5 reasons to drive the scenic German Limes Route

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Fruit fans, we’ll break it to you now, the German Limes Route is a scenic driving route based around a historic theme. It snakes for more than 700km through Germany, along the remnants of Roman Frontier that once ran between the River Rhine and the River Danube.

It may well be called the German Limes Route but if you’re want a holiday picking citrus fruit then plan on heading further south. Try Italy, Spain or one of the other countries washed by the Mediterranean Sea.

If you’re looking for a driving holiday involving the exploration of historic sites then this could well be the basis of your dream vacation. Alternatively, check out the rest of the themed driving routes cutting through Germany’s countryside. More than 150 of them exist, exploring themes ranging from castles to timber-framed housing.

So, why plan a holiday that involves driving along the German Limes Route?

1. It’s related to Hadrian’s Wall

The route takes its name from the Limes Germanicus, a Latin term meaning ‘Germanic Frontier’. Technically, it consisted of two parts, the Upper German and the Raetian Limes. Both consisted of a network of forts, earthworks and watchtowers. At its core, in the late second century, the 550km frontier also featured either a three-metre high wall or a palisade fence. Archaeologists suggest it would have been painted white.

Even to the fearsome Germanic tribes – who in 9AD inflicted the bloodiest defeat ever suffered by the Roman Army, at the Battle of Teutoburg Forest – the Limes Germanicus was a formidable physical and psychological barrier.

In 2005 it was inscribed as part of the same transnational Frontiers of the Roman Empire UNESCO World Heritage Site as Hadrian’s Wall, which runs across northern England from Solway Firth to the aptly named Wallsend.

The reconstructed Roman fortlet at Pohl.
The reconstructed Roman fortlet at Pohl.

2. You can climb a Roman style tower

More than 900 watchtowers along the Limes Germanicus once provided the Roman Army’s sentries with elevated lookout posts over the rolling Germanic countryside.

In 2002 a 12-metre tall Roman-style watchtower was constructed 10 metres from the foundations of an original tower. It stands in countryside near Idstein, a picturesque town at the intersection of the German Limes Route and the German Timber-Frame Road.

Climbing the tower’s three storeys gives you fine views over the surrounding countryside. It also hosts a compact museum holding a handful of archaeological finds. You can even let loose the big kid inside of you. Go on, pull on the 8.1kg chainmail vest, a replica of those worn by Roman auxiliaries along the frontier, pick up one of the shields that weigh in at 4.5kg, hold a sword in one hand and snap a selfie using the other.

Reconstructed Roman tower near Idstein .
Reconstructed Roman tower near Idstein.

3. There’s beer galore along the route

We don’t condone drink driving here at MannedUp.com. However, after you’ve parked up for the night there are plenty of opportunities to taste local brews in moderation.

If the weather’s fine you can sit in the beer garden of the Brauhaus Bad Homburg, whose specialities include a whiskey-smoke beer and a springtime wheat beer. The kitchen prepares dishes typical of the Hesse region. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to try the green sauce made with fresh herbs.

The Roter Ochsen in Ellwangen is another guesthouse that brews its own beers and serves hearty Swabian fayre. The beers, unfortunately, are rarely found for sale outside of a radius of around 30km of the brewery.

Beer served in Ellwangen an der Jagst,
Beer served in Ellwangen an der Jagst.

4. You can tuck into Roman-style cuisine

As the Roman Empire crumbled a man named Apicius jotted down what went into Roman recipes but, unfortunately, not the amounts.

You can taste a number of dishes inspired by his historic recipes at the Taberna café inside of Saalburg Roman Fort. The dishes include platters featuring herby sausages and sweet mushrooms.

So long as you’re not driving, wash it down with mulsum, a honey-sweetened blend of white wine and herbs.

The fortlet at Pohl also has a restaurant serving Roman-style food.

Roman-style food, inspired by Apicius and served at Saalburg near Bad Homburg.
Roman-style food, inspired by Apicius and served at Saalburg near Bad Homburg.

5. You can see gladiators in combat

The reconstruction of the Roman Fort at Saalburg began back in 1897 after Germany’s Kaiser Wilhelm II provided the necessary patronage. A statue of a much earlier emperor, Antonius Pius, stands frozen in salute outside the fort’s main gate. Saalburg provides visitors with an idea of how a Roman fort would have looked around 1,800 years ago.

Regular events are held in the fort throughout the summer. Volunteers don costumes to convey aspects of life during Roman times. You might hear musicians playing Roman-style instruments or see men in gladiatorial gear brandishing their weapons.

If history has taught us anything it’s that the Germans will make a good fist of driving forward to the final of the Euro 2016 football tournament this summer. Are you, in the meantime, up for driving on the German Limes Route?

See the German National Tourist Board website for more details of scenic driving routes and ideas for holidays in Germany.

A volunteer in costume at the Saalburg Roman Fort.
A volunteer in costume at the Saalburg Roman Fort.


  1. Patricia McQillam says:

    I’d like to say thanks for your post about the German Limes Route. My husband and I were inspired to drive it and spent 14 wonderful days in Germany as a result. The fort at Saalburg was a particular highlight and bathing in Bavaria was also very good.

  2. Sharon Livingstone says:

    I’d like to find driver and share a road trip along the German Limes Route.

  3. Roxy Andrews says:

    Thanks for these reasons to drive the scenic German Limes Route. I enjoy visiting your site.

  4. Danny Stone says:

    I’m not normally one to comment on websites but this prompted me to spend a week driving in Germany. Danke as they say over there.

  5. Selena Wade says:

    I think some of the other scenic driving routes of Germany are more fun to drive along.

  6. Jonny Dawes says:

    If you’re driving this route and interested in art it will be worth making a stop in Dusseldorf. I was very impressed with the galleries in the city.

  7. James Mann says:

    We drove the route from west to east this springtime. I highly recommend it…and don’t forget to take a camera!

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