Experience the Magic of Fairytale Castles in Germany with this 7-10 Day Bavaria Road Trip

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 is the perfect setting to find some of the most beautiful fairytale castles in Germany.

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

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.

Experience the Magic of Fairytale Castles in Germany with this 7-10 Day Bavaria Road Trip 1
Neuschwanstein Castle; the most famous fariytale castle in Germany

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Southern Germany Road Trip Itinerary – How to use this guide

Although you could book onto one of the many Germany castle tours on offer (click here to jump to this section), it’s never going to be quite the same as doing it independently. There is a FAQ section at the bottom of this article that mentions things like car hire, driving in Germany and most importantly a map ready for you to use.

Good to know: AutoEurope offer affordable prices via their comparison website.

This German castles self-drive tour has been planned for a full packed 7-10 days and covers two regions; Bavaria and the Rhineland. Depending on your German itinerary, it can easily be tweaked to just focus on a Bavarian Road Trip or just a tour of the Rhineland region. Alternatively, if this feels too fast-paced for your style of travel, skim through this guide and 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. In total, this circular route covers about 1500km starting and finishing 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.

Don’t forget your travel insurance.

If you’re planning a road trip to Germany don’t forget to book your travel insurance.

Two great companies that specilise in adventure travel are True Traveller and World Nomads. Take a look at both for a competitive quote.

Fairytale Castles in Germany – At a Glance

No time to read the whole article, but curious about which Fairytale Castles in Germany this guide covers? Then here’s a brief summary of what’s included. You can also download a quick reference guide here.

What you can expect in this article...

It’s time to go and grab a brew and get into the nitty-gritty of this fairytale castles road trip of Germany.

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Fairytale Castle Road Trip Starting Location - Cologne

On your first day arrive in the vibrant and cosmopolitan city of Cologne. If you have ample time here, you could explore the city and climb the iconic Cathedral, however, I’ve left these things until the end of the trip (if you want to do the Cathedral now, then click here to jump to the section).

Today, the focus is on getting organised for your self-drive castle tour. 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 AutoEurope car hire to find the latest deals.

Leave the city 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!

What makes Schloss Mespelbrunn 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.
Mespelbrunn Castle, Straight out of a Fairytale! We just need Rapunzel to put in that tower.
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

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, a spring was the symbol of life. This room is decorated with a carving of a man and woman to represent this.

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.

Visiting Mespelbrunn Castle

The inside of Mespelbrunn castle is accessible only as part of a guided tour. The tour is 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

Visit the website by clicking here.

Accommodation with car parking near Mespelbrunn Castle

Spessart-Lodge, Weibersbrunn

‘Conveniently situated in the Weibersbrunn part of Weibersbrunn, this property puts you close to attractions and interesting dining options.’

Includes onsite parking facilities, WiFi in rooms and breakfast.

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.

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.

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

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 visitors and today is one of the most visited castles in southern Germany.

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.
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.
Inside the courtyard of Neuschwanstein

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 to influencing Disney). I guess they all want a piece of the action, eh?!

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!
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

Visiting Neuschwanstein Castle

Being one of Germany’s top attractions, it gets busy! (don’t believe me, then type ‘ castles Germany ‘ into Google Seach, and this WILL come up. Book tickets in advance and arrive early. 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.

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. You cannot take photos inside the castles. Entrance tickets can be bought from the ticket booth in the village, although expect long queues.

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.

Neuschwanstein Castle Address: Neuschwansteinstraße 20, 87645 Schwangau, Germany

Visit the website by clicking here.

Accommodation with car parking near Neuschwanstein Castle

Useful to know: If you’re staying in the area for a day or so, then it’s also worth taking a day trip to Munich and the nearby Baroque styled Nymphenburg Palace. This article explains how to get from Munich to Neuschwanstein.

Hotel Alpenstuben, Schwangau

‘Conveniently situated in the Hohenschwangau part of Schwangau, this property puts you close to attractions and interesting dining options’

Includes onsite parking facilities, WiFi in rooms and balcony views and breakfast.

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!

Visiting Hohenschwangau Castle

Similarly, to Neuschwanstein, to walk 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 as Neuschwanstein tickets are sold. Expect long queues. You cannot take photos inside the castle!

Hohenschwangau Castle Address: Alpseestraße 30, 87645 Schwangau, Germany

Visit the website by clicking here.

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. 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.
Lichtenstein Castle and the valley below

Interesting Facts about Lichtenstein Castle

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

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.

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

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 (it was just over 3 Euro at time of writing).

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

Visit the website by clicking here.

Accommodation with car parking near Lichtenstein Castle

Forellenhof Rossle Hotel & Restaurant

‘Conveniently situated in the town of Honau, just a short drive to Lichtenstein Castle, this property puts you close to main attractions’

Includes onsite parking facilities, WiFi in rooms and sauna & spa facilities and breakfast.

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 this 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.
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.
Hohenzollern Castle: South Germany Road Trip

The castle itself is sat 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. 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.

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
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 love a Rapunzel Tower - quintessential for a fairytale 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

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

Visit the website by clicking here.

Accommodation with car parking near Hohenzollern Castle

Garni Hotel “Unsere Stadtvilla”, Hohenzollern

‘Conveniently situated in the town of Honau, just a short drive to Lichtenstein Castle, this property puts you close to main attractions’

Includes onsite parking facilities, WiFi in rooms and breakfast.

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.

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. 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 dizzying walk round in circles, but it does give you a fab view of the surrounding landscape
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

Visiting The Blackforest Treetop Walk (Baumwipfelpfad Schwarzwald)

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

Visit the website by clicking here.

Accommodation with car parking near The Blackforest Treetop Walk

Brenners Park-Hotel & Spa, Bad Wildbad

‘A 5-star property packed with in-house facilities. Conveniently situated in the Baden-Baden City Center part of Baden-Baden, near to Bad Wildbad. This spa-hotel puts you close to attractions and features interesting dining options.’

Includes onsite parking facilities, WiFi in rooms and swimming pool and bicycle hire.

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 covers 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. 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.

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.
Palace courtyard of Heidelberg
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 famous Ottheinrich Building covered in statues

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 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. Some of the highlights are 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!

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

Visit the website by clicking here.

Accommodation with car parking near Heidelberg Castle

Hotel Zur Alten Brucke, Heidelberg

‘Located in the town centre in close proximity to major attractions including the town square, old bridge and railyway to the castle’

Includes onsite parking facilities, WiFi in rooms and onsite restaurants & bar.

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 its own 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!

Visiting Rheinstein Castle

Rheinstein is a self-guided castle, so the entry is a bargain at 6 Euros. It’s certainly worth the money. You can also get trigger happy here as photographing inside is allowed.

Rheinsten Castle Address: Burg Rheinstein, 55413 Trechtingshausen, Germany

Visit the website by clicking here.

Accommodation with car parking near Rheinstein Castle

Akzent Hotel Berg’s Alte Bauernschanke – Wellness und Wein

‘Located close on Rheinstein castle, near to the river and vinyards. Guests can make use of the onsite spa facilities.’

Includes onsite parking facilities, WiFi in rooms and onsite sauna & spa.

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 castles 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.

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 across numerous centuries, which you can see clearly in the different architectural styles.

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

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 photo 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, taken straight from a movie set.

Visiting Eltz Castle

It’s free to wander around the grounds, but I 100% recommend going for the tour inside of Eltz Castle. The 45minute 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

Visit the website by clicking here.

Accommodation with car parking near Eltz Castle

Hotel Zur Alten Brucke, Heidelberg

‘Experience a perfect hotel stay here in a traditional German guesthouse.  Conveniently located in the Karden part of Treis-Karden, this property puts you close to Berg Eltz and interesting dining options.’

Includes onsite parking facilities, WiFi in rooms and onsite restaurants & bar.

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 begin 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. At 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

Visiting Cochem Castle

Your entrance ticket to the Reichsburg Cochem includes the 40 minutes 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

Visit the website by clicking here.

Accommodation with car parking near Cochem Castle

Pension Moselvilla 1900, Cochem

‘Conveniently situated in the Cochem City Center part of Cochem, this property puts you close to attractions and interesting dining options.’

Includes onsite parking facilities, WiFi in rooms and breakfast.

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!

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.

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.

Visiting Cologne Cathedral

Cologne Cathedral Address: Domkloster 4, 50667 Köln, Germany

Visit the website by clicking here.

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

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.

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 attatched to Hohenzollern Bridge

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 are.

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 Sillhouette 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

Fairytale Castles in Germany Road Trip - FAQ

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When is the best time to visit Germany?

You can visit Germany all year round. The peak season for prices and crowds coincide with the longest and warmest days which are July and August. The week of Easter in April can also 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, then if possible 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. It’s worth checking the opening times of attractions during this season, as some of the castles close during the winter months.

Like with all of Europe, it can rain at any time of the year and even in summer, evenings can get chilly. Be sure to pack something waterproof, as well as have a lightweight jumper or jacket for cooler evenings.

How do I hire a car for my Germany Road Trip?

If you’ve not arrived in Germany with your own set of wheels, then you’re going to need to hire some. I flew direct into Cologne and hired a car when I arrived which was very easy because you can collect it straight from the airport.

For the best deals, it’s worth checking out AutoEurope car hire. They cater for both car and campervan hire and have a great choice of vehicles at the best prices because their platform 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.

Good to know: AutoEurope offer affordable prices via their comparison website.

What is driving in Germany like?

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, traffic was minimal. It’s worth reading up on the highway code if you’re not familiar with driving in Germany or Europe. You can find it here.

I don’t want to self-drive, what castle tours in Germany are available?

Pre-organised fairytale castle tours are abundant if you either don’t want to or aren’t able to drive yourself. Here are some of my top choices.

Sometimes it’s easier to let someone else do the driving and arrangements for you.

Southern Germany Road Trip Map

If you search ‘Castle Route, Germany’ you’ll find lots of variations this route. However, if you want to replicate the circular road trip I took, then you can find it here, or click on the screenshot below to get it.

In a nutshell, I started in the city of 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.

South Germany castle road trip: Final Thoughts

So, was this Bavarian road trip worth the 1400km drive and the crazy schedule?
Hell yeah! This is a pretty epic road trip in Germany! and I will certainly be back to this region and hopefully other parts of Europe to try and discover more magical fairytale castles like these. Which was your fairytale castle in Bavaria? If you’re a fan of fairytale castles, Germany won’t disappoint you.

You might want to check out some of the best road trips in Europe or other amazing castles around the world.

Or if you’re sticking in Germany for a bit longer, then plan to visit some of these other beautiful German cities and fairytale towns.

Save it for later

If you enjoyed this article, or know someone that will, then please like and share. Or if you’re planning a trip to Germany to see fairytale castles, then why not pin it for future reference.

If you’re thinking of doing a southern Germany road trip, and there’s a question I didn’t answer, then drop me a message below.

Experience the Magic of Fairytale Castles in Germany with this 7-10 Day Bavaria Road Trip 15

Experience the Magic of Fairytale Castles in Germany with this 7-10 Day Bavaria Road Trip 16
Experience the Magic of Fairytale Castles in Germany with this 7-10 Day Bavaria Road Trip 17

Becki from Meet Me In Departures

Adventure travel blogger with a big addiction to the World. An ex-rat-racer who was fed up with sleep-work-eat-repeat materialistic mentality that plagues modern living. I love anything to do with off-beat travel, abandoned places, temples & ruins, street art, wildlife in its natural habitat, adventure sport.....basically anything but the 9-5!

This Post Has 9 Comments

  1. This is a fascinating post – I had no idea there were so many fabulous castles in Germany! Obviously I’ve heard of Neuschwanstein but it’s really exciting to see you can make a road trip of it and see even more. My husband is a complete castle nerd so I’ll be sharing this with him and planning our trip very soon ? The Reichsburg Cochem castle reminds me so much of Duloc in Shrek if you’ve ever seen it – I’d love to go there!

    1. Thank you 🙂 Germany is littered with castles. I had no idea either that there were so many. But while I was driving i could see so many perched on hills in the surrounding areas. Your hubby would love this trip! I’ll look into the castle you suggested, thanks for the tip off.

  2. WOW! I never knew there were so many castles in Germany! I absolutely adore castles – the history and stories behind the castles are fascinating, and they are so intricate, enchanting and intriguing. Thank you for putting together a comprehensive list in this post – must check them out when I’m in Germany next!

    1. I know, youre totally right. There is so much history, stories and legends around all of them. 🙂

  3. Wow, these castles are so beautiful and your photography is really excellent. This is such a good idea for a trip!

    1. Awww thank you Corinne, I’m glad you like the pictures, though nothing beats seeing them in real life. It’s an awesome trip, you’d love it!

      1. It’s definitely on my list now!

  4. Loved this read! This makes me want to go back to Germany so bad. If those walls could talk! And your last point really resonated with me and that’s what I probably love most about travel: you get so pumped to visit a place and it turns out to be a bit of a disappointment, but you’re not sad because you’ve found so many unexpected surprises along the way that made the trip better than you imagined.

  5. OH, this was a wonderful journey! I love castles and would love to take a month or so to see more. You covered quite a few on this trip. Thanks for sharing all your tips.

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