We're renting a car, and taking a road trip from Copenhagen to Rothenburg. Any suggestions on good places to stop about halfway through to stay the night? There's 4 of us, including two kids (ages 12 and 9). It looks like Hannover is one option, or maybe Hamburg, but I'm open to other ideas. We'll be driving on Autobahn 7. Thank you!
Big cities like Hamburg or Hannover are not the best idea if you travel by car, and Hannover is not that interesting anyway. There are several interesting towns along the route, some of them as beautiful as Rothenburg, but less touristy and more authentic. Lübeck - World Heritage Site, mostly preserved, once head of the Hanseatic League Lüneburg - cute Hanseatic town with preserved old town Celle - preserved medieval town with many half-timbered houses and a Renaissance castle Hildesheim - two Romanesque churches which are World Heritage Sites, reconstructed town square with one of the best half-timbered buildings in Germany Goslar - completely preserved town with hundreds of half-timbered houses, World Heritage Site
Einbeck - like Goslar, but smaller, Bock beer comes from this town
What do you have planned after Rothenburg odT? If you're headed to Munich or the Alps, a stop in Rothenburg would be reasonable. If not... you're traveling much too far out of your way to visit a town that isn't nearly as unique as it's reputation suggests. See Martin's post above. Germany has no lack of interesting historic towns with a "medieval feel" (in quotes because most of the towns that are often identified as "Medieval" actually date from the 16th and 17th centuries). Rothenburg isn't even the largest, although it attracts the most tour buses, hosts the most trinket shops, and admittedly, has a better preserved defensive wall than most. It's not even the only town with a Nightwatchman's Tour. Also second the idea that Hannover isn't worth a stopover. There's an interesting neo-Gothic castle (Schloss Marienburg) nearby, but overall, I found Hannover a rather unremarkable city. Call it the "Mannheim of the north". Hamburg, by constrast, is my favorite city in Germany, and there's actually some pretty interesting stuff there that kids might enjoy, such as Miniatur Wunderland and the German Maritime Museum.
Thank you for the responses! Martin, I was hoping for a list of smaller towns along the way. Kay, thanks for the Hannover links. Tom, We're stopping in Rothenburg because we have time to kill before going to France (Lyon) and we wanted to see Germany. My husband would really like to drive the Romantic Road, and the kids want to see the Neuschwanstein castle, so Rothenburg seemed like a good idea. I am kind of concerned about it being crowded with other tourists, but I don't mind that too much if the location makes sense and if it's a neat town.
Jessica, Since you specifically stated you prefer stopping at a smaller place and Rothenburg ob der Tauber in particular, be prepared to be among loads of tourists. It's worth seeing...once. If you want to see the smaller places that escaped the war unscathed, then I suggest Celle and Lüneburg, as recommended above, two places totally off the American visiting path in Germany. I agree with skipping Hannover, better to see it when you have some leisurely time, not worth it as place en route to a destination. But if it's someplace in the area, stop west of it at Minden an der Weser.
"My husband would really like to drive the Romantic Road, and the kids want to see the Neuschwanstein castle, so Rothenburg seemed like a good idea." OK, if you're headed to Neuschwanstein, then stopping in Rothenburg makes sense. Don't miss Dinkelsbühl, though. Whereas I don't find Rothenburg as unique as the tourist literature would have you believe, I have yet to see a town in Germany that looks quite like Dinkelsbühl. The Romantic Road, however, could be any secondary rural route in Germany. Except for the very southern end, with the view of the Alps and Neuschwanstein, the scenery along the road itself isn't anything special. The idea behind the Romantic Road (and the nearly 100 other officially designated tourist routes, or Ferienstraßen, that criss-cross Geramny) is that they link together towns or sites of a certain theme, not that the drive itself is supposed to be particularly scenic. Drive the portions that run by towns that interest you, but if you're not stopping anywhere, just take A7.
Schlesswig is nice. It's a capitol city in the loosest possible sense. It's about 30 km south of the Danish border on the old Oxenweg (the old name for a trade route, similar to the Romantic Road, that's supposed to go all the way to Rome). The town is small but very scenic. There's a great Danish summer palace in the area. It sits on a fjord (but not a steep sided one like Norway). Another option might be Lubeck, a great medieval town. If you do big cities, you could visit Hamburg and Cologne.
>"My husband would really like to drive the Romantic Road, and the kids want to see the Neuschwanstein castle." BTW: on your route from Denmark to Rothenburg you pass a second, less famous fairytale castle, Marienburg castle near Hannover . Like Neuschwanstein it was also built in the 19th century and also owned by a king (George V of Hanover). http://www.niedersachsen-tourism.com/b378c19c-375b-15be-dad7-8367424ac778.html http://www.schloss-marienburg.com/
There are 100 sights between the two cities. Hamburg, clearly, is one big and major one (but you'll need at least three days for it). Lüneburg is another one and for the kids a day at Heidepark in Soltau (near Lüneburg) would be the next. Then there is the Harz montains with towns that clearly beat Rothenburg in beauty and even the number of half-timbered houses - especially since they're all genuine medieval whereas in Rothenburg the majority are replicas. There also is Sababurg castle which is where the Grimm brothers got the Sleeping Beauty idea from. It doesn't look like the Disney version but it's said to be the real deal...