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  • Quedlinburg: Spared in part from the ravages of World War II, this town in the Harz mountains still evokes the Middle Ages with its 1,600 half-timbered buildings, more than any other town in the country. Named a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Quedlinburg is a gem of yesterday and was an imperial residence for 2 centuries. Wander the cobblestone streets of the Altstadt (Old Town) for a journey back in time.
  • Meissen: Some 25km (16 miles) north of Dresden, this is a romantic little town built along the banks of the River Elbe. It's celebrated for its porcelain, which carries a trademark of two crossed blue swords and is valued by collectors the world over. Even without its porcelain factory, the town merits a visit for its quiet charm, its old buildings, and its 15th-century castle.
  • Rothenburg: If you have time for only one stop along the Romantic Road, make it Rothenburg ob der Tauber, which may be your only chance in life to see a still-intact medieval walled city. Rothenburg exists in a time capsule, though 40% of the town was destroyed during World War II. Luckily, locals quickly rebuilt their Altstadt in its former style to reclaim their glorious architectural past.
  • Dinkelsbühl: If you have time for a second stop along the Romantic Road, try Dinkelsbühl. Though not as grand as the more celebrated Rothenburg, it has far fewer tourists and therefore retains more old-time charm.
  • Mittenwald: This town has long been celebrated as the most beautiful in the Bavarian Alps, with magnificently decorated houses, painted facades and ornately carved gables. In the mid-17th century, it was known as "the Village of a Thousand Violins" because of the stringed instruments made here.
  • Lindau: Dating from the 9th century, this former free imperial town of the Holy Roman Empire is like a fantasy of what a charming Bavarian lakeside village should look like, if only in the movies. But this garden "city," under landmark protection, is for real. Lindau is enveloped by aquamarine waters, and one part of it is known as the Gartenstadt because of its luxuriant flowers and shrubs.
  • Rüdesheim: The Rhine Valley's most popular wine town is set along the edge of the mighty river. Rüdesheim is known for its half-timbered buildings and its Drosselgasse (Thrush Lane), a narrow cobblestone lane stretching for 180m (600 ft.) and lined with wine taverns and cozy restaurants.
  • Cochem: If you're seeking an idyllic medieval riverside town during your "grape tour" of the Mosel River valley, make it Cochem, famous for its towering castle, dating from 1027. On the left bank of the Mosel, Cochem lies in a picture-postcard setting of vineyards. Little inns serving a regional cuisine along with plenty of Mosel wine make Cochem a highly desirable overnight stop and a nice alternative to the more commercial centers found along the nearby Rhine.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.