The Romantic Road - Fodor's Germany - Fodor's

Fodor's Germany - Fodor's (2016)

The Romantic Road

Welcome to the Romantic Road

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Top Reasons to Go | Getting Oriented | What’s Where | Planning

Updated by Courtney Tenz

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.


Neuschwanstein: Emerald lakes and the rugged peaks of the Alps surround what’s become the world’s most famous storybook castle.

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.

Wieskirche: Rising up out of the pastoral countryside, this local pilgrimage church is a rococo gem.

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.

Würzburg’s Residenz: Explore the gilt and crystal splendor of this lavish palace, once the home of prince-bishops.


The Romantic Road captures classic Germany in the 28 towns that make up its route. Beginning in Füssen on the mountainous Austrian border and just a stone’s throw to Neuschwanstein, the fantastic castle built by Bavaria’s “Fairy-Tale King,” Ludwig II, the road follows an old trading route along the Lech River up through the handsome Renaissance city of Augsburg. From there, it winds northwest through pastoral countryside to the best-preserved medieval town on the continent, Rothenburg-ob-der-Tauber, before ending in Würzburg in central Germany, an hour from Frankfurt.


Toward the Alps. Alpine meadows provide a spectacular landscape for the fairy-tale castles of Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau near the Austrian border. The marvelous Wieskirche (Church of the Meadow) is just up the Romantic Road, where the mountains give way to rolling fields and beer beats out wine in the small inns of towns like Landsberg and Schongau.

Central Romantic Road. After crossing the Danube from the south, the route takes you through the influential city of Augsburg before continuing on through the lovely Tauber valley. Vineyards slope down the hills to the small valleys, broken up only by the walled fortifications encircling charming old towns such as Nördlingen, a medieval town built in a meteoric crater; Dinkelsbühl; and Rothenburg-ob-der-Tauber.

Northern Romantic Road. Wine lovers should plan an extra day for the Frankish capital of Würzburg, where they can sample delicious local wines and view the Residenz Palace. A short distance down the Tauber River is the spa town of Bad Mergentheim, well known for its healing waters and 900-year association with the German Teutonic Order.



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 run riot on the medieval walls of towns such as Rothenburg and Dinkelsbühl. You’ll also miss the high-season summer crush of tourists. Otherwise, consider visiting the region in December, when Christmas markets fill the ancient town squares and snow gives the turreted Schloss Neuschwanstein a magical touch.

Planning Your Time

While the two bigger cities of Augsburg and Würzburg can handle large influxes of visitors, it pays to visit any of the quaint villages lining the Romantic Road to get a feel for the laid-back local lifestyle. In the two most popular places, Rothenburg-ob-der-Tauber and Neuschwanstein, an overnight stay will help beat the crowds. On summer nights, you can follow the night watchman in Rothenburg as he makes his rounds, and stroll through the town in the early morning before the bus-tour groups push through the streets. At Neuschwanstein, it’s even more important to get an early start, as tickets are often booked out; even after reserving online ahead of time, expect a long wait during high season.


The major international airports serving the Romantic Road are Frankfurt and Munich.

Daily bus service from Frankfurt and Munich is provided by Eurolines Touring and Romantic Road Coach (the latter operated by the tourist office), and covers the entire stretch of the Romantic Road from Würzburg to Füssen. Both companies provide a hop-on, hop-off service, and tickets bought online are valid for up to six months (€84 one way, €120 round-trip). The buses run from April through October, come complete with audio guide, and stop at all the major sights along the road. Romantic Road Coach also has guides on board their weekend buses. Packages including bicycle transportation and hotel reservations can be booked directly online or through the Romantic Road official tourist office.

Bus Contacts
Eurolines Touring. | Am Römerhof 17 | Frankfurt | 069/7191-26261 |
Romantic Road Coach. | Segringer Str. 19 | Dinkelsbühl | 09851/551-387 |

Most easily traveled by car, the Romantic Road offers a number of opportunities to pause at scenic overlooks to get a feel for the area. Just be sure to follow brown landmark signs marking the Road instead of following a navigation system, as it was rerouted in recent years and a GPS will likely keep you on the faster, less scenic freeways, bypassing the many quaint villages lining the route. The roads are busy, and most have only two lanes, so figure on covering no more than 70 km (43 miles) each hour, particularly in summer. If you’re coming up from the south and using Munich as a gateway, Augsburg is 70 km (43 miles) from Munich via A-8. From there, you will continue north and end in Würzburg, the northernmost city on the route, which is 124 km (77 miles) from Frankfurt. If you’re traveling from the north, begin in Würzburg and follow country highway B-27 south to meet roads B-290, B-19, B-292, and B-25 along the Wörnitz River. It’s on the Frankfurt-Nürnberg autobahn, A-3, and is 115 km (71 miles) from Frankfurt. For route maps, with roads and sights highlighted, contact the Romantische Strasse Touristik-Arbeitsgemeinschaft (Romantic Road Central Tourist-Information) based in Dinkelsbühl.

Infrequent trains link the major towns of the Romantic Road, but both Würzburg and Augsburg are on the InterCity and high-speed InterCity Express (ICE) routes and have fast, frequent service to and from Munich, Stuttgart, and Frankfurt.


Specializing in hiking and biking tours, this company offers a number of multiday tours, including a “luggage free” five-day castle tour from Landsberg am Lech to Neuschwanstein and Füssen. | 08191/308-620 | | From €298.

Offers a number of scenic bike tours, including four along the Romantic Road (Würzburg to Rothenburg, Rothenburg to Donauwörth, or Donauwörth to Füssen). The first two trips can be combined for an eight-day tour. | Bücklestr. 13 | Konstanz | 07531/98280 | | from €365.


Restaurants in the heavily trafficked towns along the Romantic Road tend to be crowded during peak season, but if you plan your mealtimes around visits to smaller villages, you will be rewarded with Franconian or Swabian cuisine that is less expensive and may also be locally sourced. Some of the small, family-run restaurants close around 2 pm, or whenever the last lunch guests have left, and then open again at 5 or 5:30 pm. Some serve cold cuts or coffee and cake during that time, but no hot food.


With a few exceptions, Romantic Road hotels are quiet and rustic, and you’ll find high standards of comfort and cleanliness. If you plan to stay in one of the bigger hotels in the off-season, ask about discounted weekend rates. Make reservations as far in advance as possible if you plan to visit in summer. Hotels in Würzburg, Augsburg, Rothenburg, and Füssen are often full year-round. Tourist information offices can usually help with accommodations, especially if you arrive early in the day.


Romantische Strasse Touristik-Arbeitsgemeinschaft (Romantic Road Central Tourist-Information). | Segringerstr. 19 | Dinkelsbühl | 09851/551-387 |

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Toward the Alps

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Hohenschwangau and Neuschwanstein | Füssen

An hour west of Munich, the Romantic Road climbs gradually into the foothills of the Bavarian Alps, which burst into view between Landsberg and Schongau and grow magnificent as you continue to the route’s most southern tip—the town of Füssen, on the Austrian border. Landsberg was founded by the Bavarian ruler Heinrich der Löwe (Henry the Lion) in the 12th century, and the town grew wealthy from the salt trade. Solid old houses are packed within its turreted walls; the early-18th-century Rathaus is one of the finest in the region.

Schongau has virtually intact wall fortifications, complete with towers and gates. In medieval and Renaissance times the town was an important trading post on the route from Italy to Augsburg. The steeply gabled 16th-century Ballenhaus was a warehouse before it was elevated to the rank of Rathaus. A popular Märchenwald (fairy-tale forest) lies 1½ km (1 mile) outside Schongau, suitably set in a clearing in the woods. It comes complete with mechanical models of fairy-tale scenes, deer enclosures, and an old-time miniature railway that delights both kids and adults.

Toward the Alps

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103 km (64 miles) south of Augsburg, 121 km (75 miles) southwest of Munich.

These two famous castles belonging to the Wittelbachs are 1 km (½ mile) across a valley from each other, near the town of Schwangau. Bavaria’s King Ludwig II (1845-86) spent many summers during his youth at Schloss Hohenschwangau (Hohenschwangau Castle). It’s said that its neo-Gothic atmosphere provided the primary influences that shaped his wildly romantic Schloss Neuschwanstein (Neuschwanstein Castle), the fairy-tale castle he built after he became king. It has long been one of Germany’s most recognized sights.

Getting Here and Around

From Schwangau, 5 km (3 miles) north of Füssen, follow the road signs marked “Königschlösser” (King’s Castles). After 3 km (2 miles) you come to Hohenschwangau, a small village consisting of a few houses, some good hotels, and five big parking lots (parking €6). You’ll have to park and then walk to the ticket center serving both castles. If you are staying in Füssen, it is easiest to take the No. 73 or 78 bus to Hohenschwangau, which leaves from the train station in Füssen every hour from morning to night, and costs €1.60 per person one way. Tickets to the castles are for timed entry, so be sure to leave at least an hour, if not more, to get your tickets and take on the 1½-km (1-mile) uphill hike to Neuschwanstein from the ticket center. For a fee of €1.80, you can book your tickets up to two days in advance for either castle through the ticket center with a deposit or credit-card number, though in high season be sure to book several weeks in advance. You can change entrance times or cancel up to two hours before the confirmed entrance time. The main street of the small village of Hohenschwangau is lined with many souvenir shops and restaurants.


The best time to see either castle without waiting a long time is a weekday between January and April. The prettiest time, however, is in fall. TIP Bear in mind that more than 1.5 million people pass through one or both castles every year. If you visit in summer, get there early and reserve ahead.


Ticket Center. | Alpseestr. 12 | Hohenschwangau | 08362/930-830 |

King Ludwig II

King Ludwig II (1845-86), the enigmatic presence associated with Bavaria, was one of the last rulers of the Wittelsbach dynasty that ruled Bavaria from 1180 to 1918. While his grandfather and father had created grandiose Parisian-inspired buildings in Munich, Ludwig II preferred isolation in the countryside, where he spent many a childhood summer. Crowned king at the age of 18 after his father’s death, he constructed monumental edifices born of fanciful imagination—the fairy-tale-like castles that have become his legacy. A great lover of literature, theater, and opera, he was Richard Wagner’s principal patron and murals throughout each of his castles are dedicated to and inspired by Wagner’s operas, including the Niebelungen Legend.

Ludwig II reigned from 1864 to 1886, all the while avoiding political duties whenever possible. By 1878 he had completed his Schloss Linderhof retreat and immediately began Schloss Herrenchiemsee on an island in the center of a lake that was to be a tribute to Versailles and Louis XIV. Though both Herrenchiemsee and the grandest of his extravagant projects, Neuschwanstein, were never finished, the castles are concrete proof of the king’s eccentricity. In 1886, before Neuschwanstein was finished, members of the government became convinced that Ludwig had taken leave of his senses. A medical commission declared the king insane and forced him to abdicate. Within two days of incarceration in the Berg Castle, on Starnbergersee, Ludwig and his doctor were found drowned in the lake’s shallow waters. Their deaths are still a mystery.


Castle concerts.
Concerts by world-famous orchestras and classical singers are held throughout September in the Neuschwanstein Castle’s lavishly decorated minstrels’ hall. Tickets go on sale in February or March for the coming September and often sell out, so plan ahead if you want to go. | Neuschwanstein, Neuschwansteinstr. 20 | Hohenschwangau | 01805/819-831 |

Museum of the Bavarian Kings.
Once the Alpenrose hotel, this grand building directly on the Alpensee opened in 2012 as a museum chronicling the history of the Wittelsbach kings and queens from the 11th century to the present day. Focusing primarily on King Maximilian II and his son Ludwig, it details the family’s story and the influence of the Wittelsbach family in the region, from the development of Munich, their founding of the first Oktoberfest, and the family’s role as resisters against the Nazi regime and their eventual imprisonment during World War II. The interactive exhibits couple state-of-the-art technology with the gold and gilt belongings of the royal family, including an elegant fur robe worn by King Ludwig II. The adjacent Alpenrose-am-See café overlooking the lake is a good spot to relax. | Alpseestr. 27 | Hohenschwangau | 08362/926-4640 | | €9.50; combination ticket for both castles and museum €29.50 | Apr.-Sept., daily 9-7; Oct.-Mar., daily 10-6.

Schloss Hohenschwangau.
Built by the knights of Schwangau in the 12th century, this castle was later updated by King Ludwig II’s father, the Bavarian crown prince Maximilian, between 1832 and 1836. Unlike Ludwig’s more famous castle across the valley, Neuschwanstein, the mustard-yellow Schloss Hohenschwangau actually feels like a noble home, where comforts would be valued as much as outward splendor. Ludwig spent his childhood summers surrounded by the castle’s murals, depicting ancient Germanic legends, including those that inspired the composer Richard Wagner in his Ring cycle of operas. The paintings remain untouched in the dining room, as does the “Women’s floor,” which looks just as it did at the death of Ludwig’s mother, Marie, in 1889.

After obtaining your ticket at the ticket center in the village, you can take a 20-minute walk up either of two clearly marked paths to the castle, or board one of the horse-drawn carriages that leave from in front of the Hotel Müller (uphill €6, downhill €3). | Alpseestr. 12 | Hohenschwangau | 08362/930-830 | | €12, includes guided tour; combined ticket for Hohenschwangau and Neuschwanstein €23; combined ticket for both castles and museum €29.50 | Late Mar.-mid-Oct., daily 8-5; mid-Oct.-mid-Mar., daily 9-3:30.

Schloss Neuschwanstein. The most famous of German castles, and one of the best-known sights in all of Germany, this castle inspired Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty and Disneyland castles.


Alpenrose am See.
$$$ | EUROPEAN | There is no spot more idyllic in Hohenschwangau to enjoy excellent food and stunning views over the Alpsee and mountains beyond. The café, which is next to the Museum of Bavarian Kings, is a good choice to escape the tourist masses for lunch or afternoon coffee and cake on the terrace. The continental European cuisine includes several game and pork dishes, as well as a selection of vegetarian dishes. The romantic five-course “Rosendinner” is served in a private room off the terrace that’s filled with roses. | Average main: €22 | Alpseestr. 27 | Hohenschwangau | 08362/926-4660 | | No credit cards.

Hotel Müller.
$$ | HOTEL | With a convenient location between the two Schwangau castles, the Müller fits beautifully into the stunning landscape, its creamy Bavarian baroque facade a contrast to the forested mountain slopes. Although the lobby is modern, the rest of the hotel has a major baroque influence, from the finely furnished bedrooms to the restaurant lit by chandeliers. The mahogany-paneled, glazed veranda (with open fireplace) provides a magnificent view of Hohenschwangau Castle. Round out your day with a local specialty such as the Allgäuer Lendentopf (sirloin) served with Spätzle. Pros: personalized service; variety of rooms; right next to castles. Cons: crowds during the day; expensive in season. | Rooms from: €150 | Alpseestr. 16 | Hohenschwangau | 08362/81990 | | Closed Nov. and early Jan.-late Mar. | 39 rooms, 4 suites | Breakfast.


5 km (3 miles) southwest of Schwangau, 129 km (80 miles) south of Munich.

A walled town left untouched by World War II bombs, Füssen’s red roofs and turrets stand in picturesque contrast to the turquoise waters of the Lech River that rushes alongside the town, separating it from the Romantic Road. The only town with the infrastructure to accommodate the crush of tourists from the famous castles nearby, Füssen has a lot of charm of its own, with tidy, meandering streets lined with original architecture that offers an authentic slice of the past. The small town square is filled with cafés, restaurants, and shops, and a centuries-old abbey and castle round out the sights. Home to violin makers for centuries, Füssen takes pride in its musical heritage, which it showcases during an annual summer jazz festival. At the foot of the mountains that separate Bavaria from the Austrian Tyrol, it is also a great starting point for hiking and bicycle tours in the area, and on the nearby Forggensee, a reservoir created to hold glacial runoff, you can take a boat ride with stunning views of Neuschwanstein.

On the border with Austria, Füssen is the last stop on the regional express train leaving every two hours from Munich, and using the train is a highly recommended way to get to this town in the Alpine foothills. From the tourist information center next to the main train station, you can get information about bus travel in and around the region; frequency varies based on the season, but buses run at least hourly to all of the nearby castles of King Ludwig. The pedestrian-only city center is just a few hundred yards’ walk from the train station.


Visitor Information
Füssen Tourismus und Marketing. | Kaiser-Maximilian-Pl. 1 | 08362/93850 |

Central and Northern Romantic Road

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Hohes Schloss (High Castle).
One of the best-preserved late-Gothic castles in Germany, Hohes Schloss was built on the site of the Roman fortress that once guarded this Alpine section of the Via Claudia, the trade route from Rome to the Danube. Evidence of Roman occupation of the area has been uncovered at the foot of the nearby Tegelberg Mountain, and the excavations next to the Tegelberg cable-car station are open for visits daily. The Hohes Schloss was the seat of Bavarian rulers before Emperor Heinrich VII mortgaged it and the rest of the town to the bishop of Augsburg for 400 pieces of silver. The mortgage was never redeemed, and Füssen remained the property of the Augsburg episcopate until secularization in the early 19th century. The bishops of Augsburg used the castle as their summer Alpine residence. It has a spectacular 16th-century Rittersaal (Knights’ Hall) with a carved ceiling, and a princes’ chamber with a Gothic tile stove. | Magnuspl. 10 | 08362/903-146 | €6 | Apr.-Oct., Tues.-Sun. 11-5; Nov.-Mar., Fri.-Sun. 1-4.

Kloster St. Mang.
The summer presence of the bishops of Augsburg ensured that Füssen would gain an impressive number of baroque and rococo churches, and after his death, the Benedictine abbey was built at the site of his grave.

A Romanesque crypt beneath the baroque abbey church has a partially preserved 10th-century fresco, the oldest in Bavaria. In summer, chamber concerts are held in the baroque splendor of the former abbey’s soaring Fürstensaal (Princes’ Hall). Program details are available from the tourist office. | Lechhalde 3 | | Free | Apr.-Oct., Tues.-Sun. 10-5; Nov.-Mar., Tues.-Sun. 1-4.

Füssen’s main shopping street, Reichenstrasse was once part of the Roman Via Claudia. This cobblestone walkway is lined with high-gabled medieval houses and backed by the bulwarks of the castle and the easternmost buttresses of the Allgäu Alps. | Füssen.

This church—a glorious example of German rococo architecture—stands in an Alpine meadow just off the Romantic Road. Its yellow-and-white walls and steep red roof are set off by the dark backdrop of the Trauchgauer Mountains. The architect Dominicus Zimmermann, former mayor of Landsberg and creator of much of that town’s rococo architecture, built the church in 1745 on the spot where six years earlier a local woman saw tears running down the face of a picture of Christ. Although the church was dedicated as the Pilgrimage Church of the Scourged Savior, it’s now known simply as the Wieskirche (Church of the Meadow). Visit it on a bright day if you can, when light streaming through its high windows displays the full glory of the glittering interior. A complex oval plan is animated by brilliantly colored stuccowork, statues, and gilt. A luminous ceiling fresco completes the decoration. Concerts are presented in the church from the end of June through the beginning of August. To get here from the village of Steingaden (22 km [14 miles] north of Füssen on the B-17), turn east and follow the signs to Wieskirche. | Wies 12 | Steingaden | 8862/932-930 | | Free (donations accepted) | Late Mar.-late Oct., daily 8-8; late Oct.-late Mar., daily 8-5. Closed for visits during hours of worship; check chart on website.

What to Eat on the Romantic Road

To sample the authentic food of this area, venture off the beaten track of the official Romantic Road into any small town with a nice-looking Gasthof or Wirtshaus. Order Sauerbraten (roast beef marinated in a tangy sauce) with Spätzle (small boiled ribbons of rolled dough), or try Maultaschen (oversize Swabian ravioli stuffed with meat and herbs), another typical regional dish.

Franconia (the Franken region, which has its “capital” in Würzburg) is the sixth-largest wine-producing area of Germany. Franconian wines—half of which are made from the Müller-Thurgau grape hybrid, made from crossing Riesling with another white-wine grape—are served in distinctive green, flagon-shape wine bottles. Riesling and red wines account for only about 5% of the total production of Franconian wine.

Before you travel north on the Romantic Road, be sure to enjoy the beer country in the south. There is a wide range of Franconian and Bavarian brews available, from Rauchbier (literally, “smoked beer”) to the lighter Pilsners of Augsburg. If this is your first time in Germany, beware of the potency of German beer—some can be quite strong. (In the past few years more and more breweries offer excellent alcohol-free versions of their products.) The smallest beers are served at 0.3 liters (slightly under 12 ounces). Restaurants typically serve 0.5 liters at a time; in most beer tents and beer gardens the typical service is a full 1-liter stein.


$ | GERMAN | In a building that opened in 1483 as the Kornhaus (grain storage) and then became the Feuerhaus (fire station), at this farmers’ market you can grab a quick lunch (or picnic supplies) and drink at reasonable prices. It’s open weekdays 10-6 and Saturday 10-2. Try the fish soup. | Average main: €8 | Schranneg. 12 | No credit cards | Closed Sun. No dinner.

Altstadthotel Zum Hechten.
$ | HOTEL | Directly below the castle, this is one of the town’s oldest inns, family-run and with updated, airy rooms that are tidy and comfortable. Geraniums flower most of the year from its balconies. The two restaurants here both have sturdy, round tables and colorful frescoed walls and offer an extensive menu of regional dishes. Pros: in the center of town; parking available; good restaurants. Cons: difficult stairs to climb. | Rooms from: €97 | Ritterstr. 6 | 08362/91600 | | 35 rooms | Breakfast.

Hotel Hirsch.
$$ | HOTEL | Right on the main street, this family-owned hotel pays homage to traditional Bavarian style and its roof terrace has gorgeous views. Some rooms are uniquely decorated in a regional tribute—you can stay in the King Ludwig room, which has pictures of him on the walls and books about him; another is based on Spitzweg, a Biedermeier-era artist who painted in Füssen, and there are several other themes, in addition to non-themed but lovely rooms of various sizes. A renovation in 2016 will add a sauna. Its restaurant serves an interesting variety of seasonal and local specialties that are extraordinary. Pros: in the center of town; good restaurant; rooms available for guests in wheelchairs. Cons: front rooms are noisy. | Rooms from: €125 | Kaiser-Maximilian-Pl. 7 | 08362/93980 | | 67 rooms | Breakfast.

Fodor’s Choice | Schlossanger Alp.
$$$ | B&B/INN | A century of family tradition embraces guests at this superb hotel combining the surroundings of a grand alpine hotel with the intimacy of a bed-and-breakfast. In a small valley below the ruins of Falkenstein Castle, it’s romantic, but also good for families, with a playground and open fields where kids can frolic. The comfortable rooms are individually decorated and most come with a kitchenette, but don’t miss the generous breakfast buffet and soup and snacks served throughout the day. This is a spot to spend a few days if time allows, relaxing in the spa and heated pools looking out to the Alps, cozying up to the fire, and enjoying refined food—you can even spend a night in a treehouse in the woods (reserve ahead). The wine cellar offers tastings every Thursday. Pros: great food; attentive service; great for families. Cons: you’ll need GPS to find it; a half-hour drive from Neuschwanstein; expensive. | Rooms from: €210 | Am Schlossanger 1 | Pfronten | 08363/914-550 | | 35 rooms | Breakfast.


Pleasure boats cruise Forggensee lake mid-May-early October. Alpine winds ensure good sailing and windsurfing.

Sailing courses for adults and children are offered here, as well as boat rentals and sailing trips. | Seestr. 10, Dietringen | Rieden | 08367/471 |

Skischule Tegelberg A. Geiger.
There’s good downhill skiing in the mountains above Füssen. Cross-country fans have more than 20 km (12 miles) of trails. Füssen’s highest peak, the Tegelberg, has a ski school, Skischule Tegelberg A. Geiger, which offers classes for adults and children. | Unterdorf 12 | Schwangau | 08362/8455 |

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Central Romantic Road

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Augsburg | Ulm | Nördlingen | Dinkelsbühl | Rothenburg-ob-der-Tauber

Picturesque Rothenburg-ob-der-Tauber is the highlight of this region, though certainly not the road less traveled. For a more intimate experience check out the medieval towns of Dinkelsbühl or Nördlingen, or take a side trip off the Romantic Road to see the tower at Ulm’s famous protestant Münster (church).


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70 km (43 miles) west of Munich.

Bavaria’s third-largest city, Augsburg has long played a central role due to both its location and its religious history. It dates back to the Roman Empire, when in 15 BC a son of Augustus set up a military camp here on the banks of the Lech River. An important trading route, the Via Claudia Augusta, arose along the river connecting Italy to this silver-rich spot, and the settlement that grew up around it became known as Augusta, which is what Italians call the city to this day. The fashionable Maximilianstrasse lies on the Via Claudia Augusta, where the town’s former wealth is still visible in its ornate architecture. City rights were granted Augsburg in 1156, and 200 years later, the Fugger family of bankers would become to Augsburg what the Medici were to Florence. Their wealth surpassed that of their Italian counterparts, though, such that they loaned funds to them from time to time. Their influence is felt throughout the city and several present-day members of the family run local charitable foundations.

Getting Here and Around

Augsburg is on a main line of the high-speed ICE trains, which run hourly and take 45 minutes to get here from Munich. The center of town and its main attractions can be visited on foot. To continue on the Romantic Road, take a regional train from the main train station to Ulm, Donauwörth, or Nördlingen.

Walking tours (€8) set out from the tourist office on the Rathaus square daily at 2 and Saturday at 11. The tours, which are available in German and English, include entrance to the Fuggerei and the Goldener Saal in the Rathaus.


It’s easy to see the sights here, because signs on almost every street corner point the way to the main ones. See the tourist board’s website for some additional walking-tour maps. You’ll need a complete day to see Augsburg if you linger in any of the museums.


Visitor Information
Augsburg Tourist-Information. | Rathauspl. 1 | 0821/324-9410 |


Top Attractions

Dom St. Maria (Cathedral of St. Mary).
Augsburg’s cathedral contains the oldest cycle of stained glass in central Europe and five important paintings by Hans Holbein the Elder, which adorn the altar. Originally built in the 9th century, the cathedral stands out because of its square Gothic towers, the product of a 14th-century update. A 10th-century Romanesque crypt also remains from the cathedral’s early years. Those celebrated stained-glass windows, from the 11th century, are on the south side of the nave, and depict the prophets Jonah, Daniel, Hosea, Moses, and David.

A short walk from the cathedral will take you to the quiet courtyards and small raised garden of the former episcopal residence, a series of 18th-century baroque and rococo buildings that now serve as the Swabian regional government offices. | Dompl., Johannisg. 8 | | Free | Daily 9-dusk, except during hours of worship.

Diözesanmuseum St. Afra.
The cathedral’s treasures are on display at this museum, which is directly behind the Dom. | Kornhausg. 3-5 | | €4 | Tues.-Sat. 10-5, Sun. noon-6.

The world’s oldest social housing project, this settlement was established by the wealthy Fugger family in 1516 to accommodate Augsburg’s deserving poor. The 67 homes with 140 apartments still serve the same purpose and house about 150 people today. It’s financed almost exclusively from the assets of the foundation, because the annual rent of “one Rhenish guilder” (€1) hasn’t changed, either. Residents must be Augsburg citizens, Catholic, and destitute through no fault of their own—and they must pray three times daily for their original benefactors, the Fugger family. The most famous resident was Mozart’s great-grandfather. | Jakoberstr. | 0821/3198-8114 | | €4 | Apr.-Oct., daily 8-8; Nov.-Mar., daily 9-6.

Fugger-Welser Museum.
This museum, housed in a fine restored Renaissance building, is dedicated to two of the city’s most influential benefactors, the Fugger and Welser families, whose banking and merchant empire brought Italian art and world artifacts along with wealth to Augsburg in the 15th and 16th centuries. Providing insight into how the families contributed to the city, the museum offers both a glimpse into life in the 15th century and a hands-on lesson in Augsburg history. | Ausser Pfaffengässchen 23 | 0821/502070 | | €5 | Tues.-Sun. 10-5.

Augsburg’s main museum houses a permanent exhibition of Augsburg arts and crafts in a 16th-century merchant’s mansion. | Fuggerpl. 1 (Philippine-Welser-Str. 24) | 0821/324-4102 | | €7 | Tues.-Sun. 10-5.

Perlachturm (Perlach Tower).
This plastered brick bell tower has foundations dating to the year 989 when it was constructed as a watchtower. Climbing the 258 stairs to the top of the 230-foot tower will provide you with gorgeous views of Augsburg and the countryside. Just be sure to time it to avoid being beneath the bells when they begin to chime. | Rathauspl. | €2 | May-Nov., daily 10-6; Dec., Fri.-Sun. 2-6.

Augsburg’s town hall was Germany’s largest when it was built in the early 17th century; it’s now regarded as the finest secular Renaissance structure north of the Alps. Its Goldener Saal (Golden Hall) was given its name because of its rich decoration—8 pounds of gold are spread over its wall frescoes, carved pillars, and coffered ceiling. | Rathauspl. 2 | | €2.50 | Daily 10-6 (closed during official functions).

Sts. Ulrich and Afra.
Standing at the highest point of the city, this Catholic basilica with an attached Protestant chapel symbolizes the Peace of Augsburg, the treaty that ended the religious struggle between the two groups. On the site of a Roman cemetery where St. Afra was martyred in AD 304, the original structure was built in the late-Gothic style in 1467. St. Afra is buried in the crypt, near the tomb of St. Ulrich, a 10th-century bishop who helped stop a Hungarian army at the gates of Augsburg in the Battle of the Lech River. The remains of a third patron of the church, St. Simpert, are preserved in one of the church’s most elaborate side chapels. From the steps of the magnificent altar, look back along the high nave to the finely carved baroque wrought-iron-and-wood railing that borders the entrance. As you leave, look into the separate but adjacent church of St. Ulrich, the baroque preaching hall that was added for the Protestant community in 1710, after the Reformation. | Ulrichspl. 19 | | Free | Daily 9-dusk.

This elegant 18th-century city palace was built by the von Liebenhofens, a family of wealthy bankers. Schaezler was the name of a baron who married into the family. Today the palace rooms contain the Deutsche Barockgalerie (German Baroque Gallery), a major art collection that features works of the 17th and 18th centuries. The palace adjoins the former church of a Dominican monastery. A steel door behind the banquet hall leads into another world of high-vaulted ceilings, where the Staatsgalerie Altdeutsche Meister, a Bavarian state collection, highlights old-master paintings, among them a Dürer portrait of one of the Fuggers. | Maximilianstr. 46 | 0821/324-4102 | | €7 | Tues.-Sun. 10-5.

Worth Noting

The 16th-century house and business quarters of the Fugger family now has a restaurant in its cellar and offices on the upper floors. Only the three courtyards here are open to the public, but you can peek into the ground-floor entrance to see busts of two of Augsburg’s most industrious Fuggers, Raymund and Anton. Beyond a modern glass door is the Damenhof (Ladies’ Courtyard), originally reserved for the Fugger women. | Maximilianstr. 36-38 | Free | Courtyards 11-3 and 6-midnight (summer only).

Holbein Haus.
The rebuilt 16th-century home of painter Hans Holbein the Elder, one of Augsburg’s most famous residents, and birthplace of his son, the Younger, is now a city art gallery with changing modern art exhibitions. | Vorderer Lech 20 | | Admission varies | Hrs vary by exhibit.

Most of the city’s sights are on Augsburg’s main shopping street or a short walk away. It was once a medieval wine market along the Roman road, and the history still shows in the architecture. Punctuating the street are two monumental and elaborate fountains: at the north end is the Merkur, designed in 1599 by the Dutch master Adrian de Vries (after a Florentine sculpture by Giovanni da Bologna) and showing winged Mercury in his classic pose; farther along is a de Vries-designed bronze Hercules struggling to subdue the many-headed Hydra. | Augsburg.

Mozart-Haus (Mozart House).
Leopold Mozart, the father of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and an accomplished composer and musician in his own right, was born in this bourgeois 17th-century residence. The house now serves as a Mozart memorial and museum, with some fascinating contemporary documents on the Mozart family, some of whom still live in the area today. | Frauentorstr. 30 | 0821/518-588 | | €3.50 | Tues.-Sun. 10-5.

Rotes Tor (Red Gate).
The city’s most important medieval gate once straddled the main trading road to Italy. It’s the backdrop to an open-air opera and operetta festival in June and July. | Rote-Torwall-Str.

St. Anna-Kirche (St. Anna’s Church).
This site was formerly part of a Carmelite monastery, where Martin Luther stayed in 1518 during his meetings with Cardinal Cajetanus, the papal legate sent from Rome to persuade the reformer to renounce his heretical views. Luther refused, and the place where he publicly declared his rejection of papal pressure is marked with a plaque on Maximilianstrasse. You can wander through the quiet cloisters, dating from the 14th century, and view the chapel used by the Fugger family until the Reformation. | Anna-Str., west of Rathauspl. | Free | May-Oct., Mon. noon-5, Tues.-Sat. 10-6, Sun. 3-5; Nov.-Apr., Tues.-Sat. 10-5, Sun. 3-4.


Fodor’s Choice | Die Ecke.
$$$ | EUROPEAN | In season, the venison dishes are among Bavaria’s best at this imaginative restaurant, on an Ecke (corner) of the small square right behind Augsburg’s town hall. The fish, in particular the zander (green pike) or the trout (sautéed in butter with herbs and lemon), is magnificent, and complemented nicely by the Riesling Gimmeldinger Meersspinne, the house wine for 40 years. In summer ask for a table on the patio. | Average main: €21 | Elias-Holl-Pl. 2 | 0821/510-600 | | Reservations essential.

Ratskeller Augsburg.
$ | GERMAN | Underneath the impressive Rathaus lies this vaulted redbrick destination for Bavarian food and drink, especially at the end of a long day. It’s surprisingly airy, and busy with business lunches during the day. The friendly staff serves up traditional fare with plenty of choices, and it stays open late (until 1 am most nights, 2 am Friday and Saturday), after most other local restaurants have closed. There’s an expansive cocktail menu that you can make the most of during the daily happy hour. | Average main: €13 | Ratshauspl. 2 | 0821/3198-8238 | | No credit cards.


Augsburger Hof.
$ | HOTEL | A preservation order protects the beautiful Renaissance facade of this old Augsburg mansion, right across from the Mozarthaus, but the hotel itself is full of modern comfort. The guest rooms are bright and cheerful, with natural-wood finishing and beds with thick down comforters. The cathedral is around the corner; the town center is a 10-minute stroll away. Pros: welcoming lobby; rooms with a personal touch. Cons: noisy front rooms; service could be friendlier. | Rooms from: €99 | Auf dem Kreuz 2 | 0821/343-050 | | 36 rooms | Breakfast.

Dom Hotel.
$ | HOTEL | Just around the corner from Augsburg’s cathedral, this snug establishment has personality to spare, with a long history of hosting official church visitors, and an up-to-the-minute renovation that’s provided good modern amenities. Ask for one of the attic rooms, where you’ll sleep under beam ceilings and wake to a rooftop view of the city. Or try for one of the rooms on the top floor that have a small terrace facing the cathedral. A garden terrace borders the old city walls, and in summer you’ll have your breakfast in the garden under old chestnut trees. Pros: family-run, with good attention to detail; parking; nice view from upper rooms; central but quiet. Cons: stairs not wheelchair-friendly; no restaurant or bar. | Rooms from: €85 | Frauentorstr. 8 | 0821/343-930 | | Closed late Dec.-1st wk of Jan. | 44 rooms, 8 suites | Breakfast.

Hotel-Garni Schlössle.
$ | HOTEL | From the main train station, a 10-minute ride on tram No. 3 to the end of the line at Stadtbergen brings you to this friendly, family-run hotel. Rooms under the steep eaves are particularly cozy. The location allows for fresh country air, walks, and sporting facilities (a golf course is within a good tee-shot’s range). Pros: good value, friendly; family-run. Cons: no restaurant or bar; small rooms. | Rooms from: €74 | Bauernstr. 37 | Stadtbergen | 0821/243-930 | 14 rooms | Breakfast.

Steigenberger Drei Mohren Hotel.
$$ | HOTEL | Kings and princes, Napoléon, and the Duke of Wellington have all slept here, and these days all the rooms have been modernized and a spa area added without detracting from the 500-year-old building’s traditional luxury. Though some rooms are on the small side, modern furnishings make this a top-notch hotel for business travelers. Dining options include Maximilian’s, a Mediterranean-style restaurant with an open kitchen; its Sunday jazz brunch has been a town favorite for decades. The thoroughly French Sartory has some excellent prix-fixe menus. Pros: spacious lobby with inviting bar; very good restaurants; cheaper weekend rates; spa amenities. Cons: can be booked out weekdays due to conventions. | Rooms from: €130 | Maximilianstr. 40 | 0821/50360 | | 131 rooms | Breakfast.


Augsburg has chamber and symphony orchestras, as well as ballet and opera companies. The city stages a Mozart Festival of international stature in September.

Augsburger Puppenkiste (Puppet theater).
This children’s puppet theater next to Rotes Tor has been an institution in Germany since its inception in 1948. It’s still loved by kids and parents alike. Check the website for showtimes (only in German). The museum, featuring puppets in historic or fairy-tale settings, is open Tuesday-Sunday 10-7 and admission is €4.50 (€2.90 for children). | Spitalg. 15 | 0821/450-3450 | | Closed during school summer holidays, usually July and August.

One of Germany’s most beautiful open-air theaters, Augsburg’s Freilichtbühne located directly at the Red Gate is the setting for a number of operas, operettas and musicals (all in German) from mid-June through July. | Am Roten Tor | 0821/324-4900 tourist office |


Several streets of the inner city, including part of Maximilianstrasse (the city’s broad main street), are part of a pedestrian-only zone that makes browsing its many shops and boutiques a pleasure.

EN ROUTE: Traveling to Augsburg northward on the B-17 from Füssen, you’ll drive across the Lech battlefield, where Hungarian invaders were stopped in 955. Rich Bavarian pastures extend as far as the Lech River, which the Romantic Road meets at the historic town of Landsberg.


85 km (53 miles) west of Augsburg.

Just off the Romantic Road, Ulm is worth a visit, if only briefly, to see its mighty Münster. The evangelical church is unusually ornate and has the world’s tallest church tower (536 feet). Grown out of a medieval trading city thanks to its location on the Danube River, Ulm’s Old Town is located directly on the river, which only adds to its charm. Each year, on the penultimate Monday in July—Schwörmontag—the townsfolk celebrate the mayor’s “State of the Union” speech by parading down the Danube in homemade floating devices that make for a riotous sight. In the Fishermen’s and Tanners’ quarters the cobblestone alleys and stone-and-wood bridges over the Blau (a small Danube tributary) are especially picturesque. And down by the banks of the Danube, you’ll find long sections of the old city wall and fortifications intact.

Getting Here and Around

To get to Ulm from Augsburg, take Highway A-8 west or take a 40-minute ride on one of the ICE (InterCity Express) trains that run to Ulm every hour.


Ulm Tourist-Information Tours.
The tourist office’s 90-minute tours include a visit to the Münster, the Old Town Hall, the Fischerviertel (Fishermen’s Quarter), and the Danube riverbank. The departure point is the tourist office (Stadthaus) on Münsterplatz, and tours take place throughout the day. | Ulm Tourist-Information, Münsterpl. 50 | 0731/161-2830 | | €8.


Einstein Denkmal (Einstein Monument).
Einstein’s house was destroyed in an Allied raid and was never rebuilt. The Einstein Denkmal, erected in 1984, marks the site, which is opposite the main train station. Sculptor Jürgen Goertz created a memorial that consists of three elements. The rocket represents technology, the conquest of space, and the atomic threat. In contrast to the rocket is the large snail shell, which represents nature, wisdom, and skepticism toward technology. From the snail shell protrudes Albert Einstein’s head, which mocks us by sticking out his tongue. | Am Zeughausg.

The central Marktplatz is bordered by medieval houses with stepped gables. Every Wednesday and Saturday farmers from the surrounding area arrive by 6 am to erect their stands and unload their produce. Potatoes, vegetables, apples, pears, berries, honey, fresh eggs, poultry, homemade bread, and many other edible things are carefully displayed. Get here early; the market packs up around noon. | Ulm.

Ulm’s Münster, built by the citizens of their own initiative, is the largest evangelical church in Germany and one of the most elaborately decorated. Its church tower, just 13 feet higher than that of the Cologne Cathedral, is the world’s highest, at 536 feet. It stands over the huddled medieval gables of Old Ulm with a single, filigree tower that challenges the physically fit to plod up the 768 steps of a giddily twisting spiral stone staircase to a spectacular observation point below the spire. On clear days, the steeple will reward you with views of the Swiss and Bavarian Alps, 160 km (100 miles) to the south. Construction on the Münster began in the late-Gothic age (1377) and took five centuries; it gave rise to the legend of the sparrow, which was said to have helped the townspeople in their building by inspiring them to pile the wood used in construction lengthwise instead of width-wise on wagons in order to pass through the city gates. Completed in the neo-Gothic years of the late 19th century, the church contains some notable treasures, including late-Gothic choir stalls and a Renaissance altar as well as images of the inspirational sparrow. Ulm itself was heavily bombed during World War II, but the church was spared. Its mighty organ can be heard in special recitals every Sunday at noon from Easter until November. | Münsterpl. 21 | | Free; tower €4 | Münster: July and Aug., daily 9-7:45; Apr.-June and Sept., daily 9-6:45; Mar. and Oct., daily 9-5:45; Jan., Feb., Nov., and Dec., daily 9-4:45. Tower: July and Aug., daily 9-6:45; Apr.-June and Sept., daily 9-5:45; Mar. and Oct., daily 9-4:45; Nov.-Feb., daily 9-3:45.

Museum der Brotkultur (German Bread Museum).
German bread is world renowned, so it’s no surprise that a national museum is devoted to it. It’s by no means as crusty or dry as you might fear, with some amusing exhibits showing how bread has been baked over the centuries. The museum is in a former salt warehouse, just north of the Münster. | Salzstadelg. 10 | 0731/69955 | | €4 | Daily 10-5.

Built in 1370, the city hall maintains its original, opulently painted Renaissance facade despite its interior having been gutted by World War II bombs. Paintings depicting virtues, commandments, and vices dating back to the 1500s adorn the exterior and an astronomical clock to rival that in Prague was added in 1520. Still in official use, most of the interior is closed to tourists; however, inside hangs a reproduction of the local tailor Ludwig Berblinger’s flying machine. In 1811 Berblinger, a local eccentric, cobbled together a pair of wings and made a big splash by trying to fly across the river. He didn’t make it, but he grabbed a place in German history books for his efforts. | Marktpl. 1 | During administrative hrs.

Ulmer Museum (Ulm Museum).
The recently discovered Löwenmensch, a 40,000-year-old figure of a half-man, half-lion found in a nearby cave, is the main attraction at this natural history and art museum, which also illustrates centuries of development in this part of the Danube Valley. Art lovers will appreciate its collection of works by such modern artists as Kandinsky, Klee, Léger, and Lichtenstein. | Marktpl. 9 | 0731/161-4330 | | €5 | Tues.-Sun. 11-5.


Zunfthaus der Schiffleute.
$$ | GERMAN | The sturdy half-timber Zunfthaus (Guildhall) has stood here for more than 500 years, first as a fishermen’s pub and now as a charming tavern-restaurant. Ulm’s fishermen had their guild headquarters here, and when the nearby Danube flooded, the fish swam right up to the door. Today they land on the menu, which also includes dry-aged steak as well as “Swabian oysters” (actually snails, drenched in garlic butter). The local beer makes an excellent accompaniment. | Average main: €15 | Fischerg. 31 | 0731/64411 |

Fodor’s Choice | Zur Forelle.
$$ | GERMAN | For more than 350 years Forelle (“Trout”) has stood over the small, clear River Blau, which flows through a large trout basin right under the restaurant. In addition to the trout, there are five other fish dishes available, as well as excellent venison in season. On a nice summer evening, try to get a table on the small terrace. You sit over the river, with a weeping willow on one side, half-timber houses around you, and the towering cathedral in the background. | Average main: €19 | Fischerg. 25 | 0731/63924 |

Hotel am Rathaus/Reblaus.
$ | HOTEL | Some of the rooms have vintage furniture at this family-owned hotel, which is also adorned with antique paintings and dolls. In the annex, the half-timber Reblaus, most rooms have hand-painted cupboards. If you take a room toward the front, look up from your window and you’ll see the Münster and its huge spire a few hundred feet away. The hotel is behind the old historic Rathaus, on the fringe of the Old City, where you’ll find more than a dozen restaurants and taverns. Pros: in the center of the city; artistic touches; good value; family-run. Cons: no elevator; not enough parking. | Rooms from: €98 | Kroneng. 8-10 | 0731/968-490 | | Closed Christmas-early Jan. | 34 rooms | Breakfast.

$$ | HOTEL | Whether you come here to eat or stay, be prepared for incredible views. Reserve a room in the top three floors or head up to the restaurant on the 16th floor for an unparalleled vista over the Old Town of Ulm: the cathedral, the Danube, and the Swabian Alb, a long plateau, are all visible. The basic rooms are standard for this chain, but are getting a thorough upgrade during 2016. The large, luxurious bar, which has live piano music every night, is a favorite with guests. Pros: spacious lobby and rooms; romantic views; nice bar. Cons: rooms expensive on weekdays; chain-hotel atmosphere; can be full during conferences. | Rooms from: €160 | Basteistr. 40 | 0731/9230 | | 287 rooms | No meals.


90 km (56 miles) northeast of Ulm, 72 km (45 miles) northwest of Augsburg.

In Nördlingen a medieval watchman’s cry still rings out every night across the ancient walls and turrets. As in Rothenburg, its sister city, the medieval walls are completely intact, but here you can actually walk the entire circuit (about 4 km [2½ miles]) beginning at any of six original gates. Enjoy the peaceful atmosphere while taking in the riot of architecture, from the medieval to the Renaissance and the baroque, without the masses of tourists of its sister city. Or ask at the tourist office for accommodations in one of the small houses built into the city’s wall for a unique overnight experience. The ground plan of the town is two concentric circles. The inner circle of streets, whose central point is St. Georg, marks the earliest medieval boundary. A few hundred yards beyond it is the outer boundary, a wall built to accommodate expansion. Fortified with 11 towers and punctuated by five massive gates, it’s one of the best-preserved town walls in Germany. And if the Old Town looks a little familiar, it might be because the closing aerial shots in the 1971 film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory were filmed over its red roofs.

Nördlingen was established along the same Roman road that goes through Augsburg, but its “foundation” goes much further back—the town is built in the center of a huge, basinlike depression, the Ries, which was at first believed to be the remains of an extinct volcano. In 1960 it was proven by two Americans that the crater, 24 km (15 miles) across, was caused by an asteroid at least 1 km (½ mile) in diameter that hit the spot some 15 million years ago. The compressed rock, or Suevit, formed by the explosive impact of the meteorite was used to construct many of the town’s buildings, including St. Georg’s tower.

Getting Here and Around

About an hour’s drive northwest from Ulm up the A-7, Nördlingen is also easily accessible from Donauworth via the B-25 by following the brown route signs directing you along the Romantic Road. During the week, a regional train can bring you from Donauworth into the city center twice hourly; weekends, the train runs every two hours.


Theater festival.
From the end of June through July, an annual open-air theater festival takes place in front of the ancient walls of Nördlingen’s Alter Bastei (Old Bastion). Check Freilichtbühne Nördlingen’s website for more information. | Alte Bastei | 09081/84116, 09081/5400 on performance days |


Visitor Information
Nördlingen Tourist-Information. | Marktpl. 2 | 09081/84116 |


Bayerisches Eisenbahnmuseum.
One of Germany’s largest steam locomotive museums organizes trips about a dozen times a year, during which its old trains are put on the rails again to and from Harburg. Contact the museum for more information. | Am Hohen Weg 6a | 09083/340 | | €6 | May-Sept., Tues.-Sat. noon-4, Sun. 10-5; Mar., Apr., and Oct., Sat. noon-4, Sun. 10-5.

St. Georg’s Church.
Watchmen still sound out the traditional “So G’sell so” (“All’s well”) message from the 300-foot tower of the central parish church of St. Georg at half-hour intervals between 10 pm and midnight. The tradition goes back to an incident during the Thirty Years’ War, when an enemy attempted to slip into the town and was detected by a resident. You can climb the 365 steps up the tower—known locally as the Daniel—for an unsurpassed view of the town and countryside, including, on clear days, 99 villages. | Marktpl. | Tower €3 | Church: Apr.-Oct., weekdays 9:30-12:30 and 2-5, weekends 9:30-5; Nov.-Mar., Tues.-Sat. 10:30-12:30. Tower daily: July and Aug., 9-7; May, June, and Sept., 9-6; Mar., Apr., and Oct., 10-5; Dec., 9-5; Jan. and Feb., 10-4.


Hotel Goldene Rose.
$ | HOTEL | This small, modern hotel just inside the town wall is ideal for those wishing to explore Nördlingen on foot. The kitchen serves wholesome, inexpensive dishes and will happily fulfill special orders. Families feel welcome, and kids can roam the premises. Pros: family-friendly; parking in courtyard. Cons: front rooms noisy; restaurant closed Sunday. | Rooms from: €65 | Baldingerstr. 42 | 09081/86019 | | 17 rooms, 1 apartment | Breakfast.


Nördlingen Ries.
Ever cycled around a huge meteor crater? You can do just that in the Nördlingen Ries, the depression left by an asteroid that hit the area 14.5 million years ago. This impact crater is a designated national geopark and the best-preserved impact crater in all of Europe.

| Dorfstr. | 9 km northeast of Nördlingen via B-466.

Rieser Flugsportverein.
For a spectacular view of the town and Ries crater, contact this local flying club to take a ride in a light aircraft. The website is in German, but English-language tours and English-speaking pilots are both available. | Nördlingen | 09081/4099 |


32 km (20 miles) north of Nördlingen.

Within the walls of Dinkelsbühl, a beautifully preserved medieval town, the rush of traffic seems a lifetime away. Although there is less to see here than in Rothenburg, the town is a pleasant break from the crowds, and you can relax among the locals at one of the Gasthauses in the town’s central Marktplatz. You can patrol the illuminated Old Town with the night watchman at 9 pm free of charge, starting from the Münster St. Georg.

Getting Here and Around

About 30 minutes’ drive south of Würzburg on the Romantic Road, Dinkelsbühl is best accessed by car as it’s right on the B-25. Once you reach the city gates, however, the cobblestone streets are narrow, and a maze of one-ways will have you lost in no time, so park outside one of the city gates and walk.


Visitor Information
Dinkelsbühl Tourist-Information. | Marktpl., Altrathauspl. 14 | 09851/902-440 |
Romantische Strasse Touristik-Arbeitsgemeinschaft (Romantic Road Central Tourist-Information). | Segringerstr. 19 | 09851/551-387 |


Münster St. Georg (Cathedral St. George).
Dinkelsbühl’s main church is the standout sight in town. At 235 feet long it’s large enough to be a cathedral, and is among the best examples in Bavaria of the late-Gothic style. Note the complex fan vaulting that spreads sinuously across the ceiling. If you can face the climb, head up the 200-foot tower for amazing views over the jumble of rooftops. | Marktpl., Kirchhöflein 6 | 09851/2245 | | Free; tower €1.50 | Church: summer, daily 9-noon and 2-7; winter, daily 9-noon and 2-5; tower: May-Sept., Fri.-Sun. 2-5.


Goldene Rose.
$ | B&B/INN | Since 1450 the inhabitants of Dinkelsbühl and their guests—among them Queen Victoria in 1891—have enjoyed a good night’s sleep, great food, and refreshing drinks in this half-timber house, and its owners take great pride in its history. The comfortable guest rooms have half-timber walls, and two family suites are available. Dark paneling makes the restaurant feel cozy; the menu emphasizes fresh regional cuisine, especially fish and game. Pros: family-friendly; good food; parking lot. Cons: some rooms need renovating; front rooms are noisy. | Rooms from: €78 | Marktpl. 4 | 09851/57750 | | 34 rooms | Breakfast.

Hezelhof Hotel.
$$ | HOTEL | A new addition to the Dinkelsbühl accommodations scene, the Hezelhof combines three charming timber-frame buildings from the 16th century, renovated inside to provide comfortable modern rooms with the latest designer furnishings. Pros: newly renovated; quiet courtyard with views; central location; old Patrician House adds charm. Cons: some rooms may be noisy with windows open. | Rooms from: €120 | Segringer Str. 7 | 09851/555-420 | | 53 rooms | Breakfast.

Hotel Deutsches Haus.
$$ | HOTEL | As you step into this medieval inn with a facade of half-timber gables and flower boxes, an old sturdy bar gives you a chance to register while sitting down and enjoying a drink. The rooms are fitted with antique furniture, including one with a romantic four-poster bed. Dinner is served beneath heavy oak beams in the restaurant. Pros: modern touches like free Wi-Fi. Cons: some rooms noisy; pricey; steps to climb. | Rooms from: €129 | Weinmarkt 3 | 09851/6058 | | 16 rooms, 2 suites | Breakfast.

Hotel Kunst Stuben.
$ | B&B/INN | A husband-and-wife team welcomes guests at this charming B&B, which is filled with handmade furniture, four-poster beds, and the owners’ artwork on the walls. The rooms are cozy, and the inn has plenty of areas to relax, whether in the lounge-like Knight’s Room or the lush garden. Pros: unique local atmosphere; parking available. Cons: older building, with creaky floorboards; must check in before 6 pm. | Rooms from: €80 | Segringer Str. 52 | 09851/6750 | | No credit cards | 9 rooms | Breakfast.


50 km (31 miles) north of Dinkelsbühl, 90 km (56 miles) west of Nürnberg.

Rothenburg-ob-der-Tauber (literally, the “red castle on the Tauber”) is the kind of medieval town that even Walt Disney might have thought too picturesque to be true, with half-timber architecture galore and a wealth of fountains and flowers against a backdrop of towers and turrets. As late as the 17th century, it was a small but thriving market town that had grown up around the ruins of two 12th-century churches destroyed by an earthquake. Then it was laid low economically by the havoc of the Thirty Years’ War, and with its economic base devastated, the town remained a backwater until modern tourism rediscovered it.

Getting Here and Around

The easiest way to get here is via the Romantic Road bus from Augsburg via Donauwörth, Nördlingen, and Dinkelsbühl, with an optional layover on the way. If you arrive by car, there are large metered parking lots just outside the town wall. By local train it takes about 2½ hours from Augsburg, with two train changes.

All attractions within the walled town can easily be reached on foot.


Night Watchman Tour.
A local legend, the costumed night watchman conducts a one-hour tour of the town nearly every night year-round, leading the way with a lantern. The tour begins at 8 pm at the Marktplatz, and private group tours can be arranged. A 90-minute daytime tour begins at 2 pm. | Marktpl. | Rothenburg-ob-der-Tauber | 09861/404-800 tourist office | | €8.


Der Meistertrunk Festspiel (The Master Draught Historical Fest).
From Friday through Monday over Whitsun (Pentecost) weekend every year, the town celebrates the famous wager said to have saved it from destruction in 1631, at the height of the Thirty Years’ War. A play of the events takes place every day, and handicraft and artisan markets, along with food stands, fill the town squares. | Rothenburg-ob-der-Tauber |

Reichsstadt Festage (Imperial City Festival).
Locals in period costume gather in town over the first weekend in September to commemorate Rothenburg’s being named Free Imperial City in 1274. Concerts are played throughout the city; the highlight is the Saturday fireworks show. | Rothenburg-ob-der-Tauber |

Schäfertanz (Shepherd’s Dance).
A Schäfertanz (Shepherds’ Dance) was once performed around the Herterichbrunnen, the ornate Renaissance fountain on the central Marktplatz, whenever Rothenburg celebrated a major event. Although its origins go back to local shepherds’ annual gatherings, the dance is now celebrated with locals from the area costumed as maids, shepherds, soldiers, and nobility. It takes place in front of the Rathaus several times a year, chiefly at Easter, Pentecost, and in September as part of the Imperial City Festival. | Am Marktpl. | Rothenburg-ob-der-Tauber |


Always busy with tourists, the town is best visited in early fall or late spring, when the crowds are thinner and the streets more easily explored in peace. Christmas markets in December also add a special atmosphere to brighten the short days. The best time to see the mechanical figures on the Rathaus wall is in the evening.


Visitor Information
Rothenburg-ob-der-Tauber Tourist-Information. | Rathaus, Am Marktpl. 2 | Rothenburg-ob-der-Tauber | 09861/404-800 |


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Top Attractions

Deutsches Weihnachtsmuseum.
The German Christmas Museum is a hit among visitors even in the summer heat, as it provides an in-depth history of the holiday and many of its symbols, including Christmas trees, and has a unique collection of 150 historical Santa Claus figurines. | Herrng. 1 | Rothenburg-ob-der-Tauber | 09861/409-365 | | €5 | Jan. 1-16 and Mar. 16-Dec. 23, daily 10-5; Jan. 26-Mar. 15 and Dec. 24-31, limited hrs.

The tale of the Meistertrunk (Master Draught) and a prodigious civil servant dates to 1631, when the Protestant town was captured by Catholic forces during the Thirty Years’ War. At the victory celebrations, the conquering general was embarrassed to find himself unable to drink a great tankard of wine in one go, as his manhood demanded. He volunteered to spare the town further destruction if any of the city councilors could drain the mighty six-pint draft. The mayor took up the challenge and succeeded, and Rothenburg was preserved. The tankard itself is on display at the Reichsstadtmuseum. On the north side of the main square is a fine clock, placed there 50 years after the mayor’s feat. A mechanical figure acts out the epic Master Drink daily on the hour from 10 to 10. The feat is reenacted in the historical play “The Master Draught,” and celebrated at two annual pageants, when townsfolk parade through the streets in 17th-century garb. | Am Marktpl. | Rothenburg-ob-der-Tauber.

Mittelalterliches Kriminalmuseum (Medieval Crime and Justice Museum).
The gruesome medieval implements of torture on display here are not for the fainthearted. The only museum in Europe that provides an overview of the history of law also soberly documents the history of German trials in the Middle Ages. A special exhibition through the end of 2018 pays extra attention to the city’s history of witchcraft and witch hunts. Guided tours can be arranged in advance. | Burgg. 3-5 | Rothenburg-ob-der-Tauber | 09861/5359 | | €5 | May-Oct., daily 10-6; Jan., Feb., and Nov., daily 2-4; Mar. and Dec., daily 1-4; Apr., daily 11-5.

Stadtmauer (City Wall).
Rothenburg’s city walls are more than 4 km (2½ miles) long and dotted with 42 red-roofed watchtowers. Due to its age, only about half of the wall can be accessed on foot, but it provides an excellent way of circumnavigating the town from above. Let your imagination take you back 500 years as you explore the low, covered sentries’ walkways, which are punctuated by cannons, turrets, and areas where the town guards met. Stairs every 200 or 300 yards provide ready access. There are superb views of the tangle of pointed and tiled red roofs and of the rolling country beyond. | Rothenburg-ob-der-Tauber.

Worth Noting

Historiengewölbe (Historic Vaults).
Below the Rathaus building are the historic vaults and dungeons, housing a museum that brings the Thirty Years’ War to life with eight themed exhibition rooms, including one dedicated to the battle armor used in the 16th and 17th centuries. | Rathaus Am Marktpl. | Rothenburg-ob-der-Tauber | €2 | Mid-Mar.-Mar. 31, daily noon-4; Apr., daily 10-4; May-Oct., daily 9:30-5:30; Nov., weekdays 1-4, weekends 10-4; Dec., weekdays 1-4, weekends 10-7.

The Rathaus’s tower, in the center of town, gives you a good view. Half of the town hall is Gothic, begun in 1240; the other half is neoclassical, started in 1572, and renovated after its original facade was destroyed by a fire 500 years ago. | Rathauspl., Am Marktpl. | Rothenburg-ob-der-Tauber | | Tower €3 | Tower: Apr.-Oct., daily 9:30-12:30 and 1-5; Jan.-Mar. and Nov., weekends noon-3; Dec., daily 10:30-2 and 2:30-6.

Reichsstadtmuseum (Imperial Town Museum).
This city museum, in a former Dominican convent dating back to the 13th century, includes a cloister where one of the artifacts is the great tankard, or Pokal, of the Meistertrunk (Master Drink). A recent addition, the Baumann Foundation, displays valuable weapons such as hunting weapons used by Marie Antoinette and a hunting rifle belonging to Frederick the Great of Prussia. Through September 2017, a special exhibition takes a closer look at the role of propaganda during the Reformation. | Klosterhof 5 | Rothenburg-ob-der-Tauber | 09861/939-043 | | €5.50 | Apr.-Oct., daily 9:30-5:30; Nov.-Mar., daily 1-4.

St. Jakob Church.
This Lutheran parish church, constructed from 1311 to 1485, showcases 600 years of stained-glass windows and has notable Riemenschneider sculptures, including the famous Heiliges Blut (Holy Blood of Christ) altar. Above the altar is a crystal capsule said to contain drops of Christ’s blood. The Twelve Apostles Altar, by Friedrich Herlin, has the oldest depiction of the town of Rothenburg. | Klosterg. 15 | Rothenburg-ob-der-Tauber | 09861/700-620 | | €2 | Jan.-Mar. and Nov., daily 10-noon and 2-4; Apr.-Oct., daily 9-5; Dec., daily 10-4:45. Tours in English Sat. at 3:30.

St. Wolfgang Church.
Local shepherds gathered for prayer and protection at this spot for years before building this historic parish church in 1492. Despite its Gothic origins and a baroque interior, St. Wolfgang’s is most notable for the way it blends into the forbidding city wall. | Klingentorbastei | Rothenburg-ob-der-Tauber | €1.50 | Sept.-July, Fri. and Sat. 9:30-5, Sun. 10-1 and 1:30-4:30; Aug., daily 9:30-5; last entry 30 mins before closing.


Alter Keller.
$$ | GERMAN | On a side street, this guest house restaurant serves standard local cuisine, but attracts a crowd thanks to its evening steak menu. The interior is traditional Bavarian and the family-run establishment has friendly personnel. | Average main: €17 | Alter Keller 8 | Rothenburg-ob-der-Tauber | 09861/2268 | | Closed Mon. and Tues. | No credit cards.

Restaurant-Zur Höll.
$ | GERMAN | In a building dating back to 900, the “To Hell” restaurant is a great place to head for a snack after a night watchman’s tour. The basic but tasty main menu is complemented throughout the year by seasonal and local dishes and ingredients, such as Pfefferlinge (chanterelles, served in soups, salads, and sauces). With an extensive selection of Franconian wine and a delicious house beer, you’ll have a nice late evening experience. In the busier months, reserve a table ahead of time to guarantee a spot for later in the evenings. | Average main: €12 | Burgg. 8 | Rothenburg-ob-der-Tauber | 098/614-229 | | No credit cards | Closed Mon.


Fodor’s Choice | Burg-Hotel.
$$ | B&B/INN | At this exquisite little hotel most rooms have a view of the romantic Tauber Valley, and they also have plush furnishings, with antiques or fine reproductions. There are three family apartments available for rent that are separate from the hotel. Breakfast is served on the terrace on top of the town wall in good weather, affording a stunning wide-angle view into the Tauber Valley and the hills beyond. The owner and staff are gracious hosts. The Steinway Cellar holds a grand piano, and there is a small spa area open for all guests. Pros: no crowds; terrific view from most rooms; parking; bike rentals available for small fee. Cons: no restaurant; too quiet for kids. | Rooms from: €165 | Klosterg. 1-3 | Rothenburg-ob-der-Tauber | 09861/94890 | | 30 rooms, 3 apartments | Breakfast.

Gasthof Klingentor.
$ | B&B/INN | This sturdy former staging post, run by the welcoming Wagenländer Family, is outside the city walls but still within a 10-minute walk of Rothenburg’s historic center. Rooms are spacious and furnished in the local rustic style. The inexpensive restaurant serves substantial Franconian fare. A well-marked path for hiking or biking starts outside the front door. Pros: good value; friendly restaurant popular with locals and guests. Cons: front rooms are noisy; no elevator. | Rooms from: €80 | Mergentheimerstr. 14 | Rothenburg-ob-der-Tauber | 09861/3468 | | 20 rooms | Breakfast.

Hotel Eisenhut.
$$ | HOTEL | It’s fitting that the prettiest small town in Germany should have one of the prettiest small hotels in its center. Each of the rooms is different—each with its own charming color scheme, most with antique furniture. Try for a room on the top floor toward the back, overlooking the Old Town and the Tauber River valley. The restaurant, one of the region’s best, offers impeccable service along with delicious food and a lovely view of the garden. In summer you’ll want to eat on the terrace, surrounded by flowers. Pros: elegant lobby; exceptional service; good food. Cons: expensive; not for kids. | Rooms from: €150 | Herrng. 3-5/7 | Rothenburg-ob-der-Tauber | 09861/7050 | | 78 rooms, 2 suites | No meals.

Hotel-Gasthof Post.
$ | B&B/INN | This small family-run hotel, two minutes on foot from the eastern city gate, must be one of the friendliest in town. The rooms are simple but pleasant, and all have shower or bath. Pros: good value; family-friendly. Cons: front rooms noisy; no elevator; some bathrooms need renovating. | Rooms from: €70 | Ansbacherstr. 27 | Rothenburg-ob-der-Tauber | 09861/938-880 | | 23 rooms | Breakfast.

Hotel Reichs-Küchenmeister.
$$ | B&B/INN | Master chefs in the service of the Holy Roman Emperor were the inspiration for the name of this historic hotel, occupying one of the oldest trader’s houses in Rothenburg. For five generations it’s been run by the same energetic family. Rooms are furnished in a stylish mixture of old and new; light veneer pieces share space with heavy oak bedsteads and painted cupboards. You can have meals on the tree-covered terrace overlooking a square or use the small private spa area for a fee. Pros: central; excellent restaurant. Cons: central location means it can get noisy from crowds of tourists. | Rooms from: €100 | Kirchpl. 8 | Rothenburg-ob-der-Tauber | 09861/9700 | | 45 rooms, 2 suites, 5 apartments | Breakfast.

Hotel-Restaurant Burg Colmberg.
$$ | B&B/INN | East of Rothenburg, this 13th-century castle converted into a hotel maintains a high standard of comfort within its original medieval walls without sacrificing the atmosphere. Logs are often burning in the fireplace of the entrance hall, illuminating an original Tin Lizzy Model T Ford from 1917. The restaurant Zur Remise serves venison from the castle’s own hunting grounds. The original castle chapel is still put to good use for weddings. Pros: romantic; you’re staying in a real castle. Cons: remote location; quite a few stairs to climb. | Rooms from: €110 | An der Burgenstr. | Colmberg | 18 km (11 miles) east of Rothenburg | 09803/91920 | | 24 rooms, 2 suites | Breakfast.

Romantik-Hotel Markusturm.
$$ | B&B/INN | The Markusturm began as a 13th-century customs house, an integral part of the city defense wall, and has since developed over the centuries into an inn and staging post and finally into a luxurious small hotel. Some rooms have beams, others have Laura Ashley-style or brightly painted bedsteads, and some have valuable antiques from the Middle Ages. Try to get a reservation for dinner when you arrive, since the beamed, elegant restaurant does fill up. The fish is excellent. Along with well-selected wines, you can also enjoy your dinner with three kinds of house-brewed beer. In summer head for the patio. Pros: tasteful interior design; near the city gate; responsive owner. Cons: stairs. | Rooms from: €145 | Röderg. 1 | Rothenburg-ob-der-Tauber | 09861/94280 | | 23 rooms, 2 suites | Breakfast.


Anneliese Friese.
You’ll find cuckoo clocks, beer tankards, porcelain, glassware, and much more at this old and atmospheric shop near the Rathaus, run by the delightful Anneliese herself. | Grüner Markt 7-8 | Rothenburg-ob-der-Tauber | 09861/7166.

Haus der 1000 Geschenke.
If you are looking for Hummel figurines, you’ve found the right place. | Obere Schmiedeg. 13 | Rothenburg-ob-der-Tauber | 09861/4801.

Käthe Wohlfahrt.
The Christmas Village part of this store is a wonderland of mostly German-made toys and decorations, particularly traditional ornaments. The Christmas museum, with a full history of the traditions over the centuries, is inside the store. | Herrng. 1 | Rothenburg-ob-der-Tauber | 09861/4090 |

Germany’s largest teddy-bear population, numbering more than 5,000, is housed here. Children adore the place, but be prepared: these toys don’t come cheap. | Herrng. 10 | Rothenburg-ob-der-Tauber | 09861/8904 | | Closed Sun. Jan.-Mar.

EN ROUTE: Schloss Schillingsfürst.
This baroque castle of the Princes of Hohenlohe-Schillingsfürst is 20 km (12 miles) south of Rothenburg-ob-der-Tauber. Standing on an outcrop, it can be seen from miles away. You can watch eagles and falcons swoop down from high in the sky to catch their prey during one of the Bavarian falconry demonstrations held in the courtyard here, at 11 and 3 from April to October. | Am Wall 14 | Schillingsfürst | 09868/812 | | €5, €8.50 with falconry demonstration | Tues.-Sun., 10:30-5; tours at 10, noon, 2, and 4.

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Northern Romantic Road

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Creglingen | Bad Mergentheim | Würzburg

After heading through the plains of Swabia in the south, your tour of the Romantic Road skirts the wild, open countryside of the Spessart uplands. Bad Mergentheim can make a great overnight stop to relax before continuing on to Würzburg to see its UNESCO-recognized palace.


18 km (11 miles) northwest of Rothenburg-ob-der-Tauber, 40 km (25 miles) south of Würzburg.

Touring the Romantic Road brings you through bustling tourist towns, but smaller, quieter villages along the way are what will probably be most worth the visit. Creglingen is a peaceful cluster of Fachwerkhäuser (half-timber houses). In the 14th century, a farmer plowing his field had a vision of the heavenly host. A church that was built on the site has been an important pilgrimage site since then.

Getting Here and Around

Just a few miles northeast of Rothenburg-ob-der-Tauber on the way to Bad Mergentheim, this farming community is hard to reach except by car. Its size, however, makes it a great place to explore on foot once you’ve arrived.


Fingerhutmuseum (Thimble Museum).
The only museum of its kind worldwide, the privately run Fingerhutmuseum features a large selection of thimbles and sewing tools from antiquity to modern times. | Kohlesmühle 6 | 07933/370 | | €2 | Apr.-Oct., Tues.-Sun. 10-12:30 and 2-5; Nov.-Mar., Tues.-Sun. 1-4.

Herrgottskirche (Chapel of Our Lord).
This chapel was built by the counts of Hohenlohe on the exact spot where a farmer in the 14th century had a religious vision, and in the early 16th century Riemenschneider carved an altarpiece for it. This enormous work, 33 feet high, depicts in minute detail the life and ascension of the Virgin Mary. Riemenschneider entrusted much of the background detail to the craftsmen of his Würzburg workshop, but he allowed no one but himself to attempt its lifesize figures. Its intricate detail and attenuated figures are a high point of late-Gothic sculpture. The Herrgottskirche is in the Herrgottstal (Valley of the Lord), 3 km (2 miles) south of Creglingen; the way is well signposted. | Creglingen | 07933/338 | | €2 | Nov., Dec., Feb., and Mar., Tues.-Sun. 1-4; Apr.-Oct., daily 9:15-6.


Heuhotel Ferienbauernhof.
$ | B&B/INN | Although there are more mainstream lodgings at the Stahl family’s farm in a suburb of Creglingen, for a truly memorable experience, you can book a space in the hayloft. You’ll bed down in freshly turned hay in the farmhouse granary (bed linen and blankets can be rented) and the nightly rate includes a cold supper and breakfast. If sleeping on hay is not for you, you can swap the granary for one of three double rooms, the three-bedroom apartment, or two-bedroom cottage, but be sure to reserve ahead of time. Pros: kids love it; easy on the wallet (€20 in the hayloft). Cons: in the middle of nowhere; nearly impossible to find without GPS. | Rooms from: €60 | Weidenhof 1 | 07933/378 | | No credit cards | 3 rooms, 1 apartment, 1 cottage; granary accommodates 20 | No meals.


24 km (15 miles) west of Creglingen.

Between 1525 and 1809, Bad Mergentheim was the home of the Teutonic Knights, one of the most successful medieval orders of chivalry. In 1809, Napoléon expelled them as he marched toward his ill-fated Russian campaign. The expulsion seemed to sound the death knell of the little town, but in 1826 a shepherd discovered mineral springs on the north bank of the river. They proved to be the strongest sodium sulfate and bitter spa waters in Europe, with supposedly health-giving properties that ensured the town’s future prosperity as a health resort, which continues even today.

Getting Here and Around

A Deutsche Bahn train runs at least twice an hour from Würzburg and the journey takes nearly 50 minutes. By car, you can reach Bad Mergentheim either via the A-7 or by the more scenic B-19, which takes only about 10 minutes longer, depending on traffic.


Visitor Information
Bad Mergentheim Tourist-Information. | Marktpl. 1 | 07931/57135 |


The Teutonic Knights’ former castle, at the eastern end of the town, has a museum that follows the history of the order. The castle also hosts classical concerts, lectures, and events for families and children. | Schloss 16 | 07931/52212 | | €6, tours €2 | Apr.-Oct., Tues.-Sun. 10:30-5; Nov.-Mar., Tues.-Sat. 2-5, Sun. 10:30-5.

Wildpark Bad Mergentheim.
You can help feed the animals at this wildlife park just outside of Bad Mergentheim. It has the continent’s largest selection of European species, including wolves and bears. | Wildpark 1 | Off the B-290, 4 km (2½ miles) south of town | 07931/41344 | | €10 | Mid-Mar.-Nov., daily 9-6, last entrance at 4:30.

OFF THE BEATEN PATH: Stuppacher Madonna.
The Pfarrkirche Mariä Krönung chapel holds one of the great Renaissance German paintings, the Stuppacher Madonna, by Matthias Grünewald (circa 1475-1528). It was only in 1908 that experts finally recognized it as the work of Grünewald; repainting in the 17th century had turned it into an unexceptional work. Though Grünewald was familiar with the developments in perspective and natural lighting of Italian Renaissance painting, his work remained resolutely anti-Renaissance in spirit: tortured, emotional, and dark. The chapel is in the village of Stuppach, 11 km (7 miles) southeast of Bad Mergentheim. Tours (in German) are held Wednesday through Friday at 1:30 and 2:30; weekends at 1:30 and 3:30. | Pfarrkirche Mariä Krönung, Grünewald Str. 45 | | €2.50 | Daily 8:30-6:30, except during services.


Best Western Parkhotel.
$$ | HOTEL | A glass facade has given this hotel both a pleasing appearance and a pleasant outlook over gardens and parkland. Pros: spacious rooms, many with balcony; several restaurants on-site; quiet location. Cons: chain atmosphere can feel sterile. | Rooms from: €133 | Lothar-Daiker-Str. 6 | 07931/5390 | | 113 rooms, 3 suites | Breakfast.

EN ROUTE: Schloss Weikersheim.
It’s slightly surprising to find a stately castle, Schloss Weikersheim, inside a village as sleepy as Weikersheim, some 10 km (6 miles) east of Bad Mergentheim on the Romantic Road. The perfectly preserved palatial residence and its surroundings embody the Renaissance ideals in their designs. You can stroll through the vast gardens and enjoy the view of the Tauber River. Inside, the Rittersaal (Knights’ Hall) contains life-size stucco wall sculptures of animals, reflecting the counts’ love of hunting. In the cellars you can drink a glass of wine drawn from the huge casks that seem to prop up the building. | Marktpl. 11 | Weikersheim | | €6.50, €3 for gardens only | Apr.-Oct., daily 9-6; Nov.-Mar., daily 10-noon and 1-5.


200 km (124 miles) north of Ulm, 115 km (71 miles) east of Frankfurt.

The baroque city of Würzburg, the pearl of the Romantic Road, shows what happens when great genius teams up with great wealth. Already a Celtic stronghold in 1000 BC, the city was founded as a bishopric in 742. Beginning in the 10th century, Würzburg was ruled by powerful (and rich) prince-bishops, who created the city with all the remarkable attributes you see today.

The city is at the junction of two age-old trade routes, in a calm valley backed by vineyard-covered hills. Festung Marienberg, a fortified castle on the steep hill across the Main River, overlooks the town. Constructed between 1200 and 1600, the fortress was the residence of the prince-bishops for 450 years.

Masterworks created by artists like Giovanni Battista Tiepolo abound in the city, including the Tilman Riemnschneider-designed tombstone of Prince-Bishop Rudolf von Scherenberg in the Romanesque St. Kilian church. The city is also home to the Residenz Palace, one of around 40 sites in Germany that has been recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

Present-day Würzburg is by no means completely original. On March 16, 1945, seven weeks before Germany capitulated, Würzburg was all but obliterated by Allied saturation bombing. The 20-minute raid destroyed 87% of the city and killed at least 4,000 people. Reconstruction has returned most of the city’s famous sights to their former splendor. Except for some buildings with modern shops, it remains a largely authentic restoration.

Getting Here and Around

Würzburg is on a main line of the superfast InterCity Express (ICE) trains, two hours from Munich and a bit more than an hour from Frankfurt. Most attractions in the old part of town are easily reached on foot. There’s a bus to take you to Marienberg Castle, up on the hill across the river. A car is the best means of transportation if you want to continue your journey, but you can also use regional trains and buses.

The tourist office maintains a thorough app that you can download for a guided stroll through the Old Town. Or take a 40-minute City Train ride and learn about the sites as you pass by them (€8).

The Würzburger Schiffstouristik Kurth & Schiebe operates river excursions.


Würzburg is well known for its wine festivals, with celebratory tastings held nearly every weekend at sites around the city and culminating with the Wine Parade in September. But wine isn’t the only cultural connector here—there’s a festival honoring Mozart’s contributions to classical music every May and an annual jazz festival in November.

Frühjahrs-Volksfest (Spring Fair).
During this spring festival, the biggest in the region, more than 50 carnival rides, roller coasters, games, and (of course) a huge beer tent await. The fest takes place every year in the three weeks preceding Easter. | Talavera | 0931/373-692 |

Hofkeller Würzburg.
This cellar-level wine bar hosts a series of wine festivals throughout the year. The first week in July, it’s held in the royal gardens, giving the festival a uniquely regal feel. | Residenzpl. 3 | 0931/305-090 |

International Africa Festival.
African culture is celebrated along the banks of the Main River every May. Artists and musicians from across Africa travel to Würzburg to share their traditions. Be sure to visit the bazaar for crafts and a variety of food. | Talavera-Mainwiesen | 0931/15060 |

The city of Würzburg hosts its annual Mozart Festival between May and July. More than 20 venues host events, but most concerts are held in the magnificent setting of the Residenz and feature world-class performers interpreting Mozart’s works. Be sure to reserve tickets early. | Ticket Office, Rückermainstr. 2 | 0931/372-336 |

Weindorf Würzburg (Würzburg Wine Village).
During this annual festival, thatched-roof “cottages” erected in the central square are stocked with wine and international foods for two weeks starting in late May. | Marktpl. | 0931/35170 |

Weinparade am Marktplatz.
It is no surprise that a region known for its wine and love of a good party has so many wine fests. This one, held for a week in early September, is the largest and one of the best. More than 100 wineries gather on the Marktplatz and are joined by some of the finest restaurants in the city. | Marktpl. | 0931/35170 |


An English audio guide accompanies you on a 40-minute ride on this tourist train, revealing both romantic and gruesome stories from the city’s history. Beginning at the Domplatz, the train takes you past all the major sites, including the Residenz Palace and Castle of the Thurn and Taxis. | Dompl. | 09401/607-9977 | | €8.

Schiffstouristik Kurth & Schiebe.
Departing from the Alte Kranen, 90-minute boat tours along the Main River show you the city from a whole new perspective. There are also day trips as far as Ochsenfurt or Gemunden, during which you can enjoy wine tastings (€8) as you glide past the vineyards. | Alter Kranen | 0931/58573 | | From €13.


You need two days to do full justice to Würzburg. The Residenz alone demands several hours of attention. If time is short, head for the Residenz as the doors open in the morning, before the first crowds assemble, and aim to complete your tour by lunchtime. Then continue to the nearby Juliusspital Weinstuben or one of the many traditional taverns in the area for lunch. In the afternoon, explore central Würzburg. The next morning cross the Main River to visit the Festung Marienberg.


Visitor Information
Stadt Würzburg Tourist Information. | Rückermainstr. 2 | 0931/372-398 |


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Top Attractions

Alte Mainbrücke (Old Main Bridge).
A stone bridge—Germany’s first—built in 1120 once stood on this site, over the Main River, but that ancient structure was restored beginning in 1476. Twin rows of graceful statues of saints now line the bridge, placed here in 1730, at the height of Würzburg’s baroque period. They were largely destroyed in 1945, but have been lovingly restored since then. Note the Patronna Franconiae (commonly known as the Weeping Madonna). There’s a beautiful view of the Marienberg Fortress from the bridge. | Würzburg.

Dom St. Kilian (St. Kilian Basilica).
Construction on Würzburg’s Romanesque cathedral, the fourth-largest of its kind in Germany, began in 1045. Centuries of design are contained under one roof; the side wings were designed in a late-Gothic style in the 16th century, followed by extensive baroque stucco work 200 years later. The majority of the building collapsed in the winter following the bombing of the city near the end of World War II. Reconstruction, completed in 1967, brought a combination of modern design influences alongside a faithful restoration of the past thousand years of the church’s history. Visit the side chapel designed by the baroque architect Balthasar Neumann, and a series of tombs of the bishops of Würzburg, designed by Tilman Riemenschneider. Tours (in German) are given daily at 12:30, mid-April through October. | Domerpfarrg. 10 | 0931/3866-2800 | | Free. Tours €4 | Daily 9:30-5:30 except during services.

Festung Marienberg (Marienberg Fortress).
This complex was the original home of the prince-bishops, beginning in the 13th century. The oldest buildings, including the Marienkirche (Church of the Virgin Mary) on the hilltop, date from around 700, although excavations have disclosed evidence that there was a settlement here in the Iron Age, 3,000 years ago. In addition to the rough-hewn medieval fortifications, there are a number of Renaissance and baroque apartments. Tours in English, held at 3 pm, meet at the Pferdeschwemme. To reach the Marienberg, make the fairly steep climb on foot through vineyards or take bus No. 9, starting at the Residenz, with several stops in the city. It runs about every 40 minutes from April to October. From April through October, tours around the fortress itself are offered, starting from the Scherenberg Tor. | Oberer Burgweg | | Tours €4.50; tours and Fürstenbau museums €6 | Mid-Mar.-Oct., Tues.-Sun. 9-6.

Fürstenbaumuseum (Princes’ Quarters Museum).
The Marienberg collections are so vast that they spill over into another outstanding museum that’s also part of the fortress. This one, the Fürstenbaumuseum, traces 1,200 years of Würzburg’s history. The holdings include breathtaking exhibits of local goldsmiths’ art. | Festung Marienberg, Oberer Burgweg | | €4.50; combined ticket with Mainfränkisches museum €6 | Mid-Mar.-Oct., Tues.-Sun. 9-6.

Mainfränkisches Museum (Main-Franconian Museum).
A highlight of any visit to Festung Marienberg is likely to be this remarkable collection of art treasures. Be sure to visit the gallery devoted to Würzburg-born sculptor Tilman Riemenschneider (1460-1531). Also on view are paintings by Tiepolo and Cranach the Elder, as well as porcelain, firearms, antique toys, and ancient Greek and Roman art. Other exhibits showcase enormous old winepresses and narrate the history of Franconian wine making. | Festung Marienberg, Oberer Burgweg | 0931/205-940 | | €4; €6 combined ticket with Fürstenbaumuseum | Apr.-Oct., Tues.-Sun. 10-5; Nov.-Mar., Tues.-Sun. 10-4.

Founded in 1576 by Prince-Bishop Julius Echter as a foundation for the poor, the elderly, and the sick, this enormous edifice now houses a hospital and the second-largest wine estate in Germany. Wander through the hospital park and grounds, then do a wine tasting, which includes six half glasses of wine from the vineyards. All profits from the Vinothek and the neighboring restaurant go towards the foundation. | Juliuspromenade 19 | 0931/393-1401 | | Tour and six tastings €22; tour and three tastings €12 | Vinothek: weekdays 9:30-6, Sat. 9-4.

Fodor’s Choice | Residenz (Residence Palace).
Würzburg’s prince-bishops lived in this glorious baroque palace after moving down from the hilltop Festung Marienberg. Construction started in 1719 under the brilliant direction of Balthasar Neumann. Most of the interior decoration was entrusted to the Italian stuccoist Antonio Bossi and the Venetian painter Giovanni Battista Tiepolo. It’s the spirit of the pleasure-loving Prince-Bishop Johann Philipp Franz von Schönborn, however, that infuses the Residenz. Now considered one of Europe’s most sumptuous palaces, this dazzling structure is a 10-minute walk from the train station, along pedestrian-only Kaiserstrasse and then Theaterstrasse.

Tours start in the Vestibule, which was built to accommodate carriages drawn by six horses. The king’s guests were swept directly up the Treppenhaus, the largest baroque staircase in the country. Halfway up, the stairway splits and peels away 180 degrees to the left and to the right. Soaring above on the vaulting is Tiepolo’s giant fresco The Four Continents, a gorgeous exercise in blue and pink that’s larger than the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling. Each quarter of the massive fresco depicts the European outlook on the world in 1750—the savage Americas; Africa and its many unusual creatures; cultured Asia, where learning and knowledge originated; and finally the perfection of Europe, with Würzburg as the center of the universe. Take a careful look at the Asian elephant’s trunk and find the ostrich in Africa. Tiepolo had never seen these creatures but painted on reports of them; he could only assume that the fastest and largest bird in the world would have big muscular legs. He immortalized himself and Balthasar Neumann as two of the figures—they’re not too difficult to spot.

Next, make your way to the Weissersaal (White Room) and then beyond to the grandest of the state rooms, the Kaisersaal (Throne Room). Tiepolo’s frescoes show the 12th-century visit of Emperor Frederick Barbarossa, when he came to Würzburg to claim his bride. If you take part in the guided tour, you’ll also see private chambers of the various former residents (guided tours in English are given daily at 11 and 3). The Spiegelkabinett (Mirror Cabinet) was completely destroyed by Allied bombing but then reconstructed using the techniques of the original rococo artisans.

Finally, visit the formal Hofgarten (Court Gardens), to see its stately gushing fountains and trim ankle-high shrubs that outline geometric flowerbeds and gravel walks. TIP On weekends, the Hofkeller wine cellar, below the Residenz, runs tours that include wine tasting. Ask at the ticket counter. | Residenzpl. 2 | 0931/355-170 | | €7.50, including guided tour | Apr.-Oct., daily 9-6; Nov.-Mar., daily 10-4:30.

Worth Noting

Alter Kranen.
Near the Main River and north of the Old Main Bridge, the “Old Crane” was erected in 1772-73 by Balthasar Neumann’s son, Franz Ignaz Michael. It was used to unload boats; beside it is the old customs building, which now has some lovely outdoor cafés overlooking the river. | Kranenkai 1.

Alte Universität (Old University).
Founded by Prince-Bishop Julius Echter and built in 1582, this rambling institution is one of Würzburg’s most interesting Renaissance structures. You may want to take some time to wander its grounds and soak in the student culture of one of Germany’s best universities. | Sanderring 2 |

Tilman Riemenschneider, Germany’s Master Sculptor

Tilman Riemenschneider, Germany’s master of late-Gothic sculpture (1460-1531), lived an extraordinary life. His skill with wood and stone was recognized at an early age, and he soon presided over a major Würzburg workshop. Riemenschneider worked alone, however, on the life-size figures that dominate his sculptures. Details such as the folds of a robe or wrinkles on a face highlight his grace and harmony of line.

At the height of his career Riemenschneider was appointed city counselor; later he became mayor of Würzburg. In 1523, however, he made the fateful error of siding with the small farmers and guild members in the Peasants’ War. He was arrested and held for eight weeks in the dungeons of the Marienberg Fortress, above Würzburg, where he was frequently tortured. Most of his wealth was confiscated, and he returned home a broken man. He died in 1531.

For nearly three centuries he and his sculptures were all but forgotten. Only in 1822, when ditch diggers uncovered the site of his grave, was Riemenschneider once again included among Germany’s greatest artists. Today Riemenschneider is recognized as the giant of German sculpture. The richest collection of his works is in Würzburg, although other masterpieces are on view in churches and museums along the Romantic Road and in other parts of Germany. The renowned Windsheim Altar of the Twelve Apostles is in the Palatine Museum in Heidelberg.

Augustinerkirche (Church of St. Augustine).
This baroque church, a work by Balthasar Neumann, was built onto a 13th-century Dominican chapel. Neumann retained the soaring, graceful choir and commissioned Antonio Bossi to add colorful stuccowork to the rest of the church. | Dominikanerpl. 2 | 0931/30970 | | Daily 7-7, except during services.

Bürgerspital (Almshouse).
Wealthy businessmen founded this refuge for the city’s poor and needy in 1319. The buildings also house a winery, which produces highly respected wines (sales are used to support the facility). The arcade courtyard is baroque in style and features its own glockenspiel. The winery offers tours of the facilities with wine tastings on the first Friday of each month; there’s also a wine festival in mid-June. | Theaterstr. 19 | 0931/350-3441 | | Tour €7 | Store: Mon.-Thurs. 8-5, Fri. 8-3; Tours: late Mar.-Oct., Sat. at 2 (also at 4 in Sept. and Oct.).

Haus zum Falken.
The city’s most splendid baroque mansion, once a humble inn, now houses the city tourist office. Its colorful rococo facade was added in 1751. | Am Marktpl. 9 | 0931/372-398 | | Jan.-Mar., weekdays 10-4, Sat. 10-2; Apr., Nov., and Dec., weekdays 10-6, Sat. 10-2; May-Oct., weekdays 10-6, weekends 10-2.

Marienkapelle (St. Mary’s Chapel).
This tranquil Gothic church (1377-1480) that stands modestly away at one end of Würzburg’s market square is almost lost among the other old facades; keep an eye out for its red bell tower. The architect Balthasar Neumann lies buried here. | Marktpl. | 0931/3861-1150 | | Free | Daily 9-6.

Neumünster (New Cathedral).
Next to the Dom St. Kilian, this 11th-century Romanesque basilica was completed in 1716. The original church was built above the grave of the early Irish martyr St. Kilian, who brought Christianity to Würzburg and, with two companions, was put to death here in 689. Their missionary zeal bore fruit, however—17 years after their death a church was consecrated in their memory. By 742 Würzburg had become a diocese, and over the following centuries 39 flourishing churches were established throughout the city. | Domerpfarrg. 10 | 0931/3866-2800 | | Free | Mon.-Sat. 6-7; Sun. 7-7.

The Gothic town hall, once headquarters of the bishop’s administrator, has been the center of municipal government since 1316. The exterior is well worth a look, and though the Rathaus is not open to the public you can go inside to have a meal in the Ratskeller restaurant. | Marktpl., Rückermainstr. 2 | 0931/370 | | Free | Weekdays 9-6, information only.

Stift Haug.
Franconia’s first baroque church, designed by the Italian architect Antonio Petrini, was built between 1670 and 1691. Its elegant twin spires and central cupola make an impressive exterior. The altarpiece is a 1583 Crucifixion scene by Tintoretto. | Haugerpfarrg. 14 | 0931/54102 | | Free | Daily 8-7.

OFF THE BEATEN PATH: Schloss Veitshöchheim.
The first summer palace of the prince-bishops is 8 km (5 miles) north of Würzburg. Enlarged and renovated by Balthasar Neumann in 1753, the castle became a summer residence of the Bavarian kings in 1814. You reach the castle by walking down a long allée of trees on the extensive grounds. To your right are the “formal” rococo gardens, planned and laid out at the beginning of the 18th century. On the other side of the castle are the “utility” gardens, cared for by the Bavarian State College for Wines and Gardens. The college was founded here in 1902 as the Royal School for Gardening and Wine Culture. Walls, pavilions, a small lake teeming with fish, and gardens laden with fruit complete the picture of this huge park. From April to October fountains come to life every hour on the hour from 1 to 5, the water shooting into the air and then cascading into small ponds. The palace itself shows the rooms of the Bavarian royal family. It can only be visited on the 30-minute guided tour, with a tour each hour. A bus service runs from Würzburg’s Kirchplatz to the palace. From mid-April to mid-October there is also a boat operating between Würzburg and the palace, daily 10-4. The 40-minute trip costs €9 round-trip. | Echterstr. 10 | Veitshöchheim | 0931/355-170 | | €4.50, including tour; gardens free | Apr.-Oct., Tues.-Sun. 9-6.


Alte Mainmühle.
$ | GERMAN | Sample Frankish bratwurst cooked over a wood-fire grill and other regional dishes in this converted mill alongside the Main River. The menu also includes local fish and a variety of vegetarian options. In good weather, you can sit outside on the terrace for the best views of the Alte Mainbrücke and the Festung Marienberg. The small bar at the entrance of this easygoing restaurant serves local wine street-side, so you can get a glass of crisp Silvaner and watch the sun set over the city and surrounding vineyards. | Average main: €13 | Mainkai 1 | 0931/16777 | | No credit cards.

$ | GERMAN | More than 400 years of tradition are embedded in this old tavern. Hidden away behind huge wooden doors on a backstreet, the Backöfele’s cavelike interior is a popular meeting and eating place. The surprisingly varied menu includes local favorites such as suckling pig and marinated pot roast, as well as good fish entrées and classic desserts, all at reasonable prices. | Average main: €13 | Ursulinerg. 2 | 0931/59059 |

Juliusspital Weinstuben.
$$ | GERMAN | Giving a gastropub’s twist to traditional Franconian fare, this restaurant is also a draw for its local wines. The 400-year-old Juliusspital foundation still funds the neighboring hospital, school, and local nature preserves with profits from its vineyards and this bustling spot. While sampling local game and fish specialties, you can buy a bottle of wine to take home directly from the wait staff. In summer you can enjoy your food and drinks on a quiet terrace in the courtyard. | Average main: €17 | Juliuspromenade 19, Ecke Barbarossapl. | 0931/54080 |

$ | GERMAN | Practically every German city has a restaurant in its city hall, but Würzburg’s stands out. The daily menu offers excellent regional food, such as Fränkischer Sauerbraten, along with plenty of fish and vegetarian offerings. The smaller dishes offered throughout the day are a good excuse to take a break while touring. Beer is available, but local wine is what the regulars drink. As for the Gothic town hall itself, it’s been the center of municipal government since 1316. | Average main: €14 | Beim Grafeneckart, Langg. 1 | 0931/13021 |


Hotel Greifensteiner Hof.
$$ | HOTEL | The modern Greifensteiner offers comfortable, individually furnished rooms in a quiet corner of the city, just off the market square. The Fränkische Stuben has excellent cuisine with mostly Franconian specialties; various meal plans are available with room reservations. There’s also a basement wine bar that serves local varieties. Pros: center of town; excellent restaurants; nice bar. Cons: no spectacular views or grand lobby. | Rooms from: €130 | Dettelbacherg. 2 | 0931/35170 | | 49 rooms | Breakfast; Some meals.

Hotel Rebstock zu Würzburg.
$$ | HOTEL | This hotel’s rococo facade has welcomed guests for centuries, and inside the rooms are all individually decorated and furnished in an English country-house style. The spacious lobby, with an open fireplace and beckoning bar, sets the tone, and there’s an attractive winter garden where you can enjoy a cup of coffee. Though a part of the Best Western chain, nice touches throughout give it a unique feel. Pros: historical building with modern amenities; quick access to the town’s sights. Cons: sometimes fills up with conferences and other large groups. | Rooms from: €140 | Neubaustr. 7 | 0931/30930 | | 63 rooms, 9 suites | Breakfast.

Hotel Walfisch.
$$ | B&B/INN | Guest rooms are furnished in solid Franconian style, with farmhouse cupboards, bright fabrics, and heavy drapes. You can breakfast in a dining room on the bank of the Main, with views of the vineyard-covered Marienberg. For lunch and dinner try the hotel’s cozy Walfisch-Stube restaurant. The restaurant’s namesake (Walfisch means “whale”) isn’t on the menu, but they do have excellent fish as well as a good selection of white wines. Weather permitting you can dine on the terrace, which has good views of the river and the Festung Marienberg. Pros: nice view from front rooms; good restaurant. Cons: difficult parking; small improvements needed. | Rooms from: €130 | Am Pleidenturm 5 | 0931/35200 | | 40 rooms | Breakfast.

Ringhotel Wittelsbacher Höh.
$ | B&B/INN | Most of the cozy rooms in this historic redbrick mansion offer views of Würzburg and the vineyards. The restaurant’s wine list embraces most of the leading local vintages, and Franconian and Italian dishes pack the menu. In summer take a table on the terrace and soak up the view. Pros: nice view from rooms and terrace; good food; family run. Cons: 3 km (2 miles) from town. | Rooms from: €95 | Hexenbruchweg 10 | 0931/453-040 | | 73 rooms, 1 suite | Breakfast.

Schloss Steinburg.
$$$ | HOTEL | Set atop vineyards and overlooking the towers of Würzburg, the Schloss Steinburg offers regal manor rooms as well as crisp and serene modern lodgings. The castle was first built in 1898 over the ruins of a medieval monastery; the Bezold family have expanded upon it over the last 75 years. The oldest rooms have many original details intact while the newer rooms are closer to the hotel’s spa, which has panoramic views of the old city. The restaurant serves regional as well as more pan-European dishes. Pros: beautiful views; nice variety of rooms; pool open year-round. Cons: outside the city center. | Rooms from: €210 | Mittlerer Steinburgweg 100 | 0931/97020 | | No credit cards | 69 rooms | Breakfast.

$ | HOTEL | Close to the river and the pedestrian-only center, the pink-stucco Strauss has been in the same family for more than 100 years. Rooms are simply furnished in light woods and have comfortable beds. The beamed restaurant, Würzburg, serves Franconian cuisine. Pros: close to main station and Old Town. Cons: small lobby; some rooms need updating; restaurant closed Tuesday and late December-late January. | Rooms from: €82 | Juliuspromenade 5 | 0931/30570 | | 75 rooms, 3 suites | Breakfast.


Mainfranken Theater Würzburg.
Founded in 1804, the Mainfranken Theater Würzburg puts on a variety of plays for adults, as well as for children. It’s also home to the city’s orchestra. | Theaterstr. 21 | 0931/39080 |


Wine lovers and hikers should visit the Stein-Wein-Pfad, a signposted trail through the vineyards that rise up from the northwest edge of Würzburg. The starting point is the Weingut am Stein (Ludwig Knoll vineyard), 10 minutes on foot from the main train station. A two-hour round-trip affords stunning views of the city as well as the chance to try the excellent local wines directly at the source. From May through mid-October, you can join a guided tour of the wineries every other Saturday for €8, which includes a glass of wine. | Mittlerer Steinbergweg 5 |


Würzburg is the true wine center of the Romantic Road. Visit any of the vineyards that rise from the Main River and choose a Bocksbeutel, the distinctive green, flagon-shape wine bottle of Franconia. One fanciful claim is that the shape came about because wine-guzzling monks found it the easiest to hide under their robes.

Die Murmel.
A large selection of wooden children’s toys are available in this shop. | Augustinerstr. 7 | 0931/59349 | | Closed Sun.

Ebinger Antiquities.
Fine antique jewelry, clocks, watches, and silver are for sale here, along with exquisite antiques. | Karmelitenstr. 23 | 0931/59449.

In summer the selection consists mostly of garden and terrace decorations; from October through December the store is filled with delightful Christmas ornaments and candles. | Langg. 8, off Marktpl. | 0931/12001 | | Closed Sun.