Though there are tourist roads that crisscross Germany for everything from wine to fairy tales and half-timbered houses, the Romantic Road remains by far the best-known internationally. The “Romantic” name is something of a catch-all, but the route does encompass much that is most traditionally – and charmingly – German, from walled medieval towns to fairy-tale castles and richly decorated Rococo churches, and it’s precisely this combination of historic sights and lost-in-time-charm that makes the journey worthwhile. Created in the 1950s to boost tourism, it threads its way south from the River Main to the Alps as the landscape progressively changes from gentle, rolling agricultural country to the fringes of the mountains. Along the way, it passes by some of Germany’s most remarkable and famous visitor attractions: the Residenz in Würzburg, the perfectly preserved medieval towns of Rothenburg ob der Tauber and Dinkelsbühl, the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Wieskirche and “Mad” King Ludwig II’s Wagnerian fantasy castle of Neuschwanstein. Much the easiest way to travel the Romantic Road is, of course, by car, but if you don’t have your own transport the Eurolines-affiliated Europabus (touring.de) travels the road once daily in each direction from mid-April to October between Frankfurt, Würzburg, Munich and Füssen, with special offers for hikers and cyclists and facilities to transport bikes; you can book tickets for the bus online. There’s also a 460m cycle route, most of it fairly gentle and characterized by well-made local tracks or quiet local roads, or you can follow the route on foot; the GPS data for the entire walk can be ordered from the Romantic Road website, romanticroad.de.
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