Road Trip: Paris to Berlin

Driving directly from Paris to Berlin would normally take around 10 hours but there are so many fantastic places worth visiting along the way that you can make a great one to two week road trip out of it or even more if you prefer to travel slowly. I took around 15 days for the trip and stopped in seven cities between Paris and Berlin.

The Paris to Berlin road trip looked like this:

Paris – Trier – Bacharach – Heidelberg – Schwabisch Hall – Nuremberg – Leipzig – Dresden – Berlin

Roman City Trier

Trier was once the largest Roman city north of the Alps and the Romans left a strong influence on the city. Roman highlights include:

  • Roman baths
  • an amphitheatre where gladiator fights took place
  • a Roman bridge dating from the 2nd century
  • a Roman basilica and
  • the beautiful Porta Nigra city gate.

Porta Nigra Trier

Trier is also worth visiting for its festivals like the altstadtfest (Old City Festival) where you can try local wine and beer while watching live bands play music from around the world.

Where to Stay

I’d recommend staying at the Mercure Hotel Trier Porta Nigra (where the above photo was taken) which has private parking although it’s not free.

Bacharach on the Rhine

Bacharach is situated in the middle of wine country and is a great place to spend the night on the way to Heidelberg. The town is almost entirely made up of historic timber framed buildings dating from medieval times and is one of most picturesque German villages I’ve ever visited. I can’t recommend visiting this place enough. It’s not particularly touristy so you can wander the streets and castle area in relative peace and the food and locally made Riesling wine is delicious.

Bacharach German Village

Where to Eat

I had an amazing meal of local cheese, grilled vegetables and wine at Weingut Karl Heidrich wine bar and would definitely recommend it.

Wine Bar in Bacharach

Where to Stay

The tourist office can give you a list of accommodation in Bacharach but they don’t make bookings so the easiest way to find a place to stay is to walk in and ask at the hotels and B&Bs. There is plenty of cheap street parking along the Rhine so don’t worry about finding accommodation with private parking.

Heidelberg

Heidelberg is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Germany. It’s most famous for Heidelberg Castle which sits just above the baroque style old town on the River Neckar. It’s also a student city so there are many affordable cafes and bars dotted around town. Heidelberg is the kind of place where you can wander for hours, exploring little streets and shops or you can go hiking in the nearby hills.

Travel Tip: If the weather is nice, head to the riverside park on the northern side of the river near the Theodor Heuss Bridge for a picnic.

Overlooking Heidelberg

Where to Stay

We stayed at the lovely Hip Hotel Heidelberg. It’s a boutique hotel right in the centre of the city. It’s located on a pedestrian street but you can drive down it to drop your bags off and get directions from the hotel to the nearby car park.

Schwabisch Hall

If you like typically German towns with half timbered houses galore (not unlike Bacharach) then you might want to stop at Schwabisch Hall. You probably wouldn’t need more than a night here but it’s another quaint German village worth stopping by if you want to break up the road trip a little. This place is a bit of a hidden gem!

Schwabisch Hall in Germany

Nuremberg

I’ve been to Nuremberg a couple of times now and it’s another great walking city with medieval timber houses. You could overdose a little on this kind of architecture on this road trip but I find it hard to resist.

Nuremberg has a fascinating WWII history and you can visit the Nazi Party Rally Grounds and Documentation Centre which are a short tram ride from the centre. I can also recommend a visit to the Germanisches Nationalmuseum for the German and other European art and a stop at the Beautiful Fountain, which is beautiful, in the main market square.

Nuremberg also has one of the oldest and most famous Christmas markets in the world making December a great time to visit.

If you plan on spending a few days in Nuremberg I suggest getting the Nuremberg City Card which gives you free access to all museums and free public transport.

Nuremberg Road Trip

Where to Stay

If you want 4* luxury I’d recommend staying at the NH Nuremberg City Hotel located just opposite the train station and a short walk from the Old Town or if you’re on a budget, the Ibis Nuremberg Altstadt which is right in the Old Town and near all the main sights.

Leipzig

Leipzig is famous for classical music, Cold War history and coffee houses and it’s a city worth visiting for any or all of these reasons. It was the home of Johannes Sebastian Bach and there are regular concerts celebrating his music, just ask at the tourist office for details.

I loved Leipzig for it’s role in the fall of the Berlin Wall which you can find out about at the Forum of Contemporary History and at the Stasi Museum. I especially loved the Stasi Museum for its great collection of devices used to spy on the city’s citizens.

My top reason for visiting Leipzig is to participate in the local afternoon coffee and cake tradition. I know this is a popular activity throughout Germany but Leipzig seems to take the cake (!) with its many classic coffee houses located in the centre of the city.

Leipzig Coffee & Cake

Dresden

Dresden is one of my favourite cities in Germany, probably only second to Berlin, and I recommend everyone visit it at some point if given the chance. It’s located on the Elbe River and the rebuilt city consists of mostly stunning Baroque architecture. Highlights of Dresden include the:

  • Frauenkirche which was destroyed at the very end of WWII and recently rebuilt
  • New Green Vault (in the Residenz) which is my favourite museum of all time
  • Zwinger building, courtyard and fountains (more so than the museum itself)
  • Semperoper (Opera House)
  • Procession of Princes Porcelain Mural
  • walk along Brühl’s Terrace
  • view of the city skyline from the Neustadt.

Semperoper Dresden

Dresden also has the oldest and my personal favourite Christmas market in Germany which has great range of local foods to try.

Foodie Tip: Try the famous Coselpalais for a light meal or coffee and cake.

Where to Stay

The Hotel Am Terrassenufer has the best view of Dresden’s skyline (be sure to ask for a room with a view) in the entire city or if you’re on a budget stay at the perfectly located Etap Hotel.

Berlin

Berlin is a fun, dynamic city where there’s always something going on. There’s loads to learn about its WWII and Cold War history. You can get great views from the Alexanderplatz TV Tower or from the Reichstag. Or you can just chill at one of the summer beach bars.

Berlin is an amazing city and I’ll be writing more about it shortly but for now here’s my favourite photo from my recent trip from Paris to Berlin.

Driving from Paris to Berlin

German Driving Tips

  • This road trip includes a short distance through France where you must pay road tolls on the highway but once you get to Germany there are no more tolls.
  • Some highways in Germany do not have speed limits but many do so look for the signs where the limit is 130km/hr. Where there are no speed limits make sure you keep right and watch out for super fast cars doing 200km/hr or more.

Alternative Routes

If you have more time or want to visit some different places, try stopping at Reims, the champagne region in France, or in pretty Luxembourg.

About Andrea

Andrea Anastasakis is the founder and author of road trip blog Rear View Mirror. She is currently driving her Fiat 500 around Europe. Follow her travel adventures on Instagram.


Comments

  1. I love your photos! A Paris-Berlin roadtrip definitely sounds – and looks – awesome now.

  2. That is amazing fun! When we were younger and had a car, we also loved going all over Europe, from Germany to Greece even. How I miss those carefree days. Enjoy it while you can and before you have kids, hahahahaha

  3. Oh how I want to retrace EVERY step of your journey. The Porta Nigra city gate looks incredible as do all the villages you passed through. I have just added all of these and this roadtrip to my bucket list!! Must have been an exciting roadtrip for you!!

    • It was exciting! But you know I love that kind of thing. 😉 Hopefully you’ll get to knock some things off your bucket list soon. 🙂

  4. Loving your new site! Great road trip ideas. Now I want to start one haha.

  5. Oh my goodness all those food pictures are making me soooo hungry. Great post Andrea, you’ve brought some beautiful places to my attention that I’d never heard of before!

  6. Hi Andrea,

    Thanks for this itinerary. Germany is new to me so it’s really helpful. I’m thinking of doing a portion of this trip with the kids – a loop from Berlin, Dresden and Liepzig – back to potsdam and then Berlin again (flying in and out of Berlin). do you have any suggestions for some interesting place(s) between Liepzig and Potsdam we can stop off for a couple of days? According to Google maps we can do this whole loop in 6 hours but I’d like to take about 10 days.

    Thanks, Shobha