germany's romantic road


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      This itinerary originates in Frankfurt. We recommend that you spend a couple nights there acclimating before beginning this itinerary.

      Those who can only stay for two weeks should fly home from Munich. If you have more time, you could add a trip to Salzburg or Berlin from Munich.

      Many German web sites are just that: German. A surprising number have not been translated into English. We have included German-language web sites when we think the visuals will be helpful.

      Day 1
      The German National Railroad offers frequent service between Frankfurt and Heidelberg. Depending on the time of departure and the routing, the trip takes approximately one hour. The fare is between 14EUR and 20EUR. Schedules, fares, and reservations are available www.bahn.de.

      If there's a grand hotel in Heidelberg, it's Der Europaischer Hof-Hotel Europa. The hotel has a 135 year history – it's been managed by the same family for three generations – and the service is excellent. It's walking distance to everything, and the restaurant is one of the best in town. It's a bit on the formal side, and probably not for those who enjoy going casual.

      Built in 1592, the Romantik Hotel Zum Ritter St. Georg is located in one of Heidelberg's most beautiful buildings. Because of this – and its central location – it's considered one of the sights. So those seeking serenity would be well advised to stay elsewhere. But for those who enjoy being right in the heart of things this is a great hotel, with atmosphere by the bucketful. It's as much as anyplace in town, but only the Hotel Hirschgasse can match it for charm.

      The Hirschgasse hosted Mark Twain, who, by all accounts, fell in love with Heidelberg. Located on a lane adjoining Philosopher's Way, it's a 10-minute walk from the city center – yet blessed with the tranquility of a country house. Each of the rooms is individually decorated and the restaurant is arguably the best in town. Reserve as far in advance as possible.

      Those who prefer to spend less will be delighted by the Gasthaus Backmulde. The hotel, which has just 13 rooms, is located on a quiet street off the main drag. There's a quiet courtyard, and a cozy, welcoming restaurant.

      For a list of our recommended hotels in Heidelberg, click here.

      Day 2
      The best deal we found for rental cars in Germany was through Auto Europe. They work with all the rental companies to find the best deals, and their rates are very attractive. Contact them at www.autoeurope.com. For specific information about driving in germany including translations and road signs, visit www.ideamerge.com/motoeuropa. You'll find detailed driving directions for Germany at www.mapblast.com.

      Day 3
      We recommend that you spend two nights in the Neckar Valley. Since the area is small, you'll have no trouble seeing everything no matter where you base yourselves.

      If you prefer staying in a village, or you want to get the most for your money, there are nice accommodations in Bad Wimpfen or Mosbach.

      Bad Wimpfen
      In the heart of the medieval part of town, Hotel Sonne has a lot going for it: good location, pleasant ambience, and a lively weinstube.

      Another good choice in Bad Wimpfen is Hotel Neckarblick. It has a nicely landscaped terrace overlooking the Neckar River and gracious hosts.

      Mosbach
      Located in a 400-year-old half-timbered house on Mosbach's main street, Zum Lamm (Lamb Inn) is cute, clean, and has lots of old-world atmosphere.

      There are several great castle hotels along the Neckar. Although expensive compared to the local alternatives, they are not prohibitive, and they offer you a memorable experience.

      Heinsheim
      Schloss Heinsheim is one of the most pleasant castle hotels along the Neckar. In a wooded setting not far from Bad Rappenau, the castle has a small pool, a beautiful terrace, and two good restaurants.

      Neckarzimmern
      Burg Hornberg is another good choice for those who want to stay in a castle. Beautifully located above the river and vineyards, many of the castle's room have great views and the restaurant enjoys a good reputation.

      Hirschhorn
      Another converted castle, Schlosshotel auf Burg Hirschhorn also has magnificent views, an outstanding restaurant, and all the amenities you could want.

      For a list of our recommended hotels in the Neckar Valley, click here.

      Day 5 - Rothenburg
      Rothenburg is one of Europe's most popular destinations, so the earlier you make your reservations, the more likely you will be able to stay in your preferred hotel.

      There are lots of wonderful properties here, but our first choice is The Eisenhut. Although it's the best in town, it's prices are competitive. And you are assured of an enjoyable stay here. The hotel combines four patrician town houses from the 12th to the 18th centuries. It has a lovely garden terrace that's a great place to get away from it all and a lively beer garden.

      In the same price range, the Burg Hotel is a brief stroll from the town center and offers wonderful views of both Rothenburg and the Tauber River. There are beautiful gardens here for contemplation, and considering the bustle of Rothenburg, it's a very relaxing spot.

      For those who'd like to spend a little less, the Gasthof Hotel Kloster-Stuble is a great value. Built in 1534, it's right outside Rothenburg's city walls, next to the castle garden.

      For a list of our recommended hotels in Rothenburg, click here.

      Day 7 - Donauworth
      The Posthotel Traube in Donauworth has been hosting guests – among them, Mozart and Goethe – for 300 years. And the restaurant is one of the best in town.

      The Parkhotel is a newer property located high above the city. Consequently, it has wonderful views and lots of recreational options including tennis, a swimming pool, and bowling.

      For a list of our recommended hotels in Donauworth, click here.

      Day 8 - Schwangau
      Schwangau is a charming base from which to explore Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau castles. Hotel Lisl and Jagerhaus has an excellent location and most rooms offer views of one of the castles. This former hunting lodge has been upgraded with every amenity, including luxurious marble bathrooms.

      Hotel Muller also enjoys a great location. Horse-drawn carriages bound for Neuschwanstein castle leave from in front of the property. The house was built in 1910 and upgraded in the 1980s. This is a lovely spot to call home.

      For a list of our recommended hotels in Schwangau, click here.

      Day 10 - Garmisch
      It's a toss up which is the best hotel in Garmisch. Posthotel Partenkirchen and Reindle's Partenkirchner Hof each have their strengths – and no apparent weaknesses.

      Posthotel Partenkirchen is gorgeous, clubby, and old-wordly. Guests here receive outstanding service and superlative food.

      Opened in 1911, Reindl's has a wonderful reputation . The hotel – and it's innkeeper – are consistently rated among the top 50 in the world. If you like to swim, stay here. Reindl's has a pool.

      The best value in town is Gasthof Fraundorfer. It's a cute, homey place in the historic section of Partenkirchen.

      For a list of our recommended hotels in Garmisch, click here.

      Day 12 - Munich
      Those who wish to stay in a grand hotel and don't care how much they spend will be happy with the Baerischer Hof & Palais Montgelas or the Kempinski Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten Munchen. Both these hotels reek of old-world opulence and formality.

      Equally nice – and expensive – but slightly less stuffy is the Hotel Mandarin Oriental, formerly the Rafael. Very nicely located, the hotel occupies a beautiful neo-Renaissance palace. Today it's rooms include every amenity, including fax machines. Prince Charles stayed here during his 1995 visit.

      The Platzl doubles as a fine hotel and beer drinker's paradise. Oxymoron? Anywhere but in Munich, where beer drinking is an art form. Owned by the Aying Brewery, the Platzl is decorated in a rustic Bavarain style and is mere steps from the Hofbrauhaus or the Marienplatz. For most, its location and convivial atmosphere will more than make up for smallish rooms.

      Splendid is another nicely located hotel that's also a good value. Decorated in the style of a 19th-century manor house, it's elegant but accessible. And the shops and cafés of Maximilianstrasse are just outside the door.

      Occupying a converted 200-year-old water mill, Gastehof am Englischer Garten is a jewel. It's a great value. And the cafés and shops of Schwabing are a five-minute stroll. This is a very popular hotel, so book as early as possible. And be sure to request a room in the main building. Those in the newer annex are less charming.

      For a list of our recommended hotels in Munich, click here.


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