With the launch of the Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) between Singapore and Germany, we can now once again travel overseas to enjoy the famed German beers and bratwurst — deliciously irresistible sausages!
There is so much to enjoy in this beautiful European country – its friendly people, architecture and wide, well-connected roads that make it so easy for drivers to plan their routes and explore the country’s sights and sounds.
Take Germany’s capital for instance — the bustling city of Berlin is easy to get around, and takes you to some of the best tourist attractions, from the commanding Brandenburg Gate to the artistic swag of Friedrichshain.
When it comes to driving in particular, the “Romantic Road” is an easy route to follow from central to south of Germany. While it’s called the Romantic Road, it’s also perfect for a road trip with friends so you can take turns behind the wheel.
Though this is a pretty well-travelled route for tourists, you can always add in some detours to make the most of your trip there. There are also plenty of opportunities to feed your Instagram with long-awaited travel pictures. Remember to pack your monopod in your travel backpack — you’ll need it on this road trip the most!
Read on for some help on your route planning and find out where the best spots are for driving pit stops. While you plan your trip, be sure you get all the information you need to know about travelling to Germany under the VTL.
At the time of writing, all locations in this article will require proof of vaccination for entry.
Germany trip overview
Planning for the road trip
The Romantic Road traditionally starts in Würzburg and ends in Füssen. This means that if you do a one-way journey and not double back where you came from, it makes more sense to buy an open-jaw ticket.
I flew into Frankfurt and departed from Munich to cut down on the driving time.
Here’s the generic route I planned for the two-week trip:
- [Start of Romantic Road] Würzburg
- Rothenburg ob der Tauber
- Dinkelsbühl – Nördlingen – Harburg
- Ausburg – Landsberg am Lech
- [Last stop on Romantic Road] Füssen
Germany trip route
1. Gearing up your adventure at Stuttgart’s Porsche Museum
After flying into Frankfurt, you might want to stay overnight at a nearby hotel for some rest before starting your drive. It’ll help if you’re not used to long-haul flights (the flight is about 13 hours long!) For the car fanatics out there, Stuttgart would be an interesting detour, if just to visit the Porsche Museum. The museum is about a two-hour drive from Frankfurt airport.
Admission is €10 (S$16) for adults, and you will be able to view almost 100 cars and over 200 exhibits showcasing different models through the years.
Address: Porscheplatz 1, 70435 Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen
Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday - 9:00am to 6:00pm
2. Start of the Romantic Road: Würzburg
After recharging from your long flight and digging into some delicious German Frankfurters, it’s now time to embark on the Romantic Road! At 350km long, this sightseeing route brings you through dramatic German scenery, with impressive mountains and quintessentially German medieval towns. The Romantic Road was conceptualised as part of marketing efforts to rebuild Germany’s tourism industry post World War 2.
Its northernmost point (and common start point) would be Würzburg, and ends at Füssen – where the famous and very well-photographed Neuschwanstein castle can be found, located in the Bavarian Alps.
There’s no better place to start your journey than at Würzburg Residence, a UNESCO World Heritage site built in the 18th century. Other than the magnificent palace, the Court Gardens with over 70,000 summer flowers would be the perfect spot for some photos.
Entry to the Residence costs €9 (S$14), whereas access to the Court Gardens is free.
Address: Residenzpl. 2, 97070 Würzburg, Deutschland
Opening hours: April to October: Daily from 9:00am to 6:00pm; November to March: Daily from 10:00am to 4:30pm
3. Visiting the most picturesque town: Rothenburg ob der Tauber
The beautiful Rothenburg is most likely Germany’s most iconic medieval town and a great second stop on your Romantic Road drive. This charming historic town is also the old Bavarian Imperial City and is one of the three towns in Germany that still has completely intact city walls.
Be prepared that this is a touristy spot, so food options may not be the most affordable, but still very much worth a visit.
The most famous photo spot in Rothenburg has to be this spot shown above – Plönlein. The word translates to “small square at a fountain” — this would include the small fountain you see in front of the yellow house in the centre of the photo, as well as the two towers of the old city wall that rise to its left (higher up) and right (lower down), in the background.
It’s going to probably take you a while to get a nice, clear shot though, as this is a very popular spot for travellers. Be patient and you’ll get your much awaited click!
4. Overnight at Harburg with its impressive medieval German castle
After departing Rothenburg, the next two towns to visit on the Romantic Road would be the other two German towns with intact city walls – Dinkelsbühl and Nördlingen. They are somewhat similar to Rothenburg ob der Tauber, but worthy of a pit stop.
Dinkelsbühl is a very well-preserved town from the late Middle Ages, and its many colourful historic half-timbered houses are set in beautiful angles for photos. Nördlingen is equally gorgeous with its spell-binding classic architecture, and has generally less tourists compared to Rothenburg, which makes for a pleasant, peaceful pitstop.
Next stop – Harburg, Bavaria. Factor in a visit to the Harburg Castle, an extensive 12th century mediaeval complex which is also one of the oldest castles in southern Germany. The German castle admission is €3 (S$5), but definitely worth a visit to find out more about its long history. The castle is also located on a hill with stunning views of Harburg town.
Address: Burgstraße 1, 86655 Harburg (Schwaben), Germany
Opening hours: Open daily from 10:00am to 5:00pm
5. Ausburg, Landsberg am Lech and the not-to-be-missed Lech river
Stop by the Town Hall of Augsburg, where you can explore their beautiful Altstadt (city centre). A wonderful lunch pitstop for the trip if you’re hungry already! To feed my rumbling tummy, I headed to Ratskeller Augsburg, located at the city centre.
This was a very memorable restaurant as it was an underground eatery with fantastic ambience. The restaurant has large, curved ceilings and impressive brick walls, which reminded me of taverns that you might see in shows set in medieval times. I opted for the Schnitzel and Käsespätzle (somewhat like mac and cheese), both quintessentially German dishes. No regrets! And if you’re out here looking for juicy German sausages and wine, you can whip up some right here!
Address: Rathausplatz 2, 86150 Augsburg, Germany
Opening hours: Monday to Thursdays – 11:00am to midnight, Fridays and Saturdays: 11:00am to 1:00am
After lunch, head to Landsberg am Lech, which has a somewhat notorious fame, in a darker part of the town’s history. Its prison is where Adolf Hitler was jailed in 1924 — here, he wrote “Mein Kampf”.
I would strongly recommend driving by the Lech weir (high drain), a huge water canal that is part of Augsburg’s water management system. This drain looks like cascading white ‘rapids’ from a distance. I stumbled across this spot at Parkplatz, where you can see the canals against the town in the background.
Address: Parkplatz, 86899 Landsberg am Lech, Germany
Opening hours: Open 24 hours
6. Romantic Füssen and the Neuschwanstein Castle that inspired Disney’s castles
Füssen is the last town on the Romantic Road, and the closest town to where you can base yourself from, to travel to the famous Neuschwanstein castle. This castle was built by King Ludwig II of Bavaria, who had many nicknames such as the “Mad King” and the “Fairytale King”.
Among the many stories of this German Kingis his obsession with building the extravagant Neuschwanstein Castle, and the mysterious circumstances of his death which took place not long after he was declared insane.
But he was probably most famous for the Neuschwanstein Castle in the Bavarian Alps, which inspired Walt Disney’s designs for Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty’s castles.
The inside of the castle is well worth exploring, but take note that no photography is permitted. Tours are strictly guided and must be booked in advance. Tickets cost €13 (S$21) per adult.
Be prepared to climb in order to get a good view of the castle. The most popular vantage spot would be from Marienbrücke (Bridge of Our Lady), a short walk from Neuschwanstein Castle. However, it is unfortunately closed for renovations at thistime of writing.
Address: Neuschwansteinstraße 20, 87645 Schwangau, Germany
Opening hours: April to 15 October: 9:00am to 6:00pm, 16 October to March: 10:00am to 4:00pm Open daily except on 1 January, 24, 25 and 31 December.
7. The scenic getaway – Alpsee Lake
After completing the Romantic Road, I then explored other scenic spots in the south of Germany. My favourite was Immenstadt im Allgäu, a quiet town located in the German Alps. I booked an Airbnb spot overlooking Alpsee Lake (Großer Alpsee) and spent hours by the lake just chilling out with the swans.
If you have some time on hand, you can head southwest to explore the famed Black Forest in Germany — from an exhilarating hike to a relaxing hike, you can spend a day or two right here in one of the quaint villages!
The romantic Rhine Valley runs from the west to the south, so you can feast your eyes on picture-perfect sceneries of hills, rivers and forests as you make your way down and travel around.
I was also recommended by my Airbnb host to check out Alpsee Bergwelt, a theme park of sorts with a variety of activities available such as their trademark coaster ride, as well as outdoor playgrounds and trampolines for children. You can take a chair lift (or hike) to the top, before taking an exhilarating coaster ride all the way down – definitely something to try for thrill-seekers!
The chair lift with the coaster ride will cost you €13.50 (S$21) per adult, but you can opt for the coaster-only ride for €7.50 (S$12) per adult.
Alpsee Bergwelt: Ratholz 24, 87509 Immenstadt im Allgäu, Germany
Opening hours: Operates only in the summer months of May to November. Opening hours differ month on month, refer to the latest schedule here.
8. Quaint island of Lindau Island and exploring Lake Constance
A more popular (also more touristy and therefore expensive) nearby spot to visit would be Lake Constance and the historic Lindau island. I had initially planned to stay a night here, but as prices were quite high, I opted to stay near Alpsee Lake and drove over to explore Lindau in the day.
The historic town of Lindau is connected with the mainland by a road bridge and is a good spot to have lunch by the waterfront. Be sure to look out for the landmark harbour entrance with its lighthouse and sculptures.
9. For the history buffs – explore Berchtesgaden and its surrounds
My second last stop was to Berchtesgaden, near Germany’s border with Austria. This place is also somewhat notorious for being a town where Adolf Hitler spent his vacation time at his Eagle’s Nest retreat.
Here, a must-visit would be Dokumentation Obersalzberg, a museum which describes the use of the mountainside retreat by Nazi leaders. Online reservation for tickets is required, at €3 (S$5) each.
There is also plenty to explore in the region, such as the majestic Lake Königssee located in the heart of the Berchtesgaden National Park.
Address: Salzbergstraße 41, 83471 Berchtesgaden
Opening hours: Open daily from 9:00am to 5:00pm
10. Munich, for all the beer fans out there
My final stop for the trip was in Munich, the capital of Bavaria. I recommend planning a couple of days to chill out here in the city to explore its rich culture and history – and drink your way through while you’re at it! Though Germany’s famous Oktoberfest 2021 is cancelled, there are plenty of drinking options in its many German beer halls and beer gardens.
There are also many more things you can do in Munich, from exploring the marvelous architecture of Marienplatz to visiting the BMW museum.
1. Driving in Germany
There are plenty of car rental options at every German airport, and you can easily rent at one location and drop off the car at another. In Frankfurt Airport for example, there are 11 car rental services available. Do consider your own requirements and preferences when deciding on car types, as you will be spending a lot of time in the vehicle while driving from town to town exploring Germany! Car rentals start from about S$95 per day for automatic cars.
The Singapore driver’s licence is valid in Germany, so there is no need to get an International Driving Permit. One thing to note is that they drive on the right side of the road, so drive slowly and safely until you get used to this. Remember also that this means you should drive on the right and overtake on the left.
The German Autobahn (Highway) is often said to have no speed limit – but this is not true for all sections on the Autobahn. So do keep a look out for the road signs indicating the speed limit.
You will, however, find cars driving at top speed on some stretches of the Autobahn, so always be on the alert, especially when you’re trying to overtake.
2. Booking your accommodation
If you’re going on a road trip, always look out for accommodation that provides free parking. One way to cut down on unnecessary costs would be to stay in places located outside the city/town, and only driving in when needed. This gives you the flexibility of booking more affordable places in the fringes, and sometimes this comes with great views of the countryside!
3.Things to note while travelling in Germany
As different regions within Germany hold different coronavirus regulations, and these are often updated according to changing circumstances, do regularly check the website of the relevant federal state for the latest information when you’re visiting multiple cities in Germany.
4. Visiting in Winter
If you’re visiting in the winter months of December to February, do remember to pack winter boots! This is so your Christmas market visiting can be much more comfortable, in case you have to walk on ground with melted snow.
For drivers, it is also important to note that the use of winter tires is mandatory when the roads are icy. You will also need to factor in more driving time between places.
Another tip for those with longer hair – dry your hair completely before going out. Here in Singapore, we might be used to just leaving homes with our hair half-dry, and letting it dry naturally. But when I tried this in Germany in winter, my hair froze. This can damage your hair, leaving you with split ends.
For a start, you can plan your driving routes around the south of Germany if you prefer to stay away from the crowds. Or if you’re a city slicker, check out these top attractions to visit in Frankfurt. Whatever you choose, you’ll be greeted with mesmerising beauty wherever you go!
Oh, and remember to stay connected while you explore Germany — here are some tips!
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