The best road trips in Germany

As you’d expect from the land of fairy-tale castles, booming beerhalls and enchanting forests, Germany is home to some of the best road trip adventures in Europe.

But while the thrill of high-speed travel on the country’s autobahns might be tempting, the real magic of Germany can be found off the motorways, in the villages and towns along its quieter routes.

Germany has a number of well-established – and well signposted – driving routes that are perfect for exploring on an unforgettable road trip. To help inspire you, we take a look at some of the best of them…

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The Romantic Road (Romantische Strasse)

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Stretching 350km across southern Germany’s Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg regions, the Romantic Road takes in some of the best historical landmarks the country has to offer. 

Starting in the Würzburg wine region, the route winds through to Rothenburg ob der Tauber, the well-preserved medieval town that inspired Disney’s Pinocchio, before heading to Germany’s oldest city, 2,000-year-old Augsburg.

From there, head to the iconic Neuschwanstein Castle – one of Europe’s most visited attractions – before looping back to Füssen, the Roman town that was used for scenes in the wartime classic, The Great Escape.  

The Castle Route (Burgenstrasse)

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If one castle isn’t enough, why not try a whole route of them? There are around 70 castles dotted along the 1,200km route, which starts at Mannheim Palace and crosses Bavaria before heading into neighbouring Czech Republic. 

The route is a dream for anyone looking to explore over 1,000 years of Central European history on one unforgettable road trip, especially if you choose to stay in some of the castles on the way, like Castle Hornberg, which is now a hotel.

If you visit in winter, you might be able to check out the famous Christmas Market at Nuremberg’s Imperial Castle – just remember to take precautions on those wintry German and Czech roads! 

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The Wine Route (Weinstrasse)

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If you think of France or Spain when you picture wine road trips, think again. Germany has some of Europe’s best vineyards, and the Wine Route is a great way to see a lot of them. 

The route itself is only 85km long, meaning it’ll only take you a day or two. It starts on the French-German border in the town of Schweigen-Rechtenbach before sweeping through the Palatinate wine region towards Bockenheim an der Weinstrasse.

Along the way, you’ll be able to see the world’s biggest wine barrel in Bad Dürkheim, while the cable car in Koblenz is not to be missed as it gives excellent views across the region.

The Fairy Tale Route (Märchenstrasse)

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Germany has a long, colourful history of fairy-tales, from the Brothers Grimm through to Little Red Riding Hood and Snow White – and you’ll be able to experience this fairy-tale magic on this specially designated route. 

The route stretches for around 600km north from the central town of Hanau and takes in Sleeping Beauty’s Castle at Sababurg, the castle at Trendelenburg (the setting for Rapunzel) and Steinau (where the Brothers Grimm grew up). 

You’ll also be able to get lost in the deep forests of the Schwalm Region – the inspiration for Little Red Riding Hood – and try the famous rat-shaped cookies of Hamelin that celebrate the tale of the Pied Piper. 

The Volcanic Trail (Vulkanstrasse)

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Volcanoes might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about Germany, but a drive along the country’s Volcanic Trail might change that.

The 280km route from the River Rhine to the Eifel Mountains is shaped by Germany’s violent volcanic past and will take you past around 350 eruption sites and other monuments to another more explosive time.

Alongside the impressive volcanic crater, lakes, geysers, and other geological wonders, there are also a few cosy German towns along the way that are perfect for an afternoon beer after all that exploring!

The Alpine Route (Alpenstrasse)

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Although they’re often overlooked by tourists looking for that crisp mountain air, the German Alps are home to some of Europe’s most impressive views. And the best way to explore them is with a road trip along the Alpine Route.

Starting in Lindau on the shores of Lake Constance, the route winds 450km on Alpine roads that twist along Germany’s extreme south to the absolutely stunning Köningsee, a lake near the German-Austrian border close to Salzburg.

Along the way, you’ll be able to take in plenty of mountainous German charm, as well as numerous crystal-clear lakes, ski resorts, and more photo opportunities than you could ever need. 

The Limes Route (Limes-Strasse)

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If you’re expecting something you can slice into your gin and tonic, you may have to think again, because the Limes Route has nothing to do with the citrus fruit and everything to do with... ancient fortifications!

Cutting across central Germany from Bonn in the west to Regensburg in the east, this 500km route takes in the old border defence from ancient Roman times and is a great way to see a cross-section of the country

Expect to come across plenty of hulking city walls, crumbling watchtowers and cosy towns that are just begging to be explored en route. 

The Black Forest High Road (Schwarzwald Hochstrasse)

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One of Germany’s first themed routes, the Black Forest High Road is 60km long and takes in the highest point of the luscious Black Forest which, at 1,164m, offers some unforgettable views of the region.

Starting in Freudenstadt, the route runs north, rising over the Schliffkopf and Kniebis ranges before taking in some of the region’s nature parks as you climb ever higher. 

If you fancy some luxury, the Bühlerhöhe hotel offers views across the Rhine plain towards the Vosges Mountains, or why not simply treat yourself to a slice of the famous local delicacy, Black Forest Gateau?

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What do I need to remember before driving in Germany?

Driving in other European countries, including Germany, is different from driving in the UK, so before setting off make sure you prepare yourself (and your car) for the laws and requirements in every country you pass through. 

These range from using emissions stickers in Germany and France to having a warning triangle when driving through Belgium, so make sure you do your research and stay on the right side of the law. 

What do I need to remember before I start my Germany road trip?

Before heading off on any long journey, it’s always important to carry out some essential maintenance checks to make sure your car is in tip-top condition and that you’ll get to your destination and back safely. 

The RAC encourages drivers to remember the acronym ‘FORCES’ when carrying out car checks: Fuel, Oil, Rubber, Coolant, Electrics, and Screenwash. Check our tips for avoiding a breakdown for more information on FORCES.

You should also remember to take along a few road trip essentials for the journey including a first aid kit, additional engine oil and water, mobile phone charger and snacks and games, especially if you’re travelling with children.

Do I need European breakdown cover to drive in Germany?

Wherever you’re heading across Europe, RAC has great value European breakdown cover options that give you comprehensive cover if you break down on your way, offering roadside assistance and a 24/7 English-speaking helpline.

What happens if I break down in Germany?

Depending on the level of your European breakdown cover, the RAC will pay towards any garage labour costs, onward travel expenses and accommodation fees – something to consider if you’ve got a booking to make.

To find out everything you need to know about breaking down on the continent, and to get the right quote that meets your needs, check out our complete guide to RAC European breakdown cover.

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