The Romantic Road: Road Trip Guide // Itinerary, Maps & Tips
“I climb behind the steering wheel… I drive off immediately without once looking back; it’s a long journey but it leads to freedom.” – Corinne Hofmann
When we talk about ultimate travel adventures, it is not easy to not mention a European road trip. The diverting cultures and picture-perfect scenery along the journey guarantee any road-tripper a memory to last a lifetime. A road trip adventure is our favourite way to explore a country. In this article, we will specifically share about our experience along Romantische Straße in Germany, and how we made it with a tiny budget.
Visitors to Southern Germany are always astounded by the picturesque-350km Romantic Road (Romantische Straße) through the forests and mountains of Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg. There are many enchanting medieval towns and villages along the route, with its northern endpoint in Würzburg and southern endpoint at Füssen. Road-trippers will definitely love this region for the impeccable scenery, be it the sprawling vineyards, the foothills of the Alps, or the iconic Neuschwanstein Castle.
Frankfurt is the ideal base to embark on the road trip to Romantische Straße. Once you've arrived in Frankfurt, take a half-day break to rest and relax from the tiring long-haul flight. There are a handful of fascinating attractions in Frankfurt. Take a leisure stroll around Frankfurt's Altstadt, where in the heart of it, you will find the Römerberg, an irregularly-shaped square famous for numerous attractions and open-fronted shops around.
Pick up your rental car in Frankfurt and drive to Würzburg.
WÜRZBURG (Frankfurt to Würzburg: approx. 1.5 hour)
Würzburg is known for lavish baroque and rococo architecture. One should never miss the 18th-century Residenz palace when being in Würzburg. Home to numerous wine bars, cellars and wineries, take some time to appreciate the delicate wine this region has to offer.
Parking in Würzburg
Parking in Würzburg isn't too bad actually. There's a big parking garage in the city center (Marktgarage) and a large parking area in front of the Residence plus a couple of smaller garages.
ROTHENBURG OB DER TAUBER (Würzburg to Rothenburg ob der Tauber: approx. 1 hour)
Being Germany's best-preserved Medieval walled town, Rothenburg can be everyone's love at first sight. Although in more recent years, Rothenburg ob der Tauber has risen to the attention of many avid travellers and road-trippers, causing it to be overcrowded and its souvenirs overpriced, it doesn't make up a good reason to skip this town and to be within these protective walls, where modern-day travellers meet medieval wayfarers. Tips: There are several Rothenburg(s) in Germany, do make sure that you're heading Rothenburg ob der Tauber (on the Tauber River), as people can accidentally drive up to another Rothenburg!
Parking in Rothenburg ob der Tauber
There are several parking areas outside the walls of Rothenburg:
• P1 Friedrich-Hörner-Weg (cars, motorcycles, buses, trucks)
• P2 Nördlinger Straße (cars, motorcycles, mobile homes, buses, trucks up to 7,5 t)
• P3 Schweinsdorfer Straße (cars, motorbikes, mobile homes, buses, trucks)
• P4 Galgentor (cars, motorcycles)
• P5 Bezoldweg (cars, motorcycles)
Cars, motorbikes, trucks and buses are allowed to park - by 9AM to 6PM costs with parking ticket. The remaining time is free.
Wake up early to enjoy Rothenburg ob der Tauber. It's magical during morning hours before day-trippers begin to swarm the place. After that, drive to Dinkelsbühl.
(Rothenburg ob der Tauber to Dinkelsbühl: approx. 45 minutes)
Dinkelsbühl is a charming town of Renaissance patrician houses encircled by Medieval walls and towering gatehouses. The town was untouched during World War II, hence a well-preserve Medieval town. We see this as charming as Rothenburg, but it wasn't as crowded, making it a must visit stop along Romantische Straße.
Parking in Dinkelsbühl
Although you can park within the Old Town except for Sundays, parking is limited and cramped. There are several parking lots outside of the walls and we recommend that you park in one of these.
(Dinkelsbühl to Augsburg: approx. 1.5 hour)
Augsburg is a fantastic destination that worths a good amount of time to explore. The city is impressive with a 2000-year-long history, being not only one of Germany's oldest cities, but also holds several Rococo and Renaissance masterpieces that can still be visited today.
Parking in Augsburg
There are numerous parkgarage in Augsburg. Depending on your convenience, you can select a parkgarage near to your starting point. Parking rate varies.
We absolutely recommend an early departure from Augsburg as the crowd at Neuschwanstein Castle does get a little too overwhelming after morning hours.
(Augsburg to Neuschwanstein Castle: approx. 1.5 hours)
Fairy tales could be real. Even if you're not entirely a "fairy-tale" person, there are still a thousand reasons to fall in love with this surreal beauty. Neuschwanstein is one of the most popular of all the palaces and castles in Europe. Its setting could not be more idyllic, standing amidst shrub which portrays different shades of colour across differing seasons. Tips: Marienbrücke offers a clear line of sight of Neuschwanstein Castle.
Parking at Neuschwanstein Castle
Parking at the castle is not allowed and you will have to do in the small village Hohenschwangau (parking P1 to P4). Enter the 'Alpseestrasse' in your navigation and you will automatically see the signs of the parkings. The parking costs per day are: Car € 6,00.
(Neuschwanstein Castle to Fussen: approx. 10 minutes)
Füssen is a charming little town. As much as it often gets overshadowed by the iconic Neuschwanstein Castle nearby, visitors who make time to stop by Füssen will be rewarded with its alluring building architecture and the old-world charm of cobblestoned streets.
Parking in Fussen
The parking facilities around the old town of Füssen are marked in the map on the side. For parking rate(s), you may find this link useful: Click here to read more
Before heading Munich, we recommend road-trippers to take a by-trip to Forggensee and Wieskirche (in Steingaden).
(Fussen to Munich: approx. 2 hours)
Being the capital and most populous city of Bavaria, Munich has long attained the hearts of travellers. Even if you're not visiting Munich for Oktoberfest (which you totally should make it to your bucket list), this storied Bavarian capital is still vibrant and exciting while retaining its old world charm. When you're there, don't miss out:
(Psst: If you are a beer drinker, Hofbräuhaus is a place to be. Embrace the evening in vivacious live music while celebrating a successful road trip over a mug of fine-brewed beer!)
We highly recommend driving from North to South. All official towns are marked in the map above. The suggested route is marked in blue, by travelling this way, you can avoid the heavily used main roads.
Locations of all suggested accommodation are marked in the map above.
MEININGER Hotel Frankfurt
ROTHENBURG OB DER TAUBER
Gasthaus zur Linde
Address: Kirnberg 25, 91607 Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany
Check rates on booking.com
Hotel Augsburg Goldener Falke
LetoMotel München City Nord
TIPS FOR BUDGET
A road trip in Germany is considerably budget-friendly. If you're not looking at splurging your money on a German road trip, these tips may help:
Accommodation: When it comes to choosing a place to put up a night or two, staying just right in the middle of a city centre may sound too tempting. However, this may also mean more expensive room rate. Most old towns along Romantische Straße are pedestrian-only area and cars are not permitted to enter. Even if it does, it usually means extra cost incurred on overnight parking. Since you have a car during the journey, you may want to consider staying somewhere slightly further from the town centre. Not only will it be accessible in a few minutes' drive, the room rate is lower, parking might be offered free, too.
Food: Germany is well-known for numerous types of scrumptious street food. From Bratwurst to pretzel, one can find how readily these street foods are to welcome visitors at a very reasonable price. Sample these during your journey, it's a delight to your tastebuds and wallet. Another great advantage of having a car in Germany is that you can stock up some snacks or ready-meals from supermarket. Supermarkets in Germany are known for selling quality products at everyone's affordability. When you get hungry during the drive, look for a safe spot to stop the car and enjoy a mini picnic. However, we would still recommend eating out some evenings to learn about culinary culture in this country.
Transportation: Car rental rate in Germany is relatively cheap compared to its neighbouring countries. Passenger car drivers can still drive the Autobahn without any extra charges (so far), hence making fuel prices the only concern. If there are two (or more) of you, however, driving a car along Romantische Straße seems like an ideal choice.
ROAD TRIPPING ALONG ROMANTISCHE STRASSE
Here are some practical tips for a more enjoyable road trip experience along Romantische Straße.
1. Travel from North to South
Travelling from Würzburg to Füssen is one of the best route you can heed. The charming towns along the route will build up much excitement for the proper grand finale.
2. Manage your expectation
As much as Romantische Straße is one of the most scenic routes to travel along in Germany, it is actually not very "romantic". Although there are many stops along the route, the fact is you can easily drive pass them in 10 seconds. Yes, it's that small. Therefore, we advise road-trippers to appreciate Romantische Straße from another aspect, don't just view it from the word "Romantic".
3. Avoid the heavily used main roads
If you've picked a few towns to stop by along the journey, and have them set in your navigator, very likely you will be directed to use the main roads, which are far from what you would have expected to see along the way. For a full authentic Romantische Straße experience, set all the towns in the navigator and drive pass them one-by-one, or just follow the brown signboards indicating "Romantische Straße" along the way.
The most exhilarating bit of a road trip is to actually starting one. It's not only about the scenery along the journey (though this is what sets you off initially), it's the freedom from the bottom of your heart which unleashes the beauty of every bit you've come across your journey.