Medieval Tour of German Castles

A 14 day trip to Germany 
4.75
4.75 out of 5 stars
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Medieval Germany isn't just a slice of history. It's alive, breathing an evocative atmosphere into cobbled villages and castles that cling to cliffs. On this unique two-week tour you will journey into its heart and soul, stay in castles and immerse yourself in the untouched charms of bygone centuries. From the royal fortresses of emperors to the fairytale icons of the Alps, discover all the glamor and allure of the medieval era, traveling in style across Germany. 

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General Information

Photos
Old houses in Frankfurt, Germany.
Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Frankfurt, Rhine River, Heidelberg, Heillbronn, Rothenburg, Iphofen, Altmühltal Valley, Nurnberg, Nuremberg Castle, Ahorntal, Bayreuth, Bamberg, Kriebstein Castle, Wartburg Castle, Dresden, Pillnitz Castle, Munich, Neuschwanstein Castle 

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Frankfurt – Relaxation in the City

The River Rhine should be savored and explored during the day when the castles dominate the cliffs and the patchwork fields are in full bloom; but that's for tomorrow. After your intercontinental flight to Frankfurt, be greeted at the airport and transferred to a five-star hotel just outside the city, for a relaxed evening that helps you reenergize from the journey. Dating back to 1904, the slick, polished interiors of your luxury hotel reflect Frankfurt's glamorous past, and it’s a serene place to recuperate. A dinner at its elegant restaurant is also included.

What's Included: accommodations, dinner, transfer

Day 2: Frankfurt to Heidelberg – Castles and Cruising Along the River Rhine

Follow the river, sit back and watch a carpet of vineyards spread across the Rhine Valley. The remains of castles stand unbowed on the hilltops, millennium-old stone crumbling and decaying, but refusing to relinquish its grip. Stop for your lunch amidst the vines, two classic dishes accompanied by a tasting menu that introduces the delicate flavors of the Rhine. Grapes have been cultivated here for six centuries, and there is finesse to the sensual white wines on offer. If you've had good German wine before, there's a good chance it comes from this region. Continue by the river, winding towards Heidelberg, a city that offers an easy introduction into the charms of medieval Germany.

What's Included: accommodations, private river cruise, breakfast, wine tasting and lunch

Day 3: Heidelberg – The Romance of the Medieval City

Follow the Haupstrasse away from the river and ascend to Heidelberg Castle, left in a strange state of semi-ruin as it gazes upon the town and forest-clad valley. Parts of the castle showcase the romance of the Renaissance, sculpted for pleasure rather than defense. This fortress has never been particularly effective, and it was sacked and commandeered by invading armies throughout its history. The wings are scattered across the forest, sunset-colored sandstone blown into jagged chunks that reflect Heidelberg's turbulent history. Mark Twain described it as “deserted, discrowned, beaten by the storms, but royal still, and beautiful.”

Descend back into the town for a day surrounded by red roofs and the half-timbered facades of wine taverns, a place where stone bridge archways occupy the photographs and ivy creep up the medieval stone. Your hotel stands at the start of the Haupstrasse, its stately facade enticing visitors into the heart of the old town. A golden inscription reveals the building's date – 1592 – when it served as a town hall and it’s an iconic place to start exploring the country's old-world accommodation.

What's Included: accommodation, breakfast

Day 4: Heilbronn to Rothenburg – Following the Beautiful River Neckar

Follow the River Neckar and travel across the undulating hills of Germany's backcountry, stopping at Heilbronn to explore and dine. Like every road journey, you're traveling in a luxury saloon vehicle with a local driver guide, an expert in narrating the mystique and secrets of Germany's medieval past. Have a stroll through Heilbronn and enjoy lunch with a sublime view of the River Neckar. Then continue to Rothenburg, where you're guided through the city after dark by a night watchman. An atmosphere from the past is even more resonant once the light fades away. Wander beneath the medieval city gate, through the narrow alleys past sloped tiles, onto rustic taverns from the 13th century, every step overlooked by the surreal church spires. A traditional dinner of Franconian dishes and home-brewed beer adds further authenticity to the tour.

What's Included: accommodation, transfers, guided walking tour, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 5: Rothenburg – Baroque Wine Villages and Heritage Streets

Rothenburg dates to the 13th century, and your hotel is an original part of the city. Originally a customs house, it has been hosting guests since 1488. Every room is unique, both in size and style, the furnishing provided by antiques and the bedrooms cascading old charms. It's a symbol of Rothenburg, and a tranquil space to base your free day in the city. The streets look different in the light, and it's easy to explore without a map; just take the random alleys to boutique shops, medieval taverns, and the timeless design of Rothenburg's era. You may also wish to spend the afternoon in nearby Iphofen, a Baroque wine village that's hidden behind old city walls.

What's Included: accommodation, breakfast

Day 6: Nuremberg to Ahorntal – Fortress of the German Emperor

The sandstone silhouette of Nuremberg Castle dominates the panorama, an imperial showcase of power rising spherically above the town. It dates back to the Roman Empire and was enlarged by the monarchs who ruled Bavaria. Enticing and evocative, the castle guides you into an old town of fortifications and Gothic churches, of gilded fountains and stone that's softly faded over time. So much has happened here, from the Nuremberg Trials to the Durer City and tales of religious crusades. Spend half the day in Nuremberg, a local guide opening up the locks of the city to reveal so many centuries. Nuremberg is halfway to Ahorntal, so from here the road winds through the sublime Altmühltal Valley, connecting a series of medieval villages with postcard-perfect architecture. Admire the views and then rise above it all, spending the night at a cliffside castle in Ahorntal.

What's Included: accommodation, transfers, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 7: Ahorntal – Ancient Villages and Franconian Switzerland

An 800-year-old castle crowns the heart of Franconian Switzerland, rising above the green paradise like a charismatic sentinel. From the outside, it glistens like the past, full of mystique and fabled presence. The interiors reflect the historical ambiance, but they've been refurbished to offer contemporary luxury. Every suite is unique and individually decorated, with the windows gazing out on the Franconian Switzerland Nature Preserve. The castle is surrounded by woodlands, and the day is at your leisure offering the chance to wander along the pathways beneath the castle's iconic facade. You may also choose to spend the afternoon in nearby Bayreuth, the city of Richard Wagner in the foothills of Franconian Switzerland.

What's Included: accommodation, breakfast, dinner

Days 8 – 9: Wartburg Castle – Relaxing in Tudor-Style Germany

Wartburg Castle is doused in fame, a UNESCO World Heritage site that proudly overlooks Thuringia and a forested valley. While the fortress symbolizes military power, there's a harmony to how Wartburg blends into the landscape and preserves an antiquity that cuts across the centuries. It was here that Martin Luther translated the New Testament into German, something that's expertly remembered in the castle museum. Your hotel is located within the World Heritage grounds, a former pilgrims' hostel that's been around almost as long as the castle and recently converted into a five-star hotel.  It's so good you shouldn't just spend one night, so you will spend two, especially with all the nature reserves and historical attractions that lie within walking distance.

What's Included: accommodation, transfer, breakfast

Day 10: Kriebstein Castle to Dresden – A Knight's Castle on a Cliff

The castle of Kriebstein radiates knightly stories, some from the realms of fiction and others with a Saxon flair that's eminently believable. Part myth, part medieval fortress, it's a castle that reflects the atmosphere of this luxury tour – so much doesn't seem believable, even when you're crossing the moat and walking beneath the bay turrets.  Stop at Kriebstein on route to Dresden, spend two hours exploring the castle and then dine with a fabled view of the fortress. Arrive in Dresden to explore the Pillnitz Castle, a picturesque former residence of the Kings of Saxony, a royal palace that stands elegantly over the Elbe River. Your hotel is within the castle grounds, the suites overlooking lush cultivated gardens and the Baroque splendor of the city.

What's Included: accommodation, transfers, breakfast, lunch

Day 11: Dresden – A Royal Residence in a Baroque City

Dresden has risen from the ashes, rebuilding itself yet maintaining the architectural integrity of its Baroque past. A city of nobility and a place of grandeur that attracted the finest designers in Central Europe; Dresden features theaters surrounded by ornate sculptures, townhouses that arched beneath Baroque cathedral spires, murals that roamed hundreds of meters through the city. Dresden was decimated in WWII, but it's recovered, painstakingly recreating its former glory. A local guide takes you on a half-day walking tour, including the palaces of the city and the galleries where stolen art treasures have been returned. The afternoon is at your leisure, and there are some wonderfully atmospheric places to observe the life of the city.

What's Included: accommodation, walking tour, breakfast

Day 12: Munich to Neuschwanstein – The Iconic Fairytale Fortress

Fly south from Dresden to Munich and drive into the foothills of the Alps, where Neuschwanstein Castle beckons from its perch. A castle from the fairytales, the blueprint for Sleeping Beauty, and so many romanticized images, you'll need a glamorous vehicle for your trip. Travel up the hill in a horse-drawn carriage, winding through the trees as the turrets poke out from above. Walk beneath the archway and immerse yourself in a fictional world, one of exuberant interiors and the flamboyance of King Ludwig II. A castles tour of Germany would not be complete without Neuschwanstein, without imagining the operas of Richard Wagner and creating the storybook narrative.

What's Included: accommodation, domestic flight, airport transfers, horse-drawn carriage tour, breakfast

Day 13: Neuschwanstein – Surreal Tales Amidst the Alps

Your hotel provides a gentle base in the Alps, the castle of Neuschwanstein rising just two miles away and a dozen walking trails taking you through the foothills of Europe's jagged mountains. Spend the day at leisure, finalizing the immersion in medieval Germany and using Neuschwanstein as the effervescent compass point. You may wish to return up the hill to the castle, or descend into the tiny villages that dot the valley. Life is serene and surreal here, stuck in time and inviting you to stay as long as you can.

What's Included: accommodation, breakfast

Day 14: Neuschwanstein to Munich – Departure

Wave farewell to Neuschwanstein Castle and watch it slowly fade as you travel away from the Alps. It's a short transfer back to Munich, and the international airport for your return flight.

What's Included: Airport transfer, breakfast

Price

Starting Price 

$4,195
This trip is customizable for your private travel.

What's Included 

  • Accommodations
  • In-country transportation
  • Some or all guided tours and activities (dependent on season)
  • Expert trip planning
  • 24x7 support during your trip
The starting price is based on travel during the low season for a minimum of two travelers staying in shared 3-star accommodations. Please inquire for a custom trip quote based on your travel preferences and travel dates.