Storyteller’s Tips for the German Fairy Tale Road
I almost jumped out of my chair when I first found out about the Fairy Tale Road in Germany. Tell me more!
Since then I found out as much as possible about this Fairy Tale Road (or Fairy Tale Route, as it is also called). It’s not so far from where I live, so I hope one day I can travel this magical road!
Imagine traveling on the Fairy Tale Road…
Maybe, like me, you have grown up with the fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm. The Fairy Tale Road takes you right from where the Brothers Grimm were born (Hanau), to the place of one of their most famous fairy tales, The Bremen Town Musicians.
On the way, you’ll find all the stuff from the fairy tales: enchanting dark forests, beautiful castles, lovely fairy tale towns, and special events and celebrations dedicated to the world of fairy tales.
Where is the Fairy Tale Road?
The Fairy Tale Road is a route in Germany established in 1975. It’s 370 miles long and runs from the river Main in central Germany to the North Sea. It runs through the towns and landscapes where the Brothers Grimm collected and published their famous collection of fairy tales.
Where does the Fairy Tale Road start?
The Fairy Tale Road starts in the town of Hanau, located along the river Main. Hanau is the birthplace of the famous Brothers Grimm and honors them through museums, tours, a summer festival, and of course, the renowned statue in front of the town hall.
Where does the Fairy Tale Road end?
The Fairy Tale Road ends at the city of Bremen in the north of Germany. More precisely, at the port city of Bremerhaven. It is a fitting end to the road because one of the most famous fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm is The Bremen Town Musicians.
Where can I get a Fairy Tale Road map?
You can freely download an excellent brochure in English about the Fairy Tale Route at the official website of the Deutsche Maerchenstrasse. It contains a beautiful map with the route and all noteworthy locations.
Who developed the Fairy Tale Road?
In 1975, representatives of more than 30 towns and communities between the Main river and the North Sea came up with a plan. They wanted to celebrate their cultural treasures and give tourism a boost. Together they launched ‘The Fairy Tale Route’ (or Fairy Tale Road).
Top 10 Prominent Fairy Tales on the Fairy Tale Road
There is so much to discover along the Fairy Tale Road: beautiful towns, imposing castles, enchanting nature parks, and interesting museums, to name a few things.
Here I’d like to highlight the top 10 places to visit with a strong connection to a fairy tale. These are surely on my list.
1. Hanau: The Birthplace of the Brothers Grimm
Of course, you need to visit the birthplace of Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm. You’ll probably want to take the obligatory selfie with the Brothers Grimm statue.
If you are lucky enough to visit Hanau in the summer, don’t miss the Brothers Grimm Festival, which runs from May to July in the covered amphitheater of Palace Philippsruhe.
Do you you want to know all the details about the Grimm’s childhood? You can book a tour in Hanau with experienced guides that will take you to all the right places.
2. Kassel: The Original Grimm Manuscript at Museum Grimmwelt
In Kassel, they guard the original manuscript of the Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales. Where? In a museum, that you can visit too: Grimmwelt.
Oh, wait. It’s not a museum. It’s a place of adventure, as they will tell you themselves in their promotional video:
3. Alsfeld: The Home of Little Red Riding Hood
It is whispered that once upon a time, the Brothers Grimm visited Alsfeld. And as they later were editing the fairy tales for their collection, they thought back to the traditional red cap that was worn in Alsfeld.
Whether these whispers are true or not, Alsfeld contains a must-visit Fairy Tale House. It contains one of the biggest doll house collections in all of Germany, and its rooms are decorated with themes from fairy tales.
4. Bad Wildungen: Where you will meet Snow White
Take an old town. Add a castle on top of a hill. Include a mining village. All very charming. That is Bad Wildungen. And more!
It very well might have been the place that inspired the Snow White version of the Grimm Brothers. The one in which a queen wished for a child; as white as snow, as dark as ebony wood, and as red as the blood that dripped from her finger.
Nowadays the mining village is called the “Snow White Village” Bergfreiheit. There is a small mining museum and a real Snow White House. If you are lucky and you arrive on a festive day, you might even meet Snow White and the seven dwarfs there!
5. Hessisch Lichtenau: Where Mother Holle shakes her Pillows
Hessisch Lichtenau is a small town located at the foot of the mountain ‘High Meissner’. It is said that Mother Holle lived on top of this mountain. Whenever she shook her pillows, snow fell on all the land around the mountain.
And so there is a true Mother Hulda (Holle) museum and a thematic walk in the area. If you come in winter, and you’re lucky, you might even experience some pillow shaking.
Read the fairy tale of Mother Holle.
6. Sababurg Castle: The Sleeping Beauty Castle where time stood still
Although the name ‘Sleeping Beauty Castle’ appears to be a more recent touristic invention, the castle is real. And even when looking at the photos you can imagine the flow of time coming to a standstill; cooks, animals, and a beautiful princess falling asleep.
Prepare yourself by reading Sleeping Beauty.
7. Hamelin: Where the Pied Piper keeps the rats away
Hamelin is famous for the story of the Pied Piper and cheerfully celebrates this legend. In summer, you can watch a big open-air performance of the story every day. There is a museum, a tour, a musical, and so the list goes on and on.
Did you know that the legend of the Pied Piper might very well be based on a historical event in which hundreds of children disappeared? There are various stories about the origin of this legend, you might find the Wikipedia page a good starting point.
8. Bad Oeynhausen: The German Fairy Tale and Weser Legend Museum
In 1973 a museum opened in this spa city. A museum started by Karl Paetow, a publisher of Weser Legends. The museum tells you everything about what the Brothers Grimm and other fairy tale collectors collected.
After a visit to the museum, you might want to visit one of the spas in this beautiful city. And relax…
9. Bremen: The City where the Town Musicians never arrived
Do you know the story of the donkey, the dog, the cat, and the rooster? They were kicked out by their caretakers because they were not useful anymore.
However, they saw a glorious opportunity: they could become town musicians in Bremen. And so starts a journey that will never end in Bremen.
Do you want to hear the whole tale? It is told every Sunday in the summer in the town center!
10. Bodenwerder: Where Baron Munchausen was born?
Granted, the marvelous exploits of Baron Munchausen are no fairy tales. However, they are fascinating to read and every story lover will find something to enjoy in his stories.
In Bodenwerder you can discover all about his stories (with tongue-in-cheek penned down by a much lesser-known man, Rudolf Erich Raspe). There is even a true Munchausen Museum!
What is the best way to travel the Fairy Tale Road?
Can you travel the Fairy Rale Road by car?
Traveling the German Fairy Tale Road by car is easy and comfortable. The roads are in excellent condition, and there are many cities and villages along the way with gas stations and restaurants. For many miles you will drive through beautiful landscapes, almost fairy-tale-like.
If you plan to travel by car, you might want to check out this guide from Auto Europe, they offer some nice suggestions for an itinerary and for places to stay.
Can you travel the Fairy Tale Road by camper, caravan, or RV?
Traveling the German Fairy Tale Road by RV is a good choice. The roads are in excellent condition, and there are many cities and villages along the way with gas stations and restaurants. There are enough places with facilities along the route.
If you plan to travel by RV, whether by camper or caravan, I recommend checking out the official information.
Can you travel the Fairy Tale Road by train and other public transport?
You can travel the Fairy Tale Road by train and bus. However, it will take some more time to plan it, compared to traveling by car or camper. Nevertheless, traveling by train is often a pleasure in itself, looking out from the window and soaking up the landscapes that pass by.
If you consider traveling by train and bus, check out the itinerary and rail route at To Europe.
Can you bike the Fairy Tale Road?
You can travel the Fairy Tale Road by bike. The roads are in excellent condition and Germany is quite a safe country for cycling. There are many villages and cities along the way in which you rest, eat, and recharge.
If you consider traveling by bike, there is a brochure on the official site you can order that is specifically about cycling. It is called ‘Adventure Cycling’, the only caveat is that it’s in German.
Can you hike the Fairy Tale Road?
You can hike the fairy tale road, but be aware that the 370 miles might take you a while. There are a lot of villages, cities, and places to stop along the way.
An excellent resource to consult if you want to hike this way is this page about hiking the fairy tale route.
Videos I liked about the German Fairy Tale Road
I enjoyed watching the three-part video series of ‘Flora and the Novice Explorers’. A couple tells you about how they traveled the fairy tale route from the North (Bremen) to the South (Hanau).
Sources about the Fairy Tale Route in Germany
- There is an official website and it’s excellent! More than you could hope for! You find the English version here: https://www.deutsche-maerchenstrasse.com/en/
- Wikipedia offers you a short, but useful summary of the fairy tale road: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_Fairy_Tale_Route
Photo credits: Schwester M. Jutta from Pixabay
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