The Romantische Strasse, or Romantic Road, is an appropriately named 285-mile route through the undulating foothills and medieval towns of Bavaria that’s chock-full of cinema-worthy sites. A journey through this scenic region begins near Würzburg, which could perhaps be called deceptively historic: Most of its landmark buildings, such as the Romanesque Würzburg Cathedral, were destroyed during World War II, only to be painstakingly reconstructed later.
The route continues through three towns that have well-preserved medieval walls: Rothenburg ob der Tauber, which was also damaged during World War II but was rebuilt thanks to an influx of international support; Dinkelsbühl, which is home to the largest hall church in the country, St. George’s Minster; and Nördlingen, which provided the aerial scenery at the end of 1971’s Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.
These all pale, however, next to two famous spots at the end of the Romantic Road. Just west of the town of Füssen, Steve McQueen (and stunt double Bud Ekins) filmed one of the most memorable motorcycle stunts of all time, jumping a 12-foot-high barbed-wire fence to evade Nazi pursuers in 1963’s The Great Escape (a film that’s based on a real-life World War II breakout from Stalag Luft III prison). Towering over the east side of town, meanwhile, is the Neuschwanstein Castle (pictured). King Ludwig II of Bavaria commissioned the building in 1868 as an homage to composer Richard Wagner. Even—or especially—when it’s blanketed in snow, it’s easy to see why it draws more than a million visitors a year, and why it inspired one of the most romantic settings in pop culture: Sleeping Beauty’s castle.
If you’re not careful, the Bentley Bentayga Speed may get you to the end of the Romantic Road quicker than you planned. After all, the 2020 Bentayga Speed is the fastest SUV in the world (edging out the Lamborghini Urus), with a 626-horsepower W-12 engine that will push it from zero to 60 mph in just 3.8 seconds, topping out at 190 mph. A revised suspension and optional carbon-ceramic brakes will help ease your worries on a curvy wintertime road, and the diamond-quilted leather and Alcantara seats keep the ride luxurious—even, one might say, romantic. From $235,700, bentleymotors.com