The Romantic Road connects a number of beautiful sights and villages concentrated in the south of Germany. The 460-kilometer route takes in picturesque landscapes, fairytale castles, and lovely historic towns. You can make as many stops along the way as you’d like, and you’ll never be short of astonishing mountain hikes, green forests, or architecture masterpieces to visit.
Romantic Road Travel Tips
- Travel from North to South. Although traveling in both directions is possible, traveling from north to south is more popular, main because you get a proper grand finale: Neuschwanstein Castle.
Starting Point: Würzburg, 119km southeast of Frankfurt
End Point: Fussen, 132km southwest of Munich.
- Rent a car. Having a vehicle allows you to set your own schedule and it gives you the most freedom to see and do what you want. Frankfurt and Munich are the closest big cities to either end of the Romantic Road, so it makes it super easy to pick up and drop off a rental car at either one.
- Avoid summer. During the summer months, the Romantic Road becomes packed with tourists. If you can, go in spring, winter (excluding Advent) or fall. You will benefit from off-season accommodation prices and avoid queues at the main sights.
- The route is shorter than it appears. While there are 28 stops on the official Romantic Road Germany map, some of these towns are really small. You can simply focus on the highlights. A good idea is also to spend more time in one location, instead of trying to see 10 different locations in one day.
- Get an actual printed map. Although Google Maps is great for finding the best routes and online traffic information, getting a paper map to follow is handy. You can pick up one for example at the Tourist Office in Würzburg before you start.
Romantic Road by car: The best way to enjoy the Romantic Road is by car, and you can rent one at the Frankfurt Airport. Take the Autobahn B3 to Würzburg, the starting point of the Romantic Road, and from there just follow the signposts along the route.
Romantic Road by bicycle: If you are the sporty type, you will enjoy the extensive network of designated cycleways along the Romantic Road. Cycling is a great way of traveling in Germany.
Romantic Road by bus or train: Travelling by train in Germany is pretty comfortable, but it won’t be as fast as traveling by car. For those wanting to compress as many sights as possible in a short time (without driving), there are numerous bus tours covering the Romantic Road.
Map of Romantic Road Germany
Romantic road itineraries
The Romantic road is 460km long, allowing for both longer trips or short gateways. The length of your trip depends on how many stops you would like to make.
If you prefer to explore at a slower pace, a week is a good amount of time to combine both some time in nature and in the city.
Here are three popular itineraries for exploring the Romantic Road.
A Day Trip from Munich
Do you prefer not t stay overnight, but would still like to get a taste of the Romantic Road? It’s definitely possible to see Neuschwanstein Castle on a one day trip from Munich.
2-Day Romantic Road Itinerary
If you only have two days to spend on the Romantic Road, you should either choose Füssen or Rothenburg as a base. They are both highlights of the route, and each one offers possibilities for a lovely day trip in the surrounding area.
4–Day Romantic Road Itinerary
Four full days of sightseeing make it possible to see the major highlights as well as some towns off the beaten path. You could definitely prolong it to one week if you spend a few extra days in a location of your choice. I would recommend the following itinerary:
DAY 1: Würzburg – Rothenburg
Arrive in Würzburg and do some sightseeing in the lovely city center. Make sure to visit the Residence, the most beautiful palace of the entire Romantic Road and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Next, continue to Rothenburg where you will stay overnight.
DAY 2: Rothenburg – Nördlingen
Spend a day exploring lovely Rothenburg, featuring the maze of romantic cobblestone lanes and historic houses. Then continue on to Nördlingen.
DAY 3: Nördlingen – Augsburg –– Füssen
Nördlingen is the only city on Earth situated in the crater of a meteorite and surrounded by a complete city wall. Continue the trip through the hilly landscapes all the way to Dinkelsbühl, a town that is a nearly perfect example of German urban architecture. If you wish, you can make a stop in Augsburg on the way.
DAY 4: Füssen – King’s Castles
After you are done visiting two castles built by Ludwig II in Füssen, take a side trip to one of the nearby lakes (if you have good weather) or spend more time relaxing in lovely Füssen.
Highlights of the Romantic Road in Germany
Rothenburg ob der Tauber
With an idyllic setting surrounded by vineyards, and defined by its architectural splendors, Würzburg is one of the best towns in Bavaria if you are looking to enjoy some sightseeing and finish off your day with a glass of amazing wine.
The town is home to the famous Würzburger Residence, whose interior is considered a masterpiece of Baroque/Rococo or Neoclassical architecture. Highlights include a magnificent staircase, the chapel, and the Imperial Hall. The palace is also surrounded by gorgeous gardens.
For me, Würzburg is one of the most charming cities of the Romantic Road in Germany. It’s not too big, not too small, and full of highlights. If you’re into cycling, you will also love the flat cycling paths along the river.
Start your exploration in the compact city center. My favorite place of all is the Old Main Bridge (Alte Mainbrucke), which offers stunning views and is a gathering spot for locals. Dating to the 16th century, the bridge is adorned with statues of saints and it inevitably reminds me of the Charles bridge in Prague.
Furthermore, you should definitely visit Würzburg’s Marienberg Fortress, which is situated a short walk from the city center on the hill across from the Old Town. I always enjoy viewpoints where I I can take in a panorama of the town, and Maienberg offers stunning gardens on top of that.
The cultural highlight of Würzburg is the Royal Residenz, one of the finest royal palaces in all of Europe. This UNESCO World Heritage Site was extensively damaged during World War II during the Wurzburg bombing, but it has been carefully restored, just like the rest of the city, to its former glory.
Related reading from the blog: I loved Würzburg! You can find my list of cool things to do in Würzburg in a separate article.
Rothenburg ob der Tauber
Occupying a glorious hilltop along the Romantic Road, Rothenburg ob der Tauber is one of the best-preserved medieval towns in Germany. The charming town boasts a web of cobbled lanes, half-timbered houses, and a transfixing fairytale atmosphere.
By the way, Rothenburg has been featured in various movies, including Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. It also inspired imagery in the Disney animation Pinocchio.
What’s the best way to explore Rothenburg? Walk atop the medieval wall that encircles the old city center, or go to the top of the historical Town Hall for a spectacular view of the region. Then take an evening walk through the historical town with its night watchman, who is on patrol in the illuminated city center at night.
If you are at the point of planning your overnight stays for your Romantic Road travels, Rothenburg is a great choice. The city is quite popular (expect crowds, especially during summer or Christmas), so it is recommended that you stay the night to experience the true essence of this magical place after the last tour buses leave.
Built in the 8th century and surrounded by a few fortified walls, the town of Dinkelsbühl is essentially Rothenburg’s little sister. With the benefit of being much less touristy, of course.
The sights in Dinkelsbühl are original and authentic. Luckily, Dinkelsbühl remained totally unscathed during the World Wars, except for a broken window in the gothic cathedral of St. George. You will enjoy its striking churches, proud townhouses, and timbered cottages among its many winding lanes.
The Old Town of Dinkelsbühl boasts 16 fortified towers, several authentic city gates, and an original ring wall. This town shares many of the charming traits of Rothenburg but is off the beaten path.
Good ways to spend your day in Dinkelsbühl include visiting the shops and cafes around the Weinmarkt and admiring the town’s quaint architecture.
With its 2000-year-long history, Augsburg is the oldest city in Bavaria and the second oldest in Germany. When in Augsburg, you get the chance to explore a city that shaped the history of Europe and enjoyed a very wealthy past. It holds several Rococo and Renaissance masterpieces that can still be visited today.
Make sure you spend time at the heart of the city center, with its Renaissance character. Make sure to visit the City Hall, with its stunning “Golden Chamber”, the Perlach Tower and the Augustus fountain. Walk down the Maximilianstrasse, southern Germany’s most beautiful boulevard, with its Mercury and Hercules fountains, Schaezler Palace and St. Ulrich churches.
But Augsburg is not only about the sights. The Capital of Swabia is a lively University town and a perfect location for all kinds of recreational pursuits. There are also cool traditional pubs, theatres and modern museums.
This small region situated between the towns of Lech und Loisach is famous for its hilly landscapes and many churches and monasteries that pilgrimages lead to (there are nearly 160 of them!). The name “Pfaffe” (priest) comes from a time when the monasteries played an important role in the utilization of the land.
The Romantic Road passes directly through this area via the towns of Schongau and Peiting and the villages of Rottenbuch, Wildstein and Steingaden.
One of the biggest religious attractions in the Pfaffenwinkel is the Wieskirche – a church in the middle of the south Bavarian countryside near Steingaden. This rococo masterpiece is on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites and is a pilgrimage site.
Yup, this is the “Walt Disney Castle.” The Cinderella Castle. Or simply one of the most beautiful castles in all of Germany. There are many nicknames given to this 19th-century palace perched on a steep hill above the village of Hohenschwangau near Füssen in southwest Bavaria. And it’s not just a catch; Neuschwanstein Castle is a top contender on any list of the best places to visit in Bavaria. It’s the kind of place you have to see at least once in your lifetime!
Of all the tourist attractions in Bavaria, Neuschwanstein is the most visited one. In the summer, the castle receives as many as 6,000 visitors per day. That is a huge number, especially for such a small town like Hohenschwangau. If you want to avoid the high season, I definitely advise you to visit the castle in the winter.
The interior of the castle can be visited on a guided tour only. A ticket costs 13 Euros for adults, and it always comes with a specified time slot. I definitely recommend reserving your tickets in advance. You can do it easily online here, but the timing can be a bit tricky, as you have to make your reservation at least two days ahead. Plus, it is not possible to do so after 3 pm German time.
Related reading from the blog: If you can, always choose the low season over the high season. I wrote a sperate post on visiting Neuschwanstein castle in winter here.
With its 700-year history, Füssen offers a short and sweet visit for those who decide to travel the Romantic Road in Germany. Thanks to its proximity to Neuschwanstein castle, most people choose Füssen for their overnight stay
Füssen is a romantic city and I liked it. But, honestly speaking, you will be done visiting Füssen quite fast since the real highlights are situated out of the town.
Take a stroll in the romantic lanes of the Old Town, visiting the High Castle of Fussen (Hohes Schloss), one of its many churches, and the former Benedictine Abbey of St. Mang. The town center offers a nice blend of brightly colored buildings, many of which are adorned with frescoes. Just a small hike south of the city, you will find a manmade waterfall (Lechfall), situated on the spot where river Lech plunges into Lech Gorge.
If you have the time and good weather, you can consider a trip to one of the stunning lakes in the surroundings. A popular choice is Alpensee. In the summer, it’s popular for boating, sunbathing and swimming (there is even a beach).
I hope that my guide will help you to plan your trip. If you have any questions about Romantic Road in Bavaria, feel free to add them in the comments.
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