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2 weeks (or more) Germany Road trip Itinerary suggestions

Howdy-
I am going to give as much info as possible to be thorough- I hope it is not too much for all to read through! Thanks for your replies in advance :)

So far I have researched for over 10 hours. I have just over 5 weeks and I decided to explore Germany, Netherlands and Ireland arriving in Germany to Frankfurt March 27th at 8am and flying back to the USA from Dublin in early May.

For the Germany leg I was planning about 2 weeks, 15 Nights, 16.5 ish days (I am adding in 2-3 (apart of the 16) nights in Colmar France that's non negotiable :) I have the option of extending the trip a bit and cutting time in Netherlands. However I am planning two weeks in Ireland for another road trip as well so can not extend Netherlands - but am mainly going here for tulips so feel at least 5 days is a good amount of time (happy to take opinions on that thought as well)

I am planning to drive because I think it will be more convenient than train and not necessarily more expensive. A car for the two weeks is running $400-$482 depending on where I pick it up. But I am concerned about parking. Is it free in most areas? It is readily available? I hope this is a good option!

I am doing a lot of one night, two night options (because I don't see how I can do it any differently) and would not like to book too far out on accommodations but is that a mistake? In early April in your opinion, will last minute $100 a night or less accommodations be hard to find? I don't want to be too rushed but want to get it all in! I enjoy water, valleys, cliffs, hiking, biking, quaint cozy or medieval towns over museums, night life and modern architecture. so that's why the big cities sometimes don't interest me as much.

I've added a few notes in the plan below but overall I am looking for opinions on if I am trying to do too much and should cut back based on what areas may be similar or if a different area I have not thought of would be more enjoyable for me. Thank you again for your time!

So far my plan is:

Day 1: Frankfurt arrive 8am
Day 2: Afternoon pick up car drive 2 hours to Cochem -Mosel River valley
Day 3: Cochem - does this area deserve more time?
Day 4: Drive 3 hours to Baden Baden or Black forest/Freiburg -how much time do I need here if just admiring the town and forests? Baden Baden looks charming but is it comparable to Romantic Road or Nurnberg? I could drive through the Black Forest and head straight to Colmar for the night
Day 5: Drive 1.5 hr to Colmar, France (from Black Forest)
Day 6: Colmar
Day 7 Colmar
Day 8 Drive 4.5 -5 hours to Fussen/ Bavaria Alps From Colmar Fussen (any good stops along the way to break up the drive?)
Day 9 Fussen/Castles/Neuschwanstein
Day 10 Drive 1.5hrs to Munich – How is Munich with a car? Is Parking expensive?
Day 11 Munich (do I need two full days here? I like small towns more than big cities. I could spend extra night in Cochem or Baden Baden or along the Romantic Road unless Munich is a must stop – I haven’t research it yet :)
Day 12 Drive 30 mins to Dachau, visit then drive through Romantic Road to? Maybe Rothenburg ob der Tauber (2hrs)
Day 13 Romantic Road villages- Spend night at Wurzburg?
(45 mins to Wurzburg from Rothenburg) towns are: Neusch. Castle, Pfaffenwinkel, Landsberg am lech, Augsburg, Harburg Castle, Dinkelsbuhl, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Wurzburg.
Day 14 Drive 1.15 mins to Nurnberg
Day 15 Nurnberg
Day 16 Drive 2.5 hrs to Frankfurt to return car and fly to Amsterdam

If you got to here- yay!! I know it was not easy- Thanks for your thoughts!

Posted by
4955 posts

"I am planning to drive because I think it will be more convenient than train and not necessarily more expensive. A car for the two weeks is running $400-$482 depending on where I pick it up."

Parking is not free as a general rule - sometimes you'll pay at your hotel as well. How much will your gas cost for all this?

Most experienced travelers look at rail passes as expensive. But in your case, even the German Rail pass for 15 days of totally unlimited consecutive use compares very favorably with the rental car + gas + parking fees + insurance + deductibles, etc. It's just €405 ($443) at German Railways:

https://www.bahn.com/en/view/offers/passes/german-rail-pass-conditions.shtml

(I haven't checked your trips, but I suspect that other ticketing strategies would be cheaper than the rail pass.)

With a couple of destination changes and a little tweaking, you COULD pre-book rooms (and what you want at the price you want in the location you want) in certain base towns - then do short outings to certain others. I mean, you can probably find a place to stay last minute in the week before Easter, but it's more fun not to concern yourself with that while you're traveling.

" I enjoy water, valleys, cliffs, hiking, biking, quaint cozy or medieval towns...I like small towns more than big cities."

You should probably not be following Rick Steves recommendations as much as you have done! You may see him for a few moments on a trail or a bike in his videos, but he tends to send readers to tourist traps, exotic spa towns, cities with lots of museums, concentration camps...

"Day 2: Afternoon pick up car drive 2 hours to Cochem -Mosel River valley
Day 3: Cochem - does this area deserve more time?"

Yes, and yes again, especially for someone like you. You want hiking and biking, old world towns, cliffs and valleys, and water? Then the Mosel and the Rhine (which you are skipping??) are great places. And if you want to see some CASTLES, there are dozens of them in these two river valleys. This map shows only the Rhine castles. You probably ought to book 5 nights in one Rhine/Mosel base town and head out on the bike paths and trails in the area.

What's with the 3 nights in France (Colmar) if this is a Germany trip? Just kidding, it's OK to visit France. But why 3 nights in Colmar? I look at it as a half-day kind of place. But there are many similarly nice old-world places in Germany, really, so honestly I am questioning your visit to this part of Germany altogether (Only Baden-Baden? and Colmar?) All you have right now in Bavaria are Rothenburg, Nuremberg, Munich (2 big cities??) and the Romantic Road towns. There are more/maybe better places for you, all around Bavaria. For medieval towns, for example... Check the UNESCO World Heritage list, and you will find BAMBERG and REGENSBURG have what you say you are looking for. Maybe Bamberg could be a good base town for you for several days - from there you can visit Würzburg (Romantic Rd) Coburg (castle) Nuremberg, Bayreuth, and other fine places.

Then maybe you find yourself a SOUTHERN Bavaria base town for 5 nights. From a town like Garmisch-Partenkirchen (Alps), it's easy to day trip to Füssen, Mittenwald (adorable), Munich, Oberammergau, Innsbruck (Austria), the Zugspitze, the Wieskirche, Ettal Abbey, and other nearby places - see map:

https://www.philaseiten.de/up/208356/6/8/b5564ce5_h.jpeg

At the end... just drop the car in the Nuremberg area (if that's where you are last) and take the train to Amsterdam.

Posted by
1383 posts

Day 12 & 13 make no sense. It has you going to Rothenburg then the next day going back to Fussen and the ending in Wurzburg.

If you drive then you should have no problem finding a place to stay at night but I would make (cancelable) reservations in the larger cities.

If going by train I would make reservations everywhere.

Posted by
23 posts

Thanks for the reply Russ! Car is now officially $309 for the week to and from Frankfurt. Honestly the train felt like a lot more planning needed to be done and lugging of luggage and more time spent finding train stops/figuring out where to go which wasn’t appealing. I do like being on my own time and saving time and money on food works better while driving for me. I’m willing to pay a little more for convenience, but have not thought about gas costs. Good point! Thank you so much for the suggestions. You have given me a lot to think about!

I was told Rhine and Mosel valley would be very similar and was recommend to choose one (by a friend who thought I would like to check out “the coo coo clock town” Baden-Baden (is that where it is?) He thought I was trying to do too much (maybe I am) I’m not interested in the famous Turkish baths which I read was in Baden- Baden…more research on this area coming up!

Colmar/ surrounding towns is to meet up with friends here as a trip we have been talking about since Beauty and the Beast came out. Cheesy I know but I can go less time I just need to make it so I’m not the one that backed out this time. its sorta "on the way" and will be a nice break from traveling solo (as of now) I know that sounds silly but its something I am think about more.

Thanks for the maps and links! all very useful information!

BTW Day 12 & 13- I definitely am not planning on backtracking, may its a typo!

Posted by
4955 posts

Honestly the train felt like a lot more planning needed to be done and
lugging of luggage and more time spent finding train stops/figuring
out where to go which wasn’t appealing. I do like being on my own time
and saving time...

I share your feelings about not getting on a dictatorial schedule, about traveling when I'm ready, saving time, etc. And that's why I normally use the multi-day base town strategy in combination with the trains. If I have 7-10 reservations over two weeks, that's a lot of deadlines, and a lot of checking in/out too. And with 4-5 days in one place, there's less accommodations planning, and I can change any tentative sightseeing plans I have according to my mood, special events I learn about, the weather, etc.

The train system in Germany, if you haven't been, offers exquisitely frequent service. Like you, I like to visit smaller places - and these places tend to make train travel very easy - stations are normally right in town, with numerous options within walking distance. You can't book someplace in the "dingleweeds", but staying in town is normally better anyway. If you use a rail pass - or day passes - it's a simple matter to check the train schedule and hop on a train that looks convenient. Come and go as you please. Stations like Bamberg that are manned have personnel that will print out a travel schedule - or you can print one out at a ticket machine for any journeys you take. If you have to change trains, it will tell you where to do that.

Expense aside... I've switched over to trains entirely. No contracts, no traffic jams, no bait and switch, no surprise bills for door dings that weren't noticed. It's pure bliss to just put my feet up and look out the window.

Rick Steve's best written work is his packing advice. Thanks to him, I don't lug anything.
https://www.ricksteves.com/travel-tips/packing-light/packing-smart

Posted by
1383 posts

The cuckoo town is probably Triberg in the Black Forest.

the Rhine and Mosel valleys are somewhat similar but I greatly prefer the Rhine.

Posted by
4955 posts

"...the Rhine and Mosel valleys are somewhat similar but I greatly prefer the Rhine."

Like Stephen, everybody seems to have a distinct preference - which tells me that while maybe similar on first glance, the Rhine and Mosel are very different places. Germans traditionally nick-name them "MOther Mosel" and "FAther Rhine" - and they do seem to have very different moods, the Mosel being more quiet, more demure, more traditional, while the Rhine tends to be bold and brassy. The Mosel River meanders the whole way from France to Koblenz; the Rhine hesitates only occasionally on its way to the sea, a freight train with a deadline. Rhine wines tend to be dry, the Mosel wines sweet. If you look at some of the paintings from centuries ago, you will see an enormous difference in they way these rivers are portrayed.

You really should spend a little time In both places.

Posted by
7605 posts

Why would you fly to Amsterdam from Frankfurt, when a train will get you there in about the same amount of time and be a lot cheaper. Add in your time to get to and from the airport, as well as costs, getting to the airport 1.5 hours before the flight, the flight, and deplaning at your destination. Non-stop ICE takes 4.5 hours and costs 69€ if you get your ticket 3 months ahead.

Please do not drive after a trans-Atlantic flight. It is extremely dangerous.

Parking is seldom free in Germany unless you are parking way out of the way. Hotels may charge you up to 20€ to park.

You mention Romantic Road villages and then say Würzburg. Not a village at all. Look at the Half-Timbered Route instead if you want villages. Tons of them around Frankfurt, Hessen, the Rhein, and the Mosel.

A car in Munich will be nothing but a headache.

Posted by
112 posts

"Germans traditionally nickname them 'Father Mosel' and 'Mother Rhine'. " The opposite is true: Vater Rhein and Mutter Mosel. By the way even in Roman times the Rhine was masculine and the Mosel was feminine: Rhenus and Mosella.

Posted by
4955 posts

Thanks demag. I said that backwards - a little fatigue I suppose. Will correct.

Posted by
12040 posts

I will note that the Half-Timbered Road is probably closer to what people have in mind when they imagine the experience of driving thr Romantic Road. The latter is merely a conveyance that connects some attractive towns, but isn't especially scenic compared to any other rural route in that region of Germany. Also, the route mostly takes you by the towns, not through their scenic centers.

The Half-Timbered route, however, goes through some gorgeous countryside in places (particularly in the Harz and Odenwald), and often the route takes you directly through many of the villages and towns.

Driving in most of Germany is rather easy, even in the cities. But Munich is a huge exception. By design, there aren't even enough parking spaces in the center to accommodate the need. Even the municipal garages might fill up, particularly if Bayern Munchen is playing at home, and only the most expensive hotels will guarantee you a parking spot (often off site and for a large extra fee).

Posted by
23 posts

Ms Jo what is the best website for finding trains?
I saw the ICE route but didn't see it direct in 4.5 hours, I saw three changes I think.... flight is 99euros and 1.5 hours from Frankfurt. I am bringing a carryon and backpack for 5 weeks so no baggage fees. Ending in Frankfurt to save $$ on rental car return fee.

Thanks for the note on the 1/2 Timber route to those of you who mentioned it! I haven't heard of that one. Romantic Road came up when searching and the photos looked adorable...will look to add!

I'm looking to stay in towns "off the beaten path" and avoid city hotels for the most part. Looking for those kinds of accommodations now to avoid parking issues...maybe I'll just skip all the big cities to avoid the hassle and save that for a train trip next time.
Still debating about a train journey- but hesitant as its just not as easy to plan before hand.

thanks for all the recommendations!

Posted by
2233 posts

Rothenburg is more enjoyable if you spend the night there.

Posted by
7605 posts

Deutsche Bahn is the only website you should use for finding German trains.
Sometimes you have to scroll down to find the non-stop ICE trains to Amsterdam. There may only be 2-3 per day. Look 3 months ahead of time to right now, to get an idea of costs.