When it comes to UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Germany sits among the top five nations whose name features prominently on this list, boasting a remarkable 39 sites. UNESCO must have read our minds, as they created the top eight driving tours to cover all of Germany's incredible UNESCO sites. At Auto Europe Australia, we've read the routes, longed for our next plane ticket to Deutschland, mentally planned our itinerary and summarised our top three for you here.
All UNESCO World Heritage Sites will be noted in bold lettering.
The first of our favourite UNESCO road trips in Germany begins in Frankfurt, or rather just north of Frankfurt in Bad Homburg. While in Bad Homburg, visit the Frontiers of the Roman Empire, commonly referred to as the 'Roman Limes'. Outlining the borders of the massive Ancient Roman Empire, this structure accounts for the longest construction in Roman history. The Limes in Germany alone cover an astonishing 550 kilometres. The next stop is Wurzburg, about an hour and a half south east and home to the Wurzburg Residenz Palace and Court Gardens. The Wurzburg Residenz Palace is considered an architectural masterpiece and plays host to an array of incredible artworks. Its gardens host the annual Mozart Festival in June- a must for classical music fans.Continue east to the town of Bamburg to wander through the sites of the Bamburg Old Town. Check out the town hall, Alte Hofhaltung Palace, the town's four collegiate churches and the cathedral which contains the Bamberg Rider, a renowned 13th century statue of Heinrich II. While in Bamburg, taste the city's specialty: rauchbier. Rauchbier is a dark, smoky beer which can be enjoyed in the bars around the old town or on the Bamburg beer tasting tour.
The next stop is Bayreuth, where you'll see the Margravial Opera House.* Completed in 1750, after a mere four years of construction (a feat for that time), the Margravial Opera House is considered among the most impressive architectural structures from the 18th century. Heading south, drive to the Old Town of Regensburg with Stadtamhof,* stopping in Nuremburg along the way if your schedule allows. An unbelievable 984 historical buildings form the old town, which hosts several festivals during the summer months. The final stop along this route is the captivating city of Munich, the country's third largest city and the capital of Bavaria. Enjoy delicious German beer in the home of Oktoberfest, dine on weisswurst (veal sausages) and discover one of the most popular locations in Germany, a city that offers countless attractions and activities for every visitor. Always remember not to drink and drive. Prost!
Fly into the northern city of Bremen, a merchant city with brilliant North Germany Weser Renaissance architecture, exemplified in Bremen Town Hall. Just next to town hall stands the Roland Statue, a massive sculpture standing over five metres in height, designed to symbolise Bremen's freedom. Your next stop is Bremerhaven, a quick 45 minute drive north of the city. This seaside town sits along the German Wadden Sea. Gaze out at these waters to appreciate their serene natural beauty before visiting the Norddeich seal centre and lighthouse on Wangerooge. Spend the night in Bremerhaven, or make a stopover in the bustling city of Hamburg.
Continue east to the Hanseatic city of Lubeck, the former capital of the Hanseatic League, which features extremely unique and well preserved architecture from the 12th to 16th centuries. Next, head to the towns of Wismar and Stralsund, both incredibly charming villages with a distinctly German feel and an assortment of attractions for visitors. From Stralsund, you'll drive slightly north west to Rugen before travelling south through Muritz to Grumsin and Serrahn while you journey through Germany's Ancient Beech Forests. These ancient woodlands are inhabited by more than 10,000 species of plants and animals, and are an excellent way to see the country as you approach the end of this route in the German capital of Berlin. (Check out our post on GDR Berlin).
While there are an endless number of things to see and do in Berlin, plan a few days to cover the area's three UNESCO sites: Museum Island, Berlin Modernism Housing Estates, and the Palaces and Parks of Berlin and Potsdam (just a 40 minute drive south west of Berlin). Museum Island holds five sensational museums covering art and culture over an astonishing four millennia. Berlin's Modernism Housing Estates are spread throughout the city and still occupied today, embodying the architects' vision of 'light, air and sun'. For a much different type of dwelling, check out the glorious palaces and parks scattered throughout Berlin and Potsdam. These spaces are plentiful and will not disappoint, leaving any visitor feeling as though they've received the royal treatment. Take your time here as there are quite a few palaces and parks to wander on this route. Return to explore the rest of Berlin, or continue on to Leipzig or Dresden to the south.
This road trip covers the industrial heritage of Germany, focused around the central-eastern part of the country. On this route, you'll journey through some of Germany's most fascinating cities, so spend some time exploring the region beyond the UNESCO sites as well. Visit the city of Frankfurt, where you can tour the Messel Pit Fossil Site before venturing into the Upper Middle Rhine Valley. Not only is this valley among the world's finest wine-growing regions, but it is also home to over 40 castles, palaces and fortresses, in addition to the Loreley rock and a number of breathtaking hiking trails. From here, head to Bruhl to see the Augustusburg Palace and Falkenlust hunting lodge. If you're visiting between May and August, you may be lucky enough to catch some live music on the terrace of the palace.
Less than half an hour north, you'll encounter the city of Cologne, home to the stunning Cologne Cathedral, considered the tallest building in the world for a time after its construction in 1880. From Cologne, drive west to the country's very first UNESCO World Heritage Site: the Aachen Cathedral. This structure was built under the rule of Charlemagne and is nothing short of extraordinary. The final site on this tour is the Zollverein Coal Mine Industrial Complex in Essen, an hour and a half north. The complex operated as a coal mine for 130 years and today offers themed tours and a variety of interesting cultural activities.
Auto Europe Australia have over 250 depots throughout Germany. Book your next car hire with Auto Europe Australia to follow these fantastic UNESCO World Heritage Site road trips! To view more information on Germany's UNESCO World Heritage Sites and see all eight routes in detail, visit the German National Tourism Board's UNESCO page.
For more information on your car hire, give one of our experienced reservations staff a call on 1300 656 601 or simply book online today. Gute Reise!