In a land that time forgot, a 410km long road weaves it way though the South Western quarters of the German countryside from Wűrzburg to Fűsen. It is all too easy to escape reality here as grand castles, medieval houses, picture-perfect mountain views and glassy lakes assault your senses. Lost in wonderland, the Romantic Road (Romantisch Straβe) really is a fairy tale with a happy ending…
Made for motorhomes, could it be Germany’s, or maybe even Europe’s best road-trip? Here’s for you to decide…
As we followed the signs to a campsite, we realised Audrey really is a big lass, with a giant… overhead compartment (what did you think I was going to say?) as we approached a bridge 2’ too small! If you’re a motorhome- size matters, folks!
Creating a back-log of traffic as we tried doing a 27-point-turn in the middle of the cobbled street, probably wasn’t the best of starts! Nevertheless, seeing the grandeur of the buildings, (which can only be described as small palaces) scattered on the vine-covered hills soon made the bridge incident a distant memory. Our base whilst here was Campingplatz Kalte Quelle (N 49 44’40.26 E9 59’5.28). A campsite was much in need, as was prayer and rest to get us all over the flu. Kalte Quelle, (€20 for night one €18 thereafter incl. electric hook up) is located directly on the river, perfect for children, as they can watch the boats sail by, play in the on-site park or chase the rabbits around the grass. We were all beginning to look grubby too, so it was the perfect opportunity to make use of the washing machine!
What a delightful little town! The Tűrmersturn tower is the town’s landmark and looks like it’s been plucked straight out of Disney’s Rapunzel; much to Nabbie’s delight as she was beckoning her to ‘let down her hair!’ The old town is full of water fountains that kept our children entertained, yet charming enough to allow the grown-ups to appreciate. Life takes on a slower pace here, never more evident than in the 200-year-old church. A sneak peek inside, and you can appreciate the giant stained glass window that spans the front width of the church, the organ plays in the background and the toddler shouts ‘poo’, guess that was our cue to go…
Sitting directly on the Romantic Road, it would be easy to by-pass this town. Yet we were tired, it offered motorhome parking (N 49.50716 E 9.97042) so we thought we’d give it a try, and we’re so pleased we did! For €5 you can park on the river’s edge in a quiet and idyllic spot. After tea, Nabbie and I decided to take an evening stroll around the medieval town centre and at points; it was silent. The half-timbered houses decorate the skyline and a sense of peace hangs in the air. It felt so wonderful that as a parent, you can be lost in the labyrinth of baroque architecture, in an unfamiliar setting with your toddler, but feel perfectly safe. Evidently so, as the 2km sundial tour led us around a host of allotments (that were so beautifully preened) when Nabbie spotted something glistening in the centre… It was only upon close investigation that we noticed everybody just left their kitchen knives from the days harvest sticking into the soil! If that had been the U.K it would have been bodies in those allotments – not cabbages!
Having heard great things about this place, I had set my expectations high: Perhaps a little too high! At Műnstersee leisure and relaxation area, there are fountains, a barefoot trail and lake swimming. We trawled all around the town and failed to find such a place! However, we did find free parking by the river (follow signs) and numerous Horse Chestnut trees whose conkers were firing down upon us.
Toy town at its finest! One cannot underestimate how beautiful this town is. Think of ‘Christmas Town’ in ‘Nightmare before Christmas’ and you will have something close, (but the people don’t look like elves!) There is paid parking (no overnight) directly outside of the old town and as you enter through the fortress-like gates, every house is worthy of a picture! The main square is the perfect place to soak in the culture of the city – or the doctor’s surgery (where we happened to be). Thankfully littlest Dixon was becoming well and despite one of those ‘over-tired-moments-that-last-30 minutes’ (leaving both parent and toddler spent) wandering the back-streets of Rothenburg ODT is certain to bring a sense of serene calm to any emotional persona… whether 2 or 32! The year round Christmas grotto is a must, despite the fact you’ll have to use your year’s earnings just to buy a bauble; it is just jolly and beautiful! Stay towards evening, and the town quiets down but the magic undoubtedly still hang in the air…
Dinkelsbűhl – Motorhome Parking (N 49.06406 E 10.32712; €1 per hour €6 24hr water and electric on meter)
Like Rothenburg, (but arguably less commercial) Dinkelsbűhl equates to all the charm but in a more accessible and compact way. Here you can easily sit in the market square opposite St George’s cathedral and watch the world go by… eateries serve crepes bigger than your face, which is guaranteed to keep your toddler busy enabling you to absorb the towns charm. And if that fails – (and you have an endless supply of cash) take the ‘Night Watchman’ (or horse-drawn cart tour) around the town to fully appreciate the town in its entirety. Let me know if it’s worth it, our children only managed to stroke the horse as we needed to pay for parking and I wanted to buy wine!
If you want an Instagram worthy shot – be sure to follow the Romantic Road and skirt around the perimeter of this town. Park adjacent to the river with the castle dominating the hillside, overlooking the Old Town – it’s quite picturesque!
Sitting at the confluence of river Danube and Wörnitz, we found Donauwörth to offer the same medieval charisma but within a more vibrant atmosphere. Free motorhome parking is available (N48.71492 E10.77903) but we stayed for about 20 minutes when we realised we’d parked in the epicentre of the town’s Oktoberfest. Great if your nightly session involves beer, not so great if your session will involve two sleep-deprived small children!
Therefore we parked for free at Rain (electric / water available for a charge N48.69187 E10.90712) where we had a nice walk through the woodland and spotted a sculpture of a woman bending over a stagnant pond. Apparently she was sad because she had a sore knee? I love how a 2 year old’s imagination works!
Since leaving Rothenburg, we found allocated motorhome parking few and far between. This wasn’t the only thing to become different – the landscape was now beginning to change dramatically as the Romantic Road led us from Medieval settlements to more alpine backdrops.
Therefore when we arrived at Rottenbuch, gateway to the Pfaffenwinkel Way, we thought we’d enjoy it with the campsite which had wifi (Yey!) for an additional charge (Boo!). Terrasen-Camping am Richterbichl (€15pn: N47°43’37.9986 E10°58’0.9978) Has a delightful park on site, a huge pond (I’m guessing you can use it for outdoor swimming?) although despite it being Club Tropicana the water was freezing! No wonder little Nabbie protested when she was plunged into it!
The campsite is located directly on the Pfaffenwinkel Melk Way walk, renowned in the area! Perfect for a young family, the 5km walk has regular pit – stops for children whether it be play-parks hidden in the woodland, child-size aqueducts protruding from the rivers or a heavenly cheese shop and restaurant for Mom! Cheese lovers – get there before lunch, it gets packed! I was seeking a new husband seeing as mine wasn’t prepared to wait in the queue!
From here on in you are in the heart of Bavaria! Jagged mountain peaks protrude from the earth as paragliders circle the air like vultures. It really is quite the experience! Halblech has parking juxtaposed to the river , but again it gets very busy and motorhome parking is limited and not permitted overnight. It’s an outdoor enthusiast’s dream; with walking, cycling or hiking being the main recreational activities. A cable car runs to ascend some of the peaks but if you’re limited for spends – perhaps save it for the cable car experience in Schwangau.
Here is where your journey ends but arguably your experience just begins!
Deserving of its own post, there really is plenty to do here for all the family…
So, Germany’s greatest road-trip? We think so!
*All prices are based on off-peak 2017 rates, incl. city taxes
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