If Germany is not already on your bucket list, it certainly should be. I was lucky enough to visit shortly before the Covid-19 pandemic closed borders around the world, and what I learned on that trip inspired me to write this post. I made a lot of good calls, and a few mistakes, in planning my own itinerary. This post should help you make all of the good calls, with none of my mistakes, during your 10 days in Germany!
It’s difficult not to feel rushed with (relatively) little time in a massive, richly fascinating country like Germany. In this one week Germany itinerary, we’ll try to strike a balance between seeing as much as possible without being too rushed to appreciate it.
I’ve included a few cities to use as home bases, as well as activities in and day trips from those cities. You won’t be able to do every single day trip listed here—nor would you want to! Rather, the idea is for you to pick which activities interest you the most, and craft your perfect Germany bucket list dream trip.
Table of contents
- Munich (4 Days)
- Rothenburg ob der Tauber (1 Day)
- Nuremberg (2 Days)
- Berlin (3 Days)
Munich (4 Days)
Munich is the third biggest city in Germany and the capital of Bavaria. Bavaria is the southeast region of Germany known for fairytale Baroque architecture and massive steins of Oktoberfest beer. You might be drawn to Germany because of Bavarian culture and imagery (confession: I totally was)!
Munich is a great place to start your 10 days in Germany because it’s a bit like Bavaria meets big city. It has a bit of the cool metropolis vibe of Berlin, with plenty of quintessential Bavarian charm to be found.
Four days, even with a day trip or two outside of the city, is the minimum you should spend in Munich. I spent a bit less and really wish I’d had more time to simply wander around the city and soak up its vibe.
Things to do in Munich
Like any big city, it’s basically impossible to make an exhaustive list of things to do in Munich. You could live here your whole life and still discover new experiences around unexpected corners. That said, here are my favorite things to do in Munich. You could see everything that interests you, and still do at least one of the awesome day trips listed.
Remember, leave plenty of time to meander around the city. I love to leave my mornings or evenings completely free every once in a while when traveling, because you get to know a place most intimately when you walk around—and even get a little lost!—its streets with an open mind.
Alstadt (Old Town) and Marienplatz
Alstadt is German for Old Town. Pretty much every city in Germany has an Old Town area—they have the best-preserved and most romantically European architecture. As such, they’re usually the most tourist-y areas in a city. You should absolutely, unequivocally explore Old Towns to your heart’s content, but check out restaurants and lodging just outside these areas for more authenticity (i.e. less geared towards tourists) and affordability.
Platz is German for square. Think of Marienplatz as the main square in Munich’s Old Town—that’s what it is! (German vocab lesson, check). Marienplatz is gorgeous, flanked by Munich’s New and Old City Halls. This open area has been used for markets since 1158, which as an American blows my goddamn mind on principle. Medieval folks held tournaments here, too.
Pro-tip: Climb to the top of St Peter’s Church tower for what many say is the best view in Munich. It’s the one in my picture above!
Hofbräuhaus Beer Hall
Built almost 500 years ago, Hofbräuhaus Munich is arguably the world’s most famous tavern. Growing up in a beer family, I have known the name Hofbräuhaus for as long as I could talk pretty much and couldn’t wait to experience the original.
Is it touristy? Yup. Do I care? NOPE. I adored Hofbräuhaus for exactly what it was: a noisy, bustling, musical, crowded German beer hall just outside Marienplatz. If you are a beer lover, it belongs on your bucket list.
I wouldn’t eat here or even necessarily spend more than an hour, but it’s simply too classic to pass up. Get yourself a toddler-sized stein of German beer and take in the delightful energy and traditional live music. And yes, the musicians are in fully Bavarian costumes.
Viktualienmarkt is a food market just outside Marienplatz. King Maximilian I decreed Marienplatz too small for Munich’s growing market, and created in 1807 Viktualienmarkt. Over the years, this area has grown even more to accommodate the city’s needs and it’s an awesome, busting market to this day. If you want to try local tasty foods and snacks during your 10 days in Germany, this is the best place for them.
Though parts of it burned down in WWII, the city of Munich revived it and now it’s so much more than a farmer’s market! Local delicacies, flowers, wines, and meats are just a few of the things you can buy here. Even if you don’t buy anything, it’s so much fun to window shop and poke around the many, many stalls. Honestly, you could buy every meal here and be happy.
The English Garden is sort of like Munich’s Central Park. Just north of Old Town, it’s lovely and walkable. It’s always nice to spend some time in green spaces, no matter the city, and Munich’s has a wonderful green space in the English Garden.
There are lots of activities within the English Garden, like biergartens, ponds, a famous Chinese tower, and an amphitheater with live art performances. You’ll be walking a lot (unless you choose to rent a bike or take some sort of segway tour) so just keep that in mind. The trees and river will be plenty energizing, though!
One main attraction inside the English Garden is the Chinese Tower. Yeah, it’s a Chinese Tower inside an English Garden in a Bavarian capital. Just go with it.
The most touristy meal I recommend you experience in Munich is at the biergarten near the Chinese Tower. It’s a little pricey because of the location and popularity, but locals have told me they actually really like the food here! I certainly did, but I enjoyed exactly every single meal I had in Germany so take my palate with a grain of salt. I’m like reverse Gordon Ramsay—I will love every meal I eat* and I will gush about it.
*In Germany, at least.
Residenz Royal Palace
The Residenz complex contains ten courtyards (!) and 130 rooms (!!!) making it the largest palace in Germany. Here you can walk the same halls as generations of Bavarian royalty. If royal palace or European history attractions interest you at all, you can’t miss this one.
Besides the impressive courtyards, some highlights of the Residenz include: ridiculously stunning Baroque museum rooms complete with lavishly decorated hallways and artwork and the treasury with royal jewels and regalia.
You can find updated entrance fee info here—it’s surprisingly budget-backpacker-friendly.
Are you into cars? If so, this place is definitely your jam. It’s a whole museum dedicated to BMW. I am not super into cars, but I will say the museum’s architecture is extremely rad, modern, and shiny. That alone makes it worth the visit, so I can imagine any sort of car buff will find it extra awesome.
If you want to do any of the activities in this post through an official tour—which I like to do when I’m short on time and planning—I’ve included some suggestions. Like the tours linked above, these will be through Get Your Guide, a streamlined, user-friendly tour booking company founded by a group of travel-loving friends. You can read more about Get Your Guide here (or through any of the tours on this page).
Day Trips from Munich
Neuschwanstein is arguably the most famous castle… in the world. You may recognize the iconic images without even realizing it’s in Germany (at least, I didn’t). It’s a really easy day trip from Munich, and something of a bucket list item.
You can find update admissions information, including covid restricts and entrance fees, here. Also check out the day trip through an organized tour company I’ve linked at the bottom of this section.
I know, I know! This is not in Germany. But it’s a doable (if long) day trip from Munich so if you want to sneak another country into your Germany trip, it’s worth considering. The train ride (about two hours each way from the central Munich station) past mountains and picturesque farms is gorgeous and Salzburg has a perfect amount to fill a day.
It’s actually pretty easy to organize this day trip yourself, if you are so inclined. Just go to the Munich central train station and buy a roundtrip ticket to Salzburg. You can then easily find the Salzburg Fortress and Old Town area once there, which makes for a pleasant day in this pretty mountain city.
Dachau Concentration Camp
Dachau was the first Nazi concentration camp. It’s obviously going to be a sobering, heavy day trip, but also very important to see firsthand. Every concentration camp museum and memorial in Europe has its horrors, but Dachau is particularly devastating as it was the “model” for all that came after.
The audio guide is excellent and Dachau is well worth a day trip. It’s even doable in half a day—it is about 20 minutes from central Munich by train. If you are spending 10 days in Germany, it is important to witness this part of German history firsthand.
Rothenburg ob der Tauber (1 Day)
A lot of people will tell you to see Rothenburg ODT as a day trip from Nuremberg or even Munich, but I actually recommend spending the night here. The reasons for this are twofold: 1) you cannot miss the Night Watchman walking tour, and 2) it’s the best way to avoid hordes of tourists!
First let’s discuss reason #1. Besides Das Plonlein, Rothernburg ODT boasts the best historical city walking tour I’ve ever experienced. In fact, I devoted an entire blog post to its famous Night Watchman tour!
As for the second reason you should sleep here for a night is because, well, Rothenburg ob der Tauber is… well-known. As such, busses upon busses of people flood this little town every day. I enjoyed the city most during the mornings and evenings for this exact reason. What better way to avoid the day tripper crowds, than to avoid being a day tripper?
Plus, the train journey requires a couple transfers which just rubs me the wrong way for a day trip. That might be just me not growing up taking public transportation.
Things to do in Rothenburg ob der Tauber
The picture at the top of this section is of Plönein square. Besides Neuschwanstein outside of Munich, Plönein is perhaps one of the most iconically German/Bavarian images. I recognized it when planning this trip, and knew I wanted to see it in person.
Plönein isn’t an “activity” so much as it is a really cute bucket list item, to be honest. I mean, you see the square, you take a picture, you leave. More or less.
Just be sure to go here in the morning or evening. Honestly, don’t even bother in the middle of a Saturday or something. It’s going to be packed with tourists. I know photo editing apps allow you to remove people these days, but there will be too many people for even that (also, I’ve never really figured out how to use those things)…
The Rothenburg ob der Tauber Night Watchman City Walking Tour
Whether a walking Night Watchman Tour does or doesn’t sound like your “thing”, believe me, it will be your thing. You’ll learn about the fascinating history of Rothenburg beyond it being just another cute Bavarian tour. I felt a heightened appreciation for the town and its culture I simply would never have any idea of if not for this tour.
Plus, the actor is perfect. In fact, the word “actor” does not feel generous enough—I should really say storyteller. He treads the line between theatrical and realistic so subtly, everyone was entranced. The stories are action-packed and sometimes silly, but always colorful and excellently told. I went on the latest tour so it was nighttime by the time it ended, which I recommend because the city is quieting down for the day and it makes for a calm yet stimulating evening.
Christmas Store Käthe Wohlfahrt
Germany is kind of super into Christmas. Actually, the enthusiasm around Christmas is exactly why I want my next trip to be in December, to experience the Christmas markets and festivities during the season itself! No matter when you go, though, you must check out Käthe Wohlfahrt. It has room after room of delightful decorations.
Burggarten Castle Gardens and Park
The Burggarten park area on the western edge of old Rothenburg was once castle gardens. Now, it’s a beautiful little green space with views of the surrounding valley.
This is my favorite place for a little stroll or picnic, and is particularly gorgeous and peaceful at sunset.
Hiking is the perfect activity to do around Rothenburg ob der Tauber during the day, when crowds are concentrated more within the city walls. This is your chance to really get a dose of nature during your 10 days in Germany.
The city is surrounded by quaint mill-filled valleys, conjuring images of simpler times in the German countryside. I could barely put my camera down.
There are a lot of trails just outside the city walls of Rothenburg ob der Tauber, and you can do as many or as few as you want. I got so caught up in the adventure I forgot to write down the name of the trail I did—but, I also don’t think I took just one trail. I meandered and explored several trails in sort of a big circle around the exterior of the city walls.
To get into the trail system around Rothenburg ob der Tauber, head on over to the Burggarten park on the west side of town. You can’t miss it. From there, you should find trail signs and maps and be able to decide which ones you want to do!
Walk the City Ramparts Tower Trail
You know those city walls I just mentioned? WELL, Rothenburg ob der Tauber is so awesome and fun, you can literally walk atop the city walls in a big circle. This seems like a really obvious attraction in a city with its old walls still in tact, but I can’t recall any place doing it as well as Rothenburg ODT.
It’s basically a scenic pedestrian path with the coolest historical twist ever, and the best way to see Rothenburg from a bird’s eye type of view. If you’re already around the Burggarten on the west edge of town, you can pick the Tower Trail up from almost any of the towers along the wall.
If you want to do the walk all in one go, it’s a little over 2 miles. Including photo breaks and reading the many educational signs, it might take you a couple hours. Because there are so many spots to head back into town along the Tower Trail, I used more of a “hop on, hop off” approach. It’s free, so this was no problem!
This is also a fun activity if there’s a bit of rain in the forecast, because almost all of the walk is sheltered!
Ratstrinkstube Clock Tower and the Main Square
Rothenburg ODT has a neat little clock tower in its main square. Every hour on the hour (from 10am to 10pm) there’s music and a little puppet show. Well, I guess they’re not puppets… it’s whatever those little dancing figures that pop out of the clock and wiggle around are. They’re a good time.
My favorite way to witness this little show is from my chair outside a café, enjoying a beer, of course! I don’t like to eat in main squares normally (it’s usually expensive, not-that-great food geared towards tourists), but I do love to have a drink and soak in the atmosphere.
Medieval Crime and Justice Museum
This is the main thing I regret not doing in Rothenburg ob der Tauber—don’t make my mistake! I’ve heard amazing things about the Medieval Crime Museum from literally every person I’ve spoken to since visiting.
If you’re into morbid European history, don’t miss this. It has basically every old torture device and execution tools. It’s supposedly one of the best museums of its kind in all of Europe, which is so funny considering how sweet and charming the rest of Rothenburg ODT is!
The entrance fee is very reasonable—you can see updated prices here. And like all of Rothenburg ODT, it’s easily walkable from the town centre—it’s just north of the famous Plönein square.
Nuremberg (2 Days)
Nuremberg is a good home base for the Bavaria region, plus there’s plenty to do in and around the city itself. Honestly, it’s probably the most underrated place on this entire 10 day Germany itinerary. I had heard it was hit or miss and went for it anyway because of WWII history, and found so much more to love about it than I expected!
I’ve included some day trips at the bottom of this section if you want to experience more little towns in Bavaria like Rothenburg, but you could also easily spend the entire time in Nuremberg depending on how much you want to fit in each day. It’s totally up to you.
Things to do in Nuremberg
Nuremberg Trials Courthouse
The main reason I knew I had to visit Nuremberg was to see the famous courthouse from the Nuremberg trials. This is where Nazi war criminals were finally tried for their war crimes.
Even growing up in the US, which is notoriously not great about educating its kids about world history, I knew the name “Nuremberg Trials” from a young age. Clearly, you don’t need to be a history buff to appreciate the gravity of this place. It’s one of those places on the planet where you can feel the significance.
That said, it’s still a working courthouse! There isn’t a bunch of pomp and circumstance surrounding it, but you can visit just to take it all in and see a few of the little educational plaques outside the chambers. Can you imagine being tried inside the same courtroom as Nazi criminals? Wild.
I walked here from my hostel in central Nuremberg; it’s just about 10 blocks west of the city centre and on all tourist maps. I know some tours combine it with the Nazi Rallying grounds, but I did it separately as a short half-an-afternoon side trip.
Nazi Rallying Grounds and Museum
You may know Nuremberg from the Nuremberg Trials and courthouse, but it’s also the site of the Nazi party’s main rallying grounds. This is not a part of WWII history I ever thought much about, which makes it that much more sobering when I saw how huge these grounds are.
The Nazi rallying grounds outside Nuremberg are so huge, in fact, my feet hurt after walking around them all day. It’s just so disturbing to think of the Nazis of having so many numbers, so many supporters, they would throw huge events and even land planes on these expansive grounds.
There’s a big circular walk around the entire grounds I recommend you do. It takes you around the lake, throughout the fairgrounds, over the plane landing strip, and past the pulpit Hitler used to speak from. It’s honestly kind of a gross feeling to be here in person, but also feels important to bear witness to. It’s a horrifying reminder one of the biggest atrocities in modern history had a ton of support at the time.
The museum here at the Documentation Center is also one of the best laid-out museums I’ve ever visited. The building is stern, grim, and gray. The audio guide inside takes you through how Hitler and the Nazis grew from a small group of radicals to a murderous dictatorship. It’s depressing and terrible and, again, important we never forget.
The Rally Grounds and Documentation Center are a bit long of a walk from central Nuremberg, so grab the train at the Nuremberg central station to get here. It’s only a 15 minute ride on the train towards Neumarkt, get off at the third stop (Nürnberg-Dutzendteich).
The Nuremberg Castle is awesome! It’s pretty small for a castle complex in Germany, but that makes it a perfect afternoon detour. It’s also quite affordable at 5.50 euros.
The Imperial Castle has some really interesting history from Medieval times, so will be a jump backwards from any history you’ve seen in Nuremberg thus far. As its website states, “Since the Middle Ages its silhouette has represented the power and importance of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation and the outstanding role of the imperial city of Nuremberg.”
Besides excellent views of the city from its towers, the castle will show you plenty of art, weapons, and decorated halls from medieval Nuremberg. It only takes a couple hours and is so worth it.
The castle is on the far northern side of town and easily walkable if you’re staying in the city centre.
I came upon Handwerkerhof completely by accident but was immediately and thoroughly charmed by it. This tiny neighborhood is barely a few square blocks, nestled within Nuremberg’s old city walls near the central train station.
You can easily walk around the little pedestrian streets within Handwerkerhof, and it would only take a few minutes (the area is small). But you should absolutely walk into the little shops full of handmade goods or stop in one of the cafés for lunch or a beer.
Bavarian Day Trips from Nuremberg
The most common reason folks use Nuremberg as a home base is to explore Bavaria. If you couldn’t get enough of the Romantic Road energy in Rothenburg ODT, there are a few other picturesque towns that are easy day trips from Nuremberg to add to your 10 days in Germany itinerary.
Bamberg’s historical city centre is actually a UNESCO world heritage site. Bamberg’s highlights include a cathedral, rose garden, picturesque town hall, and (my favorite) a pretty canal area called Little Venice.
While all of Germany is paradise for beer drinkers, Bamberg has way more breweries than your average Bavarian town, so if that’s appealing to you absolutely check it out. And, like any good little German town, it’s got a charming town square in which to drink your beer!
The main highlight of Würzburg is its Residenz—an 18th century palace with immaculate gardens and grounds. If you love a good royal palace and gardens, and want to experience another pretty Baroque town as well, Würzburg is the best choice.
Würzburg is also known for being really reminiscent of Prague! I totally see this, between the river running through town, street layout, and architecture.
On the same Romantic Road as Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Dinkelsbühl is one of the best preserved medieval towns in Germany. This is saying something; even seemingly well-preserved towns elsewhere were largely rebuilt after war damage. Dinkelsbühl however was largely spared!
The streets are vibrant and colorful; Dinkelsbühl will be most similar to Rothenburg ODT of any Nuremberg day trip. So, if you adored that town’s look and feel (which I couldn’t blame you for!) Dinkelsbühl will be another taste of it.
Berlin (3 Days)
Capital of Germany—and the last home base on this 10 day Germany itinerary—Berlin will give you a taste of Northern German culture, architecture, food, and much more. It also has a cool metropolitan, grunge-chic vibe, standing in fascinating contrast to cities like Rothenburg! If you’re a nightlife lover, Berlin will likely be the highlight of your trip. But if not, there is still plenty to entertain you.
Note that Berlin is the least walkable city on this list—which makes sense. After all, it’s the capital city and largest city in Germany. The public transportation is great and easy to navigate, though.
Things to Do in Berlin
For a lot of us, we’ve heard of the Berlin Wall before anything else about Berlin. It symbolizes the real iron curtain separating western Europe from the Eastern Bloc during the Cold War.
Today, the East Side Gallery in particular is a really cool part of the Berlin Wall to see firsthand. It’s covered in artwork—a lot of which you might even recognize!
The Brandenburg Gate is another highly symbolic German monument. Besides just being an obviously stunning neoclassical piece of architecture, it’s been the site of many significant historical events.
It’s also the site of modern celebrations, from NYE parties to viewings of World Cup games on giant screens!
Outside of actual concentration camps, Berlin’s Holocaust Memorial is probably the most famous Holocaust site. Its full name is the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. It’s very close to the Brandenburg Gate, so you can certainly combine the two in a single outing.
The memorial feels like an art piece in many ways, but please be respectful when visiting—another reason it has been famous in recent history is for people posing on top of and around the concrete slabs in “Instagrammable” fashion.
I had never heard of this place until I researched Berlin, but how cool is a museum island? Spree Island, where the museums are, is a UNESCO world heritage site, too. If you’re even remotely a museum fan this is a no brainer.
Museum Island contains the Altes Museum, the Neues Museum, the Alte Nationalgalerie, the Bode-Museum and the Pergamonmuseum. They contain artwork, historical artifacts, sculptures, and some awesome Greek and Roman architecture.
Individual tickets for the museums are around 10 euros, but you can get a pass for all of them for 18 euros at time of writing.
The largest church in Berlin and one of the largest in Germany, the Berlin Cathedral is iconic. Entrance into the cathedral is only 7 euros, and include an audio guide.
The cathedral and its dome are examples of Prussian architecture, quite reminiscent of the Duomo in Florence, Italy. Like any great church in Europe, the interior of the cathedral is also overwhelming designed and decorated in intricate, beautiful fashion.
Day Trips from Berlin
Something really unique about Potsdam is its Russian Town neighborhood. A bunch of Russians settled here in the 1800s and built a Russian-style area, where 13 buildings still stand beautifully preserved. Just as beautifully preserved are Potsdam’s Baroque market squares, Alter Markt and Neuer Markt.
You’ve probably heard of the bombing of Dresden before, but there is much more to this city. First of all, I’ve heard from multiple German locals Dresden is one of their favorite places in the country, which is certainly saying something.
You might write it off because of the devastation and destruction from having most of the city bombed, but I find Dresden that much more impressive because of this. It’s a fully rebuilt, thriving city.
Dresden is also often overlooked by tourists, which gives it some appeal as a somewhat-off-the-beaten-path gem.
Leipzig is simply so cool. Just over an hour from Berlin by direct train, Leipzig has strong ties to classical music. Bach worked here for much of his life and is buried here! You can visit the Gothic style St Thomas Church to see the very place where Bach was choirmaster.
Leipzig is full of gorgeous buildings, like Old City Hall in the photo above. It has a small town feel, but not super touristy. And like many cities in northern Germany, it is whole heartedly devoted to a unique, alternative vibe all its own.
This is an ambitious day trip, but it’s doable. If you don’t want to make it a day trip and want to stay the night, you could shave a day off another place and spend it in Hamburg. Otherwise, the journey is about 2 hours each way by train—direct high speed train!
Hamburg shares Berlin’s metropolitan vibe, but it also has its own charms as a far northern maritime city. In fact, it’s closer to Denmark and Scandinavia than it is to much of Germany. It’s close to two different seas and three different rivers, which has earned it the nickname Venice of the North.
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