Germany’s Romantic Road is a popular tourist route that spans 220 miles (350km) between Wurzburg and Fussen. Along the way, you have the option to stop at dozens of picturesque villages and medieval walled towns. When researching my Germany trip, all it took was one quick Google search, and I was sold. The Romantic Road sounded like magic.
Fast forward to the end of our journey and I realize my expectations were a little high.
3 Things I Wish I Knew Before Traveling The Romantic Road
Travel from North to South
My first mistake was starting at Neuschwanstein Castle. I fell head over heels in love with the Bavarian Alps. In fact, I’ll go as far as to say it’s one of the most beautiful areas of Europe that I’ve been to. Anytime you set the bar that high, you leave yourself vulnerable for disappointment. I highly recommend starting in Wurzburg and traveling South to Fussen so that you get a proper grand finale.
The Road is Not Romantic
The term “Romantic Road” is quite possibly the best travel marketing ploy ever. When I think of a romantic road, a slow, windy route through perfect scenery comes to mind. This route looks very similar to driving through the middle of the United States. A lot of farm land.. not much to look at .. maybe the least romantic road I’ve ever driven.
It’s Not As Overwhelming as it Looks
While there are 28 stops on the official Romantic Road map, some of these towns are so small, you can drive through in 10 seconds. Before our road trip, I was worried that 4 days wouldn’t be enough time because I wanted to see everything. I didn’t realize that in some towns, there’s actually not much to see. Several times, we got off the highway to check out what the smaller towns had to offer and we didn’t even see a single person.
How to Travel the Romantic Road
Rent a Car
The easiest way to travel the Romantic Road is by 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 city hubs on opposite ends of the Romantic Road, so it makes it super easy to pick up and drop off a rental car at either of these cities. Wurzburg is 73 miles (119km) from Frankfurt and Fussen is 82 miles (132km) from Munich.
It’s possible to use public transportation, but you will be restricted to limited routes/times/etc. For info on how to see the Romantic Road via public transportation click here.
There is a 460km long network of designated cycleways on the Romantic Road and cycling is one of the most popular ways of traveling it.
The Romantic Road Sample 4 Day Itinerary
This is how we chose to travel the Romantic Road, except we did it backwards. We moved quickly through some of the towns but I never felt super rushed with only 4 days. Ideally, I think 5 days would be the perfect amount of time to see everything. 7 days if you really want to take your time and stop in some of the less popular towns.
Pick up your rental car in Frankfurt and drive to Wurzburg.
Home to Marienberg Fortress and UNESCO World Heritage Site, Residenz Palace, Wurzburg is one of the larger towns on the Romantic Road. You’ll also notice tons of vineyards on the hills; Wurzburg is the center of Franconian Wine Country.
Wurzburg is an eventful first stop so I would suggest spending a half a day here if you want to see it all. Because we did this itinerary backwards, it was our last visit and we had arrived after the most popular attractions were closed. Instead, we walked across Alt Mainbruecke bridge and along the river and we found a small beer garden overlooking the town.
From Wurzburg, drive towards Rothenburg Ob Der Tauber. If you want, you have the option to stop in Bad Mergentheim along the way. Stay the night in Rothenburg Ob Der Tauber.
Why You Should Stay in Rothenburg:
Over 2.5 million people visit Rothenburg each year but only 500,000 book a room. We walked around in the evening after the tour busses went home, and we had the village to ourselves. As a bonus, it looks magical at night.
Because of it’s popularity, Rothenburg is one of the more expensive towns to stay in. To save money, pick a hotel or B&B outside the city wall. We found an AirBnb for $35/night in August. It was a 5 minute walk to the wall.
Wake up early and spend half a day exploring Rothenburg Ob Der Tauber.
Rothenburg Ob Der Tauber
Rothenburg Ob Der Tauber is one of the most famous and picturesque destinations on the Romantic Road. Unfortunately, with that comes large crowds. Despite the massive amounts of tourists, I loved Rothenburg’s charm.
After the morning in Rothenburg, head South to Dinkelsbuhl.
One of the best preserved medieval towns in Germany, Dinkelsbuhl is a former Free Imperial City of the Holy Roman Empire. I didn’t read much about Dinkelsbuhl before we visited but it was one of my favorite stops. We happened to be here during a festival, so it was extra lively.
Spend 1-3 hours enjoying Dinklesbuhl and then drive to Nordlingen where you’ll stay the night.
Nordlingen is interesting because it’s located in the center of a large meteor crater. If you see a bird’s eye photo of it, the town has a distinct circle outline. Nordinglen is the only town in Germany with walls and battlements that can be walked all the way around.
After spending some time in Nordlingen, move on to Augsburg. Personally, I didn’t love Nordlingen so we only spent about an hour and a half here. On the way to Augsburg you can stop at Donauworth or Harburg.
Augsburg is Germany’s third oldest city and it’s of one of the largest in Bavaria. To be completely honest, we exited the freeway into Augsburg with the full intention to check it out, but we didn’t even park. I wanted to stick to the smaller more charming towns for our road trip.
If you’re interested in Augsburg’s history, spend the rest of the day here. In the afternoon, if you have the time, I highly recommend driving to Fussen so you can wake up early and beat the crowds at Neuschwanstein Castle. If not, spend the night in Augsburg.
Use the early morning to explore the famous, fairytale-like Neuschwanstein Castle. Or, if you stayed in Augsburg, wake up early and drive to Schwangau (home of Neuschwanstein).
Fussen and Schwangau
We arrived at Neuschwanstein when it opened, we took the tour and saw everything we wanted to in about 3-4 hours.
From Schwangau make the quick drive to Fussen and spend the rest of the day here. In the afternoon, it’s time to head to Munich to drop off your rental car.
Like I said before, I fell in love with the Southern End of Germany. If you find yourself getting deja vu on the Romantic Road (if you haven’t noticed, a lot of the towns look really similar) and need a change of scenery, consider skipping some stops and spend more time in this area. It’s 10x more romantic than the official Romantic Road. Seriously.
Distance Between (Main) Towns
From North to South
|Tauberbischofsheim||23.5 miles (38km)|
|Lauda-Königshofen||6 miles (10km)|
|Bad Mergentheim||7 miles (11km)|
|Creglingen||15.5 miles (25km)|
|Rothenburg ob der Tauber||12 miles (19km)|
|Dinkelsbühl||28 miles (45km)|
|Nördlingen||20 miles (32km)|
|Harburg||10.5 miles (17km)|
|Donauwörth||7.5 miles (12km)|
|Augsburg||27 miles (44km)|
|Landsberg am Lech||24 miles (39km)|
|Schongau||18 miles (29km)|
|Pfaffenwinkel (Rottenbuch)||10.5 miles (17km)|
|Schwangau||18 miles (29km)|
|Füssen||2.5 miles (4km)|