Cultural travel is for quite a while a huge trend among visitors in Germany. People visiting Germany want to discover new things and broaden their horizon. Germany‘s scenic routes make it easy, with no need to spend time finding out where there are interesting cultural attractions to see. They are pre-designated routes featuring a string of the best, most attractive places related to a specific theme. There are numerous scenic routes in German to choose from, whether you are travelling by car or by train.
The oldest of them, the German Alpine Road is 75 years old. Visitors interested in German culture can select a theme, such as „asparagus“, „castles“, „half-timbered buildings“, „wine“, „fairy tales“, „cheese“ or „milk“.
Most of the routes are several hundred kilometers long, so there are also plenty of things to discover that are not directly associated with the theme, such as traditional restaurants and Inns where you can taste the specialties of the region. Depending on the time of year you are travelling, you will come across different local festivals and celebrations. Visitors are always welcome to join in the fun.
The following is a collection of the most popular cultural scenic routes. We also have compiled a list with Germany’s Culinary Routes …
The German Alpine Road (Deutsche Alpenstrasse)
From peak to peak — The German Alpine Road is 450 kilometres long and 75 years old. It winds its way from Lindau on Lake Constance to Berchtesgaden on Lake Königssee passing idyllic villages and quaint towns with a glorious mountain backdrop. The scenery is constantly changing, with meadows, forests, lakes and gardens contrasting vividly with the jagged peaks of the Bavarian and Allgäu Alps. A total of 25 castles, abbeys and palaces can be visited along the way, and in summer the cool waters of 20 mountain lakes attract water sports enthusiasts. Keen cyclists can choose the cycle trail which runs parallel with part of the route. There is a network of well marked walking trails to places of interest and a wide selection of paths for both hikers and those out for a stroll, but the easy way to the mountain tops is by cable car.
Official Website: www.deutsche-alpenstrasse.de (available in English)
Castle Road (Burgenstrasse)
1,000 kilometres of history — The Castle Road, established 1000 years ago, follows a 1000 kilometre route from Mannheim to Prague linking 70 castles, castle ruins, stately homes and palaces. Historical towns and enchanting scenery bring the splendours of the past to life on the route from the Neckar Valley and the Hohenlohe region via the Franconian hills to Mannheim and Heidelberg where the powerful Prince Electors once ruled. Gems of medieval architecture and romantic timber-framed houses, historical squares dating back to Roman times and picturesque old quarters can be found at every turn. Many castles and palaces along the route host costumed festivals or offer guided ghost tours and medieval banquets, which give visitors a very palpable sense of history.
Official Website: www.burgenstrasse.de (available in English)
German Fairytale Route (Deutsche Märchenstrasse)
Grimms‘ fairytales brought to life — The 600-kilometre German Fairytale Route extends from Bremen to Hanau and links over 70 towns, districts and regions associated with the Brothers Grimm, including the locations where some of their fairytales were set. Childhood dreams become reality along the way as you discover where the Pied Piper was at work, the forest where Little Red Riding Hood lost her way, the place „behind seven mountains“ and where Frau Holle shook her pillow to make it snow. A route to make you feel just like „Hans in Luck“. Sleeping Beauty‘s and Cinderella‘s palaces really do exist, and there is an actual tower where Rapunzel let down her hair. The real world behind the Grimms‘ inspired fairytales unfolds before your very eyes like the pages of a story book. There are often open-air plays, marionette festivals, fairytale festivals and a host of town fairs along the way.
Official Website: www.deutsche-maerchenstrasse.com
German Avenues Route (Deutsche Alleenstraße)
Leafy canopies — The 2.500-kilometre German Avenues Route is the longest of Germany‘s scenic routes. Running from Kap Arkona on the island of Rügen to the island of Reichenau on Lake Constance it passes through unforgettable scenery. The route begins in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. After Rheinsberg it splits: one section leads through Brandenburg and Saxony-Anhalt on its way to Goslar, the other continues into Thuringia via Dresden and the Erzgebirge mountains. After Meiningen it continues through Hessen via Koblenz, the Rhine-Taunus Nature Reserve and the Palatinate Forest before reaching Ettlingen near Karlsruhe.
This is the start of the route‘s eighth and final stage – after crossing the Black Forest mountains to Meersburg on Lake Constance, it reaches the island of Reichenau, the final destination. Driving beneath the lush canopy formed by trees that are on average one hundred years old is a special treat if you have an open-top car or ride a motor bike, and the route is a fantastic experience for cyclists and walkers. Just make sure you have your camera with you, it‘s definitely worth stopping to capture the magnificent scenery and sights along the way.
Official Website: www.alleenstrasse.com
Lower Saxony Milk Route (Niedersächsische Milchstrasse)
13 dairy farmers have opened up their farms to cyclists on the Milk Route, not to be confused with the Milky Way, who want to learn more about this nutritious natural product. They explain how professional dairy farming is practised today and show how milking systems work. Technology has arrived in the cowshed with data recorded for each cow and put onto a chip around her neck. Despite this, some things on the farm haven‘t changed and black-and-white cows still peacefully chew the cud in the fields and meadow making „cow eyes“ at the world.
Children in particular are amazed the first time they see how butter and cheese are made from milk. Tour guides are available to cycle with you from farm to farm and give you an educational tour behind the scenes of the modern dairy industry. Your lunchtime cheese sandwich will taste even better…
Official Website: Niedersächsische Milchstraße
Baden Asparagus Route (Badische Spargel Route)
The focal point along the Baden Asparagus Route is the queen of all vegetables. Covering around 136 kilometres, the route runs from the famous asparagus-producing town of Schwetzingen via Reilingen, Karlsruhe and Rastatt to Scherzheim.
The asparagus season starts mid of April and lasts usually until 24 June. Visitors can watch the asparagus being harvested or even have a go themselves. There‘s also plenty of opportunity to sample freshly-picked asparagus at a number of local festivals and inns.
In addition to the asparagus fields, this gourmet route also features flowering meadows, parks and gardens, as well as interesting attractions, lakes suitable for bathing, museums and historical sites.
Lower Saxony Asparagus Route (Niedersächsische Spargelstraße)
The Lower Saxony Asparagus Route is a loop covering 750 km through Lower Saxony’s asparagus country, starting and ending in Burgdorf, the home of asparagus, and leading through the asparagus-growing regions of Braunschweig, Lüneburg Heath (Lüneburger Heide), Mittelweser and Oldenburg Münsterland along the way.
Official Website: www.niedersaechsische-spargelstrasse.de
Weser Renaissance Route
Running for approximately 400 kilometres and designed specifically for visitors travelling by car, the Weser Renaissance Route starts in Hannoversch Münden and finishes in Bremen.
Due to the sheer number of buildings along the way, the route is divided into three sections.
The southern section begins in Hannoversch Münden and ends in Höxter and Blomberg.
The middle section runs from Blomberg to Hamelin.
In the north, the route starts in Hamelin and finishes in the Hanseatic city of Bremen.
Together, the sections offer the opportunity to visit all of the individual Weser Renaissance buildings on a circular tour.
Read more about the Weser Renaissance Route
Romantic Route (Romantische Straße)
This very well-known and may be most popular scenic road runs 220 mi (350 km) from Würzburg (Franconian Wine Region) to Füssen in the Alps and visitors will see places like ‘Castle Neuschwanstein’ of King Ludwig II. (near Füssen), and to the Ries Crater in Noerdlingen, where once Apollo astronauts were trained for their moon mission.
The bicycle route is a little bit longer, about 263 mi (424 km). Highlights in brief Würzburg: Episcopal Residenz Palace – UNESCO World Heritage Site, Marienberg Citadel
Bad Mergentheim: Castle of the Teutonic Order
Rothenburg Medieval townscape, medieval crime museum, Christmas museum
Dinkelsbühl: Picturesque old town with 16 towers, fortification
Nördlingen: Railway museum, Ries Crater Museum
Harburg: Castle with 7 arches
Augsburg: Fugger town, puppet theatre
Pfaffenwinkel: Wieskirche Pilgrimage Church
Schwangau: King Ludwig’s castles
Füssen: late-medieval town centre with Hohes Schloss Castle and St. Mang monastery
Official Website: www.romantischestrasse.de
German Half-Timbered Houses Route (Deutsche Fachwerk Straße)
Ideal for RV friends & cyclists: The German Half-Timbered Houses Route now stretches for almost 2,500 kilometres, linking some 100 member towns from the Elbe estuary to Lake Constance.
Visit their website and order a broschure presenting the motor home pitches in around 80 of those towns, including details of locations, mains supplies, waste disposal facilities, prices and special features.
For those preferring to explore the route by bike, a new cycling map ‘Vom Neckar zum Schwarzwald und Bodensee’ (‘From the river Neckar to the Black Forest and Lake Constance’) is also available.
This most southern section of the route runs from Mosbach in the Neckar valley to either Haslach in the Black Forest’s Kinzig valley or Meersburg on Lake Constance – 560 kilometres connecting 24 medieval towns that showcase the Alemannic and Franconian styles of half-timbering.
Deutsche Fachwerkstrasse, Address: Propstei Johannesberg, 36041 Fulda
German Motorbike Route
The German Motorbike Route is particularly popular with motorcyclists in spring. It was planned with motorbike fans especially in mind and is a continuous, fascinating route with lots of bends running the length and breadth of Germany. Inspired by the legendary Route 66, it passes though a variety of different regions and has sections suitable for all abilities. The recommended hotels are biker friendly and have special facilities for motorbike riders such as repair services, lockable parking spaces, motorbike cleaning & drying sites, tables reserved for bikers and much more.
European Route of Historic Theatres
Germany‘s newest culturally themed route, the European Route of Historical Theatres, was officially opened on 15 November 2007. It initially links twelve places with theatres: Putbus on the island of Rügen, Neubrandenburg, Sanssouci Palace/Potsdam, Bad Lauchstädt, Grosskochberg, Gotha, Meiningen, Bayreuth, Ludwigsburg, Schwetzingen, Hanau and Koblenz. All of these small royal theatres in different regions date back to the 18th and 19th centuries and are unique illustrations of the cultural diversity of the numerous small states that existed before Germany was unified. They represent a cultural heritage typical for Germany. In the next two years a total of five routes will be gradually created, expanded and linked together.
Official Website: www.erht.eu/page/en/routes/german.php