The Perfect Germany Romantic Road Itinerary: Tips, Map, & Guide
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Chances are if you’re reading this, you’re either planning a trip to Germany or thinking about it……lucky you! I’m in love with Germany and hope that this Romantic Road Itinerary helps you.
When I found myself getting the chance to go back to Germany for a friend’s wedding in the summer, I knew it was my chance to finally drive on the Romantic Road. My boyfriend and I did a ton of research on how to best drive the Romantic Road and based on our experiences, research and what I would and wouldn’t do again, I wanted to make this Romantic Road Itinerary for you!
How Much Time Do You Need to Drive the Romantic Road?
We started our European adventure with 4 days in London followed by 12 days in Germany. I’d been to Germany before a few times (hello, Oktoberfest), but have never gotten the chance to do the full Romantic Road. So, we decided to take 4 days to follow our Romantic Road Itinerary. If you’re on a time crunch, you can probably do it in 2 or 3 days depending on how much you want to drive.
We started our trip in Munich, made our way north by car, and ended our trip in Berlin. Berlin isn’t part of the Romantic Road, but we were flying home from the Berlin airport.
I also wanted to mention that if you plug in destinations in your GPS, sometimes it will take you on the freeway instead of the winding Romantic Road. So try your best to look out for signs like this image below. You also may want to print or bring an actual map of the Romantic Road with you to make sure you’re on the right path. It can sometimes get confusing on whether or not you are on the Romantic Road or not. We just felt lucky that Germans drive on the same side of the road as us, so we didn’t have to worry about the driving part!
How to Get Around on the Romantic Road
We flew from London (Heathrow) into Munich and rented a car at the Munich airport. We found that booking online ahead of time was the way to go and many sites have great deals. Make sure you also get a GPS in your car to find your way around.
Side Note: We ran into a snag when reading the rental car documentation that said you must have a German driver’s license or an international driver’s license to drive the car. Neither of us have either of these, so naturally this stressed me out. We ended up deciding to wing it with our American drivers license and no one said a thing. In fact, the guy at the check-out counter was wonderful and it worked out fine despite the paperwork we read. Just in case this happens to you, I wanted to let you know our experience.
By Train or Bus:
Some of you may be wondering why we rented a car since Germany has such a great train system, but we preferred to have the convenience and freedom that comes with having a car, especially while driving the Romantic Road. When I visited Germany a few years ago and thought about doing the Romantic Road solo by train, I had a lot of people recommended that I do it by car instead just for the flexibility.
However, I know that some of you may want to just take the train or a bus and that is still a great option, especially in Europe! Here is a great resource for taking the Romantic Road by train or bus!
Where to Start on the Romantic Road Itinerary
Start Your Trip & Get Your Car Rental in Munich (or Frankfurt)
Surprise! Munich isn’t technically on the Romantic Road. But, our journey started here since this is where we flew in from London.
Munich ended up being a great spot to start our Romantic Road itinerary even though I’ve heard Frankfurt is also a great starting point if you start north and drive south. It truly doesn’t matter. In Munich, we mainly spent most of our time drinking beer at the Hofbräuhaus and the Biergarten am Viktualienmarkt outside. Both were wonderful!
We started out our trip by making a day trip from Munich to the famous Neuschwanstein Castle and the town of Füssen! More details on that below.
If you’re coming from Munich you’ll drive about an hour and a half to get to Neuschwanstein Castle. Since this was the highlight of the entire Romantic Road itinerary for me, I recommend spending the day here and either staying the night in Füssen or spending the night back in Munich. However, most of the stops on the Romantic Road are close together so I wouldn’t worry too much about taking your time.
Neuschwanstein was actually the inspiration for Disney’s Sleeping Beauty castle and is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe for good reason—it’s completely stunning! Set on a rugged hill overlooking the Bavarian countryside, the castle is a must-see. It was my second time visiting and while I still haven’t been inside the castle (I’ve heard it’s not worth it inside) it was still magical the second time.
The weather was great in the summer, but to avoid massive crowds I’d also recommend going in the off-season. Check out my blog post sharing the best way to get to Neuschwanstein without a car and how to get pictures of the castle from the hill.
If you visit the castles of Neuschwanstein and the castle across the way, Schwangau, don’t forget to visit the town of Füssen. Located at the start of the Alps, it’s one of the closest towns to the Neuschwanstein Castle and is so picturesque! I highly recommend spending a morning checking out Neuschwanstein and Schwangau castles and then venturing down to Füssen for the afternoon.
Landsberg am Lech
If you’re heading on the Romantic Road from Munich or Füssen, Landsberg am Lech will be one of your first stops! It’s a quaint little town about an hour from Füssen and an hour from Munich. We actually just stumbled upon this town, but immediately fell in love with it. Set on the river Lech, it has well-preserved medieval architecture and we loved the colorful buildings and homes.
It was the first town on the Romantic Road (besides Füssen) that just blew me away. You can stop quickly in this town and grab a snack or just park and walk around. It’s SO adorable. We were pretty tired after a full Germany wedding party the night before so we stopped here for a quick visit, grabbed a coffee, walked around. Then we headed to Augsburg where we stayed our first night on the Romantic Road.
Note:Remember you could also do Neuschwanstein, Landsberg am Lech, and Augsburg in one day if you wanted to hustle a bit harder than we did.
We got to Augsburg in the later afternoon. It’s about 40 mins from Landsberg am Lech. While this town is bigger than a lot of the other towns on the road, it felt like the perfect size for a day of exploring. There were enough things to explore for a day but not too much to do. So, we decided to take naps once we arrived, wander around a bit, but mostly recoup after our wedding shenanigans. We knew we had another day ahead to explore.
I recommend spending a bit of time in Augsburg because there’s more to see here than in the little towns. We felt like we had the perfect amount of time here with about a little less than 24 hours.
Augsburg also has a Venice-like waterway going through the town and I highly recommend taking a stroll along the little waterway roads. The homes in this area are incredible and in the summertime, there are flowers on every house. We ate dinner at Ratskeller Augsburg and had our first wiener schnitzel of the trip! It’s a German restaurant located in an old cellar which was pretty neat. I also recommend visiting the Fuggerei, the world’s oldest social housing project, the multiple cathedrals like Augsburg Cathedral, St. Ulrich’s, and St. Afra’s Church, and walking along Maximilianstraße.
Fun Fact: In Germany the Romantic Road is also written as: Romantische Straße. So if you ever see it written like this, just know you’re on the right road!
Where to Stay in Augsburg
Since this is a bigger town, I’d recommend staying the night here after a full day of exploring and then waking up for a big day of Romantic Road towns along the road. We stayed at Drei Mohren Hotel for the night and it was a wonderful place (robes!!) located right in the center of town on the Maximilianstraße road. See current prices.
After staying the night in Augsburg, make your way up the Romantic Road and pause to admire the amazing castles along the drive! Schloss Harburg is a super medieval, fortress style castle. While we couldn’t see a lot of the inside without a guided tour, we really loved stopping to walk the grounds and check out the views of the town below! This is a great stopover on your way to your next town.
Nördlingen is the only city on the Romantic Road that is completely surrounded by a medieval wall. We loved this town and I think this was Jack’s favorite. We climbed up to the top of the walls surrounding the town and walked along the edge where guards used to watch for attackers.
Apparently you can walk along the perimeter of the entire thing, which we definitely decided against—there was too much left to see! While we didn’t do much here besides walk around and check out the scenery, I loved this town and walking around it was one of the highlights of my trip! Also, the outdoor dining culture you’ll notice all over Europe is very prevalent in Germany and in most of the towns we drove through. So special and so quaint!
This town was my favorite on the Romantic Road (besides Füssen). Not only because of the badass name but also because it’s super underrated, less touristy, and so adorable! All the guidebooks and blogs say you can’t miss Rothenburg which is definitely true, but it’s just way more crowded than Dinkelsbühl. If you have time for an extra stop, I’d highly recommend going to this off-the-beaten-path gem and just walking around! There are so many cute cafes, restaurants, and shops. We enjoyed the different colored buildings and took lots of pics!
Rothenburg ob der Tauber
This is the most famous stop on our Romantic Road itinerary and for good reason. It’s a super cute, magical town. But it’s a little less enjoyable when swarming with crazy tourists. We spent the night here so we could wake up early and get the town to ourselves before the big busses rolled in. Let me tell you, it was so worth it. If you do visit Rothenburg, I do recommend staying the night just so you can wake up in a peaceful town.
We stayed the night here at the Hotel Schwarzer Adler and while it was in a great location, I wouldn’t stay here again because it was a bit run-down and very basic. There are definitely better spots!
We got into Rothenburg a bit late at night after a big day of driving and exploring towns so it was nice to get the town to ourselves for a bit before heading out. Definitely go to Das Plonlein for a photo in the early morning, grab a Rothenburg schneeballen (large ball-shaped pastries that you’ll see all over Rothenburg), and visit the famous Kathe Wohlfahrt’s Christmas store!
Würzburg & Fortress Marienberg
After the night in Rothenburg, we drove to Würzburg (about 40 mins drive). Würzburg is another big town like Augsburg located on the Romantic Road. It was pretty amazing, but we didn’t do a ton of exploring because we were tired and had to get going for our next stops. If you do make it to Würzburg, I recommend visiting the Fortress Marienburg! The gardens were amazing and we loved the views of the city below. Many people also recommended the Residence (a baroque palace part of UNESCO) and the old bridge in town Alte Mainbrucke.
Würzburg is where our Romantic Road journey ended. We were sad, but excited to carry on! Würzburg is where most people start or stop their journey on the Romantic Road. If starting in Frankfurt, many people start in Würzburg and head down to Füssen.
Our next stop was Dresden (about 4 hours northeast of Würzburg). Since our flight back to the USA was through Berlin we decided to continue on north. I’ve added quick details on what we did in Dresden and Berlin in case you want to follow our same Romantic Road itinerary!
Dresden was nearly destroyed in WWII by heavy bombing. The crazy part is that they are STILL rebuilding the city back up and it’s been so many years. There is ongoing construction everywhere! They still have a ways to go, but the city center is pretty much restored to what it used to be and that’s where we stayed. Most of the buildings have been blackened from all of the bombs and fires, giving the city a unique ominous tone. For some reason, I wasn’t expecting Dresden to be so cool but was thoroughly impressed for the day and night we were there. I bet the Christmas markets here are amazing! While in Dresden we ventured around the main square to see the Frauenkirche, Fürstenzug, Zwinger Palace, Brühl’s Terrace and Dresden Cathedral. All places I’d recommend visiting!
After Dresden, we drove straight to Berlin for about 2 hours.
Final Stop: Berlin
I just love Berlin. The fact that it’s such a melting pot of cultures makes the city so loveable for me. Plus, all of the neighborhoods coming together to create one vibrant, eclectic, grungy, and historic city of awesomeness makes me love it so much. I can’t wait to go back again! This was my 2nd time here and I fell in love all over again.
Jack and I really enjoyed the Sandemans free walking tour (one of my favorite free tours in Europe) that took us literally all over the city to the most prominent museums and sites.
I recommend always doing one of these free walking tours when you first get to a European city because it truly gives you the lay of the land and great facts and tips to help you explore on your own. One of my favorite museums (I could do a whole blog on museums in Berlin) is the Topography of Terror. I highly recommend it!
We also enjoyed many kebabs (best in kebabs in the world in Berlin). This time we tried a great spot in the Hackescher Markt but you can find kebabs all over Berlin!
The best part of Berlin is that its people don’t try to cover up the city’s dark past. It’s portrayed in a shockingly honest way— in its full horror and nastiness. The people here own up to what happened. This, to me, is how you educate future generations so that history doesn’t repeat itself. I sure hope you all get a chance to visit this wonderful city at some point.
Where to Stay in Berlin
We stayed in Berlin for 3ish days before our flight back to the USA from the Berlin airport. We stayed at Hotel NH Berlin Alexanderplatz, but honestly, I think we messed up because the location wasn’t anywhere near Alexanderplatz. Fail.
If I had to do it again, I would stay in the location I stayed when I first visited, Rosenthaler Platz (one of my favorite areas of Berlin) at theCircus Hostel. There are other hotels in this area as well and there are subway stations nearby, making it easy to get around the city.
Other Stops on the Romantic Road:
Here are a few other spots you can add to your Romantic Road itinerary that we didn’t get to try, but you might find them just as charming as the others!
Hopefully this Romantic Road itinerary was helpful! Please let me know if you have any other great recommendations and feel free to connect with me over on Instagram at @travelingspud.
Welcome to the Traveling Spud! I’m Katie, a 29-year-old from Idaho who quit her marketing job in San Francisco, California to travel the world for a year. After a trip around the world, my heart chose Idaho. I'm addicted to outdoor adventures, photography and inspiring others to get out of their comfort zones and cross experiences off of their bucket lists. Let's explore together! Read more here.