The Romantic Road was created by German tourism after WWII to attract people to travel in Bavaria. They basically put together a route using secondary roads connecting some towns that had once been part of a medieval trade route. Today, many people say they plan to drive from Rothenburg to Füssen (or vice versa) along the Romantic Road. In my opinion, that is a mistake. It is one thing to tour the road, staying for a while at significant towns along the way. However, if you just drive straight through, without stopping for anything, you will be spending at least 4½ hours, and the driver won’t get to see anything else but the road and the traffic in front of him. It might be worthwhile taking the road if you want to spend some time seeing what's there, but to just use it as because it's a way to get from a town on one end to a town on the other seems pointless. There are other, faster, connections, by rail or by highway.
I decided to check out the road myself, so I flew to Munich in early October of 2007 and spent five days on the road between Wieskirche and Würzburg.
to see a map of the Romantic Road taken from the official website.
This trip was a radical departure from my normal "modus travel". On each of my five previous trips this century, I have spent an entire week in at least one spot, using it as a base for short trips. I rarely spent only one night at any location. On my last trip, I spent 12 nights in Germany in only two places. For this trip, although most travel days were short, I stayed 13 nights in 10 different places.
Most significantly though, consistent with past trips, I stayed in small towns, out of the normal flow (I hoped) of American tourists, in hotels that I found on the Internet and booked using emails in German. All of the hotels responded in German. I expected to be immersed in the language and in the culture, and that, to me, was the most important thing.
To start with, I made a list of the towns on the Road, as you go through them south to north. I’ve already seen Füssen (3 times) and Rothenburg (2 times), so I decided not to stop there. Augsburg might have enough to warrant a stop, but it is easily accessible by train, so I decided to pass it by, saving it possibly for another day. Most of the places where I stopped had a castle, city walls, gate towers, etc. I was most interested in those features. As far as churches, I had already seen so many ornate Bararian churches – I didn’t need to see any more. I did make one exception, for Wieskirche, because everyone puts it on their "must see" list, and it was on my way and would otherwise be difficult to get to.
The towns in bold are ones at which I decided to stop. The others I decided did not have enough of interest to warrant an extended stop.
After Würzburg, I continued in a clockwise route around Munich to Bamberg, Fürth, Nürnberg, Passau, and Burghausen, then to Munich. I stayed for two nights in Munich, with a side trip to Andechs Monastery, before flying out of Munich back to Denver.
When I made my flight reservations, it picked the first two full weeks of October because the fares had dropped from the high summer fares. I wanted to try to avoid less than desirable late fall weather and fares in late October were no lower. It was only after making my reservations that I realized that I was arriving the Thursday before the last weekend of Octoberfest. Did I go to Octoberfest? No. As I said earlier, I was trying to avoid the flow of tourists, particularly Americans. Octoberfest was just too "touristy" for me. However, at the end of my trip, in Munich, I did drop into the Hofbräuhaus for a meal. That is about as touristy as I get.
to continue with my trip.