GERMANY FAIRY TALE ROAD: 370-PLUS MILES OF MAGIC
If you were raised on the tales of the Brothers Grimm, then the Fairy Tale Road (Marchenstrasse) in Germany will likely be the ideal driving excursion for you. This scenic route through Germany's gorgeous countryside will take you back to those imaginative days of gingerbread houses, sleepy Bavarian villages, and deep, dark forests. Don't worry, though - there are no monsters on this trip.
The Fairy Tale Road is one of Germany's loveliest scenic drives, and it gets its name for its fairytale-like backdrop. The road runs for a total distance of more than 370 miles, and at every stop along the way, you'll feel as though you're in another world entirely - one in which towering cathedrals and magical castles are almost exclusively the norms.
DRIVING GERMANY'S FAIRY TALE ROAD DAY 1: FRANKFURT TO HANAU
The best place to start your trip along the Fairy Tale Road is in Frankfurt. As Germany's business capital, its airport is easily accessible, and it is the closest point of entry to the start of the Fairy Tale Road.
Depending on how much time you have to spend in Germany, you may want to dedicate one day and one night to enjoy the sights of Frankfurt. Local attractions include the Museum of Natural History, Goethe's House, and the South Bank. The South Bank is where you'll find an eclectic selection of restaurants, bars, and clubs.
But if you're longing to start experiencing the magic of the Fairy Tale Road, then you can pick up your German car rental at the local office in Frankfurt and start on your journey. In about an hour and a half, you'll reach your first destination on your itinerary, Hanau. Once you're in Hanau, you'll discover that this community also holds the Grimm Brothers in the highest reverence. In fact, the village's main attraction is the Nationaldenkmal Brüder Grimm, which is bronze, larger-than-life statue of the famous brothers, originally erected in 1898. There's also a nearby palace in the town called Schloss Philippsruhe that houses its own museum dedicated to the authors. Its exhibits include a collection of clothing, writing, and other artifacts that were once owned by the duo.
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DAY 2: HANAU TO STEINAU TO MARBURG
Approximately 30 minutes after you depart Hanau, you'll come to the village of Steinau a der Strasse, where the Fairy Tale Road officially begins. Steinau a der Straße was one of the most influential villages for the Brothers Grimm, as they lived here during their formative years, until the age of 12. The setting is straight out of storybooks - complete with half-timber houses, cobblestone streets, and castles with turrets and towers.
In fact, one of the top tourist attractions in Steinau a der Straße is the house where the brothers were raised. Today, however, the Brüder Grimm Haus and Museum Steinau is a full museum dedicated to preserving and showcasing the works of the brothers. Schloss Steinau is another popular attraction here, and the imposing castle overlooks the entire town in a true fairy tale style. For a sampling of authentic Old World entertainment, plan a visit to the Steinauer Marionettentheater at Schloss Steinau, where you'll enjoy the age-old art of puppetry.
During your visit to Steinau a der Straße, be sure to reserve a table at Brathähnchenfarm for dinner. The restaurant is located well up on the hill, but the journey (and the food) is certainly worth any trouble that it takes to get there. And for the ideal hotel on this leg of your journey, book a room at the Burgmannenhaus. The hotel offers all of the atmospheres of a romantic Brothers Grimm story, with several surprising modern conveniences, like Wi-Fi Internet service.
Once you get your Germany car rental out on the "official" Fairy Tale Road, you'll enjoy blissful driving through quiet valleys and glens passing through Freiensteinau, Lauterbach, and Alsfeld until you reach your next stop, Marburg, which Jacob Grimm once described as having "more steps in the streets than in the houses."
While that may be an overstatement, it is true that Marburg is a steep city built with several streets that are really just stone staircases. Marburg enjoys a youthful vibrancy as it has a very high student population because of the university located there. As a result, the village is designed to satisfy the modern student's lifestyle, with plenty of places to shop, dine, and relax.
Among Marburg's most important cultural attractions is the Elisabethkirche, or St. Elizabeth Church. Recognized as the city's most important building, the church is the burial site of St. Elizabeth, and additionally, it houses a generous collection of religious art, frescoes, and statues.
For your stay in Marburg, we suggest the Welcome Hotel Marburg. Despite the fact that the hotel doesn't have the external charm exhibited by most of Marburg's other buildings, it nonetheless offers some of the most comfortable accommodations in town. It even has its own restaurant, Tartaruga, as well as a hotel bar and a sauna.
Should you wish to start your trip in Marburg, Auto Europe offers convenient pick-up and drop-off locations throughout the city. Book your Marburg rental car from Auto Europe today!
DAY 3: MARBURG TO KASSEL TO GOTTINGEN
At the start of Day 3, you'll drive for an hour and twenty minutes in your rental car along the scenic Fairy Tale Road until you reach Kassel. This idyllic Bavarian town is where the Brothers Grimm spent their teenage years while working as librarians for the King of Westphalia, Jerome Bonaparte, who also happened to be the youngest brother of Napoléon.
Much of what was here during the days of the Brothers Grimm is long gone, with most of the village having been destroyed during World War II. The town was eventually rebuilt but without regard for its previous architectural appearance. Still, it offers visitors two worthwhile attractions to check out during their stay - the Brüder Grimm Museum, and the Schloss und Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe, which is located on the western edge of Kassel and is said to be the largest hill park in all of Europe. A giant statue of Hercules stands atop the hill, but the trip up the hill is a lengthy one, so if you plan on giving it a go, be sure you wear comfortable shoes and bring some drinking water with you.
After you have your fill of Kassel, your next stop on the Fairy Tale Road will be in Göttingen, which is about a 45-minute drive north from Kassel. Göttingen is most easily recognized as being home to the college (University of Göttingen) where the Grimm Brothers once served as professors. But one of the most visited locations in this village is its central market square, where the statue of Gänseliesel, the little goose girl of German lore, is one of the most kissed statues anywhere in the world. It is said that the kisser is rewarded with good luck, and every year, graduates from the local university bestow kisses upon the statue of Gänseliesel as a sign of gratitude.
The culinary scene in Göttingen is as you might expect, consisting of largely traditional German fare served up by the local pubs and bars. But for a more comfortable dining experience, give Landgasthaus Lockemann a try. This restaurant is actually a lodge that's located at the edge of the Stadtwald or city forest. Just take Bus 10 to its last stop, get out, and walk the rest of the way on I'm Beeke, and you'll eventually reach the restaurant. Or, if you are starting to have your fill of traditional German food by the time you reach Göttingen, then you're in luck. Göttingen has a trendy Mediterranean restaurant called Gaudi where you can chow down on everything from tapas to pasta and seafood.
At the Romantik Hotel Gebhards, you'll enjoy a luxurious stay in a genuine family-run establishment. Boasting dark wood accents and whimsical flower prints, a whirlpool, and a sauna, this hotel will provide you with the relaxation and comfort you're looking for before beginning the final leg of your journey.
DRIVING GERMANY'S FAIRY TALE ROAD DAY 4: GOTTINGEN TO HAMELN TO BREMEN
Once you get back on the Fairy Tale Road in your luxurious Germany rental car just outside of Göttingen, you'll drive for about an hour and a half before you come to the village of Hameln, which you might recall as the setting for the Pied Piper story. In fact, you'll quickly discover that the town takes a certain pride in being associated with the infamous Rattenfänger, or "rat-catcher," of lore. All throughout the city, you'll find all manner of objects festooned with the Pied Piper's imagery.
Meanwhile, in the town's central area, you'll discover several prime examples of Weser Renaissance architecture, most notably the Rattenfängerhaus and the Hochzeitshaus. In mid-September, the terrace on the Hochzeitshaus comes alive with two open-air events that celebrate the legend of the Pied Piper.
The last leg of your journey on the Fairy Tale Road consists of a two-hour drive in your rental car, from Hameln to the smallest city-state in Germany, which is Bremen. This remarkable city also happens to be home to the oldest and second-largest port in the country. Since there is quite a bit to see and do in Bremen, many people choose to leave Hameln early in the afternoon so they can reach Bremen before nightfall. This allows them to take full advantage of the nightlife in and around Schnoorviertel while keeping the fifth day of their trip dedicated to seeing the sights in Bremen.
Popular places to visit in Bremen include the Marktplatz, which is located in the city's charming Altstadt; the Roselius-Haus Museum; and St. Petri Dom, an 11 th century gothic cathedral. Another popular landmark can be found in the city's central town square - a statue of the Bremen musicians, the animal heroes of the Brothers Grimm story, "The Town Musicians of Bremen." The funny thing is, there's a statue of the heroes in Bremen, but in the story, they never actually make it to the city.
There are a host of restaurants, pubs, and tiny dining establishments in Bremen, ready to compete for your dining dollars, but if you want to enjoy your last dinner in Germany with a plate full of authentic North German specialties, then be sure to visit the Ratskeller. This restaurant is located in a cavernous cellar, where it is touted as the oldest and most renowned Town Hall restaurant in Germany. The Ratskeller is affordable, its walls are lined with wine casks, and it's been in operation for more than six centuries. Or, if you want your last hurrah in Bremen to be a "no price limit" affair, then the Grashoffs Bistro should be right up your alley. This French-inspired eatery is trendy, super-tiny, and quite expensive, and it's also one of the best places in North Germany to enjoy wine and cheese.
Like its restaurants, Bremen's hotels also land on either side of the expense ruler. There are upscale palatial hotels like the Dorint Park Hotel Bremen, and quaint, customer-centric hotels like the more practical Hotel Pension Weidmann. Your choice ultimately depends on your budget, because you really can't go wrong with any of the accommodations options in Bremen.
For the most convenience, you can book your return flight home to depart from City Airport Bremen.