If you’re planning a trip your kids will love, then consider a driving tour of storybook villages and epic castles in Germany! Europe is filled with amazing castles, and the inspiration for many fairytale castles from your favorite children’s storybooks and films has come from Germany’s famous castles, and exploring the Bavarian countryside by car is an amazing way to introduce your children to a new culture, while thrilling them with memorable historic sites that will instill a lifelong love of travel.
Our Drive to Discover road trip tour of Germany’s quaint villages and castles begins and ends in Munich, allowing you to pick up your rental car at Munich International Airport upon arrival and hit the road without delay. Covering 533 beautiful miles, this one-of-a-kind driving adventure through Bavaria is sure to delight both young and young at heart!
Read on to Drive to Discover the adventures that await you in Germany!
1. Munich Airport to Nuremberg Castle
After picking up your car rental in Munich, you can take a day to explore this historic city, or hit the road right away, heading north on A9 to Nuremberg Castle! While this structure may not remind you of the fantastic spires from Sleeping Beauty, the stunning collection of medieval fortified buildings on a ridge offer an impressive and exciting opportunity to learn about German history in a fun way packed with opportunities to explore, play with your little ones, and take memorable photos in this beautiful setting. Considered one of Europe’s most formidable medieval fortifications, you and your children will learn about the German kings (and even the Holy Roman Emperors) who resided in this imperial castle. Touring Nuremberg by rental car is a great way to start your tour of castles in Germany on your Bavaria countryside road trip!
Next stop: 2 hour & 18 minutes
2. Nuremberg Castle to Heilbronn (with an option to continue to Heidelberg)
After you’ve taken a bunch of amazing photos at Nuremberg Castle, continue west on the A6 to Heilbronn. While the classic Bavarian architecture, winding streets, ancient churches, and curious shops will delight your children, Heilbronn is renowned for its wine industry, making it an excellent place for adults to explore and unwind before embarking on the next leg of their trip.
If you’re feeling like an extra dose of adventure, you can extend this leg of your journey by continuing west on the A6 to Heidelberg, a gorgeous college town comfortably arranged on the banks of the river Neckar. The romantic cityscape includes a quaint baroque-style old town district (great place to stretch your legs before dinner) and Heidelberg Castle – ruins which are actually in excellent repair, and which are considered one of the most important Renaissance structures north of the Alps. We recommend taking the 45-minute trip from Heilbronn to Heidelberg, as Heidelberg’s Renaissance architecture offers a nice history lesson to kids when compared to the medieval lines of Nuremberg castle in Germany.
Next stop: 1 hour & 38 minutes
3. Take a Detour to Rothenburg ob der Tauber before Heading South
If you’re looking for a place to take photos in a classic medieval village, then taking a side-trip to Rothenburg ob der Tauber will be well worth your time, before heading south to Nordlingen. A feature of the iconic Romantic Road through southern Germany, Rothenburg ob der Tauber offers travelers an opportunity to step back in time. From the stunning town hall, to the Medieval town wall and defense tower Klingentorturm, there’s plenty to see and explore in this quaint Bavarian village. You can get there by backtracking east on the A6 and then taking A81 north – a very pretty drive.
Next stop: 1 hour & 4 minutes
4. Drive South to Beautiful Nordlingen, Germany
You’ve probably seen photographs of Nordlingen, Germany, although you may not be familiar with this town’s name. Located in the Donau-Ries district in Swabia, Bavaria, this quaint little town will be celebrating its 1119th anniversary in 2017 … so, yeah – you will see some amazing historic buildings during your visit! From Rothenburg ob der Tauber, you can follow the A7 south to Nordlingen, Germany. Your kids will love exploring Saint Georg’s Church (the steeple is affectionately named “Daniel” and is a stunning site as it’s made of a material containing shocked quartz). This is an excellent town to explore and we recommend planning to stop here to enjoy a meal while on your way to Schwangau-Horn.
Next stop: 2 hours & 3 minutes
5. Continue South to Schwangau-Horn
After you depart Nordlingen, continue on A7 south (this whole region of Germany is beautiful, and there are countless villages to pause in and explore should you need a break, or want an excuse to see more of southern Germany). While the German castle of Horn is small compared to some of those you’ve already visited, the unique Medieval Motte-and-Bailey style of this structure is worth exploring with your kids, and offers an additional teaching moment about the evolution of architecture and civilization. Horn is located right on the Austrian border, offering the city a unique multicultural atmosphere.
Of course, no castle tour in Germany would be complete without a visit to Neuschwanstein Castle, the most photographed castle in the world! Built by Ludwig the Second of Bavaria in 1868. After his death in 1886, the castle was completed by the state and is now open to the public.
Next stop: 1 hour & 39 minutes
6. Finish Your One-of-a-Kind Trip in Munich
To conclude this German castle and village road trip, head northeast on A95 … you’re less than two hours from Munich. There’s a lot to see and explore in the historic city of Munich, so if you can we encourage you to linger for a day or two before returning to Munich international airport for your flight home.
Bavaria Awaits: Discover Historic Villages and Castles in Germany by Car!
Pin this guide and start planning your road trip today!
While most people who visit Germany spend the bulk of their time in one of this country’s fine, historic cities, we have found that some of the best destinations in Europe are off-the-beaten path, in areas you can only discover by car. For your next trip, think outside the box and treat your children to an amazing driving adventure they’ll never forget. This itinerary is just one opportunity to explore the quaint villages and amazing German castles available for exploration.
If you’d like additional travel inspiration for your trip to explore castles in Germany, or other historic destinations check out our German Road Trips, and if you’d like to see how much you can save on your next trip by bundling discounted airfare with your hotel reservation and car rental, give our travel specialists a call toll-free at 1-888-223-5555. We look forward to helping you plan the ultimate trip to southern Germany, or wherever your travels take you.