Germany Road Trip: Romantic Road

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Romantic Road Germany: More Than An Enchanting Drive

Adequately named, Germany's Romantic Road is one of the oldest touring roads in the world. For driving enthusiasts and routine vacationers alike, the road remains one of Germany's most alluring attractions.

Built after World War II as a means of attracting visitors to the country, the Romantic Road takes travelers on a journey back in time, where castles sit perched upon snow-capped mountainsides, ancient cathedrals tower with gothic spires, and lakes and rivers run crystal clear across a countryside so lush and green, you'll swear that it came right out of a fairy tale.

And, as if simply driving along this beautiful stretch of road in the sublime comfort of your Germany rental car isn't already enough, all along the Romantic Road sit quaint Bavarian villages where you can stop for a day to enjoy the best of Germany's distinctive culture. For this reason alone, this otherwise four-hour drive from Wurzburg to Fussen is best experienced over several days.

If you're planning to visit Germany to fulfill your dream of driving along this iconic touring road, then you should book a flight into Frankfurt, as this city's airport is the closest to the start of the Romantic Road in Würzburg. Your departing flight should be booked at Munich's airport, as that will be the closest airport to your final destination in Füssen. And from there, you'll be able to pick up your car rental from Auto Europe with ease.

Germany Road Trip Planner: The Romantic Road

Germany Road Trip Planner Driving Distances
Locations Distance (Km) Estimated Time
Frankfurt Airport to Frankfurt Downtown 18.9 26 Minutes
Frankfurt to Wurzburg 119 1 Hour, 13 Minutes
Wurzburg to Rothenburg 109 1 Hour, 46 Minutes
Rothenburg to Nordlingen 79 1 Hour, 8 Minutes
Nordlingen to Augsburg 72.2 53 Minutes
Augsburg to Hohenschwangau 130 2 Hours, 1 Minute
Total: 528.1 7 Hours, 27 Minutes

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Driving Germany's Romantic Road Day 1: Frankfurt

When you arrive in Frankfurt, you may be anxious to get on with your journey, but don't get too far ahead of yourself. There is a lot to see and do in this historic city, so you might as well plan to spend at least one day in Germany's business capital. For instance, the Museum of Natural History offers plenty of educational exhibits, including the only complete Diplodocus skeleton in all of Europe. Goethe's House is another popular attraction, especially for those who admire the popular writer's works. The structure is now a museum, which was rebuilt to form, after the original was destroyed during World War II.

If you're planning on staying the night in Frankfurt, then be sure to visit the South Bank, or "Sachsenhausen". The South Bank is an outdoor strip of restaurants, nightclubs, and bars, and this is where you can experience the best of Frankfurt's nightlife. Before the evening is over, make sure you try an authentic German Frankfurter Würstchen. After all, this is where the hot dog was invented!

On a side note, if you're visiting Germany in the month of August, then Frankfurt's Summer in the City concert series is not to be missed. Or, if your trip is booked for mid-June, then try to attend the Christopher Street Day parade, Frankfurt's annual Gay and Lesbian parade. Both events offer excellent entertainment, together with a unique look at Frankfurt's culture.

After your long flight and an exciting day in Frankfurt, you'll want to get a good night's rest before picking up your German rental car and starting on your Romantic Road excursion. The city's largest hotels are predominantly located near the train station, the business district, and the fairgrounds. Keep in mind that the area closest to the train station is considered by many to be somewhat of a "red light district," although it is regularly policed by law enforcement. If you want to stay in a hotel that offers a more traditional German atmosphere, then look to hotels located in the suburbs of Frankfurt.

Day 1 Frankfurt Map

Map image and directions courtesy of Google Maps

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Romantic Road Germany Day 2: Wurzburg

The drive from Frankfurt to Würzburg takes about an hour and a half, so by the time you arrive, you'll be ready to stop for a break. This gorgeous city is called "The Pearl of the Romantic Road," and during your visit, you'll quickly discover why. Amid its vineyard-covered hills sits 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.

Wurzburg Castle River

Würzburg's streets are lined with some of Germany's finest architectural works. From the magnificent baroque church, Augustinekirche; to Germany's first stone bridge, the Alte Mainbrücke; to the expertly maintained garden, Schloss Veitshöchheim, there are plenty of subjects worthy of your camera lens throughout the city. The Main- Franconian Museum is another of the city's top attractions.

If your trip is taking place during mid-June, then try to plan it so you can attend the Mozart Festival in Würzburg. Or, if you're passing through closer to the end of May, then you'll be in Würzburg just in time to enjoy the city's African Music Festival.

It is important to keep in mind that restaurants in the larger cities on the Romantic Road can get very busy during the tourist season. And it is not uncommon for German restaurants to be closed from 2pm to 5pm. You may be able to find a restaurant serving cold cuts, cakes, and other "cold" foods between 2pm and 5pm, but rarely will you find hot food served during those hours.

If you're planning on taking advantage of your independence (you did book a car rental for a reason, after all), and staying the day in Würzburg, then be sure you book your accommodations early, especially during the busy tourist season. For more of a local experience, try the Hotel Greifensteiner Hof or the Hotel Walfisch. Or, if you want more of a luxurious night's sleep, then the Schloss Steinberg's affluent furnishings will surely satisfy. If you want to conserve cash to spend on German food and souvenirs, then the century-old Strauss is where you'll want to stay.

Day 2 Wurzburg Map

 Map image and directions courtesy of Google Maps

Always drive in accordance with posted road signs and all applicable laws

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Romantic Highway Germany Day 3: Rothenberg ob der Tauber

Your next destination on the Romantic Road is the village of Rothenberg ob der Tauber, which you'll reach approximately 2 hours after you depart Würzburg in your car rental. Here, the village's half-timber houses and cobbled streets transport you back in time to Germany's distinct medieval past.

Rothenburg Medieval Street

During your visit to Rothenberg ob der Tauber, set aside some time to experience the magical Doll and Toy Museum. The museum has more than 1,000 dolls and toys, some of which are more than two centuries old, as well as a kid-friendly theater and model shop. The Herterich Fountain is also worth a visit. The ornate Renaissance fountain is located in the city's central Marktplatz, where several city celebrations and feast days are celebrated throughout the year. Or, you can take a side trip in your rental car to the baroque castle, Schloss Schillingfürst, to view soaring eagles and falcons in their natural habitat.

If you're passing through Rothenberg ob der Tauber in late May, then there is a good chance that you may be able to partake in the Meistertrunk Festival. If you see the townspeople dressed in period costumes, then there's a good chance the festival is in full swing. Or, if your visit occurs in late September, then the Rothenburg's Reichstadt- Festtage celebration will be happening.

Rothenberg ob der Tauber is a small village, so it doesn't exactly offer an abundance of dining options for travelers, but the restaurants that are here do provide the full German experience. The Restaurant-Burgerkeller, for example, is located in an actual Old Town cellar, but don't let that dissuade you. The restaurant serves up authentic pork dishes, sausage, potato dumplings, and other hearty fare, and the atmosphere is actually rustic and known to be quite charming.

As for lodgings, Rothenberg ob der Tauber offers a better selection. There are luxurious hotels like the Burg-Hotel and the Hotel Eisenhut, and more traditional (and affordable) accommodations like those found at the Gasthof Klingentor, the Hotel-Gasthof Post, and the Hotel-Restaurant Burg Colmberg.

Rothenburg Map

 Map image and directions courtesy of Google Maps

Always drive in accordance with posted road signs and all applicable laws 

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The Romantic Road Day 4: Nordlingen

At the start of Day 4, an hour's drive on the Romantic Road outside of Rothenberg ob der Tauber brings travelers to one of Germany's most mysterious and unique villages, Nördlingen. 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.
Nordlingen City

Nördlingen sits in the center of the Ries, a basin that was created by a meteor strike several centuries ago. The basin's compressed rock, which was caused by the meteor hitting the earth, was used in the construction of many of the city's buildings, including the majestic tower at St. Georg Church. A trip to the top of the tower gives you an incredible view of the basin. Today, taking a bicycle ride around the Ries is a must for any first-time visitor to the city.

Of course, if you're a child of the 1970s, then the red-topped Bavarian-style homes in this quiet village may seem familiar. The reason is because Nördlingen was where the final scene of the film Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory was filmed. The city is what is seen below as the glass elevator floats up and away in the movie's final frames.

If you're going to stay the night in Nördlingen, then the Hotel Goldene Rose is one of the few hotels located in the village. It is a small hotel, so be sure you book your stay in advance. On the plus side, the hotel has a full-service kitchen where you can enjoy delicious and inexpensive meals that are all made from scratch.

Nordlingen Map

 Map image and directions courtesy of Google Maps

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Driving Germany's Romantic Road Day 5: Augsburg

Day 5 of your drive along the Romantic Road in Germany brings you to Augsburg, which is the third-largest city in Bavaria. The drive from Nördlingen to Augsburg takes just under an hour in most cases, but you should try to get there early as the city offers a wealth of scenic attractions. When you rent a car to tour Germany, though, you get to make your own schedule - so getting to new places exactly when you want to is never a problem.

The gothic majesty of the Dom St. Maria is something that every visitor to Augsburg should experience. Inside this 9th century chapel can be seen five rare and culturally significant paintings by Hans Holbein the Elder. Augsburg is also home to the world's oldest social housing projects, the Fuggerei, which was conceived by the Fugger family in 1516. A short drive in your rental car headed 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 Münster in Old Ulm, which is the largest evangelical church in Germany.

If you're visiting Augsburg any time from late July through August, then you'll no doubt hear jazz music throughout the city. The reason is because late summer is when Ausburg's International Summer of Jazz festival takes place. Another great time to visit Ausburg is in September, as this is when the city's Mozart Festival takes place. As you may have noticed, Mozart Festivals are common in Bavaria throughout the month of September.

Your dining choices in Augsburg range from traditional German fare to European cuisine. For the former, you're going to want to reserve a table at Ratskeller Augsburg, which is actually located underneath the Rathaus. The food here is hearty and affordable, and the restaurant stays open until two in the morning on Fridays and Saturdays. For the latter, you're going to want to visit Die Ecke. This is an innovative European restaurant located behind the city's Town Hall, and it's particularly well known for its venison dishes (when in season).

Like most villages located along the Romantic Road, Augsburg offers a variety of different accommodations, all of which will be close at hand when you travel the country in your rental car. For more affordable lodging, try the Dom Hotel or the Hotel-Garni Schlössle. Or if you want to sleep in the same hotel where Napoleon once slept, then book a room at the Steigenberger Drei Mohren Hotel instead. Either way, you really can't go wrong.

Augsburg Map

 Map image and directions courtesy of Google Maps

Always drive in accordance with posted road signs and all applicable laws

Driving Germany's Romantic Road Day 6: Hohenschwangau

On Day 6 of your Romantic Road driving tour, you'll head out of Ausburg in your Germany rental car and in about an hour and twenty minutes, you'll arrive in the beautiful village of Hohenschwangau. Upon Neuschwanstein Castlearriving, you'll immediately see the region's most prized fixture, 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 fantasy: the yellow-hued Hohenschwangau. Not quite as visually stunning as Neuschwanstein, the castle was still a source of inspiration for Wagner, and it remains an impressive example of Bavarian architecture and regality. To get a one-of-a-kind view of the entire valley, plan on taking your rental car from Auto Europe across the Marienbrücke, the bridge that spans the gorge where both castles are located. 

If your trip to Germany is in September, then you're in luck, as this is the time of year when concerts are held in Neuschwanstein's Minstrel's Hall. Another great time to plan your drive along the Romantic Road is in mid-June, because this is when the Fürstensaal, a classical-music festival, is held in the village of Hohenschwangau.

Before you arrive in Hohenschwangau, be sure to reserve your table at Alpenrose am See. Although it is expensive, this restaurant provides incredible views of the surrounding Alpsee Mountains, together with a truly inventive menu comprised of European dishes. If your budget allows, be sure to splurge and choose the five-course "Rosendinner."

For your final night stay in beautiful Bavaria, what better place to stay than at the Hotel Müller? Perfectly situated between Hohenschwangau's two castles, this mahogany-paneled baroque hotel makes for the ideal finishing touch on your Romantic Road excursion.

Romantic Road Trip Day 6 Hohenschwangau Map

 Map image and directions courtesy of Google Maps

Always drive in accordance with posted road signs and all applicable laws 

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Romantic Road Germany: The Best Way to Experience Bavaria

Make no mistake - Germany's Romantic Road is a must-see for any driving enthusiast. And there's no better way to enjoy the winding mountain roads than from behind the wheel of a luxurious German rental car. With the resources provided here by Auto Europe together with our comprehensive travel guide, you'll have all the knowledge you'll ever need to guarantee the perfect drive along the Romantic Road. So put in for a week's vacation, and check out our full fleet of car rentals in a variety of German cities, and you'll be ready for the time of your life, touring the Romanic Road!

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