The Romantic Road: Southern Germany’s Most Scenic Corners
The Romantic Road is Germany’s oldest and most popular vacation route, and a trip along it is always worthwhile. On the 460-kilometer-long road that passes through a total of 29 towns, you’ll find everything your heart desires. It invites you to dream while you pass cities rich in history, art, and culture, as well as natural beauty in all its forms.
Choose your own path along the Romantic Road. If you travel by car, you can complete it in a day. If you want to travel by bike, however, we recommend stopping at some towns mentioned in this article. Try and take some time to explore each of them, regardless of the type of transportation you use!
From Würzburg to Füssen, from the Main to the Lech, join us on a virtual adventure through the romantic castles, monasteries, and vineyards of southern Germany.
First Section – Würzburg to Wertheim
The first section takes us from Würzburg, a student city, to Wertheim, about 50 kilometers away (from the Main to the Tauber). From shopping in the old town to a breathtaking view from the Marien Fortress, Würzburg has a lot to offer. The pilgrimage church of Käppele, as well as the vineyards that can be seen on the route between the two cities, are also worth highlighting.
Right on the Bavarian border lies Wertheim, Baden-Württemberg’s northernmost city. The old half-timbered houses are inviting and reminiscent of the Middle Ages. Wertheim Castle, perched above the city, is worth visiting if you don’t mind climbing a lot of stairs – 612, to be exact. As a reward, a restaurant with culinary delights and a view like no other awaits you at the top.
Second Section – Wertheim to Rothenburg ob der Tauber
Continuing from Wertheim, the route takes you across the Tauber Valley to Rothenburg ob der Tauber, a journey of just over 100 kilometers. Take some time to visit several monasteries, baroque churches, and castles during a short stopover. Also worth a visit are Gamburg, Tauberbischofsheim’s historic old town with Castle Kurmainzisches; the Franconian town of Grünsfeld; Lauda-Königshofen in the middle of the vineyards; Bad Mergentheim’s vacation and healthcare hotspot; and Weikersheim’s art and culture city.
The 2-kilometer-long Sonnenuhrenweg (Sundial Trail) runs from Weikersheim to Röttingen. If you continue on the path, you’ll arrive in Creglingen, a medieval town about 20 minutes from Rothenburg ob der Tauber. Here, you can relax at the Münstersee lake. When you finally arrive, you’ll discover all kinds of historical art and culture. You can also climb the town hall tower to get a mesmerizing view of the Tauber valley and Rothenburg’s old town.
Third Section – Rothenburg ob der Tauber to Dinkelsbühl
Over the Franconian Heights to the Wernitz, the route continues from Rothenburg ob der Tauber to Dinkelsbühl. There’s a lot to see and do on the 108-kilometer stretch. The Wildbad Rothenburg resembles an enchanted forest, while the daycare in the city center is like a fairy tale castle. Are you longing for relaxation? Then you’ve come to the right place. The most remarkable aspect of Rothenburg is that the town appears to have been entirely preserved since the Middle Ages, with original structures, historic half-timbered houses, and a town wall. Rothenburg ob der Tauber is, without a doubt, one of the Romantic Road’s highlights.
The journey continues to Schillingsfürst, home to a massive baroque castle and the famous Stupfl chocolate hedgehogs. Before arriving in picturesque Dinkelsbühl, stop by the natural adventure pool in Dombühl and the culture and festival city of Feuchtwangen. The former imperial metropolis, which is studded with half-timbered homes, considers itself Germany’s “most beautiful old town”. Walls, towers, gates, and moats from the Middle Ages still stand proud today.
Fourth Section – Dinkelsbühl to Donauwörth
This section is ideal for those who enjoy visiting monasteries. The Romantic Road continues from Dinkelsbühl to Donauwörth, which is 62 kilometers away, along the Wörnitz River.
Along the way, you can marvel at the Hesselberg and even climb it if you have time. It’s the tallest mountain in Middle Franconia, at 689 meters. From the top, it provides an amazing view of the Alps, which are nearly 150 kilometers away. Continuing past the beautiful towns of Maihingen and Wallerstein (with the Wallerstein Rock), you’ll come across the Nördlinger Ries. This is a 20-24-kilometer-wide crater that was created thanks to a meteorite impact about 14.6 million years ago.
The medieval town of Nördlingen is in the middle of the Ries, and the view from the top of St. George’s Church is something special. From there, you’ll see the city walls and towers from the Middle Ages. A bit further south, you can visit a medieval castle, which is regarded as the landmark of Harburg. You then continue to the end of this section in the former imperial city of Donauwörth, where you can find many Renaissance buildings. Make yourself at home in one of the cafés or take a stroll through the numerous shops!
Fifth Section – Donauwörth to Augsburg
60 kilometers south of Donauwörth (from the Danube to the Lech) is Augsburg. The Riedlinger Baggerseen recreational area is not far from Donauwörth. In hot weather, you can cool off and refresh yourself in the quarry ponds. Another of our recommendations is the lovely parish church of the Assumption, which is beautiful both on the outside and inside with its neo-baroque interior design.
On your way to Augsburg, you’ll then go through Rain, a flower town with many magnificent parks. Augsburg is a university town and one of Germany’s oldest cities. It has Renaissance, Rococo, and Gothic architecture, as well as the Stadtwald Augsburg, a 21-square-kilometer nature reserve ideal for walks or hikes.
Sixth Section – Augsburg to Schongau
The route continues along the Lech River from Augsburg to Schongau. The trip is just under an hour and a half long and includes some interesting stops. Friedberg, a 750-year-old village near Augsburg, is home to the Friedberg Baggerseen and the Friedberg Castle, which was erected in 1257.
Landsberg am Lech, with its several churches, winding streets, and a nearby game park, is also an essential stop. If you continue driving, you’ll pass the small community of Hofenfurch, which is considered a gateway to the Pfaffenwinkel and provides an unrivaled view of the meadows and forests. Schongau is known as a relatively contemporary medieval mountain town with a museum housed in an old church. It’s fascinating to see how the Middle Ages collide with modern times.
Seventh Section – Schongau to Füssen
Through the Pfaffenwinkel, also known as the land of churches and monasteries, you’ll continue the almost 50-kilometer stretch to the endpoint of the Romantic Road. Peiting is a nice stop just five kilometers away and located in the middle of the Alps. Hohenpeißenberg is home to the 1,000-meter-high Hoher Peißenberg mountain and is also worth a visit.
On the trip through Pfaffenwinkel, there are several settlements, churches, and a lot of wildlife to see. After passing through the vacation village of Wildsteig, the next stop is the former monastery village of Steingaden. It’s now a recreational village and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1983.
Continuing, you’ll reach Halblech, a beautiful village in the Ammergebirge nature reserve. The Romantic Road’s centerpiece is, of course, Schwangau, which is home to some world-famous royal castles. There’s the castle of Hohenschwangau, as well as King Ludwig II’s fairy-tale castle of Neuschwanstein. Both, however, are only accessible as part of a guided tour.
When you get to Füssen, you’ll understand why it was chosen as the Romantic Road’s endpoint. The town, which is nestled in the mountains and borders Austria, offers fantastic hiking and biking trails with spectacular views. This roughly 2000-year-old settlement is Bavaria’s highest town.
There’s something for everyone to discover along the Romantic Road – nature, castles, fortresses, monasteries, and both small and large towns, villages, communities, people, and creatures of all types. In addition, there’s history and scenery as far as the eye can see.
Are you looking for a new adventure and want to see southern Germany from a different perspective? The historical route is definitely for you. You’ll learn about Germany’s past in an entirely new light and become one with nature while driving through towns and places you’ve probably never heard of before.
When most people hear the word “travel,” they think of southern Europe, Scandinavia, or somewhere as far from home as possible. However, you don’t always have to travel miles away. Some of the most beautiful sites are often right outside your door or only a short drive away.