Winding its way through idyllic rural Bavaria, the Romantic Road is one of Germany’s most beloved driving experiences. From bright half-timbered villages to lavish castles and pastoral valley views, this journey will lead you past some of the most enchanting natural and cultural destinations that Bavaria has to offer. Here’s some background on the route, as well as six must-visit destinations along the drive:
Following the end of WWII, the German government needed a way to rebuild its tourism industry and cast the country in a positive light. The 250-mile Romantic Road was created in 1950 and quickly became one of the most popular themed tourist routes in the country.
How to See It
Renting a car is the most common way to travel the route, but it’s by no means the only one. Those who’d like to see the sights on two wheels can head out on the 300-mile cycle route. The route is well maintained and relatively flat, composed of paved paths and meadow trails that never get too crowded.
This town along the snaking Main River marks the northernmost point of the Romantic Road. Its UNESCO-listed Würzburg Residence is one of the most extraordinary baroque palaces in the world and features the largest fresco ever painted. After you get a taste of German imperial life in the 18th century, go for a stroll across the Alte Mainbrücke. (Built in 1120, it’s considered the oldest stone bridge in Germany.) Feeling peckish? Grab a Winzerbratwurst from a stall in Marktplatz. If you visit in the summer or fall, you won’t want to miss a hike through the Franconian vineyards. You may even catch a wine festival or two!
Rothenburg is the definition of a fairytale town. Bright flowers peek out from window boxes and cobbled lanes wind past aromatic bakeries and quaint artists’ shops. Go for a stroll along the Old Town Walls or gaze down at the Tauber Valley from the lovely Burggarten. When you’re hungry, there are plenty of restaurants and cafes in and around Marktplatz. If you have time, the view from the arched stone Tauberbrücke is like staring at the brushstrokes of a Romantic landscape painting.
Founded in the 8th century, Dinkelsbühl is among the loveliest, most authentic towns on the Romantic Road. Shop at the weekly market in Wochenmarkt, or wander past the quaint cafes and bright gabled houses of cobbled Weinmarkt. Looking for an excellent museum? Marvel at holographic images in the Museum of the 3rd Dimension. Want an elevated view of your surroundings? Go for a stroll along the town’s medieval fortification walls.
It’s not often you can say you’ve visited a town built inside an impact crater—let alone one completely encrusted in microscopic diamonds. Fifteen million years ago, a meteorite carved a three-mile bowl into a tranquil slice of Bavarian countryside. The impact created an abundance of suevite stone, which was used in the creation of Nördlingen’s buildings. It was years before anyone realized the stone contained 72,000 tons of tiny diamonds barely visible to the human eye. To fuel your interest in local geology, pay a visit to the Rieskrater Museum. Afterward, climb to the top of the tower of St. Georgskirche for some perspective on the area.
Filled with ornate baroque churches, riverside beer gardens, and historic pastel-colored buildings housing an array of shops and cafes, Landsberg am Lech is just about as charming as it gets. Check out the popular marionette theater and museum, or climb the iconic stone Schmalzturm. To experience a more sobering side to the city with a visit to Landsberg Prison, where Hitler wrote Mein Kampf during his brief incarceration. Less visited than other Romantic Road cities like Würzburg and Rothenburg, Landsberg is a great destination if you crave a quiet, authentic Bavarian experience.
Nestled in the foothills of the Bavarian Alps, Füssen marks the Romantic Road’s southern terminus. If you want to experience the magic of nearby Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau Castles, hit the hiking trails! Those who don’t mind heights may enjoy a cable car ride to the top of the Tegelberg, which affords pinch-me views of Forggensee and the surrounding Alps. Füssen also boasts a handful of quaint bars and heritage museums, in addition to colorful shops and cafes lining the bustling Altstadt.
Get started on your Romantic Road adventure with our Germany Fly & Drive package!