Germany Romantic Road (Trip)
As my Instagram feed fills with Oktoberfest and fall leaves, I cannot help but reminisce back to a fall trip to Germany. My best friend and I flew to Munich with a master plan to road trip to Vienna, Austria (a drive of 3 hours and 35 mins). We spent the day in Munich, read my top three here. However, jet lag caught up to us at about 5 p.m., and we were both asleep by 6. Now, we had spent a better part of the day discussing if we should drive to Neuschwanstein Castle (aka Sleeping Beauty’s castle) in Bavaria. The iconic castle of King Ludwig II has more than 1.5 million visitors a year according to Travel and Leisure magazine and is one of the most visited castles in the world. We had flown all this way, right? The bad news is that the castle is about two hours from Munich in the opposite direction of Vienna. We decided before drifting off that it didn’t make sense and we would head to Austria in the morning. However, we both woke up wide-eyed and ready for adventure at 3 a.m. and by 4 a.m. we were loading up the car for a Bavarian road trip. The route from Munich to Neuschwanstein Castle (Schwangau, Germany) happens to be along a tourist drive called “The Romantic Road.”
The Romantic Road offers a scenic trip through the alps dotted with historic towns along the way including three medieval walled in cities. In the age of Google maps, type Schwangau as your destination, and you will see signs for official stops of the Romantic Road. The first 45 minutes out of Munich was dark and dull as it was still pitch black when we left the hotel. As the sky began to lighten we stopped at a gas station for coffee and pastries that were being homemade in a giant baker’s oven behind the cash register. To date, it was the best apple strudel of my life. Pale colors began to show on the horizon, and as we drove over the crest of a hill, the snow-covered Alps dominated the skyline. We pulled over to stand in the snow and take pictures as the sun rose over the mountains. It was a truly breathtaking sight. The cadence of pulling over for photos and stopping to explore continued as we made our way down the Romantic Road.
Since we left so early, many of the towns were sleepy and shuttered, but that did not take away from their beauty and charm. Each town is quaint, and if you drive by and blink, you may miss one. However, the best is saved for last as Neuschwanstein Castle comes into view nestled between the Alps. You will also notice a yellow castle as you drive into town, Hohenschwangau, where King Ludwig grew up and was the residence of his parents. Before heading up to the castle, we took a picture pit stop at Alpsee lake (with about 30 other tourists who were too excited to sleep). We then walked about 15 minutes to the entrance of the castle breathing in the crisp morning air as our boots crunched in the snow. We decided not to tour the castle on our visit and just explored the perimeter. Most people don’t realize that the castle is unfinished as King Ludwig died before its completion. Reflecting on the trip, was it worth the two-hour drive to spend about 20 minutes snapping photos and walking around the castle grounds? YES! The drive was some of the most spectacular scenery I have ever seen and the towns along the way transport you back in time. If you are planning a trip to Germany/Austria in the coming months, you should consider renting a car and drive the Romantic Road.
We got our Romantic Road (trip) tips from this site. Send me an email or Instagram message if you have any questions about planning a road trip to Bavaria.
Where are you planning to travel this fall?