German Alpine Road A fairytale tour of the Alps
Driving along the German Alpine Road is an amazing movie-style experience. This is one of Germany's longest-established tourist routes - 2002 marked its 75th anniversary. The German Alpine Road is an exhilarating route full of twists and turns. It covers around 450 kilometres between Lindau on Lake Constance and Berchtesgaden on Lake Königssee close to the border with Austria. This stunning route offers great variety - lush Alpine meadows, gentle hills, craggy mountain peaks, green forests, romantic valleys and sparkling lakes follow one another in a steady rhythm. Traditional farming villages alternate with historical towns against the majestic panorama of the Bavarian Alps. There are no fewer than 25 ancient castles, abbeys and fairytale palaces to visit. Over 20 crystal-clear mountain lakes offer not only thrilling views but also a wide choice of sports and leisure activities.
A cycle path running parallel with part of the route enables cyclists to discover the beautiful Allgäu holiday region and put their fitness levels to the test. There are plenty of places to stop en route, including famous historical health resorts and cultural attractions. As the road twists its way along the fringe of the Allgäu and the Bavarian Alps, it opens up a wealth of breathtaking scenery and remarkable natural and cultural riches. You don't have to be a mountaineer to be passionate about the Alps. The area's excellent high-altitude mountain trails are well used by walkers, especially in late summer. The cable cars and chair lifts are also highly appreciated, particularly on the way up. A network of marked footpaths and hiking trails enables visitors to get out into the surroundings and visit local sights, such as impressive castles, magnificent palaces, churches and abbeys. There is plenty of choice - something for everyone. So, relax, enjoy the local hospitality and let the beauties, wonders and mysteries of nature work their magic on you.
In this region, local customs and traditions - often of religious origin - are still very much alive. You can still experience the good old-fashioned way of life, including joyful country weddings and colourful local fairs. This is also home to traditional German music, zither ensembles and brass bands. The region's numerous lakes, national parks and countless nature conservation areas are a paradise for holidaymakers and sports fans. There are fabulous facilities for those who enjoy cycling, winter sports or other activities including adventure sports, water sports, wild water sports, rafting, hot-air ballooning and paragliding. The region also offers culture galore, a wide range of wellness breaks and excellent walking terrain with a wide range of flora and fauna. Every season gives the German Alpine region a different hue. In spring it's the fresh new green of the broad-leaved trees; in summer the mountain pastures are in full flower. In autumn the sunlight creates even more intense foliage colours; in winter the whole landscape is covered in a glistening white blanket of snow, like a scene from a landscape painting.
The German Alpine Road and the snow-covered landscape are also delightful in winter. A number of ski areas - varying in size - offer a range of difficulty levels. After exertions on the pistes, skiers can enjoy a warm welcome and some hearty refreshment at a traditional mountain hut. On Lake Constance, Lindau awaits with its mild climate, closely packed gabled houses and maze of narrow streets. After Oberstaufen, Germany's only Schroth health resort, the route reaches Garmisch-Partenkirchen and the Zugspitze, Germany's highest mountain. We then come to Linderhof Palace, a white jewel surrounded by glorious natural colours, Ettal Abbey, where you must try the famous abbey liqueur, Mount Karwendel with Mittenwald, a famous violin-making town, Füssen, Neuschwanstein Castle, idyllic Berchtesgaden, Lake Königssee and the Watzmann peak, to mention just some of the places you might like to break your journey. All along this panoramic route there are opportunities to try delicious Bavarian specialities, both in the fresh air at a beer garden or at traditional inns – hearty roast pork with dumplings, oven-fresh veal shanks, aromatic cabbage dishes and, last but not least, the famous "Mass", a litre tankard of beer. A spectacular mountain scenery tour along the German Alpine Road is a totally unforgettable experience.
German Avenues Route Beneath a canopy of trees - from Rügen island to Lake Constance
Travelling along Germany's tree-lined avenues is a wonderful feeling, rather like being in a series of green tunnels. Centuries-old trees line both sides of the roads like threads of green, their arching branches touching and intertwining overhead. From Cape Arkona on the island of Rügen in the north of Germany to Reichenau island on Lake Constance in the south, this route passes beneath this leafy canopy, which the sunlight only penetrates here and there. It is Germany's longest (2,500km) - and greenest - scenic route, and it offers a visual feast of seemingly infinite variety. What a tranquil way to travel! You wend your way down splendid, tree-lined avenues, shaded by tightly knit canopies of leaves. The landscape is marked by areas of unspoilt forest and crystal-clear lakes of varying size, strung out like pearls and glinting in the sunlight. From a bird's-eye perspective, a mirror that has shattered into a thousand tiny fragments.
If you appreciate beautiful scenery, you've made the right choice. Wherever you look, there are magnificent ancient trees, picture-postcard views, tracts of unspoilt countryside and unique flora and fauna waiting to be discovered. The route is especially well suited to cycling tours. Alternatively, to appreciate Germany's tree-lined avenues even more intensely, why not travel the route on foot? It's an immensely vivid experience - as you walk, you can enjoy the glorious scenery, hear the wind rustling the leaves overhead, watch birds building their nests and breathe the scent of flower meadows. Just don't forget to bring your camera! On its way from Rügen to Lake Constance, the German Avenues Route passes through eight of Germany's federal states. The tree-lined avenues are the main attraction, of course, but all along the route there are wonderful places to visit and fabulous countryside. The route begins in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. After Rheinsberg it splits: one section leads through Brandenburg and Saxony-Anhalt on its way to Goslar, the other continues into Thuringia via Dresden and the Erzgebirge mountains.
After Meiningen it continues through Hessen via Koblenz, the Rhine-Taunus Nature Reserve and the Palatinate Forest before reaching Ettlingen near Karlsruhe. This is the start of the route's eighth and final stage - after crossing the Black Forest mountains to Meersburg on Lake Constance, it arrives on the island of Reichenau, the final destination. The German Avenues Route features not only splendid tree-lined avenues but also many places of interest along the way. It is an excellent way to enjoy nature and see a variety of wonderful sights. Consisting almost entirely of avenues overhung by linden trees, oaks, maples, chestnut trees and other magnificent ancient specimens, the route passes through some very beautiful countryside. Summer visitors can catch glimpses of brilliant yellow rape fields in between the trees, or of cornfields dotted with red poppies and blue cornflowers. And what could be more beautiful than a sea of autumn colours above your head as nature transforms the colours of the leafy canopy?
There are plenty of interesting sights to see en route - small towns with soaring church spires, neatly kept villages, historical, classical buildings, attractive squares and museums. The blend of countryside and sea, on the Mönchgut peninsula for instance, particularly appeals to watersports fans and seaside holidaymakers. Ideally you should allow yourself plenty of time to enjoy the German Avenues Route to the full, because this relaxed form of touring is the perfect way to discover the area, its people and its culture. A motorbike tour is also an excellent way to explore the German Avenues Route. If there were an award scheme honouring scenic routes, the German Avenues Route would definitely be among the nominees.
Castle Road Step back in time to the glorious past
The Castle Road, one of Germany's longest-established scenic routes, celebrated its 50th anniversary in March 2004. Fully signposted and running for around 1,000 km from Mannheim to Prague, it offers plenty of diversity, historical sites and delightful scenery peppered with romantic castles and fairytale palaces. The glorious past, still very much in evidence today, has left its imprint on many towns and villages along the route. The scenery along the route is as fascinating and awe-inspiring as the region's history. As the river Neckar meanders through the legendary Odenwald region, the Neckar valley reveals itself in all its grandeur. The Hohenlohe plain seems almost endless, but then come the rolling Franconian Heights, then the northern part of Franconian Switzerland. In Mannheim and Heidelberg visitors can still admire the legacy of the former Palatine electors, who adored the arts.
The Castle Road leads visitors from one amazing castle, palace or town to the next. Sights include gems of medieval architecture and romantic towns galore There are even relics of the Roman era, such as watchtowers and other Limes remnants. Mosbach, Bad Wimpfen, Schwäbisch Hall and Rothenburg are quaint old towns with picturesque half-timbered buildings. All are well worth a visit and will leave a lasting impression. Near Heilbronn the Castle Road passes through large areas of winegrowing country. There are impressive fortifications and baroque architecture to see in the rococo town of Auerbach, the medieval imperial city of Nuremberg and the ancient towns of Bamberg, Coburg, Kronach, Kulmbach and Bayreuth. The Castle Road then continues into the Czech Republic, passing the famous spa towns of Karlovy Vary and Marianske Lazne, before ending in style at Prague.
Lining the Castle Road like a string of glittering pearls are around 70 impressive monuments to the past - castles, castle ruins, palaces and stately homes. With such a variety of medieval towns, abbeys, historical sacred and secular architecture and innumerable cultural treasures along the route, every Castle Road tour is bound to be a very special experience. Many of the castles and palaces are steeped in legend. Sagas, myths and fairy tales abound and are a constant source of inspiration. Cyclists will be pleased to know that the route is also a designated cycle trail. Touring along this route is a real pleasure. There are comfortable places to stay, plenty of inn signs - always a welcome sight - and friendly hosts offering delicious regional specialities. You can travel on special tours - "In the Footsteps of the Knights and the Electors" or on the "Albrecht-Achilles Tour" or the "Kaisers-Bishops-Dukes Route", to mention just a few options.
Many castles and palaces along the route host costumed festivals, which give visitors a very palpable sense of history. There are guided ghost tours, medieval banquets and historical feasts within ancient castle walls. And, because it is positively buzzing with bars and restaurants, the Castle Road is perfect for gourmet tours. Why not travel the Castle Road in both directions, first concentrating on its scenic beauty, then discovering its wellness and spa facilities? After all, the Castle Road has many different faces. Be generous, allow yourself plenty of time to explore the sights and to enjoy the feel of the "good old days", whether travelling by car, coach or - more leisurely - by bike. The Castle Road is also great for children. To help you plan your Castle Road journey, the Castle Road Association offers all kinds of ideas and information.
Baden Asparagus Route A first-rate culinary treat
The history of asparagus goes right back to 2000 BC. It was cultivated by the Ancient Egyptians, the Greeks and the Romans. During the Middle Ages asparagus was a highly prized herbal remedy for gout. It was then rediscovered for the modern world by the French Sun King, Louis XIV. In the 17th century the "royal vegetable" was grown for Elector Palatine Karl Theodor in the palace garden of his summer residence in Schwetzingen, and during the 18th century its popularity gradually spread to the royal kitchens of neighbouring princedoms. For much of its history asparagus was the preserve of the privileged few within the church and society. More recently it has come to be recognised as a very healthy vegetable which has purifying benefits for the body. An asparagus cure is one of the most pleasurable ways to care for your health. And who can resist the taste of this "royal vegetable"? The asparagus season is as eagerly awaited by gourmets as the new crop of sweet, juicy strawberries.
The Baden Asparagus Route and parallel cycle trail cover around 136 kilometres from Schwetzingen, the famous asparagus-producing town, to Scherzheim via Reilingen, Karlsruhe and Rastatt. The white asparagus spears are harvested between the middle of April and 24 June. Visitors can watch the harvesters at work and even join in and help. During these weeks there are asparagus festivals all along the Asparagus Route and plenty of opportunity to taste delicious fresh asparagus specialities served by hospitable landlords. Once the harvest is over, the green plants and red berries mean the asparagus fields are still easily recognisable well into the autumn. Besides asparagus fields, there are other attractions along this gourmet route, including flower-filled meadows, beautifully laid-out parks and gardens, places of cultural interest, lakes suitable for bathing, museums and historical sites.
In addition to culinary delights, visitors can also enjoy many other activities. In the asparagus-producing town of Schwetzingen, for example, relaxation and fun are on offer at the Bellamar leisure pool, a kaleidoscope of colours, flowers and bubbling fountains with a water jet grotto and a pool with underwater currents. For a premiere sporting experience, head for Hockenheim, the famous Formula 1 town, and the Hockenheimring. If you've always dreamt of going for a spin at the Hockenheimring, now's your chance. Every Thursday from April to October you can take to the track in a car or on a motorbike. The racetrack's Skate Date inline event is another opportunity to imagine yourself as Michael Schumacher. Glide round the track a few times, then enjoy the "après-skate" in the straights at the start and the finish. Skate hire is available, so everyone can join in the fun. In Reilingen visitors can follow a very informative trail about the cultivation of asparagus and tobacco plants.
Europe's largest asparagus festival is held in Bruchsal, which lies on the Upper Rhine plain on the edge of the Kraichgau hills. Visitors to Bruchsal can also admire the baroque palace with its magnificent Balthasar Neumann staircase. The Baden Asparagus Route then continues to Graben-Neudorf, the largest asparagus producing community in Baden-Württemberg. One highlight of the popular Neudorf Asparagus Festival, held in May, is the appearance of the Asparagus Queen. Karlsruhe, a former ducal town, offers many attractions including the Baden State Museum with its beautiful gardens and the majolica manufactory and museum. After Rastatt and Hügelsheim, Scherzheim marks the end of the Asparagus Route. In order to see, experience and enjoy everything this tour has to offer, you could do it all again, in the other direction this time, making your way back towards Schwetzingen.
German Wine Route A symphony of wines in a garden of delights
The German Wine Route, the first of Germany's scenic routes and still its most famous, runs through the country's second-largest wine-growing region and offers 85 kilometres of pure, unadulterated enjoyment. Whether Schweigen-Rechtenbach in the south is the start or the finish of the route is immaterial: many visitors enjoy it so much that, on reaching the German wine route gateway there, they simply do an about-turn and do the tour again in reverse, back up to Bockenheim. In winter, when prolonged spells of bad weather elsewhere in Germany are still depressing people's spirits, the countryside along the Wine Route is being transformed as thousands of almond trees come into blossom.
Here the climate is mild, the scenery like Tuscany's and the people warm and friendly too. The summer sun shines down on the gentle wooded hills planted with vines, while figs, kiwis and lemons also thrive. In the autumn, the whole of the region seems to become slightly tipsy: the new season's wine begins to flow from the presses and people who appreciate the finer things in life have a choice of numerous wine festivals to mark the occasion and make the experience an unforgettable one. A warm welcome awaits visitors to this region rich in tradition and natural treasures. The route is an exciting tour of discovery for walkers, cyclists, sporty types and holidaymakers alike. Gourmets, wine lovers, devotees of the arts and anyone who generally loves life will take the Wine Route and its sense of joie de vivre straight to their hearts. Wine tasting with a winegrower is a chance to become a bit of a connoisseur. The specialities of traditional rustic Palatinate cuisine and the more refined Palatinate nouvelle cuisine are not to be missed either.
Remains of Roman settlements, fortress ruins and castles all feature along the route, and there is a circular Roman marked trail tracing the history of viniculture. Bad Dürkheim, a state approved spa resort, boasts the biggest wine barrel in the world: its capacity would be 1.7 million litres of wine, if it were not actually a restaurant for 650 people. The world's biggest wine festival, the Dürkheim Wurstmarkt (literally "sausage market"), takes place here every autumn. On the last Sunday in August, the German Wine Route holds a discovery day when the whole route is closed to motorised traffic, leaving walkers and cyclists free to enjoy the route at leisure. The German Wine Route is not a race track though, not only because it winds its way through the narrow streets of wine villages and twists and turns around vineyards, but also because you could easily stop and taste the wine in every village.
Wonderful wines from famous vineyards can be enjoyed everywhere, in tasting rooms and countless wine taverns or even at stalls at the side of the road. Pretty little towns and wine villages, often more than a thousand years old, are strung out like pearls along the German Wine Route. The route makes its way through the Palatinate's sea of grapes, sometimes hugging the slopes of the Palatinate Forest, then through the hills further away. Viticulture has shaped the landscape of this region and the rhythm of its people's lives who live for the wine that gives them a living. You'll enjoy every minute exploring the whole region on well-marked footpaths and cycle trails through its wine-growing villages and vineyards and up to its castles and ancient ruins. The German Wine Route is packed with romantic corners, interesting places, museums and historical sites. Allow yourself plenty of time for the German Wine Route - the winemakers will welcome you with open arms.
German Fairytale Route To fairytale land in the footsteps of the Brothers Grimm
Travel to fairyland on the German Fairytale Route, one of the oldest scenic routes in Germany. It takes you on a magical journey from Bremen to Hanau, linking more than 70 towns and villages associated with the Brothers Grimm and the realm of fairytales, sagas, myths and legends. Fabulous footpaths and cycle trails whisk you away to the wonderful world of fairytales where childhood dreams spring into life... to the land of daring princes, the seven dwarfs and their seven mountains, enchanting fairies, the Pied Piper and Little Red Riding Hood. Between Heiligenstadt and Göttingen you can walk the Frau Holle trail - Frau Holle could still be shaking out her featherbeds to "make it snow" and you will feel like Hans in Luck.
On the German Fairytale Route your daily routine will seem like an eternity away. Covering more than 600 magical kilometres from the River Main to the sea, it runs through a region full of literary invention all the way to Bremen's market square and the statue of the Bremen town musicians. It takes in Sleeping Beauty's palace and Cinderella's castle, the quaint little town where the pranksters Max and Moritz got up to their tricks, as well as the enchanted castle where Rapunzel let down her hair. This route boasts a wealth of art and culture, eight nature reserves, charming highlands and river scenery. Quaint old villages and romantic towns associated with the Brothers Grimm follow hot on one another's heels, like turning the pages of a story book. Enjoy the lush, green countryside and the shady forests, feel the energy in the vibrant towns and enjoy the hospitality along this route, one of the oldest and most popular in Europe.
So let's away to the places where these fairytales are set. Trendelburg Castle, for example, where the Rapunzel tower offers glorious views of Reinhardswald forest, Sababurg Castle, where Sleeping Beauty was woken by the prince's kiss, and Ebergötzen mill museum, which features the rascals Max and Moritz and their seven pranks. In delightful Schwalmstadt we recall Little Red Riding Hood and the wolf, on Mount Hoher Meissner we find ourselves in the fairytale land of Frau Holle. Hamlyn awaits with the tale of the Pied Piper and in Polle we are on the trail of Cinderella. The German Fairytale Route is also glorious walking terrain. A land of fantasy for young and old alike, it offers open-air plays, puppet festivals, fairytale festivals - one celebration after another.
In some places visitors come face to face with "real" fairytale characters. No visit is complete without a historical feast - there are buffets and fairytale meals with all the trimmings, barn parties, regal banquets and all the pleasures of medieval dining. The German Fairytale Route offers culture and history, enchanting medieval towns, bewitched castles, fairytale palaces, museums, galleries, concerts and theatres - a charming blend of colourful town life and local folklore traditions. Sleeping Beauty, Little Red Riding Hood, Hansel and Gretel – who could resist the idea of going in search of the characters from our favourite childhood fairytales. Many fairytales start with "Once upon a time..." Travel the German Fairytale Route and create a fairytale that is yours to keep.
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