280km (174 miles) NW of Munich, 119km (74 miles) SE of Frankfurt, 109km (68 miles) NW of Nürnberg

For Germans, the south begins at Würzburg, a lovely city at the northern end of the Romantic Road. Unlike the quainter towns that line the Romantic Road to the south, Würzburg is a cosmopolitan place, a university town with 50,000 students who add life to its narrow lanes and bright squares and lend a German version of joie de vivre. Würzburg’s appreciation of the good life becomes clear as soon as you notice the town is swathed in vineyards that climb the surrounding hillsides above its gabled rooftops. You’ll also soon notice that wine merchants here sell Bocksbeutels, the green, narrow-necked wine bottles designed so monks could hide them under their robes.

On the night of March 16, 1945, Würzburg was leveled by a bombing raid. A plan to leave the city in ruin as a testimony to the horrors of war was scrapped and nearly every major structure has been restored, and the modern city blends in harmoniously with medieval remains and reconstructions. Würzburg isn’t picture book pretty, the way Rothenburg and some other towns you’ll come to on the Romantic Road are, but that doesn’t district from its appeal, and there’s plenty to see in a day.