German Fairy Tale Route
German Fairy Tale Route – on the banks of the WeserThe story of what inspired the Brothers Grimm to write their fairy tales is almost a fairy tale in itself. As the story goes, the brothers set off into the enchanted forest to ask the local people what events had actually taken place in the isolated farmhouses and castles to give the forest its mystical name.
Our suggested itinerary for the German Fairy Tale Route (the original route is from Hanau to Bremen and Bremerhaven) is a nostalgic journey along the banks of the Weser from its source all the way to the sea, following in the footsteps and in search of the spirit of Sleeping Beauty, the Pied Piper and the Bremen Town Musicians.
Pure driving pleasure awaits our intrepid motorists on their magical road trip, on winding country roads beside the flowing Weser, or along enchanting avenues in the forests of the hilly Weserbergland.
It goes without saying, but any wine stops detailed on this page are for the benefit of hire car passengers ... designated drivers must confine themselves to drinking in the scenery.
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The Grimms’ workshop: KasselLocated on a tributary of the Weser, Kassel hosts the Grimmwelt, a museum dedicated to the life and work of The Brothers Grimm which opened in 2015. A striking feature of Kassel is the rich panorama of baroque buildings throughout the city.
Stroll through the past in the Karlsaue park and admire the former summer residence of the local Landgrave, then fast forward to the present and sample the nightlife up in the Wilhelmshöhe area. Don’t miss the wonderful classical structures in the English gardens of Schloss Wilhelmshöhe located in the Bergpark, the landscape park on the hill.
The delicate Löwenburg (Lion’s castle) is a fantasy come true. The Bergpark, a UNESCO Heritage Site, is dominated by the massive Hercules pyramid affording sweeping views across the epic landscape.
Doctor Eisenbart: Hannoversch MündenPretty Hannoversch Münden is where the Fulda and Werra rivers meet to form the Weser and this is the real starting point of your magical 400 kilometre journey.
Stretch your legs first with a stroll among the charming houses of the Dreiflüssestadt (three rivers town). You might just bump into the fairy-tale Doctor Eisenbart on his way to his surgery. But before making an appointment, check with the locals what dastardly potions he might be brewing up to change you into a toad, or worse.
Travel tip: Sababurg in the Reinhardswald, Sleeping Beauty’s castleSababurg, Sleeping Beauty’s castle, lies deep in the Reinhardswald forest. Expect to be enchanted by the scenery on this 60 kilometre round trip tour, one of the many magical highlights that await you along the route.
Your starting point is in Hann. Münden, on the right bank of the Weser (L561). In Hemeln take the charming old ferry across the river, pass through Veckerhagen and up into the forest on the L3229. Follow the roadside animal sculptures and pass hundred-year old oaks until the towers of the castle rise before you. In the Sababurg, enjoy the superb views from the hotel café, visit the obligatory rose garden (which, mercifully, you don’t have to hack your way through), or tour the oldest wildlife park in Europe.
Continue on the L55 down tree-lined avenues through the ancient Sababurg forest. On the B83, search for Rapunzel in the Trendelburg, then visit the moated castle in Wülmersen. Later you can stretch your legs by climbing the Krukenberg in Helmarshausen, before finally making it back to the Weser at the Huguenot town of Bad Karlshafen. Grimms’ fairy tales were strongly influenced by the traditions of the Huguenots, who had fled religious persecution in France.
Stellar views: Weser valley and Fürstenberg chinaThe Fürstenberg bone china factory was established in 1747, it is one of the oldest manufacturers in Europe and its precision and artistry are legendary. The museum in Schloss Fürstenberg showcases how this beautiful china has evolved over the centuries. Then see the big picture from your vantage point in the Schlosscafé high above the river, or if you prefer, from the neighbouring Weserbergterrassen restaurant.
If you come across the mythical White Knight as you walk back down to the ferry, you can be sure he will defend you against the equally mythical and dreaded Red Richard.
1,200 years of cultural traditions: UNESCO Heritage Site Schloss CorveyIn June 2014, UNESCO Heritage Site status was awarded to the former Benedictine abbey of Corvey under the official name of “Carolingian Westwerk and the Civitas Corvey”. Visitors are drawn to Corvey for its unique architecture where noble worldliness meets monastic spirituality and is without parallel anywhere else in the world.
Throughout the year, festivals, concerts and exhibitions are held and attracts visitors from all over the world.
Baron von Münchhausen: BodenwerderThe famous “Baron von Liarhausen” was by no means a character out of a fairy tale. Carl Friedrich Hieronymus von Münchhausen lived from 1720 onwards in Bodenwerder. It’s up to you to decide what degree of truth should be applied to the infamous stories about him.
Traces of the Baron are evident all over this pretty town of half-timbered houses which are showcased throughout the summer in street theatre and music events. A wild ride down the summer sled run is as close as you’ll get to sitting on a flying cannonball though.
The Pied Piper stories: HamelinHamelin is a charming example of the Weser renaissance style and also where we rejoin the Brothers Grimm. On your trip you will get to know a few regional stories and mythical characters that never made it into the Brothers Grimm fairy-tale collection, but not so in Hamelin, the home of the famous Pied Piper.
To make sure you don't fall under the same spell as the poor children better build up your resistance by trying some of the flaming “Rat Tails” in the Pied Piper House.
Cultural metropolis and gateway to the world: Bremen and BremerhavenThe story of the Bremen Town Musicians is the last in our fairy-tale series and therefore the end of the Fairy Tale Route. Bremen nightlife burns brightly, the most popular areas are are the Schlachte and Viertel.
No stone is left unturned when it comes to cultural events, there really is something for everyone. The live music on offer is world-class while the Universum is like a massive hand-on physics experiment which the whole family can enjoy.
Both the Überseemuseum and the Emigrant House at the mouth of the Weser in Bremerhaven explore the history of the Hanseatic cities and their role as trading hubs.
Recommendations for hungry and weary travellers
- Restaurant Gutshof, Kassel
- Hotel Gude, Kassel
- Burggaststätte Schaumburg, Rinteln (castle pub)
- Hotel Restaurant Alter Förster, Bad Oeynhausen
- Restaurant Café Hasbergscher Hof, Nienburg
- Hotel Munte, Bremen
- Ratskeller, Bremen
(1) Stadt Kassel; (2) Sababurg; (3) Kulturkreis Hoexter Corvey GmbH; (4) Hameln Marketing und Tourismus GmbH; (5) Bremer Touristik-Zentrale