Could there be a honeymoon destination with a more appropriate name than this? The Romantic Road wends its way from Würzburg to Füssen past rolling hillsides, gorgeous villages and historic towns. The tourist trail was the brainchild of a group of enterprising travel professionals in the 1950’s and loosely follows an ancient trading route which connected Bavaria to central Germany. It is a magnificent drive with plenty to see and do on the way and ends with a visit to one of the world’s best known castles.
Your romantic journey starts in the attractive and historic town of Würzburg where you should take a tour of the majestic Würzburg Residenz, an enormous palace legendary for its magnificent Baroque staircase designed by Balthasar Neumann. Leaving the town you will follow the route through the towns of Tauberbischofsheim and Bad Mergentheim before visiting Weikersheim home of the stunning Schloss (castle) Weikersheim, a 12th century palace with beautiful gardens to explore.
You should then move on to the wonderful medieval town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber where you will want to stay a while to take in the historic architecture of this pretty walled town. Rothenburg was immortalised in the movie Chitty Chitty Bang Bang as it was here that the iconic Childcatcher scenes were filmed as the evil character attempted to trap the Potts children who had taken refuge in a toy shop.
Travelling south you will come to the town of Nördlingen which stands inside a huge crater in the earth’s surface. The crater was thought to be volcanic but in the 1960’s was found to have been caused by an asteroid. Incredibly the huge forces created by the impact caused the formation of millions of tiny diamonds which can be seen in the local stone used to build much of the architecture in the town. The rim of the crater was used by NASA in the 1960’s to train their astronauts prior to the Apollo moon landings.
If you are a history buff it is worth stopping off in Landsberg am Lech as you continue south. Landsberg prison is where Hitler was incarcerated in 1924 and the place where he wrote his famous treatise Mein Kampf. The town became home to the Hitler Youth and was a popular destination for Nazi sympathisers. The town was also home to a concentration camp which was liberated by the Americans in 1945 and became a home for Jewish refugees.
Your journey ends in the Bavarian Alps in the town of Füssen on the shores of Lake Forgegensee. Here the Tegelbergbahn cable car will transport you to the summit of one of the nearby peaks, providing you with the most stunning vistas of the region. High up in the mountainside above the village of Hohenschwangau you will find surely one of the most recognisable sights on the planet in the shape of Schloss Neuschwanstein. This castle, like Rothenberg, featured in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and was King Ludwig’s tribute to the composer Wagner. Originally seen as a ridiculous folly this much loved Romanesque Revival palace has become one of the most photographed places on earth and was the inspiration for the castles at the Disney Magic Kingdoms. You can visit the castle by guided tour almost every day and it is well worth a trip!
So does the Romantic Road live up to its name? It certainly does with its charming towns and villages, the gorgeous scenery of the Bavarian Alps and the glory of Schloss Neuschwantsein. You may think of Germany as the home of Bayern Munich, beer and Hugo Boss but it has so much more than that!
Article by Sally Stacey