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Rothenburg as well as Heidleberg or just Heidleberg?

We are planning to spend a few days in Munich before heading north and then to Koblenz/Cochem to visit the Eltz castle. My husband is set on seeing the castle at Heidleberg. Is it worth going in to Rothenburg before heading NW to the Koblenz/Cochem region. We are thinking of renting a car but you can't do that in Rothenburg, only Heidelberg or Wurzberg. We would be leaving Munich the afternoon of May 26th by train. So we would be looking for accommodation in Heidleberg and again in the Koblenz/Cochem region. If we are able to rent a car, we would drop it off in Koblenz, then take the train to Cologne on the morning of May 30th.

Posted by
6627 posts


Is it worth going in to Rothenburg before heading NW . . .

No, its not.

Posted by
12040 posts

Rothenburg is a fine place to stop... if it is convenient. Despite all the press it gets, it isn't nearly as unique as the tourist literature claims, other than all the trinket shops and tour buses that deposit themselves here daily. With your plan, Rothenburg is a far detour.

Posted by
787 posts

Been to both. Heidelberg for sure though Rothenberg is cute. The castle in Heidelberg is very interesting and the town has a just as interesting shops as Rothenberg. The only thing you'll miss is the chance to try eating the infamous Schneeballen which Rothenberg is noted for. Watch Rick Steve's video to appreciate that one. An experience but not one I feel the need to repeat.

Posted by
705 posts

Not do diminish Burg Eltz, if you want an unmodified medieval castle you might want to hit the Marksburg along the Rhine instead/in addition.

It is in Braubach on the east shore of the Rhine, and is easily reachable by local train.

Posted by
1765 posts

I’ve been to Heidelberg twice, but would never miss Rothenburg to go there.

Posted by
12040 posts

Btw, if you'll have a car, consider driving up the Neckar river from Heidelberg. The scenery is similar to the more well-known Mittelrhein, but sees only a tiny fraction of the tourists. The fortified town of Dilsberg is a highlight. You can explore all but a few of the castles along the river.

Posted by
5556 posts

So we would be looking for accommodation in Heidleberg and again in the Koblenz/Cochem region.

Looks like you've planned the 26th and 27th in Heidelberg, the 28th/29th near Koblenz.

NickB has suggested Marksburg Castle, which truly is the "real deal" when it comes to medieval castles - it has stood there, only 10 miles from Koblenz, for centuries and centuries. Unlike Schloss Heidelberg (castle ruins + a more modern palace building, which is why they call it "Schloss,") Marksburg is routinely overlooked by US travelers, possibly because of Rick Steves' personal endorsement of Burg Eltz. And unlike Burg Eltz, Marksburg, in adorable Braubach, is not gussied up with elaborate furnishings from different periods - mostly, you see life as it was 800 years ago. Also, Marksburg is very easy to get to without a car - and Braubach's old town center has several nice places to lay your heads too:

Braubach will put you in an old-world mood, whereas Koblenz tends to be stuffed with shopping centers and lots of city traffic.

Another town south of Braubach (but on the west side of the Rhine) is Boppard. I've stayed there on several occasions - love the developed waterfront with view rooms onto the Rhine, the old-world buildings and old town center, the wide choice of inns and restaurants, and Boppard's chairlift ride. And again, Boppard is easy to reach by train. Boppard provides free local transportation to all its guests as well - take the train to Braubach and back, or to Cochem, at no charge!

Posted by
19 posts

Thank you for the suggestions of Boppard and Bacharach. I will have to look into both of those. One restriction is we have to be in Cologne by dinner time on the 30th. We have a booking there and will be taking the train from Cologne the morning of the 31st to AMS.

Posted by
8109 posts

They sell those dry, disgusting Schneeballs in Heidelberg too. Don't waste your money.

Posted by
5556 posts

Thank you for the suggestions of Boppard and Bacharach.

I actually suggested Boppard and BRAUBACH, not Bacharach. (A lot of German town names end in "-ach" and are easily confused.)

Bacharach is not as convenient for visiting either Burg Eltz or Marksburg Castle and will add travel time to those outings. The same is true for your final journey to Cologne.

See this map for the locations of these three towns and Koblenz (Boppard and Braubach are each 10-15 minutes by train from Koblenz.)

If you are NOT going to visit Marksburg Castle, I would probably pick Boppard, which has more to offer than either Braubach or Bacharach - and the free transportation guest card as well.

Posted by
5467 posts

I am always amazed when some people don't care for some places that I very much enjoyed visiting in Europe.
Not a problem, different strokes.

Rothenburg is well worth the visit. There are a few intact walled medieval cities in Europe. There are fewer in Germany, due to Allied bombing in WWII. Rothenburg was damaged, but not nor obliterated like the larger cities. It is worth spend a day there.

Also, I loved the Romantic Road, which had more, less overrun walled Medieval towns to visit.
It's not too hard to see the reason for the popularity - despite the modern roots of the idea, the tour combines the historic cities of Würzburg and Augsburg with the three medieval walled towns of Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Dinkelsbühl and Nördlingen, and then finishes off with the tourist highlights of Neuschwanstein Castle and the Al

Nördlingen and Dinkelsbuhl are small towns with medieval walls and worth a couple of hours each.

I also love Heidelberg, which is a university town, not bombed in WWII due to an arrangement that the Germans wouldn't bomb UK university towns.

I suggest you use the internet and take a look at what is there on the ground. The castle in Heidelberg is in ruins, but the town is very charming.
You would need to rent a car to drive the Romantic Road. Rent it in Munich, drive to Augsburg then go on the Road north.

Posted by
6627 posts

geovagriffith, I like Rothenburg - been there three times. But for the OP's itinerary I don't think its worth the time and effort for the detour to see it for that short a time. Especially given the other options of interesting places to spend that time. Just my opinion.

Posted by
18302 posts

You would need to rent a car to drive the Romantic Road.

I guess it is obvious that you would need to rent a car to drive. Duh.

But really, the point of the Romantic Road is not to drive a road, it is to experience the towns on the road, and, as I proved in 2007, it is not necessary to drive in order to see the towns on the Romantic Road.

In 2007, I transversed the Romantic Road, from Wieskirche to Würzburg, in about 4½ days, spending most of my time in the towns (Schongau, Landsberg, Augsburg, Donauwörth, Harburg, Nördlingen, Dinkelsbühl, Feuchtwangen, Rothenburg, Weikersheim, Bad Mergentheim, and Würzburg) and traveling between them with public transportation. A lot of my transportation was by bus on the actual route marked as the Romantic Road. I had lunch in Rothenburg, but did not spend more time in the town because I had already visited there twice.

If the theme of the Romantic Road is the Medieval trading towns on the route, then the only towns, IMO, worth visiting are Nördlingen, Dinkelsbühl, and Rothenburg. Harburg is also worth visiting for the castle there.

The way to experience the Romantic Road is to first stay 2 - 3 nights in Nördlingen and a night in Rothenburg. Nördlingen is worth most of a day. Make a short side trip to Harburg. Harburg is best done as a side trip without luggage because there are no lockers at the train station, which is a km south of town. There is also no public transportation from the train station to town, so walk it. It is an easy, flat, 1 km walk, then a walk up a steep trail to the castle.

Leave Nördlingen on bus 868 at 12:39, spend almost 3 hours in Dinkelsbühl (13:36 - 16:30), then take bus 814, 55 minutes to Rothenburg, arriving at 17:25. Unlike some of the buses from Dinkelsbühl to Rothenburg, 814 follows the Romantic Road, going through Feuchtwangen.

Posted by
12040 posts

The issue I take with Rothenburg is whether it is unique enough to justify a detour to visit. When I lived in Germany, Rothenburg was one of the first extended daytrips I took, based on the all attention it gets in the tour guides. I found it a very attractive town. However, I quickly realized that it looked very similar to about a dozen towns I had already visited, most of which were much closer to where I lived. Retained defensive walls are a little less common, but once again, Rothenburg is far from unique in this feature. Off the top of my head, other examples of walled towns include Fritzlar, Laudenburg, Dilsberg, Bad Wimpfen, Amberg, Dinkelsbühl, Nordlingen, Jülich, Arhweiler and Kempten (or Memmingen, I might be confusing these two in my memory). Most of these towns also retain a very well preserved historic core.

The criticism isn't that Rothenburg isn't worth visiting (it is), but it isn't worth going far out of your way to see it from all corners of the country, because Germany is littered with similar towns (minus the trinket shops that Rothenburg specializes in).

Posted by
613 posts

It sounds like you plan to fly into MUC and out of FRA. Unless you have enough time to explore the Romantic Road by car, I would advise rt FRA. Munich is a third rate tourist sight. The best way to see Munich is to get out of town as fast as possible. Koeln isn't much better, The great cathedral is the only thing worth seeing there.

As somebody suggested, Nördlingen & Dinkelsbühl, are worthy alternatives to over crowded Rothenburg.

Koblenz, Burg Eltz, and Cochem are in the very scenic Mosel Valley. The Mosel is on the best things to see in Germany, but only if you include Bernkastle and Trier (skip third rate Cochem & Koblenz, keep Burg Eltz).

For 2-4 people, rent a car is both the best way and the least expensive way to see EU. Car rental from and back to the same place (FRA) gets you the best price, so, suggested alternative trip. Rent a car at FRA-- Heidelberg to Wurzburg (you must see a Baroque wonder, the Rezidenze) to Nördlingen or Dinkelsbühl, back to the Rhine (one way in he Necker Valley one way via the Main Valley), Rhine Gorge(as somebody noted, some really good castles to visit) to the Mosel Valley to Trier (capital of the Roman Empire for 200 years) to FRA.