While living in Germany, it’s a great time to really explore what’s nearby. Grafenwoehr, and Vilseck, are located in Northern Bavaria, which means they are very close to all kinds of fantastic things to do with your favorite people like your kids and family and sometimes, even your dog.
They also border the Czech Republic, which is so close that you can easily do day trips into our neighboring country. Many people think about going to Prague, but there are a few smaller cities that are worth a quick trip as well.
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Everyone is a little different when it comes to how far you can drive and do in one day. I’m one of those that loves to wake up early to get where I’m going, but many of these places are close enough that you can even start after lunch.
Planning-wise, a little goes a long way. You’ll find that the little villages, as well as larger cities, have plenty to offer. You can wander, find a quirky little museum, eat in a new restaurant, or walk some of the many thousands of trails that Germany maintains. So keeping the agenda loose and adding in little things you find along the way will just make the experience that much richer.
It’s also important to be completely flexible as well. One time I was heading to a city just to sightsee and on the way saw a sign for a medieval festival with jousting. We pulled over right away because we just had to go. We had a fantastic time but never did make it to our original destination. No big deal; we went another time!
With what is going on around the world and travel restricted, Jim and I encourage you to choose some of these day trips to go on where you won’t have to get too close to other people.
Here are some travel tips to take into consideration during this time:
If you want to enter a building, like a museum or castle, call ahead to make sure they are still open.
Take snacks and water with you, so you don’t have to rely on stores being open.
What to Expect in This Article
What we’ve done is listed the places and things you can do that are within a couple hours drive from Graf. Some would say you can go further than we mention in this article, say to Munich. However, we think Munich is better as a weekend trip, so that’s where we have put it, so you can take your time and really enjoy yourselves.
The map shows a radius of 150 kilometers, but as we know that could take anywhere from an hour and a half to much longer, depending on “staus” (traffic jams) or how large the road is or current weather.
These are all places we’ve been, so we’ve put in what we think is important to do, plus a great place to eat lunch. You can always eat cheaper or eat ethnic foods, but since we’re traveling around Germany, we always like to try the local fare and that’s what we recommend you do as well, unless you are social distancing. In that case, a good old picnic works everytime.
On our list we have included three things to do across the border in Czechia, because hey, we are so close.
Why go? Rothenburg is the most charming and fun walled town to visit. In summer, when the flower boxes are full, you can't get a prettier photo. Then again, in winter with the Christmas market, it's just magical.
Drive from Graf: About 2 hours each way. There are some fantastic places to spend the night, but it's definitely doable as a day trip, especially if family is visiting.
Why go? Playmobil is amazing! As a teacher, I couldn't believe all the outdoor thinking activities. You should definitely visit when it's warm enough to wear bathing suits and get wet. The kids will love it. However, when it gets cold, and the outside stuff closes down, you can still visit the big building which is always fun as well.
Drive from Graf: About 1 and 1/2 hours. Close enough to go often!
Why go? Wurzburg is a UNESCO world heritage city. The Residence is a breath-taking palace, and when you are done with it, you can visit the castle and go downtown. It's all great! It's also got a great Christmas market.
Why go? Wernberg is something special. You'll want to go if you need some pampering and want to stay in a castle. We did a chef's cooking lesson there, but I would go for the massage! This is a once in a lifetime experience...don't miss it!
Why go? Flossenburg is a lesson into World War II's history as a concentration camp. Today there is a moving exhibit tou can explore on your own. To clear your mind, afterwards you can take a short hike around the old castle ruins as well.
Why go? When you go to Moedlareuth, you are really seeing a smaller version of the Berlin wall. Here, one town was split apart for years. Brother on one side of the fence from the other. It's a fascinating place to walk around for an hour or two. Take anyone who is even a teensy bit a history buff.
Why go? German open air museums are superbly done. Most of them hold demonstrations on weekends showing how things were done in the past; like how to make candles or bread. It's a great way to get the kids outside and moving and enjoying the German countryside.
Why go? Karlovy Vary is a town that kings and queens have visited. It is famous for its healing waters. We tried them, but even if you don't want to try the mineral waters, it's a gorgeous town with fantastic restaurants and plenty of spas.
Why go? It doesn't take long after arriving in Graf that you start to hear about the beer baths. Our favorite one is in Pilsen, and we've gone plenty of times. We love it!
Drive from Graf: Just under 2 hours.
Traveling around Bavaria and Eastern Czechia is a blast. There are so many castles, animal parks, outdoor museums, and quaint dorfs and villages, that you can easily keep busy for the next three or more years! Enjoy.