Take a ride on the Castle Road, one of Germany’s most popular scenic drives. This themed route is lined with 70 medieval castles and palaces, enough for any castle lover to gush over! Wander through casements of a fortress, stroll palace gardens, discover winding cobblestone streets.
The Castle Road runs 620 miles from Mannheim, Germany, to Prague, Czech Republic, past delightful scenery from one amazing castle, palace or town to the next. Sights include gems of medieval architecture, romantic towns and even relics of 2,000-year-old Roman watchtowers. Avanti has put together this independent travel package that gives you the highlights of the road between Heidelberg and Nurnberg.
Many of your paths on this self-drive tour will lead into the past and turn Castle Road into a living history book. With Avanti and our local partners, you’re sure to have a baron’s vacation.
- 1 night Heidelberg
- 1 night Rothenburg
- 1 night Nurnberg
- 1 night Rabenstein Castle
- 5-day car rental
- Castle Road map & driving itinerary
- Daily breakfast
Day 1 – Arrive Heidelberg:
Pick up your car and drive to Heidelberg, located in a river valley at the foot of the verdant Odenwald (Forest of Odes). Not only home to the oldest university in Germany, Heidelberg was largely spared from the destruction of WWII and retains its baroque charms with its famed castle and beautiful bridge. “Heidelberg was every bit as captivating as I had imagined it would be,” wrote Mark Twain in his 1878 book, A Tramp Abroad, about his three-month stay in Heidelberg. (Accommodations, Heidelberg)
The ruins of Heidelberger Schloay (right) are among the most important Renaissance structures north of the Alps. Only partially rebuilt since its demolition in the 18th century, it dominates the view of Oldtown, and is served by a station on the Heidelberger Bergbahn funicular railway.
Day 2 – Heidelberg to Rothenburg:
You depart this morning after breakfast headed to Rothenburg ob der Tauber. Located on the Romantic Road about half way between Frankfurt and Munich, the city and its historic Market Square are surrounded by a 14th-century town wall (left) and an exceptionally well-preserveda
medieval Aldstadt (Oldtown), as seen in the 1940 Walt Disney movie Pinocchio, and in the 2010 Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows. Best of all, you,™ll be there for the night so after the tourists leave you can experience the real Rothenburg. (Breakfast, Heidelberg; accommodations, Rothenburg)
En route to Rothenburg some of the castles you will pass include the Dilsberg Fortress in Neckargemuend, the castles of Neckarsteinach, the ruins of Schloay Schadeck (or Swallow’s Nest Castle), the knight’s castle at Hirschhorn, the castle of Goetz von Berlichingen, the Horneck castle of the Teutonic Order of Knights, Schloay Guttenberg, SchloÃŸ Steinsberg in Sinsheim, Waldenburg, and Schwabisch (shwibish) Hall. Total driving distance: 184 miles. Estimated drive time: 3 hours.
Day 3 – Rothenburg to NÃ¼rnberg:
During the Medieval period Narnberg was one of great trade centers on the route from Italy to Northern Europe, and used the wealth generated to become the center of the German Renaissance in the 15th and 16th centuries, which explains the richness of its Aldstadt. The thick walls and 80 towers around Nanberg’s Aldstadt encompass the medieval Kaiserburg (right) and museum, the traditional crafts shown in the Handwerkerhof, the Klanigstor tower and the Klanigstor gate, many medieval timber-frame buildings, the Gothic Church of St. Lawrence and the Church of St. Sebaldus, all well worth a visit. The Spielzeugmuseum, or Toy Museum, displays antique and modern wooden and metal toys, dolls and dollhouses, model railways and more. (Breakfast, Rothenburg; accommodations, Narnberg)
En route to Narnberg, some of the castles you will pass include Colmberg, Lictenau and Wolframs-Eschenbach in Romantic-Franconia, the former Royal Palace of Brandenburg-Ansbach, the 1,000-year-old Abenberg and Ratibor Palace in Roth. Total driving distance: 76 miles. Estimated drive time: 1.5 hours.
Kaiserburg was built between 1140 and 1400, and is the castle in which Richard the Lionheart, King of England, was held captive during the crusades. One of the most important fortresses in Europe, it is actually three complexes in one: the imperial castle (Kaiserburg), buildings of the Burgraves of Nuremberg (or Burggrafenburg), and municipal buildings of the Imperial City (or the Reichsstadtische Bauten).
Day 4 – Narnberg to Ahorntal:
The amazing 4 + Rabenstein Castle (left) in Bavaria between Bayreuth and Narnberg lies on a rock high above the Aisbach Valley and houses a restaurant and falconry center where you can see handlers working with the birds in this ancient art. With a history that stretches back to the 12th century, the castle was abandoned until the 1860s when it was purchased by the Count of Schanborn, who restored the castle and gave it new life. Today, each of the castle’s 22 guestrooms is individually decorated and fit for a king. Nearby is the Sophienhahle Cave, one of the most beautiful dripstone caves in Germany, and a Celtic village with a trueto-life Celtic house plus a campfire barbecue. (Breakfast, Narnberg; accommodations, Ahorntal)
Day 4 – Depart Ahorntal:
After breakfast at one of the most historic and romantic castles in Europe, you’re ready for your next Avanti destination, or add on a 2-night extension to Zbiroh Castle, an 800-year-old castle outside Prague, in the Czech Republic. (Breakfast, Ahorntal)