Where the real-life Disney castles live.
‘Best places in the world for autumn leaves.’ That’s what I Googled. Two places appeared
on every list: New England and Bavaria. One of which would be much easier (and cheaper!) to book on a whim, so Germany it was. Planning wasn’t as easy as expected though, I didn’t know the region at all and any road trip itinerary I found online was either family oriented or for much longer durations than the time I had free.
So I booked a flight to Munich, hired a car and pinned all the most popular points in the region to Google Maps. We’re talking castles and fairytale towns, straight out of a Disney film. The most helpful piece of advice I read was to save the best until last, so a loop trip heading north from Munich was roughly planned with three or four stops on the way.
Starting in Nuremberg, we had our first taste of traditional Bavarian fare. Authentic pubs are easy to find and always serve food. Naturally we ordered Bratwurst, which the waiter explained were each the size of his finger, so we should get six (6!) each. Served with cold potato salad and mustard, this is hearty comfort food at its best. Funny looks when we ordered a small beer though. “Are you sure?” the waiter asked, as he gestured around the room to literally everyone else drinking two-pint steins. The cuisine is pretty meaty, with lots of potato, bread and cabbage as sides and wine pours are generous. Pack stretchy clothes.
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Excuse my overuse of the word ‘cute’ this week, but everything is SO BLOODY CUTE! Road tripping around Bavaria in search of bratwurst, castles and the most magical towns. Just look at Rothenburg ob der Tauber on my story – straight out of a fairytale Disney film (or more accurately, allegedly the inspiration for Walt Disney’s Pinocchio 🤥) 🏰 #romanticroad #thedailyselftravels #bavarianroadtrip
We strolled through cobblestone streets, across bridges and up to the castle for a view of the city. The shops are closed on Sundays, but it would be a good place to browse the pedestrianised shopping area and pick up some souvenirs. It was on to Rothenburg ob der Tauber for us though, one of the most picturesque spots on Bavaria’s ‘Romantic Road’.
The walled old town is full of timbered houses, medieval architecture and the most incredibly kitsch year-round Christmas shops you’ll likely ever see. Handmade wooden nutcrackers, every surface covered in twinkling lights, intricate paper decorations, sparkly glass baubles, it’s truly a magical place to visit.
Bars are few and far between in Rothenburg (but restaurants are plentiful) and the town is very quiet after dark, making it the perfect time to enjoy the buildings all lit up without the crowds. At busy times you’ll wait in line to get that perfect Insta at the iconic photo spot, Das Plonlein, but it’s worth it.
Just a couple of days left and we were off in search of the highlight I mentioned earlier, Neuschwanstein Castle in Füssen. Said to have inspired Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty Castle, there’s no doubt it’ll give you fairytale feels. Only ten minutes drive from town, you can hike half an hour up to Marienbrucke bridge which crosses over the gorge for the best perspective looking back at the castle. Or cross over and walk higher still, only another ten minutes, for an even better (and more quiet) viewpoint.
Getting there: Ryanair, Aer Lingus and Lufthansa all fly direct from Dublin to Munich.
Where to stay: In Nuremberg, Adina Apartments have an indoor pool and sauna with spacious self catering rooms (from €99). In Rothenberg ob der Tauber, just outside the city walls, Villa Mittermeier is cute and cosy (from €100). In Füssen, Hotel Ludwigs is basic, but clean and central (from €60). And in Das Weitblick Allgäu countryside spa hotel, B&B from €158. All available on hotels.com
Car rental: Check Auto Europe to search the best deals across hire companies.