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. It took around 15 days for the trip and stopped in seven cities between Paris and Berlin.
Paris to Berlin Road Trip
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.
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 the 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.
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.
Where to Stay
The tourist office can give you a list of accommodations 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 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.
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.
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!
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 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. My guide to Nuremberg Christmas Market for 2022 covers all there is to know.
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. These things to do in Nuremberg will give you plenty of tips and ideas on what to see.
Where to Stay
I stayed at the NH Nuremberg because it’s across from the train station and I was arriving by train. This was convenient for me but it’s not close to the Christmas market.
I think a better option is to stay at Karl August. This is by far the nicest hotel near Nuremberg Christmas Market as it’s literally one minute from Hauptmarkt, Nuremberg’s main market square.
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. Read my guide for things to do in Leipzig.
I loved Leipzig for its 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. These are the top 3 coffee houses in Leipzig.
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 was destroyed at the very end of WWII and was recently rebuilt.
- New Green Vault (in the Residenz) 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.
The Dresden Christmas Markets are home to the oldest and my personal favourite Christmas market in Germany which has a great range of local foods to try.
Foodie Tip: Try the famous Coselpalais for a light meal or afternoon 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). I stayed here and even though it’s quite businesslike, I enjoyed my stay.
For more ideas on where to stay, read my guide to boutique hotels in Dresden.
Berlin is a fun, dynamic city where there’s always something going on. There are 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.
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.
- Drive responsibly no matter the signed speed limit.
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.