Travel, bus & train
The route is the destination
A romantic journey through time
10 January 1950
Founding of the ‘Romantic Road between the Main and the Alps’ Working Group.
The roots of Germany’s oldest tourist route date back to 1900 when ‘Germany’s Number 1 holiday route linked the River Main with the Alps. Later, US soldiers stationed in Germany, and their families, discovered this route with its rich history and wealth of enchanting landscapes. Following the chaos of the Second World War, both Lufthansa German Airlines and the German National Tourist Board used the Romantic Road to promote a new and friendly Germany.
4 to 8 May 1950
The first press tour of the Romantic Road takes place with a dozen journalists and travel-guide authors who were given the chance to discover the tourist potential of the Romantic Road for themselves.
19 June 1950
South Germany’s longest holiday coach line begins operations.
The 377-kilometre, long-distance route was served daily in both directions with connections to Oberammergau, Ettal and Garmisch-Partenkirchen. Departure from Würzburg at 06.30 hrs, arrival in Füssen at 20.15. In the opposite direction, the coach left Füssen at 06.00 and arrived in Würzburg at 19.35 hrs. Fare per km: 6 pfennigs. With the start of scheduled services, the Romantic Road coaches were initially accompanied by English translators, later by hostesses who, thanks to their smart uniforms, had no need to be shy of comparisons with Lufthansa cabin crew.
23 May 1951
German Railways introduce a pair of express railcars on the route Rothenburg – Feuchtwangen – Nördlingen – Augsburg – Munich and back. A transfer to the Romantic Road coach is possible in all towns so that visitors can reach all sights. Responsibility for compiling the two timetables rests with German Railways in Augsburg (‘Reichsstädte-Express’).
15 September 1952
Decorated with flowers, the red coaches are warmly welcomed by the founder of the Romantic Road, Dr Ludwig Wegele. The MAN coaches each covered approx. 100,000 kilometres on the Romantic Road. The first driver was Johann Marquart (1913–2008) from Augsburg.
12 May 1955
The Deutsche Touring company assumes responsibility for the Romantic Road services as part of the ‘Bird-flight line 312’ from Copenhagen, via Würzburg and Augsburg, to Innsbruck. Thus, the Romantic Road becomes an integral part of the Europa Coach network of Europe’s railway companies.
In 1962, the red coaches were replaced by the turquoise-beige coaches of the Deutsche Touring company, a wholly-owned subsidiary of German Railways. At the same time, Frankfurt am Main and Munich were integrated into the timetable. Erwin Rüb, who subsequently became operations manager of German Touring, was the first Europa Bus driver along the Romantic Road.
1 April 1968
Charly Brown (1929-2018) sets off on his first trip from Frankfurt to Munich.
Hardly anyone knew the good-humoured gentleman from Saxony by his real name of Karl Heinz Zobel. Nevertheless, the driver with whistle, gloves and top hat soon became a cult figure and an international tourist trademark. He was given his nickname by two enthusiastic Americans who became loyal, regular guests on the route. After 25 years, he had covered around 2.5 million kilometres on ‘his’ route, which corresponds roughly with 60 times around the world.
Based on the German prototype, the Japanese Romantic Road is opened – the first time the route has been emulated abroad.
In 2007, a partnership with the Rota Romantica in Brazil was sealed. Two years later, in July 2009, sees the opening of the Romantic Road of Korea. This was followed in 2016 by the inauguration of the Romantic Road in Taiwan. Vietnam also adopted the concept of the German original when it launched its World Heritage Road.
1 April 1992
Köksal Balikci becomes the first Turkish driver on the Romantic Road.
Born in Central Anatolia, Balikci was initially employed on the Europa Bus line between Istanbul and Frankfurt. However, he fell in love with the Romantic Road and, for many years, was the ‘man at the front’ and the face of the Romantic Road for international guests, 80 percent of whom come from Asia nowadays. For him, the Romantic Road became his ‘life-line’ and a glance at his Facebook page reflects his great popularity, especially in Japan. After 22 years, he retired on 18 October 2014 and now lives in Dinkelsbühl.
1 April 1994
Cycling tours are growing in popularity in Germany. Account has also been taken of this trend on the Romantic Road with all coaches being fitted with bike trailers to supplement the service along the cycle touring route.
1 July 2008
As part of the preparations for its IPO, German Railways sold its highly profitable Deutsche Touring subsidiary to a foreign coach-operator consortium, which renamed the Europa Bus the ‘Romantic Road Coach’. Now, after 70 years, the service linking the Romantic Road is operated by Touring Tours & Travel GmbH in Frankfurt am Main.
28 April 2010
On the 60th birthday of the Romantic Road, the coaches are equipped with audio guides in eight languages to provide a better service for guests from all over the world.
1 May 2018
Passengers are accompanied by tour guides on the routes from Frankfurt am Main and Munich to Rothenburg ob der Tauber.
21 June 2020
Summary on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of Germany’s first holiday route:
Since 1950, the Romantic Road coaches have covered over 16 million kilometres, which corresponds to 404 times around the world. Altogether, the coaches have carried more than 1.6 million passengers.