Cobble stone streets and timber-framed houses in the medieval town of Rothenburg, the fairy tale castle of Neuschwanstein, the romantic Rhine Valley and a towering gothic cathedral: This tour is designed for first time visitors. You will experience a mix of beautiful countryside and vibrant cities. If you can spend a few more days, why not add-on a stay in Berlin?
This trip will be customized according to your wishes.
Rental car pick-up
Broker: Sunny Cars GmbH
Vehicle: VW Polo or similar (EDMR)
Location: Frankfurt Airport (Desk at Airport)
In this Middle Franconian town on the Tauber river time seems to have stood still since the 30-year war. It now is a world-famous tourist attraction with narrow cobbled streets, tall Gothic gabled houses, churches with significant high altars and a completely preserved city wall with numerous watchtowers: The cityscape of the free imperial city has become the epitome of German romanticism.
If you stay in one of the historic hotels in the city, make sure to participate in the guided tour with a medieval night-watchman.
Originally built in 1264 as a customs house, the hotel occupies one of the best locations in Rothenburg: on main street, next to a medieval city gate and just minutes from the central square.
The current hosts, Stephan and Lilo, are the fourth generation of the same family to run the facility, which has been a hotel since 1488. The first thing guests notice is the charming entryway decorated with antiques. The bedrooms come in all shapes and sizes, and no two are alike. They all have one thing in common, however: Each was personally decorated by the hostess with exquisite attention to detail. Guests can sample traditional Franconian dishes and home-brewed beer in the rustic restaurant.
The eastern route will take you past Nuremberg before turning south to Munich. The former “Free City” crowned by the Imperial Castle is worth a visit.
Romantic Road: From Rothenburg take the Romantic Road (Romantische Straße) south to Dinkelsbühl and Nördlingen, then continue to Munich via Donauwörth and Augsburg.
Rothenburg, Dinkelsbühl and Nördlingen are the only three towns in Germany with fully intact medieval city walls.
Although it is still a relatively young city, Munich’s charisma extends far beyond the Bavarian borders. Around the 11th century a few monks settled on the Isar – hence the name (apud Munichen – with the monks).
Because of its strategic location at a bridge and also at the intersection of two trade routes, the city soon became the residence of the Wittelsbach family who reigned as dukes, electors and kings of Bavaria. The city experienced a boom in the Baroque era and finally also in the 20th century. Munich became the capital of Art Nouveau – but also of the National Socialist movement. In 1919 Hitler already tested the demonic effect of his speeches in the Hofbräukeller. Although Munich is a high-tech location today, the Bavarian folklore is lovingly cared for, especially in the last week of September when the Oktoberfest beer festival takes place.
The attractive Neo-Renaissance villa was built in 1886 next to the Nymphenburg Palace and park, one of the most famous sites in Munich.
The 17th century palace, now open to the public, has played an important role in numerous historic events. The small, family-run hotel next door prides itself on its 23 individually designed bedrooms and friendly service. Bicycles are loaned for free, for example, and tickets for the local public transportation system for the ride downtown can be purchased at the reception desk. In spite of the quiet location, Germany`s largest beer garden is just minutes away. The hotel staff will gladly provide restaurant recommendations and assist with the planning of local activities. Indeed, the little inn was recently named a Service Hotel by the travel website Venere.
Much of this journey follows a scenic stretch of road that connects some of the most enchanting villages, churches and landscapes in southern Germany.
A few places worth noting along the way are the towns of Hohenfurch, Schongau, Peiting, Rottenbuch and Wildsteig and the Pilgrimage Church of Wies, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Allgäu between Lake Constance in the west and the Lech River in the east is considered one of the most beautiful destinations in southern Germany.
Extended moors and forests cover the north, while the southern part, sculptured by the ice age, is hilly and fertile. In the south the Allgäu borders the Alps with soaring mountain peaks and deep valleys. The Upper Swabian Baroque Road (Oberschwäbische Barockstraße) will lead you to marvellous churches and castles which harmonize wonderfully with the countryside.
On a lofty summit originally selected by King Ludwig the Mad for the site of another fairy-tale castle after completion of Neuschwanstein sits a hotel which is like no other.
Newly arrived guests are first struck by the endless vistas of mountains, green valleys, lakes, and forests at their feet. Then comes the hotel itself, in which every room was individually and imaginatively decorated by the owners themselves, resulting in living quarters that are not mere guest rooms but distinct creations that exude luxury, taste and comfort. Next to the hotel the ruins of Ludwig's final project still stand, within whose tranquil walls the visitor may better sense the lingering spirit of the eccentric ruler than at tourist-plagued Neuschwanstein, clearly visible in the distance. Travellers who brave the narrow road leading up to the castle will be richly rewarded.
The route leads along the panoramic German Alpine Road, one of the most scenic stretches in Germany, to Lake Constance.
In Lindenberg you may want to stop to sample the famous Lindenberg Cheese. From Lindau you will trace the entire north shore of the lake around to the city of Konstanz in the southwest corner.
Despite its two thousand year history the city on the southern shore of Lake Constance is vibrant. This is due to the University, which attracts many young people, to the theaters and concerts.
Since 1993 the harbor is dominated by a massive statue that rotates once around its own axel every four minutes. A nine meter high female figure with a plunging neckline holds two gnomes in her hands. This is the legendary prostitute Imperia and the two gnomes are the Emperor and the Pope. During the Council of Constance 1414-1418 she slept – and played – with both. Jan Hus, who criticized the power and demoralizing influences of concubines within the Roman Church most violently, was burned at the end of the Council in Constance at the stake.
The old town around the cathedral and the town hall is especially beautiful and interesting.
On a small private island on the shores of Lake Constance lies the former Dominican Convent. Most of the comfortable rooms have beautiful views of the garden or the lake.
Amazing wall paintings dating back to the 13th century can be admired in the corridors. A short stroll of only three minutes will take you into the Old Town of Constance. An extensive Breakfast is served in the restaurant which also offers international cuisine and seafood for dinner. The Dominikanerstube is known for its regional dishes and when the weather is nice coffee and cake await on the terrace. The bar is named after Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin who was born here.
The city in southwestern Germany which lies in the Upper Rhine Valley between the French Vosges Mountains and the Black Forest to the east, enjoys a pleasant warm climate.
Its story begins with a castle (Freiburg – “free castle”) of the Zähringer Duke in 1008. Today the vibrant university town with over 30,000 students is a stronghold in the world for solar energy research and one of the few German cities with a “green” mayor. The picturesque, traffic-free old town with its magnificent cathedral lends itself to a leisurely stroll, to shop or to dine. South of the city the Schauinsland rises, – one of the most beautiful mountains in the southern Black Forest. And a few kilometers north the Kaiserstuhl (Emperor’s Chair), a range of hills where rare plants and excellent wines grow, emerges from the Rhine plains.
Culture and Literature play a mayor part not only in the region but also in the family run hotel. Over the years many authors and artists have come to stay and today each room has its own literary patron saint with a small selection of books and artwork – often dedicated – on display.
At reception a vast collection of books, written by former famous guests, is available to browse. The hallways are adorned with photography art work from the Black Forest and the surrounding area. The location is central: just a few steps lead to the pedestrian zone and everything Freiburg has to offer. In the morning the sumptuous Breakfast is a great start into the day.
From Freiburg the route will head north along the entire west edge of the Black Forest National Park. One of the oldest German spas is located towards the north end of the Black Forest: Baden-Baden.
Remnants of Roman baths show that the natural springs of Baden-Baden have been valued by the privileged classes for over 2,000 years.
The capital of the Palatinate (Kurpfalz) is at the point where the Neckar coming from the Odenwald enters the Rhine valley.
It is considered the cradle of German Romanticism and has inspired poets such as Brentano, Arnim or Eichendorff. The city is mentioned for the first time at the end of the 12th century. 200 years later the university was established and the castle under Palatine Count Rupert was built. In 1693 the town and castle were destroyed and rebuilt in the 18th century in baroque style. Rising majestically above the roofs of the old town are the ruins of the Heidelberg Castle – the most spectacular in its location, size and beauty in all of Germany. The classical-romantic view of Heidelberg's Old Town and the castle can be enjoyed from the Philosphengärtchen (Philosophers' Garden) and along the Philosophers’ Way on the north bank of the River Neckar.
On entering the rooms in this new boutique hotel guests are first struck by the stunning views of Heidelberg from every window. At night the illuminated castle and Old Town spread out before you will almost seem unreal. For more unrestricted panoramic views you can relax on the rooftop lounge, or spend the afternoon or evening even higher up in the hotel's private vineyard – with a well-stocked picnic basket provided by your host.
After admiring the view guests can begin to admire their temporary home away from home: every room and every piece of furniture in it were exclusively designed by a Florentine architect with an eye to balance and harmony. All items of furniture were handmade by local craftsmen. While thoroughly modern, the interior decor was designed to recapture the late 18th century spirit of Romanticism, when Heidelberg was Germany's philosophical and literary centre. The noble simplicity of the 18th century building's white exterior gives the impression of a private residence rather than a hotel. Downtown Heidelberg is just a few minutes' walk away across the famous Old Bridge.
You will pass by the city of Worms, where Martin Luther was threatened with excommunication in 1521 unless he retracted his teachings.
He refused and was declared an outlaw by Emperor Charles V. Important sites in Worms include the Romanesque cathedral from the 11th and 12th centuries and the oldest Jewish cemetery in Europe.
From its source at St. Gotthard in Switzerland up to its mouth of branched river arms in the Netherlands the Rhine covers 1320 km.
For thousands of years it has been one of the most important trade routes in Europe. Between Bingen and Koblenz it squeezes through a deep valley which is one of the most beautiful landscapes in Germany and also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Castles and ruins alternate with vineyards and picturesque half-timbered towns. Many myths and legends surround the valley; the best known is about the Loreley, who sat on a cliff, combing her beautiful long golden hair and enchanting the boatmen with her enticing singing voice, so that many men drowned in the quickening waters of the Rhine. The best way to experience the valley is from the boat on a trip from St. Goar to Kaub.
During the 12th century the Dukes of Schöneburg ruled the area from this castle on a hill above the town of Oberwesel and levied duties on Rhine commerce. The castle was burned down in 1689 and lay in ruins for over 200 years until it was bought and restored by an American named Mr. Rhinelander in the early 1900s.
Today the modern, luxury hotel is owned once again by the town of Oberwesel and has been managed by the Hüttl family since 1957. It offers 20 elegant, individually furnished rooms and two suites with four-poster beds and balconies facing the Rhine River. Guests can stroll through the surrounding forests, meadows and vineyards or just relax and enjoy the one-of-a-kind views.
You will follow the Rhine Valley to Koblenz, where the Moselle River flows into the Rhine. Shortly before reaching Cologne you will pass Bonn, the former capital of the Federal Republic of Germany and the birthplace of Beethoven.
Important sites include the 11th century cathedral and Beethoven-Haus, which contains the largest Beethoven collection in the world, including the last piano owned by the composer.
Rental car drop-off
Location: Cologne (Desk at Airport)
Founded by the Romans over 2,000 years ago, Cologne is Germany's second oldest city. The city marked the northern boundary of the Roman Empire and was therefore of great strategic and military importance to the Romans.
For many centuries now it has been a leading trading and transportation hub due to its location along the Rhine River. Cologne became one of the focal points of Western culture during the Middle Ages when, under the rule of Friedrich II, the relics of the Three Wise Men were brought to Cologne in 1164 after being captured from Milan. Cologne Cathedral, one of the most magnificent structures north of the Alps, was built to house these relics, although construction wasn't completed until 600 years later. Today the landmark is the emblem of Cologne and is also a World Heritage Site of UNESCO. The old town facing the Rhine together with the city boasting 12 Romanesque churches among its numerous other historical sites creates a unique ensemble and Cologne is also known as the center of the German Mardi Gras celebrations that peak during the carnival period.
The 5-star hotel has been an institution in Cologne since it was first opened in 1863. In 1910 it made headlines when it began offering ensuite bathrooms with running warm water, a rarity at the time that was considered the epitome of luxury and comfort.
This tradition has been proudly maintained over the last century: exactly 100 years after it began offering warm water, the hotel in the heart of Cologne was named the Hotel of the Year by one of the country's leading hotel and restaurant guides. The exceptional service extends from the “pillow card” which enables guests to select just the right pillow for a good night's rest, to the free minibar and valet parking. Two restaurants are available: the “Hansestube”, serving innovative French cuisine, and the Japanese restaurant Taku, which received a Michelin Star in 2012. The rooms are surprisingly quiet despite the central location just steps from the train station and the Cathedral.
You will take Germany's fastest train, the InterCityExpress (ICE). An older version of the ICE set the world speed record in 1988, reaching 406.9 km/h (253 mph).
Your train tickets will not be booked by Umfulana. Please book online on www.bahn.de. Alternatively you can book on www.raileurope.com, where prices will be displayed in most currencies, but tend to be more expensive than on the the local provider's website. Another option is to purchase your ticket on arrival at the station.