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17 Day Southern Germany Tour- Need Help with Itinerary!

Hi everyone! My husband and I are planning an 17 day tour of Southern Germany (and a bit of Austria) next spring and I could use some help with the itinerary and some input as to whether my connection times and stops are appropriate.

We plan to fly in to Frankfurt, rent a car, and then return the car in Munich about halfway through the trip, taking trains from then on. Here's what I've come up with so far:

Day 1- Fly in to Frankfurt, spend night in Bacharach
Day 2- Rhine Cruise, See St. Goar, castle, etc. Stay in Bacharach
Day 3- Half day in Trier, stay in Bellstein
Day 4- Burg Eltz castle, stay in Bellstein
Day 5- Drive to Baden-Baden, Roman baths, stroll around, stay in Baden-Baden
Day 6- Drive to Fuessen, stopping at Black Forest and Cuckoo Clock museums, stay in Fuessen (I know this will be a long driving day!)
Day 7-Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau, Tegelburg luge, stay in Fuessen
Day 8- (I'm a bit nervous about this day) Linderhof in the morning, drive to Mittenwald for lunch and a quick stop, drive to Munich and return the rental car, take the train to Rothenburg ob der Tauber and stay there.
Day 9- Do the Rothenburg stuff- shopping, museums, walk the walls, etc, stay in Rothenburg
Day 10- Morning train to Nuremberg, see the old town and the castle there (not sure what is the most worth seeing here- we like historical stuff) and catch the train to Flanitz via Zwieslau station. (My husband's ancestors came from Flanitz and it is really important to him to stop here, so even though we will be pretty far out of the way, I'm afraid this stop is non-negotiable.) Stay in Flanitz.
Day 11- Cemetary/church/ancestry stuff (any of you who know this area or know how to track down an ancestors burial place, your input is much appreciated!) Stay in Flanitz.
Day 12- Morning train to Hallstat, stay in Hallstat
Day 13- Relax in Hallstat, maybe see the salt mines, etc, stay in Hallstat
Day 14- Morning train to Salzburg, stop off for a half day in Salzburg and catch a late afternoon train to Munich, stay in Munich
Day 15- Dachau, explore Munich, stay in Munich
Day 16- The Residenz, possibly Nymphenburg, not sure what else
Day 17 -Afternoon flight home from Munich

Does this itinerary seem doable? Would you change it at all? Any places that are more interesting to see? Any stops you might cut?

As a side note, have any of you been to Flanitz or nearby Zwiesel of Frauenau? It doesn't seem to be a big tourism area, at least for Americans, but I'd love to here from anyone who has been.

Posted by
12040 posts

Except for Flanitz, this looks like it comes directly step-for-step out of the Rick Steves Germany book. Allow me to throw a wrench in the works by making recommendations that get rid of some of the outliers.

If you only have time to see one castle on the Rhine, make it Marksburg instead of Rheinfels. Marksburg, like Burg Eltz, was never ruined. However, English language tours are infrequent.

Most of us are less than impressed by Baden-Baden. It's only one of about 100 officially designated spa towns in Germany. Why Mr. Steves zeros in on this one in particular, I don't know. It is nice, but it mainly consists of high-end fashion boutiques. It is near the Black Forest, which offers some nice scenery, but nothing compared to the Alps, which you will see around Füssen, Hallstat and Salzburg. And the Bavarian Forest, which you will see around Flanitz, looks very similar. I think you can easily cut this out completely. True, you won't have time to see the clock museum, but this day looks overall too tight anyway. If you want the German bathing experience, I can make some better recommendations for later in the trip.

I don't understand the logic for day 8. Why drive the car to Munich (the worst place in Germany to have a car) just to get on a train to Rothenburg? Rothenburg itself is not nearly as unique as Mr. Steves claims and is absolutely overrun by the tourist industry. Because it's an outlier, consider adding more time to one of the other destinations. I also think you would be better served time-wise to get lunch in Oberammergau or Garmisch-Partenkirchen, rather than driving all the way to Mittenwald just to eat and turn around.

If you want spend more time in Nürnberg, (and you decide to keep the rental car longer), another bathing option would be Krystall Palm Beach in the nearby town of Stein.

I think you should keep the car for Flanitz, since it looks kind of isolated. You can use it as a base to explore the Bavarian Forest, or pay a visit to Passau or Regensburg. I haven't visited Flanitz, but I have hiked in the Bavarian Forest.

(any of you who know this area or know how to track down an ancestors burial place, your input is much appreciated!)

Ask the local church. This part of Germany wasn't touched by WWII, so there shouldn't be a problem of lost records. However, realize also that graves are not always kept indefinitely in Germany. Once all the closest ancestors have died, often the plot is re-used.

If you decide to keep the rental car longer, turn it in as you drive into Munich.

Finally, another bathing option, and probably the best in the country, is outside of Munich, very close to the airport:

Therme Erding

If you only go to one bathing facility ever in Germany, make it this one.

Posted by
8 posts

Thank you so much for the recommendations! I've never been to Germany so yes, I did take most of my advice from Rick as a jumping off point since I've used some of his suggestions before for other countries, but I am more than willing to do something totally different also.

My main point in hitting Munich on the way to Rothenburg was to return the rental and take trains from there. I've never driven Europe, I've always done the train thing so a rental kind of scares me. But after reading your reply and a little more research I think you are right, it would probably be more practical and economical to just keep the rental until we end in Munich.

I also worried about the isolation of Flanitz and its similarity to the Black Forest area. Your suggestion to cut that part completely makes sense. If I were to do that, would you go from the Mosel directly to Fussen or change up the route and go to Nuremberg next and see Fuessen later in the trip?

Would you say Nuremberg or Wurzberg are better options than Rothenburg? I'd like to see something with a similar vibe to Rothenburg somewhere along the trip.

Thanks again! You really helped me!

Posted by
13220 posts

I do have a suggestion on the ancestral part of your search. Do some good leg work ahead of time and you may be shocked at what is available on microfilm. I am a novice genealogist and had the opportunity to do a program for beginners recently thru Road Scholar at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. I had the name and location of some ancestors who immigrated from the Wurttemberg area in 1753. The Family History Library actually had microfilm of the records from their local church going back to 1660. I found birth and marriage records for my 5th Great Grandfather and Grandmother and found marriage records for the 6th Great Grandfather.

There may be a Family History Center near you. These are open to the public (you don't need to be LDS to access the information) and you can get free help there for your research. If you can pinpoint church records and they are on microfilm your local center can order them for you from the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. You can then make photocopies of the pages of the register. There are also some online cheat sheets on the site to help you with reading the old German script.

Posted by
12040 posts

If you cut the Black Forest out and keep the car, then it would be reasonable to hit Rothenburg on the way to Nüremberg from the Rhine/Mosel. Now, it would be much less of an outlier and it fits in the overall flow better. If you still want other alternatives along the way, you could consider Seligenstadt, Miltenberg, Dinkelsbühl or Nördlingen. But Rothenburg is now a perfectly reasonable option.

Posted by
18941 posts

I spent three nights in Zwiesel in 2012 and visited a couple of the wildlife preserves in the Bayerischer Wald Nat. Park. No, it's not a big vacation spot for Americans, but popular with the Germans, who've never seen a wild animal bigger than a squirrel. In addition to the various preserves, the town is noted for glass blowing and steam brewed beer.

By the way, the station you want is Zwieselau (Zwiesel-au). I can't find Au in any German dictionary, but I did find it in a Bayerisch (Bavarian dialect) dictionary. It means a meadow or pasture. There are a lot of towns in Bavaria/Schwaben ending in -au.

I was on that rail line. It goes from Zwiesel to Graffenau; I got off at Spiegelau, to take a bus to one of the preserves.

There are train connections (change in Plattling and Zwiesel) from Nürnberg to Zwieselau every two hours, with a 4 minute change in Zwiesel. No problem; Zwiesel's basically a 2 platform station. There is even a connection leaving Nürnberg at 10:30 that goes directly from Plattling to Zwieselau without a change of trains in Zwiesel.

There are also occasional buses from Zwiesel Bahnhof to Flanitz.

Here is the station layout for Zwieselau. The Bahn site says that the train stops at Zwieselau only by request. You'll probably have to signal some way that you want to get off (pull a cord, press a button?), or tell the conductor in Zwiesel. Zwieselau is pr. Tsvee-zel-ow.

Posted by
3696 posts

I was also going to suggest keeping the car longer and forget so many train trips. I love the town of Dinkelsbuhl near Rothenberg and it is easier to park in at a hotel if you stayed overnight. I would just keep the car and drive to Salzburg... it is a beautiful drive and nice views of the Alps. You won't need it for Salzburg, but I have always stayed at hotels that had parking. Then drive to Munich, drop car at the airport and fly out. I think you might regret only a half day in Salzburg... it is charming.
I think you will find driving in Germany to be fine. Just read the rules of the road and be sure to stay in the right lane on the freeway unless you are passing. Signage is good, but have a good map so you can look at the next town on your route.

Posted by
8 posts

Thank you all so much for your advice! I'm thinking it is much more logical to do a trip from Frankfurt to the Rhine, doubling back to the Nuremberg area and use either there, Werzberg, or Bamberg as a base to see Rothenburg and some of these other lovely towns you've all mentioned. Then from there we'll continue on to Flanitz, Hallstat, Salzburg, Fuessen and Munich. I'm not sure of the logistics of the Nuremberg area yet but I am glad to be able to include those now as I was a little bummed with my last itinerary that I couldn't see them.

Any recommendations about which city would be best to use as a base since we'll have the car?

Thanks for all the help, you all have been so great!

Posted by
18941 posts

Looking at Google Maps at Flanitz, the only accommodations shown is Gästehaus Rachelblick. Is that where you are staying? Google Maps says it is 1/3 mi walking distance to there from the Zwieselau train stop.

I don't see anything that looks like a church in Flanitz. There is probably a church in Frauenau. There is also a road leading out of Frauenau to Flanitz called Flanitzer Kirchweg (Church way), so I thought there might be a church somewhere on it, but I don't see anything. You might write to the city hall in Frauenau at,
Gemeinde Frauenau
Rathausplatz 4
94258 Frauenau

Posted by
12040 posts

It looks like Flanitz has at least a Dorfkapelle. In my experience, though, these small village chapels usually only see use on feast days and special occassions. I doubt they would maintain the parish records there. Assuming your ancestors were Catholic, the larger parish is based out of the Assumption of Mary church in Frauenau. And failing that, the diocese HQ is Passau (a stunningly beautiful Baroque city).

Posted by
18941 posts

Looking at Google Maps, Mariä Himmelfahrt church is where the Hauptstrasse crosses the railroad tracks in Frauenau and sits in the middle of a fairly extensive cemetery. It's address is
Kirchweg 13
94258 Frauenau

Posted by
8772 posts

There are plenty of towns with a similar vibe to Rothenburg. If you are using Frankfurt as a hub, you could visit Büdingen. The near-by Gelnhausen and the castle Ronnerburg are also worth visiting. Ronneburg is original, never been bombed or burned. Same with Büdingen. They were even spared in the 30 years war in the 1600's.
Suggest booking a private tour for about 51 euro in Büdingen because then you get to go inside the city walls and up on the massive guard towers and the Hexen Turm.