10 Fabulous Places to Visit in and around Southwest Germany
I’ve been living in southern Germany for quite some time now and I think it’s safe to say that we will probably stay here, unless we somehow either win the lottery or save enough money to one day move to the south of France (but that is a whole other story).
The point is, we are here for the long run and going nowhere as of yet AND I have a sweet sister and her family living in the USA who hopefully will come visit again. Which has me been thinking of places I’d like to take visiting family or friends. So I thought I’d share my 10 favorite places to see while in southern Germany. This also gives me a chance to daydream about traveling a bit when the weather gets warmer, for it will get warmer of that I’m certain!
Please note: This is just a small list of my favorite places and those that I’ve been to myself. There are so many places of interest here and Germany literally has thousands of castles big and small, I have seen only a few of them. I do hope you enjoy taking this little online getaway with me!
These are the places that I’m automatically drawn to and always worth a visit:
This is my absolute favorite castle. I think it’s much nicer than Neuschwanstein Castle, but that is just my opinion. You can go to Neuschwanstein Castle if you want (it is beautiful too) and try to beat the crowds, but you will never know what you are missing if you pass up Hohenzollern Castle. It’s not as hyped and mass marketed as Neuschwanstein, but this castle has big history. It is the ancestral home of the Prussian royal house and the princes of Hohenzollern, the descendants of Kaiser Wilhelm II, and the house of Hohenzollern still owns it. Yep, those royal histories fascinate me, but still, I’m oh so glad we live in a democracy. You can take a tour of the inside and it has an interesting museum. The walk up to the castle is heartwarming also!
Bodensee (Lake Constance)
Bodensee (Lake Constance) is probably Baden-Württemberg’s best kept secret. It is known as the Schwabian See by those living here. It borders on Austria, Switzerland and of course Germany. There are so many towns and places to visit in that region, it is so worth it. My favorites are Insel Mainau (A touristy flowery little island, it is the home of the Count and Countess Bernadotte who also manage the tourist attraction…not at all your average royals. It’s like a giant park and a great place to take the kids too). Then there are wonderful “on the coast” towns like Konstanz and Meersburg, Lindau and Überlingen just to name a few. Actually though, my favorite place to visit by the Bodensee is the small nondescript little town of Bodman. It is so peaceful there, a great place for an afternoon walk accompanied by coffee and cake.
It is also the home of a well known German artist/sculptor Peter Lenk. We walked around outside his residence and were able to see some of his bizarre creations. I took some photos years ago and may do an extra post on this. I don’t want to clog up this post with those photos, but I would suggest you visit his homepage and see for yourself, worth it if your into bizarre artsy stuff!
Colmar, Strassburg and along the Rhine river border
This is when you need that extra special feeling of having travelled far. France has got the style, culture and decorative touch that I love. Colmar and Strasbourg are so close that I have no idea why we don’t go more often. They are both very touristy though, so if you don’t mind a bunch of other folks wanting to see exactly what you are looking at and being followed around by gypsies, go for it. Never mind the gypsy thing, but it did happen to us in Strasbourg and you just have to accept the fact that these people will follow you around everywhere. There is a danger of becoming numb to it after a while, and I have to remind myself to be compassionate and a few Euros given won’t be the end of me. It can be weird if you’re not used to that sort of thing.
For whatever reason though, I’m more drawn to the quieter escapes and whenever we need a quick “France” fix, we drive over to Wissembourg for Guglhupf and an Éclair. It’s not too far to drive from us and we get that “being far away” feeling without all the tourist activity.
Rothenburg ob der Tauber and Dinkelsbühl
I’m listing these two towns together because they are pretty close to one another and they both have that renaissance feeling. Rothenburg ob der Tauber is by far the most visited and well-known. It is one of the most well-preserved medieval towns and there are lots of people there in summer. If you’ve ever been to Germany, you’ve been to Rothenburg I’m sure.
But Dinkelsbühl does quite well on its own, it’s not as hyped as Rothenburg so it’s more relaxed. In summer, the Dinkelsbühl area hosts a big gothic, heavy-metal open air festival. There’s something endearing about gothic dressed people, peacefully making their way around a medieval town, sipping cappuccinos.
Heidelberg and the castles dispersed along the Neckar River
Heidelberg is bustling with activity, it’s a university town with a renaissance flair, lots of worldly shopping and a sweet little river running right through it. Lot’s to see and do, so you should take a few days for this. We love to drive along the Neckar River between Heilbronn and Heidelberg, it’s so beautiful. Take the time, it’s worth it. There are so many castles to see along this route, it would be over the top to list them all here but some of them are Schloss Zwingenberg, Guttenberg Castle, The 4 Neckarstein Castles (4 castles in close vicinity of each other) and many more.
Oh, and watch for bikers in the summer…share the road and keep your eyes open!
Triberg has one of the tallest waterfalls in Germany and for that alone worth a visit. But after hiking back down the hill, the Black Forest cake which is served in just about every restaurant in this town will be sure to satisfy all your chocolaty needs. That and a coffee is just about as close to heaven as you can get here on earth!
Kloster Maulbronn (Monestary)
For anyone interested in the way Cistercian monks lived, the Maulbronn Monestary is the place to visit. You can take a guided tour and there are a few little cafes right on the grounds too. We used to ride there on the bike because the roads in the surrounding area were fun and it was a quiet and serene place to take a break.
Ludwigsburg Palace and Park (Blühendes Barock)
Schloss Favorite and Monrepos
Well, I can’t leave out my hometown castles now can I? So we the people that live in this area drive past these places almost every day and sometimes we don’t even notice what beautiful things we have right in our own backyard. It took me years to finally take a tour of the inside of Schloss Ludwigsburg, I admit. But it was so worth it. Our tour lasted about 90 minutes, but you feel like time is just flying by. There are many different types of tours to take, sometimes the guides will be dressed-up and act their part. If you’re into baroque, you will not be disappointed. The park alone is worth the visit. Years ago, in between moving across oceans, my sister was visiting as a teenager and we hiked from the Ludwigsburg Palace to Monrepos. There is a nature path between these two, it’s about 5km long and it was so much fun. We took a picnic lunch, eyed some deer, walked a lot and had a great day.
Baden-Baden and the Black Forest Highland Road
Ok, the cliché is that Baden-Baden is a fancy schmancy little town with a casino, lots of spas, lots of Russians and a place for the rich folks. Fact is, that’s true! But it’s a place for you and me also and it’s just as fun to walk around and go window shopping. A dress for 3000 Euros, well surely not on my budget…but looking doesn’t cost a thing. And it is a well-kept little spa town, the Romans definitely knew where to set up camp!
The Blackforest Hochlandstrasse is like a road-trippers dream come true. Beautiful vistas and quaint little towns lull you into a nirvana like state (did I just write this, yep I did). It’s also a bikers paradise, but closed off for motorcycles on weekends and holidays. That gives the locals a chance to breath and allows anyone traveling by car to cruise along quite nicely.
The Götzenburg in Jagsthausen
Last but not least I wanted to tell you about our little secret hideaway. I’ve been to the Götzenburg a few times, but I’ve only ever been outside of it and in the Biergarten (which just opened last year). The main reason I personally love going there is because the surrounding area has such a serene country charm. This castle is hidden away in the hills and you would probably never come across it unless by accident. It has a restaurant and we will probably head there again sometime this summer for some Schnitzel testing. Want to know another secret? It’s haunted…no really…it is. Check it out if you don’t believe me. Just spend the night there and then write to me and tell me all about it.
So these are a few of my favorite places (I’m feeling a bit Julie Andrews here). Hoped you enjoyed my virtual road trip and if you’re ever in southern Germany, I hope you enjoy exploring it just as much as I do.
Have a great week!