1 Week Guide / Bavaria

Ultimate 1 Week Road Trip Through the Best of Bavaria

Are you looking for a scenic road trip through Bavaria’s cultural and historic highlights? Look no further! Here is a complete guide to Bavaria! Bavaria is a picturesque state in southern Germany. It is a haven for travelers seeking a perfect blend of charming medieval towns, enchanting castles, and the stunning landscapes.

This travel guide is designed for first-timers who want to experience the highlights of Bavaria on a short visit. Embarking on a week-long journey through the heart of Bavaria unveils a captivating tapestry of history, culture, and natural beauty. 

To fit all the wonders of Bavaria into one week can be a bit tricky, but I’ve put together the best that Bavarian cities have to offer. This comprehensive Bavaria travel guide includes travel tips and where to visit, along with a detailed 1-week itinerary. I want to help ensure that you see the best attractions in Bavaria! Whether you’re an avid history buff, a nature enthusiast, or a connoisseur of Bavarian beer, this itinerary aims to provide an immersive experience that captures the essence of Bavaria in every enchanting moment.

Ultimate 1 Week Road Trip Through the Best of Bavaria

Overview of this Itinerary

I specifically designed this itinerary as a road trip, because it gives you the ultimate flexibility. But trust me, driving in Germany is a treat. Autobahns (aka highways) are in immaculate condition and they are easy to navigate. Plus, there is no speed limit on Bavarian highways so, buckle up! Germany is one of the best road trip destinations in Europe.

You have a couple of options when it comes to renting a car.

  • You can either pick it up in Frankfurt (largest international airport in Germany) with drop off in Munich.
  • Or, you could reorganize the days slightly to pick up and drop off in Munich. 

If you want to do this trip but NOT as a self-drive road trip, no worries — it is possible! These cities are well-connected via train. The timings I list for the driving will be roughly similar to the train distances, with an exception for Rothenburg o.d. Tauber and Füssen. There are only small train stations in these two cities, so connections aren’t as abundant.

Day 1: Würzburg 

Total Drive Time from Frankfurt: 1.5 hours

I find Würzburg rather captivating because it seamlessly blends old and new. It was nearly destroyed in WWII, with over 90% of the city bombed or leveled. This is a similar story to other cities in Germany such as Cologne or Dresden. However, extensive renovation and restoration has happened in Würzburg since then. You can really admire how much it has come back in the 75 years since then. 

Würzburg is known for its impressive architectural heritage, particularly the Residenz, a UNESCO World Heritage site. I even featured it on my list of the most beautiful palaces and castles in Germany. The Residenz served as the residence of the prince-bishops and is considered one of the most beautiful Baroque palaces in Europe. You’ll need to buy a ticket to access the palace, but it comes with an audio guide in multiple languages. Don’t miss the main stairwell and atrium – the ceiling is incredible!

Next wander towards Marienkapelle, a 14th century Gothic style church. Its iconic red steeple is one of the most recognizable features on the Würzburg skyline! Another highlight to see in Würzburg is the Old Main Bridge. Adorned with statues of saints, this an historic landmark offers picturesque views of the city, the river, and the surrounding vineyards. If you have time, hike up to Marienberg Fortress for panoramic views of the city.

Where to Eat in Würzburg

Franconian cuisine is on most menus in Würzburg. This refers to a sub-category of German cuisine belonging to the ethnic region of Franconia..It has many similarities to Bavarian cuisine. Sample some of the best Franconian cuisine at Backöfele, which dates back to the 1500s! Try some Franconian wine at Bürgerspital Weinstuben, one of the oldest estates in Germany. The restaurant itself is located in the heart of Würzburg’s old city, and has a massive patio. The ambiance here is so nice. Grab a drink on the Old Main Bridge from Alte Mainmühle, an old mill positioned on the waterfront.

Where to Stay in Würzburg

Located in the city center, the independently owned Hotel Regina offers comfortable accommodation at affordable prices. Hotel Greifensteiner Hof is another nice option, known for its unique charm and individualized design. The hotel is set in a historic building and offers a blend of modern comfort and traditional aesthetics. For those seeking a luxurious experience, the Maritim Hotel Würzburg is a five-star hotel situated on the banks of the Main River. It offers elegant rooms with modern amenities, a spa and wellness center, a rooftop terrace with panoramic views, and fine dining options.

Day 2: Rothenburg ob der Tauber

Total Drive Time from Würzburg: 1 hour

I basically mention Rothenburg ob der Tauber on every single one of my “must visit places in Germany” lists because I just love it so much! With a fairytale-like charm, cobblestone streets, and enchanting architecture, Rothenburg ob der Tauber is a destination that captivates the imagination. You won’t want to put your camera down! When I visited with friends this winter, they kept saying “It feels like we’re on the set of Beauty and the Beast”. It is a true gem that transports you back in time!

Rothenburg ob der Tauber’s most notable feature is its exceptionally preserved medieval old town. Encircled by fortified walls, you can walk around practically the entire city admiring views and snapping photos. The town’s centerpiece is the Marktplatz, a vibrant square where you can admire the Renaissance-style Town Hall (Rathaus) and the imposing St. Jakob’s Church. Climb the Town Hall Tower for panoramic views of the town and its surroundings, offering breathtaking vistas of the rooftops and the Tauber River valley.

Where to Eat in Rothenberg ob der Tauber

For a charming dinner that feels like a local gem, try Restaurant Alter Keller. Their cozy dining room feels like you are eating in someone’s kitchen, and the authentic Bavarian food is delicious. Enjoy a night cap at the oldest bar in town, Zur Höll. Dating back to 900 AD, this bar has a slightly off kilter look and low ceilings. The staff is friendly and the drinks are strong. 

Where to Stay in Rothenberg ob der Tauber

Most of the hotels in Rothenburg ob der Tauber are small, family run operations. You aren’t likely to see a lot of chains, which I personally love. We had a fantastic stay at Burg Hotel on the west side of town. It is located on the city walls with a gorgeous view over the landscape. The grandfather of the current owner was there to greet and check us in. He must have been 90 years old, but was the sweetest, most charming man. He has spent his entire life in Rothenberg, and when I asked him if he ever wanted to leave, he said “why would I leave a place like this? Look how beautiful it is!”

Day 3: Nuremberg

Total Drive Time from Rothenburg o.d. Tauber: 1.5 hours

Nuremberg is renowned for its well-preserved medieval architecture, including the iconic Nuremberg Castle perched atop a sandstone ridge. The charming Old Town, surrounded by a five-kilometer-long city wall, features picturesque cobblestone streets, half-timbered houses, and the bustling Hauptmarkt (main market square), home to the famous Nuremberg Christmas Market. Perhaps the most picturesque part of Nuremberg is the Pegnitz river canals. Strolling along the canals is one of the best things to do in Nuremberg.

I would strongly recommend visiting the Memorium Nuremberg Trials museum. It commemorates the groundbreaking trials held here in 1945 and 1946. During the trial, prominent Nazi war criminals were prosecuted for their war crimes. The trials were the first of their kind, giving a definition to crimes against humanity and genocide, as well as establishing the principles of modern international law.

Where to Eat in Nuremberg

There are three local dishes that you definitely need to try in Nuremberg – bratwursts, pretzels and lebkuchen. If you only have one meal in Nuremberg, pop into Bratwurst Röslein off the main square. Their entire menu is Franconian food, so you can get a wide-range of the local specialties.

Try the famous Nuremberg rostbratwurst, mini sausages that resemble a breakfast sausage. Bratwursthäusle is the best place to go, and it has been family owned since 1313. Brezen Kolb is a local chain that bakes their soft, thick pretzels each day. While you can get them plain, I recommend going for one of pretzel sandwiches or one of those smeared with butter and herbs.

Final thing to try is Lebkuchen, otherwise known as ginger bread. The cookies are thick, soft and 10cm in diameter. They’re usually seasoned with cinnamon, ginger, and cloves, and then covered with a thin sugar icing. coriander, pepper, and honey. Wicklein Lebküchnerei is the real deal. With roots that can be traced back to 1615, pick the tastiest looking one from the window and enjoy!

Where to Stay in Nuremberg

If you are arriving in Nuremberg via car, you’ll probably want to book a hotel outside of the old city walls. Finding parking in the old city can be a challenge, so check if your hotel includes it. Looking for a budget option? We stayed at Hotel Motel One Nürnberg-Hauptbahnhof which was super convenient, being located next to the main train station. It is a little far from the Old Town though. 

Located in the heart of the Old Town, Hotel Drei Raben offers a blend of modern design and historic charm. This boutique hotel features individually designed rooms with stylish décor, and thoughtful amenities. For a splurge, try Le Méridien Grand Hotel Nuremberg. Housed in a magnificent historic building, this place exudes luxury and sophistication. The hotel boasts beautifully appointed rooms with refined décor and plush furnishings. It offers top-notch amenities, including a gourmet restaurant, a stylish bar, and a spa. 

Day 4: Munich

Total Drive Time from Nuremberg: 2 hours

By far the most famous city in Bavaria is Munich, the state’s capital. Often visited as part of the Oktoberfest festival, Munich has a lot more to offer than just beer. It is a city that effortlessly blends a rich history, cultural sophistication, and a vibrant contemporary scene. Begin your exploration in the heart of the city at Marienplatz, a bustling square surrounded by Gothic and Baroque architecture. Venture to the top of St. Peter’s Church for breathtaking views of the city below.

Nearby, spend a few hours wandering through the Munich Residenz. Once the royal palace for the Bavarian kings, this magnificent architectural masterpiece is honestly one of the most impressive palaces I have seen in ALL of Europe. First of all, it is absolutely gigantic. Secondly, it boasts a fusion of architectural styles, having evolved over centuries of expansion and transformation. Highlights include the grand Antiquarium, a monumental Renaissance hall featuring impressive ceiling frescoes, and the stunning Cuvilliés Theatre, a baroque jewel showcasing the pinnacle of 18th-century theater design.

Day 5: Munich

Total Drive Time Today: 1 hour

The next day, venture outside the city center to Dachau, site of the infamous Dachau Concentration Camp. A visit to the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site is a powerful and educational experience, as it provides insight into the horrors of the Holocaust. The memorial includes the preserved barracks, the crematorium, and an exhibition that delves into the history and suffering endured by the prisoners. While it may be emotionally challenging, visiting Dachau is an essential opportunity to pay your respects to the victims and to reflect on the importance of human rights and tolerance in today’s world.

Relax from an intense morning with a wander through the English Garden, a vast green oasis dotted with beer gardens and the famous Surfer’s Corner, showcasing the city’s eclectic spirit. Another nice option is Olympiapark, a symbol of Munich’s resilience and progress, inviting you to explore the grounds where the 1972 Summer Olympics unfolded. The Olympiaturm provides a panoramic view, connecting the city’s past and present.

Where to Eat in Munich

Of course, you’ll want to visit the world-famous Hofbräuhaus München. This historic beer hall epitomizes Bavarian culture. Established in 1589, this establishment serves hearty Bavarian cuisine, including sausages, pretzels, and schnitzel. If you prefer something a little less touristy, pop into Ayinger am Platzl across the street. I find their beer is better, the atmosphere is less rowdy, and the food is top notch. 

Grab lunch at Viktualienmarkt, a vibrant food market in the city center. You’ll find locals and tourists alike sampling some of the freshest produce in town. Another good choice for Bavarian cuisine is Ratskeller München, located in the basement of City Hall. We also enjoyed our dinner at Wirtshaus Maximilian, a slightly upscale take on classic Bavarian cuisine.

Where to Stay in Munich

We stayed at Flushing Meadows Hotel, an off-the-beaten path design hotel with spacious rooms and friendly staff. There are only a few rooms at the hotel, and the rooftop bar upstairs is excellent. Cortiina Hotel is a boutique gem located in the heart of Munich’s Old Town. With its stylish attention to detail, this unique hotel provides a personalized and intimate experience. For those seeking a luxurious experience, Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten Kempinski is an exquisite five-star hotel situated in the city center. Boasting elegant architecture, this luxury hotel offers opulent rooms, exceptional dining options, and a spa.

Day 6: Füssen Area

Total Drive Time from Munich: 2 hours

Füssen, located at the base of the Alps in picturesque southern Germany, is the perfect place to end your week in Bavaria. Füssen became part of the Kingdom of Bavaria in 1803, bringing an expansion of architecture, commerce and activity. Most famously, King Ludwig II fell in love with the area and decided to build several palaces around Füssen. I would recommend spending 1 day visiting the three Ludwig palaces – Neuschwanstein, Hohenschwangau and Linderhof.

If there is a German castle that you definitely know already, it is Neuschwanstein. Everything about this castle was designed in the high romantic style King Ludwig II loved. Walt Disney is rumored to have designed the Sleeping Beauty castle after Neuschwanstein. Open throughout the year, you should be prepared for large crowds at Neuschwanstein. No pictures are allowed inside the castle.

You need to buy your ticket a minimum of one week in advance. You will be given a specific time slot for entering the castle, and you can only see the castle on a guided tour. Opt for the combined ticket so that you can also visit Hohenschwangau. This was the actual home to King Ludwig II throughout his childhood, and he lived there during the construction of Neuschwanstein until his mysterious death. Designed in a neo-gothic style, a guided tour of this palace will show you some of the 90+ paintings that adorn the walls of this underrated castle. 

Linderhof is the least visited of the three palaces, but it was actually my favorite. Fun fact – it was Ludwig’s favorite too. I loved Linderhof because of the beautiful scenery and gardens around the palace. Surrounding the palace are stunning French gardens modeled off of the ones at Versailles. Once inside, Linderhof’s highlight is the sheer enormity of Rococo detail. Because this palace is smaller than the others, the rooms are packed with ornate details to make it seem more grand. No pictures are allowed inside, and you can only visit the interior on a scheduled tour. 

Day 7: Füssen Area

Total Drive Time Today: ~2 hours

For your second day in Füssen, get out and enjoy some of the natural surroundings! This is a hub of outdoor activities and adventures. Located right in town, the Forest Experience Center Ziegelwies is a family-friendly spot to walk through a protected forest habitat via adventure trails and treetop walks. The elevated walkway makes you feel like you are in the trees! It has beautiful views of the surrounding mountains.

Another option is to ride the Tegelberg Cable Car. You can buy a one way or round trip ticket up to the top of Tegelberg Mountain. Hiking trails down include a path that leads to Neuschwanstein. You’ll enjoy sweeping views from the top of the mountain, along with a beer garden and restaurant.

About an hour drive from Füssen lies Zugspitze, Germany’s highest mountain. Standing at 2,962 meters (9,718 feet), you can take a cable car from the German side or ride the cogwheel train from the Austrian side. Once at the top, you’ll be rewarded with a panoramic view of the surrounding Alps, including the Zugspitzplatt glacier. In the winter, the area becomes a skiing and snowboarding paradise, while the summer months offer hiking and climbing opportunities. Be sure to explore the nearby Eibsee, a beautiful, crystal-clear lake at the foot of the Zugspitze, where you can swim, boat, or just enjoy the tranquil surroundings.

Where to Eat in Füssen

For a delightful coffee break or a sweet treat, Konditorei Kurcafe is a stylish cafe known for its freshly baked pastries, cakes, and a variety of coffee options. Gasthof Krone is a family-run restaurant known for its welcoming ambiance and authentic Bavarian cuisine. The menu highlights regional flavors, and the restaurant’s rustic charm adds to the overall dining experience. Make sure to try some local beer at Schwangau Castle Brewery. Their massive patio is a dream on a sunny day! 

Where to Stay in Füssen

I think the best place to stay around Füssen is Hotel Das Rübezahl. This boutique luxury hotel offers stunning views of the Alps. You can even get a peek of Neuschwanstein castle! The rooms are beautifully styled with Alpine design, and there is a great spa onsite. If you are a foodie, make sure to book a table at the Michelin star restaurant inside the hotel.

Bonus Days: Alps

If you have extra time, I would recommend adding on a couple extra days in the German Alps. There are so many beautiful lakes, tiny towns, and mountain vistas to experience! Garmisch-Partenkirchen is a picturesque alpine town located at the base of the Zugspitze, and it’s the gateway to some of Bavaria’s most stunning landscapes. This charming town offers a blend of Bavarian tradition and outdoor adventure. Garmisch-Partenkirchen is known for its winter sports, with access to ski resorts like the Garmisch Classic and the Zugspitzplatt. 

The absolutely heart-warming and adorable town of Mittenwald is one of my favorite places that I have visited in Germany. It literally feels like you have walked onto a fairytale movie set with its painted facade buildings and hobbit-like hovels. Try some local Bavarian cuisine at Gaststaette am Kurpark restaurant and wash it down with beer from Brauereigaststätte Postkeller. If you’re looking for something a little fancier, the tiny town of Mittenwald is home to Michelin star eatery — Das Marktrestaurant.

Do you have thoughts or questions about planning a trip to Bavaria? Tell me in the comments!

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