The Romantic Road of Fairy Tales
Bavaria – home to boisterous beer festivals, lederhosen, giant pretzels and lengthy sausages. These are all the (somewhat) truthful clichés. But there is also years of history, both good and tumultuous and a road of Romantic proportions, lined with charming towns.
Your point of entry is Munich. Best known for Oktoberfest, there's much more to see here. Each day at 11am, a large crowd gathers at the Rathaus-Glockespiel – a huge mechanical clock in the Marienplatz. The clock puts on a 15-minute show, culminating in the appearance of a small golden bird chirping three times. There's the Asamkirche, an extraordinary Rococo church and the Residenz, home to Bavarian kings since the 14th century.
Munich is a great destination on its own. But thanks to the city's Hauptbanhof, and the incredibly efficient and fast ICE trains, you can take off on numerous day trips throughout Bavaria. Choose one town or ramble along the entire Romantic Road.
Tourists flock the streets of Rothenberg ob der Tauber for good reason. This is the best-preserved medieval city in Europe. Enter through the 13th century walls cross into a place seemingly untouched by time. For a city with such charm, it makes sense that you'd find Christmas in July – and every other month of the year. There are numerous holiday themed stores, guaranteeing you'll go home with a nutcracker, tree ornament or other holiday treasure.
An hour later along the Romantic Road, Wurzburg is the old capital of "Franken" and the region's center of wine production, the most famous being the sweet Riesling. World War II bombed Würzburg for just 20 minutes and 90% of the city was destroyed. The Würzburg Residenz, the former palace of the prince-bishops is one of the most renowned Baroque castles in Europe, and is still undergoing restoration.
Best known for its trials, Nuremberg is the largest city in Franconia, and the gingerbread capital of the world. In the 19th century, the city became Bavaria's industrial heart, and still is a center for manufacturing. There's fun to be had here too: The Nuremberg International Toy Fair is the largest of its kind in the world. Come play!
At the end of the Romantic Road, two hours from Munich, Fussen is your starting point into the land of fairy tale castles. Mad King Ludwig has left his indelible mark on Fussen and much of southern Bavaria – building extravagant, excessive palaces. The most famous being Neuschwanstein. Over 60 million people have paid a visit, which provided the inspiration for Disneyland's famous Sleeping Beauty Castle.
The town of Garmish Partenkirchen remained two separate entities until their respective mayors were forced by Adolf Hitler to combine the two in anticipation of the 1936 Winter Olympic games. The town held the Olympic ski jump, and you can visit the stadium. Also here, the Partnach Gorge, with limestone walls that reach nearly 260 feet high. A series of tunnels have been carved out of the rock along one side, allowing visitors to walk along the rushing river and duck behind waterfalls.
This is the land fairy tales are made of. Like Prince Charming himself, Bavaria sweep your off your feet. Create your happily ever after moment in Bavaria with a German Rail Pass.
Contributed by: Jim, Senior Manager of Database Administration, has traveled on German, Swiss, Austrian, Italian, and French Rail now for the last decade and aspires to continue European Rail travel each year with his family for the rest of his life.