The Romantic Road (Romantische Straße) is a “theme route” devised by promotion-minded travel agents in the 1950s. It describes the 350 km (220 mi) of surface roads between Würzburg and Füssen in Southern Germany, specifically in Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg, linking a number of picturesque towns and castles. In medieval times, it was a trade route that connected the center of Germany with the south. Today, this region is thought by many international travelers to possess “quintessentially German” scenery and culture, in towns and cities such as Nördlingen, Dinkelsbühl and Rothenburg ob der Tauber and in castles such as Burg Harburg and the famous Neuschwanstein. The Romantic Road is marked along the way with brown signs.
|Driving Itinerary||Distance||Driving Time|
|Frankfurt to Würzburg||76 miles||1 hour 16 minutes|
|Würzburg to Rothenburg ob der Tauber||40 miles||44 minutes|
|Rothenburg ob der Tauber to Nördlingen||52 miles||1 hour 4 minutes|
|Nördlingen to Augsburg||47 miles||1 hour|
|Augsburg to Hohenschwangau||64 miles||1 hours 23 minutes|
|Hohenschwangau to Munich Airport||96 miles||1 hour 46 minutes|
|Total:||375 miles||7h 13m|
Starting your trip in Frankfurt, there is a lot to see and do in this historic city. You could visit the Museum of Natural History that offers plenty of educational exhibits, including the only complete Diplodocus skeleton in all of Europe. If you’re planning on staying the night in Frankfurt, visit the South Bank, or ‘Sachsenhausen’ to experience the best of Frankfurt’s nightlife. On your journey to Würzburg be sure to stop at the medieval moated Mespelbrunn Castle that survived all wars unharmed due to its hidden location.
Würzburg is the ‘Pearl of the Romantic Road,’ and during your romantic drive, you’ll quickly see why. Amid its vineyard-covered hills sit regal castles and fortifications that once housed the region’s prince-bishops. Although many of the city’s most illustrious and stately buildings were destroyed in World War II, a good number of them have since been rebuilt to their former majesty.
Your next destination on the Romantic Road is the picturesque town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber. Here, the village’s half-timber houses and cobbled streets transport you back in time to Germany’s distinct medieval past. The Herterich Fountain is an ornate Renaissance fountain located in the city’s central Marktplatz, where several city celebrations and feast days are celebrated throughout the year. Take a side trip to the baroque castle, Schloss Schillingfurst, to view soaring eagles and falcons in their natural habitat.
Nördlingen is one of Germany’s most mysterious and unique cities. The city dates back to the year 898, and despite its incredible age, it is only one of three towns in Germany with an intact city wall. This in itself is quite an accomplishment, because the city was the location of two battles in Germany’s historic Thirty Years’ War. It sits in the center of the Ries, a basin that was created by a meteor strike several centuries ago. To see an incredible view of the base, take a trip to the top of the St. Georg Church.
The Gothic majesty of the Cathedral of St. Maria is something that every visitor to Augsburg should experience. Inside this 9th century chapel visitors can see five rare and culturally significant paintings by Hans Holbein the Elder. A short drive just outside of Augsburg will take you to two other significant chapels, the rococo-inspired Wieskirche, which is set in an idyllic Alpine meadow at the base of the Trauchgauer Mountains, and the Munster in Old Ulm, which is the largest evangelical church in Germany.
Upon arriving at the beautiful village of Hohenschwangau, you’ll immediately see the region’s most prized fixture, the majestic castle Neuschwanstein. The castle’s fairy-tale design has been recorded as being a source of inspiration to Walt Disney, Wagner, and many others. In fact, the castle’s alluring look is just what Disney himself recalled when creating the castle featured in his timeless animated film, Snow White. Meanwhile, just across the valley lies another castle that appears to be ripped from the pages of a fantasy book, the yellow-hued Hohenschwangau. Not quite as visually stunning as Neuschwanstein, the castle remains an impressive example of Bavarian architecture and regality. To get a one-of-a-kind view of the entire valley, drive across the Marienbrücke, the bridge that spans the gorge where both castles are located.