The Romantic Road in Germany is a popular tourist route that spans 220 miles (350km) between Wurzburg and Fussen. Along the way, discover dozens of picturesque villages, medieval walled towns and fairytale castles. All it took was one quick Google search and I was sold.. the Romantic Road sounded like magic.
Keep reading for photos, a suggested itinerary, and 3 things we wish we knew before embarking on our Romantic Road Germany road trip.
3 THINGS I WISH I KNEW BEFORE TRAVELING THE ROMANTIC ROAD
TRAVEL FROM NORTH TO SOUTH
Our first mistake was starting the journey at Neuschwanstein Castle because I fell head over heels for the Bavarian Alps. It is hands down one of the most beautiful regions in Europe (that I’ve been to), and anytime you set the bar that high, you leave yourself vulnerable for disappointment.
As we drove further and further away from the Southern half of the Romantic Road, all I wanted to do was turn around and go back the other direction.
I highly recommend starting in Wurzburg and traveling South to Fussen so that you get a proper grand finale.
RELATED POST: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT VISITING NEUSCHWANSTAIN CASTLE
THE ROAD IS NOT ROMANTIC
The term “Romantic Road” is quite possibly the best travel marketing ploy ever. When I picture a romantic road, a slow, windy route through perfect scenery comes to mind.
This particular journey looks very similar to driving through the middle of the United States. A lot of farm land.. not much to look at .. quite possibly the least romantic road I’ve ever driven?
THE JOURNEY IS EASIER THAN IT APPEARS
While there are 28 stops on the official Romantic Road Germany map, some of these towns are so small, you can drive through them in 10 seconds. Before our road trip, I was worried that 4 days wouldn’t be enough time because I wanted to see everything.
What I didn’t realize is that there’s not actually anything to see in some of the towns. A few times, we got off the highway expecting to explore some of the smaller villages and we didn’t see a single person.
ROMANTIC ROAD GERMANY MAP
DISTANCES BETWEEN THE 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)|
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 (286 mile) long network of designated cycleways on the Romantic Road, and cycling is one of the most popular ways of traveling it.
THE ROMANTIC ROAD GERMANY // 4 DAY ITINERARY
This was our itinerary when traveling the Romantic Road (except we did it backwards).
While we did move quickly through some of the towns, we never felt super rushed with only 4 days. Ideally, 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.
Wurzburg is one of the larger towns on the Romantic Road and as an eventful first stop, I would suggest spending half a day here if you want to properly experience what it has to offer.
As you pull into town, you can’t miss Marienberg Fortress on the hill. This is one of the most popular things to do in Wurzburg, with some of the best views of the city.
Also be sure to check out Residenz Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the most important Baroque palaces in Europe.
Since we did this itinerary backwards, Wurzburg was our last stop and we arrived after many of the main attractions were closed. So instead of touring palaces, we ordered a glass of local wine and took a walk across the famous Alt Mainbruecke bridge.
Wurzburg is actually the capital of the Franconian Wine Region and the bridge is a popular hangout to sip wine, listen to music and take in the views.
From Wurzburg, drive towards Rothenburg Ob Der Tauber (45 minutes). If you have time, stop in Bad Mergentheim along the way. Stay the night in Rothenburg Ob Der Tauber.
WHY YOU SHOULD STAY OVERNIGHT IN ROTHENBURG
Over 2.5 million people visit Rothenburg each year but only 500,000 book a room.
Walking around in the evening after the tour busses have gone home is a completely different experience, and we felt like we had the entire village to ourselves.
And as an added bonus, it looks even more magical after dark.
Because of its popularity, Rothenburg is one of the more expensive towns on the Romantic Road to stay in. If you’re looking to save money, pick a hotel or B&B outside the city walls. We booked an AirBnb for $35/night (in August!) and it was only a 5 minute walk to the center of town.
If you’re a first time Airbnb user, get $40 off your first stay by signing up here!
Wake up early and spend half the 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.
Despite its inevitably large crowds, I still fell in love with Rothenburg’s charm and highly recommend spending some time here. For a list of things to do, what eat and where to stay, check out my related post below.
RELATED POST: ROTHENBURG OB DER TAUBER // GERMANY’S MOST PICTURESQUE MEDIEVAL WALLED CITY
After spending the morning in Rothenburg, head South to Dinkelsbuhl (35 minutes).
When you conjure up an image of a quintessential German town, chances are you embodied everything Dinkelsbuhl has to offer.
It’s almost as charming as Rothenburg but without the large crowds and it ended up being one of my favorite stops.
Dinkelsbuhl was untouched during WWII and it remains one of the best preserved medieval towns in Germany, as well as a former Free Imperial City of the Holy Roman Empire.
We happened to be here during a festival, so the atmosphere was extra lively and fun. Its colorful buildings, cobblestone streets and lively promenade filled with restaurants, shops and cafes makes Dinkelsbuhl a must visit stop on the Romantic Road.
Spend 1-3 hours enjoying Dinklesbuhl and then drive to Nordlingen (30 minutes) where you’ll stay the night.
Nordlingen is super interesting because it’s located in the center of a large meteor crater. If you look at a bird’s eye photo of the town, you can even see the distinct circle outline.
Nordlingen is the only town in Germany where you can walk the entire length of the walls and battlements, so this is one of the most popular things to do here. They also have a gothic cathedral, St. Georg Dom, that you can climb for amazing views of the town.
Personally, I didn’t love Nordlingen so we only spent about an hour and a half here before moving on.
After spending some time in Nordlingen, drive to Augsburg (1 hour). On the way to Augsburg you have the option to stop at Donauworth or Harburg.
Augsburg is the third oldest city in Germany and one of the largest cities in Bavaria. Founded in 15 BC by the Romans, Augsburg is home to many historical sights.
We didn’t spend much time here as we wanted to focus on the smaller, more quaint towns and villages.
If you decide to stay longer, the most popular things to do are visit the Old Town Hall, The Schaezlerpalais palace and Fuggerei, the world’s oldest social housing complex, where rent has not been raised in 500 years … and it’s residents still pay .88 euro each year.
In the afternoon, if you have the time, I highly recommend driving to Fussen (1hr 30min) 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 the night in Augsburg, wake up early and drive to Schwangau (home of Neuschwanstein).
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FUSSEN & SCHWANGAU
To beat the crowds, we arrived at Neuschwanstein when it opened. Our entire visit lasted about 3-4 hours and it gave us the rest of the afternoon to explore the nearby towns.
After touring Neuschwanstein, spend a little time walking around the small village of Schwangau and then make the quick drive to Fussen (5 minutes) and spend the rest of the day here.
For a list of things to do, what to eat and where to stay in Fussen, click my related post below.
RELATED POST : 5 THINGS TO DO IN FUSSEN GERMANY
In the afternoon, it’s time to head to Munich to drop off your rental car.
AN ALTERNATIVE SUGGESTION TO THE ROMANTIC ROAD
If I knew then what I know now, I would’ve re-arranged my entire itinerary to spend much more time in Bavaria.
If you find yourself getting deja vu along the Romantic Road (a lot of the towns are very similar) and need a change of scenery, consider skipping a few stops and spending the rest of your days in the Southern half.
It’s 10x more romantic than the official Romantic Road. Seriously.
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19 thoughts on “The Romantic Road Germany Travel Guide // Tips, Maps & Itinerary”
Hello, we are thinking of spending one night in Rothenburg/Colmburg (coming from Munich) and one night in Fussen (then going to Salzburg). With only 2 nights, is it better to stay in these 2 places or stay 2 nights at one? The trip is in July. Is Romantic Road south or north better (i realize it’s not the road itself). Thank you.
I think you could easily spend 1 night in each place and it would allow you to have a more relaxed journey and it would break up your driving time. I preferred the southern half of the Romantic Road WAY more. If I were to do it again, I would spend almost all of my time in the south. I did love Rothenburg though, so I do recommend it. Hope this helps!
Thank you for your help!
Wanting to add this on to Salzburg and Oktoberfest this September….Any thoughts on an itinerary?
Hi Jennifer! I just helped a friend who is doing this exact trip during Oktoberfest. This is her (rough) itinerary:
Fly into Munich and spend a few days at Oktoberfest. Rent a car and drive to Rothenburg (2.5 hours) in the morning. Spend the night in Rothenburg and take the next day to drive down the Romantic Road, stopping in Nordlingen, Dinkelsbuhl and maybe Augsburg. Rothenburg to Fussen is only 2 hours so you can plan to spend as much or as little time stopping in the towns as you want. She’s staying in Fussen that night, waking up and doing Neuschwanstein in the morning and the rest of Fussen in the afternoon. From there, she’s spending another night in Fussen, waking up early and driving to Berchtesgaden. Then from Berchtesgaden, driving to Salzburg.
You could cut Berchtesgaden and drive straight to Salzburg from Fussen (2 hr 45 min and the drive is BEAUTIFUL). Or, if you don’t want to hold onto your rental car for that long.. go from Fussen back to Munich (1 hr 40 min) and take the train to Salzburg (1 hr 45 min).
You could also, obviously, do this in reverse as well.
Hope this helps!
A friend of mine, years ago, told me of his itinerary that started in Frankfurt, rented a car to drive south and see all the main stops. But then, to return to Frankfurt, went through Austria and Switzerland to then turn north back to the airport. I am trying to find a scenic, romantic trip with my wife that would do that. Many of the itineraries I have seen so far are one way, 7-day tours, so I am still searching. Any thoughts?
I haven’t traveled in this direction before but I just did a little bit of research. I’m not sure how much time you’re allotting but this would be the rough route I’d be interested in taking.
If you enter Austria after Fussen, you can stop at Reutte (20 min from Fussen) and then take the 198 highway West. I’ve always wanted to go to Lech (1 hr 15min from Ruette). From Lech you could make your way to Feldkirch (1 Hour). From Feldkirch, head to Zurich (1 hr 30 min). From Zurich to Basel (1 hr 15 min). Basel to Colmar, France (52 min). Colmar to Baden Baden Germany (1 hr 30 min). Baden Baden to Frankfurt (2 hr). Stopping in the little towns along the way (if time permits).
Google image search some of these towns and see if it gives you a bit of inspiration for your trip! Hope this helps,
We are planning to rent a car and drive from Munich to Frankfurt starting on the 28th December, 10 days all up. I have been doing some research and have read that some towns/ attractions are closed at this time of the year. Also wondering what the road conditions are like at this time of the year as we are from Australia and not used to driving in freezing conditions. Really pleased I found this site as we will now spend more time in the south. Just wondering where we should spend New Year’s Eve if you have any suggestions I would really appreciate your advice.
I have not driven the Romantic Road during December so I can’t give you any first hand experience notes. I imagine there will be lots of Christmas Markets to see during that time of year, especially in Rothenburg. Here are a few Trip Advisor links talking about road conditions during that time:
Here is some info about the Christmas Markets in each town:
As far as New Years Eve goes.. personally, I’d aim to be in a bigger city like Munich as there will be more going on. One of the biggest events in Munich is called the Tollwood Festival where they have tons of live music, vendors, food/drinks etc. Marienplatz in Munich is also popular on NYE.
Hope this helps!
A small group of us are planning a trip to Germany. We will flying into Munich to spend 2-3 days at Oktoberfest. From there, we wanted to do a 5 day drive through the romantic road before catching a plane from Frankfurt to Norway.
Do you have any suggested itinerary for this.
Thanks so much,
I have a 4 day itinerary in this post and then I’d suggest any extra time be spent in the southern half as it was much prettier. I would even consider going a little into Austria since it borders Fussen, is a quick and easy stopover and incredibly beautiful!!
Just want to let you know that we basically followed your itinerary above, rented our car from Frankfurt and driving through the Romantic route and ended with Fussen/Neuschwanstein Castle. It was fantastic. Just want to let you know that we found this post very helpful as a first timer on Romantic Road. Our fav old town was actually Dinkelsbuhl 🙂 Thanks for this post!
Cheers & have a good day!
Hi Vivien! Thank you SO much for coming back to let me know! It makes me so happy that everything worked out and Dikelsbuhl was one of my favorites too! 🙂
Coming to Munich for Oktoberfest. I will have 2 days before leaving for Paris. I want to do romantic road and see neuschwanstein castle. I need to start and end my trip in Munich. Can you give me a 2 day schedule for this trip? Thanks
I would recommend just doing a day/night trip to Fussen/Neuschwanstein because I don’t think you’ll have enough time for other stops on the Romantic Road. The area is beautiful and you should have more than enough to do. For a customized itinerary or schedule I would recommend maybe talking to a travel agent who can best come up with something to best suit your travel style. Have fun on your trip!
I’m very interested in how you would spend an extra day in Bavaria. After looking at your itinerary above, we are planning on maximizing time in Bavaria. What would you cut out entirely from your itinerary and what small towns would you add to the end of your trip after Fussen. Thanks!
Hi Marcella! If I were to do it again, I would probably cut Augsburg or Wurzburg because they had more of a bigger city vibe and I liked the smaller towns more. If I were to add an extra day in Bavaria, I would pack a picnic and from Fussen, I would just drive around and explore. Maybe pop into Austria because the border is basically in Fussen. I wrote a post about some stops/areas in Bavaria that we briefly visited. It’s an older post so it might not be super helpful in terms of information but you can get an idea of what it looks like. It’s stunning! https://hellojetlag.com/bavarian-alps-ohlstadt/
Hope this helps!
I just want to say thank you very much for your posts – we (my husband and I and our two adult children) are planning a trip to southern Germany in April/May (assuming travel is still allowed and the coronavirus slows down) and your site, by far, is the most helpful one we have found! We are more interested in cultural and natural beauty than big cities (but we will spend some time in Munich and Berlin). For example, your explanation about ticketing at Neuschwanstein is so helpful to us! Also the out of the way places to visit and things to do to avoid crowds are very useful to us. Your information will help make our trip so memorable. We will be staying in Starnberg as our base and doing day trips from there. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
I would suggest staying the night INSIDE the walls of Rothenburg. Staying anywhere else is a big mistake you will regret. It is really not that expensive to stay in most of the charming old places in town, and the experience of walking leisurely through town late at night, and waking up in town, not having to drive, walking to the bakery at sunrise, hearing the tower and church bells ringing, is, well……PRICELESS.