Help! Things to do in Germany

We will be staying in Paris for 5 days and 5 nights seeing all that we can. We have an additional 7 nights but must fly out of Paris on the 8th day. So the 7th day we need to be getting back to Paris. We are thinking leaving Paris and going to Brussels for 2 nights. Here we can go to Bruges and Amsterdam. Leave Brussels and head to Germany we basically have 5 nights left , our problem lies in what to do in Germany for the time frame we have and return back to Paris. We would like to see as much as we can but balancing that out with hotel stays. We were considering heading to Munich and use this as a base that would allow for a trip to Salzburg and one day to Zurich. Is this feasible? Thoughts suggestions. How can this be pulled off. We are open to suggestions but would like to see as many countries as possible within reason.

Posted by Karen (Leigh)
460 posts

It depends on what you consider reasonable for a day trip. I am guessing you have looked at the time to get between these cities? Zurich would be too far for a day trip from Munich for me. Salzburg is very reasonable for a day trip from Munich. I would leave out Zurich on this trip. What is it you want to see and do in these places? Knowing that might help people give you some ideas.

Posted by Russ
2439 posts

Carter - you have too many ground travel hours in those 7 days after Paris.

You might consider traveling from Paris to A'dam for 3 nights - maybe with a short stopover in Brussels.

It's then a bit of a stretch to try to visit Amsterdam AND Germany, IMO. Remember that you must then return to Paris afterward - you need to spend night #7 in/near Paris, right? So After A'dam, your best bet is a visit to Cologne and the Rhine/Mosel region for 3 nights for a taste of Germany. You can stop over in Cologne for several hours on your way to the Middle Rhine Valley; Boppard would be a good base for 3 nights if you want to see some castles and some old-world towns on both the Rhine and Mosel Rivers.

Rhine villages
Rhine Castles
Cochem on the Mosel
Burg Eltz on the Mosel

Sometime on Day #7, head back to Paris.

Posted by carter
9 posts

Have considered the romantic road or the fairy tale road. Possibly a river cruise? Really enjoy all historical sites and landmarks really just want to take as much in as we can. Some in the the group are big World War enthusiasts. I guess looking for a city to base from and then fan out from in Germany, it just doesn't seem like that is easy to accomplish

Posted by cbrochu30
99 posts

How about Luxembourg or Strasbourg then crossing over to Trier and going up the Mosel river? Not so far from Paris and beautiful.

Posted by carter
9 posts

good points george, we chose brussels just simply for geography. we can punt it if we have too. The reason it was booked because it looks like it has a nice Hilton and we can use points. One of the traveller is picky on the hotels she stays in. I guess the goal of the trip is to cover as many countries but not runnin ourselves to death while doing it. This is great feedback.

Posted by carter
9 posts

The only reason to take a day trip to zurich is to say we had been to switzerland and mark off another country and part of the group just enjoys driving throught the country side.But I agree on this tight schedule we may should just forget about it.

Posted by carter
9 posts

what if we cut out belgium all together giving us more time to see Germany. one of the travellers has already been to Belgium and the netherlands and is pushing more to see more of Germany. What are your thoughts about that?

Posted by carter
9 posts

russ I really like those suggestions. does this area offer some type of river cruise? or would you recommend doing that?
if we dropped belgium out other than a stopover what else would that allow time for and where to stay?

Posted by carter
9 posts

george, do you feel like Berlin is doable? I am guessing you are saying it is doable if we drop Belgium, right?

Posted by BB
115 posts

Just got back from a trip that included Salzburg and Munich, and I was in Paris and London 5 years ago.

We had 3 nights in Munich, and our days there were full, and we did not attempt to see Dachau, the Olympic site, King Ludwig's castles, or the medieval town outside of Munich (forget what it's called, but I think it starts with an R).

Salzburg is a very easy and short train trip from Munich. If you do a day trip there, go early, as many things shut down by 6 pm.

In Munich, my favourite sight was Schloss Nymphenburg. It not only has the prettiest room we saw in any palace anywhere (and we saw quite a few), but it also has four "mini" palaces on its extensive grounds (in case one is out strolling and has a palace emergency, I suppose g), and these are charming, each with its own character.

Posted by Russ
2439 posts

"Have considered the romantic road or the fairy tale road....Really enjoy all historical sites and landmarks really just want to take as much in as we can. Some in the the group are big World War enthusiasts."

If you keep a tighter travel circle (omitting distant Berlin, Munich, Zurich, Romantic Road and all that) there are still many fine routes to take and you can avoid the long, boring drives you would otherwise have. And I wouldn't cut Belgium. Besides the WW II sites on the Rhine, WW II "fans" traveling from Paris to Germany via Belgium will have their hands chuck full of sights - stop in at the Battle of the Bulge towns in the Ardennes Mountains - Malmedy, La Roche en Ardennes, Bastogne, and all those legendary WW II towns are still there of course - and there are museums, tanks, memorial sites, and cemeteries here and there throughout Belgium. You may even come across anti-tank dragons' teeth which still dot the countryside along the Siegfried Line. I'm a train traveler myself but the Ardennes is one area where you definitely need a car.

American cemeteries

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
12898 posts

It looks from your answers to this thread that you are traveling with a fairly large group?

Remember that a group moves as slowly as its slowest member at any one time. It is worth considering that the bigger the group the shorter distances you will be able to achieve.

So, as soon as somebody needs the toilet, the whole group stops. As soon as somebody wants to stop and take a photo, look at a store window, have a meal, or a snack, go to an attraction, get their glasses repaired, heel fixed, etc., everybody stops.....

Just worth knowing....

Posted by Lo
1561 posts

As everyone else has indicated, your group must prioritize what is most important. The last phrase of your question is very telling, " see as many countries as possible within reason."

Unless your intent is to only see the landscape, you will see no countries by spending so much time on the road or rails. You have very little time to see much as it is.

I'll throw in a totally different option -- stick to one country -- France. Go east of Paris for WWI and west for WWII. Throw in the Bayeux Tapestry when visiting Normandy. Hit Giverny, Chartres and/or a chateau other than Versailles and breathe. That is more than enough to do with those "extra" 6 days and you will be able to honestly say you have seen a little bit of one country.

Posted by Fred
San Francisco
4426 posts


As suggested above, how about Berlin right after the time in Paris. Berlin is very doable, logistically. There is the flying option, or you can take the Paris-Berlin night train, direct, one night train ride does it., you an extra day for Berlin. That would be my choice, Pairis Est to Berlin Hbf. If you pick Munich the night train option from Paris is also available.

Posted by Chris
Mahone Bay, Canada
286 posts

I like Lo's suggestion of spending all your time in France. It seems to hit most of the things you are looking for without taking up all your time in transit.

Posted by Terry kathryn
Ann Arbor, Mi
3287 posts

Lo has a great plan and France has so much variety that you will feel as though you have crossed borders. If you stay in France and there are not too many of you perhaps you could rent a car. That way if you feel the need to add a country or two just make it a road trip.... It's not that far to drive to Germany.

Posted by Carol
49 posts

I would fly Paris to Munich, rent a car and drive south thru Germany. You could stop in Bern for a night.
Drive rest of way to Paris.
(the only part of this I have not done is the drive from eastern border of France to someone could tell you how many hours that would take to drive).

I think its important to let us know how you like to spend your travel days....some people sightsee from morning to night, some people avoid the major tourist attractions, some do one or two things per day and relax the rest of the time. Personally I think the river cruises are a little boring as you are captive to the ships itinerary. I have heard that people enjoy the partying on board and some people like to have their sightseeing laid out for them in a controlled way

Germany is a wonderful country. We are just wrapping our trip up and its been my favorite country of four countries

Posted by Laura
Rick Steves' Europe
8844 posts

You've got more to think about, now. Note that day-tripping from Brussels to Amsterdam (2 hours each way on the fastest trains) would not be our choice; sleeping in Amsterdam puts you closer to the action, and sleeping in Bruges gives you more of the small-town experience. Berlin is at least equally interesting and equally feasible. As others have indicated, any one of these countries can provide plenty of variety if you focus on experiencing the destinations that are your highest priorities, rather than crossing more borders.

For a brief overview of travel time between cities, see Rick's Train Time & Cost Map, but note that cities like Brussels and Zurich are used as convenient landmarks and transfer points, not because they are the best destinations to visit in those countries.