The Best Fairytale Castles in Germany Road Trip (7-10 Days) 2024 1
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The Best Fairytale Castles in Germany Road Trip (7-10 Days) 2024

Germany; a land full of myths and legends, deep and dark forests dotted with cute timber towns. It’s no wonder that Bavaria and Rhineland are the perfect setting to find some of the most beautiful fairytale castles in Germany.

This South Germany road trip itinerary takes you past nine stunning fairytale castles, including the iconic and most photographed of the fairy tale castles in Germany; the famous Neuschwanstein castle.

I can’t resist a fairytale castle, so I designed my own German castles road trip to see as many as I could in a short space of time. 

Whether you’re a fairy tale castle fanatic, or just want to experience the best of what southern Germany offers, this article is for you. Let’s go!

The Best Fairytale Castles in Germany Road Trip (7-10 Days) 2024 2
Neuschwanstein Castle; the most famous fairytale castle in Germany

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What you can expect in this article…

The Best Southern Germany Fairytale Castle Road Trip

Not only does this tour include some of the best fairytale castles in Europe, but you’ll get to see loads of other outstanding things. 

Although there is an official ‘castle road’ Germany road trip – it differs a lot from my route. The ‘castle route’ Germany road trip goes from east to west, whereas my route is diagonally south and covers the Bavaria and Rhineland regions.

During this Bavarian road trip, you’ll also visit the beautiful UNESCO World Heritage site Cathedral of Cologne, a GIGANTIC slide hidden deep in the middle of the Black Forrest as well as quaint villages and medieval towns.

If all these things to see in southern Germany aren’t enough to tempt you, then how about sampling the locally produced wine, in the vineyards in the Rhineland? Not that I’m biased, but this is one of the best road trips in Germany.

Fairytale Casltes in Germany – Know Before You Go

This German castles self-drive tour has been planned for a fully packed 7-10 days and covers two regions; Bavaria and the Rhineland. 

Depending on your German itinerary, this route can easily be tweaked to focus solely on a Bavarian Road Trip or just a tour of the Rhineland region. Alternatively, if my guide feels too fast-paced for your style of travel, just pick and choose the bits that apply to your own trip.

This German road trip itinerary is suitable for doing with a car, campervan or motorbike.

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Best Time of Year to Do This Germany Fairytale Castle Road Trip

You can visit Germany all year round. 

However, the peak season for prices and crowds coincides with the longest and warmest days which are July and August. Also during the Easter week (March or April) will see a boom in prices and tourists. Expect tour-group dodging and queues for all of Germany’s top attractions at these times.

To take advantage of the warm weather and fewer crowds, plan your visit during the shoulder season: May to June and September to October.

Winters in Germany are cold but they can be quite special, especially in the lead-up to Christmas with traditional festive markets popping up all over the place. If you’re lucky, you might even see some of the castles covered in snow!

However, during the winter months, driving can be challenging. If you do visit in the winter season, then I recommend checking the opening times of attractions as some of the castles close.

Hiring a Car for Your Fairytale Castle Road Trip

I booked my car in advance to get the best price and flew directly into Cologne. I opted to use a rental company at the airport. 

🚗 For the best deals on car hire, it’s worth checking out RentalCars 🚗

Their platform at RentalCars.com searches across a whole load of different car hire companies, and you can filter the type of motor you want.

Because of the distance travelled, and the amount of time spent driving, make sure you hire something that’s both comfortable and reliable.

Driving in Germany

I found driving in Germany very straightforward, especially when I compared it to the overcrowded, pot-hole-riddled roads in the UK. 

The roads here were well maintained with good signposting and outside of the main cities, and traffic was minimal. 

It’s worth reading up on the German highway code if you’re not familiar with driving in Germany or Europe.

Southern German Castles Roadtrip Map

If you search ‘Castle Route, Germany’ you’ll find lots of variations of this route. However, if you want to replicate the circular road trip I took, then here it is.

In a nutshell, I started in Cologne (Köln in German) and meandered my way down to southern Germany as far as Neuschwanstein Castle. I then completed my circuit by making my way back up, going through the Rhineland.

The Best Fairytale Castles in Germany Road Trip (7-10 Days) 2024 4
Fairytale Castles of Germany Road Trip Map

Fairy Tale Castle Roadtrip Distance

This circular route covers about 1500km. It starts and finishes in the beautiful city of Cologne, passing through beautiful landscapes and nine Bavarian castles. 

Germany is dotted with an abundance of interesting stops as well as a decent road network, so you could even choose the start point anywhere along this route.

Best Castles in Germany Organised Tours

There’s an abundance of pre-organised fairytale castle tours. These are great if you want convenience. 

Here are some of my top choices.

The main reason I didn’t book one of the guided Germany castle tours was that I wasn’t restricted by time, plus I wanted to explore independently.

Best German Castles in Southern Germany Road Trip Itinerary

On your first day arrive in the vibrant and cosmopolitan city of Cologne. 

If you have time, you could explore the city and climb the iconic Cathedral, or leave that until the end of the trip when you return here. 

Today, the focus is on getting organised for your self-drive castle tour. 

To get to these iconic German landmarks, you’ll need a car. Germany is pretty efficient when it comes to car hire, and with an abundance of options located both centrally and at the airport, you will be spoilt for choice. 

🚗 If you’ve not yet booked your car hire in advance, then I recommend RentalCars to find the latest deals.🚗

Their platform at RentalCars.com searches across a whole load of different car hire companies, and you can filter the type of motor you want.

Leave the city of Cologne and head to the first stop on your German castles tour; Mespelbrunn Castle.

Fairytale Castle #1 – Mespelbrunn Castle (Schloss Mespelbrunn)

The first stop on your German castle tour route lives up to its expectations. Hidden and nestled in the gorgeous green woodland hills you’ll find Mespelbrunn Castle, the first fairytale castle of the trip.

Having survived all of Germany’s wars, the castle hasn’t changed much over the centuries.

It has also remained in the same family for over 600 years and is STILL inhabited by them to this day. If you’re lucky you’ll see some of the children running about and playing in the ancient corridors. What an awesome place to grow up!

Fairytale castles of Germany road trip itinerary - The ultimate 7-day southern Germany road trip with MAP & INFO for the south of Germany self-drive tour.
Mespelbrunn Castle, Straight out of a Fairytale! We just need Rapunzel to put in that tower.

What makes Schloss Mespelbrunn one of the most adorable castles in South Germany is the iconic tower. You can almost imagine Rapunzel peeping out from one of the windows that overlook the pond. The tower is also the oldest part of the castle.

You’ll enter the main part of the castle through an arched doorway that leads into a courtyard. 

This part of the castle is slightly newer in style than the tower, but equally as stunning and built in German Renaissance style. Keep a sharp eye out for all the little carvings and features hidden everywhere and one of the most intricate castles to see in Germany.

Fairytale castles of Germany road trip itinerary - The ultimate 7-day southern Germany road trip with MAP & INFO for the south of Germany self-drive tour.
Tower at Mespelbrunn Castle
Fairytale castles of Germany road trip itinerary - The ultimate 7-day southern Germany road trip with MAP & INFO for the south of Germany self-drive tour.
Fountain in the gardens at Mespelbrunn Castle.

Interesting Facts About Mespelbrunn Castle

As with most fairy tale castles, there’s often a story as to how they got their name. In the case of Mespelbrunn Castle, it comes from a water well in the first room you visit; ‘The Knights’ Hall’.

The word Mespelbrunn translates to ‘medlar-tree-well’. In the Middle Ages, spring was the symbol of life. This room is decorated with a carving of a man and woman to represent this.

Tips for Visiting Mespelbrunn Castle

  • The inside of Mespelbrunn Castle is accessible only as part of a guided tour. 
  • At my time of visiting, the tour was only offered in German; the last time I spoke German was during my GCSEs! However, your entry fee also gets you a handy information sheet in English. 
  • It’s ok to take photos inside the castle but you cannot use flash.

Mespelbrunn Castle Address: Schloßhof 2, 63875 Mespelbrunn, Germany

Best Accommodation With Car Parking Near Mespelbrunn Castle

The Best Fairytale Castles in Germany Road Trip (7-10 Days) 2024 5
Best Accommodation With Car Parking Near Mespelbrunn Castle. Book Spessart-Lodge, Weibersbrunn, Germany (Photo: Booking)

Spessart-Lodge is a cosy gem nestled in Weibersbrunn. The hotel offers free parking, speedy WiFi, and even room service. Every room is thoughtfully equipped with a work desk, flat-screen TV, and a private bathroom, complete with fresh linens, towels, and a balcony.

The location is perfect for exploring the local area. Plus, there’s a restaurant on-site, and the breakfast comes highly recommended. As a bonus, it’s also wheelchair and family family-friendly.

Best Accommodation With Car Parking Near Mespelbrunn Castle

Spessart-Lodge, Weibersbrunn

⭐️ RATING: 9/10 | 📍 LOCATION: Weibersbrunn


Fairytale Castle #2 – Neuschwanstein Castle (Schloss Neuschwanstein)

Neuschwanstein Castle is the epoch of fairytale castles. It’s the castle that ALWAYS comes up if you do any web search for ‘beautiful castles’ and always ranks somewhere in the top 10 things to do or see in Germany.

Compared to other castles on this southern Germany road trip, the famous German castle of Neuschwanstein isn’t particularly old. 

This castle, built in a fantasy style, was started in the 19th century – 1869 to be exact – and built for Ludwig II, who became king in 1864 but only two years later had to accept defeat from Prussia.

Fairytale castles of Germany road trip itinerary - The ultimate 7-day southern Germany road trip with MAP & INFO for the south of Germany self-drive tour.
View of Neuschwanstein from Marienbruke

Because Ludwig II was no longer the sovereign ruler of his country (he was demoted to ‘just’ a constitutional monarch), he decided to create his fantasy-like world. Essentially, Neuschwanstein Castle is a bit of a middle finger up to this ruling.

Ludwig II’s solution was to build a castle where he could live like a King of the Middle Ages. The ‘New Castle’ was built over the top of the remains of two much older medieval Castles. 

Neuschwanstein was heavily influenced by the detailing and ornamentation of Wartburg Castle which he had previously visited. Essentially, Neuschwanstein Castle was built to be the ultimate fairytale castle, to satisfy one man’s ego. I can think of a few powerful men today with similar attitudes – not much has changed.

Ludwig II died in 1886 and so never saw the completion of Neuschwanstein Castle. Within about six weeks of the King’s death, the Castle was opened to the public to paying customers and today is one of the most visited castles in southern Germany.

Fairytale castles of Germany road trip itinerary - The ultimate 7-day southern Germany road trip with MAP & INFO for the south of Germany self-drive tour.
Neuschwanstein in the distance, surrounded by countryside.
Fairytale castles of Germany road trip itinerary - The ultimate 7-day southern Germany road trip with MAP & INFO for the south of Germany self-drive tour.
Hohenschwangau will always be overshadowed by her much more famous sister!

A question I’ve often heard is ‘is Neuschwanstein castle overrated?‘ 

Everyone has a different opinion. It was impressive and almost felt like one of the bucket list things in Germany to tick off, but because of the crowds, it didn’t feel as tranquil as quite a few of the other castles I visited on this trip. The excessive crowds and constant bustling took a lot of the magic away.

So, yes, it’s worth visiting because it is stunning, however, don’t expect to have the place to yourself, unless you’re very lucky.

Fairytale castles of Germany road trip itinerary - The ultimate 7-day southern Germany road trip with MAP & INFO for the south of Germany self-drive tour.
Inside the courtyard of Neuschwanstein
Fairytale castles of Germany road trip itinerary - The ultimate 7-day southern Germany road trip with MAP & INFO for the south of Germany self-drive tour.
Castle Road Trip Germany: Neuschwanstein Caslte

Interesting Facts about Neuschwanstein Castle

King Ludwig II originally called this castle ‘New Hohenschwangau Castle’; it was only after he died that it was renamed Neuschwanstein.

It is also said that Walt Disney was inspired by Neuschwanstein Castle and used it as a basis for the castle in his film, Sleeping Beauty. 

It’s certainly evident that the castles share characteristics (it’s also worth looking at the Alcazar in Segovia, Spain to see more similarities, they also claim fame for influencing Disney). I guess they all want a piece of the action, eh?!

Tips for Visiting Neuschwanstein Castle

  • Being one of Germany’s top attractions, it gets busy! (don’t believe me, then type ‘ castles Germany ‘ into Google Search, and this WILL come up. I advise booking tickets in advance and arriving early. Your entry ticket will get you a 35-minute guided tour inside the castle, you can purchase a single ticket for Neuschwanstein, or a combined ticket for Hohenschwangau Castle.
  • It’s free to walk around the grounds of Neuschwanstein, don’t forget to walk out to the Bridge (Marienbrücke) which sits above the Pöllat Gorge, for a fabulous panoramic view of Neuschwanstein.
  • You cannot take photos inside the castle.
  • Car parking can also be a challenge here, so expect to park quite a long distance from the castle. The surrounding area is flat, so if you’re staying somewhere nearby, it’s certainly worth considering walking or cycling here.

Alternative Suggestion

  • Another way to visit would be to extend your Germany road trip by another day and stop over in Munich, which is a great city to spend some time in. Munich is about 100 km from Neuschwanstein. There are several ways to get to Neuschwanstein from Munich.
  • Munich is a great city if you plan on staying in the area for a day or so. From Munich, it’s also worth taking a day trip to the nearby Baroque-styled Nymphenburg Palace. This article explains how to get from Munich to Neuschwanstein.

Neuschwanstein Castle Address: Neuschwansteinstraße 20, 87645 Schwangau, Germany

Best Accommodation With Car Parking Near Neuschwanstein Castle

The Best Fairytale Castles in Germany Road Trip (7-10 Days) 2024 6
Best Accommodation With Car Parking Near Neuschwanstein Castle. Book AMERON Neuschwanstein Alpsee Resort & Spa (Photo: Booking)

AMERON Neuschwanstein Alpsee Resort & Spa is a haven for relaxation nestled in the charming Schwangau, just 1.7 km from Neuschwanstein Castle.

The 4-star resort offers a blend of comfort and convenience with spacious rooms equipped with a desk, flat-screen TV, private bathroom, and coffee machine, free WiFi and private parking. Some rooms also boast a balcony with stunning mountain views. A daily continental breakfast is served. It also features a sauna, fitness centre, and an indoor pool.

Best Accommodation With Car Parking Near Neuschwanstein Castle

AMERON Neuschwanstein Alpsee Resort & Spa

⭐️ RATING: 9/10 | 📍 LOCATION: Schwangau


Fairytale Castle #3 – Hohenschwangau Castle (Schloss Hohenschwangau)

Another German fairy tale castle to tick off your bucket list while you’re visiting the infamous Neuschwanstein Castle is the often-overlooked Hohenschwangau Castle on the opposite side of the valley.

Like with Neuschwanstein, this castle was built on top of the remains of a medieval castle and was the summer residence for Ludwig II’s father, King Maximilian II of Bavaria. If you didn’t read the previous section, Ludwig II is the guy behind Neuschwanstein Castle.

Naturally eclipsed on the castle front, Hohenschwangau is certainly worth a visit to see the immaculate gardens and fountains overlooking the valley. Sculptures adorn this small castle; I was sure that I was being watched! It also provides a great opportunity to get a panoramic shot of Neuschwanstein Castle.

Fairytale castles of Germany road trip itinerary - The ultimate 7-day southern Germany road trip with MAP & INFO for the south of Germany self-drive tour.
Mural of a man packing a Bratwurst in his pants
Fairytale castles of Germany road trip itinerary - The ultimate 7-day southern Germany road trip with MAP & INFO for the south of Germany self-drive tour.
Sculptures adorn this small Castle, I’m sure I was being watched!

Tips for Visiting Hohenschwangau Castle

  • Similarly, to Neuschwanstein, walking around the grounds of Hohenschwangau is free. To go inside for the guided tour you’ll need to buy a ticket. You can purchase a ticket for just Hohenschwangau Castle, or a combined ticket for Neuschwanstein Castle.
  • Book a few days ahead online as tickets sell out at peak times. You can buy them at the ticket booth in the village at the same booth where Neuschwanstein tickets are sold. Expect long queues. 
  • You cannot take photos inside the castle!

Hohenschwangau Castle Address: Alpseestraße 30, 87645 Schwangau, Germany


Fairytale Castle #4 – Lichtenstein Castle (Schloss Lichtenstein)

The next iconic fairytale castle in Germany on your road trip is Lichtenstein Castle perched on a rocky escarpment overlooking the valley below.

Lichtenstein Castle, is actually a fortress, sitting directly above the small town of Honau, looking down on the source of the river Echaz. 

Fairytale castles of Germany road trip itinerary - The ultimate 7-day southern Germany road trip with MAP & INFO for the south of Germany self-drive tour.
Lichtenstein Castle and the valley below

Once inside the stronghold, you’ll find the tower, hanging on an outcrop with sheer drops all around it. What makes this one of the best castles in southern Germany is that the only access to the castle is by drawbridge – don’t look down!

There are two sites to explore at Lichtenstein Castle. At the old site, you will just see ruins and an outline of where a castle once stood, it’s a short walk away from where today’s Lichtenstein castle is and dates from as far back as the 1100s. It was destroyed, twice!

The new Lichtenstein castle was built during the mid-1800s by Duke Wilhelm of Wurttemberg after the castle was purchased as a crumbling ruin in 1837. In 1840 he demolished the crumbling ruins and constructed what we see today as Lichtenstein Castle.

Fairytale castles of Germany road trip itinerary - The ultimate 7-day southern Germany road trip with MAP & INFO for the south of Germany self-drive tour.
Gotta have a hair swish pic in here somewhere, where’s better than at Lichtenstein?
Fairytale castles of Germany road trip itinerary - The ultimate 7-day southern Germany road trip with MAP & INFO for the south of Germany self-drive tour.
A key component to any fairytale castle is a drawbridge – the one at Lichtenstein is pretty outstanding

Interesting Facts About Lichtenstein Castle

Lichtenstein gets its name from ‘Lichter’ meaning bright and ‘Stein’ which translates to stone.

Another interesting nugget of information is if you stand within the main castle grounds you will see four outer towers. Each of the towers is named after the four daughters of Duke Wilheim the big tower across the drawbridge is named after his son.

Tips for Visiting Lichtenstein Castle

  • The tour inside of Lichtenstein Castle is certainly worth it, even if it’s just for the opportunity to walk across the beautiful drawbridge.
  • The tour is in German, however, you are given a leaflet with some information about each of the rooms you visit.
  • You cannot take photos inside the castle.
  • You can walk around the grounds of Lichtenstein Castle for a small fee.

Lichtenstein Castle Address: Schloss Lichtenstein 1, 72805 Lichtenstein, Germany

Best Accommodation With Car Parking Near Lichtenstein Castle

The Best Fairytale Castles in Germany Road Trip (7-10 Days) 2024 7
Best Accommodation With Car Parking Near Lichtenstein Castle. Book Forellenhof Rössle Hotel and Restaurant. (Photo: Booking)

Lichtenstein Castle is right up on a hill, and the best selection of accommodations is in the valley below it. I booked accommodation with a view looking up to the castle. 

The Forellenhof Rössle is a charming retreat offering comfortable accommodations, free WiFi, and a delicious breakfast. The location boasts a variety of amenities such as a spa, a wellness centre, and a restaurant, as well as facilities for disabled guests and free parking.

Best Accommodation With Car Parking Near Lichtenstein Castle

Forellenhof Rossle Hotel & Restaurant

⭐️ RATING: 8.5/10 | 📍 LOCATION: Honau


Fairytale Castle #5 – Hohenzollern Castle (Burg Hohenzollern)

If I had to choose a castle with the most amazing entry, then this fairytale castle would wipe the floor clean with the others. 

What makes Hohenzollern Castle one of the best castles to visit in Germany is that once you are through the main gate, you’ll be greeted with a spiralling, pretzel-like walk to the main courtyard.

The path twists and turns, going under archways, through an undercover section, looping around and around until finally, it arrives at the second gate.

Fairytale castles of Germany road trip itinerary - The ultimate 7-day southern Germany road trip with MAP & INFO for the south of Germany self-drive tour.
Hohenzollern Castle: South Germany Road Trip

The castle itself sits on a peak of the Swabian Alb and looks down on the surrounding countryside. The panoramic views are stunning. Once inside the top gate, you’ll see why Hohenzollern was worthy of fairytale castle status.

The main castle complex is made up of numerous towers and turrets, surrounded by gardens filled with statues as well as typical castle features like cannons and iron gateways. 

Fairytale castles of Germany road trip itinerary - The ultimate 7-day southern Germany road trip with MAP & INFO for the south of Germany self-drive tour.
Cannons and turrets in the courtyard
Fairytale castles of Germany road trip itinerary - The ultimate 7-day southern Germany road trip with MAP & INFO for the south of Germany self-drive tour.
One of the sections of the Zwinger is undercover and looks out onto pretty gardens

Don’t forget to visit the casemates, which were the bomb-proof vaulted cellars. These were used for military purposes and part of this secret passage was opened to the public in 2004. The entrance is in the back corner of the main courtyard and it will lead out into the Gardens surrounding the outer walls of the Castle.

Interesting Facts about Hohenzollern Castle

I learnt my new favourite word – Zwinger – If, like me, you didn’t know what one was, well THIS is a Zwinger (see picture below).

The name of the loop-like formation at the entrance of Hohenzollern Castle is called a Zwinger! The wide-open area between the two walls is for defence purposes and was used to help protect the castle.

Fairytale castles of Germany road trip itinerary - The ultimate 7-day southern Germany road trip with MAP & INFO for the south of Germany self-drive tour.
My favourite new word – Zwinger – If, like me, you didn’t know what one was, well THIS is a Zwinger

Tips for Visiting Hohenzollern Castle

  • The basic entry ticket gives you access to the courtyards, the gardens, a few outer buildings and the casemates. 
  • A guided tour inside the palace is sold as an additional ticket. They run the tour in German and English. 
  • You cannot take photos inside the castle.

Hohenzollern Castle Address: 72379 Burg Hohenzollern, Germany

Best Accommodation With Car Parking Near Hohenzollern Castle

The Best Fairytale Castles in Germany Road Trip (7-10 Days) 2024 8
Best Accommodation With Car Parking Near Hohenzollern Castle. Book Garni Hotel “Unsere Stadtvilla”, Hohenzollern. (Photo: Booking)

Hohenzollern Castle is located right in the middle of the countryside, it’s a scenic drive to get there. Here’s my top pick if you want to stay close to this castle. 

Nestled in the heart of Hechingen, Garni – Hotel “Unsere Stadtvilla” offers a comfortable stay with free WiFi, accompanied by the tranquillity of a charming garden, terrace, and barbecue facilities. An exceptional breakfast is served every morning. There is also free parking.

Best Accommodation With Car Parking Near Hohenzollern Castle

Garni Hotel “Unsere Stadtvilla”, Hohenzollern

⭐️ RATING: 9.4/10 | 📍 LOCATION: Hechingen


The Blackforest – Baumwipfelpfad Schwarzwald in Bad Wildbad

Deviating a little bit from the fairytale castles, Germany has loads of other worthwhile things to see. 

This unpronounceable attraction is on a relatively dull leg of the journey between Hohenzollern and Heidelberg. A short detour and you’ll end up in the Black Forest. Baumwipfelpfad Schwarzwald translates to ‘Treetop Walk Black Forest’, which is exactly what it is.

Fairytale castles of Germany road trip itinerary - The ultimate 7-day southern Germany road trip with MAP & INFO for the south of Germany self-drive tour.
A dizzying walk around in circles, but it does give you a fab view of the surrounding landscape

After so much driving, the Black Forest is a great place to get out of the car and stretch your legs in the tranquil surroundings with the refreshing aroma of the thousands of pine trees. 

You’ll also find Trolls (ok, little piles of rocks everywhere), at some points, you are surrounded by them, these are reminiscent of German Folklore.

Fairytale castles of Germany road trip itinerary - The ultimate 7-day southern Germany road trip with MAP & INFO for the south of Germany self-drive tour.
The impressive structure of the Tree Walk – The smell of the Black Forrest at this level was divine!
Fairytale castles of Germany road trip itinerary - The ultimate 7-day southern Germany road trip with MAP & INFO for the south of Germany self-drive tour.
Surrounded by Trolls – according to German Folklore.

Nestled within the gigantic trees is the tree-top walk. This is an elevated walkway that features lots of fun and interactive things for kids (and adults) including alternative routes where you can scramble over rope ladders and wobbling platforms.

The pièce de résistance is the great big spiral structure, which climbs up to a height of 40m, well above the tree-tops to give a 360 view of the stunning Black Forrest landscape and surrounding regions; the Swabian Alb, Rhine Valley and on a good day it boasts the Swiss Alps!

The inner child in you won’t be able to resist the spiral tunnel slide which runs down the centre of the structure. The slide is 50m meters in length, and on the hessian mat you are given; it picks up quite a bit of speed.

Fairytale castles of Germany road trip itinerary - The ultimate 7-day southern Germany road trip with MAP & INFO for the south of Germany self-drive tour.
A 50m long slide housed inside the spiral structure – THE BEST slide I’ve ever been on

Tips for Visiting the Blackforest Treetop Walk (Baumwipfelpfad Schwarzwald)

  • There are plenty of onsite amenities here including a large car park, bathrooms and restaurants. 
  • If you have longer, plan at least half a day here, before continuing on your Southern Germany castles road trip. I regretted not allowing more time here to explore some of the free walking trails. 

Blackforest Treetop Walk (Baumwipfelpfad Schwarzwald) Address: Peter-Liebig-Weg 16, 75323 Bad Wildbad, Germany

Best Accommodation With Car Parking Near the Blackforest Treetop Walk

The Best Fairytale Castles in Germany Road Trip (7-10 Days) 2024 9
Best Accommodation With Car Parking Near the Blackforest Treetop Walk. Book Brenners Park Hotel & Spa, Bad Wildbad. (Photo: Booking)

Brenners Park-Hotel & Spa – an Oetker Collection Hotel is a 5-star establishment located in the picturesque gardens of Baden-Baden, just a short walk from the renowned Kurhaus Spa Centre. The hotel boasts luxurious amenities, including two swimming pools, a comprehensive spa and wellness centre, and a fitness studio.

Rooms are tastefully decorated with antique furniture and feature modern conveniences such as free WiFi and satellite TV. Exceptional dining experiences are offered at two on-site restaurants, complemented by a robust selection of the house’s vermouths, German gins, and whiskies.

Best Accommodation With Car Parking Near the Blackforest Treetop Walk

Brenners Park-Hotel & Spa, Bad Wildbad

⭐️ RATING: 9.3/10 | 📍 LOCATION: Bad Wildbad


Fairytale Castle #6 – Heidelberg Castle (Schloss Heidelberg)

Probably the second most iconic of the fairy tale castles in Germany, famous castles like the one in Heidelberg cover a huge site. 

Parts of the palace are in ruins, with tumbled-down walls and roofless rooms; keep an eye out for one of the more impressive ruins from the older part of the castle, The Powder Turret, split by an explosion. 

Fairytale castles of Germany road trip itinerary - The ultimate 7-day southern Germany road trip with MAP & INFO for the south of Germany self-drive tour.
The Palace courtyard of Heidelberg

Other parts are still in their full-on grand and elaborate state, despite Heidelberg being listed as a Schloss (Castle) it’s technically a Palace.

Not only is this one of the most popular castles in South Germany, but Heidelberg is also a lively University Town. With the mix of students and the influx of tourists, it can feel hectic at times. 

From the town, look up to see the red sandstone palace set on a hillside, looking down the valley. If you have time, wander around the town and cross over The Old Bridge to see Heidelberg Castle from a different perspective, this is a great place to take a photo from.

Fairytale castles of Germany road trip itinerary - The ultimate 7-day southern Germany road trip with MAP & INFO for the south of Germany self-drive tour.
This ruined part of Heidelberg looks like it belongs in the Middle East somewhere!

The site of Heidelberg Castle is packed full of little ornate details in every nook and cranny. One of the highlights is The Ottheinrich Building, which boasts some of the finest German Renaissance architecture. 

Also worthy of a visit is access to the ‘Palace and German Apothecary Museum’. This little museum houses an extensive collection of all things old and medicine-based – lotions, potions, equipment – it’s all there.

Fairytale castles of Germany road trip itinerary - The ultimate 7-day southern Germany road trip with MAP & INFO for the south of Germany self-drive tour.
The unfortunate Powder Turret
Fairytale castles of Germany road trip itinerary - The ultimate 7-day southern Germany road trip with MAP & INFO for the south of Germany self-drive tour.
Little details are everywhere at Heidelberg, this was one of a lovely pair of knockers!

Tips for Visiting Heidelberg Castle

  • There are a variety of tickets for Heidelberg, it gets busy so book in advance. The basic entry gets you entry to the grounds, and some of the museums plus a return trip on the Funicular Railway down to town.
  • To get inside the palace, you need to go on a guided tour. Tours run in German and English.
  • You cannot take photos inside the castle!

Heidelberg Castle Address: Schlosshof 1, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany

Best Accommodation With Car Parking Near Heidelberg Castle

The Best Fairytale Castles in Germany Road Trip (7-10 Days) 2024 10
Best Accommodation With Car Parking Near Heidelberg Castle. Book Hotel Zur Alten Brucke, Heidelberg. (Photo: Booking)

Experience the perfect blend of convenience and comfort at Hotel Zur Alten Brucke, situated at the heart of Heidelberg. The hotel’s prime location allows guests to easily explore key city attractions such as the town square, the historic old bridge, and the castle railway.

Enjoy the added convenience of on-site parking, and WiFi connectivity in rooms, and indulge in fine dining at our on-site restaurant & bar.

Best Accommodation With Car Parking Near Heidelberg Castle

Hotel Zur Alten Brucke, Heidelberg

⭐️ RATING: 8.5/10 | 📍 LOCATION: Heidelberg


Fairytale Castle #7 – Rheinstein Castle (Burg Rheinstein)

Compared to the majority of Bavarian castles, Rheinstein is tiny. Sat upon a hill overlooking the Rhine Valley, surrounded by vineyards, this pretty little castle has got plenty going for it.

Because it’s small, it also benefits from being a lot quieter than some of the larger and more widely known castles. At my time of visit, I pretty much had the place to myself, it was just me and one other couple.

Fairytale castles of Germany road trip itinerary - The ultimate 7-day southern Germany road trip with MAP & INFO for the south of Germany self-drive tour.
The region is surrounded by vineyards, and this castle grounds were no exception
Fairytale castles of Germany road trip itinerary - The ultimate 7-day southern Germany road trip with MAP & INFO for the south of Germany self-drive tour.
There are so many cute little stained-glass windows here.

What Burg Rheinstein lacks in size, it makes up for with the openness to be able to wander at free will without having to pay extra to go on a guided tour, another downside to the much bigger castles. 

There is plenty of stuff to see here, look out for the cute little stained glass windows next to the inner spiral staircase. Also, if you’re not bothered by heights there is a windy little set of iron stairs leading up to the towers. 

The castle also has a crypt where you can peek through the door at the coffins through the portcullis in the chapel. There really is so much packed into this tiny place.

Fairytale castles of Germany road trip itinerary - The ultimate 7-day southern Germany road trip with MAP & INFO for the south of Germany self-drive tour.
The rickety little iron stairs leading up to the Tower. Slippery, not much to hold onto, and a long way down!

Tips for Visiting Rheinstein Castle

  • Rheinstein is a self-guided castle, there’s just a small fee to enter, but it’s worth every cent.
  • Unlike most of the other castles on this list, you get as snap-happy as you like! Photographing inside is allowed.

Rheinsten Castle Address: Burg Rheinstein, 55413 Trechtingshausen, Germany

Best Accommodation With Car Parking Near Rheinstein Castle

The Best Fairytale Castles in Germany Road Trip (7-10 Days) 2024 11
Best Accommodation With Car Parking Near Rheinstein Castle. Book Akzent Hotel Berg’s Alte Bauernschanke – Wellness und Wein. (Photo: Booking)

Located in the beautiful Rhine region, the Akzent Hotel Berg’s Alte Bauernschanke offers a delightful combination of wellness and wine. Its prime location near the Rheinstein castle, serene river, and sun-drenched vineyards creates an enchanting atmosphere that is hard to resist.

Indulge in the rejuvenating spa facilities onsite amidst the region’s serene beauty. The hotel also offers convenient onsite parking and WiFi in every room.

Best Accommodation With Car Parking Near Rheinstein Castle

Akzent Hotel Berg’s Alte Bauernschanke – Wellness und Wein

⭐️ RATING: 8.1/10 | 📍 LOCATION: Rüdesheim am Rhein


Fairytale Castle #8 – Eltz Castle (Burg Eltz)

In my opinion, one of the most beautiful castles in Germany, Burg Eltz was my favourite castle during my southern Germany road trip and unarguably the ULTIMATE fairytale castle and honestly looks like a movie set it’s so beautiful.

Berg Eltz differs a little compared to the other castles on this German fairytale castle’s road trip. For starters, it’s situated down in the middle of a valley, so no uphill slog to get here. The castle itself is perched on a steep rock surrounded by stunning woodland and next to a river; the River Eltz.

Fairytale castles of Germany road trip itinerary - The ultimate 7-day southern Germany road trip with MAP & INFO for the south of Germany self-drive tour.
It’s easy to see why this was the ULTIMATE Fairytale Castle

The 850-year-old castle has never been destroyed by war, and has been in the same family for 33 generations! Because of its peaceful history, the architecture of Eltz castle spans numerous centuries, which you can see clearly in the different architectural styles.

From the car park, there are two routes down the valley to see the castle. 

My suggestion is to walk down the road that the minibus takes, it’s not as scenic as the forest walk, but it will give you the opportunity for a stunning hillside view of the most beautiful fairy tale castle in Germany in its surroundings. This is also the steeper route, so you probably wouldn’t want to walk up this route anyway.

On the way back, take the footpath through the forest, it’s a much more gradual incline and through the shade of the trees. From here you get the chance to photograph the most quintessential fairytale castle in Germany framed by the woodlands.

Fairytale castles of Germany road trip itinerary - The ultimate 7-day southern Germany road trip with MAP & INFO for the south of Germany self-drive tour.
Over 800 years of architecture all in one awesome little castle – I LOVED Castle Eltz.
Fairytale castles of Germany road trip itinerary - The ultimate 7-day southern Germany road trip with MAP & INFO for the south of Germany self-drive tour.
Eltz Castle is taken straight from a movie set.

Tips for Visiting Eltz Castle

  • It’s free to wander around the grounds, but I 100% recommend going for the tour inside Eltz Castle. The 45-minute tours alternate between English and German, and the very knowledgeable guide gives you tons of information about the castle and all of its quirks. 
  • You cannot take photos inside. Your tour ticket also gives you access to the Armoury and Treasury which contains all things bling!

Eltz Castle Address: Burg Eltz, 56294 Wierschem, Germany

Best Accommodation With Car Parking Near Eltz Castle

Burg Eltz is located a little way from a major town in a wooded area and valleys. I recommend staying near Cochem (that is the next castle on this road trip itinerary). A great option is Pension Moselvilla 1900.


Fairytale Castle #9 – Cochem Castle (Reichsburg Cochem)

The postcard-perfect colourful houses dotted along the riverbank are a photographer’s dream. Just look at it. With Cochem Castle perched on top of a hill looking down on vineyards and the quaint little town, you’ll quickly understand why Reichsburg was on my German fairytale castle route.

Start in the town, from here, take the bridge across the river to photograph the colourful buildings with the Castle in the background before crossing back over and beginning the steep up the hill and past the vineyards.

Fairytale castles of Germany road trip itinerary - The ultimate 7-day southern Germany road trip with MAP & INFO for the south of Germany self-drive tour.
Cochem castle above the colourful houses of the town

Cochem Castle was first documented in 1051, it was then destroyed in 1689 and left in ruins. 

It remained that way until 1868 when it was bought by a wealthy businessman who reconstructed the castle in the Gothic Revival style capturing the perfect fairytale castle (Bavaria, as you’ve seen has an abundance of movie-set-looking castles, and this is another one).

The lovingly restored castle is still undergoing restorations, it’s a never-ending task. During my time of visit, I had the pleasure of watching the skilled craftsmen repainting some of the murals.

The eye-dazzling colourful courtyard of Cochem Castle with its well-manicured gardens is the perfect setting for such a lavish castle, where no attention to detail has been spared.

Fairytale castles of Germany road trip itinerary - The ultimate 7-day southern Germany road trip with MAP & INFO for the south of Germany self-drive tour.
My knight in shining armour, perhaps?
Fairytale castles of Germany road trip itinerary - The ultimate 7-day southern Germany road trip with MAP & INFO for the south of Germany self-drive tour.
The eye-dazzling colourful courtyard of Cochem Castle

Tips for Visiting Cochem Castle

  • Your entrance ticket to the Reichsburg Cochem includes the 40-minute guided tour inside the castle with tours alternating between German and English.
  • You are allowed to take photos inside the Castle as long as there is no flash or use of a tripod!

Cochem Castle Address: Schlossstraße 36, 56812 Cochem, Germany

Best Accommodation With Car Parking Near Cochem Castle

The Best Fairytale Castles in Germany Road Trip (7-10 Days) 2024 12
Best Accommodation With Car Parking Near Cochem Castle. Book Pension Moselvilla 1900, Cochem. (Photo: Booking)

Pension Moselvilla 1900 is a renovated guesthouse in Cochem, providing amenities such as a sun terrace, free WiFi, private parking, and facilities for disabled guests. The rooms are fitted with comfortable conveniences like a seating area, flat-screen TV, and a private bathroom; they are also soundproof and include bed linen and towels.

The property offers a breakfast with fresh pastries, fruits, and juice, provides packed lunches for excursions, and is located near outdoor activities such as cycling and hiking.

Best Accommodation With Car Parking Near Cochem Castle

Pension Moselvilla 1900, Cochem

⭐️ RATING: 9.1/10 | 📍 LOCATION: Cochem


City of Cologne – Cologne Cathedral (Kölner Dom)

As your German fairytale castle road trip comes to an end, you’ll head back to where you started, in the city of Cologne. 

As you’re wandering around the city it’s nearly impossible to miss the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Cologne Cathedral – in fact, arriving in the centre, it will probably be the first thing you see. If it’s not, then you need to take your eyes off your phone and look up! It’s massive!

Fairytale castles of Germany road trip itinerary - The ultimate 7-day southern Germany road trip with MAP & INFO for the south of Germany self-drive tour.
UNESCO Heritage Listed Site: facade of Cologne Cathedral
Fairytale castles of Germany road trip itinerary - The ultimate 7-day southern Germany road trip with MAP & INFO for the south of Germany self-drive tour.
Padlocks, locked to padlocks – There are thousands of them attached to the Hohenzollern Bridge

You can see the gargantuan cathedral from nearly every point in the city, so it’s a useful landmark to orientate yourself with. During the Second World War, the Cathedral was badly damaged. However, the two towers survived, supposedly to be used as a reference point by the opposition.

If you have a head for heights, then take the opportunity to climb the dizzying 533 steps of the spiral staircase up the South Tower. Not only is it a great workout for the legs but for your efforts, you’ll be rewarded with an impressive view across the city.

Cologne Cathedral Address: Domkloster 4, 50667 Köln, Germany

Interesting Fact about Cologne Cathedral

The Cathedral’s gigantic pair of towers aren’t quite the same. The North Tower is 7 cm higher than the South Tower. Not that most people would notice anyway.

Other Great Viewpoints in Cologne

There are other great vantage points to photograph the iconic Cathedral. The first is from The Hohenzollern Bridge (the one with the iron arches) that crosses the river from the Train Station. 

Don’t forget to check out the thousands of padlocks on the bridge which have been left by lovers over the years.

The second viewpoint is from KölnTriangle, a shiny faceted, modern glass building with a viewing platform at the top. You have the option to take the stairs or the elevator for a small fee. 

Whether you walk it or take the lazy option, the views are spectacular. They have even put silhouette stickers on the glass wall around the platform to explain what each of the buildings is.

Fairytale castles of Germany road trip itinerary - The ultimate 7-day southern Germany road trip with MAP & INFO for the south of Germany self-drive tour.
The impressive view from the tower, with the silhouette guides
Fairytale castles of Germany road trip itinerary - The ultimate 7-day southern Germany road trip with MAP & INFO for the south of Germany self-drive tour.
KölnTriangle, its impressive and super shiny facade

Fairy Tale Castle in Germany Road Trip – FAQs

To help you plan your fairytale castles in Germany trip, here are some helpful tips and answers to common questions that you might have.

How Many Castles Are in Germany?

Germany is home to an impressive number of castles; there are over 20,000 castles and castle ruins. Among them are several enchanting fairy-tale castles that attract visitors from around the world. 

What Are the Most Famous Fairytale Casltes in Germany?

Some of the most famous fairytale castles in Germany include Neuschwanstein Castle, known for its picturesque beauty and inspiration for Disney’s Cinderella Castle, Heidelberg Castle, with its stunning Gothic and Renaissance architecture, and Burg Eltz, a well-preserved medieval castle nestled in a serene forest setting.

Which Is the German Castle Whose Name Means Bright Stone?

The German castle whose name means “Bright Stone” is Lichtenstein Castle.  It sits on top of a cliff in the beautiful Swabian Alps. It gets its name from the light-coloured stone it’s constructed with.

When Is the Best Time to Visit Germany?

The best time to visit Germany is during the late spring to early autumn months, from May to September. During this time of year, the weather is pleasant and you’ll avoid the peak summer crowds. 

How Do I Hire a Car for My Germany Road Trip?

To find the best deal on a rental car, check online through a site like this. To get the best prices, book as far in advance as possible. This will also guarantee the type of car you want. When you collect the car don’t forget your driver’s license and credit card. Read the Ts&Cs carefully before you get the keys.

🚗 If you’ve not yet booked your car hire in advance, then I recommend RentalCars to find the latest deals.🚗

Their platform at RentalCars.com searches across a whole load of different car hire companies, and you can filter the type of motor you want.

What Is Driving in Germany Like?

Driving in Germany is generally a pleasant experience. This country has well-maintained roads, efficient traffic management, and clear signage. Make sure you follow traffic rules to avoid any penalties or fines.

What Are the Best Castle Tours in Germany?

Here are my top suggestions for the best castle tours of Germany:

Where Can I Find a Southern Germany Road Trip Map?

You can view my castles in Germany map here

Thinking of Doing This Southern German Fairytale Castle Road Trip?

So, was this Bavarian road trip itinerary around South Germany worth the 1400km drive and the crazy schedule? Absolutely yes! 

If you love fairy tales, history, and stunning scenery, you won’t regret following this German fairytale castle itinerary. You’ll see some of the most beautiful and enchanting castles in Germany. 

Looking for more things to do on your Germany itinerary? read more inspirational articles here…

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