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Germany Distances in September

We are starting the process to visit Germany. I have wanted to visit my whole life! My dad was here right after WWII to help clean up after the war and he talks about the country and the people lovingly. We will be flying into Frankfurt. We are thinking at this point we will arrive on Aug. 29 or Sept. 5 (not sure which week exactly). We have 16 days but would like to get into Austria and Switzerland (Fly out of Switzerland) also.

If we get into Frankfurt around 1:00, is it reasonable to think we could take a train to Bingen and board a boat for a tour to St. Goar? Everyone keeps talking about spending the night in Bacharach. Could we get a train back to Bacharach from St. Goar to spend the night? Would you spend another day + night in this area or would you take a train to Nuremberg and continue on the trip? What will the weather be cold the first two weeks in September? Any suggestions will be helpful! I am bringing my husband and two adult daughters.
Thanks so much for your help!

Posted by
4925 posts

I would spend at least 2 nights in the Middle Rhine Valley.

You can catch a cruise from Bingen to St. Goar that first day after a train ride from FRA to Bingen. You should have no problem getting that done, with your luggage in hand, if you arrive at FRA in the morning. 5 KD boats head north to St, Goar every day, and a couple of Bingen-Ruedesheimer boats do the same.

There is nothing special about spending the night in Bacharach. Rick Steves promotes Bacharach over the other towns, so people follow the shepherd. But it makes more sense to drop your bags at a S. Goar hotel after your 1.5 hour cruise - and to see the town, and perhaps visit Rheinfel Castle in St. Goar before dinner and turning in.

St. Goar is also close to Boppard, Oberwesel, and Braubach (to the north) for a visit to Marksburg Castle (must-see IMHO) on Day 2. The river scenery is better in St. Goar and easier to enjoy there as well - Bacharach is tucked back behind the railway pretty far from the river - sometimes the hotels there, like the Kranenturm, are WAYYY too close to that railway. but in St. Goar there are hotels on the waterfront where you can enjoy a view like this at any hour. And Bacharach, which has some very nice buildings, is only 10 minutes away from St. Goar if you want to walk through the town.

Nuremberg is a doable train trip from St. Goar on your 3rd day.

Welcome to the forum, and have a great trip!

Posted by
7 posts

Russ,
Thank you for your quick response. If I want to stay at the Hotel Schoenberg (castle), how will I get from St. Goar back to, the castle to spend the night? If we are going to spend two days in this area, should we cruise further up the Rhine the first day? One last question, if we go over to Nuremberg (1 day or two?), how hard would it be to get back to the Black Forest area to spend a day or two before heading to Munich? Would you do a car or a train?
I'm sorry for so many questions but the answers are appreciated.

Posted by
4925 posts

Thank you for your quick response. If I want to stay at the Hotel
Schoenberg (castle), how will I get from St. Goar back to, the castle
to spend the night?

That castle-hotel is not in St. Goar OR Bacharach, but in Oberwesel, on a clifftop above town. The train ride from St. Goar to Oberwesel is just 5 minutes. A taxi would be needed to get to the hotel from Oberwesel station. Same the next day for any outings you take - taxi down and back. If you don't drop bags after your cruise at your hotel in St. Goar, you will need to drop them at the TI office, but on Saturday (arrival day) it's only open until 1 pm...

I look at that hotel as a "stay-put" experience. It's pricey not because it's inconvenient for outings but because it is a destination in itself, not the kind of place to use as a "base" for coming and going, or visits to other places. I would want to arrive early and stay late the next day. It will cut into your sightseeing, as it should. If you spend night 1 there, then 1 night elsewhere (like St. Goar) on Sunday, then do more sightseeing on the Rhine on Monday, that might work - you could still get in a lot of sightseeing and reach Nuremberg before bedtime by catching a late afternoon train.

should we cruise further up the Rhine the first day?

Not really. Bingen > St. Goar is intense and very rewarding. Beyond that it may seem a little mundane to you. And it will eat up another hour or so of sightseeing time or time at Auf Schönburg.

One last question, if we go over to Nuremberg (1 day or two?), how
hard would it be to get back to the Black Forest area to spend a day
or two before heading to Munich?

It's a fairly long trip that I would not recommend if you were thinking 1-2 days in the Black Forest. Nuremberg in fact is a place you could easily spend 4-5 days - if not in town, then on one or more of the fabulous outings you can take from Nuremberg by train... BAMBERG, IPHOFEN, BAD WINDSHEIM, SOMMERHAUSEN, and other fine places are an hour or less from N'berg by train. You can click on some of my other posts where I've provided links to these towns. You will find lots of old-world half-timbered buildings in these places, homes and other buildings that are similar to the ones you'd find in the Black Forest.

Would you do a car or a train?

Train. All the places we've discussed can be reached by train (except Auf Schönburg and Sommerhausen, which requires an additional bus connection.) We can go over the train ticketing and details at some later point.

Posted by
1586 posts

Russ offers much good advice. If I had 16 days to cover Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, the Black Forest would not be on my list of places to stop. It sounds cooler than it is. Don't get me wrong; it's a nice area, but it's not blow-your-socks-off gorgeous. The Alps are. And they are worth a good chunk of time.

Posted by
7 posts

Thank you for the feedback on the Black Forest. I will remove that from the trip. I also like your idea of staying one night in the castle and one in St. Goar. After Nuremberg we wanted to either drive a car or take a train to Rothenburg and take the Romantic Road to Munich. Would it be hard to rent a car in Nuremberg or would you recommend another means of transportation from Nuremberg to Rothenberg? Can you recommend how long to plan to get to Munich?
Thanks again Russ and Dave!

Posted by
4925 posts

Rothenburg can be reached by train from Nuremberg. 20 Euros round trip with a VGN Tagesticket Plus day pass, bought at the station (same ticket you would use to most of those other places that I mentioned.)

Rothenburg is extremely touristy. It's further down on my list of outings from Nuremberg. But that's because I've been to the other places.

Posted by
7 posts

Russ... where would you recommend visiting instead of Rothenberg? I appreciate your knowledge. Do you have any suggestions for the Munich area? Places to visit and times to stay there?
Thanks!

Posted by
1586 posts

Rothenburg is on many US travelers' first Germany itinerary. Many on this forum report loving it... especially the Nightwatchman's tour. I'll be doing Germany itineraries #12 and #13 this year. I haven't made it to Rothenburg yet. That certainly doesn't mean it's not a place you should visit; it just doesn't hold a strong attraction for me. At the same time, I would gently say that the well-worn US-traveller path to Rothenburg doesn't necessarily mean you should go there.

So... I'm curious why it's on your list. Is it a place that your Dad talked about/loved and therefore offers a connection to your Dad's experience in Germany? Is it a place others have told you "you have to visit?" Is it something that looks cool to you? Is it a place one of your daughters is dying to see?

A related question... are there places you want to visit in Germany because your Dad talked about them or is connected to them? If so, which ones? Any chance the Black Forest is one of those spots?

I just want to make sure that my advice (influenced by my own experiences and biases) does not impede your ability to connect to your Dad's Germany experience, since it seems like this trip, at least in part, is driven by his time in the country.

Posted by
4925 posts

Russ... where would you recommend visiting instead of Rothenberg?

I know... if you've been exposed mainly to Rick Steves' suggestions, it's like, "where else would anyone go?" Right?

I suggested these places, all in the same general region, in a previous post...
BAMBERG, IPHOFEN, BAD WINDSHEIM, SOMMERHAUSEN

Below are a couple of links to websites for further information.

Bamberg
https://www.bavaria.by/experiences/city-country-culture/unesco-world-heritage/bamberg-old-town/

Bamberg's strong reputation for brew pubs and regional cuisine is well-deserved
https://www.europeanbeerguide.net/bambpubs.htm

Iphofen (walled town, full of artists) and Sommerhausen (on the Main River) are lovable, smallish wine towns

http://tramino.s3.amazonaws.com/s/iphofen/685626/stadtplan-iphofen-english.pdf
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0AeGts3FIZA

Bad Windsheim and its terrific Freilandmuseum:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g198421-d284746-Reviews-Frankonian_Open_Air_Museum-Bad_Windsheim_Middle_Franconia_Franconia_Bavaria.html

MILTENBERG is a place I failed to mention, one I stumbled onto a few decades ago.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5OnfISgevlk
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N9nwkeiWgcU

I know it's near heresy on this forum to be even a little lukewarm about Rothenburg (please note spelling to avoid confusion with other towns.) Most go there and just adore it. Rothenburg is a physically impressive town. But we all have our personal travel preferences, and mine just don't lean toward mega-tour-bus-stop towns that are "for tourists only", places like Rothenburg where you can end up almost shoulder-to-shoulder on the streets. At times R'burg feels more like a Disney park where everyone seems to be speaking English (or some other language than German anyway) and lining up for tourist snacks or some hokey display of torture chamber tools of the trade. Rick Steves loves Rothenburg but also has referred to it as a "medieval theme park" - meaning I guess that he appreciates this sort of travel atmosphere. Lots of people rave about the Nightwatchman Tour/Show there, but to be honest, I was only mildly entertained (and a little worried about how this man manages to do the same canned humor night after night, year after year.) I can see why some people find Rothenburg "fun" on some level and worthwhile - especially if Rothenburg is the ONLY small place they visit on a whirlwind Berlin - Dresden - Munich tour. But for me R'burg has altogether the wrong mood/vibe. I MUCH prefer interesting historical places where locals are leading their normal German lives, where daily life isn't focused only on the crowds that invade the town every day, and where the best travel tip is not "walk the town before the tourists come or after they leave." Why not go places that are enjoyable at any hour? Germany has literally hundreds of similarly delightful and interesting - but less touristy - small towns. But to find them, additional guidebook resources are probably a good idea.

Posted by
7 posts

Dave...My dad has not spoken about Rothemberg. This suggestion did come from people I work with and from Rick Steve's book. My dad said he was stationed in Gobligan (sp?). I don't see that on the map. He said it was an old German air force base. It must have been down by Fussen because he talks a lot about Fussen, Garmisch, Oberammergau, Berchtesgaden, the Eagles Nest, Munich, Nurnberg and Salzberg. I am trying to see as much as I can of Germany in the time I am there. I'm having a hard time trying to figure out time frames. Russ has been very helpful with info for the Rhine River Valley area. I was hoping to see this area then head down to Nurnberg, go over and take the Romantic Road down to Munich. I have been told the places my dad talked about are day visits from Munich. If you have any info on time frames and how to get around in the Munich area, I would appreciate it. Russ has done a fabulous job with giving me ideas for the Rhine River area. It sounds like we need at least 1-2 nights in the Rhine River area and day in Nurnberg and a day to drive and stay somewhere on the Romantic Road. I would like to know how much time to plan for the Munich area seeing the sights mentioned above. I would also like to know if it is possible to do all this and still get into Salzberg and then finish in Zurich only having 16 days. I do tend to try to overdo.
Thanks again to everyone for your help!

Posted by
4925 posts

"Gobligan" - my best guess would be Böblingen (pronounced Bur-bling-un, very roughly.) That's near Stuttgart. Perhaps he mentions Garmisch-Partenkirchen etc. as places he visited. Many service personnel would go there on vacation.

"would you take a train to Nuremberg and continue on the trip?"

Yes - an excellent base for a few days.

"I have been told the places my dad talked about are day visits from Munich."

Fussen, Garmisch, Oberammergau... this area is possible as a day trip from Munich, but you have multiple destinations are near each other and that will take more than just a day... you don't want to be going back and forth from Munich every day! You need more time right there in the mountains. After Munich, go there for a few days. Pick Oberammergau as a base and you can day trip to the other places from there easily without a car - outstanding scenery all around you. And add some other places if they sound good to you...

Mittenwald
Mittenwald sightseeing guide

Linderhof Palace

The Wieskirche

Garmisch could be a good base town for you there too. Visit Garmisch's Fraundorfer Inn for some touristy fun, good traditional food, music, and dancing.

I think 4 bases - the Rhine, Nuremberg, Munich, and the Alps - would make for a really nice stay. Perhaps add a day to Munich for one day trip to Salzburg and back (takes about 1.75 hrs one way.) I'd do ALL this by train, personally. (In the mountains you might need a bus or two.) After that, you can head to Zurich, maybe with a stop in Lindau, Germany, on an island in Lake Constance?

https://experttraveltips.files.wordpress.com/2014/09/lindau-germany.jpg
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lindau

Posted by
7 posts

I Russ...I have been looking at the map this morning and I wondered if he was referring to Goppingen. The internet states there was a base there. I need to look through some of his old papers and see if I can see any names of where he might have been.
I appreciate you all more than you know. One last question...Would it be worth trying to get tickets to the Passion Play?

Posted by
1586 posts

Thanks for the response. I just wanted to make sure I wasn't discouraging places that might help you connect with your father.

I'm with Russ on his blurb about what is interesting in German. So, I rather like his suggestions/bases, including Lindau. I also like the idea of travel by train.

Finally, the Oberammergau passion play is on one of my Germany itineraries for 2020. I have my tickets.

Posted by
7 posts

Thank you Dave! I believe we will follow the itinerary Russ suggested. Thank you for your information on the Passion Play. I hope I can still get tickets. This forum has been so helpful! I will start a new thread if I have additional questions. Enjoy your trip!