When people talk about traveling in Germany, the picture of locals wearing dirndl and lederhosen (Bavarian traditional clothes) with one hand holding a gigantic beer stein while slap dancing away to German folk music comes to mind. Unfortunately, that representation of Germany as a whole is a little misleading because the portrayed culture you often see is only representing one part of Germany (Bavaria). There is so much more to Germany than that and with this guide, I will suggest you a 2 - 3 weeks itinerary that will allow you to see Germany in all its wonderful angles.
Why go to Germany
With a perfect harmony between the old and the new, the efficiency and the creatives, and the antiquity and the modernity, Germany is a country that offers many things for all kinds of travelers.Museums for history buffs, creative cafes for hipsters, lively local events for party goers, and mountains for adventurous, no matter who you are, you will find a place to belong in Germany.
When to Go
July and August is the best time to visit with the perfect summer temperature, high chance of clear days and a more lively environment throughout the country with lots of people outside and outdoor activities to participate. But since it is high season, everything is more expensive and the cities are much more crowded than other months.
April - June and September - October are also a great time to visit if you are looking to avoid crowds and keep your cost low since these are shoulder seasons and the weather may get a little unpredictable.
How to Get Around
Flixbus is the best option when it comes to traveling to different cities in Germany. It is cheap, reliable and very well-connected throughout western Europe. There are also many discounts and promotions that could save you a fortune so keep an eye out for their 1 EUR bus tickets.
When it comes to traveling in big cities like Berlin and Munich, Metros are the best option. They are fast, relatively cheap and cover a wider area than buses or trams. Download Metro maps here: Berlin | Munich
Frankfurt - Frankfurt Hostel - 27.66 USD/Night
Munich - Wombats City Hostel Munich - 28.63 USD/Night
Nuremberg - Five Reasons Hostel - 26.61 USD/Night
Dresden - Lollis Homestay - 21.34 USD/Night (Fun environment, located in the creative part of Dresden)
Leipzig - Five Elements Hostel Leipzig - 16.34 USD/Night
Berlin - Jetpak Alternative - 33.39 USD/Night (Highly recommended! By far the best hostel in Germany. It is located in the stylish alternative zone of Kreuzberg. The best part is the hostel is catered to solo backpackers (no big groups) so you are sure to find friendly people here. Plus, the properly made free latte for breakfast is just the best!)
Hamburg - Pyjama Park Schanzenviertel - 29.68 USD/Night (Modern, clean and have curtains for privacy)
Cologne - Die Wohngemeinschaft - 28.45 USD/Night
Germany Two Weeks Itinerary
Frankfurt (optional 1 night)
Frankfurt is probably the cheapest place in Germany to fly to and from so that is why our journey begins here. To be honest, Frankfurt is not much of a tourist city and since you have only 2 weeks, I would suggest you skipping and go straight to Munich. Of course, if you have some time to spare, you can explore Frankfurt either when you arrive or on your way out of Germany.
If you are interested in exploring Frankfurt, I would suggest you spend the day at the city's old town square, Römerberg. Be sure to check out the City Hall, Frankfurt Cathedral and hang out at the Fountain of Justice while you are there.
Munich (3 nights)
Munich is the capital city of Bavaria, home to centuries-old buildings and its unique Bavarian heritage where the cliche culture you see portrayed in movies are from. Marienplatz is the where all the centuries-old buildings are located. You can spend an hour or two walking around the area and enjoying the vibe of the city while immersing yourself in the beautiful architecture of Munich.
The best place to get a view of the city is from St. Peter’s Church in Marienplatz. Be sure to hike up there and get the feel of the city with a 360° view from the top. Since the tower is centrally located, and high enough, you will be able to see the best of Marienplatz in one go from here. I would recommend going early in the morning when the sun is still hovering the horizon.
There are also several parks you can picnic and just have a nice morning stroll through nature, away from the city such as the Olympic Park and the English Garden.
If you are looking for a day trip, you can visit the Nymphenburg Palace, a royal residence of former rulers of Bavaria. The place is massive in scale with a large garden full of statues surrounding the lavishly decorated interior and baroque-style exterior of the palace. You can easily spend an hour just strolling around the garden of this palace.
Another big tourist attraction near Munich is the Neuschwanstein castle located an hour away from the city. In order to go there, you will need to book a ticket online from here and then you will have to take a train to Füssen on the day of your tour in order to get to the castle. I would highly recommend you to book the ticket in advance especially if you are visiting during the high season.
Nuremberg (2 nights)
From Munich, you can take a bus to Nuremberg, where you will be able to see German history up close. The Imperial Castle is the best place to start your journey in Nuremberg. The castle was built hundreds of years ago and the surrounding area is concentrated with historical buildings some of which are converted into a museum where you can learn the medieval history of Germany.
My favorite structure in the Imperial castle has got to be the Sinwell Tower where you can go all the way up to the top and have a 360° view of Nuremberg.
Nuremberg is also famous for its Christmas market and if you are traveling around the end of the year, you will be able to experience one of the best Christmas markets in Europe. Even in October, I was able to see a market fully packed with people buying and hanging out in the square.
If you are interested in the dark history of the Nazi regime in Germany, you should also visit the Nazi Party Rally Grounds. There is a museum in unfinished remains of the Congress Hall of the former Nazi party rallies where a permanent exhibition "Fascination and Terror" is held. The exhibition is concerned with the causes, connections, and consequences of Nazi Germany. The museum is uniquely created and shows how Nuremberg played an important role in the Nazi Regime. Hitler once agreed that Nuremberg is the "most German of German cities".
Dresden (2 nights)
Dresden is a place full of surprise. Located in the Eastern part of Germany, the city is not as popular as Berlin or Munich but it has quite a lot to offer. From the Baroque style architecture to the nature surrounding Saxony Switzerland, one full day is barely enough to experience what the area has to offer.
Visiting the old town, you will find many attractive Baroque architectures from the beautiful gate of Georgenbau to the stunningly massive Dresden Cathedral, which are all located in the same area, easily walkable in a few hours. Spend some time and explore the old town and you will see why this is one of my favorite city of all.
You can also go on a half day hiking trip to Saxony Switzerland national park and hike to the Bastei bridge. One of the stunning location in Germany. To tell you the truth, I did not expect to see such nature in Germany. Bastei bridge is definitely worth a visit if you like nature.
In order to hike to Bastei bridge, you will have to take a train heading in the direction of Schöna or Bad Schandau to the Kurort Lathen station from the Dresden Neustadt station. From there, you have to go into the town and cross the river with a ferry and then follow the path to the start of the hike.
Leipzig (2 nights)
Leipzig is one of the lesser known city that usually goes under the radar for most tourists but the city offers many unique experiences for travelers who seek to get away from the usual tourist traps and see Germany in different perspective.
First, you should visit the Monument to the Battle of the Nations (Völkerschlachtdenkmal), a monument commemorating Napoleon's defeat at Leipzig, a crucial step towards the end of the war. It is one of the most impressive monument I have seen so far and among the highest in Europe, standing at 91 meters. Best of all, there is a viewing platform at the top and you can climb up 500 stairs and get a beautiful view of the landscape around the environment.
The monument is a little further out of the city so if you want to spend your time in the city, you can hang out at the Altes Rathaus, a historical old town of Leipzig. Around the old town, you will find many interesting architectures to explore such as St. Thomas Church and the futuristic-looking building of the University Of Leipzig.
Here is an insider tip for you, if you want a nice panoramic view of the city, head over to Panorama Tower near the old town, pay 3 EUR to the restaurant and you will be able to access its rooftop platform and get a nice photo of Leipzig from above.
Berlin (3 nights)
Another of my favorite city, Berlin is given the title, the creative capital of Europe and it was not a mistake. Berlin is a city that appeals to all types of people may it be the party goers, the adventurous or the hipsters. The usual touristic places to go to in Berlin are East Side Gallery, Charlie's Checkpoint, the Brandenburg Gate, and the Berlin Cathedral, all reachable via metros.
For museums, if you are interested in the history of World War 2 and East Germany during the repressive DDR reign, I would recommend you visit the Topography of Terror museum and DDR museum respectively. These museums will give you a detail look into Germany under the Nazi and the Soviet occupation that followed.
The Topography of Terror museum is free and it is focused on the cruelty of the Nazi party, mainly about Himmler and his plan of extermination. A truly gripping experience, but a must if you are into history.
There are no better ways to learn more about East Germany under DDR reign than a visit to the DDR interactive museum in Berlin. The museum showcased many aspects of what it was like to live in East Germany from being eavesdropped by the government with their intelligent surveillance program to the movement that eventually took down the iron curtain.
If you want to go full-on alternative like I did, you should stay in Kreuzberg area (Jetpak Alternative, the hostel I recommended) and hang out at the Kastanienalle Street where all the cool cafes and second-hand shops are.
Flutgraben Canal is also a great place to find something to eat. A restaurant I would recommend is White Trash Fast Food, with western style food and amazing vibe.
More over, if you are looking to go out at night, check out Urban Spree and align your visit with their event schedule for a nice night out. Located by the Spree river, this artistic space is dedicated to urban cultures through exhibitions, art, DIY workshops, and concerts. You can always find events every Friday night here.
Hamburg (2 nights)
Hamburg is a city located by the river Elbe, and home to the second largest port in Europe so the best place to visit is the Warehouse District (Speicherstadt) located there. Speicherstad stretches over 1.6 km along a canal and with its unique red-brick building crisscrossing the canals along the side, it makes the area the perfect place to walk around and admire the architecture.
There are also places like the Miniatur Wunderland museum, the Hamburg Rathaus City Hall and the Elbtunnel (old underground tunnel) that are worth a visit when you are there.
Cologne (2 nights)
Cologne is a cultural capital located on the Rhine river. Home to one of the oldest university in Germany, Cologne is considered to be a university city, which in turn brings out a lively vibe you usually get from a creative and young population. One of the most famous landmarks that define the city is the giant Cologne Cathedral. Despite the size and the interior, you can also climb up to the top of one of the tower and get 360° view of the city from above.
You can also indulge yourself in the old town of Cologne and try some of the local finest beers like Kolsch or go on a tour around the Chocolate Factory and fulfill your Willy Wonka childhood dream.
And there you have it, a 2 - 3 weeks itinerary for Germany. I know it is not exactly 2 weeks (16 nights) but feel free to adjust the itinerary to fit your schedule. If you don’t have that much time, I would recommend dropping either Frankfurt, Cologne or Leipzig as I believe there are more things to do in other cities. What do you think? If you have any question, feel free to ask me in the comments below.
The Solo Traveler’s Journal is a series of posts by BucketListly where we will follow our founder, Pete Rojwongsuriya around the world as he singlehandedly travel alone and experience different cultures, people, and historical locations one country at a time.