As a traveling family, we are always looking for new things to explore and activities to introduce to our kids. While researching itineraries for a summer road trip to Germany we discovered the Romantic Road. The Road is a 220-mile route that travelers can take between Würzburg and Füssen in Southern Germany, specifically in Bavaria and Baden-Württenmberg. The route was devised in the 1950’s by travel agents as a way to lure tourists back to Germany after World War II. The Romantic Road was originally a trade route in medieval times that connected the center of Germany with the South. There are many picturesque towns and castles along the way, and the road is thought of by many travelers to possess “quintessentially German” scenery and culture. The Romantic Road runs through towns and cities such as Nördlingen, Dinkelsbühl and Rothenburg ob der Tauber. It can be a mini-adventure of itself of an at least 2-3 days road trip or can be divided into two long day trips out of Munich . Driving along these old country roads, viewing the historic sights, is delightful. After exploring the Romantic Road on our last trip to Germany here are the top four spots we recommend for families.
Rothenburg ob der TauberRothenburg ob der Tauber lies in the district of Ansbach of Mittelfranken. The town’s name translates to “Red Fortress above the Tauber” a fitting name as the city sits on a plateau overlooking the Tauber River. Rothenburg ob der Tauber is known for its well-preserved medieval old town as well as the Night Watchmen’s Tour. The tour takes place at night and you are led around the inner walls of the town by the guide wearing the full garb of a 14th century night guards, great fun for kids! It’s fascinating to walk around, especially for those interested in medieval history. Younger kids will be especially interested in the Doll and Toy Museum. Older kids might get a kick out of the medieval crime museum, where they describe the specific crimes and punishment of medieval times. Our son with autism couldn’t get enough of this museum and wanted to try out the chair in the top picture. There is also a German Christmas Museum with wooden toys and ornaments.
Neuschwanstein CastleNeuschwanstein Castle needs no introduction since most children know it as Sleeping Beauty’s Castle in Disneyland. The castle is a 19th century Romanesque Revival palace. The Neuschwanstein Castle is on top of a hill above the village of Hohenschwangau near Füssen in southwest Bavaria. Ludwig II of Bavaria commissioned the castle as a retreat and also to pay homage to Ludwig’s friend and composer Richard Wagner. Ludwig II paid for the castle with his personal funds, not the Bavarian public funds, but alas was only able to spend eleven nights there before he died. The castle was immediately opened up to the public after Ludwig’s death in 1886 and has millions of visitors each year. The castle is so outstanding to look at that it has been in several movie productions and served as inspiration for Walt Disney and his film Sleeping Beauty. A staggering 1.4 million people visit this every year, as one of the most famous attractions in the world.
Linderhof CastlePrince Ludwig built another castle not far from Neuschwanstein called Linderhof after falling in love with the area during his hunting trips in the Alps. The building cost a staggering amount of German Marcs in those days and almost bankrupt him. It was built as an homage to Versailles, France and some places in it are miniature copies of it. It even has its own hall of mirrors, like the original French palace. Some call it the little Versailles in the Alps. The surrounding gardens of the palace are gorgeous with elements of the Baroque or Italian Renaissance. The outside landscaping and structures in the park are not to be missed, particularly if you are a Wagner fan, as they are a direct homage to the composer’s operas. The good news about this palace is that it is small, although the gardens are extensive.Try to get there in spring or summer, as the gardens are more spectacular in summer than in winter.
Ulm Münster ChurchThe Ulm Münster is rumored to be the tallest church in the entire world. It is a fine example of Gothic Church Architecture in Germany. You can see the steeple from miles away. It is a Lutheran church, and more of a cathedral because of the size. Furthermore,The church has become closely associated with the town of Ulm. Standing at 530 feet, the Ulm Münster offers terrific panoramic views of Ulm. Visitors should be careful be careful as the passageway to the top is small and there is not a whole lot of wiggle room. The Church makes an excellent road trip stop for those people who need to see the biggest/tallest landmarks available.
Autism Travel Tips:
- Buy tickets in advance to most of these places, especially the Neuschwanstein castle. Castle tours start at a set hour, down to the very minute, so make sure you don’t miss it.
- If your child is a big Disney fan and you have to choose, then your absolute priority should be Neuschwanstein.
- Many of these areas have a multitude of steps to climb.
- Many of these buildings are medieval, and the rooms can be poorly lit.
- Huge lines in the summer can be a significant deterrent, especially for Neuschwanstein. So try to travel off season.
- Get a guided tour, because they get the tickets for you and you bypass the line.
- Advise your kid about proper etiquette in these historic buildings. Often you are not allowed to touch anything.
- Don’t leave the area without having a slice of authentic Black Forest cake.