Ever dreamed of discovering the places from your childhood fairies tales like the castle of Sleeping Beauty, the woods of Little Red Riding Hood, or the dwarven home of Snow White? Then the German Fairy Tale Route is the perfect road trip for you.
Stretching between Hanau and Bremen, this 595 km (370 mi) itinerary offers some of the most scenic drives in Germany and brings to life the world of myths and legends as captured by the Brothers Grimm in their fairy tales. Medieval villages, romantic castles, enchanted woods, museums, and activities provide a unique immersive experience for the whole family.
One week is perfect to fully appreciate the wonders of the German Fairy Tale Route. The easiest way is to fly to Frankfurt Airport (FRA), rent a car there, and drive all the way to Bremen.
The Grimm Brothers
Hanau to Kassel
The German Fairy Tale Route starts in Hanau, the birthplace of the Brothers Grimm. It then continues with Steinau where you can visit the childhood home of the two brothers Jacob and Wilhelm.
Another interesting destination not to miss on the way is the medieval town of Alsfeld where the Fairy Tale House (see photo) and the House of Little Red Riding Hood are located.
The area stretching from Alsfeld to Fritzlar is known as Little Red Riding Hood land and with its beautiful forests and lakes, it’s not difficult to see how it inspired the imagination of the Grimm Brothers.
Finally, make sure to stop in Bad Wildungen: presented as Snow White’s village, there’s a museum dedicated to this wonderful tale as well as Snow White’s presumed dwarven home.
Option 1: Mother Hulda
Kassel to Fürstenberg
Once you arrive in Kassel there are two possible route options to reach Fürstenberg. The first one is dedicated to Mother Hulda. It’s a bit of a detour in comparison to the Sleeping Beauty alternative but it’s definitely a good one, especially if you like hiking.
Before choosing one route or another (or both), take some time to visit the beautiful town of Kassel where the Brothers Grimm spent thirty years of their life and that now preciously keeps the original Children’s and Household Tales (known today as Grimm’s Fairy Tales) first published in 1812. Not particularly related to the Brothers Grimm but still right in the world of myths and legends, one of the most beautiful landmarks of Kassel is its Hercules monument dedicated to the ancient Greek demigod Heracles (see photo).
Back on the road, the Mother Hulda route passes nearby Hoher Meissner Mountain, a stunning mountain massif in the Meissner Kaufunger nature park in Hesse. There you can admire the famous pond that inspired the story of the Brothers Grimm’s Mother Hulda tale.
On the Mother Hulda route, there’s also the village of Ebergötzen with the Wilhelm Busch Mill, a museum presenting the life and work of Wilhelm Busch where you can visit the mill from the story of Max and Moritz and reproduce a few of their pranks if you dare.
Option 2: Sleeping Beauty
Kassel to Fürstenberg
The other option to reach Fürstenberg from Kassel is the Sleeping Beauty route. Although Hoher Meissner makes the Mother Hulda route very attractive (see above), we have a preference for the Sleeping Beauty route because it goes through the magnificent wooded hills of Reinhardswald.
With its dense forests and majestic valleys that render the most incredible colors in Autumn, Reinhardswald is the quintessence of the Brothers Grimm’s world of fairy tales and legends. Nothing like a walk through the beautiful ancient oak trees of Reinhardswald woods to invoke the most romantic dreams of princesses, witches, and dwarves in your mind.
The highlight of the Sleeping Beauty route is Sababurg Castle (see photo). This 650-year old castle known as Sleeping Beauty Castle is believed to be the home of the princess in the tale by the Brothers Grimm.
Pied Piper of Hamelin & Other Tales
Fürstenberg to Bremen
The last leg of this road trip on the German Fairy Tale Route is between Fürstenberg and Bremen. The most famous destination on the way is Hamelin where the story of The Pied Piper of Hamelin takes place. The tale of the pied piper getting rid of rats by enchanting them with his flute is not the only reason to visit Hamelin though for it is quite a picturesque village with charming hills (see photo).
Finally, the last destination of this road trip is Bremen, one of the largest German cities. Bremen is part of this trip because of the Brothers Grimm’ story The Town Musicians of Bremen, although in this folktale the musicians never actually make it to Bremen.
German Fairy Tale Road trip legs (about 200 km / 124 km each):
The Brothers Grimm: explore the important Brothers Grimm places between Hanau and Kassel
Mother Hulda route (option 1): hike Hoher Meissner Mountain and see Mother Hulda pond
Sleeping Beauty route (option 2): discover Reinhardswald’s woods and castle from Sleeping Beauty (Sababurg)
Pied Piper of Hamelin & other tales: visit the home of the terrifying Pied Piper legend before reaching Bremen
Official German Fairy Tale Route site: www.deutsche-maerchenstrasse.com