The Romantic Road (Romantische Straße) is a stretch of road that links picture-postcard towns, fairytale castles, breathtaking landscapes, historic b.a.t.tlegrounds, and cultural landmarks, all of them quintessentially German. This 217-mile (350-kilometer) stretch, with its vast range of attractions, is one of the most popular tourist routes in Germany. Here are our top picks of the best sights to enjoy as you travel along this legendary route.
1. Wurzburg Residence
The Würzburg Residence is a magnificent palace displaying a unique combination of French château architecture, Viennese baroque style, and secular architecture of northern Italy. The palace and court church are open for public tours, and visitors get a chance to gape at historic furniture, paintings, artifacts, artworks, and tapestries. The palace sits in an immaculately maintained lush green garden designed with admirable symmetry.
2. Rothenburg ob der Tauber Old Town
The beautifully preserved medieval walled town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber rightfully belongs in glossy picture books. This amazingly quaint town, perched on the banks of the River Tauber, effortlessly makes travelers fall in love with its cute cobbled streets, flower-box windows, and half-timbered houses. It is also one of the best places in Germany to shop for Christmas ornaments.
3. Harburg Castle
The hilltop Harburg Castle is a gem located in the shy, unassuming town of Harburg. This beautiful medieval castle has been amazingly well preserved for the last 900 years. The castle offers guided tours and walks visitors down the sentry points, dungeons, prison tower, ballroom, balconies, and a huge courtyard with a well.
Dinkelsbühl, as it exists today, is 400 years old, but its history can be traced back over 800 years. It is a place where time seems to have stood still. The skyline of the town is made up of tightly packed, steep-roofed semi-timbered houses, lush greenery, and the Gothic Minster of St George, one of the most beautiful churches in the country.
Over a million people flock to the Wieskirche every year, and with good reason. This rococo church from the 1700s rose to fame as a pilgrimage center when tears were found on a wooden figure of Jesus a few years after the church was built. However, it doesn’t take a believer to be amazed by the artistry of this church, the rich decorations, and the serene music. The Wieskirche is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
6. Ulm Minster
Ulm Münster is the largest Protestant church in the country and the tallest church tower in the world (not counting the unfinished Sagrada Familia, Barcelona). The church attracts devotees from all over the country, while its gorgeous architecture, beautiful artwork, and uninterrupted views from the tower are magnets for sightseers.
7. Neuschwanstein Castle
The 19th-century romanesque revival castle Neuschwanstein is pretty much unanimously agreed to be the most spectacular castle in the world. Inspiration for the fairytale Sleeping Beauty, this stunning ornate palace set against the imposing Alps draws millions of tourists every year. Visitors are welcome to take part in a guided tour of the rich interior beyond its limestone facade.
Forggensee is one of several lakes near Neuschwanstein Castle that up the beauty quotient of the region. The sparkling blue, crystal-clear lake surrounded by rolling green meadows and majestic cliffs takes visitors’ breath away with its pristine beauty. It is also extremely popular among adventure-sports and water-sports enthusiasts.
9. Linderhof Palace
Linderhof Palace is one of three castles commissioned by the eccentric King Ludwig II, another being the famed Neuschwanstein. Though smaller, Linderhof Palace boasts a jaw-dropping interior; the Hall of Mirrors is perhaps its most loved section. The palace sits in a stylish, geometric garden with manicured bushes and ornate fountains.