Germany's autobahn highway system is renowned for its smooth rides, beautiful sights, and lack of speed limits (at least on certain stretches). Whether you're looking for stunning views of mountains, beautiful forests, quaint villages, ancient castles, or pristine lakes, a road trip on the autobahn has it all. If you've got some downtime on a German business trip, consider taking a drive to these must-see destinations in southern Germany.
The Black Forest
Freiburg, a 12th century town at the western edge of the Black Forest, deserves a spot on your travel list. Enjoy a stroll along the cobbled streets and take time to explore the city's beautiful Romanesque Münster (cathedral), which dates back to about 1200. A jaunt to the east takes you through lush forests and quaint storybook-style villages to Titisee-Neustadt, a lakeside town in the heart of the Black Forest. You can stock up on souvenirs, take a boat trip, and shop for the area's renowned cuckoo clocks.
If you love the outdoors, don't miss the mittelweg (hiking trail) that runs through town, taking you to many of the area's monuments and sights. It provides the perfect chance to actually spend some time in the Black Forest.
From Titisee-Neustadt, head east to rejoin the autobahn and cruise north to Stuttgart, the capital of the German state of Baden-Württemberg. A large metropolitan area, Stuttgart is both a modern city and a historic mecca – and home to the headquarters of both Mercedes-Benz and Porsche. Check out the Green U, a series of gardens in the city center that includes Schlossgarten (castle garden), dating back to 1350. The park continues with newer garden areas, including a zoo and a viewing tower with a beautiful view of the city.
From Stuttgart, hit the A-8 autobahn for a quick drive east to Munich, the capital of Bavaria, known for its beer halls and yearly Oktoberfest celebration. In the city, you can explore a variety of historic buildings with interesting architecture, including the Frauenkirche, dating back to the 1400s, and the Maximilianeum, built by King Maximilian II of Bavaria in the 1850s. While you're in town, be sure to visit the Marienplatz, where you can watch the famous Munich Glockenspiel, a giant musical clock housed in the city's town hall, in action.
Continue your tour by hopping on the A-9 north toward Nuremberg, the second-largest city in Bavaria. Infamous for its association with the Third Reich and the trials held there following World War II, the city is the site of the Documentation Center, an excellent museum that tells the story of Nuremberg's role in the National Socialist regime. For a different piece of history, visit Nuremberg Castle, a ridge-top fortification that dates back to the Middle Ages.
From Nuremberg, take the A-6 west toward Heidelberg, one of the few cities in Germany that escaped bombing in World War II. History abounds in Heidelberg, and the old town feeling is reminiscent of the baroque period. The stately ruins of Heidelberg Castle sit on a hillside overlooking the city, inviting visitors to come and explore.
For great photo opportunities, take a stroll on Philosopher's Walk, located on the northern banks of the Neckar River, to enjoy beautiful views of the castle, river, and city. If you're in Heidelberg near the holiday season, don't miss the city's Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas market), which features an ice skating rink, mulled wine, traditional foods, and a variety of handmade souvenirs for sale.
The exhilarating freedom of cruising the autobahn and exploring historic sites is an alluring way to unwind in Southern Germany. Visit our Facebook page to share your own favorite ways to spend your downtime in international cities.