The Romantic Road


I married a German.

Every night I dress up as Poland

so he invades me.

Bette Midler

Dreaming of your next anniversary, honeymoon or escapade for two?  What’s now called The Romantic Road used to be a major trade route during the Middle Ages and has been re-branded today featuring plenty of old world charm. It is Germany’s most scenic drive through rolling hills past vineyards, restaurants, lush parks, historic castles, and old towns that transport you back in time. Mapped out in 1950, this “formal” route through the southern provinces of Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg helped rebuild Germany’s tourism industry after WWII.

To get started, fly into Frankfurt or Munich and rent a car. For the love of all that is good and metallic, skip the compacts and rent a fast BMW, Audi, or Mercedes. You’ll be on the Autobahn and you’ll feel safer with a big engine when everyone else is going 120 mph.

I love spontaneity and waking late, but it’s not a vacation if I have to drive (or cook.)  So I opt for the trains and, even better, an organized bus tour. There is much to be said about leaving all the planning and booking to someone else though I can’t rave as much about the “See you on the bus by 7:00/8:00 am” schedule.  To be fair, there is no way I’d get to see  half of a tour’s itinerary if I’m left to my own late start devices.

Photo up top is lunch by the Mosel River on a fine summer’s day. This area is home of the Reisling grape and where there are vineyards–no matter how slanted on a hillside–there’s wine! Nearby is one of the oldest and largest wine estates in Germany, Bürgerspital, situated in a beautiful and historic courtyard right in the middle of Würzburg.

The casino in Baden-Baden has got to be the most glamorous I’ve seen even though they humbly defer to being second to Monaco’s. I’d have to agree that their facade and lobby do not do justice to the interiors that’s still stunning after over a century.

Where to stay: Brenners Park Hotel & Spa is excellent in location, food and service with superb attention to detail.

In Munich, join a bike tour to add variety to your fitness routine and stop by the English Garden to see their famous surfers. This all white church in the city could inspire your next wedding or anniversary (cake.)

Where to stay: The Mandarin Oriental is modern and elegant, but the Bayerischer Hof has the prettiest lounge under a blue dome with a white bar set on a stage at the far end. If you can’t sleep early, there’s a nightclub in the basement with a live band most weekends.

And what’s romance without a bit of fairytale? Neuschwanstein in Bavaria is the castle that inspired Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty version in Disneyland. I completely missed this highlight in a previous tour due to a shroud of fog so I’m thrilled to report I made it this time around. While many of its rooms went unfinished whenThe Swan King who designed this castle died, the intricate workmanship that executed his vision in the finished rooms. Tickets are time specific and if you’re late to claim them at your appointed hour, they’ll be quickly snapped up by some other tourist.

Where to stay nearby: Hotel Das Rübezahl, a spa hotel at the base of the Alps with a welcoming fire in the lobby, a glass of sparkling wine on arrival, and views of the castle from bedroom balconies.

For more sights along the Romantic Road, see Germany Travel Guide. Fun fact: While Americans have been captivated by the “Romantic Road” and the classic movie “The Sound of Music” filmed in Salzburg, many Germans have not heard of either one.

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share where you’d map out your own romantic road.


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