We spent two days following the path of the Brothers Grimm on Germany’s Fairy Tale Route. If you don’t know who the Brothers Grimm are, where have you been? They’re the brains behind famous fairy tales such as, Hansel and Gretel, Sleeping Beauty, the Frog King, Cinderella and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, along with many more. Between Frankfurt and Bremen lies the Fairy Tale Route and it is here where the brothers grew up and got their inspiration for their fairy tales.
Day 1 – Frankfurt to Bad Karlshafen
Our first stop after leaving Frankfurt was the the town of Alsfeld. When you enter Alsfeld you will know you are in the land of fairy tales. There are lots of half timbered houses and a few statues of characters you will recognise.
“Princess, princess, youngest daughter, Open up and let me in!
Or else your promise by the water Isn’t worth a rusty pin.
Keep your promise, royal daughter, Open up and let me in!”
– The Frog King
Alsfeld town centre, where you will find the Rathaus and the Walpurgiskirche, also has a lot of options for food and drink. We had lunch at a cafe nearby called Günthers, the food here was great and our limited German managed to get us lunch – although a very heavy rich lunch, welcome to Germany! We didn’t try the bakery counter but the display looked amazing.
It will help a lot if you speak German as there aren’t many in these parts that speak much English, although everyone is very friendly and happy to try and help!
Leaving Alsfeld we headed towards Bad Wildungen, keep your eyes peeled on this drive, you’re driving through Little Red Ridding Hood territory. Just over an hour of winding roads, forests and more cute villages and towns that have inspired fairy tales. You will come across a few sights that will make you want to pull over for a quick photo as well.
When in Bad Wildungen on the Fairy Tale Route it’s the district of Bergfreiheit that you really want to see. We arrived here mid-afternoon on a week day in August and there was only us there. The reason Bergfreiheit makes it onto the Fairy Tale Route is this is where you will find Snow White’s Seven Dwarfs, and of course you can get your photo taken with them – they’re a lot bigger than we were expecting! If you have time there is also a Snow White house in the town centre which is open to the public.
“One day when the queen asked her mirror:
Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who in this land is fairest of all?
You, my queen, are fair; it is true. But Snow-White is a thousand times fairer than you.”
– Snow White
Our next stop was Sleeping Beauty’s Castle – Dornröschenschloss Sababurg. To reach Sababurg from Bad Wildungen you drive through Kassel which is also on the Fairy Tale Route. Kassel is a city and needs more time than we had to see the highlights, it would also be a good option for an over night stop as a half way point for the Fairy Tale Route.
Where to stay
One option for an overnight stay is the Sleeping Beauty Castle, Dornröschenschloss, itself which is now a hotel. I think if we were to do this drive again a stay here would be on the cards, keeping with the fairy tale theme!
“And, in the very moment when she felt the prick, she fell down upon the
bed that stood there, and lay in a deep sleep.”
– Sleeping Beauty
Not what you were expecting?
If you were expecting a grand white palace in the hills, the inspiration for Disney films, you’re looking for Neuschwanstein. One of King Ludwig II’s castles in Bavaria. The Brother’s Grimm Fairy Tales pre-date the building of Neuschwanstein which was built to honor Richard Wagner and remains unfinished.
We were camping on our trip, camping is very popular in Germany and the campsites we’ve stayed at while in the country have been very clean and the people very welcoming. We stayed a night at Campingplatz Bad Karlshafen which is ideal if you’re driving the Fairy Tale Route and it has a perfect location to pitch up looking out onto the river Weser.
Day 2 – Bad Karlshafen to Hamelin
From Bad Karlshafen it was an hour and a half to our next stop on route, Hamelin, the home of the Pied Piper. Hamelin is a large town with a lot to see, we spent a few hours here, arriving mid morning and not leaving until mid afternoon, and we could have stayed longer.
The town is well set up for tourists interested in the story of the Pied Piper and the Brother’s Grimm. All throughout the town you will find rat emblems within the cobbled streets for you to follow from sight to sight. Eventually you will make it to the river where there is a large bridge with a huge gold rat sat on top. Bonus for us, we actually seen a real live rat on the river bank – I don’t think this is part of the tourist attractions.
“He returned on June 26, Saint John’s and Saint Paul’s Day, early in the morning at seven o’clock (others say it was at noon), now dressed in a hunter’s costume, with a dreadful look on his face and wearing a strange red hat. He sounded his fife in the streets, but this time it wasn’t rats and mice that came to him, but rather children: a great number of boys and girls from their fourth year on. Among them was the mayor’s grown daughter. The swarm followed him, and he led them into a mountain, where he disappeared with them.”
– The Children of Hameln
A walk around Hamelin town centre is not to be missed, there is a great deal of sculptures and architecture to admire, plenty shops, bars and coffee houses to try and during the summer there is Pied Piper themed entertainment every Sunday at 12 noon.
Hamelin was our last stop on the Fairy Tale Route but it does continue up to Bremen. To really do this area justice it would take a week to see all the highlights. It would pair perfectly with the Romantic Road to the south of Frankfurt (we have also done a two day trip on this route- check it out here) and possibly the Black Forest as a two week holiday – think this will be on our to do list for the future and we can see parts that we missed.