My husband and I will be in Milan in October and would like to take 4 or 5 days to go into Germany and Belgium to tour the Battle of the Bulge and the Remagen bridge. They appear to be with 145 miles of each other. Can you please help me where we fly into, is here a central location we can stay or will we need to stay in two different towns? We do not speak German so we are hoping we can get by with English? Is there one tour company that can do both locations? We have never been to Europe so it feels very intimidating!
The main town involved in the Bulge is Bastogne. It’s fairly small and at most will take a day to see everything related to the battle there. As for Remagen, there’s a museum there, but not much else. Just those two places isn’t enough to fill 4 or 5 days. If coming from Milan, you could fly into Frankfurt, Cologne, or Bonn as they are somewhat close to those sites. There are a lot of nice places to see in that area, so conduct some research to find some additional places you may want visit. I assume you’ll have a rental car.
I don't know about Bastogne, but I agree that the Remagen bridge is not worth the detour getting there alone. There is really not much to see there. However you could combine it with a trip along the middle Rhine Gorge, the scenic, castle filled part between Bingen and Koblenz.
I would pair these two sites along with a visit to some town along the Rhine river for a night or two. I think you could fly into either Frankfurt or Cologne and rent a car. My husband and I did this with our kids and neither of us speak German and it was fine. It was his first trip to Europe and he found driving to be easy especially since he was well prepared. If we could do that trip with kids I’m sure you can as well!
I went to Remagen once as a teen and took my kids a few years ago. My grandfather was still alive then and it was important for my kids to see Remagen since he was part of the 9th Armored Division that discovered the bridge was still standing. We enjoyed an afternoon lunch there and walked along the river and spent some time in the museum. It was time well spent. We spent the night in Rudesheim.
My parents awent back a few years ago with my brother. They had a rental car and after visiting Remagen for a day and night, they went to Luxembourg and did a Bulge tour with Roby Clam (sp?). That guide structured his tour around where my grandfather had been during the Battle of the Bulge.
Hope this helps! Happy Travels!
In Luxembourg City (just southeast, towards the airport) is an American military Cemetary where General George Patton is buried, with his men. Car or bus.
Luxembourg (Findel) Airport is most convenient to Bastogne and the Battle of the Ardennes (Battle of the Bulge) area, much more convenient than the airports in the prior message. Luxembourg is also on the train line.
Diekirch in the countryside of Luxembourg has an excellent Battle of the Bulge museum staffed only by local volunteers. It tells the story of the battles from the point of view of all the parties, the Allies, the Germans and the local residents. It is very moving and extremely well done. Diekirch is served by both the trains and buses of the excellently coordinated Luxembourg railway system CFL. Car parking there is easy too. Dioramas with sound are excellent. Signs are in English.
I agree that there is very little to see at Remagen, WWII related; the area itself is nice enough though.
I agree with the others that flying into Frankfurt or Cologne works best. To visit Bastogne, you will probably need a car. There is no train service and most of the battle sites are outside the city, so public transportation just doesn't work very well. There is an new museum in Bastogne covering the battle that is excellent--be sure to spend several hours there. Around the city are many sites, including a foxhole dug by Easy Company made famous by Band of Brothers. I'd recommend hiring a guide for the day to take you around. If you're looking for a place to stay, I'd recommend Hotel Wagon Leo, which is in the city center and also has a fabulous restaurant. By the way, Bastogne is in the French-speaking part of Belgium--but they are used to Americans so don't worry about just speaking English.
The Remagen bridge is a bit of a disappointment, but I haven't been there since the museum opened, so it may be more worthwhile now.
I also agree that visiting the Rhine castles and cruising the river would be a good addition to your trip. Good luck.
I have been working on a trip to Bastogne without a car. You can take a train to Libramont, and then catch a bus to Bastogne. Full disclosure - have not yet done this!
I absolutely want to second all the great things that have been said about Bastogne, Diekirche, and the Luxembourg Military Cemetery. They were all fantastic. I would also like to point out that there is a large battle memorial in Bastogne built by the Belgians to thank America. It's in the shape of a star and about the size of the Lincoln Memorial. You can climb to the top (~3 stories?) and look at the town and battlefield in every direction. In the Diekirche military museum, look for the American flag made during the occupation from stolen Nazi flags. They also have professional researchers on staff if you have specific military questions about units, history, etc.
Bastogne is about 1-1.5 hours from Lux City, with Diekirche in the middle, which itself is worth a day or 2 for the casements and that cemetery. It can also be used as a home base to day trip to Trier, another great destination I highly enjoyed, and where pretty much everyone spoke English. (I was also intimidated a little, not speaking German, but it was not a problem.) There is a special train ticket deal, too, if you want to try this.
The official languages of Luxembourg are Luxembourgish, German, and French, but only 1 person I met didn't speak English. She worked in a new Luxembourg Resistance museum in Esch, a city on its French border, and was sad that she couldn't communicate very well (my French speaking ability is shaky at best) because she was so excited to finally meet an American. She said that both countries are still incredibly grateful for America's efforts in WW2 and love to meet Americans, no matter who is President and no matter what we think about how the world sees us. Hope you have a great trip.