By Rick Steves
So much to see, so little time. How to choose? To help you get started, I've listed my top picks for where to go in Germany, and my plan for your best three-week trip.
Depending on the length of your trip, and taking geographic proximity into account, here are my recommended priorities:
- 3 days: Munich, Bavarian Alps
- 5 days, add: Rhine Valley, Rothenburg
- 7 days, add: More of Bavarian Alps, side-trip to Salzburg
- 10 days, add: Berlin
- 14 days, add: Nürnberg, Mosel Valley
- 15 days, add: Dresden
- 17 days, add: Baden-Baden, Black Forest, Trier
- 21 days, add: Würzburg, and slow down
- More time: Choose among Hamburg, Cologne, Leipzig, Frankfurt, and the Martin Luther towns (Erfurt and Wittenberg).
Rick’s Best Three-Week Germany Trip (by Car and Train)
Day 2: Rhine Valley (sleep in Bacharach)
Day 3: To Burg Eltz and Mosel Valley, then drive to Baden-Baden (sleep in Baden-Baden)
Day 4: Relax and soak in Baden-Baden (sleep in Baden-Baden)
Day 5: Explore the Black Forest (sleep in Freiburg or Staufen)
Day 6: To the Bavarian Alps (sleep in Füssen or Reutte)
Day 7: Visit Neuschwanstein, other castles, and explore the region (sleep in Füssen or Reutte)
Day 8: More Bavaria/Tirol, then drive to Salzburg (sleep in Salzburg)
Day 9: Salzburg (sleep in Salzburg)
Day 10: To Munich (sleep in Munich)
Day 11: Munich (sleep in Munich)
Day 12: To Dachau, then follow Romantic Road to Rothenburg (sleep in Rothenburg)
Day 13: Rothenburg (sleep in Rothenburg)
Day 14: Rothenburg (or Würzburg), drive to Nürnberg, drop off car (sleep in Nürnberg)
Day 15: Nürnberg (sleep in Nürnberg)
Day 16: Train to Dresden (sleep in Dresden)
Day 17: Dresden (sleep in Dresden)
Day 18: Train to Berlin (sleep in Berlin)
Day 19: Berlin (sleep in Berlin)
Day 20: Berlin (sleep in Berlin)
Day 21: Fly home
With Less Time
Go directly from Baden-Baden to Füssen/Reutte instead of overnighting in Freiburg/Staufen. Skip your choice of Salzburg, Nürnberg, Dresden, or Berlin.
With More Time
You could stay a day in Frankfurt (upon arrival), add another day for the Rhine in order to day-trip to Cologne from Bacharach, or add a stay in the quieter Mosel Valley. The Martin Luther towns (Erfurt and Wittenberg) and Leipzig fit well as midpoint stops if you're connecting Frankfurt or Nürnberg with Berlin or Dresden. Berlin merits several days more. Hamburg isn't on the way to anything in Germany, but it's a worthwhile detour to see a thriving, historic German port city.
By Train Only
Skip the southern Black Forest and take the train from Baden-Baden to Füssen, then Salzburg, then Munich. Take the train or bus to Rothenburg; from there, Nürnberg and Dresden are on the way to Berlin.