I had a wonderful question in our Salty German Community the other day about vacationing in Germany and what I’d think would be a great experience so I figured I’d map out the first of a few vacation ideas I’d recommend. So today we’ll start with MY favorite area – Odenwald.
First Stop: Mannheim
Mannheim, while for some a peculiar choice, is a really interesting city in my humble opinion. Not only does it boast a very unique dialect, it’s also unique in it’s layout. It’s squares – the entire city is laid out in squares/grids and Germans often refer to it as “Quadratstadt” or “City of Squares”. You can’t really get lost lol. Mannheim is the 8th largest metro area in Germany and located by the Rhine and Neckar river merge. It also holds the UNESCO City Of Music title – something of interest for Central Texans since we have Austin – The Live Music Capital Of The World. 😉 SO what can you do here?
- Mannheim is the start & end point of the Bertha Benz Memorial Route
- Start the castle tour with the Mannheim Castle & Watertower
- The Planetarium
- The National Theatre Mannheim – The oldest stage in Germany
Next Stop: Heidelberg
Heidelberg is where my heart is. It’s not just a beautiful city, it’s a city of of history. You have the oldest university in Germany and one of Europe’s most reputable ones at that – and it’s beautiful and you can visit it, nestled along the Neckar river valley. The town is one of the most romantic towns and a popular tourist locations because of its baroque style, the Heidelberg Castle, Philosophers Walk, surrounding mountains, and wine. The city has a rich history dating back pre Roman times. If you’re a history lover and love Roman times, there is a lot along this route that might interest you. I’d recommend to make this at least a 2 day stop.
Must see stops in Heidelberg?
- Heidelberg Castle
- The Bridge
- Heidelberg University
- Philosophers Walk
- Old Town
- Heidelberg Churches
Day 4: Burg Hornberg
While this is a single location, driving from Heidelberg to here is about a 45 min car ride it’s a beautiful and scenic drive along the Neckar Valley. You can stay the night at the Castle Hotel and explore the surrounding area. My advice if you love Roman influence is to check out Neckarburken (my hometown) and visit the Roman Bathhouse etc that’s been preserved and can be walked. If not, check out the town of Mosbach and enjoy the old style buildings & cobblestone roads!
When you’re back at the castle, you can enjoy a tour as well as attend a
“Knights Banquet” or check out the other festivities!
Day 5: Burg Guttenberg
Yep, another castle! Yep, again on the hills along the same river!
This time with Birds of Prey!
Here you’ll want to explore the German Raptor Center, The Castle Museum, and the Castle Tavern – because food is amazing. You can once again partake in a knightly feast, or stay in the medieval hostel.
Love to hike? Awesome, there is a 3km long trail with educational bird facts in the castle woods you can explore.
I pulled this directly from their site because I don’t think I could have said it any better:
” Guttenberg Castle is located directly on the “Burgenstrasse”: over 70 castles, palaces and castle ruins line this traditional holiday route between Mannheim and Bayreuth and prove that it rightly bears its name (trans. “Castle Road”). The buildings have survived centuries of eventful history and are reminiscent of emperors, kings and princes, poets and thinkers, robber knights and romances.”
Yes! 70 castles on this route – but I obviously picked my favorite ones 😉
Day 6: Stettenfels Castle & Heilbronn
Castles, Castles everywhere. I personally have never been but I’ve heard it’s beautiful – and it has a Biergarten 😉 I’d make this day a chill day where you explore the local region and just hang out and enjoy the beauty of the castle & some good wine, beer, and food.
Day 7 – our final day on this tour – Stuttgart
Stuttgart lies on the Neckar and is really close to the Black Forest if that’s a place you’d love to explore. Also, it’s in Swabia – home of the Spatzle & Maultaschen! It boasts museums, an amazing zoo, and castles and of course, lots of history including Roman! The city itself is spread out through valleys and hills along the Neckar, beautifully featuring vineyards, architecture, and more. Fun fact – you are now about 2 hours from Mannheim and the dialect is so dramatically different there is a good chance you’ll feel like you’re in a different country!
So what to see here? Good question – there is a lot. From castles, to parks, to architecture and more, the choices seem endless. I’ve linked the city website above so you can get a better idea BUT I’d recommend at least checking out the following:
- Mercedes Benz Museum
- Stuttgart Library – srsly check it out!
- Palace Square
- Wilhelma Zoo
- Feuersee Platz
So that’s my little 7 day tour. You can probably condense it and rush it a bit, but if you have the time – take it. It’s breathtaking in late spring, summer, and especially autumn. If you go during the winter – I HIGHLY recommend any and all Christmas Markets. I’m not a travel agent or affiliated with any of these places but I absolutely adore them and feel like everyone should see at least some of them. There is so much history in the little corner of Germany I grew up in it’s amazing!
Last but not least – most everyone will find themselves in Munich. If you do I can only recommend you check out the Andechser Monastery and try their beer.