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Visiting the Romantic Road and the Harz?

I'm planning the final week of my European trip for this September (coming up fast!), and need some help sorting out the German week of our trip. We start in Munich for the weekend and intended to depart Monday. We have to be in Frankfurt by Friday evening so that we can catch our morning flight home on Saturday. So, from Monday to Friday, we'd like to see Bavaria/the Romantic Road and also spend a couple days in the Harz Forest. How do-able is that? It seems like it should be but... well, that's why I'm asking. Relevant info: -Not renting a car.
-We like history, the outdoors, and rambling around on foot or by bike.

Posted by
12040 posts

The Hartz and the Romantic Road are not that close to each other. Any reason why you picked the Hartz in particular? This range is only one of about 50 other similar mountain groups that comprise the German Mittelgebirge region. It's a little higher than many of the others, and impressive because it rises sharply from the north German plain... but less impressive from the direction you would approach. It would seem like just another group of low mountains. The Rhön and Spessart ranges, however, lie more or less along your direct route of travel. I suggest you investigate these regions instead. I'm generally of the opinion that the Romantic Road is vastly over-rated... but it lies along your direct route of travel, so you may as well check it out.

Posted by
19026 posts

In 2008, I spent five days in Braunlage, in the Harz. I enjoyed it and will return sometime. There are a lot of cute little villages, mostly linked by buses. One day I took the bus down to the flat land at Bad Harzburg and a regional train to Wernigerode to see the castle there. There are also many fachwerk buildings in Wernigerode. Another day I took the bus to Schierke and rode the narrow gauge steam train to the top of the Brocken, the highest mountain in No. Germany. Because the top of the Brocken is above the timberline at that latitude, the top is treeless, leading primitive people to believe it was enchanted, and the area is steeped in witchcraft. The Walpurgisnacht scene from Faust supposedly took place on the Brocken. There are many hiking trails in the Harz, and there are some tour companies that arrange for your night's accommodations along a route and transfer your luggage while you hike. Another popular town outside the mountains is Quedlinburg, also noted for it's Fachwerk buildings. The same steam train that goes up the Brocken will take you to Quedlinburg. In 2007, I did the Romantic Road by public transportation. Much of the way was by bus, and we followed the actual Road. In the middle part, Landsberg to Nördlingen, rail lines link the major towns on the Road, so there are no bus connections. I took 4½ days to do the entire route, Wieskirche (I didn't start in Füssen, which I had already been to 3 times) to Würzburg. Most of my time was spent seeing towns, not traveling on the Road. If you don't want to spend so much time, I would use the train and see Füssen and Rothenburg, the two most important, interesting town, with possibly a stop in Nördlingen.

Posted by
19026 posts

You had better plan at one whole day for travel from the Romantic Road to the Harz. The Bahn website shows a minimum of 6 hours, mostly by train (Braunlage is not accessible by train, but it is by bus).

Posted by
868 posts

> "Any reason why you picked the Hartz in particular? This range is only one of about 50 other similar mountain groups that comprise the German Mittelgebirge region." Many people visit the Harz because of the beautiful old towns. Goslar, Quedlinburg, Wernigerode or Stolberg can easily compete with any town on the Romantic Road.
Maybe some day Rick Steves will discover this too?! :D

Posted by
5 posts

The Harz region is beautiful and in my opinion just as nice or nicer than the romantic road. Also it is not so overrun by Asian and American tourists. I always take my American visitors there and they absolutely love it.
However we always have a car available, stay at Braunlage and travel from there.