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Itinerary Advice for Western/Southern Germany

Hi everyone! Thank you so much in advance for your help. A little background: I’m a dual citizen who has gone back and forth to Germany my whole life (I’m 33), but we’ve only ever stayed with my family in Franconia each time we’d go, with the occasional Munich trip. This time around my husband and I are bringing our 4 year old daughter with us to not only see family, but also do some exploring that I’ve previously not gotten to do. Basically, I’d like to see more of Germany than I’d grown up seeing. For this trip, we're specifically interested in Western & Southern Germany. We’ll be in Germany for 3 weeks total in June. The first week we’ll be exploring just the 3 of us, and the next 2 weeks will be with our family back in Volkach (between Würzburg and Bamberg). We’ll be renting a car because of the convenience with our little one. If you could look over my itinerary for that first week that would be so helpful! Vielen Dank!

Day 1: Arrive in Frankfurt at 4:30 PM, eat dinner and spend the night.

Day 2: Pick up our rental car in the morning. Drive to Burg Eltz and explore. Drive to Bacharach, check into accommodations, explore.

Day 3: Do a day cruise on the Rhine (any suggestions welcome), also stopping in St. Goar to tour Burg Rheinfels. Back to Bacharach in PM.

Day 4: Drive from Bacharach to Trier and spend a few hours there. Drive from Trier to Heidelberg and check into accommodations, explore.

Day 5: Day trip from Heidelberg to Strasbourg. Head back to Heidelberg in the evening.

Day 6: Drive from Heidelberg to Oberammergau. Explore Oberammergau the rest of the day.

Day 7: Schloss Linderhoff, Ettal Monastery, Füssen. (We’ve seen Ludwig’s other castles, the trip to Füssen would be to just see the town).

Day 8: Garmisch

Day 9: Head up to the family and spend the next 2 weeks in Franconia. Aside from family time, we’ll be visiting some familiar favorites such as Würzburg, Nürnberg, Bamberg, Dinkelsbühl, Nördlingen, etc.

Posted by
97 posts

I grew up visiting relatives in southern Germany and schloss Linderhoff/ linderhoff palace is my favorite! The grotto is memorable! If you are by the Bodensee it is also wonderful to visit.

Posted by
6795 posts

Your goal of "exploring" is a noble one that is mentioned repeatedly in your post. But with Day 1 and Day 9 dedicated to transportation alone, and with Day 5 set aside for Strasbourg, you actually have just 6 days for the numerous and scattered German destinations you've chosen. You'll have childcare duties along the way too, of course - that's why you chose the car, as you said - which will mean extra stops here and there for this and that. I think your plan is overly ambitious if in fact you wish to discover more about your 2nd homeland through exploration.

"Drive to Burg Eltz and explore"

There won't be any exploring at Eltz, at least not independently. Burg Rheinfels in St. Goar is a good option if you hope to wander around on your own. But Burg Eltz, Linderhof, and Heidelberg (the last two are palaces, btw, not castles) are possible only on a guided tour.

Castles and palaces are clearly important to you. Have you thought about spending a night or two at a castle-hotel or castle-hostel? Reichenstein Castle, Liebenstein Castle, and Auf Schoenburg Castle are near Bacharach and offer hotel accommodations; all would allow more time and freedom to just wander around. Bacharach's Stahleck Castle and Diez Castle in Diez are Rhine-region castle-hostels; both are popular with families and equipped with private family accommodations.

Rhine Cruise: You'll want to start in Bingen and end in St. Goar. Don't board in Bacharach, or you'll miss out on 50% of the best Rhine scenery.

An additional family-oriented option close to Burg Eltz is the **Klotti Wildlife and Leisure Park," popular with German and European families, though probably not in Rick's book.

I would shoot for some time in Cochem while you're in the Burg Eltz area:

Cochem has a tangle of old-world cobblestone streets and small squares for exploring, some nice restaurants, river cruise options, and a nice playground near the river for kids:

I would also suggest Burg Guttenberg, a castle near Heidelberg where a family visit is more than just a guide-led tour.

Burg Guttenberg is conveniently located on the German Castle Road, a popular driving route which included part of the very attractive Neckar River Valley. See map at the page below:

Two precious places in the Odenwald (forested region) between Heidelberg and Franconia which you ought to consider:

Miltenberg (actually at the western extreme of Franconia, in Lower Franconia.)


IMHO your allotted time is so brief and there is so much to see/do/experience/explore in the Rhine/Mosel + Heidelberg + Strasbourg areas and on the route to Franconia that you will be pressed for time to fit it all in. You should drop southern Bavaria entirely unless extra time becomes available.