Recognize these names? Little Red Riding Hood, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White or Rapunzel? Well, you may or may not have known already that they were German Fairytales, but did you know that there was a German Fairytale Route?
In the summer of 2022, I decided to check it out. And I can tell you, that even if fairytales aren’t your thing, the German Fairytale Route is something that should not be missed! Everything you imagine fairytale towns to look like will come alive right in front of you. And it’s so magical.
If you’re not convinced yet, here is whom I think the German Fairytale route is the best fit for:
- The road trip fanatics
- Families with kids
- People who love exploring off-the-beaten-path destinations
I personally believe that the German Fairytale Route is still considered a hidden gem and not many people know about it. So the purpose of this article is to share some FAQs about it. Hopefully, by the end, you will be convinced to add it to your bucket list!
What is the German Fairytale Route?
The German Fairytale route is a selection of towns and locations in Germany that served as an inspiration to the Grimm Brothers. We owe the Grimm Brothers a huge thank you as they were the authors of some of the most iconic fairytales. The route is dedicated to their stories and their life. It highlights specific towns where local legends brought certain characters to life. It also highlights where the brothers travelled, lived and other defining locations for the development of their stories.
Where in Germany is it located?
The route begins in central Germany and ends in the north. It begins just outside of Frankfurt, in the town of Hanau, and it ends just outside of Hamburg, in Buxtehude. In total, it spans 600 km and includes more than 50 different places. Here is a map if you’re interested!
What is amazing about this route is that it truly brings you to the lesser-explored areas of Germany. There aren’t any major cities along the way. You will be exploring the forest, castles and towns following the footsteps of the Grimm Brothers themselves.
How to visit the German Fairytale Route?
You can start the route from either end, it doesn’t necessarily change your experience. If you choose to start in Hanau, your closest airport would be Frankfurt. Or of course, you could also fly into Hamburg.
Of course, it is entirely possible to visit the German Fairytale Route by public transit however, I personally think it would be a bit challenging to do. As I said, it consists of smaller towns, running across a large portion of Germany so logistically you would need to do some planning.
My best advice would be to fly into Frankfurt or Hamburg and rent a car or even a camping car from there. I am a huge fan of road trips because of how much freedom you have. You can visit wherever you want, whenever you want. It is definitely the best way to get the most out of your experience!
Where is a good place to base yourself?
The biggest, central town along the route is Kassel. It is actually known as the capital of the fairytale route. So that would be your best bet if you were looking for one singular base.
However, as I mentioned, the route spans 600 km, so if your intention is to see the entire route or even most of it, basing yourself in one place wouldn’t be the most efficient way to do that. The easiest way would be to drive along the route and stop where you can.
How long do you need to visit?
The route is technically 600 km long which can mean you’d be driving roughly 6-8 hours non-stop. But of course, you’re going to be stopping! If you were planning to complete the entire route, they recommend that it could be done in 5-7 days. You are not obligated to complete the entire route, I personally did not! So you can adapt your road trip to your particular interests and needs.
Best time to visit the German Fairytale Route?
I personally visited the route in the summer and loved it. Since this route is a hidden gem (in my opinion) I don’t think you would need to worry about the summer rush. It also isn’t necessarily a seasonal destination but I would like to mention that most festivities and festivals do take place in the summer!
What to do on the German Fairytale Route?
1.Visit Bergpark in Kassel
Outside of the city centre, there is a massive, UNESCO World Cultural and Natural Heritage site called Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe. Inside the park, there are quite a few things to see including castle ruins, a palace and a monument of Hercules. The monument of Hercules is at the highest point of the park which can be quite the climb. But there is so much to see in this 560-hectare park, it is a really nice place to spend the afternoon!
2. Learn about the Grimm Brothers in the Grimwelt Museum in Kassel
Kassel is known as the capital of the fairytale route mainly because this is where the Brothers Grimm studied and eventually lived for over 30 years! There is a museum dedicated to them and their work!
3. Walk around Sleeping Beauty’s Castle in Hofgeismar
Hofgeismar is Sleeping Beauty’s town which just so happens to be located in Reinhardswald Nature Park. There are tonnes of hikes and other outdoor activity options to check out as well! Sababurg Dörnröschenschloss or Sleeping Beauty’s Castle is another popular spot along the Fairytale Route, where at times you may be able to run into Sleeping Beauty and her prince around the castle grounds!
4. Wander around Fritzlar
Fritzlar was a highlight of our visit. I found it to be very authentic, filled with timber-framed houses and a beautiful village to explore. Now this isn’t a town that is directly related to the Grimm Fairytales, however, it is a town from the middle ages and is definitely worth the visit. You can read more about the town’s history here!
5. Stay in Rapunzel’s tower in Trendleberg
6. Visit Snow White’s Castle in Bad Wildungen
The Friedrichstein Palace is also known as Snow White’s Castle. The former count who lived in the castle, his daughter died young from eating a poisoned apple, which of course was the inspiration for this beloved fairytale. In the town of Bad Wildungen, you can also find Snow White’s Village and a former copper mine. When I visited this area, I will admit, it was a little bit difficult to navigate and to find where we were going. It wasn’t as clearly marked as I was hoping for but we made it work and stumbled upon statues of the seven dwarves.
7. Hanau – Grimm Brothers’ birthplace
Hanau is the birthplace of Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm and is the official starting point of the German Fairytale Route. The particular spot it begins is at the statue of the brothers in Hanau’s Market Square.
8. Pop into the Fairytale House in Alsfeld
Alsfeld was another highlight for me and was probably my favourite stop from our visit along the fairytale route. There are more than 400 timber-framed houses in this town and it is the historic home of Little Red Riding Hood. The brothers were inspired by the red caps the locals would wear in Alsfeld. In town, there is also a museum dedicated to their stories where there are often live readings. The museum also has the most important doll-house collection in Germany.
9. Visit the home of the Pied Piper in Hameln
The Pied Piper of Hameln is another classic story from the Grimm Brothers. The city was plagued with rats and with the help of the Pied Piper he got rid of them by playing his flute. When he was refused payment, he turned against the town and with his flute he entranced the children of the town to follow him and they were never seen again. This legend is definitely a darker tale but is one of the spots on the fairytale route that has lots of events. You can read about them here!
10. Check out their events and experiences
One thing I particularly love about the fairytale route is how into it everyone gets! I’ve seen listed online that there are live readings, guided tours, festivals, exhibitions and so many other activities to check out. This might be very intriguing especially if you are travelling with kids. I will admit, the German Fairytale Route website is a little difficult to navigate, however, you can find the calendar of events here!
When I visited the fairytale route, I didn’t necessarily need nor did I have the time to visit every single town and stop along the way. So to plan for our visit, I read up on the German Fairytale Route website and chose the spots that interested me the most. They have tonnes of information online about the various stops, how they’re related to the fairytales including different events that might be taking place.
I noticed, based on my interests and the fairytales that I was the most familiar with, the central and southern part of the route was the best fit for me. So if you’re like me and might not be able to do the entire route, explore the map and choose your highlights.
My personal favourite towns were Fritzlar and Alsfeld. But don’t forget to check online for the list of the other spots! There are over 50!
Have I convinced you?
I hope by now you have scribbled the German Fairytale Route onto your bucket list somewhere. It truly was a magical and underrated area of Germany that deserves more attention! You can’t get any more authentic than seeing towns filled with traditional timber-framed houses.
Even though I wasn’t able to visit the entire route, I really enjoyed visiting this part of Germany and I highly recommend doing the same. Finding specific destinations based on your interests and making them fit into your itinerary was what worked best for us. And visiting even SOME of these smaller villages and supporting local businesses is better than nothing right!?