Hello, we will be visiting the first 2 weeks of March. So far we have only have reservations in Garmisch for that time frame. We will have a rental car. There are 6 of us total, kids ages 17,16,11, and 10. We love the outdoors and we love to travel. It is our first time our kids have been to Europe. We are planning on the Partnach and Mittenwald Gorge, Neuschweinstein Castle. What suggestions do you have? Is it possible to fit in Paris? Daddy wants to be the first to bring his girls. What about Tuscany? Cheapest/best way to visit...museum cards, special train tickets, special days free? Thank you for any advice.
HERE is the Partnachklamm in March of last year. Are you seriously up to all that? There are many places in Germany other than the Alps that you can visit in March that will probably be somewhat less frigid.
In the first days of March, you may wish to take the kids to a major cultural event - the Fasnacht/Fasching (Carnaval) festivities in Cologne and Mainz, or the Black Forest region. Cologne and Mainz have a warmer climate than many parts of Germany. HERE is a photo of the Rottweil parade on Rose Monday of 2009 (Rose Monday is March 3 this year.) I saw Mainz' Rose Monday parade in 2011 - sunny, no icicles. Small towns like St. Goar, on the Rhine north of Mainz, have their own festivities.
NeuSCHWANstein Castle (note spelling) is not a real castle but a late 19th-century knock-off that was knocked off again by Walt Disney at his own theme parks. You can tour a real castle between Cologne in Mainz - MARKSBURG CASTLE is very easy to reach by car or by train and is open year-round.
The destinations I've suggested above are a good deal closer to Paris, if you're headed there, than the German Alps are.
March is usually still the winter sports season in southern Bavaria which, non-intuitively, is the coldest part of Germany in the winter, due to the higher elevation. So, if you're looking for outdoor activities that don't involve snow and ice, look further north or west- conversely, the upper Rhine valley, little more than two hours to the west, is the warmest area of the country. But March is usually not an ideal time for the outdoors in Germany. It usually isn't terribly cold, but often quite damp and overcast. If there's a significant amount of snow melt-off, the Parnach gorge may be blocked off for safety reason. Cities and large towns will be a better bet than rural areas.
Kids usually get a kick out of Neuschwanstein, and it's near GaP, so go for it.
A two week trip starting in Germany could easily incorporate Paris or Tuscanny... but not both.
Your so close to Munich I would go up there and spend a few days. Their is so much for kids of all ages there. We also have caught a train from Munich to Paris and it only took us about 6 hours. Totally doable especially if you fly out of Paris. I agree with someone who said it will be frigid. We have been there that time of year, actually it was into 1st couple weeks of April, pretty darn cold. Anyway, you make also want to make a trip up to the Zugspitze, its super cool- but as well--- Brrrrr.... If its clear you'll be able to see for miles.
Paris is about 500 miles from where you will be; Tuscany about 400. What's your idea of doable?
Thanks for the replies. Driving 5-6 hours is not bad but we know nothing about crossing the borders in Europe with a rental car. Anyone? If we take a train to Paris or Tuscany, what is the best type of ticket to get? Has anyone done the Rodelban @ Alpsee Bergwelt and the ropes course? Are there other cool things to do for families? Everyone has told me about NeuschwAnstein and the Gorge. I only happened upon the toboggan run by chance. We don't only want to do the touristy stuff. We are soooo excited!!!
Oh...how about cross country skiing?
"Has anyone done the Rodelban @ Alpsee Bergwelt and the ropes course?" Probably won't be open in March. It may or may not be convenient to your trip, depending on if you choose to drive to Paris, but this Sommerrodelbahn near Mannheim and Heidelberg tends to remain open most of the year.
"we know nothing about crossing the borders in Europe with a rental car." Between countries in western Europe, there's generally no restrictions. However, there are a few considerations. If you plan to rent the car in one country and drop off in another, you will pay a substantional fee for this priviledge, usually in the range of a few hundred euro. To drive from Germany to Italy, you transit through Austria. You will need to purchase a vignette at the border that allows you to drive through. Nobody will stop you if you don't, but expect to receive a fine in the mail.
"Oh...how about cross country skiing?" It's available in Garmisch, but maybe not at the time of your trip. It depends on how the rest of the winter goes. So far and in contrast to last year, this winter has stayed fairly mild. Usually the Alpine skiing lasts until late March at lower elevations and until May at higher levels (like the skiing field on top of the Zugspitze). But because the cross-country skiing courses are generally low in the valley, this is generally the first area to melt.
Nobody will stop you if you don't, but expect to receive a fine in the mail.
Maybe, maybe not. When I drove that route Spring 2013 I saw a whole cadre of Austrian police cars and motorcycle coppers pulling over cars not displaying the magic sticker on the Autobahn in Innsbruck.
That's not the first time I've seen that, so I was half expecting it. I've previously seen it happen near Bregenz and again just east of St Anton.
They weren't mailing out photos, either; they were collecting on the spot.
One thing is fairly sure - if you drive without a proper Vignette on an Austrian autobahn they are likely to get you one way or another. Same in Switzerland.
A rental car for six people plus luggage is a van. Expensive to rent, cumbersome to,drive, and if you rent it in one country and drop it in another there is a very expensive drop fee.
The trains work very well for Germany and for getting to either Parismor Tuscan, and the kids will love it. If your itinerary is set you can buy tickets for the long-distance trains in advance and get a very good price. Within Bavaria there are deals for families or groups traveling together but you need one of the German train experts to help with that. Mary posting a question in the Transportation section where more people will,see it. To get to the castles you may need a bus.
From Munich, you can easily get to either Paris or Florence by train. Look at schedules on the German site, bahn.de. You can use it in English. If you want to see the discount prices, use a date two months from now. Tuscany would probably be warmer in March, but if you want to see Paris, go! We took our girls to Paris when they were young teens and they loved it. We went in early April and the weather was mostly nice, but there were no flowers in the gardens.
The first two weeks of March is still deep in winter; ropes course, hiking, rodelbahn - not happening as the focus is on skiing and other winter sports. Paris will also be cold, so I'd head as far south as I could as quickly as possible. Southern Spain, perhaps?