One of the drawbacks of aspirational travel is the desire to always surpass your previous experiences.
Sometimes, I get overly excited about my adult-only trips and get too caught up in planning my “dream” vacation. I then forget how much I love history and culture, which are the things that originally fuelled my passion for travel.
When my husband’s conference in Kraków was cancelled and he suggested we take a small trip down the Romantic Road through Germany instead, I wasn’t jumping out of my seat in excitement by any means. However, in the end, I thoroughly enjoyed it, and was reminded that less aspirational destinations and experiences are just as fulfilling, if not more.
Of course, as luck would have it, a rare opportunity arose for the both of us to fly Singapore Airlines Suites Class on our return journey, so we did end off our quaint little trip with a bang.
The Romantic Road
The Romantic Road was coined by travel agents back in the 1950s. It’s a 350km stretch of road that runs through Bavaria and central Germany, between Füssen in the south and Würzburg in the north.
The road passes through 28 picturesque towns with beautiful forests and mountains in the backdrop. Be prepared to be transported back into the medieval past as you venture through the cobblestone towns, walk their walls, and take in the sights of medieval German architecture and the tastes of traditional German fare.
The Romantic Road can done from north to south, or vice versa.
If beginning in the south from Füssen, then fly into Munich International Airport, which is ninety minute drive away. If starting in the north from Würzburg, then fly into Frankfurt Airport, which is only an hour away by car.
We chose to start in the south and drive north, not for any particular reason other than that we had our Singapore Airlines flight booked from Frankfurt to New York City, so we had to end there. We also spent two nights in Budapest before heading back to Munich to begin our Romantic Road journey.
Flying from Toronto to Budapest, we flew Germany’s flagship airline, Lufthansa, in business class for 70,000 Aeroplan points per person. We then redeemed 7,500 Aeroplan points each for a short-haul flight from Budapest back to Munich.
For our flight back, we booked Singapore Airlines Suites Class on their fifth-freedom flight between Frankfurt and New York City for an amazing 86,000 Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer miles each.
Although you can book Singapore Airline flights through Aeroplan, the airline only allows their First Class product to be booked through their own KrisFlyer program. In the past, we’ve seen Singapore Airlines release long-haul business class and First Class award space to Aeroplan, but this presently isn’t the case.
Recently, Singapore Airlines has increased the redemption cost for this route to 97,000 KrisFlyer miles at the Saver award level. Usually, only one First Class seat is released at this at the Saver fare, if any.
If the Saver award fare isn’t available, then it will now cost 143,500 KrisFlyer miles at the Advantage award fare, up from 125,000 previously.
Snagging the second seat at a Saver award fare was kind of by luck. Back in the fall of 2021, Singapore Airlines suddenly opened First Class availability, and it wasn’t uncommon to find two seats at Saver fare on this particular route.
In these rare situations when hard-to-come-by aspirational opportunities become available, don’t think twice. Book immediately and then change or cancel later.
How do you find out when these opportunities become available? I’d encourage you to consider a membership with Prince of Travel, where we have regular gatherings, events, and an online Discord chat server where this type of time-sensitive information is often shared.
We spent our first night in Füssen, a charming little town with a small old town area featuring a small castle, museum, and church.
Füssen is a great place to start your journey. It’s only a few minutes away from Neuschwanstein Castle, making it a great base from which you can explore this fairytale castle.
The castle is the past residence of King Ludwig II in the 1800s. It is better known as the Sleeping Beauty Castle, after it inspired Disney to base its iconic castle after it.
If looking to visit Neuschwanstein, be sure to book tickets a month in advance, as tickets sell out quickly. If there are a few tickets left for sale on the day of your visit, they tend to sell out early in the morning.
You can also visit its sister castle, Hohenschwangau Castle, located just down the road.
From here, we headed north and stopped at a few towns and cities. Here are some notable ones.
Augsburg is one of the larger, more metropolitan cities along the Romantic Road. It’s the oldest city in Bavaria and the second oldest in Germany.
A couple of things it’s well known for is being the hometown of Mozart’s father, Leopold Mozart, who was a lesser-known but just as talented musician. Augsburg is also known for its historical trade empire built by the Fuggers, a wealthy merchant and bank family in the 1500s.
Strolling down the wide promenade through the city, you can admire the Baroque and Rococo architecture, as well as old guild houses, churches, and fountains. You’ll finish your stroll with a nice terrace to have lunch on.
From here, we headed to Nordlingen, the first walled town we explored. The walls are well-preserved and encircle the entire old town area, and you can walk up and around the town, taking in an aerial view of it.
When in the town, head to the town square and see St. George’s Church, a massive gothic structure at the centre of it all.
Rothenburg ob der Tauber was our next big stop. This is Germany’s best-preserved and most picturesque medieval town, and we found it to be the highlight of the Romantic Road.
If you’ve ever watched Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, and recall the opening scene where Belle enters the little French village – this is the initial impression I had of this town.
The town is made of cobblestone roads and traditional German timbered houses with painted facades, all within the confines of a well-preserved wall with impressive towers and gatehouses.
Aside from walking the walls and towers, there is plenty to do in town.
You can take a free walking tour offered by the town’s tourism office to learn of the towns history, pay a visit to St. Jakob’s church to see its 500-year-old altar, and climb the Tower Hall to catch the sunset and enjoy an incredible view from atop.
There are also many little shops to pop into, and even the Medieval Crime and Punishment Museum. Along the way, you may bump into some folks who dress up like medieval folk and will perform a song or two for you, too.
If you prefer to avoid the crowds, meander through the castle gardens and down towards Tauber River or walk around the exterior of the town wall to appreciate the fortification it provided.
Also, consider spending a night here, as by late afternoon, most tourists have left and you have the town to yourself.
Traditional German food abounds in the town, and you can enjoy a hearty meal of schnitzel, sausages, or beef goulash with spaetzle dumplings. Don’t forget the pretzels and apple strudel!
If you’re looking for something local, try a Schneeball, which is essentially rolled up, fried pastry dough.
After our lovely stay here, we took a little detour off of the Romantic Road and headed an hour east to Nuremberg. If you’re keen on war history, you won’t want to miss this city.
We haphazardly stumbled onto a walking tour, who didn’t mind us joining without having pre-booked. I couldn’t recommend it more – you’ll learn all about the Third Reich, Nazi rallies, and Nuremberg trials.
After Nuremberg, we headed back to visit Würzburg, the last town along the Romantic Road. Although not as picturesque as Rothenburg or historic as Nuremberg, it is a Baroque city that boasts quite a few architectural masterpieces.
The beautiful Würzburg Residence showcases the best in Baroque art and design. Although you need an admission ticket to see the interiors, the beautiful gardens are open to the public to walk through.
The Marienberg Fortress stands high on the the hilltop, which is connected to the rest of the city by the Old Bridge, which is lined with statues of saints.
And if you love wine, then be sure to visit some of the local vineyards in the area.
From here, we headed to Frankfurt for the night before catching our epic flight home.
We spent three nights along the Romantic Road, and there is no shortage of hotels and Airbnbs along the way.
The only downside to this part of Germany is that there are not many big brand hotels like Marriott or Hilton, so don’t plan on racking up too many nights here for status.
Instead, we relied on our credit cards with cash-like redemptions to lessen the out-of-pocket costs. We also used Hotels.com to rack up some free night rewards.
Füssen: Hotel Sonne
We kept changing our itinerary, and at the last minute decided to stay closer to Neuschwanstein Castle rather than Munich. It was a popular weekend, so availability was limited.
We decided to stay in Füssen as opposed to right by the castle, as there would be more to do in the evening.
Hotel Sonne is a cute boutique hotel that integrates traditional with modernity. We booked a room for €203 ($264 CAD) for the night, which included a complimentary breakfast buffet.
Every room is decorated differently. We had one of the hotel’s older rooms, but they do have some nicer, redesigned rooms which look quite nice.
The hotel has a nice spa onsite that features Moroccan elements with a steam room and sauna. There’s also a restaurant on site, and although we didn’t eat there, it seemed quite busy. Breakfast was decent.
If you’re a fan of the Best Western chain or collect their rewards points, there is a Best Western Plus in town.
Rothenburg ob der Tauber: Mittermeiers Alter Ego
Mittermeiers Alter Ego and its sister property, Villa Mittermeiers, are located just outside of the main gates into the old town area of Rothenburg.
The Alter Ego property is their modern twist to an apartment style boutique lodging. It features 11 suites, all with very contemporary in décor.
Our particular room was open concept, with the bathroom opening into the bedroom area. The brick accent wall was a nice touch.
On the main floor is a fully-stocked, modern open kitchen and sitting area where people can cook and eat their own meals.
We booked our regular room for €217 ($283 CAD), which included a buffet and made-to-order breakfast at their sister property next door.
Nuremberg: Le Méridien Grand Hotel Nuremberg
In Nuremberg, we stayed at the Le Méridien Grand. This was the one hotel where we could use our Marriott Platinum Elite status and earn points and nights, although it’s not really along the Romantic Road.
The hotel is located just outside of the old town area, within a 20-minute walk of most of the major attractions.
The hotel itself is older, but it’s also quite comfortable. There is a restaurant, bar, and small fitness, but not much else in term of amenities.
There was a Viking Cruises desk, so it seems that the hotel caters to a lot of cruise guests.
One positive is that the staff seem quite liberal with their upgrades. We got upgraded to their Junior Suite at check-in, so there was no need to unnecessarily waste a Suite Night Award here.
The room was spacious. The décor was interesting, with a contemporary bedroom but a more dated, classical bathroom. From afar, it looks great, but up close you’ll notice stains on the carpet, marked up walls and scratches on furniture.
The complimentary breakfast buffet for Platinum Elite members and above also had a decent spread. For a room that costs 93 euros, I really can’t complain.
The Epic Journey Home
The Singapore Airlines Suites Class experience was absolutely mind-blowing.
Because we were travelling as a couple, we booked Suites 1K and 2K, where the partition can come down between the side-by-side suites. When the bed was made, it was like having your own hotel room on a plane.
The service was also stellar. I thought the food selection was somewhat limited when compared to other First Class products I’ve been on (such as Emirates), but what they served was done well and delicious.
Because we were flying a day prior to my birthday, my husband was able to make a special request for a birthday cake. Along with the cake was a handwritten card and two small stuffed bears as souvenirs.
If you want to read more about the Singapore Airlines Suites Class experience, make sure to read Ricky’s review of his recent flight.
Thus concludes our fairytale adventure. My husband had proven me wrong – a trip down the Romantic Road was like being transported back a few hundred years into the past, and it was an amazing experience.
Since we only had a few nights, we were quite selective in our stops. We have every intent of coming back, and with the kids too, as I think it will be fun experience for them.
This will give us more time to explore some towns we missed and revisit the ones we loved. Accommodation and food can be had for very reasonable prices, so it won’t break the bank either.
Lastly, if you have a non-aspirational trip coming up and you really miss that aspirational buzz, then consider ending off your trip with an aspirational flight, and you won’t return home disappointed. 😉