The highlights of the Romantic Road

The highlights of the Romantic Road

The historic old town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber should not be missed.

© Olena/
The historic old town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber should not be missed.

It is Germany’s oldest and most popular holiday route and yet unknown to many locals. From Würzburg to Füssen, the Romantic Road offers countless sights, which is why it is worth taking the exit from the busy A7 motorway – not just in Corona times.

It is almost 460 kilometers long and includes 29 locations. The Romantic Road is celebrating its 70th birthday this year and is therefore the oldest holiday route in Germany. Your name seems perfectly chosen. The landscapes and sights that are presented along the route invite you to dream and astonish visitors from home and abroad alike. From the northern end in Würzburg to Füssen in the south, the street is lined with countless highlights that are not only worth a visit in Corona times.

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From Würzburg via Rothenburg ob der Tauber to Dinkelsbühl

Dinkelsbühl in Middle Franconia is known far beyond the borders of Germany for its romantic cityscape.

© Oleksiy Mark/
Dinkelsbühl in Middle Franconia is known far beyond the borders of Germany for its romantic cityscape.

If you drive onto the Romantic Road at the northern end, there are several highlights on the way. In Würzburg, tourists should pay a visit to the residence built by the Baroque and Rococo master builder Balthasar Neumann (1687-1753), the Marienberg Fortress and the Old Main Bridge. The Bavarian university town, which comes with many quaint pubs and restaurants as well as a busy city center, also has a lot to offer in terms of landscape thanks to countless vineyards on the banks of the Main.

Just like the lovely Taubertal. Along the holiday route, travelers come through the towns of Tauberbischofsheim and Bad Mergentheim, among others, before the small town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber invites you to stop again for a longer period. The 11,000-inhabitant community is known for its medieval architecture and narrow cobblestone streets. A walk on the roofed city wall is particularly worthwhile, many of its gatehouses and towers are well preserved to this day. Tourists should also take a look at St. Jacob’s Church. A late Gothic altarpiece by woodcarver Tilman Riemenschneider (1460-1531) is on display in the church.

Just 45 minutes south of Rothenburg ob der Tauber is another pearl of medieval – more precisely late medieval – urban architecture: Dinkelsbühl. Located in the district of Ansbach in Middle Franconia, the attraction of the large district town for international tourists is similar to that of Rothenburg. Tourists from the USA and Asia in particular are drawn to the town, which was founded around 1130, but the famous Munich painter and draftsman Carl Spitzweg (1808-1885) was also fascinated by Dinkelsbühl. Particularly worth seeing is the catholic minster St. Georg with its romantic tower portal.

A castle, a fairytale castle and the home of the “Augsburger Puppenkiste”

The Fuggerei in Augsburg was founded in 1521 by the businessman Jakob Fugger (1459-1525).

© Massimo Santi /
The Fuggerei in Augsburg was founded in 1521 by the businessman Jakob Fugger (1459-1525).

Baldern Castle, which was first mentioned in a document in the eleventh century, is located on a hill to the west of Wallerstein on the way towards Augsburg. In addition to the magnificent building itself, the museum inside also invites you to take a detour. Visitors can take a look into the sumptuous living rooms of a noble family from the 18th century and the baroque castle church. The museum also houses one of the largest private weapon collections in Germany.

The highlight of Harburg Castle is not the building itself, but a path surrounding the walls. Especially for parents who are traveling on the Romantic Road with small children, the drive up the mountain to the facility from the eleventh and twelfth centuries is worthwhile. A “fairy tale trail” leads completely around the castle, where visitors encounter characters from a wide variety of fairy tales. “Frau Holle” shakes her pillows out of a castle window and the “Tischlein deck dich” invites you to take a short break. Another highlight: the “red door”. If you walk through it, a wonderful panorama opens up over the city of Harburg and the entire valley basin.

After a 45-minute drive past Donauwörth and Rain, travelers reach one of the oldest cities in Germany. In addition to the numerous buildings from different stylistic epochs, one should definitely see the Fuggerei in Augsburg from the 16th century, the oldest social housing estate in the world. Not to be forgotten is the puppet theater museum “Die Kiste”, where you can meet the most famous characters of the “Augsburger Puppenkiste” – among them Urmel and Jim Knopf. The puppet theater became known from 1953 onwards through many television productions.

A pilgrimage church in the middle of the foothills of the Alps and the “Disney” castle

The Bavarian "fairy tale king" Ludwig II had Neuschwanstein Castle built from 1869 onwards.

© canadastock/
The Bavarian “fairy tale king” Ludwig II had Neuschwanstein Castle built from 1869 onwards.

The entire route along the Romantic Road is scenic. However, many tourists find the foothills of the Alps, which stretches from Landsberg am Lech to Füssen, to be particularly beautiful. About halfway between the two cities worth seeing is another highlight that should not be missed: the Wieskirche. As one of the most famous Rococo buildings, the magnificent pilgrimage church is a real tourist magnet thanks to its beautiful dome frescoes, the ornate pulpit and the chancel.

Even the Wieskirche cannot compete with the number of visitors to what is probably the most famous fairytale castle of Ludwig II. Shortly before the Romantic Road ends in Füssen in southern Bavaria, Neuschwanstein Castle rises majestically against the backdrop of the Alps. Together with its sister castle Hohenschwangau, it attracts several million tourists every year, its view from the Marienbrücke is one of the most famous motifs in Germany. Neuschwanstein also served as a model for Disney’s Sleeping Beauty Castle, which is part of the corporate logo and can be visited in the Disney theme parks.

Signposted paths for cyclists and hikers

It has been proven that there is a lot to discover between the Main and the Alps. The 460 kilometers of the Romantic Road do not necessarily have to be traveled by car or motorcycle. If you have enough time, you can also explore the route by bike or on foot. For cycling fans there is the signposted Romantic Road long-distance cycle path (D 9), hikers can set out on a long-distance hiking path, the course of which is marked by blue signs.

Whichever route and how long you want to be on the road, a trip along the oldest holiday route in Germany is definitely worth it. Maybe especially in the Corona year 2020, because one thing is almost certain: as few (international) tourists as in times of the pandemic populate the places on the Romantic Road extremely rarely.

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