The best way is to hire a bike and follow your nose. Stick to the waterfront or explore another village or two. Drop your bike off in time to head to your next destination, Füssen, a historic Bavarian town on Germany's Romantic Road. It would be best if you allowed a couple of hours for the drive. When you arrive, check in at your hotel before dining at one of the excellent local restaurants.
Day 9: Walking Tour of Füssen's Historic Buildings
The walled town of Füssen is rich in history, charm, and attractive landmarks. The best way to immerse yourself is with a walking tour, so after breakfast, pull on your comfortable shoes and head out to meet your guide at the Schrannenplatz, a bustling central square. With a past as an ancient Roman outpost and plenty of medieval and traditional Bavarian architecture, your walk will be both postcard-pretty and fascinating. Your first stop is the town's Franciscan Monastery and Church. Linger in the peaceful atmosphere and admire the Baroque church interior.
Next, you'll stop by the beautiful Holy Spirit Church before strolling to the Hohes Schloss (High Castle), the former summer residence of Augsburg's prince-bishops. Your guide will teach you more about the town's past before taking you to St Mang's Monastery, one of Germany's oldest, named for the town's miracle-working patron saint. From here, walk to the Bread Market—look for the lute player on the fountain: Füssen was once the center of European lute making. The town is attractive enough to be a sight in its own right, but if you have time to stay a day longer, it's also an excellent base for visiting the hugely popular Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau castles.
Day 10: Drive to Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Zugspitze Cable Car Ride
Rise bright and early today to breakfast and get on the road. You're headed to Garmisch-Partenkirchen, a short, one-hour drive from Füssen. When you've settled into your accommodation, begin by exploring the quaint township. The town is noted for its traditional lüftlmalerei, murals painted on the fresh plaster of the colorful houses using a fresco technique. The murals typically depict Biblical scenes, fairy tales, or scenes from everyday life—you'll find the best examples on Ludwigstraße.
Next, take a cable car to the summit of the Zugspitze, Germany's highest peak. Enjoy 360-degree views of over 400 snowcapped peaks—you can even savor kaffee und kuchen (coffee and cake) at the summit restaurant while you take in the extraordinary scenery. After your descent, drive to the Partnachklamm, a magnificent gorge 2,305 feet (703 m) long filled with scenic waterfalls, rapids, and calm water basins. If you're so inclined, there's some spectacular hiking here.
Finally, go to one or both of the picturesque nearby lakes. The Eibsee is famous for its bright, clear, emerald water, while the photogenic Riessersee is the perfect place for a stroll and once hosted the 1936 Winter Olympics. Eat at the lakeside café or round out your day with a touch of luxury at Schloss Linderhof, a mini Versailles only a short drive away. Afterward, head back to Garmisch-Partenkirchen and relax for the evening.
Day 11: Drive to Berchtesgaden, Explore the Salt Mines
After breakfast, take a 2.5-hour drive to your next destination, the Alpine resort of Berchtesgaden. Once you've checked into your accommodation, head out for a stroll. The town itself is picturesque, with colorful, traditionally painted houses, and easily explored on foot. Explore the shops, where you'll find traditional wood carvings and clothing, and grab a bite to eat at one of the traditional restaurants. Linger in the main square, where you'll often catch live musicians or traditional folk dancing performances.
Head to one of the town's most famous sights in the afternoon—the salt mine. Open since 1517, a mine tour will give you a fascinating glimpse into the town's past. Riding on a miner's train, you'll head 2,133 feet (650 m) into the mountain. You'll pass through the spectacular Salt Cathedral, ride down a 118-foot (36 m) slide, and sail across an underground lake, all while learning about the history and importance of salt and miners' lives through the centuries.
Day 12: Berchtesgaden National Park Hiking
Lace up your hiking boots today and explore one of the oldest conservation areas in the Alps—Berchtesgaden National Park. Famous for its stirring mountain scenery, picturesque lakes, and lush forests, there are well-crafted paths for any fitness level. There's lots of information on the most famous hikes, so take some time over a leisurely breakfast to plan where you'll go. Stop in at the Visitor Center on arrival to clear up any queries.
The park's highlights include the Wimbach Gorge and the Hintersee and Königssee (two pretty lakes; the latter is famous for its quaint church, St Bartholomew's, which can be reached only by ship or a lengthy hike). Keep your eye out for wildlife along the way—if you're lucky, you'll spot chamois mountain goats or even a golden eagle. You'll also likely hike past the Watzmann Massif, Germany's second-highest peak, and the Eagle's Nest, once gifted to Adolf Hitler as a mountain retreat and now a historical site and restaurant with panoramic views. Drive back to town afterward for a well-deserved dinner.
Day 13: Drive to Munich, Culinary Tour
This morning, after breakfast, get back on the road for the two-hour drive back to Munich. Get settled in your accommodation, then head out for a culinary tour of Bavaria's specialties. To build a firm foundation for your knowledge, start at the Beer and Oktoberfest Museum. Here, your guide will teach you about the methods of brewing beer and the significant role the beverage has played in Munich's history—with plenty of entertaining stories thrown in to boot.
Afterward, you'll make your way to the iconic Weißes Bräuhaus (Germany's oldest wheat beer brewery) to feast on one of Bavaria's most famous dishes, weißwurst (a white sausage made from pork and veal) accompanied by sweet mustard and a pretzel. There's a right and wrong way to eat this dish—your guide will be happy to explain the difference! Next, head to the local food market. Meet the vendors, and take your time sampling the fabulous local cheeses, meats, and fresh produce. Round the day off by visiting one or two beer gardens for the quintessential Munich experience.