Looking for travel tips (5 days in Germany) for a fun, adventurous, social trip for family traveling with 2 early twenty year old men (highly athletic, and social). Ideas of popular places for twenty somethings, as well as family activities. Interested in castles, pubs, and must see historical places.
I'd say Munich. It has something for everybody, easy inexpensive train transport using Bayern tickets for out of town day trips. Pubs galore, palaces, BMW museum, Salzburg, Neuschwanstein, and more.
I agree with Sam. It's Munich. I generally don't like big cities, but I love Munich.
If you want to see an authentic castle, not a 19th century reproduction, take the train to Burghausen.
Try googling 'fun forest' for an activity the guys might like
I loved Berlin, going back next year.
What do you mean by a "social trip" exactly??
Your sons are going on a 5-day trip with their parents that must include "castles, pubs, and must see historical places. " I can address that part.
Munich and Berlin are short on castles. Sansoucci is an 18th-century palace, not a castle. It is however an easy daytrip from Berlin Munich has the Residenz and Nymphenburg palaces - but no castles of any import. From Munich you can travel 4.5 hours round trip to Burghausen for a castle, as Lee has suggested. You can spend even longer day tripping to Neuschwanstein - but it's a late 19th century palace, not a castle. If "historical places" means old-world buildings, well, both Berlin and Munich are short on old-world buildings too; both were virtually flattened 70 years ago.
I think you'd be clever to target Nuremberg. Nuremberg is on the "Castle Road" - it has a genuine castle and a nice old town zone with lots of atmosphere: NUREMBERG PHOTO
Nuremberg is a university town with a large number of pubs: NUREMBERG BEER HALLS AND BEER GARDENS
Like Berlin, Nuremberg is a portal to WW II history and offers lots to see and do: NUREMBERG - THINGS TO DO
Nuremberg is small enough to tour on foot too.
The other cool thing about Nuremberg is the large number of daytrips you can make from there. Like Munich - just 1 hour away on the ICE train. Or like Bamberg, just 45 min. from Nuremberg, another university town, with its incredibly well-preserved old town, its Rauchbier, and its brew-pub restaurants:
BAMBERG TI WEBSITE
Bamberg's Altenburg Castle is now a restaurant: Altenburg
Other destinations within daytrip distance from Nuremberg include Würzburg (Residenz and Marienberg Fortress,)
Rothenburg, Bayreuth, Regensburg, and Bad Windsheim's Franconian Freilandmuseum (outstanding open-air historical museum): BW FREILANDMUSEUM
We are in the early stages of planning our trip. We plan to fly into Germany and spend about 5 days, from there go to Switzerland for 2-3 days, and then Italy for 6 days. What I meant by "social" was that I thought it would be fun for the guys to go off on their own every now and then, and experience activities with local kids their age (perhaps some nightlife). They also are athletic and will probably want to do physically active things, they both run and lift weights regularly, and they appreciate watching a variety of sports.
We appreciate museums, art, live music, and outdoor hikes as well.
So again, it looks like Munich. Close to Switzerland as well.
For the record... Nuremberg has a nice old town area, one that I have visited myself on numerous occasions. The city was an important target and heavily bombed as well - that's neither a secret, nor a contradiction to my comments - but what did survive of Nuremberg's old-world tangled streets, though a fairly small part of Nuremberg's total area, provides a most enjoyable ambiance.
And the pubs, the castle, the Nazi Documentation Center, and the day trips are not a matter of fantasy either.
For two young men in their 20s, and you're headed to points south next... no question about it, Munich. It has a large university and young adult population. Provided they don't pull out the frat-boy routine, they'll have ample opportunity to socialize in the Biergartens, beer halls, restaurants, etc. If they want to get some jogging in on vacation, there's a trail that runs along the Issar river.
Re. Nuremberg. The city before WW2:
Old Nuremberg doesn't exist anymore. It was the most beautiful German city, a medieval dream on a par with Prague and Florence. Todays old town is a collection of postwar boxes without roofs, turrets, alcoves and all the little details. Only the old street pattern was preserved.
I'm going to disagree with Martin on that point. Yes, Nürnberg took a pummeling in WWII, and had to undergo massive post-war rebuilding. The old historical core is about half-and-half, meaning half the buildings are restored to something resembling their pre-war state, and the other half are purely modern (but not ugly at all). Large portions of the Stadtmauer (city wall), with it's towers and turrets, remain intact. I haven't seen any other city of a similar size that has retained so much of it's old wall. So no, it's not as well preserved as, say Brugge or Prague, but neither is it a complete bottom-up rebuild like Warsaw or Dresden either. Worth a visit, although I think for what the poster has in mind, Munich would be a better fit for the young men.
I have a couple of college-age nephew-athletes. If their (equally sports-focused) dad were planning a first-visit, 5-day stay in Bavaria for his family, he probably WOULD build the trip around stuff like weight-rooms, golf-courses, TV with ESPN feed, and tickets for spectator sports - and he might even concern himself with the details of his boys' nightlife needs.
But I would probably remind him that international travel is mostly about dropping, or at least amending, your own routine and culture for a brief period so as to experience a bit of the target culture.
I'd advise him to base his destination choices mostly on the things their family could see and do in Germany that are unique to Germany, things that they will never experience back home. His sons could stay in shape with a morning run pretty much anywhere in Germany. They could go out for an evening beer and to socialize pretty much anywhere as well (neither Berlin, nor Munich, nor Nuremberg is a backwater. I'd tell him that his family would enjoy a completely novel routine in Germany, and that he should select destinations based not on their old routine, but on other factors. There are only so many personal-lifestyle variables that are worth considering for 5 days.
In other words... even though Nuremberg, with its relatively strong student presence, might offer more chances for interaction with like-age German adults than Munich's tourist-filled pubs, I think such an edge is not a core consideration for what might just be a final family trip, one of very limited time.
I would also say Berlin and Munich. Both have great sights for the day and then offer beer halls or clubs in the evening. Munich one could also do a bike tour, visit the English gardens, BMW museum or take a day trip to Neuschwanstein. Berlin has amazing museums, Jewish sights, Check point Charlie, Reichstag. Berlin also offer bike tours for your active adult sons.
I traveled Europe as a twenty-year-old with two girlfriends and a guy friend seven years ago. We chose to visit Berlin when traveling Germany, and none of us regreted it! In fact, when I think back, it is probably one of my favorite European cities. The city is very diverse, one of the friendliest in Europe, energetic and lively, and chocked full of history!
We stayed in a hostel -- the Wombats City Hostel Berlin -- while there: http://www.wombats-hostels.com/berlin/. You might consider letting your boys spend at least one night there away from Mom and Dad. The hostel is really quite nice and modern, and it has a bar and deck on the roof. We met a lot of really wonderful people from a variety of different countries there. It was a lot fun, and a surprisingly educational and perspective-building experience!
While in Berlin, we also really enjoyed the free walking tour through NEW Europe Tours: http://www.newberlintours.com/daily-tours.html. The tour guide was amazing... both entertaining and educational. You could probably even send the boys off on their own to do this, meet folks, and explore the city. We also did the Sachsenhausen Memorial tour and Pub Crawl through NEW Europe. The Sachsenhausen tour was extremely eye-opening. Sachsenhausen was a concentration camp that "housed" both Jews and suspected Communists during WWII. It is located right in the heart of a beautiful suburban neighborhood, much of which existed during the war. Really speaks to the times! If your boys have a good handle on their own limits, the Pub Crawl could be a lot of fun! If they lean towards the "frat boy" side, you might consider skipping this! It was a lot of fun, and a great opportunity to meet folks from around the world, but I could see some folks easily getting carried away!
We also really enjoyed the Jewish Museum Berlin. Oh! And if you are there during a big soccer game, go to one of the beer gardens! So much fun and a huge cultural experience!
My vote is for Berlin. On my first trip in Germany at 21, I went to both (West) Berlin and Munich. I felt neither could be omitted from the itinerary, but Berlin was way more fascinating to me than Munich, spent almost a week in Berlin staying at a Pension but only three nights in Munich, the max allowed by the HI hostel then.
Your twenty year olds will find Berlin as the party town in Germany, esp in Mitte and Prenzlauer Berg, it they're into that. The area around Berlin Alexanderplatz has a number hostels, the place is swamped with young people
Re. "...must see historical places." I assume that's a set priority. When are you going? Starting in June the German History Museum (the DHM) on Unter den Linden is opening its special exhibit on WW I. If they are devoted and determined history seekers, then I suggest their spending the time in the eastern part of the city, ie, east of the Brandenburg Gate. Eastern Berlin is historical Berlin as respects to the Prussian history, its Jewish history, WW II, post-1945, etc. Lots of sites and museums in the eastern part. On the history even the street names in Berlin are of historical figures and places, which they will recognise.
Nuremberg and Bamburg!