Please sign in to post.

Germany / Austria Itinerary 15 nights Aug-sept 2023

My previous thread was closed due to inactivity but our plans have changed since then anyways. https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/germany/bavaria-trip-sept-2023#top

*Originally we were thinking we’d fly into Amsterdam and out of Munich, traveling south through either Black Forest or Romantic road. But we decided there simply wasn’t enough time and best served taking a train from Cochem straight to Munich. Allowing us more time in what we’re looking most forward to.

So, below is what we’re thinking at this point, open to suggestions and help filling in some of our activities :-)

Aug 24-Sept 9th 2023
Friday Sept 25 arrive Frankfurt morning-
Train to Düsseldorf, staying 3 nights. Visiting where my wife went to high school, museums and Sunday day trip to Cologne.

Monday Aug 28 train to Cochem, staying 2 nights with trips to Burg Eltz and Cochem Castle.

Wed Aug 30 train to Munich, staying 2 nights with trip to famous beer gardens and possibly a day trip to Weltenburg Abbey. We’re not really too interested in large cities and at this point we’re figuring it might be a good time to rent a car.

Fri Sept 1st drive to Berchtesgaden, possibly drive scenic route along the Alps from Munich, staying 3 nights. Visiting national park, Konigssee and possibly Eagle’s Nest

Monday Sept 4th drive to Traunsee Austria, staying 3 nights with trips to Salzburg, exploring Salzkammergut area. Hallstatt?

Thur Sept 7th drive to Munich to return car and catch a train to Bamberg staying 1 night.

Friday Sept 8th spend half a day in Bamberg, explore Altstadt and local Breweries, then catch train to Frankfurt for our final night. Staying near airport.

Sat Sept 9th morning flight home.

*this itinerary isn’t finalized but we have purchased the flights in and out of Frankfurt . I guess we’re still not completely sure if we really need to go to Munich at all and Bamberg was added on at the end with the thought of adding and interesting stop on our way back to Frankfurt. Other ideas were Heidelberg- Ladenburg, some other burg… or even a 1 nighter in Rothenburg

Posted by
19 posts

Thinking perhaps skip Munich and free up more time for Bamburg

Posted by
7661 posts

Bamberg is good, but frankly it was not a must see place.

The Romantic Road is great, several medieval walled cities largely undamaged in WWII.
https://www.romanticroadgermany.com
It's not too hard to see the reason for the popularity - despite the modern roots of the idea, the tour combines the historic cities of Würzburg and Augsburg with the three medieval walled towns of Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Dinkelsbühl and Nördlingen, and then finishes off with the tourist highlights of Neuschwanstein Castle and the Alps.

Nördlingen is one of the most attractive of the towns in the central part of the Romantic Road.

As all the tourist guides mention, it shares with its neighbours to the north (Rothenburg and Dinkelsbühl) the distinction of being one of the only remaining walled medieval towns in Germany.

Nördlingen, however, is far less crowded than the other two and offers an additional attraction of geological interest - being located in the crater of a meteorite impact and with its impressive tower being built of the rock formed from that impact.

Posted by
6632 posts

Thinking perhaps skip Munich and free up more time for Bamburg

Where would you spend the night of the 30th if you skipped Munich altogether? If the famous beer halls are calling, I'd look into an early train departure from Cochem with afternoon arrival in Munich. Spend the one night there after indulging your beer interests, then pick up the car and leave Munich on the morning of the 31st. On Aug. 30 I see a trip from Cochem with only one change of train (in Koblenz) with departure at 8:18 and arrival in Munich 14:10.

Then everything after Munich gets moved up by one day, which gives you 2 nights for Bamberg. I would NOT return to Munich just to hand over the car - I suspect you can do that for no additional charge in Bamberg or somewhere else nearby.

Speaking of Cochem, your time in the area seems pretty snug. In town, the chairlift ride and the Bundesbank Bunker are also highlights. Another night might free up some time for a river cruise (outing to Beilstein?) or a day trip to Trier. Also, there are some things that might tempt you to break up your train ride between D'dorf and Cochem:

  • Koblenz (where you change trains on the way to Cochem)... Fortress Ehrenbreitstein and the cable car ride that gets you there. Stow bags in a station locker while you sightsee.

  • A tour of the mighty and truly medieval Marksburg Castle (in Braubach.) Braubach is an old-world town at the base of the castle, just 10 train minutes from Koblenz on the Rhine River. Use the Koblenz station lockers for bags.

For more time here, perhaps the 6 nights currently planned for B'gaden and Austria could be trimmed to 5.

It also occurs to me that you might gain a little more time in Cochem by taking your bags with you when you visit Cologne on the 27th. Then board a p.m. train to Cochem that same day instead of backtracking to D'dorf, then backtracking through Cologne once again on the 28th,
.

Posted by
19 posts

These are some great suggestions and I’m definitely looking into them. Thanks everyone. Keep ‘em coming :-)

Posted by
19 posts

updated itinerary

Took some of the advice from Russ, thanks :-)
Still not sure best city to stay for our Rhine Valley portion of the trip, we definitely want to see Burg Eltz and Cochem but not sure if we should stay in Cochem. We’re tempted to rent a car for this portion due to our plans are to try to be at Burg Eltz when it opens if possible and the boat tour my wife looked into booking was also kind of difficult to get to from Cochem.

Also we put Bamberg on the itinerary as a place holder but might swap that for Regensburg, Miltenberg or even Nördlingen to see a walled city…. not sure how to best round out our German experience. Also not sure at what point to return the car, if we should drive to that last city before heading to Frankfurt to catch a flight home or if we should return it back to Munich.

Posted by
6632 posts

Alternative to Cochem...

The 9:14 bus from Hatzenport arrives 9:38 at Burg Eltz, which opens at 9:30, I believe.

If you think you might like to stay in a sleepy, non-touristy town like Hatzenport instead of Cochem, you could take a leisurely breakfast there that morning and use that direct bus. No trains and no connections.

Hatzenport looks to have 5 restaurants and an equal number of wineries:
https://hatzenport.de/unser-ort/essen-und-trinken/
https://hatzenport.de/unser-ort/essen-und-trinken/winzerhoefe-und-weingueter/

Altes Weingut Bröhl - This place in what looks like a former winery in Hatzenport has reasonably-priced rooms with private bath and availability on your dates as well as good marks on booking.com. It's right near the rail station, where the bus to Eltz leaves, AND it offers river-view rooms. If it suits you, well, it's a convenient location. Closer than Cochem as you're coming from Cologne, closer than Cochem to Koblenz, where you will change trains for the ride to Munich. And it makes for an easy outing by train to Cochem (20 minutes.) I've never stayed in Hatzenport or at this place, but for me it would be very bookable.

What river cruise is it that you might be taking on the Mosel?

Posted by
6632 posts

"I guess we’re still not completely sure if we really need to go to Munich at all."

It would not be my choice to drive from the Mosel to Munich (UGGHH) then have another long drive to Andechs and Berchtesgaden on the following day. Of course you should break the journey up, but there's no reason you have to stay in Munich or DRIVE to Munich...

Take the train from Hatzenport or Cochem to Ulm or Augsburg. Both are nice places to visit, but I prefer Ulm. Then pick up your car there the next morning.

Whatever train you planned to catch on the 30th from Cochem to Munich will get you from Cochem or Hatzenport to Ulm or Augsburg too. Both are in between Munich.

Lv Cochem 7:19 (or Hatzenport 7:43) for Koblenz; change to a direct train to Ulm (12:54) or Augsburg (13:40.) Both are nice towns with interesting sights. (The same train arrives later in Munich at 14:10 if you decide to keep Munich.)

If that departure time doesn't suit you, there are later trains that morning. The 9:05 from Hatzenport (8:44 from Cochem) will also get you to Ulm (14:04) on a direct train from Koblenz. (The same morning train from Hatzenport or Cochem can get you to Augsburg, but there's an additional change of train after Koblenz.)

Posted by
19 posts

Thanks Russ. I think I’m sold on staying in Hatzenport. Traveling from Cologne on a Sunday, we’d probably get an early dinner in Koblenz then continue to our hotel in Hatzenport. Next 2 fulls days dedicated to Burg Eltz, seeing Cochem and finding a nice boat tour. As far as boat tours go my wife was looking at one on the Mosel but now we’re thinking of finding something on the Rhine, something maybe 2 or 3 hrs long? Idk. But I’m liking this idea :-)

Posted by
6632 posts

Based on my own experiences I was about to de-suggest the Koblenz Hbf station area as regards your meal search, but after a look at more recent experiences there, it appears to be pretty well liked these days, with a variety of food choices:

https://www.tripadvisor.de/RestaurantsNear-g187391-d4380425-Koblenz_Central_Station-Koblenz_Rhineland_Palatinate.html

Mosel Cruise: It's fairly easy to combine a day trip to Cochem with a river cruise from Cochem to Beilstein and back. See "Schiffsausflug nach Beilstein" schedule box in bottom left corner on this page.

Rhine Cruise: this could happen AFTER Burg Eltz on the 29th. Or, if you combine Cochem and Burg Eltz on the 29th, you could do the Rhine Cruise on the 28th in combo with a visit to one or two of the Rhine towns (Bacharach? Oberwesel?)

The last NORTHBOUND boat of the day departs at 16:15 from Rüdesheim (or 16:30 from Bingen.) It is the only one that continues beyond St. Goar (17:55) without a stopover. The boat continues to Boppard (18:50) which gives you the 2.5-hr. cruise you are looking for. Getting off in Boppard gives you a lot of nice choices for dinner on the riverfront before catching the train back to Koblenz and Hatzenport. Alternatively, end the cruise after 1.6 hours in St. Goar, have dinner there, and then go home maybe a bit earlier by train.

Whether you are visiting Eltz, or Bacharach/Oberwesel, you need to arrive in R'heim or at the Bingen Rhein Stadt rail station about half an hour or prior to cruise time.

Or you could perhaps cruise the Rhine on the 30th as part of your train trip to Bavaria... Since you have no other specific sightseeing goals for the Rhine, it might be reasonable to shmoosh a cruise into that travel day. The 10:45 - 13:35 St. Goarshausen > Bingen SOUTHBOUND cruise also picks up passengers in St. Goar at 10:55 and would take you through the most scenic part of the gorge. Your cruise will skip the Boppard > St. Goar segment, but it will still be most impressive. Board in whichever town offers a more favorable arrival by train. This bakery in St. Goar might work for breakfast if you arrive early. It's been there forever, and I've stopped in there often.

After the cruise, there's a 15:57 train leaving Bingen Rhein Stadt station (nearest the KD dock) with arrival in Ulm at 19:10 (trip includes changes of train in Mainz and Mannheim.)

Posted by
7286 posts

I've been to Munich (meh) but not to a famous beer hall there. I'd point out that there is plenty of local beer in Germany, including Düsseldorf and Cologne. I'm glad you're adding the Middle-Rhine KD boat. Note that the interior of Burg Eltz is not very medieval. You might want to do some Search Box reading about the Fachwerkeßtrasse, like https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/trip-reports/baltic-germany-fachwerke-landesgartenschau . I just get the feeling you are too fixed on the idea of The Romantic Road, to the exclusion of the rest of a plenty historic and beery country. I mean, the normal-sized indoor beerhall culture in Düsseldorf is wonderful, and less ... drunken? Get the smallest car you can because you have a lot of parking to do. But I suspect you want a big BMW.

Posted by
19 posts

I think I’m over the idea of going to Munich especially since it’s seems really far and there’s plenty of beer gardens to visit elsewhere. Regensburg, seems worthy of a day with overnight stay and then I can visit Weltenburg Abbey on our way to Berchtesgaden the following day. So swap Munich - Andechs, for Regensburg- Weltenburg Abbey….That should break the trip up into slightly smaller distances

Posted by
19 posts

Update, in case anyone is interested:
Flight, hotels and rental car all booked at this point. We decided to skip Salzkammergut region and make our way back towards Frankfurt instead, with stays near Mittenwald and in Rothenburg. I’m a little disappointed to give up Salzkammergut but I think it’s the right choice. We would have been left with a very long travel day getting from lakes area of Austria all the way to Frankfurt to return home. This way we get to see some really interesting German locations instead.

link to updated itinerary

Posted by
32738 posts

I'd love to see your itinerary as modified in open text here on the Forum. The webmaster frowns on off Forum links to personal webpages.

If you are still planning on a stop in Koblenz it would be a shame to just see the station and surrounds. The Altstadt, the old town, is full of wonderful things. I've spent decades bypassing Koblenz but just last month I had a good poke around and loved what I found. The Deutsche Eck - German Corner - is where the Mosel runs into the Rhine and the riverfront is a nice place to be. There is a beautiful cathedral, and behind it on the riverfront is a cable car which goes up and over the Rhine and Deutsche Eck to the fortress on the other side at the top of a cliff. It is pretty big, very scenic as is the area around and the cable car ride, and is full of Prussian history. Great views back.

Well I guess you can't do everything. I go to Germany almost every year and always find places I have missed previously.... I have been following Russ, and Ms. Jo in Frankfurt, and Tim and several others for years. You can't believe how easy it is to be like a kid in a candy store...

Posted by
7286 posts

You may be overlooking the many things to do in Cologne (... referring to your online itinerary.) Although I like Düsseldorf very much, I rate Cologne higher as a tourism destination. And I am not speaking primarily about the famous Dom, or some miserable chocolate museum!

https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/germany/can-i-see-enough-of-cologne

I recommend that you make sure you are boat-riding the right river in the right segment. Vast portions of the Rhine are not worth boat time, and I find the Mosel less interesting by boat. Opinion.

https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/germany/advice-for-rhine-river-cruise-train

It appears that your arrival train leaves from the Frankfurt HBF, not the airport (?) Since D'dorf is the second largest airport in the country, you might explore a "single-ticket" two-segment flight to your actual destination. I've gotten the domestic segment for virtually nothing extra.

I would want air-conditioning in Europe in August. Clearly, you are hikers, and Burg Eltz is reachable without a car. But I'd be concerned about heat and luggage in August. (Have only driven to Burg Eltz, but I'm not advocating more car usage!) You are making good use of the car, so it's irrelevant that we had a nice 3-night stay in Salzburg without a car. If I had a car in this area, I might try to visit Cesky Krumlov, a place this newsboard loves and hates. It does sound like you enjoy driving.

Posted by
19 posts

Here’s a rough outline of our itinerary in text, obviously we haven’t figured out all our trains and activities as of yet. We have bookmarked lots of restaurants and sites but I haven’t locked them all down on the itinerary. We’d like to do at least one cable car scenic vista and one or two gorge hikes but might just leave that open to opportune weather conditions based on where we are. Suggestions welcome on best cable car to do are welcome :-) We are no longer staying in Salzkammergut but perhaps the 5 fingers cable car is still on the table if it’s the best choice?
We are starting in Düsseldorf because my wife attended the International high school near by years ago.

Germany 2023
Friday Aug 25
Arrive Frankfurt
Train to Dusseldorf “staying 3 nights”

Saturday Aug 26
Explore Dusseldorf
Swatch store
Galerie Burghof
Im Goldenen Kessel

Sunday Aug 27
Dusseldorf
Neanderthal Museum

Monday Aug 28
Explore Cologne
Train to Hatzenport “staying 2 nights”

Tuesday Aug 29
Rhine river half day cruise
Visit Cochem

Wednesday Aug 30
Burg Eltz
Train to Regensburg “staying 2 nights”

Thursday Aug 31
Explore Regensburg
Spitalgarten
Historische Wurstkuche

Friday Sept 1
Rent car
Weltonburg Abbey
Scenic drive to Marktschellenburg “staying 4 nights”

Saturday Sept 2
Konindsee boatride
Jennerbahn

Sunday Sept 3
Wimbachklamm
Ramsau

Monday Sept 4
Explore Salzburg
Burg Hohenwerfen

Tuesday Sept 5
Scenic drive to MIttenwald
Stay in Leutasch “staying 1 night”

Wednesday Sept 6
Partnachklamm
Drive up Romantic Road to Rothenburg “staying 2 nights”

Thursday Sept 7
Explore Rothenburg ob der Tauber
Nightwatchman’s tour

Friday Sept 8
Explore Rothenburg am
Drive to Frankfurt airport and return car “staying 1 night”

Saturday Sept 9
Fly home

Posted by
32738 posts

your 31st Aug - Historische Wurstkuche

just to lower your expectations so when it is better you will be pleased. I have eaten there several times over the years, all pre-covid. I haven't been back to that corner of Bayern since. Up until the last visit the year before the plague we had always enjoyed the location and the experience, because an experience it is. The last time it seemed that they had become somewhat jaded by the hordes of cruise ship - mostly Viking - which overwhelmed them and they seemed very blase. There's not much that can be screwed up with little grilled sausages and sauerkraut. But somehow it wasn't the prior perfection.

Don't know how they have fared through and after covid, let's hope they have survived well and I hope you really enjoy it and the views of the old stone bridge.

Posted by
1289 posts

I did not watch it on German TV, but 13 May was Japanese day in Düsseldorf. Apparently, there is a large Japanese community there. Something to look into?

Brauereigaststätte Kneitinger and Unter den Linden (Stadtpark) in Regensburg.

Don't miss the famous view of St. Sebastian in Ramsau bei Berchtesgaden. Go farther to Gasthof Auzinger. Church of Maria Gern too, north of Berchtesgaden.

https://www.ramsau.de/webcam-malerwinkel.html

Posted by
2332 posts

Brauereigaststätte Kneitinger and Unter den Linden (Stadtpark) in Regensburg.

This. Or, weather permitting, the Spitalgarten beer garden across the bridge on the north bank of the Danube. And forget about the Wurstküche

Posted by
7286 posts

I think it's out of the question for your calendar, but I finally ran across a website for the monthly Düsseldorf Fish Market (just as much wine, beer, and sausages, and Oma's Quarkbollen):

https://www.rheinlust.de/veranstaltungen-2/dusseldorf/
(Euro date scheme, of course) I really enjoyed it, crowded but easygoing.

Both Cologne and Düsseldorf have nice botanical gardens.

I have not been to the Wurstküche, but maybe you will run into an outdoor breakfast fair, which would involve Weisswurst and Hefeweizen. Honestly, even a street cart, where they stick a steam-probe into a cold loaf of bread, and drop the wurst and mustard into the created recess, is a pretty good wurst. We had one currywurst in Berlin, because we felt obliged. But it was missable.