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12 Day Germany itinerary review?

Hiya! Wife and I are headed to Germany for 12 days. Early 30s non-german speaking, interested in ww2 history, culture, beer, food, etc. The usual stuff. If anything we're more into culture/people/food/beer than history and art. Any suggestions are appreciated. Flights and lodging is booked but lodging can be flexible if need be. The main thing I think we might be missing is Rothenburg but it just seemed the wrong direction.

Fly into Munich, 3 nights via AirBerlin
We arrive at the tail end of Octoberfest. Somehow my wife snagged a reservation for 2 at the Käfer Wiesn tent for one of the last afternoons. I hear that's kind of a unique tent when compared to the other ones. We will go for our late afternoon reservation and probably spend another one of our 3 afternoons checking the fest out generally. Wife has a dirndl she borrowed, I don't want to haul lederhosen around the whole time so was just going to wear a checked shirt and khakis or something. That ok?
Also plan to do the rick steves walking tour, see the marienplatz, victualmerket, English garden. We're seeing some palaces later so were thinking of skipping the residenz, nymphenberg, etc. Is that a mistake?

Day 4 leave Munich, pick up rental car
drive to dachau, down to kloster andechs to de-stress and have a beer, night in Fussen.

5 - go to Neuschwanstein EXTERIOR ONLY - ride up to the bridge, see the sights, hike down.
later see Ettal monastery and do the complete tour at Linderhof (don't see need to see 2 castles in one day and here Linderhof is more interesting?
night in Mittenwald - we like getting away from the bigger cities once in awhile.

6 - take our time driving on/near alpenstrasse, see some views/lakes, hit a small town for lunch (Tegernsee?) head east and do tour of Herrenchimesee in the afternoon. night in Berchtesgaden. On Day 5 or 6 maybe do the quick hike in paternach gorge?

  1. Hit documentation center and eagle's nest, skip konigsee probably, return our rental car in freilassing just across border from Salzburg, hopefully get to Salzburg with a good amount of the afternoon left to get a feel for the city, ride the funicular.

8-12 Berlin - after a morning in Salzburg quick afternoon flight to berlin. compared to the rest of the trip seems like we're spending a good amount of time there. considering staying at the Radisson for a central location, is that good? Not really sure of what to do for the 4 days but we wanted to slow pace down towards end of trip. Is Potsdam worth a visit?

Anyway that's the loose plan, would welcome constructive criticism, suggested stops/alterations, etc. Really looking forward to it! Thanks,

Andy

Posted by
5495 posts

"If anything we're more into culture/people/food/beer than history and art."

I think your travel plans are somewhat at odds with your goals. I understand that it's easier and more natural to put together an itinerary based on specific historical sights and museums than it is to focus on the things you're really interested in. You seem to realize you need "to slow pace down towards end of trip." But that's because you plan on zooming around from sight to sight and town to town on days 4 through 7. Food and beer are of course everywhere. So how do you get to the less tangible culture/people thing? The people you'll be with in the big cities will be O'festers (not a bad crowd necessarily but surely inebriated,) hotel personnel (often immigrants) that serve tourists (often foreigners,) and fellow tourists to some extent. It won't be much different in Mittenwald or Füssen or Berchtesgaden unless you've booked in a small family-run inn or B&B, or on a farm. And the fact that you're moving on after just one night, and spending a lot of time driving around, makes contact with locals even trickier.

"Is Potsdam worth a visit?" Sure. But does another sight help you meet your goals?

" Not really sure of what to do for the 4 days (in Berlin)..."

Alright, so that settles it then. Drop Berlin. See the sights that interest you in Munich and in Southern Germany/Salzburg. After that, stay put somewhere for 3-4 days and fly out of Munich. My suggestion: book an apartment or a B&B in a small, family-run place for 3+ nights in rural Bavaria somewhere. Bavaria is HUGE, and there are MANY farmers and small-town innkeepers that would love to meet you, feed you breakfast in their family dining room, chat with you and maybe show you around their farm or their winery, or maybe their neighborhood, so you have lots of choices. This page shows just a handful of the numerous options but has lots of photos and feel to it:
http://www.bensbauernhof.com/accommodationsbavaria.html

Another site: http://english.bauernhof-urlaub.com/stay-by-region/franconia/

Of course you can still do outings from your rural base. But you aren't tied to an itinerary and can explore neighboring towns at will and return "home" whenever you like.

One great area to book in is within shooting distance of Bad Windsheim's Franconian Freilandmuseum - yes, a museum, but one where you get to see how Ranconian Bavarians have lived over the past 6 centuries. It's wonderful. Besides the many homes, barns, other buildings, and furnishings you'll see, there's a brewery and a couple of historical restaurants with food from the past.

Some cautions...

  • German law says you must pay for any room you advance book whether you cancel or not - UNLESS there is a specific cancellation policy in place. Ask specifically about cancellation consequences.
  • DUI laws are serious. Don't do beer and driving. You might look into using trains for your itinerary on days 4-7 instead. Same with the rural stay suggestion afterward... Franconia btw has the largest concentration of small breweries per square mile in all of Germany, and it would be a shame to forego a brew just because you've gotten stuck with a car.
  • An itinerary heavy with Nazi sites will probably mischaracterize German culture in favor of the stereotypes we already have in our heads. Nazis were awful. They do not represent the German culture.

http://www.frankentourismus.com/catalogs/tvf_blaetterkatalog_bierbroschuere_2010-e/index.html

Pick a town with a rail station and enjoy a beer where you like - it's even OK to consume on the trains.

Note that trains offer a chance for contact with locals as well. Most Germans speak great English.

Posted by
287 posts

You are right, save Rothenburg for another trip. It is way out of your way.

If you have the time, I would not skip the Königsee. There is a hike to the Obersee that the scenery is amazing. It was my favorite part of Berchtesgaden.

Visit Potsdam and the palace Sanssouci. Both are worth it.

I did a summer program in college where the last two weeks of classes were in Berlin. I would hit the KaDeWe (Kaufhaus Des Westens) it is a huge department store which was fun to see. Along that street are a lot of shops and the Kaiser Wilhelm Remembrance Church. I really enjoyed the East Side Gallery, which was what was left of the Wall. We also listened to a Organ Recital in Der Dom which was amazing. I didn't make it to Checkpoint Charlie so that is on my list when we go back.

On our last trip, we were in Stuttgart and went to a concert. It was really fun to see how different a concert was in the US vs Germany. We had a blast. That might be something to consider in Berlin.

Posted by
3 posts

Thanks Russ
Maybe I didn't word it properly - we don't really know what to do in Berlin insofar as we haven't narrowed down the options but we are definitely interested in seeing the city. I'm interested in a few cold war/ww2 sites. Also while some parts of our trip are flexible our flight from Salzburg to Berlin is not...You may very well be right that some more time in the country would've been better but while our daily itinerary is pretty open we are pretty much locked in with Berlin.
We usually don't like to zoom around as much but our 2 days headed east from Fussen are our attempt to cut down on driving but seeing a few things during the day then having a beer/seeing the town at night once the car is parked.
Thank you for the suggestions!

Susan I will rethink Konigsee, maybe we'll have time. Will consider your Berlin suggestions as well. Thank you!

Posted by
2058 posts

https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/trip-reports/2-5-week-trip-to-germany-and-austria

First of all, I suggest you read this excellent trip report of someone's recent trip to Germany to visit WWII history and sites. He spent 8 nights in Berlin and had some fascinating experiences and hired private guides to focus on his interests. He is very knowledgeable and I think you can gain valuable information reading his report.

Best of luck on planning your trip.
Judy B

Posted by
12759 posts

Drop Rothenburg and Mittenwald, spend the time in Potsdam instead.

Posted by
6508 posts

Can you drop the rental car in Berchtesgaden? Its so easy to get to Salzburg from there. Saves a day of rental.

Posted by
20797 posts

I loved Berlin for its World War II and Cold War sites, and I'm sure you will, too. I found I needed quite a lot of time at each spot because of my serious interest, so I'd suggest prioritizing and trying to get to your top choices early while still putting together an itinerary that makes sense logistically. I don't think you'll be able to see everything in four days even if you do nothing except the 20th century historical sites, but you can cover a lot.

I found both the DDR Museum and the House at Checkpoint Charlie very interesting, but they were seriously crowded. Perhaps going during the dinner hour (I am not kidding) would be a good move. These are commercial operations rather than government-run museums, but I found them still very worthwhile. There's a smaller/cheaper place near Checkpoint Charlie (BlackBox Cold War) that was not nearly as interesting to me; definitely not worth the time if you are also going to the House at CC. If your time is too limited to include the House at CC, BlackBox Cold War would be a decent option.

The former Stasi prison Gedenkenstätte Berlin Hohenshönhausen is fascinating and very highly recommended. If the website comes up in German, click on "Deutsch" in the top banner and you'll be able to change to English. There is an English-language tour (sometimes led by a former prisoner) that is quite good, but if that doesn't fit with your schedule, some of the same information can be gleaned from the on-site museum; there is a lot of English-language explanatory material. Even if you take the tour, the museum is interesting, but doing the tour and carefully perusing the museum could easily consume 3 hours. The prison is ENE of central Berlin and can be reached by tram (perhaps the M5, but it might have been M6; verify!), then there's a decent walk, probably at least 1/2 mile.

I don't know how often this relatively new museum is mentioned in guidebooks. I learned about it last year on TripAdvisor, where there was also information in one of the posts about which tram to take--useful, because one of the trams had been re-routed for some reason. The place is not hard to find once you determine which tram to take, but it's awkwardly located vis-à-vis other sights, so it might be worth considering a taxi on the way out, pricey though it might be. The memorial has a small café with prepared food and cold drinks.

Posted by
513 posts

If you are really interested in Cold War sights, then you ought to make the easy jaunt out to see the Luftbruche in front of the main entrance to the old Templehof Airfield. You can get there easily by public transportation - either the U-bahn of a city bus. It commemorates the Berlin airlift of the late 1940's. It represents the Berlin end of the Air Bridge the Allis formed to bring supplies into the Russian blockaded city of Berlin. The other half or end of the Bridge is in front of the main gate to the old RhineMain Air Base outside Frankfurt.

Posted by
635 posts

The former Stasi prison Gedenkenstätte Berlin Hohenshönhausen is fascinating and very highly recommended.

Another vote for this. We toured the prison in 2009 with a guide who had been a prisoner, for the crime of trying to leave the country. It is jarring to come upon the prison in the middle of a cheerful suburban residential neighborhood.

As for Third-Reich-era history in Munich, the city's website offers free downloadable brochures, maps and audioguides for thematic walks tracing the history of Nazism there.

Posted by
3 posts

Thanks for the responses all! Will check out some of the suggested sites.

Stan, returning the rental car a day early was a good idea, but after I read your post I looked and apparently there isn't a Hertz location in Berchtesgaden.