JoYo Germany Guide

This year, my boyfriend and I decided to go to Germany because I wanted to see the German castles. We flew in and out of Frankfurt and took trains to Hamburg, Berlin, Munich (for Oktoberfest), and Stuttgart. While we visited many wonderful sights, we skipped many spectacular ones so we’ll just have to go back someday for more. Next time, I’ll want to hit up Baden Baden (spa town), Cologne for the Cologne cathedral, Heidelberg (for the historic and iconic German architecture pre-WWII), Wurtzburg for more palaces and rococo excellence, Hohenzollern castle, Dresden, and Leipzig. Germany was hit particularly hard in WWII so many cities had a choice after the war – rebuild previous old buildings and reconstruct damaged structures or go completely modern (e.g. Frankfurt). And, some cities (e.g. Heidelberg) never got bombed, retained their beauty, and now have an world charm.

Where to Go | What to Eat | What to Drink | Transportation | Itinerary | Resources | Map

Tips & Tricks

  • I recommend getting a data plan for international roaming. You’ll need it for mapping.
  • Germany is intensely cash-based; bring tons of cash and an ATM card (w/ no fees)
  • Oktoberfest is also cash only so bring those big bills
  • Germany is extremely bike-friendly; do some bike tours and maybe download some local bike rental apps.
  • Not everyone is 100% fluent in English – they know English but maybe not 100% perfect. We tried to do a to-go order and they still didn’t understand. We tried to pay the taxi via the app MyTaxi (which is everywhere in Germany) and the taxi driver couldn’t understand so we paid in cash. Berlin had the best English speakers.

Where to Go

My Germany guide is made up of these five ‘City Guide’ entries.

Frankfurt
Hamburg
Berlin
Munich
Stuttgart

What to Eat

It’s true, it really is a bunch of meat and potatoes but more specifically it’s all different kinds of sausages (e.g. bratwurst, currywurst), sliced deli and cured meats, breads (e.g. pretzels, kaiser roll, multi-grain roll), and potatoes (e.g. potato salad). They’re super good at their cereal (e.g. museli) and their chocolate (schokoladen) is reasonable.

Sandwiches – they are everywhere as a quick and cheap snack

Bratwurst – Fried sausage

Bratwurst with potato salad

Currywurst – a sausage cut up into pieces covered in a ketchup sauce topped with curry

Bratwurst is in the bun and currywurst is the one with powdered curry on top

Schnitzel – a piece of thin meat (thinned by pounding with a meat tenderizer) that is fried in some kind of oil

Jagerschnitzel – a thin cutlet of meat served with a mushroom gravy

Jägerschnitzel or “hunter’s cutlet” is the one that’s covered in a thick delicious mushroom sauce

Pretzels (aka Breztel in German) – baked bread shaped into a twisted knot

Gulasch – thick pieces of beef meat slow cooked in a rich, red wine sauce, making the meat very soft and tender. It’s often eaten as a soup or with some side dishes like Spätzle or on top of pasta.

Delicious gulasch over pasta

Apple Strudel (aka apfelstrudel in German) – oblong strudel pastry with an apple filling inside. The German one seems to be consistently topped with powdered sugar sitting in a soup of melted, lightly sweetened vanillaness

apfelstrudel
Apfelstrudel 1
apfelstrudel
And, apfelstrudel 2

Black forest cake (aka schwarzwälder kirschtorte in German) – chocolate sponge cake infused with kirschwasser, a clear spirit made from sour cherries, sandwiched with whipped cream and cherries topped with more cherries and chocolate shavings

black forest cake
Black Forest Cake
black forest cake
I’m happy

What to Eat at Oktoberfest

Pork Knuckle (aka Schweinshaxe) – Popular at Oktoberfest/Munich

Pork knuckle with kartoffelkloesse (German potato dumpling) and sauerkraut

Grilled fish on a stick (aka Steckerlfisch) – Popular at Oktoberfest/Munich
Roasted chicken (aka Hendl) – Popular at Oktoberfest/Munich

A quarter of a chicken with potato salad

What to Drink

  • German beers
beer
Oktoberfest beer
beer
1 type of beer in this tent

Transportation

We didn’t feel like driving all around Germany even though Germans drive on the same side of the car as Americans (the left); instead, we bought a German rail pass and it was wonderful. I do recommend downloading their DB app and you do need to purchase the rail pass maybe 1-2 months before your trip. We did the first class consecutive 15 day train rail pass for ~$400USD/per person.

The German Rail pass gets you all the DB trains but it doesn’t get you regional trains and regional or city metros/subways. You should also reserve all your seats at least 1-3 days in advance of your travel – some trains are booked and busy. The rail pass only guarantees you on the train but not an exact seat. Each seat reservation is an additional fee not covered. If you don’t do a seat reservation, you’ll have to hop around ambiguously trying to figure out where is a free spot until someone tells you it’s taken. And remember, just like an airplane switching gates last minute, a train could change it’s platform last minute and it’s not reflected in the app; it’s announced in German over the speakerphones. We missed a train like that but it’s not a big deal because you can just change your seat reservation for free (since you already paid) to another train as long as you change within the same day.

2-Week Itinerary

Date Itinerary
Day 1
Frankfurt


  • 8​:4​5am: Arrive in Frankfurt​.
  • 10:00am: Check-in into Frankfurt hotel. Hotel: ibis budget Frankfurt City Ost. Address: Hanauer Landstrasse 118 60314 Frankfurt Am Main Germany.
  • 2:00pm – 6:00pm: Visit Stadel Art Museum.
Day 2
Frankfurt

  • 8:00am: Breakfast at hotel.
  • 9:00am: Leave Frankfurt Central Station for Baden Baden central station. ~2-3 hr train ride.
  • 11:30am: Explore Baden Baden.
  • 2:00pm: Explore Black Forest.
  • 5:00pm: Train back to Frankfurt, ~2-3 hr train ride.
  • 7:00pm: Dinner in Frankfurt.
  • 8:00pm: Buy lunch, water, and snacks for tomorrow.
Day 3
Hamburg
  • 8:00am: Check-out of Frankfurt hotel.
  • 9:00am: Leave Frankfurt to Cologne, ~1.5 hr train ride.
  • 11:00am: Arrive in Cologne. Check-in luggage at Cologne train station.
  • Noon: Visit Cologne cathedral and lunch.
  • 2:00pm: Buy snacks. Leave Cologne for Hamburg, ~5-6 hr train ride.
  • 8:00pm: Arrive in Hamburg.
  • 9:00pm: Check into Hamburg hotel. Hotel: Hotel ibis budget Hamburg City ost. Address: Amsinckstraße 1, 20097 Hamburg, Germany.

OR

  • 8:00am: Check-out of Frankfurt hotel.
  • 9:00am: Take ~4-5 hour train ride from Frankfurt to Hamburg. Buy lunch to eat on the train.
  • 2:00pm: Arrive in Hamburg train station.
  • 2:30pm: Check-in into Hamburg hotel.
  • 3:00pm: Explore Hamburg.
  • 6:00pm: Eat dinner in Hamburg.
Day 4
Hamburg
  • 9:00am: Breakfast at hotel.
  • 10:00am: Walk to Miniatur Wunderland (Hours are 8:30 – 21:00 hrs).
  • 12:00pm: Lunch in Hamburg.
  • 2:30pm: Start the bike tour of Hamburg.
  • 7:00pm: Finish bike tour of Hamburg.
  • 8:00pm: Dinner in Hamburg.
Day 5
Hamburg
  • 8:00am: Breakfast at the hotel.
  • 11:00am: Take 2-hr train from Hamburg to Schwerin Castle.
  • 1:00pm: Arrive at Schwerin Mitte or Schwerin Central Station (Schwerin hbf – Hauptbahnhof).
  • 2:00pm: Eat lunch in Schwerin.
  • 3:00pm: Walk to Schwerin Castle. It is an easy 20min walk to the castle. Explore the castle.
  • 6:00pm: Leave Schwerin.
  • 8:00pm: Arrive in back Hamburg. Eat dinner in Hamburg.
Day 6
Berlin
  • 8:00am: Check-out of Hamburg hotel.
  • 9:00am: Take ~2hr train from Hamburg to Berlin.
  • 11:00am: Arrive in Berlin. Store luggage in train station.
  • Noon: Eat lunch in Berlin.
  • 1:00pm: Walk to The Reichstag (parliament building) for pictures.
  • 2:00pm: Walk to The Brandenburg Gate.
  • 3:00pm: Walk to The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe.
  • 4:00pm: Visit the Currywurst Museum. Hours are 10AM–6PM.
  • 6:00pm: Visit Checkpoint Charlie.
  • 7:00pm: Have dinner.
  • 8:00pm: Pick up luggage and taxi and check into hotel. Hotel: 1A Apartment Guesthouse and Hotel. Address: Milastr. 6, 10437 Berlin, Germany 011 49 30 568373849.
Day 7
Berlin
  • 8:00am: Eat breakfast.
  • 9:00am: Pick up rental car. Buy lunch for picnic in the park.
  • 10:00am: Drive ~2hrs drive to Kromlauer Park.
  • 12:00pm: Arrive at Rakotzbrücke Devil’s Bridge. Explore the park.
  • 3:00pm: Leave Kromlauer Park.
  • 5:00pm: Arrive back in Berlin. Return the rental car.
  • 6:00pm: Visit Ritter Sport chocolate house. The hours are 10:00am-7:00pm.
  • 7:00pm: Dinner in Berlin.
  • 8:00pm: Buy lunch, snacks, and dinner for ~6hr train ride tomorrow.
Day 8
Munich
  • 10:00am: Check-out of Berlin hotel.
  • 11:00am: Take ~6 hour train to Munich.
  • 12:00pm: Eat lunch on the train.
  • 5:00pm: Arrive in Munich.
  • 6:00pm: Check-in to Munich hotel. Hotel: Ibis Budget Muenchen City Olympiapark.
  • 7:00pm: Dinner in Munich.
Day 9
Munich
  • 9:00am: Eat breakfast.
  • 10:00am: Visit Rathaus Glockenspiel.
  • 11:00am: Visit Umschreibung.
  • Noon: Visit Oktoberfest. Have lunch in Oktoberfest. Read tips on Oktoberfest here.
  • 4:00pm: Leave Oktoberfest.
  • 6:00pm: Eat dinner.

OR

  • 9:00am: Eat breakfast.
  • 10:00am: Take 2-hr train to Wurtzberg.
  • 12:00pm: Eat lunch in Wurtzberg.
  • 2:00pm: Visit Marienberg Fortress, a reconstructed, 13th-century fortress housing art & history museums with formal terrace gardens.
  • 4:00pm: Visit Würzburg Residence. Guided tours of the opulent 18th-century palace filled with frescos, paintings, and lavish formal gardens.
  • 6:00pm: Leave Wurtzberg.
  • 8:00pm: Arrive back in Munich.
Day 10
Munich
  • 9:00am: Eat breakfast in Munich.
  • 9:30am: Day trip to Neuschwanstein Castle. Be sure to book all tickets and tours in advance. We trip a bus tour.
  • 6:00pm: Arrive back in Munich.
Day 11
Stuttgart
  • 8:00am: Checkout.
  • 9:00am: Depart Munich. 2.5 hr train from Munich to Stuttgart
  • 12:00pm: Arrive in Stuttgart. Hotel: Steigenberger Graf Zeppelin
  • 1:00pm: Check-in to Stuttgart hotel.
  • 2:00pm: Visit Wilhemia, a zoological-botanical garden in Stuttgart in the Bad Cannstatt district in the north of the city on the grounds of a historic castle. 
  • 4:00pm: Visit Mercedes Benz museum.
  • 6:00pm: Dinner in Stuttgart.
Day 12
Stuttgart
  • 9:00am: Breakfast in Stuttgart.
  • 10:00am: Leave Stuttgart for Hechingen station. ~1 hr travel time. From Stuttgart main station (Hbf) to Hechingen station by train (IRE) Stuttgart main station. 
  • 12:00pm: Explore Burg Hohenzollern (a castle).
  • 6:00pm: Arrive back in Stuttgart. 
  • 7:00pm: Eat dinner in Stuttgart.
Day 13
Frankfurt
  • 9:00am: Checkout of Stuttgart hotel.
  • 10:00am: Eat breakfast.
  • 11:00am: Visit Porsche museum.
  • 12:00pm: Lunch in Stuttgart.
  • 3:00pm: Leave Stuttgart.
  • 5:00pm: Arrive in Frankfurt. Stay near the airport. Hotel: Hilton Garden Inn Frankfurt Airport.
  • 6:00pm: Check-in to Frankfurt hotel.
  • 7:00pm: Dinner in Frankfurt.
Day 14
Frankfurt
  • 7:00am: Check-out, leave hotel.
  • 8:00am: Arrive at airport.
  • 1​0​:4​5​am: Depart Frankfurt.
  • 1​1​:5​0​am: Arrive in Seattle.

Resources

Map

Click here for the JoYo Germany map.

You may also enjoy

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.