In this post you will find the information to travel to Germany by camper van,car or RV (motor-home). We tell you our 15-day itinerary in van,the places we visited and where we stay at night. Everything you need to know to plan your road trip.
Germany is an amazing country, with big cities, charming towns, fairytale castles, lots of green areas and above all, a lot of history. It is an ideal place to take a trip by car, camper van, motor-home or a weekend getaway by plane.
Today, we give you the best tips for traveling to Germany by car or camper van and our 15-day itinerary.
The itinerary is practically circular, starts in Cologne and its surroundings and ends in Cochem about 120 km from Cologne. But you can finish it in Cologne if you come by plane or adapt your starting point depending on which city you arrive in (Munich, Berlin, Frankfurt, Nuremberg, etc.).
We live in France, so we came home to Luxembourg. Well… Let’s start with the itinerary to travel to Germany by van.
- Check out Lonely Planet’s Germany travel guide
Itinerary to travel to Germany
Day 1. Aachen and Schloss Drachenburg Castle (night in Cologne)
Aachen, the capital of Charlemagne’s empire
When we start our road trip we arrive to Germany from Belgium. The first place we visited is Aachen. Here you have to visit the old town, the cathedral and its treasury, the Charlemagne Center, the Town Hall (Rathaus) and the Elisenbrunnen building.
Schloss Drachenburg Castle
Built in the late 19th century, this private villa is a must on your trip to Bonn or Cologne.
It has a rather interesting history, it is the dream of a broker and banker, Baron Stephan von Sarter, who had this palace built and did so in two years. He planned to live there, but he never did.
- The villa was bought by his nephew, who wanted to turn it into a tourist villa.
- The castle passed through several hands during the twentieth century, was the school of Brothers of the Christian Schools, in 1942 was an elite Nazi school, where parts of the castle and gardens were destroyed. At the end of the war, it was occupied by American soldiers and used as a refugee camp.
- In the early 1960s it was about to be demolished.
- In 1971, Paul Spinat bought the castle and refurbished it.
- In 1973, he opened the castle to the general public.
- In 1986, the castle was declared a monument and in 1989, restoration works began.
- In 2011, the last works of the gardens were completed.
In another post, I’ll tell you the story in a little more detail.
You can leave your van or car in the castle parking lot. I’m warning you, from there you have a good slope to get there, but it is worth it. It can also be reached by funicular.
In this link I leave you the different ways to get to Drachenburg Castle.
Night walk through Cologne
Cologne is a city with a lot of charm and with a great sunset. My recommendation is that you visit Cologne Cathedral, cross the bridge and take the most famous photo of the city.
Stroll through its streets, the most commercial is the Schildergasse, where all the best known shops are.
Where to dine? We had dinner in Alter Markt, at Fraulein Herborths, they have great burgers. But there are many options and for all tastes.
Where to sleep in Cologne
Cologne has a variety of hotels and hostels for your trip. Our recommendation based on a Fer’s previous trip is the Art’otel Cologne. The hotel is a 15-minute walk from the Cathedral.
In a camper van or motorhome
We slept in a paid area for vans and motorhomes. It is next to the River Rhine and 3 km from Cologne city centre. By the bike path next to the river it is very easy to reach the center by bike, walking or electric skateboard.
If you do not need to connect to the mains, before the payment area there is a parking without services. There is only to discharge the black/dirty water (potty).
Day 2. Cologne – Hanover (292km)
On our second day of road trip through Germany, we had booked to do a free walking tour, but we were canceled due to lack of people, due to the Covid-19. The guide was very nice and sent us the itinerary of the tour and then with the help of the internet, we learned more about this interesting city.
Tip: ask yourself, how much money do you give to free tour guides? About 10 euros per person, if the guide was good, right? Well, see if there are guided tours that interest you, there are many times that cost the same thing, and those don’t usually cancel them.
What to see in Cologne?
Visit Cologne in the morning, take the opportunity to visit the cathedral inside, it is free.
- Cologne Cathedral (there is a Golden Chest on the main altar where the relics of the Three Wise Men are)
- Panoramic view of the city in the building “Triangle of Cologne” across Rio.
- The Chocolate Museum and the museum café, the place has an amazing view of the River. The coffee and desserts they offer are incredibly delicious. There is a terrace outside (which has free access as well). But don’t you dare ask for a glass of water because they charge you!!! We ordered a coffee and a glass of water (tap water), for the coffee we were charged 2.10 euros and for the glass of water € 2,40 !!!
- EL-DE Haus Museum
- Perfume Museum: Farina Haus, the world’s first cologne!
Where to eat? In one of the oldest breweries in town, we went to the Brauhaus Sion and it was very good. We ate super typical and quite reasonable price, 3 beers, two main dishes and an apple strudel: €43,70
Hannover is a city we want to get to know better. Since it was more of a bedtime stop than to visit the city. We stop here because it’s halfway between Cologne and Berlin, basically, so we don’t drive much.
Hannover’s 5 must-visits
- Herrenhauser Garten
- Marienburg Castle
- New Town Hall
- Lower Saxony State Museum
Where to sleep in Hannover
Check out Star Inn Hotel Premium Hannover, usually have good deals if you book in advance.
We parked the camper van in the car park next to the Courtyard Hannover Maschsee. It is next to Lake Maschsee, a great place to walk and unwind.
Day 3. Hannover – Potsdam (303km) night in Berlin
This day our goal was to get to Potsdam as soon as possible, visit the city and get to Berlin before sunset so we can park the van well.
Potsdam, in a nut words, I loved it. It is a city full of palaces and gardens, where very important historical moments happened and is located about 40km from Berlin.
In another post, I will give you more details of everything to visit in Potsdam, but here you have a small summary with its essentials.
Must-visit places in Potsdam
- Sanssouci Palace and Park
- The New Palace
- The Orangerie Palace
- Cecilienhof Palace (where the Potsdam Conference was held)
- The Bridge of Spies
- The Dutch Quarter
- Brandenburg Gate
- Alexandowka Colony
*Note: we made the whole tour by bike. I recommend you rent a bike to get around Potsdam at your own pace and enjoy the city gardens. If you want to see everything, the distances are long enough to do it walking.
- You can also hire the tour from Berlin by bus with an English or German speaking guide, and with audio guide in Spanish, French, Italian, etc.
- You can take a segway tour with a guide in English or German. Could be really fun! Don’t you think?
- Click on the orange links and choose the one you like the most.
After the visit we arrived in Berlin before sunset. We parked the van at a payment parking, but in the city center.
Where to park the camper van in Berlin?
Camper van or small RV: you can park it in the car park next to the Berlin Mall. The first night costs 15 euros and then it up to € 20, but you are 300 meters from the Brandenburg Gate and 100 m. from the Potsdamer Platz.
It is not the most beautiful place in the world, but it is super well located to get to know the city. However, go with the water tank full and an empty potty (portable toilet), if you plan to spend a few days in Berlin.
Motorhome: the motorhome can be park in Wohnmobiloase, but you have to book a working week in advance or try your luck on the same day.
Day 4, 5 and 6. Berlin
Berlin is a city with a lot of history and many places to visit. What we did on the first day was do a free tour to get to know a little more about the city. As for a first contact.
The free tour is great, you know the highlights and you learn a little about the history of the city and Germany. The tour starts at the Brandenburg Gate.
- Check out lonely Planet’s Berlin Travel Guide, if you feel like doing it all on your own.
Must-visit places in Berlin
- Free walking Tour
- Free walking Tour of the Berlin Wall and the Cold War
- Brandenburg Gate
- Berlin East Side Gallery
- Reichstag Building (Parliament)
- Jewish Quarter
- Museums (Highlight: Pergamon Museum)
- Holocaust Memorial
- Turkish Quarter
- CheckPoint Charlie
Day 7. Berlin – Nuremberg (440km)
We continue our itinerary of the road trip through Germany. We leave Berlin in the morning and we go to our next destination: Nuremberg.
If you’re on time, stop in Bamberg, it’s a very picturesque town, I’m sure you’ll love it.
What to see in Nuremberg?
When we arrived in Nuremberg, before entering the walled city, we visited the Zeppelin field, one of the most emblematic buildings of the Nazi era.
It is easy to park the van there and have a very nice lake area, and on the way back, there is the Nazi Party Documentation Center, a place converted into a museum. It is essential to visit the permanent exhibition “Fascination and Violence” dedicated, about 1,300 m2, to the causes, relationships and consequences of National Socialist tyranny.
If you like the whole World War II thing. Nuremberg is a city you have to visit.
Then we toured the city center on foot. We arrived at the church of San Lorenzo, had a beer in the tower in front of it and dined at Urfa kebab which was on the way to the van, near the wall, and it was very good.
Where to sleep in Nuremberg
The Ibis Hotel Nurnberg Altstadt is well located and reasonably priced (€60), from there, you can walk everywhere.
We spent the night in a car park that is very close to the city. But, honestly, I do not recommend it, because it was very noisy, we did not pay attention that were the train tracks a few meters away… we look newbies… It’s okay to leave the van all day, but there’s plenty of noise at night.
Day 8. Nuremberg – night in Munich
This day we visited Nuremberg in the morning with a free walking tour. We hired it through Civitatis and we had a good guide who love the city. We learned not only the history, but also told us curious things, making the tour very enjoyable.
In another post, I’ll tell you every detail what to see in Nuremberg. But if you are interested in guided tours I leave you this link, so you can take a look at them.
Here are the essentials:
- Zepelin Field
- Kaiserburg Castle
- National Museum
- St. Sebaldus Church
- St. Lawrence Church
- Schoner Brunnen
- House of Albrecht Dürer
- The walls
- Nuremberg Sausages (Bratwurst)
- Tour the Old Town
- The Hospital of the Holy Spirit
We ate in Nuremberg in a typical brewery. We ordered sausages, so they have some that are typical with special recipe. So as always, we tried the typical food of the place.
We follow our camper road trip through Germany, direction Munich, it is about two hours in the van. By car you can go much faster 😉
Where to sleep in Munich
Munich is one of the most expensive cities in Germany, so to find well priced hotels, you will have to make the reservation in advance. Take a look at Mercure Hotel Munchen Altstadt, it is centrally located and the price is usually below 100 euros per night.
By van or motorhome
In Munich you can spend the day and night in the area of the Allianz Arena, the stadium of Bayern Munich. It’s paid for, but you have everything, water, light and a place to empty your potty pretty modern, the machine does it all, empty it, cleans it and pours you some blue liquid.
This place is pretty good, it is quiet and you can get to the city center by public transport. *But match days are not enabled.
Day 9. Munich and night in Fussen
In Munich, we continue with the same dynamics as previous cities of the road trip through Germany. We start the day by doing a free walking tour and getting to know the city on our own.
The campervan, as we spent the night at the Allianz Arena, we moved it to Maria Theresia street, next to Maximiliansanlagen Park, which is free and we went for a walk to the meeting point of the free tour.
We toured the Maximilianstrasse, the street of the city with mega luxury shops.
What to see in Munich, must-visits places
- Nymphenburg Palace
- Rathaus-Glockenspiel on Marienplatz
- Augustiner Keller BrauHaus and beer garden
- Hofbrauhaus, the most famous brewery
- Toy Museum
- Churches (Our Lady, St. Peter and Asamkirche)
- Munich Residenz
- Tour of the Third Reich
- Dachau Concentration Camp Tour
From Munich we continue the road trip to the Castle of the Mad King, Neuschwanstein. We arrived at sunset, but on the way we made some stop.
From Munich to Fussen (where Neuschwanstein Castle is located) is 120km away.
We made a stop in Wies (Steingaden, Pfaffenwinkel) to visit the Wies Pilgrimage Church, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The setting is fabulous, the outside of the church sober, but the interior is amazing.
Wies to Fussen is 30km away, but first we stop to take some pictures of Neuschwanstein Castle. It look awesome with the sunset light.
Where to sleep in Fussen or Neuschwanstein
Here you have two options, either you stay at the foot of the castle or stay in the village of Fussen. As you can imagine, at the foot of the castle the offer of accommodation is more limited and the prices are higher than in Fussen.
I’ll leave you two recommendations for less than €100 a night.
- Haus Bullachberg, at the foot of Neuschwantein Castle. It is a one bedroom apartment and the price goes from € 99 to €139 per night.
- In the center ofthe village, the double room with breakfast costs 106 euros.
In a camper van or motorhome
There are paid areas for vans and motorhomes, but you have to book in advance, because they book fast. We went without reservation and the two areas we saw were complete.
But there is a car park in Schwangau, where you can spend the night. Actually, it’s not allowed, but they leave you if you leave early in the morning or pay for parking. The best thing about this place is that it overlooks the castle. You have the Neuschwanstein castle in your backyard 🙂
Day 10. Beginning of the Romantic Route: Neuschwanstein
Fussen – Neuschwanstein – Landsberg am Lech – Friedberg – Augsburg
Neuschwanstein Castle, the Mad King’s Castle
We begin the German Romantic Route with a visit to Neuschwanstein Castle, better known as the Mad King’s Castle or the castle where Disney was inspired to create its princess castles.
To get to the castle you can do it by bus or walk. My recommendation is that you do it on walking. You have to go with good mountain shoes, there are different path: you can do the path following the signs, you can make the path Google Maps proposes or you can go up on the street. (we did Google maps path)
It’s about half an hour walking up the hill. But it’s definitely worth the effort.
After the visit to the Castle, we started our road trip in camper on the Romantic Route of Germany. A 350-kilometer route that joins the town of Fussen with Wurzburg, and you pass through a lot of charming villages, cities with lots of history and beautiful landscapes. Here’s the itinerary.
What do we visit on the first day of the Romatic Route?
- Neuschwanstein Castle
- Landsberg Am Lech
As you can see, we were too busy. It was a mad day! We finished this day exhausted and we re-do the itinerary, which included Luxembourg and some cities in France… Totally unrealistic.
Day 11. Donauwörth – Nördlingen – Dinkelsbühl and night in Rothenburg ob der Tauber
We changed on the fly the itinerary of the road trip by campervan through Germany and decided that we were only going to visit two or three maximum villages a day, so that it gives us time to enjoy the trip, otherwise it seemed like a competition, something meaningless.
So in the morning we visited Donauwörth, one of the towns/cities of germany’s Romantic route. In its beginnings it was a fishing town, located at the confluence of the Danube River and the Wörnitz. You have to walk along Reichsstrasse, they say it’s one of the prettiest in southern Germany.
*If you’re on time, the next stop is Harburg and visit its castle. We just saw it on the outside.
This village is built in the crater that left a meteorite! It is a medieval German village, which preserves its wall around the whole village and is walkable.
Stroll through the historic center and visit st. George’s Church, the icon of the city. The bell tower, called Daniel, can be visited and climbed the stairs to enjoy panoramic views of the village and the surrounding area.
It’s a small town you can visit in a couple of hours. You can park your can or van outside the walls or inside with disc hours and maximum half an hour.
Dinkelsbühl is one of the villages on Germany’s Romantic Route that preserve its old town as it was 400 years ago. According to historians, it is one of the best preserved in Germany! Without a doubt, an essential stop. You have to visit the Gothic Cathedral of St. George, walk through the village and enjoy its charm.
NOTE: Between Dinkelsbühl and Rothenburg ob der Tauber there are two other prominent villages to visit, they are Feuchtwangen and Schillingsfürst, we had to choose between visiting each other, and these two stayed out. But if you’re on time, you can visit them and tell us in the comments your thought and if you recommend them to other travelers. Thank you!
Where to sleep
My recommendation is that, if you go short of time, keep going to Rothenburg ob der Tauber and make night in one of its hotels. Take a look at Pension das Lädle, it has a fairly reasonable price, for what is in the village.
In the van
We spend the night in Rothenburg ob der Tauber, in one of the caravan car parks before entering the village. It’s very quietly and you are a step away walking from one of the most famous villages of this route.
Day 12. Rothenburg ob der Tauber – night in Würzburg
Rothenburg ob der Tauber is an imperial city of the most beautiful and most famous on this route. It is located at the top of the Tauber Valley, where the Romantic Route and the Castle Route intersect.
The most iconic place, Plönlein Square and Sieber Tower, which you’ll see in thousands of photographs is due to a painter, but Rothenburg ob der Tauber is much more than a photo.
As soon as you enter through the village you are already surprised by its wall (which you can visit), the hospital and the bastion. Once inside, you are surprised by the mix of architecture of the Town Hall (Rathaus) with a Gothic part and a Renaissance part.
I’m going to write a post of this town/city alone, to tell you everything we’ve learned, so you can give it the time it deserves.
We spent all day here, and then we went to Würzburg to spend the night, and before we did the laundry, things from the road trips…
NOTE: between Rothenburg ob der Tauber and Würzburg there are about 65 km and a few charming villages such as Creglingen, Weikersheim, Rötingen, Bad Mergentheim, Lauda-Köningshofen, Tauberbischofsheim and Wertheim Village. Visit them if you have time!
Where to sleep in Würzburg
Hotels aren’t especially cheap in Würzburg, so here’s the link for the city’s hotels, so you can choose the one that best suits your budget and travel style.
In camper van
We slept in the van in a motorhome park area that is located next to the River Main. From there you can reach the city center very easily by walking, cycling or by public transport.
Day 13. Würzburg, end of the Romantic Route
The road trip itinerary through Germany continues in Mainz and we spend the night in Rudesheim am Rhein.
It is a university town on the banks of the River Main. It is located in the heart of the Franconian wine region. From almost every point you can see the Marienberg Fortress and the UNESCO-listed Palace.
Within the city there are several interesting places to visit. Highlights include the cathedral, the new cathedral, the Market Square and the Old Statue Bridge.
If you like wine, you can take guided tours of the local vineyards and taste their wines.
*If you arrive in Würzburg from Frankfurt and do not want to rent a car, from April to October there is a bus departing from Würzburg and touring all the villages of the Romantic Route, Germany’s first holiday route after World War II.
We went all the way from the town of Würzburg to Mainz, the city of Gütenberg, and here what we did was visit the museum of Gütenberg, the father of the printing press. Here you can see the evolution of the printing presses and also two original bibles printed by Gutenberg.
We took a short walk and continued on our way to the town of Rudesheim am Rhein.
Rudesheim am Rhein
Here we arrive in the afternoon, it is less than 40 km from Mainz and 65km from Frankfurt. I recommend you visit this town on your road trip through Germany or on your Frankurt getaway.
*To this area, I would dedicate another week at least, but we have only been able to dedicate two and a half days. So, if you like nature, charming towns and wine, it’s possible you can stay longer too. We have an excuse to come back.
Rudesheim am Rhein is a village with an area that we loved. It is more than two thousand years old as a wine area, has world heritage sites and eats wonderfully, besides, the village is very picturesque and that we arrived with rain.
This afternoon it was raining very hard. We parked the van, and went to dinner at the most picturesque street of the town: Drosselgasse.
We had dinner at the restaurant, Rüdesheim Schloss. We had a wonderful dinner. And we enjoyed the local food and wine. In another post, I’ll tell you more. Because, this post is being very long, hehehe.
Where to sleep
There are a variety of hotels in Rudesheim am Rhein, check out the ones you like the most.
In camper van or motorhome
There is a campsite where you can stay, but is 30 euros per camper or motorhome per night. If you’re going to spend the day or go with kids, I think it’s a good option. But not for just to spend the night.
So we slept for free in a car park, near the bus parking. Nothing from the other world, but we prefer to spend the camping money on having dinner in a good restaurant. Priority issue, hehe.
Day 14. Rudesheim am Rhein – Bacharach – Burg Eltz Castle
Rudesheim am Rhein
This day we discover that this region is a marvel. In the morning visit the village of Rudesheim am Rhein and the Nierderwald forest and its most representative monuments.
This place is super nice, you can arrive in your own vehicle or by funicular from the village.
The bad thing for us, the price of parking: € 10.50, regardless of whether you stay an hour or all day…
*Tip 2: Cross to Bacharach on ferry, the price varies depending on the length of the vehicle. They depart every 20 minutes.
Another picturesque village on the banks of the Rhine, dedicated to wine. Bacharach has Celtic origins and its original name was Baccarus. There is a first (somewhat questioned) mention of the origin of the city in 923 and another, more contrasted in 1019.
In 1356, Emperor Charles IV granted it the title of city. Its economy was always linked to viticulture and wine trade.
As a curiosity, Pope Pius II ordered, among other things, to send a vat of 1000 liters of Bacharach wine to Rome every year!!! The Emperor Wenzel agreed that the city of Nuremberg should pay a fine with 4 vats of Bacharach wine (4000 liters). That tells us something, doesn’t it? The wine here is good! Lol
Bacharach is a fortified city, very well preserved. The covered wall surrounds the entire old town and is walkable. Stroll along the wall and also through the center of the village, it is small and is very easily toured in an hour.
Burg Eltz Castle
It is a spectacular medieval castle, a world heritage site, located in the hills near the Moselle River (it does quite a competition to the Mad King castle). It belongs to the same family (or branch of it) for 33 generations, that is, since the twelfth century.
There are parts that are open to the public and others are not, since there lives the family that owns the castle.
The castle looks like something out of a tale, is surrounded by green everywhere and you can hear the sound of the river from there.
To get to the castle you have to leave your vehicle in the car park and continue your way on foot or by bus (€ 3 way.) The way to the castle is downhill and the return uphill, but it is little steep, compared to Neuschwanstein Castle, and it becomes quite easy. That said, go with proper shoes, because of the humidity there, it can slip a little.
From here we went to the suspension bridge: Geierlay Suspension Bridge (about 30 km from the castle).
Geierlay Suspension Bridge
Geierlay Suspension Bridge is 360 metres long and 100 metres high. The surroundings are spectacular and has only been open since 2015.
With the Covid theme to visit it is a little more annoying than before. Now, in even hours you cross the bridge to go, everyone in one direction and at odd hours you can return. Keep this in mind, to calculate the times of your trip.
The good thing is that it is open late for German times and is free.
It used to be open 24 hours a day!
Day 15. Bernkastel-Kues – Cochem
There is a full route to the Mosel area from Koblenz to Trier or Nittel on the Luxembourg border. It is an area that has been dedicated to winemaking for more than two thousand years, full of charming places, festivals, art, we will definitely return.
A half-timbered village by the Moselle River, where you’ll find traces of a Roman past and medieval architecture. Definitely a place you’re going to fall in love with.
Here you have to visit the medieval market square, the Renaissance Town Hall, next to half-timbered houses, the pointed house (probably the most photographed). Of course, you have to stroll through the historic center, see the birthplace of Nicholass de Cusa, the hospital of St. Nicholas and the castle of Landshut.
Cochem is a city in the Moselle River Valley. It is a very touristic place where people from all over the country arrive. It is to the west of Germany, it is crowned by a spectacular castle: the Reichsburg Cochem. In addition, you can enjoy its Riesling wines, its streets and its history.
The first thing we will see as we approach Cochem is its medieval castle, remodeled in the nineteenth century with this fairytale castle appearance.
Once in the village let yourself be carried away by its streets with half-timbered houses, many seem to defy gravity.
You have to cross the Enderttor, one of the three medieval gates, dating from 1332. And it was the village prison for a long time.
To get a good view of the village, cross the bridge and take the photo from there and as you cross.
If you like boat trips, take the opportunity to get to know the “skyline” of the Moselle villages from the river itself. Click here to hire the boat ride.
Don’t forget to try their wines, we brought a few bottles home. And also, take a boat ride along the river or take a bike ride along the riverbank.
If you have more time for the Mosel area visit:
- Make a wine route
- Take a bike route
- Be part of its hiking trail
And so far our itinerary plus tips for traveling to Germany by car or camper van. I know this post is a little long, I have tried to be as concise as possible…
In the next few days I will expand the information in other articles, so, you can plan your trip through Germany on your own and enjoy it. As you can see, there are many things to do, many places to discover and enjoy.
Do you know Germany? Tell us about your experience in this country!
Prepare your trip to Germany
Book Your Trip
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Book Your Accommodation
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Best companies for activities
Check out Civitatis.com and find the best tours in English (French, Spanish and Italian)
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Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel! I list all the ones I use to save money when I travel – and I think will help you too! (Is in Spanish yet)
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