Help with Germany Itinerary

We're in the early stages of planning a 4 - 5 week trip to Germany in mid to late April and would like some advice on our tentative itinerary. We're in our early 70s and interested in scenery, villages, history, and of course, good food. Our plan is to fly to Frankfurt and get a rental car to keep for most of our trip, then turn it in at some convenient town and use the train for the rest of the trip. We will end in Berlin and fly home from there. Following is the first iteration. It's possible we have too many of similar towns and sights or that we have too much for each location. The day trips are just possibilities at this point. Any advice or suggestions would be appreciated.

Land in Frankfurt & get rental car.
Heidelberg - 3 nights; possible visits to Bad Wimpfel; Dilsberg and Neckarsteinach
Bacharach - 3 nights; St. Goar, Rheinfels Castle, Koblens; Cochem, Burg Eltz Castle
Trier - 1 night; breaks up the long drive
Strasbourg - 3 nights; Colmar; possibly Gegenbach on the way to Freiburg
Freiburg - 2 nights; Titisee, Triberg
Fussen - 1 or 2 nights
Mittenwald - 3 nights; Oberammergau, Ettal, Linderhof Palace; Garmish, Zupspitze
Salsburg - 3 nights; Innsbruck on the way to Salzburg; Hallstatt
Munich - 3 nights
Rothenburg - 2 nights; Nordlingen on the way to Rothenburg (or vice versa?); Dinkelsbuhl
Nurenburg 2 nights; Bamberg
Dresden - 2 nights; Meissen
Berlin 3 or 4 nights
Fly home from Berlin

Any suggestions or advice would be appreciated!

Posted by Rob
Atlanta, Georgia, USA
377 posts

What a wonderful trip! I've been to most of the cities you are planning to visit, but not on the same trip. The only thing that I see is your stop in Trier to "break up the long drive" is probably not necessary. It's less than 3 hours between Bacharach and Strasbourg.

Posted by Fred
San Francisco
4036 posts


Good planning on time to be spent in Berlin and Dresden. With which airline are you flying out of Berlin? To SFO or LAX?

Posted by Tom
Lewiston, NY
10588 posts

Some of your stays can be condensed a little further. For example, with a car, you can easily visit Trier from Bacharach. From a driving perspective, I think Trier is actually further away from Strasbourg, so you're not breaking up the trip if you intend to use it as a stop-over. Also, Mittenwald is within an easy drive from Füssen. You could stay at either and use it as a base to visit the other. Mittenwald would be my preference.

Posted by Martin
407 posts

I would streamline the itinerary a bit. Rothenburg, Bamberg and Nuremberg for example are the same area, there is no need to pack, unpack, check in and out 2x. Stay either in Nuremberg or Rothenburg. I would also drop one night from Franconia (Nuremberg, Bamberg, Rothenburg) and/or Heidelberg and add at least a night to Dresden. This would give you the chance to see Saxon Switzerland + Königstein fortress, or Görlitz + Bautzen, or Seiffen, a village deep in the Ore mountains with nothing but Christmas shops (forget Käthe Wohlfahrt, this is much better).
Personally, I'm not a fan of Nuremberg. The city was completely destroyed in WW2 and is nothing special. Instead, and sicne you travel by car, I would focus on smaller sights which you can't see by train. Close to Bamberg for example is Vierzehnheiligen, one of the most stunning baroque churches I know. Also near Bamberg is Weißenstein palace, the seat of the Pricne-Bishops of Bamberg, with a wonderful baroque staircase.
Speaking of sights you can't visit by train: on the Autobahn to Dresden you pass Kriebstein castle, unlike Neuschwanstein a real castle, and unlike most castles on the Rhine with preserved, medieval interiors.

Posted by Carol
Martinez, CA, USA
767 posts

Thanks for all the suggestions!

Rob & Tom: Agree Trier is out of the way but after looking at pictures of it we've decided to keep it in the itinerary for now. While Trier can be visited from Bacharach it's about 100 km and 1.5 hrs of driving so we'll have to weigh the driving times and also whether it might be fun to spend one night in Trier vs an extra night in Bacharach.

Tom: Fussen seemed to be a cute town to spend a couple of nights in but agree that it's better to add one day to Mittenwald and visit Fussen maybe even on the way to Mittenwald.

Martin: After checking google maps it seems logical to visit Bamberg and Vierzehnheiligen (thanks for this suggestion) from Rothenburg. We can either visit Nuremburg on the way to Dresden or cut it from our itinerary. We had planned to visit Bastei and Koenigstein Fortress (thanks to advice from TA to this same question) and have already added a day to Dresden.

Fred: We will be flying United from SF to FRA and from Berlin to SF but have not yet booked our tickets as we weren't sure of the number of days.

It looks like we need at least 33 days so we can start looking at the plane fares and then fine tune our itinerary, hotels, etc.
Thank you all very much for your suggestions and help. It is really appreciated!

Posted by Chris
Mahone Bay, Canada
239 posts

I agree with Tom and Martin's suggestions with the exception of Martin's feelings on Nuremberg. Yes, it is all rebuilt but I like Nuremberg and wouldn't be in a rush to leave it out of your trip.

I'd consider visiting Bacharach first and doing Trier as a day-trip, as suggested. It is a bit of a longer drive but it is a lovely drive, too. Then I'd go to Heidelberg on my way to Strasbourg. That would eliminate any long drives in that part of the itinerary and just seems to flow more logically.

This looks like a fantastic trip. I'm envious!

Posted by Fred
San Francisco
4036 posts


"...from Berlin to SF." As far as I know, there is no such flight (or is there?) From Berlin to Calif means flying Berlin to LAX., some of those flights require a change in Düsseldorf airport (DUS). Some are direct. From SFO one can fly to Düsseldorf, or FRA or Munich (MUC). Of course, you can fly Air Berlin from Berlin Tegel to LAX, then get a connecting flight to SFO. Or, Berlin to Frankfurt, then FRA to SFO on United/Lufthansa. Is that what you meant? On my last trip in May that's what I did, FRA back to SFO.

Posted by Carol
Martinez, CA, USA
767 posts

Chris - Thanks for the input. We'll look at the map again and check the driving times. We don't like to back track which is why we were thinking of spending the night in Trier. Mr. will have the final say on these choices. We have 33 nights and will have time for Nurenburg even if only a day trip.

Fred - You're right. We fly home from Berlin to Frankfurt and from there to SFO. Unfortunately for us we rarely have direct flights so the flight from SF to FRA is kind of a treat!

Posted by David
Florence, AL, USA
2844 posts

Let me just say that you're making so many stops on your planned itinerary.

Some of the larger cities worthy of many days' visits, you're cutting short. Many of the places you're scheduling for 2 nights would simply bore me.
I prefer to stay longer in a central location doing day trips via auto to cities of interest.
If you're down on the Bavaria/Austria border, you should spend more time in the incredibly beautiful Austrian Alps. The region is very easy to travel through east and north to Salzburg.
Some of my favorite reading on tourism in Germany is on:

Posted by Kim
Franklin, NC, USA
32 posts

Carol, What a great trip! You might consider consolidating the Strasbourg/Freiburg visits by staying in Gengenbach & doing day trips to the places you've listed. This would minimize moving, & travel to most of the locations you've listed is covered by the KONUS card provided free at accommodations in Gengenbach. We paid a small supplement to cover the German border to Strasbourg; not sure about the cost from there to Colmar. Trains are frequent to the locations you mentioned & we also rode buses to smaller towns. We did this last October, staying in a holiday apt, & enjoyed it so much that we're doing it again this year. There's a lot to see in the Black Forest & it's nice to "homestead", get up in the morning, decide what train we want to jump on & go.

Posted by stephen
Greeley, co, usa
438 posts

I agree that staying in Gengenbach would be a good idea. If you can handle climbing 40+ stairs, I would try staying at Ferienwohnung Wink, right in the main square in a 1699 building. If that is too strenuous, then stay any other place in the altstadt.

Posted by Carol
Martinez, CA, USA
767 posts

Thanks again for all the responses. Have come up with a new itinerary (turns out we have only 32 days) with possible day trips. Cutting Salzburg by one day as we plan to visit Austria in the next few years, but as we're travelling so close we thought we might as well visit. We don't really enjoy larger cities (except for Paris and Lisbon) so we didn't plan too much time in Munich or Berlin. Since we still have 10 months we'll be fine tuning for a few weeks more and as with most itineraries once we get there the day trips are all subject to change.
Bacharach - 4 nights: St. Goar, Rheinfels Castle; Cochem, Burg Eltz Castle; possibly Trier &/or Bernkastel Kues
Heidelberg - 3 nights: Bad Wimpfel, Dilsberg; Worms, Speyer
Strasbourg - 3 nights: Colmar
Gegenbach- 3 nights: Triberg; drive from Zwigfalten to Sigmartingen for the scenery
Mittenwald - 4 nights: Oberammergau; Ettal; Garmish, Zugspitze
Salzburg - 2 nights: Innsbruck on the way; Hallstatt
Munich - 3 nights
Rothenburg - 3 or 4 nights: Dinkelsbuhl; Bamberg; Nuremburg
Dresden - 3 or 4 nights: Saxon Switzerland National Park, Koenigstein Fortress; Meissen
Berlin - 3 nights

Thanks again for all the help!

Posted by Casey
Ft Worth, Texas, USA
33 posts

Since you are on the Rhine, I would highly recommend taking the train to Koln just to see the massive cathedral as you step out of the station. Four days in Bacharach is good, lots of castles to explore. Trier is OK but only worth a stop over for me, the sites are limited, but make sure you get to the hidden gothic church tucked in the southeast corner of the square. The black gate is just massive stone work but neat. Definitely consider driving to Burg Eltz as the woodsy hike is at least a couple three miles. Make sure you go up the Austrian side of Zupspitze, spectacular cable ride worth the 35e. Wish I had that kind of time, great trip. Have you been to GER before?

Posted by Carol
Martinez, CA, USA
767 posts

This will be our first time to Germany so we're looking forward to it.

Posted by dolfinn
18 posts

Since you'll be traveling in April (off season) you might want to consider making your room reservations (and your city destinations) on the fly. Be flexible and leave your options open. Adjust your itinerary while you're actually in country. You never know what the weather will do or you may decide to stay in one place longer or shorter. My wife and I went off season for 2 months (Germany and Italy) and booked hotel rooms via the internet a day or two before. Of course we had a laptop with us.

Posted by Fred
San Francisco
4036 posts


A day trip from Dresden to Meissen is very easy. Take the S-Bahn at Dresden Hbf. Meissen is well worth seeing, didn't suffer much war damge at all. I like Meissen.

Posted by Jeremy
Dallas, TX
62 posts

Looks great to me. Let me know if you need someone to carry your bags. What a great trip!

Posted by Fred
San Francisco
4036 posts


"...our first trip to Germany" Be sure to carry coins with you since the coin locker areas in the train stations don't have coin machines, except at Berlin Hbf. At the "Gepäck Center" in Berlin Hbf. are coin machines. For those stations without the coin machines, go to the WC facility to get change for the lockers.

Posted by Carol
Martinez, CA, USA
767 posts

Jeremy - hahahahha, but thanks for the thought!

Fred - Thanks - We usually keep Euros, coins and paper, as we always (so far) plan to return.

Posted by Fred
San Francisco
4036 posts


Have you decided on where to stay in Berlin? Getting to the airport Berlin-Tegel can easily be done from the main train station Berlin Hbf and from Bahnhof Zoo. by public transportation direct.