Germany is the stuff of fairytales: crumbling castles, enchanted forests, gingerbread houses, and numinous tales. If you think fairytales are for just kids, be forewarned, it's not all lollipops and rainbows. Travellers who wander Germany's Romantic Road are sure to discover that this playful itinerary contains some darker narratives. To chase the whimsical and the wicked, start in Berlin and travel south to Bavaria, making these 10 bewitching stops:
Pulled apart, cut in half and stitched back up again, Berlin is a patchwork of distinct districts. Trying to describe the city in a single word is like trying to capture sunlight in a bottle: basically impossible. But that's exactly why this multi-faceted capital is so intriguing.
By Thomas Wolf, www.foto-tw.de, CC BY-SA 3.0 de via Wikimedia
Fairytale chasers will certainly want to visit Charlottenburg Palace to walk the halls of a palace fit for a queen consort. Stroll the Tiergarten (former hunting grounds-turned city park), sit beneath the soft glow of string lights at an outdoor biergarten, or visit a burgeoning studio in Kreuzberg.
This Hanseatic city's architecture might look like gingerbread, but it's marzipan that Lübeck is famous for. What's marzipan, you ask? A sugary confection with flavours of honey and almond. Legend goes, the sweet's production began during a famine year. You can sample marzipan at Café Niederegger, the best-known producer in town.
Jens Theeß, Unsplash
Laced with canals and dusted in history, Hamburg is a romantic place to take a walk—and an informative place to take a walking tour. You can explore the Red Light District, discover eccentric street art or take a Beatles tour with a personal guide. For a more intimate experience, rent a boat and float along the Elbe River.
The city of Bremen claims to be made of stars. These stars come in the shape of fine dining, exquisite architecture, preserved history, and Becks beer. The cobblestone alleyways, city gardens and a promenade immerse visitors in Germany’s quixotic charms.
Bremen also happens to be the intended destination of the Donkey, Dog, Cat and Rooster in the Brothers Grimm tale The Town Musicians of Bremen. Keep your eyes peeled for the famous bronze statue.
As if Bremen wasn't whimsical enough, the best time to visit is in the winter, when you can cuddle up with a steaming mug of Glühwein at the Christmas Market.
The Pied Piper of Hameln has been immortalized in his hometown. A stained glass window in the Market Church contains an image of the legendary figure, as does a famous clock, and a fountain at city hall. Hameln is lovely to explore and features numerous buildings in the eye-catching Weser Renaissance style. (Just try and tell us they don't look like gingerbread houses!)
A mecca for artistic endeavours, Kassel is home to the legendary Brothers Grimm. Their first collection of fairytales was published some 200 years ago, and their fame lives on in Kassel. Stop by Grimmwelt to explore the oftentimes dark fantasy world of these perplexing authors.
Described as a “medieval fairytale” by Russian poet Boris Pasternak, Marburg is the romantic traveller’s dream come true. With a castle that has been converted into a museum, the oldest Gothic church in Germany and a Protestant university that dates back to 1527, Marburg is known as an adorable, well-preserved town that boasts exquisite architecture and culture.
Couples will enjoy strolling the streets of baroque and rocco architecture, looking for wine bars and cellars to duck into. One needn’t look far; Wurzburg is the hub of Franconian wine country. This scenic town is lively enough for its numerous students and quiet enough to be an amorous getaway.
Rothenburg ob der Tauber
Roman Kraft, Unsplash
This sleepy town was the inspiration for the Disney film Pinocchio. The 500-year old wood-carved altar in the back of St. Jakob’s Church holds a rock crystal capsule, which supposedly contains a drop of Jesus’ blood. Climb to the top of Rathausturm Tower for a commanding view over the classic orange-tiled rooftops, before joining “the night watchman” on a medieval city tour.
No German fairtyale trip would be complete without visiting Neuschwanstein Castle. This castle was built by the reclusive King Ludwig II, known as the “Fairytale King.” Is it any surprise to learn that Neuschwanstein was inspiration for Walt Disney's Magic Kingdom in Orlando?
The capital of Bavaria is best-known for hosting Oktoberfest. However, Munich is also home to stunning landmarks.
One such attraction is the famous Rathaus-Glockenspiel in Marienplatz. Every day at 11 a.m., the glockenspiel chimes with 43 bells and 32 life-sized figures that act out stories from the 1500s.
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