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Plan Your Romantic Road Vacation

Nowhere cries "quintessential German" quite as loudly as the Romantische Strasse, or Romantic Road, a 355-km (220-mile) drive through the south-central countryside. With 28 traditional red-roofed villages, some still brimming with medieval architecture, rising out of the pastoral scenery, the route is also memorable for the castles, abbeys, and churches tucked away beyond low hills, their spires and towers just visible through the greenery.

The Romantic Road began in 1950 as a bus tour through this corner of West Germany, then occupied by the American forces, as a way to promote this historic route through Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg. Don't let the name fool you—this isn't a road for lovebirds; rather the word romantic is used to mean an adventurous look at the past, especially the Middle Ages.

Rich in history, the Romantic Road was traveled by the Romans 2,000 years ago. Its path criss-crosses centuries-old battlefields, most especially those of the Thirty Years' War, which destroyed the region's economic base in the 17th century. The depletion of resources prevented improvements that would have modernized the area—thereby assuring that these towns would become the quaint tourist destinations they are today.

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Top Reasons To Go

  1. Neuschwanstein Emerald lakes and the rugged peaks of the Alps surround what's become the world's most famous storybook castle.
  2. Rothenburg-ob-der-Tauber Stunning architecture and timber-frame houses give this quaint walled village an authentic Middle Ages feel, which only increases as you patrol the city walls with the night watchman after the tour buses have left town.
  3. Wieskirche Rising up out of the pastoral countryside, this local pilgrimage church is a rococo gem.
  4. Ulm's Münster Climb the 768 steps of this church's tower to get a view over the city and take in the most elaborately designed evangelical church in Germany.
  5. Würzburg’s Residenz Explore the gilt and crystal splendor of this lavish palace, once the home of prince-bishops.

When To Go

When to Go

Late summer and early autumn are the best times to travel the Romantic Road, as the grapes ripen on the vines around Würzburg and the geraniums...

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