When you take the highway out of Munich, bucolic countryside, Medieval villages, and Alpine towns await you. The states of Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg are full of bustling cities, quaint villages, and pastoral landscapes, making the region perfect for a road trip.
With Munich as your starting and ending point, it’s easy to hit the road and strike a perfect balance of metropolitan centers and rustic countryside along the way.
From Munich, up through Bavaria and into Baden-Württemberg, here’s your route for an awesome road trip through southern Germany.
Above: The New Town Hall in Munich’s Marienplatz
Home base: Munich
As the capital of Bavaria and third largest city in Germany, Munich makes for a perfect jumping off point for your road trip. Situated along the river Isar just north of the Alps, Munich is brimming with art, architecture, and green spaces.
Experience the heart of the city by visiting its main square, Marienplatz. Admire the impressive New Town Hall (Neues Rathaus), catch the performance of the Rathaus-Glockenspiel in the tower, and people watch. Make sure to get your fill of Bavarian brews by visiting the city’s beer halls and beer gardens. It may be touristy, but the Hofbräuhaus, which dates to the 16th century, has quite a fun atmosphere. Enjoy the greenery with a stroll through the English Garden (Englischer Garten), and grab a pint while you’re there!
Above: The wall surrounding the city of Rothenburg ob der Tauber
Stop 1: Rothenburg ob der Tauber
Rothenburg ob der Tauber is a well-preserved walled city dating back to Medieval times. Located along the country’s popular Romantic Road, the town is just about two and half hours from Munich. This quaint town makes for a lovely road trip pit stop. Stretch your legs by wandering its cobblestone avenues and admiring its picturesque buildings.
Above: View of Würzburg
Stop 2: Würzburg
Würzburg is a city in northern Bavaria situated along the Main River. Also on the Romantic Road just less than an hour from Rothenburg ob der Tauber, it makes for a great place to pause for the evening. It’s not a very large city, so it’s easy to get in and around, yet still has things to do. Explore the town and opt for a hotel up on the hill, like Schlosshotel Steinburg, to best enjoy the golden hour views.
Above: Strolling around Heidelberg
Stop 3: Heidelberg
Heidelberg is a popular university town in Baden-Württemberg, just about two hours from Würzburg. The town is known for its castle, history, and scholarly institutions. This lively city is a wonderful spot to get out of the car and spend a couple days.
When in town, head up to Heidelberg Castle. Today the castle is mostly in ruins, but the site is full of history and offers up great city views. For a more fun trip up, hop on the Heidelberg Mountain Railway (Heidelberger Bergbahn), a funicular that runs up to the castle. Afterward, roam around the old town, stroll the old stone bridge, and enjoy the city’s energetic atmosphere.
Above: A 1928 Tourenwagen at the Mercedes-Benz museum in Stuttgart
Stop 4: Stuttgart
Just about an hour and a half from Heidelberg, Stuttgart is the capital of the state of Baden-Württemberg. It’s primarily an industrial center and much of the city is fairly new, due to damage and subsequent reconstruction after World War II . It’s home to the headquarters of several automobile manufacturers, shopping areas, palaces, and public squares.
The Mercedes-Benz Museum and Porsche Museum are both popular spots and worth a visit even if you’re not really into cars (the Mercedes museum in particular feels just as much like a history museum as an automotive one). Meander around old town and relax in Schlossplatz, the city’s main square.
Above: Looking out over Lake Constance
Stop 5: Konstanz / Lake Constance
The town of Konstanz is situated on picturesque Lake Constance. Located in Baden-Württemberg, it’s just about two hours by car from Stuttgart. Just across the water from Switzerland, Konstanz is known for its university and history, and today the town’s main draw is Lake Constance. It’s a marvelous place to relax for a few days.
Spend some time exploring the town, then head out onto the lake. From Konstanz, you can take a boat ride to the Mainau Botanical Garden. This small island is home to a wide variety of plants and an 18th century castle. It’s a lovely place to spend the day (plus, you get to ride on a boat to get there!).
Above: Entering Neuschwanstein Castle
Stop 6: Neuschwanstein
After about two and half hours in the car from Konstanz, you’ll arrive at Neuschwanstein.
Neuschwanstein Castle (Schloss Neuschwanstein) is the famed fairytale castle which served as the inspiration for Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty Castle. It’s one of those places where no matter how many photos you’ve seen of it beforehand, you’re still in awe once you arrive. It’s easy to park your car in town and then head up to the castle. It’ll most likely be crowded, so take a tour to make sure not to miss anything. Wander the castle, take in the history, and enjoy the whimsical surroundings.
Above: The Alpine town of Mittenwald
Stop 7: Mittenwald
If you looked up “Bavarian Alpine town,” you’d get an image of Mittenwald. Just about two hours from Neuschwanstein up in the Alps, Mittenwald is a quaint mountain town full of colorfully painted homes set against mountain peaks. It’s a charming place to stop for a stroll through town and a bite to eat.
Above: A peaceful scene in Spitzingsee
Stop 8: Spitzingsee
From Mittenwald, carry on about another hour and a half through the mountains to Spitzingsee. Finish off your road trip by spending the night in this quiet village nestled high in the Bavarian Alps. Spend the rest of your day walking outside and enjoying the beautiful scenery. Spitzingsee’s lush greenery and peaceful atmosphere will make the perfect finale to your road trip adventure.
Above: Various beers from towns along the road trip route. Make sure to always try the local brew!
Back to Munich
From Spitzingsee, it’s only about an hour by car back to Munich, your home base. Take your time and enjoy the Bavarian scenery. Prost!