Germany's Romantic Road was once a trade route through Bavaria. Now it's a mostly scenic drive featuring walled medieval cities, towers, half timbered houses, and lots of tourist resources.
The entire drive is a little over 260 miles, and takes you from the town of Würzburg in the Franken wine growing region to Fussen, where you can stay while visiting the castle called Neuschwanstein. While you don't absolutely need a car to do this itinerary, you will likely miss out on a lot of what there is to see.
Romantic Road Map
The Romantic Road follows the important cities along the western boundary of Bavaria.
Cities and Attractions Along the Romantic Road
Würzburg: if you like your wine, you'll like Würzburg and its outdoor cafes and excellent restaurants. The Residenz Palace is a World Heritage Site, and you'll want to visit it along with the Marienberg Fortress.
Rothenburg ob der Tauber: Rothenburg is a must stop on the Romantic Road. Not only is it one of Germany's best preserved medieval towns with walls you can walk around, but it has a torture museum for when things get a little too romantic for you. Find out more about Rothenburg, Germany, including pictures, a map, and hotel recommendations. Rothenburg also has a thriving Christmas market. You can take a tour of Wurzburg to Rothenburg attractions with Viator.
Dinkelsbühl is 40km 40 km south of Rothenburg. I have to confess I like Dinkelsbühl best of all (yes, for me the town is even more evocative than Rothenburg). You can walk along the walls or get guided by a night watchman if you like. Don't miss Saintgeogskirche (St. George's Church), a late-gothic church on the Marktplatz. See the "pretzel window" donated by the Baker's Guild. Climb the Romanesque tower (which remains from an earlier church) for the views of Dinkelsbuhl.
Augsburg: Augsburg has a rich history dating back to the Roman empire. Dubbed both "The Renaissance City" and "Mozart City", it has been an important center of trade down through the ages. During the Renaissance, Augsburg was a main cultural center which is reflected in its fine Rococo architecture.
Pfaffenwinkel: It's a small region rather than a town, but, according to Germany Travel's Birge Amondson, "this part of Bavaria (called "Pastor's Corner") is famous for its churches and pristine landscapes; a must-see is the pilgrimage church Wieskirche ("Church in the Meadow") in Steingaden; this rococo masterpiece is on the list of the UNESCO world Heritage sights."
Landsberg am Lech is yet another picturesque medieval walled city 35 km south of Augsburg along the Lech river, but Landsberg has a twist. It's known for its prison, in which Adolf Hitler was incarcerated in 1924 and where, in cell 7, he wrote Mein Kampf.
Fussen: This is Bavaria's highest city and the place where lots of folks stay to visit the castle of Neuschwanstein (and the interesting but lesser known Castle Hohenschwangau). If you crave life in a small town, you might select a hotel in Fussen, but if you like the country, and want to walk from your hotel to Neuschwanstein and/or Hohenschwangau, you can also stay in the village of Hohenschwangau. We had a great stay at the Hotel Müller with a view of Neuschwanstein castle.
Hotel Müller has an old fashioned luxury to it, a very good restaurant, and you can catch a horse and buggy or start your walk up to Neuschwanstein Castle right from the hotel's front drive.
The Castle of Hohenschwangau is tucked away in an interesting and lush landscape laced with trails, a fitting place to end your tour by spending three or four days being, well, romantic.