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Vienna v.s. Rothenburg/Romantic Road of Germany

My husband and I are taking a long-dreamed of 2-week trip to Europe. We've spending the bulk of the time in Switzerland, but will be taking a leg north or east at the conclusion.

We are very much drawn to the beauty of rural areas, (where we will mostly be in SWTZ,) so the charm of Rothenburg and the back roads of Germany's Romantic Road has its pull. But everyone raves about all the Vienna has to offer, so we're wondering if we should consider flying out of Vienna instead.


Posted by
2921 posts


While we loved visiting Rothenburg, driving the Romantic Road is nothing special at all. Actually, I'd say it's much less scenic than even the "average" road in Bavaria (Fuessen area, Garmisch/Mittenwald, Berchtesgaden area, etc.) or the Austrian alps.

If interested, we have photo's from our 8 trips to Bavaria and Austria, since 2001 at:


Posted by
1878 posts

How much time do you have? If you only have a couple of nights to spare, I would not would not bother with Vienna. The minimum I would do in Vienna, given the effort of getting there, would probably be four nights (three full days). For that matter, I'm not sure how easy or hard it would be to get to Rothenburg either. If you are driving you should consider drop fees on the car. I am a big fan of Rothenburg, some here will differ with me on that. The scenery along the the Romantic Road drive itself is not worth going out of your way for. I think the appeal must be the towns you can stop at on the way. But we did not feel in the mood on our 2006 trip to hunt for parking on our way from Rothenburg to Tirol, and did not make any stops. So for us it was nothing special. If we had been more patient we probably could have experienced more, but at the time we were tired and just wanted to get to our next hotel.

Posted by
805 posts

Vienna offers the things that big cities offer. My cousins who live there have given us great guided tours but in the end was good but not great. The Romantic Road is not that scenic, visually it's just another road but with you interest in back road type things, the alte stadt in Rothenburg is a place you will never forget. The trick is to spend at least one night there. The town is usually loaded with day trippers but about 5 o'clock they all get back on their buses and the ambiance slides back a couple of centuries. Use Rick's guide book. I don't know when you are going but if you can get into the Altfraenkishe Wein Stube it is a really neat place to stay ... 600+ years old and cute raised to a power. The only problem is that it is in Rick's book so you need to reserve now. By all means take the Night Watchman's Tour, it is absolutely the best and most enjoyable history lesson you will ever have. Assuming you will have a car, it's a good idea to take the short drive north to Creglingen to see the carved alter at the Herrgotskirche, it is considered to be Tillman Remenschneider'd ultimate work (even better than St.Jacobs in Rothenburg). Dinkelsbuhl to the south of Rothenburg also has a nice old town, but there is a reason they call it Rothenburg's little sister

As for flying home, Rothenburg is only a couple hours drive to Frankfurt which is a major airport and is well served in terms of international flights.

Have a great trip and don't forget Lauterbrunnen while you are in Switzerland.

Posted by
344 posts

I second the vote for Rothenberg and definitely stay at least one night and, yes, do the nightwatchman’s tour. Try to watch Rick's rothenberg's video on YouTube to see if you are as charmed by this picturesque town as so many are. I think the Nightwatchman's Tour has a 5 star rating on TripAdvisor, take a look so you can evaluate others' perspectives.
Enjoy your trip!

Posted by
3696 posts

If you prefer the beauty of the rural areas I would definitely choose the Romantic road and villages and bypass Vienna. I have driven it any number of times with a variety of travel partners, and we all thought it was an interesting and often times beautiful drive... not quite sure what others expect, but I love seeing the rural farm land with the beautifully planted fields, winding a curve and coming upon a delightful village. I have driven many beautiful roads all over, and I include this as one of them. One time in the spring when there were the bright fields of yellow flowers (I think Canola) and in winter all the trees were covered in a glaze of ice and glistened. It was stunning. We had to stop and take a number of photos and just soak it in. My favorite village is Dinkelsbuhl... a little less touristy and very charming. My grandsons loved it.