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Help with Germany itinerary

Hello everyone,

I would appreciate your insight into our Germany itinerary for April '14 (2 weeks). We will be travelling with our 2 boys, ages 12 and 10, and we have a total of 6 nights that we'll spend in Germany. We arrive in Barcelona for the first 3 nights of our trip, then spend the next 3 nights in Paris, following by the next 6 nights within Germany, and our final night in Zurich, where our flight departs.

I'm having a hard timing breaking down our stay in Germany, we would like to spend 2 nights in the Fussen area (last 2 days of our stay in Germany), 2 nights within the Rhine Valley (including Rothenburg o.d.T) that Rick Steves speaks of in his book (it has to be nights 3 and 4 of our stay in Germany because we want to spend our 20th wedding anniversary in Hotel Castle Liebenstein, which we are very excited about)... So that leaves us nights 1 and 2... we could spend it in the Trier region (Porta Nigra, Roman coliseum, etc), we thought of Cologne but it's further North and not sure if it's worth it with children, we like nature, trying to avoid big cities (we briefly visited Berlin last year with the boys)...

Any ideas you can provide?

Those nights 1 and 2 could be somewhere in France too, if the destination is the right one... But Germany seems to be the more appropriate option to make it a more direct itinerary.

Thank you in advance!
PS: We purchased the eurail pass for all the countries we're visiting for the whole family.

Posted by
7689 posts

I think if you get out a map and connect some of the dots between Paris, Fussen, Trier, the Rhine, Rothenburg, etc. you will see how you need to travel and which direction to go. Rothenburg for one thing, is no where near the Rhine and all of the castles. Then go to the Deutsche Bahn website and see how long it takes to get from point A. to point B. This will help you figure out what to do, where to go and how long to stay there. You will also see some other towns in between that fit in well with your travel directions, interests and time

Your boys would love exploring Burg Rhinefels, so consider a stop in St. Goar. Across the river is the Marksburg which they would also enjoy touring. In Rüdesheim, there is a chair lift that is fun to ride up to the top of the Niederwald Monument.

Posted by
12040 posts

Go to Rothenburg if time allows and you're passing by anyway. If not, skip it. Despite all of Mr. Steves' gushing, it isn't nearly as unique as touted. Because you're taking the train, and Rothenburg sits at on a peripheral spur line, it probably won't fit well at all with the limited amount of time you'll have in Germany.

Posted by
111 posts

If you're coming from Paris, Colmar makes a good stopping point, smaller and cuter than Strasbourg. Or, I think kids would love the big swim baths in Baden-Baden (either the nude one or the not-nude one) and the town also has nearby hikes or a hilltop gondola ride that can get you into nature.

You need to decide soon and to reserve seats ASAP on TGV trains both to and from Paris, since the number of seats is limited for Eurailpass travelers. Spain-France TGV reservations are not available on Rail Europe's web site until after March 14, so you'll probably have to call them at 800-438-7245.

Posted by
5000 posts

I think what Ms. Jo in essence has articulated so diplomatically is that your time will be stretched very very thin with this itinerary even without Trier. With Zurich as your final destination a trip from Füssen you are looking at spending 6 hours or so just to get there. Working backwards, your trip from Rothenburg to Füssen will consume 5 hours of another day. Kamp-Bornhofen to Rothenburg is 4.5 - 5 hours.

My advice is to evaluate how important it is for you to pursue this extreme travel loop for Rothenburg and Füssen. I tend to think of the well-trodden R'burg and N'stein route as "frosting" on the cake of German destinations - places where you see close up the already well-known subjects of glossy photo photography but that in reality are a lot of fluff. Neuschwanstein offers a 30-minute guided tour of a late 19th-century palace - a unique one - but it's not a castle. Rothenburg is a handsome old-world town - but there are many other such towns that you might visit that would require much less travel and that are not as overwhelmed by hypertourism. You'll find LOTS of real castles, palaces and old-world villages if you stay with a Trier/Mosel - Rhine - Zürich route and have lots more time to spend exploring them...

Jo has mentioned Rheinfels and Marksburg - great choices.
Cochem (after Trier) offers a free-flight falconry show at Reichsburg Castle:
Trainer with bird
The castle

You could cover the entire Kamp-Bornhofen to Zürich route with a total of 6 train hours and explore towns of interest with an overnight stop somewhere on the way:
Linz am Rhein (actually a bit north of Kamp-Bornhofen and Koblenz)
Oberwesel (near Kamp-Bornhofen across the river)
Ladenburg (near Heidelberg)
Gengenbach (Black Forest walled town near Offenburg)
Schwetzingen Palace (near Mannheim)
Freiburg (nice city.)

Posted by
90 posts

Thanks so much for the advice!
The last thing we want is to stretch out our boys so thin, that they become discouraged to travel to Europe again.
This is our second trip to Europe with the boys, first one was last year and it included Switzerland only (German, French, and Italian towns); unfortunately it was overcast and cloudy every single day of our stay, however, we loved it (specially Lauterbrunnen).

We don't mind the somewhat chilly temperatures, as long as the sun is out :)

This is a learning trip for our boys, not in the traditional sense of book learning, but rather learning by seeing and experiencing different cultures, different languages, the whole point of this is to broaden their horizons...

I will consider every bit of advice given... Thank you!