Rick Steves' Best of Germany in 13 Days Tour, Day by Day
Though we've led tours through Germany for the past 30 years, our tour of "100% Germany from start to finish" is a fresh approach. To capture the highlights of our Teutonic adventure, this past summer we sent our favorite photographer, Dominic Arizona Bonuccelli, along to compose eine kleine slideshow for you. Let's go a-wandering!
Days 1 & 2: Welcome to Hamburg
We'll meet at 5 p.m. at our hotel in Hamburg for a "Welcome to Germany" meeting. Then we'll take a neighborhood walk to get a feel for this prosperous, progressive city, and get acquainted over dinner together.
We'll begin the next morning with a walking tour of the historic core of Hamburg, including the resilient St. Nicholas church, where we'll learn about "Operation Gomorrah" — the allied firebombing campaign that devastated the city in 1943. Then we'll stroll through historic Speicherstadt to the stunning new Elbphilharmonie concert hall. After free time for lunch, we'll hop aboard a boat to see the city's massive modern harbor. We'll return shore-side for a free evening to explore more of this pedestrian-friendly town.
Germany's Fairy-Tale Highway
Today we'll take off for the countryside that inspired a thousand legends and visit the real-life settings where the Brothers Grimm did much of their fairy-tale research in the 1830s. We'll also stop to pay our respects at the site of the all-too-real WWII Bergen-Belsen memorial.
Days 4 & 5: The Romantic Rhine
Today morning we'll head straight for the single most-visited site in all of Germany: the Cologne Cathedral. You'll appreciate why as our local guide takes us exploring through northern Europe's most massive Gothic church. Then we'll continue on to the Rhine Valley and our charming riverside village, where we'll have dinner together and sleep.
The next morning we'll drive to nearby St. Goar, where we'll hike up the hill to tour the mighty medieval Rheinfels Castle, and enjoy its commanding view of the Rhine Valley. Then we'll board a boat for a relaxing Rhine River cruise, passing picturesque villages, vineyards, and feudal castles. After returning to Bacharach, we'll take a walking tour of the village with an entertaining local guide, followed by free time for dinner on your own.
Day 6: Medieval Rothenburg
Our day begins with a scenic drive to the Roman town of Speyer, where you'll have free time to explore the delightful architecture and ambience of this once-imperial city, including the oldest Romanesque cathedral in Europe. This afternoon we'll continue our journey to Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany's best-preserved medieval town. After an orientation to town, the afternoon is yours to see the best woodcarving in Germany (Riemenschneider's altarpiece), walk the medieval wall, tour the Medieval Crime and Punishment Museum, or hunt down the best apple strudel in town. This evening we'll tag along on the legendary Night Watchman's tour.
Days 7 & 8: Scenic Bavaria & Munich
Today we'll journey along the romantic heart of Germany all the way to the country's most beloved fairy-tale fantasy: "Mad" King Ludwig's Neuschwanstein Castle. In addition to touring the castle, you'll have time to soak in its spectacular setting. We'll cap off our day with a scenic drive to Munich, an orientation walk through the city's historic center, and a "Welcome to Bavaria" dinner together.
The next morning we'll get a behind-the-scenes look at Munich with a walking tour through its historic Old Town and learn about the "checkered" history and traditions of Bavaria at the Hofbräuhaus beer hall. The rest of the day is yours to stroll around Germany's most livable city, appreciate its world-class museums, or rent a bike to pedal the car-free paths along the English Garden and Isar River.
Days 9 & 10: Roads to Fascism and Reformation
This morning we'll drive north to Nürnberg, where we'll visit the city's Hitler-era rally grounds, including the Zeppelin Field and Documentation Center. Then we'll leave World War II behind, transporting ourselves back to the 16th century in the heart of Germany's "Luther Country." After checking into our hotel in Erfurt, we'll take an orientation walk through this historic town and share the day's insights over a hearty dinner together.
Erfurt's half-timbered old town is the perfect place for a walking tour the next morning. We'll follow the footsteps of Martin Luther as he became a priest in Erfurt's cathedral and later a monk in its monastery. We'll also learn about the town's historic Jewish population at the Old Synagogue. Your afternoon is free for wandering through the picturesque pedestrian zone and market square, or to visit even more Luther sights in nearby Weimar.
Day 11: Baroque Dresden and Dynamic Berlin
Our final driving day begins with a stop in the city of Dresden, where a local guide will take us on a walking tour of this delightfully Baroque city, reborn from the ashes of World War II. Its star is the inspiring Frauenkirche, destroyed in the firestorms of 1945 and rebuilt with donations from around the world. Arriving in Berlin this afternoon, we'll learn how to master the city's public transportation system, and get oriented to our neighborhood before free time and dinner on your own. (photo: Cameron Hewitt)
Days 12 & 13: Berlin's Historic Heart
We'll begin our day with a fascinating walking tour through the historic heart of Berlin, including Unter den Linden, the Brandenburg Gate, the Reichstag, Checkpoint Charlie, and memorials to the earth-shaking events and sacrifices of the past century. This evening we'll have our last dinner together, sharing travel memories and toasting new friends.
Breakfast is provided the next morning, but there are no group activities. It's a breeze to reach Berlin's airports by shuttle, S-bahn train, bus, or taxi. You'll have easy connections to home, or on to other points in Europe. Auf Wiedersehen!
Learn more about Rick Steves' Best of Germany in 13 Days tour.
(Itinerary specifics subject to change.)