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Car, Bus, or Train: How To Visit The Romantic Road

The Romantic Road is a stretch of road 220mi long in Southern Germany connecting the towns of Würzburg and Füssen with a bunch of quaint medieval towns along the way.  The road itself is scenic – there is no shortage of rolling hills and stretches of the Bavarian countryside.  When I was doing research on Bavaria, a journey on this road was one of the must-do’s, but the more research I did, the more confused I was!  Which towns are worth visiting?  What’s the best way to travel the route (train, bus, car)?  Things were further complicated by the fact that we were traveling in winter and road conditions were questionable.

Now that I’m back from my trip, here’s my recommendation if you’re considering spending a few days along the Romantic Road – rent a car, opt for the navigation, and drive the road at your own pace.  The roads in Germany are smooth, easy to drive, and you’ll earn bragging rights for cruising down the autobahn at over a hundred miles an hour (if that’s what you’re into).  Plus, with a car you’ll have all the advantages of visiting each town at your own pace spending as little or as much time in each town as you want.  The other two alternatives are a tour bus which instantly puts you at the whim of the tour itinerary (read: you’re on someone else’s schedule) and the train, which doesn’t even service all the towns!  Besides, the stretch of road is called the Romantic Road and not the Romantic Rail for a reason!  So, now that I’ve actually done it, it’s really a no brainer – drive it yourself all the way!  The only major thing I’d caution is to ensure you have a reliable navigation system as the street signs aren’t always obvious and it would be super easy to get lost.  Luckily for Mr. T and I, we had cell service so good ol’ Google maps helped navigate us without fail.

If you’re interested a sample itinerary, we started and ended in Munich and spent 3 days and 2 nights along the road.

Day 1: Leave Munich in the morning and drive to Nuremburg (~2 hour drive).  Spend the rest of the day visiting the shops in Nuremburg and walk up to the castle for the view of the city.  Overnight in Nuremburg.

Day 2: Leave Nuremburg after breakfast and drive to Rothenburg (~ 1 hour and 15 min drive).  Walk through Rothenburg, visit the shops, and take a horse carriage tour of the town.  Overnight in Rothenburg.

Day 3: Leave Rothenburg after breakfast and make your way back to Munich, stopping in Dinkelsbuhl for lunch, then climbing up the church tower in Nördlingen for the view of town, and stopping for picture ops in little Harburg.  You should be able to get back to Munich in time for dinner.

While we returned the car in Munich you could continue down through the Bavarian Alps all the way to Füssen on days 4 and 5.  I highly recommend doing this instead of doing what we did – we took a tour through the Alps on Day 4 and (what a surprise) was rushed from attraction to attraction the whole day.  If we could do it over, we’d drive the road ourselves (make sure you have chains if you’re doing this in the winter as this area gets more snow) so that we could take our time stopping in the little towns and touring Sleeping Beauty’s castle near Füssen.

The Bavarian Alps and the castles around it are in a class of their own so first and foremost, make sure they are on your itinerary!  If you’ve got time afterwards to properly visit the other cities along the Romantic Road, the best ones were Nuremburg and Rothenburg.  Nuremburg is a must-see especially if you’re there during the Christmas markets since it hosts the largest and most famous Christmas market in Germany.  Rothenburg is just so darn festive it’s like you’re in an amusement park!  There are literally Christmas trees year-round in Rothenburg so it’s the place to go if you’re yearning for the holiday spirit (and even if you’re not).  Dinkelbuhl, Nördlingen, and Harburg are less touristed and worthwhile if you’re in the neighborhood, but not worth a special trip of its own.  Finally, we also stopped at Augsburg enroute to Munich.  Augsburg is just another big city in Germany and not worth the stopover if you’re looking for that medieval town feel so feel free to skip it.

If you’ve got the time, consider driving the Romantic road to get from Frankfurt to Munich or vice-versa.  You could probably make this trip rushing from city to city in about 3 days or you could take your time and do it over 5-7 days.

Here are some pictures from our trip along the Romantic Road:

Nuremberg Castle at night

On the streets of Rothenburg

A view of Rothenburg from the town wall

A quiet day on the streets of Dinkelsbühl

A view of Nördlingen from the top of St. George tower

Harburg castle sits high above the town

The beautiful Bavarian Alps from the window of Neuschwanstein Castle

 

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Gerry Betz - July 16, 2015 - 3:01 pm

I stumbled upon your post of the Romantic Road, very interesting. We plan on making this trip (via rental car) from Munich to Kehl. We depart Munich on September 15 and need to be in Kehl on the 18th. Could you suggest towns to overnight in?
Thank you,
Gerry

JustWanderlust - July 16, 2015 - 4:57 pm

Hi Gerry- the romantic road towns worth a stop are Nuremburg and Rothenburg but those aren’t on the way to Kehl. If you’re trying to do a straight shoot over to Kehl, I don’t know where to stop since I’m not familiar with that part of Germany. If you have time, however, you should try to stop by one or two of the cities along the Romantic Road I mentioned in this post.

Gerry Betz - July 16, 2015 - 5:45 pm

We will be in Munich for a week at a convention (actually only at the convention two days), then do part of the romantic road. The reason for Kehl is to turn in the car, go across to France and pick up another car for a two week road trip south and then ending up in Paris.

Jan - August 16, 2015 - 12:23 am

Hi, me & my husband are planning to start our Romantic Route from Munich and then down to Fussen and all the way up to Frankfurt. We plan to hire a car and do the above stretch. Please can you advise which Towns we should be staying the night at? Much appreciate…

JustWanderlust - August 29, 2015 - 7:39 am

Hi Jan – Of the towns I went to, I liked Rothenburg and Nuremberg as overnight options.

sandra - September 21, 2015 - 8:48 pm

Hi am looking at doing the Romantic Road in April 2016. We are arriving by train from the Colgne area, and have 3 nights booked at Rothenburg and 3 nights at Fussen. What is the best way to see the villages in between. I know hiring a car is one option but as we are from Australia, driving on the opposite side of the road terrifies me. If we did the hire car option can we collect a car at Rothenburg and drop off at Fussen.

Thanks

JustWanderlust - September 22, 2015 - 9:19 pm

Hi Sandra – You can take a train or bus to get from two cities, but it will take you a twice as long doing it that way than if you had a car. Since train/bus travel isn’t the ideal way to explore this part of the country, I’d still recommend you rent a car. In some parts of it, the roads are pretty lonely. You’ll also have more freedom to go around as you please and you can even drive to the little towns that aren’t accessible by train/bus (a lot of them aren’t, actually). If you’re still stuck on using public transport to get around, check out http://www.rome2rio.com to get an idea of your options – I love this site since it shows you all the ways to get from point A to point B with one single click.

Steven - November 25, 2015 - 7:17 pm

Hi, I plan to visit Germany in May 2016 and interested to go on Romantic Road by driving. I do not intend to do the full route but what you have is good enough. I read some sites and they claimed cant get lost easily. Unsure how is it and would like to check with you on the ease of driving.

JustWanderlust - November 30, 2015 - 6:56 am

Hi Steven – we did not have trouble driving the roads at all, but we had navigation in the rental car and via our cell phones. I would recommend you get that because not all the streets are easily marked.

remi - May 14, 2016 - 12:25 am

Hi there,
thanks for the post. We’re flying into Munich and leaving from Frankfurt. Arriving in munich early tues, and into wed where we thn pick up our brand new car and take it on a road trip — thinking of doing routes along the romantic road. For the 1.5 days we are carless, we plan on staying in munich and exploring but then starting thurs we want to start our road trip and end up in frankfurt. Would do you still recommend munich to nuremburg first or do we go down to fussen first? I like quaint old time germany with the mediaveal towns. WE are there may 30-june 9 (with the last 1-2 days dedicated to nurburging for my hubby).

JustWanderlust - May 30, 2016 - 8:51 pm

Hi Remi – I would go to Fussen first just to see Sleeping Beauty’s castle. Medieval towns are cute, but if you’re going to go all the way to Munich, you should check out the castle. 🙂

Kay Noor - June 14, 2016 - 6:10 pm

Hi there.
We will be visiting Frankfurt in December. Should arrive on 9/12/2016. Will spend a few days in Frankfurt and then plan to do the Romantic Road. How will the roads condition generally be like? Will there be snow by then? I have driven during winter times in Europe. But no snow. So to drive on the snowy and probably icey roads would be something new and if possible i’d like to avoid.

Pls advice. Thanks.

JustWanderlust - June 14, 2016 - 10:36 pm

Hi Kay – Was your date written in MM/DD/YYYY or DD/MM/YYYY? If you’re arriving in Sept., there’s little chance there would be snow. If you’re arriving in Dec., you could face snow, but honestly, when we went in late December we actually wanted to see snow and saw none of it on the Romantic Road except in Fussen. I wouldn’t let snow stop me from visiting the Romantic Road, though. Just pick up some chains from the rental company if the weather reports predict a snowstorm while you’re there.

Casey - August 20, 2016 - 6:04 am

Your article is very helpful! Thank you for writing out your experiences for us to enjoy and learn from. I am planning on taking my wife to Germany for our 10 year anniversary in Sept 2017, and we will be traveling the romantic road over several days via rental car, among seeing other sites in Germany. I know the road is obviously romantic by name, but were there any super-romantic things to do that you saw while on your trip? Something that is really an above-and-beyond surprise that we could do that would really highlight the trip for a couple? Not sure what that might even be, but open to suggestions or ideas. Thanks!

JustWanderlust - August 20, 2016 - 1:28 pm

Casey – you are such a sweetheart for even thinking of something sweet for your wife like this! No wonder she married you! 😉 The road is called “the romantic road” but I’m not sure if the road is actually that romantic… I think it’s a marketing gimmick to get people to go. That said, it is a road with few cars and some farmland so it can be scenic if you’re into that kind of stuff. As far as super romantic things to do… I’m also not sure if there’s anything extra romantic beyond visiting small quaint towns, enjoying each other’s company as you pop into cafes, bakeries, little shops, and the horse carriage ride in Rothenburg. Maybe spring extra for a nice room and get the hotel to leave some flowers, wine, cheese, and a bubble bath going in the jacuzzi upon arrival? You can also ask the hotel for other romantic ideas beyond what I’ve listed. Hope that helps and enjoy your anniversary! Either way, you’ll be abroad and there’s always something romantic about being in a foreign city where the only other person who knows you well is your significant other! 🙂

Alyssa Bronikowski - April 10, 2017 - 10:37 am

Hello! Did you have trouble parking anywhere? Did you rent a small car or a midsize vehicle?

JustWanderlust - April 18, 2017 - 4:13 pm

Hi Alyssa – I can’t remember if it was a small or mid-size vehicle, but I didn’t have trouble finding parking.

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