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Experience the best of Romantic Road for a trip of one, two, three or four days.
The romantic road (Romantische Straße) is like a string of pearls that connects several medieval towns which miraculously kept their historical character: Rothenburg, Feuchtwangen, Nördlingen and some more. You will see historical towns, churches, museums, a splendid baroque monastery and one of Europe's most beautiful palaces. You stay at a romantic hotel, enjoy excellent regional cuisine, specialty beers and wines. However, we have to clear a misunderstanding: The road itsself is anything but romantic - it is a normal highway with quite heavy traffic, trucks and industrial suburbs. I suggest to take the Autobahn A7 if you have to cover distance.
Rothenburg ob der Tauber is THE epitome of a medieval town. There is everything you can expect: a circular wall, mighty gates, historic houses, a city hall, church, even a beautiful view over a romantic river valley, museums. The bad point: it is very, very touristy. Expect busloads of Japanese and American tourists. So, I do not recommend to stay here overnight, but visiting Rothenburg is a must. The highlights: Walk to the center of town and see the city hall. In the cellars is a small but beautiful museum that gives you wonderful impressions of medival life. You may also climb up the city hall's tower to enjoy a most magnificent view - however if you are able to negotiate extremely steep and narrow steps (not recommendable for elder persons, for overweight persons, and for persons wearing flip-flops). If you want to go into depth, you may visit the Criminal Museum. It shows much more than torturing instruments, you also find precious historical documents (everything is translated into English). A special experience is the nightwatchman's tour. But hotels and restaurants are very touristy and not very recommendable here (with one exception, a gourmet restaurant - see below).
Dinkelsbühl is similar to Rothenburg: unspoiled old town, wall, church, gates, convent, castle and everything, however quieter and not quite as touristy. To be frank, Rothenburg has better museums, but Dinkelsbühl has the better atmosphere. It is the perfect town to stroll through authentic medieval ambiance.
The special feature of Nördlingen is the circular wall that is completely preserved. You HAVE to walk at least a section of the wall to experience the feeling and the sights. Do not forget to visit the tiny museum in one of the towers.
Feuchtwangen is also a historical town on the Romantic Road with a beautiful marketplace, a magnificent cathedral, and a beautiful market fountain. But the main reason why I included it into my GoList is that Feuchtwangen is the ideal starting point to visit the Romantic Road, because it is located halfway between Rothenburg (20 min) and Dinkelsbühl and Nördlingen. And it has the best hotel on the Romantic Road.
This is the best hotel on the Romantic Road - 4-star-level and reasonably priced. A very romantic setting on Feuchtwangen's marketplace. Historical buildings. Rooms in historical style with modern bathrooms. Very nice pool and sauna. Very cozy restaurant with refined regional gourmet cuisine, also reasonably priced. Beer specialties. Regional wines. And a wonderful hazelnut schnapps.
Ellwangen makes a contrast because it has splendid baroque churches with light and golden interiors. Ellwangen has at least three attractions: The Schönenberg church, a masterpiece of Bavarian baroque, the medieval Stiftskirche St Vitus, and the Castle.
Neresheim Abbey is a welcome side trip from the Romantic Road. The Abbey is picturesquely sited on a hill out of town, with its magnificent church towering. The church is a masterpiece of baroque style, constructed by Balthasar Neumann, probably the famous architect of his time. The interior is light and airy, and makes a welcome contrast to the darker medieval towns of the Romantic Road. Have a hearty meal at the convent's restaurant and enjoy the beer sauces they are famous for. It is a good chance to catch a glimpse of current Benedictine convent life.
Another contrast: Würzburg is not another small town on the Romantic Road but a quite big city, however, a city with a charming old town around the historical bridge that crosses the river. Surrounded by vineyards (the "Würzburger Stein" is a famous white wine), there is a cathedral, several churches, marketplace, old houses and cozy restaurants. But the main reason to visit Würzburg is the Palace (Fürstbischöfliche Residenz), a baroque masterpiece by architect Balthasar Neumann with gorgeous frescoes by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo (in fact, the fresco in the stairway hall is the largest fresco on earth - and certainly one of the most beautiful ones).
Do you want an alternative to hearty German fare like bratwurst and schnitzel? Cutting-edge gourmet cuisine? And you are not on a budget but ready to pamper yourself with the best of the best? Then Mittermeier is the place for you. The hotel is medium-class but the restaurant is outstanding. Here a sample menu: First course, créme brûlée from smoked gooseliver with Balsamico-apple and caraway. Second course, foamed soup from Sauerkraut with Perigord-truffle, vanilla-royale and mild bacon. Third course, marinated, baked filet and ridge of lamb on pimento-polenta, snow pea and beans. Fourth course, soufflé from curd and French nougat, black-currant sorbet, tasmanian pepper and crisp almonds. It is as good as it sounds. But be prepared to leave 100 Euros per person including wines.