The Complete Guide To The Scenic German Framework Road

German Framework Road

One of the main reasons why I wanted to take a road-trip along the German Half-Timbered Houses Route was because I wanted to draw attention to this exceptional architectural ensemble that somehow only very few people know about; this 3000-kilometer long route stretches from the North Sea to Lake Constance and contains over 2.5 million half-timbered structures.

Yeah. That’s as awesome as it sounds.

Being sort of an architecture and history geek, this was something I just needed to see for myself. And I’m really glad I did. It familiarised me with the Hanseatic League, with Germany’s heritage and its bucolic countryside. It also made me brush up on my German, which, unfortunately, doesn’t go much farther than numbers and greetings.

What’s The Deal With Framework?

The reason why there are so many half-timber houses in Germany is because artisans and farmers figured out it was as good a way as any to make things out of all the extra logs and tree trunks they had at the time, with Germany having so many forests. The fachwerk, as the Germans call it, vary immensely from one region to another, either in architectural style or carpentry techniques; a house in Northern Germany might be slightly different than one near Switzerland, for example, depending on the local craftsmanship or wood type.

Highlights of the German Framework Road

Stade

German Framework Road

I’ve talked about Stade before, as it was my favourite stop on my German framework road trip. If you can’t dedicate a whole trip to the timber houses, Stade makes for a great day trip out of Hamburg seeing as it’s just one hour away. The town has a fascinating history and played a major role in the Hanseatic League, and while the most picturesque buildings are of course located on the waterfront, the entire town oozes the same old-world charm.

The picture of the colourful harbour above is one of my all-time best pictures, and I still smile just looking at it. Whatever you plan on doing in Germany, do yourself a favour and go to Stade. Period.

Salzwedel

German Framework RoadGerman Framework Road

German Framework Road
German Framework Road
 

I had to mention Salzwedel on the list, but not because I would recommend going; quite the opposite. The town has beautiful buildings and an interesting history, but the tourist infrastructure doesn’t make it easy for non-Germans to stay overnight. Not to mention that the European economic crisis has taken a toll on the town, which, unfortunately, means that a lot of businesses have shut down. I feel bad saying this because I know how important tourism can be for recovering economies but Salzwedel sort of felt like a ghost town. I barely saw anyone in the streets!

In hindsight, if I had to do the trip all over again, I would skip Salzwedel altogether.

Nienburg

German Framework Road German Framework Road

Nienburg was a lot livelier than Salzwedel, I’ll say that! Between the quiet riverside paths, the animated town square and the many shops, there was no shortage of things to do and I found myself wanting to stay a little while longer (just so I could have another aperol spritz on a sunny patio). Nienburg also has an interesting maritime history thanks to the mighty River Weser, and yes, plenty of suuuuuper long low-deck boats went by during my visit. The riverside was so calm and so soothing!

One of Nienburg’s biggest traditions is the harvest of asparagus – they even have an asparagus museum and, get this, AN ASPARAGUS PAGEANT QUEEN. I’m not even making this up. Nienburg is awesome.

Wernigerode

German Framework Road

German Framework Road German Framework Road German Framework Road

I concluded my trip in picture-perfect Wernigerode, which was my second favourite stop on the route. Wernigerode is kind of like the jewel crown of the German Framework Road; it has a medieval castle, gorgeous mountains, a busy town centre, plenty of restaurants and shops, and, of course, tonnes of history and picturesque timber houses. I could have easily spent two or three days there scouting the colourful buildings and marvelling at the stunning architecture. Definitely a must-do!

German Framework Road: Know Before You Go & Random Observations

  • Regardless of where I went, I was the youngest person. From what I gather, the route and its attractions cater to an older crowd, but the 27-year old youngster that I am still thinks this is a trip for all ages.
  • It is possible to visit the route by train, but I would recommend renting a car. This will allow you to explore the countryside, but also to stop at the many picturesque villages along the way. Also, everyone should experience the thrill that comes with cruising down the autobahn, which, as some of you know, doesn’t have speed limits in some parts. That feeling is both terrifying and exhilarating at the same time! HOWEVER. One also has to be very careful on countryside roads, because the speed limit changes frequently between villages, and there are speed radars everywhere. Guess who came home to a speeding ticket…

German Framework RoadGerman Framework Road

  • The route is mostly geared towards German travellers, but it is slowly opening up to foreign visitors with more and more hotel owners, shops and restaurants hiring English-speaking personnel. The language was sometimes a challenge, and if I’m honest, helpful people were far and few between (this is Germany, after all). It was really more of a “figure it out by yourself” kind of trip, which I didn’t dislike.
  • My final impression: the route is beautiful and quite idyllic at times, but it does need a little more infrastructure to appeal to foreign visitors. I can see how some changes have already been made; give it a few years, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it become one of Germany’s most popular escapades.
  • I’ve only seen a tiny snippet of the route, but these other cities come strongly recommended:
I was a guest of Germany Travel on this trip. All opinions are my own and yes, the lousy driver that I am paid for her speeding ticket herself.
 
Everything you need to know about visiting the German Framework Road - where to go, how to do it, and tips from insiders #Germany #Europe

53 Comments on The Complete Guide To The Scenic German Framework Road

  1. Marie-Andrée
    September 4, 2015 at 10:40 am (2 years ago)

    Woah, this really makes me want to go to Germany now! I knew the country had great architecture, but I had no idea just how many buildings there were. Esslingen is a safe bet if I understand correctly!

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      September 6, 2015 at 11:03 pm (2 years ago)

      Yes, I hold Esslingen very dear in my heart. Such a magical town, and they have the most amazing sparkling wine, too.

      Reply
  2. Samuel
    September 4, 2015 at 10:55 am (2 years ago)

    I agree with you on some level. Yes, the route mainly targets German retirees but I think anyone can get something out of it, foreign or young or both. You explained it quite well! And I do hope that the demographics change soon with your article.

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      September 6, 2015 at 11:02 pm (2 years ago)

      That’s what I was trying to say with the article. I hope more and more young people take advantage of that beautiful route!

      Reply
  3. Kirsten
    September 4, 2015 at 2:55 pm (2 years ago)

    Wernigerode looks so beautiful! Take me there right now!

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      September 6, 2015 at 11:02 pm (2 years ago)

      Is it very pretty! It was the biggest city on my itinerary, and it had a castle too!

      Reply
  4. Shobha
    September 5, 2015 at 2:04 pm (2 years ago)

    My son loves asparagus (!). I would love to take him to the asparagus museum in Neinberg. This looks fabulous. I didn’t know half-timbered houses were along such a huge run of Germany. We get them in Britain too, but not as colourful.

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      September 6, 2015 at 11:01 pm (2 years ago)

      They are totally different in Germany, much bigger and more colourful. Definitely worth the trip, Shobha!

      Reply
  5. Rachel
    September 5, 2015 at 5:26 pm (2 years ago)

    So beautiful! I can’t wait to visit Germany!! Oh no about the speeding ticket :(

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      September 6, 2015 at 11:00 pm (2 years ago)

      Don’t worry about it, it was a small price to pay to drive a beautiful Mercedes :-) I barely realised I was speeding with that fancy motor!

      Reply
  6. Annie
    September 18, 2015 at 2:11 pm (2 years ago)

    Discovering a part of the German Half-Timbered Houses Route was like stepping into another era, or a movie set. It was as beautiful as those pictures (which are great Marie, by the way!). I enjoyed Stade and Wernigerode the most. Although the crowd is mostly baby boomers, it was nice strolling around all those pretty houses. And driving a Mercedes? It definitely was worth the speeding ticket!

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      September 30, 2015 at 11:06 am (2 years ago)

      Indeed, the houses were very cute and enjoyable. It was a great road trip!

      Reply
  7. Wiebke
    March 5, 2016 at 12:43 am (2 years ago)

    Haha so cool reading this especially because you wrote about my hometown, Wernigerode. :)
    I know that many adults don’t speak good english but almost all young people speak english;)

    Have fun on your next trip!!!

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      March 5, 2016 at 3:12 pm (2 years ago)

      What a beautiful hometown you have Wiebke! :)

      Reply
      • Eva Jacob in mn USA
        March 23, 2016 at 12:34 pm (2 years ago)

        The road is called Maerchenstrasse fairy tale rd , and lots of Germans travel it ! They have at least two roads and one goes to Munich and you stop at rotenburg on the tauber . In my neighbor hood the solling is the town of einbeck, with all the fachwerk haeuser! My hometown has two gorgeous ones ,but the town had two times fires and all burned down in the Middle Ages , that is one problem with these houses…

      • Marie-Eve
        April 10, 2016 at 5:27 pm (1 year ago)

        Wonderful! It must be amazing to live so closeby.

  8. RobRob (@TravelLatte.net)
    March 29, 2016 at 11:21 am (1 year ago)

    What a fantastic road trip! Like you, we are history and architect buffs, and some of our team even have heritage from the region, so your post shot this up to the top of our Travel To Do list! Great pictures, and such picture perfect scenes!

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      April 10, 2016 at 5:23 pm (1 year ago)

      Wonderful, glad to hear that!

      Reply
  9. Sara
    April 12, 2016 at 7:25 pm (1 year ago)

    How did you travel between these villages? Trying to plan a trip but am unsure how to get from place to place!

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      April 25, 2016 at 1:02 pm (1 year ago)

      I rented a car. It’s the only and most efficient way!

      Reply
  10. Monica
    April 16, 2016 at 4:52 am (1 year ago)

    Looks fantastic! I’m seriously thinking about taking a trip like this this summer. How many days were you on the road in order to see all these cities? And how much time would you recommend for a shorter trip (maybe skipping the town you weren’t such a fan of)?

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      April 25, 2016 at 12:58 pm (1 year ago)

      I think you can do a city a day! That would be a good balance.

      Reply
  11. Juergen | dare2go.com
    April 21, 2016 at 9:02 am (1 year ago)

    I really can’t agree with your statement “if I’m honest, helpful people were far and few between (this is Germany, after all).” Yes, I’m German born. But I live in Australia since 1993 and my wife is Australian. She never had serious problems with communication in Germany – there’s usually an English speaking person nearby to help. After all: almost every German has learned some English at school. It’s true that in the north and far south people are little more reserved but overall I find Germans in most regions very easy going and helpful. Only the “Have a nice day” superficial American style of friendliness is alien to Germans – they are more direct (not wasting any time – LOL).

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      April 25, 2016 at 12:51 pm (1 year ago)

      Good for you, Juergen! My experience vastly differed, though.

      Reply
  12. The Germanz
    June 10, 2016 at 6:53 pm (1 year ago)

    Beautiful photos of beautiful places! It made me realise how many places I haven’t seen in Germany. Some more reasons to go again!

    Reply
  13. seth
    June 21, 2016 at 2:05 am (1 year ago)

    if you ever go back, hit up Rottweil (about an hour south of Stuutgart). Such a charming set of buildings, and a walking zone that goes to a medieval “black gate”.

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      June 25, 2016 at 1:20 pm (1 year ago)

      Good to know, thanks Seth!

      Reply
  14. Cassie
    July 14, 2016 at 9:27 am (1 year ago)

    What time of year was this? I am trying to decide when to go!

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      July 14, 2016 at 10:06 am (1 year ago)

      That was April. A gorgeous time to visit!

      Reply
  15. Emmalene
    August 23, 2016 at 2:48 pm (1 year ago)

    Glad to see I’m not the only one that judges a town on the quality of its Aperol Spritz 😀 I didn’t know much about this route, hearing much more about the Romantic Road but this looks super gorgeous too. And I’m guessing this could be done in a long weekend from the UK too.

    Thanks for the inspiration!

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      August 29, 2016 at 11:32 am (1 year ago)

      There are several routes in Germany that I dream of doing, only did the Framework one so far. You’re so close to all of them!

      Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      September 6, 2016 at 11:54 am (1 year ago)

      I wasn’t able to travel to south Germany this time, unfortunately! Firmly planning on going one day though.

      Reply
  16. Siggie
    September 7, 2016 at 11:12 am (1 year ago)

    Great list and info, If I’m ever up ‘north’ I want to travel the Fachwerkstrasse. Another one for the bucket list!

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      September 10, 2016 at 10:20 pm (1 year ago)

      Yes, it’s a great trip indeed!

      Reply
  17. Nina
    September 21, 2016 at 12:09 pm (1 year ago)

    Hi there :) i just came across your blog and wanted to share some insider recommendations (i am German by the way and have travelled a lot of the country): If you’re into architecture you HAVE to visit Bamberg and Augsburg. And Rothenburg ob der Tauber. All 3 towns are incredibly beautiful, with a lot of fachwerk houses – and the people in the south of germany are much nicer and helpful than in the north. You should also check out Freiburg, people from abroad love it! Just do a google search and take a look at the pictures :-)

    Enjoy traveling Germany!!

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      September 22, 2016 at 1:53 pm (1 year ago)

      Thanks for the suggestions Nina!

      Reply
  18. Stuart Forster
    April 4, 2017 at 7:33 pm (6 months ago)

    This is a fantastic route for photographers. I ended up with about five times as many photos as anticipated.

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      April 26, 2017 at 5:38 pm (5 months ago)

      Wow, that’s saying something!

      Reply
  19. Nick Jager
    April 10, 2017 at 1:26 am (6 months ago)

    A great list of must see sights for our upcoming trip this summer. Thanks for the pictures and background information.

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      April 26, 2017 at 4:49 pm (5 months ago)

      Happy to help Nick!

      Reply
  20. Carl Kruse
    April 10, 2017 at 5:33 am (6 months ago)

    I live in Germany and have yet to take this trip. Added to the bucket list after reading your post.

    Cheers,
    Carl Kruse

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      April 26, 2017 at 4:47 pm (5 months ago)

      You absolutely should! This route is absolutely idyllic.

      Reply
  21. David
    May 1, 2017 at 11:30 am (5 months ago)

    Great guide to Germany. We spent three weeks last summer exploring the divergent sides of Germany. Some places were on your list and somewhere not. We snapped over 5k in photos.

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      May 3, 2017 at 12:04 pm (5 months ago)

      Wow, that’s a lot of photos! But German villages are so photogenic.

      Reply
  22. John Willis
    July 9, 2017 at 7:48 am (3 months ago)

    Wonderful guide to Germany. Thanks for the great information.

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      August 15, 2017 at 2:55 pm (1 month ago)

      Thanks John!

      Reply
  23. Yoda and Dalek
    September 7, 2017 at 7:55 am (2 weeks ago)

    What a superb blog post, the German villages look like they are straight out of a fairytale! This is great input for us to plan a driving trip across the road sometime next year. Thanks for sharing your experiences :)

    Reply

4Pingbacks & Trackbacks on The Complete Guide To The Scenic German Framework Road

  1. […] stop not just because it is easily accessible, but also because it’s part of the legendary German timber-frame road, a 3000 kilometres-long — almost the entire length of Germany — tourist route that is bordered […]

  2. […] From a medieval castle to colorful, perfect town streets, Wernigerode, Germany is one of my travel goals. Castle Link  Town Link […]

  3. […] also has some beautiful photos of towns along the northern section of this scenic road. I especially like the look of Stade, which is the northern-most town along the Timber-Frame […]

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