European Road Trip: Germany's Romantic Road

by Dr. Jessie Voigts / Jun 23, 2008 /
Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture

Romantische Strasse

One of the best ways to experience Europe is to travel Europe by car. You can explore the back roads, find unique shops, local food, and a variety of vineyards, history, art, and culture.

Take a 260-mile (420 km) road trip through pastoral Germany, visiting medieval towns, small villages, historic battlefields, and various castles and cathedrals. The Romantic Road has been Germany's most popular tourist route for over 50 years. Try visiting in late summer or fall for the best color and less crowds. Encompassing history, art, culture, and nature, this road trip is definitely one worth taking.  Do a little research and see if there are festivals, concerts, cultural events in the towns along the Romantic Road. We've written of some summer events in Germany here.

 

European Road Trip: Germany's Romantic Road

Birnbaum, Halblech. Wikimedia Commons: Flodur63, adapted by Wandering Educators

Mostly, be open to relaxing, discovering, and wandering along such a gloriously scenic route.

Start in Northen Bavaria, near Wurzburg, and wind up on the German-Austrian border, in Fussen (or vice-versa!).

 

European Road Trip: Germany's Romantic Road

 Wikimedia Commons: Thomas Springer

Take your time - explore vineyards, museums, excellent food, narrow streets, unique shops, golf, beer and wine, music and festivals, rivers and mountains - this Romantic Road trip has everything going for it!

Start your journey in Aschaffenburg (just east of Frankfurt) and visit two castles - the Schloss Johannisburg and the nearby Mespelbrunn. Wander through the old medieval towns of Miltenberg and Wertheim, exploring the Marketplatz and the unique facets of each city.

 

Schloss Johannisburg, Aschaffenburg, Bayern. European Road Trip: Germany's Romantic Road

Schloss Johannisburg, Aschaffenburg, Bayern. Wikimedia Commons: Heidas

Next, head to Germany's baroque gem, Würzburg (wuerzburg.de), an ancient city that rebuilt itself after WWII.  There are various walks you can take - along a traffic-free shopping area, vineyards, or visit various historic churches or the cathedral, Dom St. Kilian.  The Old Main Bridge crosses the Main River - from the bridge, be sure to take a photo with the Marienburg Fortress in the background! 

 

Würzburg.  European Road Trip: Germany's Romantic Road

Würzburg. Wikimedia Commons: Lars Steffens

 

Würzburg. European Road Trip: Germany's Romantic Road

Würzburg. Wikimedia Commons: Lars Steffens

Next, follow the Romantic Road into upper Bavaria, into the mountains.  Visit Bad Mergentheim (home of the Castle of the Teutonic Order), Creglingen, and stop on Rothenburg-ob-der-Tauber (rothenburg.de)- an extremely picturesque medieval town, replete with classic half-timbered houses (and a Christmas museum!).  Continue through Feuchtwangern, Dinkelsbuhl, Nordlingen (visit the Railway Museum), and Donauworth.  You might consider taking a small detour off the Romantic Road to visit the world's tallest church tower, in Ulm.

 

Market square with twin houses and St. John's church in Bad Mergentheim. European Road Trip: Germany's Romantic Road

Market square with twin houses and St. John's church in Bad Mergentheim. Wikimedia Commons: PetrusSilesius

 

Make sure to stop in Augsburg (augsburg-tourismus.de) - the third largest city in Bavaria.  There are plenty of options for a walking tour - visit the author Bertolt Brecht's home, the Dom St. Maria, the Mozart Haus, various churches or the Basilica, the puppet theater, or the Schaelzer Palais.

 

Schaezlerpalais in der Maximilianstraße in Augsburg.  European Road Trip: Germany's Romantic Road

Schaezlerpalais in der Maximilianstraße in Augsburg. Wikimedia Commons: ReclaM

Head into the Bavarian Alps, through Landsberg am Lech, Schongau, and the lakesidetown of Schwangau. Here, make sure to visit the two castles! Both were created by King Ludwig II (1845-1886).

 

This picture was taken from the Schloss Neuschwanstein in Bavaria, Germany. The view is to the   north-west, where you can see the Forggensee and parts of the town of Schwangau.

This picture was taken from the Schloss Neuschwanstein in Bavaria, Germany. The view is to the north-west, where you can see the Forggensee and parts of the town of Schwangau. Wikimedia Commons: MattKingston

 

View from the Neuschwanstein Castle. European Road Trip: Germany's Romantic Road

View from the Neuschwanstein Castle. Wikimedia Commons: Maria Carmen

End your Romantic Road tour in Fussen (fuessen.de), with its castle (Hohes Schloss) being one of Germany's most well-preserved gothic castles. Catch a concert at the St. Mang Monastery.  There are plenty of watersports in the Forgensee, and skiing in the mountains, as well.

 

End of the Romantic Road at Abbay St. Stephan in Fuessen. European Road Trip: Germany's Romantic Road

End of the Romantic Road at Abbay St. Stephan in Fuessen. Wikimedia Commons: Christoph Wagener

So you've traveled through gorgeous country, eating well, shopping, catching festivals or concerts, drinking lovely local beer, or locally-made wine...you've got plenty of photos in your digital camera, and a plethora of memories in your mind.  Can't wait to get back? Neither can I.

 

Romantic Road near Peiting, Germany

Romantic Road near Peiting. Wikimedia Commons: Photnart

For more information, please see romantischestrasse.de

Details on driving in Germany: traffic drives on the right, and there are no toll roads.  In case of emergency, please dial the emergency service number, 110.  Speed limits are generally 50kph in built-up areas, and 100kph on all roads outside of built up areas.  Children under 12 must use a car seat in the back seat, and seatbelts must be worn by all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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